By Lynn Fitz-Hugh
“I will give one for defense, but I’m cutting the whole offense budget,” the man said as he dropped one penny into the jar marked “Military” in our Tax Day Penny Poll. Then he dropped various amounts of his 10 pennies into various jars with labels such as Health and Human Services, Education, Foreign Humanitarian Aid, and Environmental Protection.
We’ve been conducting these polls for years across the US. A group of us stood outside a post office in Seattle on April 15th. Each “voter” was given 10 pennies to vote how s/he would like federal tax dollars to be spent. When they were finished voting I would unroll 40-inch long, one-inch high piece of paper which revealed the actual way we spend our tax dollars. It would show: 60 percent goes to the military. It showed 16 other categories (one of which is everything that gets less than one percent of the budget). The next closest to the military is Health and Human Services which received five percent last year as did Education—the winner of my penny poll.
By Phoebe Wantz
MUNCIE, IN - The classic musical Fiddler on the Roof opened tonight at Muncie Civic Theatre in downtown Muncie to a fairly full audience. The fact is that Jerry Bock’s music and Sheldon Harnick’s lyrics, not to mention Joseph Stein’s book (based on stories by the Yiddish writer Sholem Aleichem), constitute such wonderful material that theatergoers tend to be pleased regardless of the quality of a production.
The key to success with any version of Fiddler is having the right actor as Tevya.
This production featured Steve Brown as the philosophical Jewish dairyman in 1905 Tsarist Russia in a little town named Anatevka. Zero Mostel originated the role in 1964 and his quirky, inimitable stamp will remain on it forever. For Muncie theatergoers from years past and Muncie Civic members Jan Etchison is the “Tevya” who will be remembered forever. Jan played “Tevya” on the Muncie Civic stage in the late ‘70’s and at the Ball State Little Theatre.
By Brian Howey
INDIANAPOLIS – The headline fixation in the fledgling administration of Gov. Mike Pence has been his 10-percent income tax cut. It is, what Chief of Staff Bill Smith observes, “the shiny object” and one that Senate Appropriations Chairman Luke Kenley partially restored on Thursday at 3.3% after it didn’t make the House Republican budget.
The narrative after 80 days is an administration that has groped for a voice and a gravitas on the issues. Gov. Pence said at one point, “We have to do a better job of getting our message out.”
But after spending several days deep in the gubernatorial warrens on the Statehouse second floor, what emerges is an array of numbers that when pieced together in what is now an incomplete jigsaw puzzle, a different story line emerges.
Gov. Pence’s nine agenda bills are, for the most part, progressing. There was a staff review of some 2,200 bills that emerged prior to this long session, one that the Pence team had just seven weeks to prepare. According to Senior Policy Director Marilee J. Springer, there have been 95 meetings on individual pieces of legislation over eight weeks. There have been 138 meetings between the new governor and legislators.
By Rex Bell
MUNCIE< IN - The Delaware County Circuit Court recently ruled that Ball State University could forcibly take private property to build a hotel. As if this decision wasn't horrible enough, BSU is also insisting that the victims of the decision should be required to post a $1 million appeal bond before another court can re-hear the case.
As we continue our decline into a state of unlimited government, we all need to remember that under the court's rationale, if a state college decided to open a satellite school anywhere, any neighboring property would be fair game for any reason.
By Rick Yencer
MUNCIE, IN - Delaware County's political parties trusted the leaders they know as the Republican Party of money and Democratic Party of the people organized on Saturday.
The only contest in the Republican Party that was closed to the central committee and invited guests ended with Will Statom, a county voter registration official, winning re-election over attorney Eric Welch by a two-thirds margin. 78-44.
The Democratic election of Police Chief Steve Stewart was by acclamation since no one else wanted the job, Stewart, named chief by Mayor Dennis Tyler, succeeded attorney Mike Quirk who stepped down because of a growing law practice.
