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Thumbs up: Taking it to the streets

It's a good week for civil disobedience. Several groups have either announced

plans for or have already made a lovable nuisance of themselves at the

Statehouse, speaking out against aggressive Republican legislation on education

and labor. Teachers gathered on Saturday, organized by the National Education

Association and the State Teachers Association; Planned Parenthood of Indiana

drew crowds on Tuesday morning to protest the threatened withdrawal of state

funding for clinics; on Monday, March 14, Indiana Equality is sponsoring a

rally against the gay marriage ban. Union groups like the Indiana AFL-CIO plan

to continue rallying on Thursday against anti-union legislation, following

Tuesday's mock funeral procession mourning the "death of the middle class."

March on, brave, squeaky wheels.

Thumbs up: City no longer going to pot

Unless you've been living on Mars (though it's felt a bit like driving on the

moon), it's no secret the city's potholes have seemed more treacherous than

ever this year. Which is why we were glad when Mayor Ballard announced that,

for the first time, private contractors would join city employees to get the

job done faster. Forty additional workers from four companies are expected to

aid municipal crews, and Rieth-Riley Construction Co. opened its two

Indianapolis plants Monday to start early production of hot asphalt. It's nice

to see such proactive initiative from the city in addressing these road dangers

— and it only took three months of our bitching.

Thumbs up: Snuggle up!

Ahh, the joys of a wood-burning furnace. The homey, woodsy

scent, the pleasant act of chopping wood. The formaldehyde and benzene in the

air, the asthma from prolonged exposure.That's right. According to the Indiana Department of Environmental

Management (IDEM), smoke from outdoor wood boilers causes a lot of problems for

health and environment; as such, the state has banned the boilers' use in some

conditions from May 1 to Sept. 30, when smog is the worst. It's not often we

get to give a thumbs up to IDEM, which typically seems more concerned with

protecting its industry buddies. But we suppose there's a first time for

everything.

Thumbs up: Murder rate lowest in a decade

With downtown shootings and drive-bys a-plenty last year,

public perception was that Indianapolis was getting more dangerous, not less.

So it's encouraging to learn that, according to a new IMPD report, murders

actually dropped last year from 100, in 2009, to 96. The 2010 figure matches a

low not seen since 2000, and hasn't been lower since 1995, when the city

recorded only 82 homicides.

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