From Left Field

        "It just makes no sense," an obviously bothered Fire Chief Les Marckel said, "We have more training than ever and we take a more aggressive approach (to fire safety), and yet this happens."
    Marckel was speaking after this week's death of Dean Ingmire in a home fire.
    Decatur didn't have a death as the result of a home fire for years and years. No one is sure when the last one occurred prior to October of 2009. Jan Smith, whom Marckel succeeded as chief, had no home fire fatalities in his 16 years as chief.
    Yet despite the huge increase in training and the strong approach to fire safety taken by the fire department in recent years, five people have now lost their lives in four home fires in the past 26 months in the department's coverage area, since October of 2009.
    "You just can't figure it out," the chief said.
    Firefighters, by their nature, are upset by any loss of life — as are most of the people who work in the emergency response field. But this one struck home deeper than usual. Having spent 16 years as a city police reserve and 14 years as a dispatcher, Ingmire was well known and highly respected in the emergency response field.
    Dean was a straight arrow, or as Police Chief Ken Ketzler said, "pro-police, straight forward." That doesn't mean, though, that he was hard and cold. He was a willing friend — even mentor — to others in his field, which earned for him the wide respect in which he was held.

Getting government where?
    Politicians, in particular Republicans, like to wax poetic about getting the government out of our lives. Free at last, free at last, thank God Almighty we're free at last from the nasty government, so many of them like to say.
    And then they go back to their ornate buildings and figure ways to project the government more deeply into our lives.
    Take Indiana, where one lawmaker wants to make welfare recipients undergo a drug test, leading us to believe they're all smoking weed and snorting coke. The same lawmaker is also proposing that the Indiana High School Athletic Association (IHSAA) be forced to bring back one-class basketball after well over 10 years.
    Hey, how about peach baskets and two-hand set shots, too?
    Then there is the gun thing, wherein the General Assembly got the government out of our lives by telling us we can't make our own gun laws. The legislators passed a law — it took effect July 1 — which prohibits local ordinances that ban firearms from most locations, such as libraries and parks. It exempts schools, public hospitals, buildings that house courts and, of course, the Statehouse. (Keep yourselves safe, folks.)
    So if one wishes to pack a piece in the library in Decatur, there's no way Decatur City Council can prevent it.
    And it just keeps getting better. Republican state Sen. Vaneta Becker of Evansville has filed a bill which would require performers — whether amateur or professional — to sign a contract agreeing to follow the guidelines for singing the National Anthem. It also would set a $25 fine for violators.
    Becker told The Indianapolis Star that the proposal isn’t aimed at off-key singers, only those who make intentional changes. This all came about, Becker said, after she got a complaint about a school program in which the anthem's words were substituted or parodied in a way the caller found disrespectful.
    Now there's a good reason to write a state law: one complaint.
    And here's the kicker: the bill would force schools to maintain audio recordings of all performances for two years and develop a procedure for dealing with complaints about someone straying from the approved lyrical or musical guidelines.
    That's surely what we desperately need: more mandates for the schools. Every time someone sings the anthem, the school would have to have someone else there to record it. Then find a place to keep all the recordings for two years. And don't forget to set up a policy for dealing with any complaints; 40 or 50 pages, no doubt, and in triplicate.
    All because of one complaint one lawmaker received.
    Ain't it good to have the government off our backs!