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Furthermore …

Klutz

Hacking their way toward higher grades

How much is an A worth at Purdue University?

For three engineering students, the value apparently was enough to jeopardize their academic careers and more. They face a variety of burglary, theft and computer tampering charges, accused of illegally tapping into professors’ online grade books to change their grades.

A faculty member first alerted campus officials when his computer password twice was changed without his knowledge. Court documents indicate the changes were traced through an Internet Protocol address to 24-year-old Mitsutoshi Shirasaki, who had changed his grade in a lab from a C to a B.

An investigation found Shirasaki’s grades were changed for more than two dozen courses over a two-year period. In some cases, Fs were changed to As or Bs; Cs were changed to As, and As were changed to A-pluses.

Documents show that Shirasaki’s girlfriend told investigators her boyfriend advised fellow students Sujay Sharma and Roy Chaoran Sun on changing grades and hiding evidence. They allegedly helped Shirasaki break into professors’ offices to install keystroke-tracking keyboards to steal passwords.

Shirasaki is in Japan; Sun and Sharma were arrested. Sun is now a graduate student at Boston University, where officials are undoubtedly checking their computer records.

Indiana manufacturing its own recovery

Indiana earns high marks for its manufacturing prowess, according to a just-released Ball State University study.

The 2013 Manufacturing and Logistics Indiana Report by the Center for Business and Economic Research compares Indiana to its neighbors on several measures, giving the state a grade of A on the health of the state’s manufacturing and logistics industries, tax climate and global reach.

Michael Hicks, the report’s author, found that manufacturing productivity in Indiana was higher than the national average and also outperformed Illinois, Ohio, Michigan and Wisconsin.

The state’s manufacturing sector recovered from the recession faster than the nation’s, with manufacturing input increasing by $1.8 billion from 2005 to 2011.

The state’s low marks came in work benefit costs and human capital, the latter of which Hicks attributed to a decline in associate degree graduation rates. He speculates that unemployed workers returned to school to learn new skills, but dropped out when the economy improved.

County could join city in belt-tightening

Allen County officials may regret making such a big fuss about a proposal from Fort Wayne leaders to adopt a new income tax.

On Thursday, the county’s finance expert, Auditor Tera Klutz, gave the County Council a heads up that the county likely faces a budget shortfall of $1.7 million or more in 2014.

Like all local governments, the property tax caps have reduced the revenue to the county. Additionally, a recent change in state law will reduce the amount the property taxes paid on rental properties by about one third. About 60 percent of the county’s revenue comes from property taxes.

“Our property tax revenue will be lower based on that,” Klutz said, “but how much lower has not yet been calculated.”

Fort Wayne is also facing a budget shortfall in 2014 and has proposed adopting a local option income tax as part of its plan to bridge its revenue gap.

The Allen County Commissioners as well as several members of the Allen County Council were quick to criticize the proposal.

But, according to state law, local income taxes are set by the Allen County Income Tax Council, and the council’s votes are based on population. So, the City Council controls the tax council. If the City Council approves an income tax increase, it would raise the taxes of all county residents and bring in additional revenue for the county as well as the city.

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