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Furthermore …

Snider’s Kaylee Walters faces Merrillville in a 2010 semistate at Elkhart’s North Side Gym. The gym is one of the nation’s top 10 largest.

Bad-taste bans land cities in no-win circumstances

Whenever government attempts to make bad taste illegal, it inevitably tramples on the rights of people to have, well, bad taste.

This comes to mind as two Indiana cities look at how they regulate conduct, sound and appearances.

In Kokomo, the issue is music.

Like many hopeful rock stars, members of a band have taken to practicing their music in a Kokomo garage. And, to avoid keeping people awake, they rehearse during the day. But that was of no help to a third-shift worker who filed a complaint with police, who in turn issued a ticket to the band. It probably does not help the band’s cause that its name is Awaken the Dead.

Still, one of the rockers noted that noise bans in many cities apply only to the nighttime.

In any case, a city’s noise ordinance should be based on decibels, not chord changes, and the law should apply equally to lawn mowers and snow blowers and garbage trucks.

In Merrillville, the issue is not sounds but sights – particularly the sight of young men wearing sagging pants, a practice at least one town council member wants to ban.

But not everyone is convinced.

“It looks terrible,” council President Shawn Pettit acknowledged, but he also wonders whether government should be in the business of regulating pants.

Indecency laws apply if certain parts of the body are exposed, but otherwise, Merrillville council members should watch where they are headed.

If baggy pants warrant government action, what about short skirts? Plaid pants with striped shirts? Wearing white after Labor Day?

Perhaps Merrillville should start with something everyone should find offensive – wearing pajamas in public places.

Depths of Hoosier Hysteria

Indiana high school basketball was recently the subject of an in-depth sports story in The New York Times, which viewed the status of Hoosier hysteria through the prism of Anderson’s famous Wigwam gym.

Once the second-largest high school gymnasium in the nation (New Castle’s is first), Anderson school officials closed the 8,996-seat gym last year due to budget constraints and sinking enrollment amid the fall of the city’s economy. While the story looked at the end of single-class basketball and the state’s economy, even hardcore basketball fans might have been surprised by some of the facts reported in Craig Fehrman’s story:

•“Indiana still boasts 12 of the nation’s 13 largest high school gyms.”

•At its peak, despite the Wigwam’s large size, “Anderson athletic directors still found themselves testifying in divorce hearings over the custody of season tickets.”

•“In the last three years, (Anderson) has lost more than 2,000 students and laid off more than 160 teachers, in addition to closing five schools.”

•“In the 1920s, Muncie’s city council approved $100,000 to build a high school gym – during the same meeting it denied a request for a $1,800-per-year librarian.”

State books still short of adding up

Two plus two equals four, unless you’re with the Indiana Department of Revenue, it appears.

After overlooking $320 million in corporate income tax collections last year, the Department of Revenue appears to have made another $1 million error.

The State Board of Accounts uncovered the latest error while auditing correction of the previous mistake. Auditors found the department had duplicated $993,174 of the estimated corporate income tax adjustment, causing the collection fund to be understated and the general fund to be overstated.

Auditors also found that the Department of Revenue was “unable to account for all of the payments that make up the Collection Fund’s balance of $47,397,690.60,” and found overstated amounts in other revenue postings and fund balances. In the State Police Health Insurance Fund, revenue was overstated and expenses understated by $1.4 million.

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