Editorial Summary: Indiana

Business Journal of Indianapolis. November 18, 2022.

Editorial: Actionable staffing suggestions are a step toward a better Indiana

Call us jaded. We’ve received dozens of recommendations over the years to improve the state’s workforce readiness and prepare Indiana for the next generation of jobs. Sometimes they come from new governors, or at the whim of legislators, or because of a perceived change in the economy or Indiana’s standing among other states.

And over the years there have been many great ideas – some in practice, some still on the shelf.

Political cartoons

But layers of bureaucracy—new agencies, commissions, boards at the state and local levels—have been included in almost every staffing plan for the last several decades.

It is all the more gratifying that a new set of 30 recommendations from the governor’s cabinet is largely unbureaucratic. (See story on page 1A.)

Instead, the recommendations are practical, actionable, and refreshingly actionable.

They are divided into three areas: supporting employers in finding skilled workers, breaking down barriers for employees and preparing future skilled workers. They were developed by a panel appointed by Governor Eric Holcomb, which includes business leaders, educators, government officials and social service leaders.

Ryan Kitchell, a former hospital chief and former director of the state Office of Management and Budget, chaired the panel and worked with the Cabinet’s new executive director, Whitney Ertel, on the recommendations. Both joined the cabinet last spring, just in time to help Indiana reconsider its post-pandemic workforce.

The governor, Ertel said, is seeking “new energy, a renewed focus, and a very, very accelerated approach” to bolster the state’s readiness to work. And she said the recommendations have a strong focus on improving preparation for STEM jobs and helping every worker progress to the next level of education or advancement, regardless of where they start.

“This is about investing in the workforce like we invest in other parts of the economy, like infrastructure,” Kitchell said.

To that end, we love the recommendations, which focus on helping workers and employers navigate the complex systems of accessing training programs, educational opportunities, and more. Too often, these efforts have been focused more on the unemployed or companies negotiating incentive packages and less on salaried workers wanting to do better and existing employers looking to expand.

The panel’s recommendations call for an Indiana Talent Agency — which is less of a headhunter and more of the Indiana Economic Development Corp. but would help develop recruitment and training strategies for all Indiana businesses.

We also appreciate the efforts to give students more access to employment experts throughout their school years, rather than placing the entire burden of career planning on the guidance counselors, and rethinking the credentials required for a high school degree — not to to make them stricter but to make them more flexible.

There are more recommendations worth pursuing (and some we may not entirely agree with). We hope that the Office of the Governor and the Legislature (and in one case, Congress) will take them seriously and act accordingly.

Anderson Herald Bulletin. November 16, 2022.

Editorial: Use of facial recognition must be accurate and fair

In almost every spy thriller or superhero film, a savvy computer genius presses a few buttons and dozens of mugshots zip across a screen until the villain is identified.

The promotion requires a facial recognition system using biometrics, which generally uses body measurements to match a photo to an individual.

These systems aren’t as reliable as Batman or Jason Bourne would have us believe. You can inaccurately identify everyone. These fouls generally involve people of color.

A 2019 federal study found that Asian and black people are up to 100 times more likely to be misidentified than white men, depending on the system’s algorithm and type of search.

Native Americans had the highest rate of false positives of any race, according to the National Institute of Standards and Technology.

The ubiquitous technology is everywhere. According to one estimate, there is one surveillance camera for every 4.6 Americans. Estimates for China are based on one camera for every 4.1 inhabitants.

US Customs and Border Protection uses facial recognition technology for identity verification. From fiscal year 2018 to 2021, customs processed over 100 million people using facial recognition, uncovering 950 fraudsters but improving aircraft boarding times.

In July 2021, the U.S. House Subcommittee on Crime, Terrorism and Homeland Security heard testimony about law enforcement’s use of the technology. Witnesses urged merging the technology with constitutional rights to privacy and free speech.

Berry Friedman, a professor at New York University School of Law, called it “democratic accountability.”

He told the subcommittee: “Police agencies are overwhelmed to develop regulatory approaches to complex technologies on their own. That is the task of the legislature. It is your job.”

