Friday, November 27, 2009

IUPUI's Sagamore is no more. In other news...

As someone who actually attends IUPUI and spends a lot of time on campus outside of the classroom, I had absolutely no idea that IUPUI's Sagamore (the student run newspaper) had ceased publishing. Unfortunately, for at least since I started attending, the Sagamore has not done much actual reporting. Instead, it has served as an "independent" body to promote IUPUI's policies and certain school events, mainly sports.

In my two years inside the journalism school at IUPUI, teachers rarely promoted the Sagamore and I don't recall an editor or anyone coming into a class to promote it. Now that's just a strange experience to ponder over. It doesn't prove anything about the Sagamore other than possibly their lack of self-promotion.

But in my freshman year, I somehow got involved in a small controversy surrounding the Black Student Caucus. I talked to a few activists on both sides of the issue, and was even interviewed by a reporter for a story she was writing. But the reporter was from the Indiana Daily Student, IU-Bloomington's student paper. This reporter was able to pitch a story to her editor about an issue that is happening an hour north of them, that had no direct impact on IU-Bloomington. But she wrote the story and got it published.

But The Sagamore was not managed like the Indiana Daily Student. IDS, and ideally every student-run newspaper, should strive to be like every other news publication. But the Sagamore, in my four years of reading it, rarely covered anything outside of the IUPUI campus, and the issues they did cover weren't covered very well.

Anybody who visited the Sagamore's website while it was up and running often would run into broken images, and links that led to nowhere. That tradition has carried on to the IUPUI Student Media website, where "About Us" and "Contact Us" leads you right back to the main page. Doing a search for...well, anything, will turn up zero results.

Their reporting chops aren't much to brag about either. The top story on the main page, Entertainment, and Food are from the Indianapolis Star, Rolling Stone, and the AP. Clicking on several stories, including the top story under Military, had several misaligned boxes making it hard to read some parts at the end of the article.

Oh, and try doing a search for "Wishard" on IUPUI Student Media. Even though the new hospital's construction will drastically affect student parking for a long time, there is not a word written about it on their site. So much for informing their audience of the events happening in their community and getting their thoughts on those types of matters.. If only there was some avenue that could be used to do such a task...

Monday, November 23, 2009

The Art of Polls (or you might as well make the numbers up)

Over at Indiana Barrister, Abdul Hakim-Shabazz posted some interesting poll results. He doesn't cite what the poll asks, what the numbers are, who did the poll, or anything like that. But still, even without silly stuff like a "source", it's still worth a read:

And speaking of polling, incumbent Greg Ballard is polling about 50-percent in the African-American community, a key constituency for Democrats.

I find that any Republican polling that high among African-Americans could very well be a sign of the Apocalypse.

Abdul has an extensive background in the news business, as well as politics. Any first year journalism or political science major can tell you how easily the poll itself can be manipulated in who you survey, the question asked, how the question is asked, answers to choose from, etc... And even the numbers themselves can be manipulated, such as when Mayor Ballard recently "tweeted" that Indianapolis was one of the top 40 safest cities, where really we're really #38/40 on the list of the 40 biggest cities in the US.

As I commented on Abdul's blog, if you're not going to bother to cite a source and examine it, you might as well make the numbers up. It has about the same level of credibility.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

IMPD denied grant money for new officers: I hate it when I'm right

When Mayor Greg Ballard presented his budget to the City-County Council, one of the points he highlighted was that IMPD will be getting a budget increase, mainly to hire 50 new police officers. He said that federal money will be used to the tune of $11 million over three years. The budget also specified that another portion of it ($1.7 million) would be from a grant from the Indiana Criminal Justice Institute to cover cars, pagers, and various other costs.

Today, Fox 59 broke the story that the grant application was rejected:

Fox59 News has learned IMPD has been rejected for a $1.7 million dollar grant to buy 50 new police cars. And, it appears more advance discussion with Indiana Criminal Justice Institute officials about restrictions for equipment would have let city leaders learn months ago they never had a chance to get grant money for cars.

