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Furthermore …

IPFWs budget cutting brings extra benefits

Two changes that IPFW announced this week will scale back spending but in the long run should prove to be good for the university and the community.

The university cited budget cuts in announcing that the university police force will no longer have its own dispatchers, instead relying on the combined city-county 911 call center to handle the calls and dispatches to university police officers.

Though it is unfortunate that up to four dispatchers will lose their jobs effective June 30, the move is in keeping with county and state initiatives to combine various 911 call centers. The combinations do more than increase efficiency; they also help coordinate responses among various departments.

In announcing that the men’s basketball team will move most of their games from Memorial Coliseum to the university’s recently upgraded Hilliard Gates Center, university officials cited student convenience.

But it’s likely the university’s financial cutbacks were also a factor, and the move will greatly reduce rental fees for the team. It will have the added advantage of putting the games on campus and within walking distance of IPFW’s expanding student housing.

And it won’t hurt that an average attendance of 1,443 will nearly fill the 1,875 seats rather than look sparse in the cavernous Coliseum.

Background check failure defies sense, public will

The one idea that both gun rights zealots and supporters of reasonable gun laws seemed to agree on was that government should take reasonable steps to keep guns out of the hands of criminals and the mentally ill.

But even a common-sense effort to require background checks of all gun sales failed to clear the U.S. Senate, with Indiana’s Dan Coats helping to defeat the long-sought – and much supported – closing of the gun show loophole.

Opponents of background checks describe gun shows as simply a forum where a gun owner can sell a weapon to a neighbor or other interested, innocent buyer. And this is true in many cases. But they can also be mass markets, where gun owners can sell or trade multiple weapons to strangers who may or may not have criminal records, mental instabilities or plans to resell the guns to gang members.

The proposal for universal background checks is supported by an overwhelming majority of Americans and 54 of the 100 senators. But because of the Senate rules, it takes 60 votes to advance the bill, and 46 senators – including Coats – voted in favor of the gun lobby.

A final insult for foreclosed

During the housing meltdown several years ago, hundreds of thousands of homeowners were wrongfully evicted from their homes, often because paperwork initiating foreclosures was “signed” en masse by machines or by people who had no authority. Some of the foreclosures were plagued by insufficient paperwork, but others were outright wrong. Even some homes without a mortgage faced foreclosure.

Years later, the aggrieved homeowners and the lenders agreed to a $3.6 billion settlement for 1.4 million homeowners. This week – months after the settlement – the homeowners began to receive their checks.

At least a dozen – perhaps far more – bounced. The company hired to distribute the payments failed to deposit money into the bank that issued the checks.

Rare libertarianism by court

The alliances in this week’s split U.S. Supreme Court decision regarding drunk driving was an interesting mix that produced not a liberal or conservative opinion but a libertarian position.

Conservative Justice Antonin Scalia and swing-vote Justice Anthony Kennedy found themselves agreeing with liberal Justices Sonia Sotomayor, Ruth Bader Ginsburg and Elena Kagan in requiring police to obtain a search warrant before forcing a suspected drunk driver to submit to a blood test. The only exception, Sotomayor wrote in her decision, was if failure to obtain an immediate blood test constituted an emergency.

The court recognized that inserting a needle into a driver’s arm against their wishes is an invasive search, and those people deserve Fourth Amendment protection against warrantless searches.

That is a libertarian position, while the traditional conservative view would support police powers.

Conservative Justice Clarence Thomas took such a position. He believes the risks of alcohol leaving the bloodstream before a warrant can be obtained outweigh any Fourth Amendment concerns.

The remaining justices – conservatives John Roberts and Samuel Alito, plus liberal Stephen Breyer – wanted a standard somewhere between the court majority and Thomas. They believed that police should obtain a warrant if they believe it could be issued in sufficient time to obtain an accurate blood sample, but the blood draw could be forced if there wasn’t time.

For their part, Allen County criminal justice officials were a step ahead of the court when they issued a policy seven months ago requiring a court warrant before drawing blood from suspected drunk drivers who refuse a breath analysis test.