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Senator Rogers: Stop the Pettiness, Focus on Education

E Rogers
Governor, state board must end pettiness, focus on early learning 
By State Senator Earline Rogers (D-Gary)
In the 38 years I spent at the front of a classroom, I’ve undoubtedly seen this type of behavior before. Not getting what they want, a student chooses to sulk and do everything in their power to disrupt what’s going on around them. It’s expected from grade-schoolers. It’s something else altogether to witness this childish behavior from the “adults” in Indianapolis when it is at the detriment of Hoosier students.
In 2012, Hoosiers rallied behind then candidate for Superintendent of Public Instruction Glenda Ritz, electing her over her opponent, with more votes statewide than the governor himself received. Since then, Superintendent Ritz has faced attempts from this administration to dilute her constitutionally-mandated office and obstruct her vision for Indiana education policy. Hoosiers made it clear they were fed up with the previous administration’s assault on local control and attitude that Indianapolis knows best when it comes to overseeing the direction of our schools. Ritz has shifted the focus back to students, parents and teachers by strengthening the connection and upping the dialogue between her Department of Education (DOE) and our schools.
Instead of focusing on kids, there has been a return to theheavy-handed policies Hoosiers soundly rejected. At a time when the state’s agencies have been asked to tighten their belts by $75 million, the administration created a new agency tasked with deposing Ritz’s Department of Education. Of the Center for Education and Career Innovation’s 16 staffers, six make more than $100,000 and the pseudo-agency has been heavily criticized for performing functions already handled by the DOE.
The governor-appointed State Board of Education has displayed a willingness to flat out ignore the will of Hoosiers voters and Indiana statute in their efforts to undercut Ritz. That statute plainly spells out that the superintendent chairs the state board and her agency alone is tasked with calculating schools’ A-F grades. That didn’t stop board members from covertly attempting to have those grades calculated by an outside entity and regularly challenging Ritz’s authority as board chair. 
What’s most upsetting is the willingness to elevate pettiness over policy. Ritz has been an ardent supporter of early childhood education and ensuring Hoosier children arrive in classrooms ready to learn. Instead of focusing on education policy, the administration is caught up in attempting to erase elections results from more than a year ago.
It’s my hope the governor joins Superintendent Ritz, the Senate Democrats and others education stakeholders this upcoming legislative session in embracing the benefits of quality early childhood education.
Sen. Rogers represents Indiana Senate District 3 which encompasses portions of Lake County. District 3 communities include Gary, Lake Station, New Chicago, Hobart, Ainsworth, Merrillville and Crown Point.
For more information on Sen. Rogers, her legislative agenda or other State Senate business call 1-800-382-9467 or visit www.IN.gov/s3....
 

Murder Charge Filed Against Gary Man

A number of charges, including murder, have been filed against a 21 year old man in the death of a Gary resident earlier this month. According to court documents, Mark Cherry, of Gary, is accused of killing 22 year old Rolando Correa at a home in the 62-hundred block of West 29th Avenue, shortly after midnight on December 2nd. Investigators say it was determined that three masked gunmen came to the front door of the residence and tried to get in, then went around to the side door, where they came into contact with one of the occupants of the home. Police say they led him back into the house at gunpoint, a struggle ensued and shots were fired. Four people were shot, including Cherry, authorities say, and a man later identified by the Lake County Coroners Office as 22-year-old Rolando Correa was pronounced dead at approximately 2 am at an area hospital....
 

Cook County Sheriff's Office to Begin DUI Patrols Saturday

Cook County Sheriff
The Cook County Sheriff's Office reports they will be conducting significant enforcement efforts during the next two-weeks, focusing on DUI violators and seat belt violations. Sheriff Thomas Dart says the DUI enforcement will begin Saturday night, with extra patrols focusing on seat belt enforcement on January 3rd and 4th. ...
 

