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From Left Field

March 29, 2011

By BOB SHRALUKA
    With school closings occurring with ever more frequency — Monmouth Elementary, Elmhurst and Harding high schools to name just three — it is interesting to note a bit of history which came across the desk via an old newspaper.    In the first week of August, 1963, the South Adams School Board  voted to close not one but two schools: Hartford and Jefferson township schools.
    According to an article in the Decatur Daily Democrat, "reasons given ... included high maintenance and transportation costs."
    Combined pre-enrollment for the two schools stood at 147 students. Those students were to be absorbed into the 32 elementary classrooms at Geneva and Berne. (Those two schools, of course, are no longer with us, either, both having been closed and razed within the last two or so years.)
    "Another factor which weighed very heavily in the decision," the Daily Democrat story said, "was the problem of providing the elementary students in both schools opportunities for participation in band, art, orchestra and various other activities."
    Jefferson Township had lost its high school two or three years earlier, with the school retaining students through the eighth grade. The South Adams board had decided a few months earlier in 1963 to close Hartford as a high school, but had planned to keep first through sixth grade in the building.
    Before long, though, it was decided to close down the school entirely.
    Hartford's principal, Byron Bunker, assumed a similar post at Berne High School for the 1963-64 school year.

From the mouths of ... politicians:
    Indiana Gov. Mitch Daniels, talking about collective bargaining in the public sector, said, "We've evolved to a situation where the privileged, the elite in American society,, really, are government unions."
    That remark would not be so callous, so foolish — so utterly ridiculous — if the nation's giant conglomerates paid their fair share of taxes — any taxes — and we taxpayers hadn't just bailed out the giant banks so they could survive and get back to having the execs pay themselves monster bonuses.
    Just in case the governor didn't know this, the average Wall Street banker in 2010 made $128,530 in bonuses ... in a year when bonuses were down nine percent. The average Goldman Sachs exec received a $431,000 bonus, after many of them had directed the company into bankruptcy and was bailed out by the taxpayers.
    Want a little more? The average Blackstone employee received a bonus of $810,717 last year. That was more than the GDP (the market value of all final goods and services from a nation in a single year) of 166 of the 181 nations measured by the International Monetary Fund.
    Okay, obviously, this could go on and on. But just a bit more and then we'll end it.
    According to Forbes magazine, General Electric generated $10.3 billion in pretax income in 2009 and zero dollars in taxes. In fact, it recorded a tax benefit of $1.1 billion.
    Exxon Mobil reported $45.2 billion in profits that year and, thanks to overseas tax shelters, paid nary a dime in taxes to the United States.
    So let's wrap up with this one:  In 2008, the Government Accountability Office (GAO) reported that two of every three U.S. corporations paid no federal income taxes from 1998 through 2005.
    But, hey, you take those firefighters and cops and sanitation workers, now there are the real, honest-to-goodness elite folks. Right, guv?

One wrong, one right
    But, hey, the guv also gets some applause here. He says he'll veto a bill to revamp Indiana's sentencing system after politicians in the General Assembly turned it upside down and his threat gets nothing but solid support here.
    An outside review of Indiana's sentencing laws had been commissioned by the governor, Chief Justice Randall Shepard and legislative leaders.The panel later recommended reducing the number of drug offenders and other nonviolent convicts which have ballooned Indiana's prison population. Gov. Daniels supported the recommendations.
    The impact of those antiquated laws is felt throughout the state, including Adams County.
    Now, though, a prosecutors' group has pushed the Senate to add to the recommendations "truth-in-sentencing" rules which would require violent offenders to serve 85 percent of their sentences instead of the current minimum of 50 percent.    
    Daniels contends that that undermines the entire bill and he gets plenty of backing from the Indiana Department of Correction, which estimates it would have to build three new prisons over the next eight years to accommodate the longer sentences.
 

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