Sunday, August 31, 2008

Restricting Housing - Spells Liberal Democrat Domination

Source: Political Calculations. We've been saying this for two years on Daltonsbriefs and Porter County Politics, if you arbitrarily restrict housing for reasons of environmentalism or "impact" politics, you run the risk of negative equity and eventually highly liberal policies that lead to urban decline and slums. In general liberal housing policies can be shown to have caused the bubble and the foreclosure crisis that we now face in some markets.

The first map, showing the percentage of homeowners with negative equity in April-June 2008 for U.S. metropolitan statistical areas, was created by Hannah Fairfield of the New York Times as a reference for an article about the aftermath of the housing bust in the central valley of California:

Percentage of Homeowners with Negative Equity, April-June 2008, Source: New York Times

The second map, which was created by David Leip, shows the degree to which voters in the U.S. voted in favor of a particular political party, by county. Note that in this map, blue represents voter preference for the Republican Party, while red indicates voter preference for the Democratic Party:

U.S. Political Party Preference Map by County, 2005, Source: US Election Atlas

Here's how Jim interpreted the apparent correlation:

In general — please note that I said, in general — the areas that have the highest levels of negative equity are the areas that vote Democratic, that elect Democrats to state legislatures and city councils.

There are exceptions. The heavily black areas along the Mississippi river and the Hispanic areas along the southern border vote Democratic, but do not have problems with declining equity (or even equity, some might quip). But on the whole the declining equity map is also a map of Democratic strongholds, Los Angeles and other urban areas on the West coast, the Twin Cities, Chicago, Detroit, New York, and so on.

Allowing for those exceptions, the negative equity map looks like a map of Obama's supporters, except for southern blacks.

Why might this be so? Here's my speculation, and it is no more than speculation, but it is consistent with a number of academic studies. Democrats, especially culturally left Democrats (latte-sipping, arugula-nibbling Democrats, as opposed to beer-drinking, hot-dog-eating Democrats), regulate housing markets, causing shortages. These shortages cause prices for homes and condominiums to rise rapidly. Once prices have been rising rapidly for several years, many begin to believe that they will always rise, and soon you have a bubble, with speculators trying to make quick profits, and home buyers trying to beat price increases. Eventually, the bubble pops, the prices drop, and the foreclosures start.


Friday, August 29, 2008

It's Official: Palin is McCain's VP!!

The MSM is breaking the news that Palin is McCain's new VP! It's not official until noon today, but it's pretty much set in stone! Read more at:

http://elections.foxnews.com/2008/08/29/mccain-to-name-running-mate-on-friday/

http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20080829/ap_on_el_pr/cvn_mccain_veepstakes

You can also watch the decision live from the Convention at Fox (Faux) News (Sorry I couldn't resist the pun).

Sarah Palin for McCain VP?

It's looking more and more like John McCain will announce that his running mate for the election will be Alaska Governor Sarah Palin. Palin is a first-term governor credited with reforms of her often forgotten state. Newly minted Democratic nominee Barack Obama is making an aggressive play for the traditional GOP stronghold and its three electoral votes, and polls show the race close.

Republicans kick off their national nominating convention next week in St. Paul, Minn., and McCain's campaign hopes the announcement of his running mate will stunt any momentum Obama might get from the just-concluded Democratic National Convention.

At 44, Palin is younger than Obama and, like McCain, she calls herself a maverick. Maybe she might even pull in some Hillary supporters who are dissatisfied with the Dysfunctional Democratic Family right now. McCain is not really on the FAR right like most Republican candidates, perhaps he will pull in some of the left. The ticket is certainly looking more attractive to me, not to mention, Governor Palin is very attractive also....

TRIVIA Fact: In 1984, Palin was first runner-up in the Miss Alaska beauty pageant after winning the Miss Wasilla contest earlier that year, winning a scholarship to help pay her way through college. In the Wasilla pageant, she played the flute and also won Miss Congeniality.

Thursday, August 28, 2008

Jobless rate in NWI lower than nation, state

Reports the Times: "The unemployment rate in Northwest Indiana remains lower than that of the state and nation, as a strong construction market and demand for steel keep people working.

Northwest Indiana had a non-seasonally adjusted unemployment rate of 5.7 percent in July, with 19,200 people unable to find work, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.

That compares to the national non-seasonally adjusted unemployment rate of 6 percent and the Indiana rate of 6.1 percent."

