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R. Venderly

Ethics probe clears DNR official of conflicts

If state officials are trying to beat neighboring Illinois in setting low ethical standards, they are succeeding. The Indiana inspector general’s office has once again cleared a top-level official of wrongdoing in actions most Hoosiers would clearly recognize as unacceptable.

A six-page report “fully and completely exonerated” former Department of Natural Resources chief Rob Carter Jr., according to his attorney. Carter was hired for a new $120,000 post as head of security for Ivy Tech Community College a year ago. Email records showed that Carter had a close relationship to Bruce Walkup, a former IndyCar driver and chairman of the Ivy Tech board.

Email records show Carter set up a hunting trip for himself, his son and Walkup in violation of the DNR’s own qualifying lottery procedures. Walkup also sent an email to Carter concerning internal security issues at Ivy Tech, explaining to Carter that they were examples “of the problems you will be dealing with,” clearly a reference to the six-figure job that had not yet been announced to the public. Carter also sent Walkup advice on campus security weeks before Ivy Tech advertised for the new executive position of statewide security and safety. The state ethics commission cleared Carter for the job in April 2013; he was hired May 31.

A special inspector general investigated the complaint because Inspector General David Thomas had a “friendly relationship” with Carter for 20 years when they served as public officials in Clay County.

The report clearing Carter dismisses charges that he misused state materials and equipment in his exchange of emails with Walkup. The “handful of personal emails” Carter received from Walkup was “consistent with the limited use of state email accounts allowed for by the Indiana Office of Technology’s Information Resources Use Agreement,” according to the report.

Magazine’s jarring decision helped advance civil rights

“We are not saying goodbye to Jet,” Linda Johnson Rice, the chairman of Johnson Publishing, said this week. “We are embracing the future.”

But it was Jet’s storied past, not its future, that rushed to mind when Rice, the daughter of John Johnson, the man who founded the magazine 63 years ago, announced the move to web-only publication next month.

Jet was not the first national magazine to specialize in black news and culture, but it arguably was the best.

Its birth in 1951 came at a propitious moment in American history: the modern civil rights movement was slowly gathering steam.

Jet routinely covered the events of the fight against Southern segregation, but one decision its editors made galvanized black support for the movement around the country.

In summer 1955, a 14-year-old black Chicago boy named Emmett Till went down to Mississippi to visit his uncle’s family. One day, to impress his cousins, he walked into a grocery store in the tiny town of Money and briefly flirted with the white woman behind the counter. In the grotesque world of Jim Crow segregation, this offense earned Emmett Till a death penalty. White men dragged him from his uncle’s home and tortured him before he was shot and thrown into the river.

Emmett Till was hardly the first such victim, a fact Southern blacks knew but to which the rest of America was oblivious. Back in Chicago, Emmett’s outraged mother, Mamie Till, refused to accept the death quietly. She arranged to have his body brought back and then displayed it in an open casket that was viewed by thousands of mourners.

Jet, along with the Chicago Defender, decided to publish pictures of Emmett Till’s mutilated corpse.

The shock of seeing those pictures is something many readers never forgot as they challenged, and finally brought down, the violent regime of Southern racism.

Venderlys’ generosity extended to Ball State

The names of Ron and Joan Venderly are well known to the IPFW community for generous contributions to programs and campus features, including the eye-catching pedestrian bridge spanning the St. Joseph River.

The Venderlys also funded a classroom in the Rhinehart Music Center, endowed scholarships in education and supported athletic programs and scholarships, as well as programs in the College of Visual and Performing Arts.

Their names now will become familiar to the Ball State University community, where a new football complex has been named in their honor.

The Ronald E. and Joan M. Venderly Football Team Complex provides meeting space for the Cardinal football team and offices for the coaching and support staff.

The Venderlys have also supported scholarships for more than 30 Ball State students from Fort Wayne and Allen County, according to BSU officials.

Ron Venderly is a 1964 Ball State University graduate.

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