"The equipment grants we give out are typically for $10,000 or less," said Neil Moore, executive director of the Justice Institute. "If you look at what we funded in the past you will see we don't fund cars for large police agencies."

IMPD was requesting $1.3 million for cars. The total request was $1.7 million dollars. The money is needed to match Federal money the city's taking to cover salaries for 50 new police officers in 2010. By taking the federal money the city has to guarantee it can buy equipment for the new police and cover their salaries after three years.

"We were a little surprised, we were counting on it," said Valerie Washington, CFO for public safety.

Interestingly enough, I questioned these numbers sounded in the first place. The city-county budget, by cutting every department except for IMPD, ended up with a $15 million surplus. Now why Mayor Ballard and the CCC use that to fund IMPD, or the permanently increased County Optional Income Tax to do so, who knows?

In fact, two die-hard Ballard supporters had no problems with IMPD funding when the budget was proposed as seen here.

While I did misspeak and call it stimulus money, the fact is federal money is never a guarantee. Eventually, it'll be gone and the city should be able to stand on it's own two feet. We should at least be able to provide the necessities without federal assistance. Unfortunately, some of my conservative friends don't see it in the same light.

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Look who is a supporter of Wishard!

Over at WRTV6, they reported this:

Indianapolis Mayor Greg Ballard celebrated with hundreds of supporters Tuesday night, announcing news that the Wishard Memorial Hospital referendum had passed.

Did this guy say a single word on the referendum? Shouldn't he have held a press conference, shown some leadership?

EDIT: A Indianapolis Star story noted Ballard as being one of the first supporters of the referendum. I'm going to take them for their word at the moment, but he sure has been silent about it for a while.

Found a story with Ballard issuing a press conference in July. True, he has supported it since early on. It just seems strange that he didn't bother to take a stand on the smoking ordinance, and has been largely silent on Wishard in the past few weeks.

Why I voted no on the referedum

My initial title was "Why I voted against Wishard", but that would be misleading. That would imply that enough "No" votes would prevent them from building the new hospital. But the vote wasn't on if the Health and Hospital Corporation should fund a new facility, but if it can take out bonds backed by property taxes which would get them the lowest rates possible.

First, let's study the referendum itself. It never mentions building a new hospital, or the cost, or where the new building will go. It doesn't mention how it will be financed, and what taxes back that financing. It doesn't mention the size of the new hospital (it'll have 50 less beds than the current one), or what will happen to the current one. It is basically a one-sided referendum, written by Health and Hospital, to purposely mislead people on voting "Yes" to a new hospital, even though it isn't mentioned.

Out and about, officials from HHC have said this won't raise taxes, that the revenue from HHC owned nursing homes will cover it. But HHC doesn't actually own nursing homes, but only owns them on paper so they can bill the federal government twice. The health care bill running through the national Congress is going to gut the funding for the over-payment of government owned nursing homes. And even if that doesn't happen, HHC is scamming the feds, and eventually they'll find out.

Moreso, if a public option does pass, then people will have the ability to go to a variety of hospitals and won't have to use Wishard. What will happen then?

And once that money runs out, where is it going to come from? Property taxes.

(Read this post by Gary Welsh for more of this)

Now, besides that, HHC is also in charge of enforcing various health code laws. They claim that Wishard is "dying" and "falling apart." If that's true, where are all the health code violations? If a new hospital is needed, then why is the Wishard campus in constant (re)construction, adding new office buildings, parking garages, and even a new restaurant?

Honestly, I'd probably have voted for the referendum if it was presented honestly, during a regularly scheduled election, so that this county could have a healthy debate on the city funding a hospital for the less fortunate among us. We would also have a clearer picture of what type of health care reform will happen in DC and make appropriate modifications. But right now, this stinks to high heaven, and seems to be a new construction project because hey, it's been a while since we've built a new palace.