Target Believes Debit Card PIN #'s Safe and Secure

Target said today customer PIN data was stolen during the holiday shopping data breach. ABC News reports personal identification numbers meant to ensure secure transactions were among the data vacuumed from the magnetic strip of 40 million credit and debit cards. Target said the PIN data is strongly encrypted so it believes debit cards have not been comprised. To be safe some banks limited how much affected customers could withdraw from an ATM or buy with their debit cards but Target said "we remain confident that PIN numbers are safe and secure." ...
 

Michigan City Police: Top Scams of 2013

yagelski
Michigan City Police Sgt. Chris Yagelski released his list of "Top 10 Scams of 2013" today.  Here is his article:
Top 10 Scams of 2013
By: Sergeant Chris Yagelski
Five years have passed since I started reporting on Scams and Frauds to educate the Citizen’s of LaPorte County. I am amazed at how many scams have surfaced and resurfaced over the years. I decided to create a Top 10 Scams of 2013 list that I have uncovered and reported during this time. It is amazing, looking back, how many of the scams I have reported five years ago continue to plague victims today. I receive calls from all over the country of victim’s experiencing the same scams as it is not unique to our area. [Photo/Michigan City Police]
The rapid change in the shape and operation of the Internet, notably the huge growth of social networking, has introduced new techniques for delivering scams, and the number of victims has gone up by leaps and bounds.
There have been high incidents of hijacking Hotmail and Facebook accounts by hackers who then claim to be the account holder in urgent need of cash.
Not surprisingly at all the scam which is the root of most scams is the offense of “phishing” -- the crime of stealing personal information for identity theft -- which is by far the biggest scam and remains firmly at the head of my Top 10 scams list for 2013.  (To link to the article at the Michigan City Police Department Facebook page click here: https://www.facebook.com/pages/Michigan-City-Police-Department/139079239462310    )
Let's now take a look at my top 10 SCAMS for 2013
 #10. Grandparent Scam This one usually re-surfaces a few times a year. In these types of scams, the perpetrator often calls a grandparent or other relative pretending to be his/her grandchild/niece/nephew, etc. The caller sounds upset and typically states there are only a few moments to talk. Callers may say that they have a cold if you don't quite recognize their voice, or cue-in on feedback from the call to sound even more convincing (scam victims often report being sure they were talking to their actual relative, but it's a clever trick!). Their story generally follows a familiar line: they were traveling in another country with a friend, and after a car accident or legal infraction, they are in jail and need bail money wired to a Western Union account as soon as possible for their quick release.
 #9. Doorstep Scams These types of offers include a deal to seal or repave your driveway, a roofer with left over material from a previous job, a furnace repair that you didn’t schedule or a gas fireplace “inspection.” These fraudulent “contractors” use high-pressure sales tactics and offers of a one-time deal to entice or frighten consumers into expensive and often unnecessary home repairs.
 #8. Work from home schemes A work-at-home scam is a get-rich-quick scheme in which a victim is lured by an offer to be employed at home, very often doing some simple task in a minimal amount of time with a large amount of income that far exceeds the market rate for the type of work. The true purpose of such an offer is for the perpetrator to extort money from the victim, either by charging a fee to join the scheme, or requiring the victim to invest in products by cashing a bogus check and sending a “sample” Western Union payment to their corporate office.
 #7. Lottery Scams Sadly, as I report all of the time, this crime targets mainly the elderly. There's apparently still no shortage of victims willing to pay up to hundreds of thousands of dollars in bogus fees to collect non-existent winnings. Remember…. “If it is too good to be true…it is usually not true.” And you cannot win a lottery or raffle or drawing if you have never entered or purchased a ticket!
 #6. Nigerian Scams The continuing efforts by the Nigerian government to clamp down on this scam seem to be having little effect. A TV documentary broadcast a few months ago showed how whole towns in and around the Gold Coast have become dependent on the proceeds of scams.