Monday, August 25, 2008

Family Fun Center now open in Crown Point

I've been noticing people playing mini-golf on Merrillville Road, over by Burrell Color (near Jewel's rear entrance). I didn't know if it was open to the public yet or if people were just trying it out or whatnot (in retrospect that's kind of silly of me). But anyways, I saw in the Post Tribune today that it is now open, apparently it opened in mid-July. From the Post Tribune:

"The New Orleans Mardi Gras-themed fun center includes two 18-hole miniature golf courses, built around a pond; batting and soccer cages; go-karts; an indoor arcade; and party rooms... ."

"Features to be added to the mini-golf course soon include bayou-type sounds and a smoke machine on the boat.

'All the bells and whistles aren't attached yet,' Cecilia Ernst said.

Arcade games include 'Deal or No Deal,' 'Smokin' Token' and classic games such as Skee Ball and basketball.

The center also boasts 15 double-seat go-karts.

The facility currently has a staff of 46 teenagers and four managers for the remainder of the summer.

There will be more opportunities for fun, even when cold weather takes over. A 40-foot-wide, 240-foot-long, 55-foot tall, air-supported structure called The Dome will provide local sport teams with a venue for year-round training... ."

"The Crown Point Family Fun Center, 1301 Merrillville Road, is open from 11 a.m. to 11 p.m. Monday through Thursday, 10 a.m. to midnight Friday and Saturday, and 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. Sunday.

For more information on attractions, call 663-3663 or visit www.cpfun.com."

Sunday, August 24, 2008

Merrillville’s David Neville & Team Score Gold

Thanks to Christopher Hedges for this post:

"Merrillville’s David Neville and Team USA received a gold medal in [one of the relay events] at the Beijing Olympics.

[Chris mentioned that he had] noticed that the electronic sign on Taft Street between Broadway and 93rd Avenue had a congratulatory message for David Neville on his and Team USA’s win in Beijing. People are pretty excited to have a local Olympic gold medal winner! [I saw the billboard the other day as well while driving home from work.]

Don’t forget that David Neville also won a bronze medal in the 110 meter hurdles at Beijing."

Go local NWI talent!

Saturday, August 23, 2008

Obama picks Biden as VP

Well Obama finally picked his VP, Senator Joseph Biden of Delaware. Before a vast crowd spilling out from the front of the Old State Capitol, Obama said Biden was "what many others pretend to be — a statesman with sound judgment who doesn't have to hide behind bluster to keep America strong."

The 65-year-old congressional veteran emerged as Obama's choice after a secretive selection process that reviewed at least a half-dozen contenders — but evidently not Hillary Rodham Clinton, the former first lady who was Obama's tenacious rival across the primaries and caucuses of winter and spring.

Read more at Yahoo News....

Friday, August 22, 2008

Former FDIC chief wants Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac privatized

What's this talk I hear of the government backing these companies?!?

Government mandated corporations don't work. They go against the tide of things and, eventually, will fail.

The former head of the FDIC recognizes that fact. Bill Seidman told MarketWatch yesterday that, "We need a plan for breaking up Fannie and Freddie and selling them to private investors, so that the government isn't the biggest backer of the housing market."

A government bailout of Fannie and Freddie would dwarf the S&L fiasco, he said. The estimated cost would involve assets between $5 trillion and $6 trillion. And as we have learned, such estimates tend to be low.

From endiana.com.

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Guess what NWI? Your air is not safe to breathe

Apparently the EPA said there is too much soot in the air in Northwest Indiana, i.e. our air is not very safe to breathe. So let's impose harsher emissions standards? That's ridiculous. Lake and Porter Counties are the only counties in the state with emissions testing -- not even Marion County has it.

"Northwest Indiana is included on a list EPA released Tuesday of 215 counties nationwide where the dirty air is too unhealthy to breathe according to the new standards. They are nearly twice as strict as the old standards" reports the Times.

Has anyone taken a drive north on Cline Avenue recently? Perhaps legislators have forgotten that people's cars are not to blame for polluted air, but rather an abundance of industrial smokestacks at steel mills, refineries, and more! Maybe if you want to clean up the air, you should start on a corporate level....

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Rudy Clay Day

So after firemen showed up for work on Monday and were sent home, city employees began calling this a "Rudy Clay Day." Essentially since Clay is trying to save money he has cut pay and hours by 20 percent in Gary for city employees. "Mayor Clay has said the city will run out of money by October without the cuts because his city is facing a $13 million budget shortfall," reports the Times.

Maybe if he didn't give contracts to his son to take photos for the city, or maybe if he knew his head from a hole in the ground when it comes to running a city, he wouldn't be having some of these problems. Or maybe if he hadn't been buying the gasoline for his city-leased Hummer H3, the city would have more money (he did begin buying his own gas after city workers complained). He's already made a fool of himself on live television over the Obama vote count (which possibly involved a scandal of some sort). And now he decides to cut public safety workers, putting the city at greater risk. I guess as more and more public safety and city officials get sent home, we'll keep celebrating "Rudy Clay Day."

