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Monday, January 25, 2021

Vote ‘yes’ for Wishard; vote ‘maybe’ on Classic changes

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It is a no brainer.

I’m voting “yes” on the Wishard Hospital referendum and I urge everyone in Indianapolis/Marion County to do the same.

Over the past 30 years, the hospitals in this area have either built new or upgraded their facilities. Medicine has evolved and modernized during that time. The ability of today’s doctors, nurses and medical professionals to diagnose, treat, heal and cure is light years ahead of what it was when the old General Hospital was created in this city and county in 1855.

As a hospital of last resort for thousands, Wishard deserves to give its patients, no matter their station in life, the same treatment they’d get at Methodist, Clarian, St. Vincent’s, Community, St. Francis and the VA.

Our veterans, those who wore the uniform of our country, now receive world-class care at a brand new VA Hospital on the IUPUI campus. Don’t the residents of our city/county deserve the same modern medical facilities our veterans receive?

Over the past couple of decades, Wishard has made great strides in the quality of their patient care. Their partnership with the Indiana University School of Medicine and access to their teaching professionals, the medical students and the interns has benefited patients.

Some critics believe that because IU benefits, then IU should shoulder more of the cost of Wishard’s rebuilding. Yet with medical school tuition obscenely high, that would make it almost impossible for minorities to enter a profession where minority physicians are desperately needed.

In terms of facilities, Wishard provides world-class care. Its burn unit is one of the best in the nation. Unlike many “county” or “public hospitals” in America, Wishard has invested the resources into being a Level 1 Trauma Center. That world-class trauma center cares for the victims of violence in our community; including the least of these.

Remember last year’s medical miracle of police officer Jason Fishburn, who was brought to Wishard near death? Because of God’s hand steering Wishard’s doctors and nurses; because of their skill and the prayers of an entire community, Fishburn is with us today. As are many others.

Some of those who oppose the Wishard referendum have concerns about a possible, worst case scenario of potential property tax increases, if Wishard’s non-tax income falters.

Wishard’s needs should not be held hostage to that fear. Nor should Wishard’s needs be held hostage because of past municipal sins in funding the Hoosier/RCA Dome, the Water Company deal, Circle Centre Mall or the CIB/Lucas Oil Stadium mess.

We should have had the opportunity to vote on those projects, but Indiana law didn’t allow it then, as it does now. And now that it does, the past shouldn’t be held against a project that truly benefits ordinary folks. Making Wishard pay for the sins of other projects by voting “no” is shortsighted and not fair to our community.

And because a disproportionate number of African-Americans patronize Wishard, opposition by predominantly white tax protestors makes it appear, to some in our Black community, to be racially based.

Most opponents advocating voting “no” are fair-minded. Their opposition is based on long standing convictions against tax increases. Unfortunately, though, one nefarious blogger’s advocacy against the Wishard referendum is blinded by his bigotry and racism that approaches that of Rush Limbaugh, Ann Coulter, Glenn Beck and their ilk.

Other than the bigoted blogger, I respect the views of the referendum opponents, but I feel strongly that they’re wrong.

It’s important to vote “yes” on the Wishard referendum.

Not voting is letting the forces of “no” in our community win against those of us who want the best for our community!

Vote “YES” on Tuesday!

What I’m Hearing in the Streets

How to improve and possibly reform the Circle City Classic is now officially part of the public debate in our African-American community.

The Indianapolis Recorder’s eloquent editorials pointed out serious problems that Classic must address. The coverage surrounding Marc Williams’ resignation and a story in this week’s Indianapolis Business Journal have put the Classic’s business out on front street.

It’s probably a good thing to have a community conversation on improving the Classic. How to recover from several years of slowly declining attendance and how to revitalize a major Indianapolis event.

The Recorder and IBJ reported an idea among some top Classic organizers is having a historically Black team meet a predominantly white Indiana team. Like Perhaps a Big Ten school like Indiana University. Or more likely, second tier football teams like Butler, University of Indianapolis, Ball State or Indiana State.

As much as I support taking a fresh look at the Classic, I have serious concerns about turning the Classic into a salt and pepper-style game.

The risk is whether enough whites would attend to compensate for the Blacks who might not attend.

Whether the cost of bringing an Indiana team to the game would be as high as bringing in two of the major Black teams and bands everyone wants to see.

An easier effort at bringing diversity could occur in the Classic parade, which also desperately needs a facelift.

Given that a majority of African-American students in Indianapolis attend non-IPS schools, why are there no bands from township schools? Why no participation from Pike, Washington, Lawrence, Wayne and Warren Township high school bands?

The Classic parade showcases great bands from the Midwest and two IPS bands, but none from anywhere else in Central Indiana.

It’s time Classic and the community demand that the township high school band directors let their bands have the privilege of playing in Indiana’s second largest parade. The diversity it would bring to the Classic parade would boost an attendance that’s sagged in recent years.

The parade’s quality must be upgraded. The “star power” was weak. And some of the “Greek” groups didn’t show off their organizations in the best light. Also, the parade needs more volunteers to help move the units, both motorized and walking, at a reasonable clip to eliminate the many gaps.

The debate on improving Classic should be expansive and vigorous; a healthy conversation engaging the community towards a positive outcome.

See ‘ya next week!

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