 I would like to point out that the latest version of the Nigerian scam claims that a compensation fund has been set up and invites previous victims to put in a claim pretending they are filing a “class action suit” against the original scammers. Then, of course, the scammer requests a fee before the supposed compensation can be released and the vicious circle continues.
 #5. Lonely Hearts Club Scam Through efforts on Facebook and other dating sites crooks are always looking to scam someone into sending gifts or financial help to alleged “Friends”.
Thieves are also muscling in on the bogus “Girlfriend Scam” or “Mail-order Bride”. Victims are befriending alleged girlfriends online, and end up paying supposedly for airfares and other expenses for their new but non-existent sweetheart.
 #4. Malware Scams Malware short for “malicious software” is software used to disrupt computer use, gather sensitive information, or gain access or freeze private computers. As reported earlier this year people were receiving “Notices from the FBI” over improper downloading and were required to send in a payment to “unfreeze” their computer and pay the fine.
 #3. Computer MICROSOFT virus fixing scheme Scammers often call as a “Microsoft Representative” in which most people understand this term or remember it displayed on their computers. Scammers then warn victims their computer has been infected with a virus and offer to clean it. But the scammer is really trying to gain remote access to the computer to steal credit card information. The scammer will say they need remote access to provide the supposed services, and will ask for computer passwords and related information. They will also ask for credit card information so they can bill for the supposed services.
 #2. Green Dot Card scams Residents receive a phone call informing them they have “Won” a prize or sweepstakes and all they have to do is buy a legitimate Green Dot Card. They usually lure you in further by asking you where you purchase your prescriptions or where you feel comfortable. Pharmacies such as Walgreens, CVS, and stores such as Meijer’s and Wal-Mart all carry these legitimate cards for a service fee of $4.95.
 Green Dot cards are reloadable credit cards that are not tied to bank or credit union. The caller makes you feel that this is safe because you are purchasing this card locally.
 The caller informs them that “IT IS NOT A SCAM” and by just purchasing the cards and loading up a certain amount of money it makes you eligible to receive prizes right through the mail or have the “lottery money” sent right to your home.
 Next in order to receive your prizes or money you must call back this phony company and “Confirm your purchase” by just reading them the numbers off of this card to show your eligibility.
 At this point the perpetrator of the scam “instantly dumps the balance of your card to his account” this now makes the victim helpless in getting any of the money back.
 In other words, it's a money transfer that bypasses the traditional cash-wiring companies and offers a far more effective cloak of anonymity for scammers.
 #1. Phishing and Identify Theft The invasion by scammers of social networking sites, such as Facebook and Twitter, together with malware downloads (see above) making this crime the top slot of 2013. We must be so diligent in our efforts to not give any information over the telephone to anyone.
 However, for the New Year, a newcomer that I expect to grow significantly in the coming months is "Skimming” and “Cell Phone Text Messages”. Skimming involves a variety of crimes including thefts from ATM machines and capturing of credit card information at restaurants, gas stations and other retail outlets.
 Instead of sending you a phishing email, scammers send you a cell phone text message, supposedly from your bank, asking you to visit a website whose address looks genuine. It isn't, and once keyed in, takes you to a bogus site that asks for personal details so the bank can "unlock" or "verify" your account.
 Solution: As with phishing emails, never follow a link, even one you have to manually key in, that you don't know for sure. And never provide confidential information unless you know the site is secure -- with an "s" in the "https" part of the address line and/or a padlock icon in the message area of your browser.
 Compiling this list of the Top 10 Scams is not a pleasant task but I have found that educating the public is our number one way we can fight becoming potential victims.
 However, it does reinforce our determination to do everything we possibly can to reduce the impact of these despicable crimes. By highlighting the risks and publishing this top scams list, which I invite you to pass on to friends and relatives, perhaps we can do just that....
 

