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Associated Press

Furthermore …


Child Services hearings hitting the road

Critics of Indiana’s Department of Child Services – and there are many – have had the opportunity to testify before a legislative study committee on three occasions now, but the committee’s Statehouse meetings have drawn some criticism as inaccessible.

To accommodate speakers who find it difficult to make the trip to Indianapolis, Sen. John Broden, D-South Bend, and Sen. Carlin Yoder, R-Middlebury, will host a forum Oct. 18 in South Bend. Another session is set for Oct. 15 in Evansville.

It’s difficult to imagine that legislators will learn anything new from the additional testimony, but the impassioned remarks from family members and child advocates certainly have driven home the point that the agency has failed to protect many children.

The full committee meets Thursday at the Statehouse, with a discussion of best practices in child protection. The departure of DCS Director James Payne after it was disclosed that he was battling his own agency in a case involving his grandchildren clears the way for a fresh start, but some advocates and providers are concerned that problems will continue under Payne’s top assistant and successor, John Ryan.

The South Bend meeting is at 5:30 p.m. at Ivy Tech Community College’s South Bend campus.

Indianapolis offers a taxing lesson on tourism dollars

Indiana politicians like to boast of the state’s business-friendly tax environment, but a study from the Global Business Travel Association suggests the welcome isn’t so warm in Indianapolis for business travelers or any other visitors. A ranking by the association places the Circle City at No. 8 on its list of cities with the highest travel taxes.

Indianapolis visitors pay 17 percent on hotel bills, 15 percent on rental cars and 9 percent on food and beverages, for a total single-day average of $34.19 in taxes.

“We just keep inching up,” John Livengood, president of the Indiana Hotel and Lodging Association and president and CEO of the Indiana Restaurant Association, told the Indianapolis Star. “If we want people to come here and spend money and help out, we are kind of shooting ourselves in the foot.”

But revenue produced by the high tax rates also helps attract the visitors, supporting Lucas Oil Stadium and the Indianapolis Convention Center expansion. Those amenities were responsible for attracting the Super Bowl this past year.

Dan O’Connell, president and CEO of Visit Fort Wayne, said cities must do a balancing act in taxing visitors – enough to support the amenities that draw them but not so much to make travel there unaffordable. Allen County’s rates are lower than those in Indianapolis: Fourteen percent on hotel bills (7 percent state sales tax; 7 percent innkeepers’ tax); rental car tax rate of 11 percent (7 percent sales tax plus 4 percent state vehicle rental tax); and a food and beverage rate of 8 percent (7 percent state sales tax and 1 percent local).

Chicago has the highest average single-day tax burden at $40.21; Fort Lauderdale, Fort Myers and West Palm Beach, Fla., tied for the lowest at $22.21 per day.

O’Connell notes that revenue from Fort Wayne’s hotel tax is used to promote tourism. The city might not have a football stadium to draw visitors, but its lower total tax rate and lower hotel room rates certainly don’t hurt when competing against Indianapolis.

In elite company

Getting a hit in Major League Baseball, it’s been said, is one of the toughest feats in all of sports. Consider that a hitter who is successful just one third of the time is considered exceptionally competent.

Having the best batting average in your league is truly an accomplishment. Having the best average AND hitting the most home runs AND having the most runs batted in, all in the same year, is so rare that only 14 players have done it before this year, the last 45 years ago. Baseball legends including Babe Ruth, Joe DiMaggio, Hank Aaron, Stan Musial and Roberto Clemente never did it.

So Miguel Cabrera of the Detroit Tigers put an excellent capstone on the baseball season when, on the final day of the regular season, he clinched the Triple Crown, joining Ted Williams, Mickey Mantle, Lou Gehrig and only a handful of other baseball elites in one of the sport’s most exclusive clubs.

Among those sending congratulations was Carl Yastrzemski, the retired Boston Red Sox great who was the last player to win the coveted achievement – in 1967.