You choose, we deliver
If you are interested in this story, you might be interested in others from The Journal Gazette. Go to and pick the subjects you care most about. We'll deliver your customized daily news report at 3 a.m. Fort Wayne time, right to your email.


  • A questionable 'no'
    The legislature is used to paring or turning down requests for more money. But the Indiana Department of Child Services’ decision not to ask for increased staff next year merits further examination.
  • Ethics cloud hangs over new lawmaker
    If legislative leaders are serious about raising the ethical bar in the Indiana General Assembly, they suffered a setback with the election of Jon Ford on Nov. 4. He arrives at the Statehouse with some considerable baggage.
  • The logic of local
    In the beginning, there was Black Friday. Then, Black Friday begat Cyber Monday.

Furthermore …


Fireworks facts belie claims of industry flacks

•“Consumer fireworks have been sold in Indiana for many years without incident.”

News release from last week,

Indiana fireworks dealers’ attorney

•“In Indiana there are no reported cases of any wildfire or other fire accidentally starting as a result of the responsible use of consumer fireworks.”

News release from last week,

Indiana Fireworks Distributors Association

•“The use of fireworks caused a fire that damaged several properties in a neighborhood Wednesday evening.

“The Middlebury police and fire departments responded to a fire in the Claire and Fieldstone Lanes shortly before 8 p.m. Two men were shooting fireworks from a metal pipe attached to a swing set, according to a report from the Middlebury Police Department. No one was injured, but the fireworks caused damage to a wood fence, several yards, trees and a pool cover.”

– The Elkhart Truth, Thursday

•“A 26-year-old man died Wednesday night after he was injured in a fireworks-related accident at his home. About 8:50 p.m. Wednesday, Nicholas Saberniak was with family setting off fireworks at his home in the 17400 block of Jansen Court, according to Lowell Police Chief John Shelhart. “He was dropping them into a homemade mortar-type tube,” Shelhart said, when one of the fireworks went off prematurely and “came back and hit him in the face.”

– Merrillville Post-Tribune, Thursday

Book break costs state

A new textbook tax deduction granted to parents of home-schooled and private-school students – but not to parents of public school students – has cost the state of Indiana at least $2.6 million.

A spokeswoman for the Indiana Department of Revenue said the final cost won’t be known until all 2011 tax-year returns are calculated, but figures so far show that 43,840 taxpayers claimed the deduction for school expenses totaling $77.9 million. At the state’s 3.4 percent income tax rate, the deduction’s value amounts to $2,649,091 so far.

The tax break was approved along with the school voucher legislation last year, reportedly as an appeasement to parochial school parents unhappy that the vouchers would be available only to students enrolling in private schools from public schools.

The tax break was eagerly promoted by groups such as School Choice Indiana, which offers a link to download the deduction form on its website.

Taxpayers who send their children to public schools aren’t eligible for the tax break, even though Indiana is one of just a few states that charges families for textbooks and fees. At East Allen County Schools, for example, the average bill for textbook rental and fees is about $173 per student. High school fees, however, can reach nearly $300, depending on courses selected.

Smoking out offenders

Note to defendants: In seeking to appeal a conviction before the Indiana Court of Appeals, request the services of a public defender who is a non-smoker.

The facts in defendant Scott Wampler’s case support the court’s July 3 decision upholding a Cass County judge’s ruling, but it clearly didn’t help that the records submitted in Wampler’s appeal offended Court of Appeals Judge Edward W. Najam Jr.

In a ruling first publicized by The Indiana Law Blog, Najam’s first footnote stated: “We note that the record in this case emits an unpleasant odor consistent with that of cigarette or pipe smoke that is apparent, offensive, and consistent. We kindly request all those who prepare and file the briefs and record on appeal to avoid such contamination of submissions on appeal in the future.”

Senator’s stunt latest on list of wasted effort

Straight from his time-wasting foray into Indiana class basketball, Sen. Mike Delph, R-Carmel, has launched into his latest attack on illegal immigration. This time, he put Indiana’s Office of Management and Budget to work figuring up a bill for state expenses incurred on behalf of illegal immigrants and sending it to Congress.

From a provision in a bill Delph authored in 2011, state officials calculated costs totaling about $131 million, most of it for K-12 education expenses. Illegal immigrants are not eligible to receive welfare and Medicaid payments, except for emergency medical care.

As directed by the legislation, Budget Director Adam Horst sent letters to Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid and House Speaker John Boehner.

“Indiana taxpayers are owed this money,” Delph said in a news release distributed by the Senate Republican caucus. “The federal government is to blame for not controlling our borders and refusing to take action on this costly issue. Hoosiers are shouldering this unjustified $130 million expense every year, and deserve to be reimbursed.”

His one-sided calculation doesn’t factor in the taxes illegal immigrants pay in Indiana, of course, including sales and payroll taxes.

Delph, you might recall, is the lawmaker who has repeatedly proposed punitive legislation to address immigration. In 2008, he had to apologize to Sen. Dennis Kruse and another Republican colleague after he suggested that their decision to eliminate employment penalties from a bill amounted to corruption.

Look for the invoice sent to Congress to have the same effect that the statewide hearings had on IHSAA’s stand on class basketball – absolutely none.