Brief Warm Up Before More Bitter Cold

coldmap
The National Weather Service says the Region will see a little warmup before bitter cold temperatures return early in the week. Meteorologists say we're getting a break today and especially Saturday when some of us could see highs in the 50s.  However, forecasters say another bitterly cold Arctic blast, accompanied by dangerously low wind chills, will make it feel like Winter again Sunday through Wednesday.  [Image/US National Weather Service Northern Indiana, showing temperatures across Alaska & NW Canada this morning ranging from -5° to -40° .  Meteorologist with the Northern Indiana National Weather Service office say this air will drop southeast and drop temperatures into the teens here in northwest Indiana by Monday]...
 

Eight Names to be Read at Ceremony

Today is the final Friday of the month, the day of the Hobart Marine Corps League Howlin' Mad Detachment Number 93 Doughboy ceremony where the names of fallen soldiers are read out loud – eight names are being read tonight. The public is invited to the service, which starts at 5 pm at the Hobart Doughboy statue at 7th and Main. Doughboy was a term used to describe U-S infantrymen of the American Expeditionary Force during World War One. ...
 

Flu Cases Up in Indiana

fluview50

Cases of influenza have taken a jump in Indiana. The most recent report from the Centers for Disease Control shows influenza activity is now considered regional in the state, up from sporadic the week before, and just one step below what the CDC categorizes as widespread. Regional influenza activity was also reported in Illinois, Kentucky and seventeen other states. Widespread flu was being reported in four states: Alabama, Louisiana, New York and Texas. One state – Vermont – reported no influenza activity. [Image/CDC http://www.cdc.gov/flu/weekly/#S5   ]...
 

Ball State Students Envision New Uses for Old Planes

SkyBrary
The sky's not the limit for college students at Ball State trying to find new ways to use old aircraft. An architecture professor has challenged students to imagine uses for thousands of derelict commercial aircraft parked in airplane graveyards around the country and the world. Among their ideas... a safe room fashioned frm Boeing 747 components that could be embedded inside a conventional home to provide shelter from tornadoes and severe storms... an entire house framed with 747 wing and fuselage segments... and a 'skybrary', a futuristic small-town library made out of parts of fuselage and wings, with an array of seats, shelves and other airplane pieces. [Image/Ball State University]...
 

President Signs Respect for National Cemeteries Act

President Obama has signed legislation introduced by Indiana US Senators Joe Donnelly and Dan Coats giving the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs and the U.S. Department of the Army the authority to disinter veterans who've committed a Federal or State capital crime and are mistakenly buried in national cemeteries. Coats and Donnelly say the Alicia Dawn Koehl Respect for National Cemeteries Act was named for an Indianapolis apartment complex manager who was fatally shot 13 times by a tenant, Michael Anderson, in May of last year, who then took his own life and was mistakenly buried with full military honors at Fort Custer National Cemetery in Michigan. Indiana 5th District Congresswoman Susan Brooks sponsored companion legislation in the House. Federal law already prohibited individuals who “have committed a Federal or State capital crime but were unavailable for trial due to death” from being buried in national cemeteries. The Koehl family requested that Anderson be disinterred, but the VA lacked the authority to do so. 
 
...
 

Arrest in Deaths of Former Lowell Woman, Daughter

A 20-year-old Indianapolis man has been charged in the deaths of a former northwest Indiana woman and her daughter. Police say 52-year-old Marylyn Erb, who grew up in Lowell, and 23-year-old Kelley Erb were found dead last Friday inside their home in Westfield, a community just north of Indianapolis. Authorities say 20-year-old Christian Rene Haley has been charged with two counts of murder, two counts of felony murder, robbery, burglary and theft. Police say they have determined that the victim's home was not randomly chosen by the suspect, but authorities did not release any other details. Police thanked the public for providing numerous tips and information. The investigation has been a multiagency effort that also included officers from Hamilton County, Noblesville, Indiana State Police, Indianapolis, Lawrence, and US Marshals. The Westfield Police Department says the home invasion robbery occurred during the midday hours of Friday, December 20, and that both victims died as a result of blunt force trauma, police say.
...
   

Pregnant Teen Found Fatally Shot

In south suburban Dolton, police continue to investigate the death of a 17-year-old pregnant girl found shot in the head in an alley between two houses Christmas evening. Authorities say Eva Casara was pronounced dead at an area hospital Thursday. Doctors were able to save her baby, a girl born premature at about six-months, , officials say, who at last word was in critical condition....

