The (Anderson) Herald Bulletin. June 24, 2020.
1 good decision, 1 bad for Anderson police
Anderson Mayor Tom Broderick had good news and bad news for the city’s residents at a press conference Thursday.
In a move that will promote better transparency and enhance the public’s trust in the Anderson Police Department, Broderick announced that all APD officers and patrol cars would be outfitted with cameras.
In a move that does just the opposite, the mayor announced the APD would conduct an investigation of two suspended officers internally.
First, the good news.
Body cameras and car cameras would not only protect the public by discouraging police brutality, such cameras would also provide a measure of protection against false allegations leveled at officers.
Broderick noted that the cameras would be automatically activated whenever police are dispatched on a call and wouldn’t be deactivated until they clear the scene. This is an important consideration; an inactive camera is at least as bad as having no camera at all.
The mayor and police Chief Jake Brown said they first discussed the possibility of adding cameras after Brown was promoted to chief in January. Then the coronavirus pandemic struck, consuming the APD’s attention.
After local and national protests against police brutality following the May 25 death of George Floyd under the knee of a Minneapolis police officer, the chief and mayor recently turned their attention back to police cameras.
They are fully committed, they said, to outfitting all APD officers and patrol cars. But it might take several months or more to select, order, finance and implement the cameras, the mayor and chief indicated Thursday.
The press conference came five days after APD Officer Brandon Reynolds used a chokehold, banned just two days earlier by Brown and Broderick, to take Spencer Nice, 21, to the ground during an arrest. The incident was caught on video by Nice’s girlfriend, and the video went viral.
Reynolds and Officer Ashley Gravely, who assisted at the scene, are on paid administrative leave, pending the outcome of the internal investigation.
Which brings us to the bad news.
Just before the Thursday press conference, Broderick emailed The Herald Bulletin a statement saying the investigation would be conducted internally. He explained that it’s the usual procedure for the APD.
But this is an unusual situation at an unusual time in American history. With protests raging amid widespread criticism of police agendas and tactics, this is the time for transparency.
The only way to assure that the investigation of officers Reynolds and Gravely is conducted with the highest integrity? Call in an outside law enforcement agency, such as the Indiana State Police.
An internal investigation, conversely, will irritate public cynicism while further undermining trust in the police. Some will see it as a clear signal that the APD will ultimately protect its own by finding a way to justify what appears on the video to be an act of brutality.
Broderick, Brown and the APD could have scored a win-win at their Thursday press conference at a time when they need it the most.
Instead, they opened the door to public reconciliation only halfway.
(Terre Haute) Tribune-Star. June 26, 2020.
Americans could get dealt another uncertainty if ACA is ended
More uncertainty is the last thing Americans need right now, especially uncertainty about health care.
The COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic has claimed more than 126,000 lives since February in this country. Its symptoms in those most dire of cases are painful. The literally breathtaking respiratory disease is highly contagious. Assumptions that this novel coronavirus had run its course after those disturbing months of March, April and May are getting squashed in June. Outbreaks have hit nearly half of the states after the reopening of their economies.
Its resurgence is beyond alarming. Texas Gov. Greg Abbott, a Republican, rolled back his state’s reopening on Friday. Why? Hospitalizations surged by 55% over the previous week as coronavirus spread rapidly.
This health crisis is far from over. Health care coverage is more important than ever right now. An estimated 27 million Americans lost their jobs and their employer-based health insurance this spring as the pandemic forced states to shut down nonessential businesses and services. Their options boil down to signing up for coverage through the Affordable Care Act, or — if they qualify — Medicaid.
On Thursday, the federal government reported that 487,000 people had signed up for ACA (or Obamacare) coverage on Healthcare.gov, up 46% from the same time in 2019.
Later Thursday night, the Trump administration filed a brief with the Supreme Court, asking the justices to end Obamacare completely. All of it. Such a decision would include erasing the protection of coverage for people with preexisting health conditions. The president keeps saying he wants such coverage to continue, but has given no clear way to make such a thing happen in the absence of Obamacare.
More than 20 million people could lose health coverage if the Supreme Court follows the Trump administration’s request.
Why do such a thing? And why now? Obsession. It is a chance for the president to scuttle yet another action taken by his predecessor, President Obama.
That opportunity comes through a case set to come before the Supreme Court this fall. It involves a lawsuit, pursued by Republican-led states, including Indiana. Attorneys general in those states contend the ACA became unconstitutional once Congress in 2017 eliminated the law’s penalties and fines for not having health insurance, while still retaining its requirement that Americans have coverage. Prior to Congress’ elimination of those fines, the Supreme Court had upheld the ACA’s mandate.
Though Republicans have fought the ACA since it became law a decade ago, some — such as Tennessee Sen. Lamar Alexander — said Congress did not intend to scrap the entire law by eliminating the fines. Trump has pressed on anyway.
Thursday’s report by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services did not predict how many Americans would apply, over time, for Obamacare coverage as a result of losing jobs and, thus, health insurance, The Associated Press reported. The CMS report did say this: “While the magnitude may be unclear, job losses due to COVID-19 have led to increased enrollments on Healthcare.gov.”
Even the most optimistic projections by public health experts say the pandemic will stretch into next year, at least.
If a Supreme Court decision ends the Affordable Care Act, the White House and states driving this legal quest should have an operable, detailed alternative ready — that same day — for swift approval by legislators. Millions of idled American workers do not need another uncertainty, particularly one as worrisome as health care coverage, in the middle of a health crisis.
Kokomo Tribune. June 26, 2020.
It’s time to apply
Indiana’s Evan Bayh Twenty-first Century Scholars program makes a simple promise: If you avoid drugs, stay out of trouble with the law and graduate high school with at least a 2.5 grade point average, the state will pay your college tuition.
The promise is working — for those who apply and meet new requirements.
This year’s class of scholars is just the fourth required to complete 12 activities to better prepare them for college. These include creating a graduation plan, participating in an extracurricular or service activity and visiting a college campus. Eligible students who fail to complete the requirements will not be awarded the state’s full-tuition scholarship.
We know children have been home from school for months because of the COVID-19 closures, and now school is out for summer.
But the Twenty-first Century Scholars program currently is accepting applications for the next class of students. The deadline is June 30. If your child is in the seventh or eighth grade and qualifies for assistance in paying for school meals, log onto www.scholars.in.gov/enroll and sign up.
Don’t delay. By making a simple pledge to remain drug-free and maintaining a GPA of 2.5, Indiana will pay your child’s tuition to a state-supported college or university.
Data gathered by the Commission for Higher Education suggest our Twenty-first Century Scholars must push themselves academically and earn an honors diploma in high school. Five percent of Howard County’s scholars who enrolled in a state-supported college in 2017 required remediation their freshman year — a 31% percent improvement in just six years. Yet, countywide, just six students among the 240 honors graduates attending a public college in 2017 needed such help.
Why is this so important? The commission has found that students who take a remedial college course have just a 1 in 4 chance of graduating.
Nearly 50% of Howard County students received free or reduced-price school lunches in 2019, the Indiana Youth Institute reports. Our five county school districts should encourage each one of these prospective Twenty-first Century Scholars to pursue an honors diploma.