Monday, August 18, 2008

How do you attract 200,000 Germans to an American presidential candidate's campaign rally in Berlin?

Hoosiers For Fair Taxation received this in the mail today and it is worth reading....

A. With the charisma and reputation of the candidate?
B. With a compelling political message?
C. With lots of advance advertising?
D. With the top two rock bands in Germany giving a free concert with the American candidate coming out for a short speech between the bands?

"D" of course.

What the American media following and fawning over Obama failed to mention about his Berlin speech was why the crowds were really there. 95% of them could care less about Obama or American politics. They came to see a free concert with the German equivalents of Willy Nelson and Madonna headlining.

Obama was an unwelcome and boring interruption giving a political speech in a foreign language between the acts - which is why the crowd only gave lame applause a couple of times - after all, how many of them spoke English or cared less?

Obama didn't care about the crowd either. His speech was really for the American media and the crowd was a backdrop for the photo ops. And the American media bit on it hook line and sinker and just sorta, kinda forgot to mention the rock bands that really drew the crowds.

On another note. Someone did the math on Obama the Senator. He has only been a Senator for 18 months. But with all the recesses, four day weekends, campaigning and absences, Obama has only spent about 6 weeks of workdays on the Senate floor as one of the most junior Senators.

Most of his votes, about 80% when he was not absent, have been "present" or "abstain". He also chairs a committee that has never met because the chairman has never called a meeting.

As a trial lawyer he only tried 14 cases in court - and minor ones at that. As a "community organizer" his major cause was getting the asbestos out of a housing project. After 2 years of trying the asbestos was still there when he left and is still there even now that he is a Senator and presumably has some pull to get things done.

That's it. His entire real world work resume. 6 weeks work in the Senate with nothing to show for it. Two years as a lawyer and only 14 minor trials. And two years as a "community organizer" with nothing accomplished.

But he does give a great speech if he has a teleprompter to read it from and someone else to write if for him and some rock bands to attract the crowd.

CHRIS FAULKNER ELECTED TO SERVE ON MID-WEST BOARD FOR THE AMERICAN ASSOCIATION OF POLITICAL CONSULTANTS

During the July meeting of the American Association of Political Consultants (AAPC), Chris Faulkner was nominated and confirmed to serve as a board member for the Mid-West Chapter. Faulkner will be serving as one of four Republican representatives on the board, along with four Democrats and four Independents.

Chris Faulkner is Vice President of Faulkner Strategies, located in Granger, Indiana. Faulkner Strategies is a marketing and political consulting firm, a nationally renowned direct mail vendor, and a contributor in issue-advocacy campaigns.

Beyond his current role at Faulkner Strategies, Chris has led many campaign training schools both in the U.S. and abroad. In 2004, Chris served as Executive Director of the Republican National Committee’s effort in Minnesota to re-elect President Bush. He also worked as a District Director for former Congressman Chris Chocola in Indiana.

The AAPC was formed to represent political consultants, media consultants, pollsters, campaign managers, corporate public affairs officers, professors, fund-raisers, lobbyists, congressional staffers and vendors. The organization’s members vary in ideology, forming a coalition of Republicans, Democrats and Independents. As campaigns become more extensive, the role of political consultants has greatly increased. The AAPC serves as an organization to encourage the best in their fields to grow and strengthen the American electoral system.

Chris Faulkner’s insight and experience will be a valuable addition to the Mid-West Board of the American Association of Political Consultants.

You can connect with Chris online with Facebook, LinkedIn or Twitter. You can also catch his commentary on his blog www.gopgrunt.com

http://www.theaapc.org/
http://www.faulknerstrategies.com

Doctor shortage in Indiana by 2015

Many rural counties in Indiana have no doctors who specialize in delivering babies. Women are having to drive to other counties to deliver their children. But obstetrics isn't the only field in which there is a shortage of physicians. By 2015, Indiana is expected to have a critical shortage of doctor's, as well as the rest of the nation. According to the Times,

"To help meet projected shortages, Indiana University School of Medicine, like other medical schools across the nation, plans to increase enrollment by 30 percent, contributing an additional 360 new physicians to the profession by the time the class of 2016 graduates."

So if you're planning on becoming a doctor in Northwest Indiana, your chances just increased. Be sure to apply at the Indiana University School of Medicine. Hopefully schools across the nation will be able to address this shortage, which could be as many as 90,000 physician vacancies by 2020.