   

Secondary Scams to Follow Massive Data Breach

Dan Hendrickson, communications coordinator for the Better Business Bureau, says further publicity of the huge data breach of shoppers at Target stores will cause even more dangers ahead.


Hendrickson says scammers are using this well publicized event as reason for sending out virus-filled email messages. He says the messages sympathize with the consumers' plight, "Saying, 'Hey you know, we understand you were effected by this target thing. Click on this link here or download this file and it will tell you what you need to do.'"


Meanwhile Hendrickson says the BBB is, "advising people to be very, very leery of any emails to do with  this target situation." He says that is is more likely you would get a letter (snail) mailed to you from your bank or credit card provider explaining what occurred and what to do next.
 
 
The breach affects consumers who made credit or debit card purchases any time from November 27 to December 15. Target says it takes the privacy of shopper information very seriously and worked swiftly to resolve the incident.


 
Target also is telling those who think they might be affected to be vigilant about their credit and debit card accounts. 


 
Hendrickson says those affected, "need to be watching their accounts and, again, if they see any suspicious charges or charges they didn't authorize, they should get in touch with their bank and credit card company immediately, because after 60 days, if they don't contest those charges, they may be liable for them." 


 
In addition, Hendrickson says that with the ever-growing number of identity-theft crimes, staying aware of frauds and scams is something people should do year-round....

   

Hunger Goes Beyond the Holiday Season in Indiana

A cut in federal food assistance benefits last month means about $36 less a month in food stamp benefits and that difference is leading to longer lines at area food pantries.  
 
Tim Keane, of Second Harvest Foodbank says the reduction is an issue in particular for people who are struggling, " because their resources are stretched just as much as everyone else's,"  
 
Keane said hunger in Indiana is widespread, with one in six adults and one in four children considered "food insecure," not certain whether they'll have enough food for regular meals everyday.  
 
While some experts claim the economic recovery started more than a year ago, Keane said the increasing number of clients at their food pantries paints a different picture. "There may be more folks that now have found it difficult to find employment that will pay them a living wage," he said. "So, we see folks that maybe used to be our donors, are now are in line as clients receiving service." 
 
During the holiday season, helping others is top of mind for many people. But Kean said he's more worried about what happens to needy families after the first of the year. "January, February, March, where the weather is typically the worst, utility costs are typically the highest and resources may be more scarce than they've ever been," he said.
 
 
Keane believes local, state and federal leaders need to take a closer look at the reasons some people are struggling now more than ever, and develop long-term solutions.
 
 
For more information about hunger in Indiana and how you can help visit: http://www.curehunger.org...
   

East Chicago Woman Dies as Result of Monday Crash

An East Chicago woman died on Wednesday due to injuries sustained in a three-vehicle crash Monday afternoon at the intersection of State Road 49 and County Road 600 North. The Porter County Sheriff's Office reports 75 year old Patricia Dahlin was conscious after the crash and spoke to medical personnel at the scene, with the only visible injury being a dislocated left elbow. Porter County Coroner Chuck Harris says a brain injury led to her death as a result of the crash.
According to the crash report Patricia Dahlin was a passenger in the vehicle driven by 79 year old Carl Dahlin who was extricated from the vehicle and taken to the hospital. Authorities say the driver of one of the vehicles involved reported she watched the Dahlin vehicle cross from the east to the median on County Road 600 North, but the rear of the vehicle was not completely out of the roadway and she did not have enough time to avoid it and struck the driver's rear side. The third vehicle was stopped in the median, waiting for southbound traffic on State Road 49 to clear, when the previously mentioned impact caused her vehicle to be struck....
   

