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Column: Opinion roundup

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EDITOR’S NOTE—Today, the Daily Journal presents a

sampling of editorials from around the state.

Lack of flights restricts Indianapolis access

Indiana Business Journal

Hoosier technology entrepreneurs have fretted for decades about the shortage of direct flights to technology hotbeds. They say the transportation hurdles frustrate their efforts to land venture capital, thereby holding back the growth of budding tech firms in the region.

It’s a serious problem, we believe, albeit one that’s difficult to fix. So, like most difficult problems, nothing happens. As the years roll by, and the airline industry retrenches in a quest for financial health, the flight woes only get worse.

But last week’s Indianapolis Business Journal reported on an entirely different consequence of the direct-flight problem that should — must — break us out of our stupor and get something done.

The story highlighted growing frustration among conventioneers about the difficulty of flying into and out of Indianapolis.

It noted that attendance at the huge CEDIA electronics trade show last month was down sharply from what it had been in Atlanta and Denver — cities with far better air access.

Visit Indy CEO Leonard Hoops doesn’t sugarcoat the problem. “As we’ve grown, it’s opened us up to a larger pool of convention business,” he said. “But that pool increasingly prefers better air lift than Indianapolis currently has.”

We see encouraging signs that city leaders are mobilizing to address the problem. Those include the recent appointment of Deputy Mayor Michael Huber as the Indianapolis Airport Authority’s senior director for commercial enterprise. He lists attracting flights among his top priorities.

Whatever city and airport officials come up with must be creative. And it must not be built upon dangling rich incentive packages to airlines in return for flights — an approach some cities in our predicament have taken.

The challenges are daunting. But if Indianapolis overcomes them, the payoff will be enormous — a more vibrant business community and a convention industry poised for another wave of expansion.

Mourdock’s comments leave party embarrassed

Journal & Courier (Lafayette)

“Life is that gift from God. I think that even when life begins in that horrible situation of rape, that it is something God intended to happen.”

Moments after he uttered those words during a Tuesday night debate, Richard Mourdock, Indiana’s Republican candidate for U.S. Senate, was trying to tamp down a fire of criticism that raged beyond his immediate control.

Mourdock insisted that it would be “bizarre,” “sick” and “twisted” to take his comments, which came in response to a question about the candidates’ stances on abortion, and make it sound as if he thought God somehow condoned rape. “What I said is God creates life. As a person of faith I believe that,” Mourdock said.

Whether he believed some other, more clear version of the statement was closer to his true views on rape, abortion and God’s will, the damage was done.

It is outrageous. There is a reason Mourdock’s comment was national news. And it is an embarrassment to Hoosiers dragged down into anything that suggests such backward thinking is the norm here.

The oddest thing about Mourdock’s comments on God’s will is that it was so unnecessary. The Senate contest was tight going into Tuesday night. But abortion was barely a divider between Mourdock and Donnelly and Libertarian Andrew Horning, all of whom claim anti-abortion stands.

On Wednesday, Mourdock said he apologized if anyone heard something other than what he meant in his words about rape and abortion. As for what he actually said during the debate, Mourdock said he’d be “less than faithful” if he apologized for those.

With fewer than one week until Election Day, and with many Hoosiers looking to vote early, Mourdock has dug another hole for himself. We’ll see if Hoosiers are willing to accept that first apology or were waiting for something more.

‌State fair officials need to bring concerts back

The Herald Bulletin (Anderson)

Celebrating the year of the dairy cow, officials planning this past Indiana State Fair might have gone a bit off target with hosting concerts by Barry Manilow.

Udderly, it was a bad choice.

Many Hoosiers know that Manilow and milk cows don’t mix.

Nor do the rock bands Train or Journey conjure images of elephant ears.

A concert with Blake Shelton we understand — but families likely can’t spend upward of $75 apiece.

That doesn’t leave much cash to take the kids to the midway.

And those concerts were held at Bankers Life Fieldhouse, some four miles away from the fairgrounds. The reason for moving to the home of the Pacers certainly was understandable: officials, and many fair-goers, were leery of holding concerts on the same stage where 11 people were killed in 2011 when outdoor rigging collapsed.

Nevertheless, fair officials recently decided that the downtown venue and mismatched talent didn’t work.

A financial report has indicated that fair event revenue, including downtown concerts, was 40 percent below expectations, amounting to $1.1 million and leaving the fair a $505,000 profit. A $601,000 profit had been anticipated for the 17-day fair that ran Aug. 3 to 19.

On top of that, fair attendance for 2012 was 853,941, below the anticipated attendance of 875,000. Blame the heat and rain or that many schools started classes in August. But, to be honest, fair-goers want all their activities at the fairgrounds. Parking is bad enough at the 38th Street grounds; once attendees are in, they want to stay there.

Maybe bringing fans back will be the $63 million renovation of the fairgrounds’ Coliseum complex. It should, in fact it must, reopen for the 2014 fair.

At state fairs, the world’s largest boar should hog the spotlight, not glitzy entertainment. Fair-goers get exposed to the rich heritage of a state’s agriculture. Walking around a fair’s grounds, even a dusty one, can be so much more rewarding than traipsing from a parking garage along a city sidewalk and paying hundreds of dollars for a family to see a concert.

What’s fair about that?

Fair officials should consider returning to what worked before: inexpensive, affordable entertainment that complements a day in Indianapolis, something that makes Hoosiers proud of the fair.

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