Saturday, August 16, 2008

Blog Indiana Conference Report

daltonsbriefs My quickie thoughts on @blogindiana today http://tinyurl.com/5p2myv

Driving and posting, so sorry about the brevity of the post

Friday, August 15, 2008

Texas School District to Let Teachers Carry Guns

I couldn't pass up the opportunity to tell you about this news brief. While Daniels is attempting to pass legislation in Indiana protecting teachers from lawsuits while disciplining students, Reuters reports:

"A Texas school district will let teachers bring guns to class this fall, the district's superintendent said on Friday, in what experts said appeared to be a first in the United States.

The board of the small rural Harrold Independent School District unanimously approved the plan and parents have not objected, said the district's superintendent, David Thweatt.

School experts backed Thweatt's claim that Harrold, a system of about 110 students 150 miles northwest of Fort Worth, may be the first to let teachers bring guns to the classroom.

Thweatt said it is a matter of safety."


Daniels Skips Lucas Oil Stadium Gala Hoopla to Pay Respect to Fallen Soldier

You rarely see something good come from politicians or the MSM today, but we need to give credit where it's due.

The Indy Star reported that Governor Daniels missed the star-studded $250 per ticket opening of the Lucas Oil Stadium in order to attend a funeral for one of Indiana's fallen soldiers. God bless you Governor Daniels for having your priorities straight.

Thanks to Hoosiers For Fair Taxation for catching this story first.

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Dowling ousted from Schererville PD

After asking Schererville Police Chief David Dowling to resign almost two months ago, the Town Council successfully voted him out of office last night. Dowling was obviously pretty angry. The Times reports,

"After reading a two-page statement, Town Council President Hal Slager requested Dowling be removed as chief. Fellow Republican Councilman Perry Ferrini made the motion, and Republican Councilman Jerry Tippy seconded the motion.

Tom Schmitt, a Democrat, voted against Dowling's removal. Democratic Councilman Rob Guetzloff was on vacation and didn't vote, but in a phone call Wednesday night, Guetzloff said he opposed Dowling's removal.

Dowling has served as chairman of the St. John/St. John Township Democratic Precinct Organization the last four or five years. His post with the organization caused controversy between party lines. When talk of his removal first surfaced, the Democratic councilmen argued that it was because of his party affiliation."


Apparently the Republicans don't want a Democrat in public office of any sort, even if he's a good police chief. I've had the opportunity to meet the guy, and he doesn't seem bad at all. Can anyone clarify this for me? Is this really all about Democrat vs. Republicans?

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Hessville man takes identity theft to new level

Apparently a man who pastored Hessville Baptist Church in 1978 changed his identity and went on to become a mayor in Arkansas. He claims he was abducted by Satanists in the 1970s and later abandoned his Northwest Indiana family. He's been missing now for over 20 years. Crazy stuff.

He's being charged with felony-level fraud, but perhaps he needs some professional counseling? Read more at the Times.

Monday, August 11, 2008

Anti-Depressants for the Region

I seem to be meeting a lot of people lately who are on anti-depressants. Only the funny thing is, these people all seem to be depressed! I mean, what is the point of taking them if they don't work? Is the Region all that bad that everyone needs to be medicated to cope with our politics? I found a great blog discussing this at The Behavioral Medicine Report.

"The placebo effect is very common in most forms of health care. When people who are ill (mentally or physically) believe that they will get better - guess what - they get better. These are real changes too, though the placebo effect wears off over time for some people. The placebo effect is so powerful that the new gold standard in psychological & medical research is to have a placebo group instead of having a simple control group that does not receive the treatment. For example, if a manufacture is testing a new anxiety drug, they give the real drug to one group (called the “experimental group”) and, for example, give a sugar pill to another group (”placebo group”). Believe or not the placebo group often reports meaningful improvements despite getting a sugar pill. The same concept applies to psychology. In fact, simply going to psychotherapy, even if no real therapy is conducted, will likely result in a treatment gains. Belief is a powerful force!"

"The Food & Drug Administration regulates and approves medications that are available to the public. Anti-depressants are group of psychotropic drugs used to treat, as the name implies, depression. This is next statement is strictly an opinion: I have been skeptical of the benefits of anti-depressants. I cannot tell you how many people I know or have worked with in a clinical setting that are on anti-depressants and are still depressed - go figure. Aside from this bias, anti-depressants come with side effects, physiological dependence (your body physically relies on them and will through withdrawal symptoms without them), and tolerance (you need more of the same drug to get the same effect). Pharmaceutical companies must submit a certain number of studies to the FDA that demonstrate that their drug actually works and does so in a reasonably safe manner. But there’s a catch…. while pharmaceutical companies must submit all studies for a particular drug including the studies that demonstrate that it does NOT work - but get this - the FDA only counts the studies that show positive results.