Most Common Orthopedic Surgery May Not Help at All

Most common orthopedic surgery may not help at all according to the findings of a new study.  ABC News reports minimally invasive surgery to repair torn cartilage in the knee is performed some 700-thousand times each year in this country but researchers in Finland found, after one year, there was no difference in pain. The scientists staged fake surgeries in real operating rooms and compared the results to legitimate surgeries. After one year there was no difference in knee pain after exercise and no difference in the number of patients who needed more surgeries for the same problem. If the results hold up some experts take it to mean a four billion dollar elective surgery industry is unnecessary. ...
   

SNAP Benefit Delivery Dates to Change in January

FSSA
More than 926-thousand Hoosiers from approximately 418-thousand households across Indiana have been informed of Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, or SNAP, changes that will impact them starting in January. Indiana Family and Social Services Administration Spokesperson Marni Lemons says a change of date on which all SNAP recipients receive their benefits begins January 1st but the amount received will not change. Lemons says to phase in the change, in the month of January 2014 only, SNAP clients will receive half of their benefits on their current date and the other half on their new date. Payment dates for SNAP depend on the first letter of the client’s last name, and benefits have previously been made to clients during the first 10 days of each month. Starting in 2014, SNAP payments will be spread from the fifth through the 23rd of every month, on odd days.
This chart and the example below demonstrate the distribution of benefits for SNAP clients and how they will change:


First letter of SNAP recipient’s last name
A or B
C or D
E, F or G
H or I
J, K or L
M or N
O, P, Q or R
S
T, U or V
W, X, Y or Z
Old deposit date
1st
2nd
3rd
4th
5th
6th
7th
8th
9th 
10th
New deposit date
5th
7th
9th
11th
13th
15th
17th
19th
21st
23rd

Here, for example, are dates for a client with the last name “Smith:”

            December 2013 benefits - issued December 8, 2013
            January 2014 benefits – half issued January 8, 2014 and half issued January 19, 2014
            February 2014 benefits – issued on new date of February 19, 2014

Lemons says the changes are a result of Senate Enrolled Act 530, which was past earlier this year by the Indiana General Assembly. To hear more, click News Audio On Demand and for a link for more information on the date changes, visit http://www.in.gov/fssa/dfr/4832.htm...
   

Hobart Teen Accused of Making Death Threats

porter co sheriff dept
A 15 year old Hobart boy could face a misdemeanor charge of intimidation after threatening to kill a Facebook user and his family. The Porter County Sheriff's Office reports they were informed of the alleged death threat on Tuesday and report the issue stemmed from the teen becoming upset of a comment about his bad grammar and the user using racist slang. The Sheriff's Office reports the Hobart teen informed them, while he did post a photo of a gun and also threatened to blow up the user's house, he had no intention of committing those actions, as he has no access to a gun and the photo was found online. Authorities say the incident has been referred to the juvenile probation department for review. ...
   

Indiana Dunes Tourism Earns DMAP Reaccreditation

Indiana Dunes Tourism Logo Color copy
Indiana Dunes Tourism announced today they have earned re-accreditation from Destination Marketing Association International's accreditation program. Promotions Director Ken Kosky says Indiana Dunes Tourism was first accredited in 2009 and the accreditation period lasts for four years. To become accredited, a destination marketing organization like Indiana Dunes Tourism must successfully comply with 58 mandatory and 30 voluntary standards in areas that include governance, finance, human resources, sales, communications, destination development and research. Kosky says the re-accreditation is a testament to management and the overall job they are doing to promote the destination. Indiana Dunes Tourism is one of only 172 destination marketing organizations in the world to achieve this distinction....
   

Beta Steel Explosion Settlement Reached

A settlement has been reached regarding a January 2010 plant explosion in Portage that resulted in the death of a Griffith man and severe injuries to a Valparaiso man. Of the eight-point-two million dollar settlement, three-point-four million, minus attorney fees, will go to the survivors of Michael Kies. Stephen Kinlaw, who was left disabled after the explosion at the former Beta Steel plant, will receive the balance, minus attorney fees. According to the settlement, operators had knowledge or should have known of a previous furnace explosion and modifications made increased the probability of another such incident taking place. The two men were repairing a leak on the roof of the furnace when the explosion occurred....
   

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