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The Journal Gazette

Sunday, October 08, 2017 1:00 am

Attorney general shows support for protests

NIKI KELLY and BRIAN FRANCISCO | The Journal Gazette

Attorney General Curtis Hill was just the latest to weigh in on the NFL anthem controversy. But his statement was definitely the most nuanced.

In an opinion piece sent to newspapers, the only statewide black official explained why he stands for the anthem. But he also showed support for some in the NFL kneeling during the anthem to bring attention to race relations with police, especially the number of killings of young black men who many times are unarmed.

“But I also stand to protect the freedom of those who choose not to stand – perhaps even of those who might choose, instead, to kneel.

“Expressing respect for our nation, like praying, is something we all should do as we are blessed by the benefits of freedom every day.

“And yet mandating such expressions as somehow compulsory would violate the very freedoms we stand to protect. In our free society, we all have a choice,” Hill said.

“I choose to stand.”

Ivy Tech appointee

Cybersecurity expert Darryl Togashi has been named to Gov. Eric Holcomb's Executive Council on Cybersecurity.

Togashi is the department chair for Cybersecurity/Information Assurance, Information Technology Support, Network Infrastructure and Server Administration programs at Ivy Tech Community College's Fort Wayne Campus.

Togashi has joined government, private-sector, military, research and academic stakeholders to collaboratively improve Indiana's cybersecurity. The council is led by the Indiana Department of Homeland Security, Indiana Office of Technology, Indiana State Police and the Indiana National Guard.

The cross-sector body of subject-matter experts will form an understanding of Indiana's cyber risk profile, identify priorities, establish a strategic framework of Indiana's cybersecurity initiatives and leverage the body of talent to stay on the forefront of the cyber risk environment, according to the Indiana Cybersecurity website at Indiana.gov.

“Basically, the council will be sending recommendations to the governor regarding the state's cyber defense priorities and to see where the political realm can help to remove or mitigate these threats,” Togashi says.

With 28 council members and more than 50 advisory members, the council will deliver a comprehensive strategy plan to Holcomb by September 2018.

Donnelly low in rankings

Some conservatives have been touting a study that found Sen. Joe Donnelly, D-Ind., to be the least effective Democratic senator during the 2015-16 Congress.

The recently created Center for Effective Lawmaking, a joint project between the University of Virginia and Vanderbilt University, has scored members of Congress according to “proven ability to advance a member's agenda items through the legislative process and into law.”

The center ranked Donnelly last among the 44 Democratic senators in the 114th Congress.

“Hoosiers deserve a Senator who works for them and gets results. The Senate is broken, and Joe Donnelly is a big part of the problem,” Rep. Luke Messer, R-6th, said in a statement about the ratings.

Messer, who seeks to unseat Donnelly in next year's Indiana Senate election, ranked as the 129th most legislatively effective member in the 250-member Republican House majority in 2015-16. The Center for Effective Lawmaking compared lawmakers with colleagues in their own parties.

Out of all 100 senators, Donnelly's legislative effectiveness score of 0.136 ranked 98th. Scores were figured according to factors such as whether a bill was acted on by a congressional committee, approved by either the House or the Senate and became law.

Who had lower scores than Donnelly? His fellow Indiana senator at the time, Republican Dan Coats, ranked 99th with a score of 0.074, and former Sen. Jeff Sessions, R-Ala., was 100th with a score of 0.063. Sessions today is the nation's attorney general, and Coats is the director of national intelligence.

Former Rep. Marlin Stutzman, R-3rd, ranked 242nd in legislative effectiveness among House Republicans, with a score of 0.069. Former Rep. Todd Young, R-9th, who this year succeeded Coats in the Senate, scored 1.591 and ranked 74th in the House GOP.

“Throughout his time in the Senate, Joe Donnelly has worked hard and reached across the aisle to deliver results for Hoosiers, as proven by the 27 pieces of his own legislation that have been signed into law, five in this year alone,” Peter Hanscom, Donnelly's campaign manager, said in a statement. “Anyone who tries to claim that Joe is ineffective should talk to Indiana's service members and military families about the Jacob Sexton Military Suicide Prevention Act or with families affected by opioid abuse about the provisions he offered that were included in last year's Comprehensive Addiction and Recovery Act.”

Council prays for Vegas

The Fort Wayne City Council took a moment during Tuesday's meeting to express sadness and condolences over Sunday's mass shooting in Las Vegas.

Council President Tom Didier, R-3rd, began the council's committee session with the Pledge of Allegiance and a moment of prayer for not only the shooting victims but for Fort Wayne Fire Capt. Eric Balliet, who died during a training exercise the previous week.

City Councilman Geoff Paddock, D-5th, expressed sadness over the Las Vegas shooting in a statement earlier in the day.

“Words cannot properly express my personal heartbreak at this time,” Paddock said. “As executive director of Headwaters Park, we work constantly to provide a safe venue for families who visit concerts, festivals, not-for-profit events, weddings and outdoor ice skating in the winter. As a city councilman, I work with other city leaders to provide a well-trained police force that enhances security to many of these events at Headwaters Park and in other venues.”

Paddock said he has no relation to the shooter, despite the two sharing a last name.

Police say late Sunday 64-year-old Stephen Paddock opened fire from the 32nd floor of the Mandalay Bay in Las Vegas into a crowd of 22,000 people attending a Jason Aldean concert. Fifty-eight people were killed and nearly 500 wounded.

Dave Gong of The Journal Gazette contributed to this column.

To reach Political Notebook by email, contact Brian Francisco at bfrancisco@jg.net or Niki Kelly at nkelly@jg.net. An expanded Political Notebook can also be found as a daily blog at www.journalgazette.net/politicalnotebook.