He added, “Nowhere is mistrust greater than in black and brown and marginalized communities that are already feeling the brunt of many unfortunate police practices.”

Grassroots protests have surfaced. Last year, the West Lafayette City Council passed a ban on facial recognition technology; However, the mayor vetoed the ban.

In mid-October, Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton sued Google for unauthorized use of biometrics containing body measurements without the consent of Texans.

Perhaps the closest thing Indiana has to creating a unified policy is through the state police’s Indiana Intelligence Fusion Center, which has issued a law enforcement guide.

As previously written, the center says it does not interface the system with any interface that conducts live video surveillance, including drones and body-worn cameras.

In terms of general protection, Americans should hope that there is a reasonable suspicion that the subject of a criminal investigation is involved in, or has knowledge of, possible criminal or terrorist activity.

A court order could be considered when using facial recognition technology against a suspect. This technology cannot serve as a foolproof link to a suspect in court proceedings.

The technology looks trendy in movies, but such thrillers don’t talk about police profiles by race, nor do they provide penalties for abuse.

There needs to be additional guidelines to let the public know when and how facial recognition is used, for example at passport control points. The systems must be accurate but, like polygraph tests, are generally not admissible as evidence in court.

And the technology and its system operators must guarantee and protect the constitutional rights of the individual.

Terre Haute Tribune star. November 18, 2022.

Editorial: Youth election crucial for more civic engagement

One bright spot after this month’s election was Indiana State University’s recognition for the vote count of its students.

If Vigo County and Terre Haute hope to improve the community’s persistently low turnout, younger people need to be encouraged to vote.

The ALL IN Campus Democracy Challenge recognized ISU as one of the organization’s most dedicated campuses for college student elections. The bipartisan, statewide initiative, launched in 2016 as part of the American Democracy Project, recognizes universities and colleges for their conscious efforts to increase student voter turnout.

ISU joined five other Indiana campuses on the list.

Efforts at ISU included the formation of a campus-wide group to centralize voter registration, voter education, and voter turnout. ISU also monitors its progress through membership in the National Study of Learning, Voting and Engagement.

As a result, the candidates they help elect will influence policies that will affect the future of students.

“There is a lot at stake for young people in every local, state and national election,” said Nancy Rogers, ISU vice president for student engagement. “At ISU, we work every day to help students recognize and use their agency to influence the future of our democracy.”

One of the biggest steps towards increasing student participation in ISU also involves the municipality of Vigo County. The ISU campus became the site of a community election center in 2018 as one of the county’s election centers. Turnout at the polling center, located in the Hulman Memorial Student Union building, was solid and comparable to many other polling centers across the district.

It was an important addition. Much of the polling locations are those most familiar to older generations and longtime residents – American Legion and VFW posts, fire stations, churches and union halls. The placement of a voting center on campus, Terre Haute’s third-largest employer, gives students a place that’s not so alien to them.

Greater college student involvement also diversifies the local electorate, which is also badly needed.

The ISU voting site was highly contested and survived two initial rejections by the Vigo County Electoral Committee before finally being added. The Election Committee’s maintenance of the ISU Election Center is commendable and should continue.

Vigo County needs new voters. The success story of low voter turnout continued with the 2022 parliamentary elections. Only 25,399 (or 34%) of Vigo County’s 75,021 registered voters cast their ballots, making it only the second time in at least 52 years that the county’s turnout has fallen below 40% in a midterm election.

Vigo County’s turnout was also the second-lowest among Indiana counties that year, according to preliminary unofficial results released on the website of the Indiana Secretary of State’s Department of Elections. Only Tippecanoe County was lower at 32%. Marion County also had a 34% turnout.

The district and state must attract more young people to the ballot box. According to Tufts University’s Center for Information and Research on Civic Learning and Engagement (CIRCLE), Indiana ranked sixth-worst in voter registration for 18-24 year olds in the 2022 election cycle.

Indiana and Vigo County can do better. More outreach, like the efforts of the ISU and the campus voting center, can bring younger voters to the polls. The result will be elected officials who are more attuned to the needs of all generations of residents, not just those from their own demographics. This is true democracy.

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