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Suu Kyi

Privatization of lottery cause for pause

Despite the Daniels administration’s proclivity toward privatization and its desire to bring in more revenue outside taxes, the administration should carefully reconsider going forward with hiring a private company to run the Hoosier Lottery.

Two of the four companies that submitted proposals decided to withdraw them. One, Camelot Global Services, said the state’s plan “strongly incentivizes all bidders to propose artificially high income targets.”

Even worse, the company said the plan did not adequately protect the state if revenue falls short. This is an experienced lottery company that runs the United Kingdom’s national lottery as well as lotteries in Australia.

The second company simply said “the final model did not work for us.”

One of the remaining bidders beat Camelot for a contract for Illinois – and fell well short of revenue expectations the first year, placing the company and the state of Illinois in arbitration.

Hoosiers and their elected leaders must not lose sight of this issue: To increase revenue, the contractor has to sell more tickets, and the only real way to do that is to entice more Hoosiers to buy more tickets. Does the state really want to encourage more people to lose money gambling?

State law currently requires “that lottery game advertising and promotion shall be consistent with the dignity and integrity of the state.” Will that part of the law be removed?

Freedom’s beacon will shine here

Aung San Suu Kyi’s visit to Fort Wayne Sept. 25 will very likely attract a large crowd to the Coliseum. The visit from the world-famous Nobel laureate and leader of the democracy movement in Burma is of interest not only to Burmese living in Fort Wayne but to the entire community.

After all, how often do Fort Wayne residents have an opportunity to see a woman who is to Asia as Nelson Mandela is to Africa? The Lady, as she is sometimes called, won the Nobel Peace Prize in 1994 for her sacrifices to promote democracy and civil rights in Myanmar, the country formerly known as Burma. She spent nearly two decades under house arrest at the direction of Myanmar’s military dictators. But this year, as the government began to make reforms toward democracy, she was elected to serve in parliament.

Suu Kyi will be in the United States to receive the Congressional Gold Medal, the country’s highest civilian honor, as well as the Global Citizenship Award.

Daniels’ moving costs

The dust-up at Purdue University over renovations to the president’s office isn’t the first time Gov. Mitch Daniels has intervened in an ill-considered renovation project.

The $380,000 office makeover at Purdue’s Hovde Hall (background, above) – Daniels’ new office effective in January – was completed before the governor issued a statement Tuesday stating that he had asked for any unfinished work to be canceled, noting that “nothing about my service in business or public life suggests that I would initiate or condone a dollar of excessive or unnecessary spending on my account.”

That extended to excessive and unnecessary spending for other state employees last year when he objected to a lavish makeover at new Hoosier Lottery digs. Lottery director Kathyrn Densborn, who resigned after the project was reported by an Indianapolis TV station, improperly authorized the purchase of more than $25,000 for a workout room and eight break room chairs that cost $800 apiece.

Renovation work at Purdue, however, wasn’t limited to Hovde Hall. The Purdue Exponent in July quoted the house manager for Westwood, the Purdue president’s campus residence, as saying the six-month vacancy between tenants provided a window to “do some updating and maintenance.”

Daniels earlier told the Indianapolis Business Journal that he will live in the 17,300-square-foot Tudor-style mansion, also used as a meeting and entertainment facility for the university’s guests, but will also go back and forth to his Carmel home.

Purdue spent about $310,000 on renovations at Westwood in 2007.