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Healthy Living: What Can Indiana Do To Get These Numbers Down?

BelushiFat, lazy and smoking is no way to go through life, Indiana. But a new study tells us Hoosiers are doing worse than ever when it comes to personal health. From the Indianapolis Star:

"More Indiana residents are overweight and are smoking, and fewer are getting the exercise they need, a new study shows.

"'As a state, we’ve continued to gain weight, exercise less, smoke more, and eat fewer fruits and vegetables,' State Health Commissioner Judith A. Monroe said in a statement. Highlights from the study include:

"- Smoking has increased from 24.8 percent of the population in 2004 to 27.3 percent in 2005. Indiana is now second in the percentage of current smokers, behind only Kentucky. Indiana ranked 7th in 2004.

"- More Hoosiers are considered obese: 27.2 percent in 2005, up from 25.5 percent in 2004. Indiana is now 10th in the percentage of people considered obese, down from ninth in 2004.

"- 78 percent of Hoosiers eat less than five servings of fruits and vegetables daily.

"The data is from the 2005 Indiana Behavior Risk Factor Surveillance System survey.

"Gov. Mitch Daniels launched INShape Indiana in July 2005, challenging Hoosiers to make healthy choices. The free, Web-based program (www.inshape.in.gov) provides statewide information on physical fitness activities, nutrition and smoking cessation."

Good Deal For Indy: Council Member Stepping Down To Take State Job?

CrazybirdAbdul's show notes bring us this juicy morsel:

"City-County Council member Jim Bradford is stepping down. Bradford is taking a position with the state so he is vacating his seat. He is also giving up his run for Washington Towship Trustee. The Republican precinct committee men in his district will choose a new councilmember. Bradford's district includes much of north central Marion County including Broadripple."

Heaven help us if they put Crazy Jim over at the Indiana Criminal Justice Institute. This is a man who once delivered a marginally coherent speech using running shoes as a prop to illustrate the plight of the working man. Of course, this is also the guy who has a history of not timely paying rent to the City of Indianapolis for the small business he owns along the Monon Trail in Broad Ripple.

Maybe he was just scared of getting his butt kicked in November by former City-County Council member Frank Short, who's challenging him in the race for Washington Township Trustee.

UPDATE: Word on the street is that Bradford is, in fact, going to be vice-chair of the Indiana Alcohol & Tobacco Commission.

UPDATE TO THE UPDATE: The Star has a brief blurb posted that Bradford apparently has applied for the ATC position and hopes to be appointed to it by the Governor.

Legal Rights For Gay Hoosiers? Okay, But Marriage Still Appears Off The Table

Indianaequality_2New polling data from Indiana Equality show that Hoosiers favor hospital visitation rights and inheritance rights for gay people, which are two of the legal rights associated with marriage. However, the poll didn't specifically ask about gay marriage:

"A majority of Indiana residents favor hospital visitation rights and inheritance rights for gay people, according to a survey released Wednesday.

"However, the poll commissioned by the gay rights group, Indiana Equality, did not include a general question about gay marriage, which previous polls have show people are against.

"The telephone poll found that 74 percent of those surveyed said same-sex couples should have hospital visitation rights. About 53 percent supported inheritance rights for same-sex couples.

"Indiana University Center for Survey Research conducted the poll using random dialing to talk to 504 adult Indiana residents from Nov. 11, 2005 through Dec. 27, 2005. The survey has a margin of error of plus or minus 4 percentage points.

"The poll shows residents support legal rights associated with marriage, but most people think of marriage as something more than rights, said Ellen Andersen, a political science professor at Indiana University-Purdue University at Indianapolis.

"Religious significance and a transition into adulthood also play a role, she said."

Ooooooh, Kentucky! Maybe We Can Outsource A Contract Or Two While I'm Here

The Guv and Lite Guv are traveling the state this week to tout road projects that will be funded with cash from the "Major Moves" deal. We don't think for one minute that people will forget where that money came from, but we'll see come November. (By the way, did anyone tell the Governor that people get excited about education funding, jobs and other such things, but most Hoosiers aren't real thrilled when their roads are torn up?)

Anyway, you know how we love funny photos, and we found this one on the Louisville Courier-Journal's website. It begs for a caption, but you need not limit your thoughts to road-building. Have fun.

Danielsclarksville

Folks Had To Complain, But Fort Wayne Will Get Its Way With New License Branch

CarclipartWe haven't heard much from the Bureau of Motor Vehicles lately, but here's a story from the Fort Wayne Journal Gazette that leads us to believe Joel Silverman might actually have decided to start listening to Hoosiers:

"Fort Wayne residents will get a new state-of-the-art license branch this year when the Southgate branch relocates to the Waynedale community, state officials announced Tuesday.

"The surprising move came after a backlash forced the Bureau of Motor Vehicles to abandon a plan last September to possibly move the branch near Fort Wayne International Airport.

"'When we talked about the idea last year there was criticism, so I thought if the community was happy with the status quo we would leave it,' Bureau of Motor Vehicles Commissioner Joel Silverman said. 'But it became very apparent earlier this year in February and March when people had to wait an hour and a half we needed to re-evaluate.'

"Local residents experienced particularly bad service during those months, prompting dozens of complaints and negative letters to the editor.

