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Editorial: Opinion roundup (August 22,2014)

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Don’t expect reform if you don’t demand it

South Bend Tribune

Ethics violations aren’t the sexiest of issues.

There’s no “gotcha” video to go viral and generate outrage and demands for reform.

There’s seemingly nothing to stir up the public when public officials engage in conduct that raises questions of an ethical nature.


That may help explain why Indiana legislators have so far failed to clean up a situation that for years has desperately cried out for attention.

We’d like to think that the three recent major cases that have vividly illustrated the deficiencies of Indiana’s ethics laws — one of them involving the Indiana House Speaker Pro Tem Eric Turner — will make the difference.

During a recent news conference, Inspector General David Thomas announced the results of a 19-month investigation:

Troy Woodruff, a state transportation official, had not broken Indiana law. Woodruff had failed to disclose his family’s sale of prime land near a highway project he oversaw.

Woodruff was cleared of criminal charges.

This is what happens when officials feel little pressure from the people they serve to address an obvious wrong. Until that changes — until voters demand their representatives fix the gaps in Indiana ethic laws — Hoosiers should expect more of the same.

Continue work of modernizing state’s courts

The Times (Munster)

Indiana’s new chief justice, Loretta Rush, has a lot on her plate. She not only has to preside over the Indiana Supreme Court, but also to modernize the state’s other courts as well.

Indiana is well on its way toward bringing courts into the 21st century, with its expansion of what promises to become a statewide computerized case management system.

That system lets lawyers file legal documents in electronic form, without having to leave their office. It also opens those documents to easier public access as a result.

That helps attorneys with small research staffs — or none at all — get information they need to better represent their clients. It also gives the public a better understanding of how the legal process works.

That’s the same rationale for our belief that Rush and her colleagues in the judicial system must now grapple with the issue of cameras in the courtroom, an area where Indiana has lagged.

The Indiana Supreme Court and Indiana Court of Appeals allow cameras to record and broadcast their proceedings, but not trials in local courts.

Rush’s agenda for her term as chief justice should include re-examining the court’s long-standing reluctance to allow cameras in Indiana courtrooms.

Bring all of Indiana’s courts fully into the 21st century.

Storing consumer data proves to be costly      

The Record Journal (Meriden, Conn.)

Target ousted its CEO in wake of last year’s computer security breaches, which reinforces the importance of companies protecting customer information stored digitally.

Gregg Steinhafel became the company’s chief corporate executive in 2008 and seemed to have achieved more good than harm. That is, until just before Christmas 2013. As the holiday shopping season approached, hackers got through Target’s digital security systems and made off with approximately 40 million credit and debit card numbers.

A month later, a different cyberattack resulted in hackers obtaining names, phone numbers, emails and mailing addresses of about 70 million customers. Multiple security breaches of such sizes, and in such a short time frame, indicate failure by top executives to pursue and enact appropriate safeguards.

While few people may feel badly for the dethroned CEO (his severance payout topped $55 million), Steinhafel’s downfall is an important lesson for business professionals. In the digital age, computer systems that store consumer data must be tightly guarded against cyber intrusion.

Security failures of the most recent holiday season badly damaged Target’s reputation and profits.

If financially feasible, it is well worth the investment to shore up the security of whatever programs collect and store digital data. Otherwise, businesses risk an irreconcilable loss of private info that could lead them, like Target, to face a clientele base suddenly short on trust and looking to shop elsewhere.

Amateur ideal in college athletics dying off

The Berkshire Eagle (Pittsfield, Mass.)

Idealists will mourn the NCAA decision to allow the wealthiest college conferences to act, in essence, more like professional sports programs as the death of the amateur ideal in athletics.

The NCAA’s plan enables five prominent conferences — the Southeastern and Atlantic Coast conferences, the Pac-12, the Big Ten and the Big 12 — and their 65 schools to, among other provisions, raise the value of scholarships (essentially salaries) and allow players to consult with agents.

The NCAA’s hand was forced by high-profile lawsuits in which former players have claimed that the organization and its members profited from selling their images on T-shirts and in video games.

Fans disgusted that big-time college sports are becoming bigger and more money-oriented can take solace that small schools are keeping the amateur ideal alive.

The play is entertaining and competitive, and money doesn’t talk.

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