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Editorial columns

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Guns on campus bill sidetracked

Indiana legislators have already passed a law preventing local governments from barring guns in their own buildings, except those that contain a court. Now, state Sen. Jim Banks wants a similar law allowing guns on state property – including IPFW, Ball State, IU, Purdue, Ivy Tech and every other public university.

The bill would allow state agencies to make visitors to state buildings go through a metal detector. But under the proposal, “a state agency may not prohibit or restrict the possession of a handgun … in a building owned or administered by the state if the person who possesses the handgun has been issued a valid license to carry the handgun.”

State Senate President Pro Tem David Long assigned the bill to the Rules Committee, the legislative equivalent of sending the proposal to purgatory.

While lawmakers believe it’s perfectly fine for visitors to City Council and county commissioners meetings to pack heat, Banks’ proposal would still prohibit guns in lawmakers’ own Statehouse assemblies – because the Supreme Court and appeals courts are in the same building.

LaGrange questions

A State Board of Accounts audit of the LaGrange County commissioners for 2010 focused heavily on a trust, the trust’s ownership of land LaGrange County was to eventually receive as a future beneficiary and the role of the county attorney, Kurt Bachman.

The audit, in unusually direct language, said the commissioners’ failure to seek County Council approval to dispose of its land interest “constitutes misfeasance on the part of the County Commissioners.” It also said that though Bachman filed a required conflict of interest statement, “there was not a full and adequate disclosure as required.”

The audit said the county did not keep required records of the trust and the land appraisals, and that an agreement between Bachman – who oversaw the trust – and the county “required that the County Commissioners not disclose any documents or information that would disclose the identity of Kurt Bachman.”

State auditors also cited the county for not having a contract with county attorney Bachman, who was paid $20,000 in 2010, or his law firm, Beers, Mallers, Backs and Salin, which was paid $140,631 in 2010.

The commissioners have criticized the field auditor for the State Board of Accounts and contend neither they nor Bachman did anything wrong because the commissioners didn’t own the land at issue. The commissioners hired another attorney, Tim Claxton of Burt, Blee, Dixon, Sutton and Blume to take “over as County Attorney for dealings with the Trust.”

The report, filed Dec. 27, was forwarded to LaGrange County Prosecutor Jeff Wible. In 2011, a special prosecutor who looked into the trust and land deal found no criminal activity, but the State Board of Accounts audit could spur a new investigation, particularly because of its direct accusations.

Tracy Warner, editorial page editor, has worked at The Journal Gazette since 1981. He can be reached at 461-8113 or by email,