"'This new location gives us almost double the capacity of the old branch but it does it in a way where we still have accessibility on the bus line and accessibility from the major thoroughfares,' Silverman said."

What's Next For Mitch Roob? More Questions About This Billion Dollar Contract

Fssa_5Following in the steps of the Associated Press, which ran a detailed FSSA story over the weekend, the Star picks up on the brewing controversy surrounding the $1 billion deal the agency is slated to close next month with an out-of-state vendor to process claims for a million needy Hoosiers:

"Consortiums headed by IBM and Accenture are seeking the $1 billion contract that could become a contentious issue for the Daniels administration.

"The Family and Social Services Administration is expected to announce a private partner within a month. Both contenders have run into problems with similar deals in other states: Legislators in Texas last month threatened to fire Accenture or ban it from other state contracts following a barrage of complaints.

"A partner in the IBM group, Affiliated Computer Services, lost part of a Georgia contract two years ago because of problems processing claims. Texas-based ACS also is the former employer of FSSA Secretary E. Mitchell Roob Jr.

"While FSSA officials initially hoped to select a contractor by mid-May, spokesman Dennis Rosebrough said Tuesday that officials need more time.

"'It's a big contract -- very complicated -- and we want to make sure we've got it right before we move forward,' he said.

"Rosebrough said Roob will not be involved in the selection process because of his former ties to ACS. Privatizing the agency's applications and eligibility review process is intended to improve service to needy Hoosiers, while reducing errors and the expense to taxpayers."

Just like Dick Rhoad wasn't involved in negotiating the $540,000 contract that went to his company, which, conveniently enough, employed only him? Riiiiight.

Masked Company Unveiled: Honda Meeting With Decatur County Officials

HondaThe Star sent out an update this morning that Honda attorneys are going to be meeting with officials in Decatur County about the prospect of locating a plant there. Here's the verbiage. Note the bolded part:

"Attorneys representing Honda Motor Co. have scheduled meetings this morning with commissioners in Decatur County in southeastern Indiana, where the automaker is considering locating an assembly plant. The meetings will come a day after the Japanese automaker said it would build a North American assembly plant that will employ 1,500. Greensburg Mayor Frank Manus said the lawyers called the meeting early Tuesday to disclose privately that Honda was the unnamed company that's accumulating options to buy at least 1,000 acres near Greensburg. The lawyers didn't expect Gov. Mitch Daniels to name Honda as the company during a news conference Tuesday to discuss road projects, Manus said. Honda is considering four sites near Greensburg and Batesville, both of which are along Interstate 74 in southeastern Indiana. However, Ohio and other states also desperately want the jobs."

This area of the state really needs these jobs. We hope Honda's not ticked off that the Guv announced their scouting mission yesterday.

The Story That Wouldn't Die: More Fascinating Details About ICJI Deal Emerge

Money_2Just when you think the grant-giving, eyebrow-raising antics at the Indiana Criminal Justice Institute can't possibly get any more interesting, they do.

A story in this morning's Star tells us that the friend of disgraced ICJI executive director Heather Bolejack who received a questionable $417,000 no-bid grant from the agency is now defending his intentions. Funny thing is, the program he "designed" for the award looks exactly -- down to the name -- like someone else's.

Oh, and then there's the following morsel, which should give every working Hoosier in the state pause to think, "Say, I should get me one of those federal grant things, cuz they pay pretty well."

"Though Gov. Mitch Daniels' office said 'clear evidence' exists that McKenna didn't provide any work for the money, McKenna said he has receipts and schedules that show otherwise.

"He said he used the $80,000 in the first installment to hire a staff of two, develop a Web site, plan the program, buy advertising and make contacts with local leaders. He objected to assertions that he didn't work for the money and said the past two weeks have been difficult.

"'I have been interrogated, investigated and implicated, said McKenna, who was to earn $95,000 a year as the grant's project director.

"Part of the money was used to pay some of the $55,000 annual salary of the program manager, Denise Moore. She was the state child welfare caseworker convicted of obstruction of justice in the 2002 death of 4-year-old Anthony Bars.

"The Indiana Court of Appeals overturned her conviction this year, saying her actions might have been negligent but weren't criminal. The attorney general's office is appealing that decision to the Indiana Supreme Court."

So, let us get this straight. McKenna was going to spend $150,000 a year on two salaries (who knows what the other staff member he hired was making)? That's almost half the amount of the grant he received. And not one child apparently was helped between the award of the grant and now, which, if our calendars are right, is almost six months.

Here are a few more questions that this story raises:

  • Did McKenna identify funding from any other source on his grant application, or was he going to rely solely on the $417,000 to run his shop? (ICJI and the feds frown on grantees who rely only on one revenue source, and JABG grants require a local match.)
  • Where did McKenna expect to house three staff members? (We've been to his office, and it looks like there might only be room for two.)
  • Did McKenna provide any accountability mechanisms in his grant application? Did he follow them? Are the feds looking into that?
  • When was he planning on helping the first child?
  • How in God's name did he secure a grant that huge for a program that had sketchy details and no deliverables?
  • Where does Denise Moore factor into all this?
  • Is the story dead, or will it keep going?

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