The (Munster) Times. August 9, 2019

30 people slain in Gary so far this year; where's the outrage?

Some news outlets and commentators have reported that the nation is "reeling" after 31 people collectively died in two mass shootings in Ohio and Texas during the weekend.

Others not directly affected by these horrible tragedies have noted quite the opposite — that the regularity of mass shootings in our nation in recent years has left us with a type of numbness to the carnage.

It's a trend with which Northwest Indiana already is familiar.

While mass shootings grab national headlines, a body count of equal proportions has been plaguing our urban core — namely Gary — for quite some time.

Where is the outrage? Where is the reeling?

So far in 2019, 30 people have fallen victim to homicides — mostly gun related — in the Steel City.

It matches 2018's homicide total for the same time period.

It could have been even worse. More than twice as many people — 64 — have been wounded by gunfire in 2019, Gary police records show.

That number stood at 71 in 2018.

Where is the outrage? Where is the reeling?

A big problem, from a social perspective, is an inundation with the violence.

As much as many of us have grown tragically accustomed to mass shooting events, too many folks in the Region also have become calloused to news of shootings and homicides in Gary.

But what's happening in Gary is no less a threat to our community fabric than the threat of mass shootings.

All too often, gunfire on city streets claims innocent victims, often when they weren't the intended targets.

Ignoring or not giving appropriate attention to a problem, just because "that's just what always happens in Gary," is not a tenable response.

As leaders in the highest levels of government discuss mass shootings as the clear and present danger that they are in society, our local leaders should be treating Gary's shooting and homicide rate as an equal threat.

If they don't, we must demand it of them.

And we, as citizens, cannot allow ourselves to become numb to the carnage.

The regularity of gunfire and slayings in Gary should not be an agent for lulling us to sleep. That gunfire must become the alarming warning shots beckoning change.

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The (Fort Wayne) Journal Gazette. August 8, 2019

SNAP decision

No 'loophole' in Indiana, but change could hurt

Soon, Rob Undersander may no longer be eligible to receive food assistance through the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program.

But don't worry. Undersander won't starve. A retired Minnesotan, he is a millionaire who applied for and received SNAP benefits to expose an eligibility loophole.

Last month, citing Undersander's case and implying that other millionaires might also be taking advantage of the system, Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue and Brandon Lipps, an acting deputy undersecretary, unveiled a plan to tighten SNAP eligibility rules they said would save taxpayers $2.5 billion a year.

One problem: the Agriculture Department estimates the change would remove 3.1 million people from the food stamp program if it goes into effect this fall. Most of them, it's safe to say, would be food-insecure - so poor they may not know where their next meal is coming from. Some who might be able to requalify for food assistance might be unaware of their options or unable to cope with the paperwork.

No one yet has a reliable estimate of how many Hoosiers would be affected by the proposed tightening of SNAP rules. As of June, there were 552,203 SNAP recipients in the state, according to the Indiana Family and Social Services Administration, which administers the program.

"We are gathering data to determine how many Indiana SNAP recipients would be impacted if this rule would pass," the agency said in its only official comment on the question.

But it's likely many thousands of those in need would suffer. "It's going to make people eligible for SNAP no longer eligible, and it also will affect the free-and-reduced-price lunch program for kids," Emily Weikert Bryant, executive director of Feeding Indiana's Hungry, said Wednesday.

Wealthy freeloaders would hit a brick wall in this state.

"In Indiana, I would guess there are no millionaires that are receiving SNAP benefits, because they have to report their assets," said Bryant, whose organization represents 11 food banks in the state, including Community Harvest Food Bank of Northeast Indiana.

In Minnesota, there is no asset-test rule, she said, which explains how Undersander was able to qualify for benefits. "He had little or no income," she said, "but he had millions of dollars in assets. In Indiana, we have an asset test."

Nestled in the thicket of current SNAP regulations is something called the Broad-Based Categorically Eligible policy, which allows states some flexibility in how they run the program. "It's not a loophole," Bryant explained. "It was meant as a streamlining process. It allows states to have options."

In some states, the rule is used to automatically qualify those who receive other types of poverty relief for SNAP. Indiana has used the "broad-based" rule more narrowly - to increase the level of assets food stamp recipients are allowed to own, from $2,250 per family to $5,000.

Setting the asset level too low works against families who are on fixed incomes or are trying to work their way out of poverty, Bryant explained. "It's a huge disincentive to save" a bit of money for emergencies, she said.

If the Broad-Based Categorically Eligible policy is eliminated, the asset limit could drop back to $2,250, and thousands of Hoosiers could be dropped from SNAP. Some children could lose automatic eligibility for free and reduced-price school meals as well.

But those Hoosiers would still be just as hungry, and that, in turn, would put more pressure on already challenged private food agencies to provide even more assistance to those who need it.

All this to smoke out those rogue millionaires?

There's plenty of time to register a comment on the proposed rule change (see above) or to contact this area's congressional representatives and ask that they weigh in on the decision.

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The (Anderson) Herald Bulletin. August 7, 2019

Paper ballots will take away the risks

In the digital age more and more business that used to be conducted on paper is going digital, but we must concede that in some cases the old-fashioned ways are best, and voting is one of those cases.

Digital processes are prone to computer glitches and intentional sabotage, and in many cases, we take those risks for the sake of convenience. However, when it comes to our elections, we cannot afford to take that gamble.

The Madison County Election Board's purchase of voting machines that provide paper ballots is money well spent.

Paper ballots provide confirmation to the voter and a tangible record in the event that election results are called into question.

Electronic communication has increased the speed and convenience with which we can conduct business, but it's hard to deny that cold hard cash is more trustworthy than an electronic funds transfer.

Pioneers of the digital age dreamed of a paperless society. Perhaps we're a bit biased, but we believe that paper will always play a valuable role.

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Copyright 2019 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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