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The Journal Gazette

Sunday, January 14, 2018 1:00 am

Letters to the editor

Gerrymandering on par with hacking

Recent attendance at a presentation by representatives of the League of Women Voters prompted me to contact my representatives in the General Assembly for their thoughts about redistricting. Their response is pending.

Constitutionalists earlier in our nation's history enshrined the concept of one person-one vote but left significant details, including the geographic configuration of voting districts, up to the individual states. Periodic redistricting is necessary to address ever-changing demographics. However, the process of redistricting opens the door to gerrymandering: “the dividing of a state, country, etc., into election districts so as to give one political party a majority in many districts while concentrating the voting strength of the other party into as few districts as possible.” Both political parties have when in power exploited this possibility for extending their tenure.

In prioritizing issues, redistricting ought to be viewed with a sense of urgency consistent with the consequences of continued inaction, especially in light of the rapidly approaching 2020 Census. Moreover, a proposed plan must be the result of a bipartisan effort. Creation of a redistricting plan is a complex, time-consuming endeavor perhaps best served by a blue-ribbon group reporting to the legislature.

It seems ironic that we as a nation are so focused on a foreign government's assault on our electoral system, yet we seem insufficiently concerned about our own adulteration of that very same system. As rational and patriotic citizens, our elected representatives have a responsibility to preserve the integrity of – and thus the public's faith in – our electoral process.

Bill Clark

Fort Wayne

In-home care plans in need of update

I recently read about Indiana ranking nearly last in in-home care availability. More seniors and those with disabilities are landing in nursing homes not because they want to, but because they lack support from Medicaid and other payors for in-home assistance so they don't have to go to a nursing home.

Part of the reason is the low reimbursement rate by Medicaid in Indiana. Another is the long time it takes for home care agencies to receive their reimbursements from the state. It is hard to pay your home health care staff each week when it can take many weeks to get the state funding. Computers were supposed to speed this process up, but it appears to not have helped much. A final issue is the reimbursement rate for in-home care staff. These rates have not gone up to allow agencies to hire quality and dependable staff. I have worked in home care for 21 years, and their rates for home care aides and nurses is the same as when I started. This needs to change.

Let this be a wake-up call to all of us. We need to contact our state senators and representatives about our concerns. Not only are the aged and disabled happier to live at home, but it costs so much less than a nursing home. Plus, their health and longevity are much better at home.

We need our Indiana tax dollars spent more wisely.

Beth Hauenstein

Columbia City

Alcohol laws deprive Hoosiers of rights

The 2018 Indiana legislature has convened. Again, the issue of Sunday sales of alcohol and cold beer is being discussed. Residents of Indiana have the right to purchase alcohol any day they wish and to purchase cold beer from places other than liquor stores, as do the majority of other Americans.

Liquor store lobbyists are buying the votes (through campaign contributions) of a group of our politicians. The arguments we hear from politicians for blocking the sale of alcohol on Sunday and forcing the sale of cold beer only at liquor stores is beyond ridiculous. We are not children and deserve the right to purchase what we want when we want.

Our politicians are not representing the people of Indiana. We deserve better. Put this issue on the ballot and let the people decide. Would Chill Indiana please publish the names of the politicians blocking this from moving forward? It's time to vote them out.

Bob Sallaz

Fort Wayne

Pence can set example for Iranian protesters

If Vice President Mike Pence is so concerned about the plight of the Iranian people (“This time, US won't remain silent on Iran,” Jan. 5), he should get his marching boots on, get out on the streets of Iran and take part in the protests over there.

Pence wants to talk a big game, wants people to know that he and President Donald Trump stand with the people of Iran. Instead of standing with them, Pence and Trump need to get out on the streets and join in on the protests.

It hasn't been that many years ago when protesters in Iran were burning the American flag in the streets and shouting “death to America.” It is long overdue that these people in these oppressed countries start fighting their own battles.

Pence needs to get on the ground in Iran and lead the way for those people. I would like to think I speak for all Americans when I say we are standing with Pence.

CURTIS J. RANSOM

Spencerville

Building served well for firefighter training

The Albion Volunteer Fire Department wishes to thank LeAnn Conley, owner of the former commercial building at the west junction of US 6 and Indiana 9 north of Albion, for allowing firefighters to use the unoccupied building for training several times last year. Much appreciation is also given to Hosler Commercial, Inc., which assisted in setting up the training on the 1.5-acre commercial property while it was listed for sale.

It can be difficult for firefighters to find lifelike training opportunities, so this was a great chance for them to get some experience in forcible entry, search and rescue, ventilation, and other training evolutions. Albion and Avilla volunteers took advantage of the experience.

The property was sold to a new owner late last year for possible future development. It's expected the present building, which over the years served as a restaurant and auto dealership, will be torn down.

Also, thank you to Monica Fassoth of Fassoth Fotos Fotography for contributing photos.

Mark R. Hunter

Albion 

Defensive driving can prove a lifesaver

Every parent must face that time in their child's life when he learns to drive. Despite our constant warnings to be careful and no cellphones when driving, we can't always be sure they listen and abide by our wishes. Too often, unexpected things happen.

NHRA drag racing star Doug Herbert's two sons, Jon, 17, and James, 12, died in January 2008 in a car accident. Jon was driving a Mazda 80 mph. He was passing another car when he lost control, crossed four lanes of traffic before hitting a Humvee head-on. Both boys died instantly.

From this tragedy, Herbert started B.R.A.K.E.S., an acronym for Be Responsible and Keep Everyone Safe. This non-profit organization provides teenagers between the ages of 15 and 19 free defensive driving classes. The five, hands-on training exercises consist of collision avoidance/slalom exercise, drop wheel/off road recovery exercise, distraction exercise, panic stop exercise, and car control and skid recover exercise. Each session lasts four hours and requires a $99 refundable deposit. The deposit is refunded upon completion of the exercise.

Wouldn't it be nice if all of our schools signed up for this defensive driving program to teach teenagers how to drive defensively and possibly save their lives and the lives of others as well? It's highly doubtful people know about this program, but they should. For more information, visit www.PutOnTheBrakes.org.

Judith F. Ramsey

Fort Wayne