Statom's only words to the Free Press were "get out" since the Republican caucus in Selma was limited to invited guests and the central committee. He has a history in the media as the crazy Republican leader who hit a news reporter and then gave a black eye to a Democratic congressional candidate.
By Congressman Luke Messer
When it comes to the sequester, President Obama is putting politics first. The President claims that sequester cuts would be “draconian,” creating major disruptions in everything from air travel to public safety to food inspections. The truth is that, even with the sequester cuts, federal spending will be slightly higher this year than last.
The sequester calls for $85 billion in spending cuts, and that is a lot of money. However, when compared to a $3.6 trillion budget, the reductions are actually relatively modest. In fact, the non-partisan Congressional Budget Office predicts actual spending this year will be reduced by $44 billion, with the remainder spread out over future years. Again, that sounds like a lot of money. But spending on the programs subject to these automatic cuts has increased by almost 15 percent since the President took office.
Listening to the President, one would think there is nothing in government upon which we could spend just a little less. How about $2.2 billion on free cell phones provided by the government? How about the $4 million taxpayers spend annually for a television studio at the IRS? How about the $1 million NASA spends each year to come up with a menu for when we live on Mars? How about the $325,000 spent developing a robotic squirrel? These are just a few examples of the many frivolous things the government spends billions on that we simply don’t need or can’t afford.
By Rex Bell
We have a two and a half year old grandson that doesn’t have a lot of tolerance for his six month old sister. I don’t suppose that’s an unusual situation, and we’re convinced he will warm up to her presence eventually. I probably wasn’t as tolerant of my younger siblings as I should or could have been in my younger days. That’s why I’m not convinced tolerance is something we are born with. I think it has to be taught and learned.
I grew up with seven brothers and sisters, so the tolerance we didn’t learn for each other on our own, we were taught out of necessity by our parents. I also learned a lot about tolerance from my parents when my old buddy Stinky Wilmont would come over to our house for a visit. Stinky quite often behaved outside of the accepted social norms that Mom and Dad had established for the immediate family, but my parents seemed to tolerate worse behavior from him than they would from us. I figured out later that sometimes toleration is influenced by expectations. I guess Mom expected better behavior out of her offspring, so she tolerated less bad behavior.
By John Gregg
There are times in life in which we all feel we just can’t catch a break. The cards are stacked against us. We can’t beat the system. We can’t fight city hall. We feel powerless in the face of unfairness and injustice.
We want to give up.
And then something reminds us that we are blessed to live in the greatest country the world has ever known, where anything is still possible.
For me, that reminder came last week by way of a friend – and I wanted to share it with you. On Tuesday, after years of court battles, Vernon 'Hughie' Bowman, a small farmer from my hometown of Sandborn, took his fight against one of the nation’s largest corporations to the U.S. Supreme Court.
By Phoebe Wantz
Southern Baptist Sissies," Del Shores' play, opened tonight at Muncie Civic Main Street Studio Theatre. This is the story of four young boys who have to grapple with being gay and Baptist at the same time.
First off the casting in this show is superb. It is as though these roles were written for these actors. They are just what you would imagine them to be in character, and appearance. It looks as though the Director, Robby Tompkins, just hand-picked them out of central casting. They are just what you would want for these roles.
By Tom Purcell
Hey, pallie, what the heck happened to romance?
I use the word "pallie" in deference to the great Dean Martin. A few summers ago, just before the annual Dean Martin Festival in Dino's home town of Steubenville, Ohio, I decided to compare today's hits with his.
I started with the No. 1 song on Billboard Magazine's Hot 100 list, "Hips Don't Lie" by Shakira. This song was a hit, no doubt, because of its eloquent lyrics:
Nobody can ignore the way you move your body, girl
And everything so unexpected -- the way you right and left it
So you can keep on shaking it
No. 2 on the list was "Ridin'" by Chamillionaire, a rap performer. Here's a little taste of that song's poetry:
Tippin' down, sittin' crooked on my chrome
Bookin' my phone, tryin' to find a chick I wanna (slang expletive)