Researchers in the article* we are discussing today were resourceful… they used the Freedom of Information Act to obtain all studies submitted to the FDA for 4 new generation (”SSRIs”) anti-depressants. A statistical technique called a meta-analysis was used to analyze the data. A meta-analysis combines data from all studies to increase its ability to determine something called an “effect size.” The results were astounding: the anti-depressant medications used in the analysis were no better than placebo effect, except for the most extremely depressed patients. Keep in mind that a meta-analysis is not a “cause and effect” experiment so you cannot say that “this causes that.” Nevertheless, this a very important finding. You can read the full article here...."

Since most people probably know someone using antidepressants, this might be interesting to all of you readers in NWI. Enjoy!

References:
*Initial Severity and Antidepressant Benefits: A Meta-Analysis of Data Submitted to the Food and Drug Administration. Kirsch I, Deacon BJ, Huedo-Medina TB, Scoboria A, Moore TJ, et al. PLoS Medicine Vol. 5, No. 2, e45 doi:10.1371/journal.pmed.0050045

Friday, August 8, 2008

Bob Barr on #dontgo

Thanks to Steve for the heads up. From reason.com, this is Bob Barr's statement on #dontgo:

"My reaction to that is the same as my reaction to President Bush's repeal of the 1991 executive order that his father signed, that made it even more difficult than pre-existing legislation to engage in offshore drilling. I commend the president. Where has he been for seven and a half years? I commend the House Republicans for finally standing up and doing something, but where have they been for the last seven and a half years? Are they serious about this or has this been an action taken to gain some headlines in advance of the Democratic and Republican conventions. The timing is, to be honest, a little suspect. But all of that being said, it's good that they're finally doing something. But to do something that will improve their standing in the polls before the election, I expect that will take more than standing on the House floor making speeches with the power turned off. It would take a lot more than that to create an agenda that will win them votes."

David Weigel, the author of the original blog post, points out that Barr was actually there for the first two years of the period he's talking about, of course, but we get his point.

What is #dontgo? Click here (internal link).

Thursday, August 7, 2008

Why are congressmen debating in the dark?

I had a reader email asking plainly, "what is the #dontgo movement" so here's a post explaining and I'll post in a couple places so you can check in yourself. By the way Senator John Mccain is supporting this idea, and Senator Obama is not.

First, last week Congressional Democrats were not interested in being forced to take an up or down vote on Offshore oil drilling, a way to start increasing domestic production of oil and pull prices down. Go back to basic high school economics. If supply increases prices will be pulled downward in anticipation of either plenty of oil, or even too much oil in circulation. As an aside some Democrats (and MoveOn.org) are suggesting that anyone in favor of more drilling is being paid by the oil companies. I am not in the employ of any oil related industry.

Democrats moved to adjourn the House on Friday morning, and Republicans attempted to stop the adjournment. They lost that vote and Speaker Pelosi and Congressional Democrats left for a five week vacation.

Mike Pence, from right here in Indiana, and other Republican leaders decided to return to the floor and debate anyway. They called for congress to come back, thus the #dontgo moniker, and vote up or down. Speaker Pelosi had the lights, cameras, and microphones turned off so that no one could hear them.

Enter the fun part. Congressman John Culberson is an active user of twitter for communicating online. Twitter allows the user to post multiple short thoughts, up to 140 characters, to answer the question "what are you doing?" Congressman Culberson began posting from the floor of the now dark and quiet House of Representatives. He also used his phone to shoot some video in the foyer and post online. They debated for more than 4 hours in the dark House on Friday.

Over the weekend, the movement began to catch some steam. Active online conservatives set up blogs and sites to track the debates as the Republicans returned on Monday to begin the debates in the House again. This time there were even more, both participants and audience.

Liberal MoveOn.org types then decided on Tuesday to begin fighting the issue. They initially dropped what they call Twitter bombs into the #dontgo stream, basically gumming up the system. But it actually worked against them because the tracker for #dontgo became the number one trending topic on twitter both Wednesday and Thursday morning when I last checked.

Now the media had to start paying attention and this morning a couple stories began to circulate that 80% or more of the American public wants an up or down vote on offshore drilling. They know what Democrats are missing ... namely that an increase in supply of any energy source will decrease the price of oil and thus gasoline to Americans. This could be the biggest "tax cut" like economic boost the economy could get this year.

What can you do?

  1. Head to the #dontgo movement website and check out the videos, links and blogs
  2. Go to the petition, now about 27,000 names, and add your name to the list Call Back Congress Petition
  3. Keep an eye on the twitter search tag #dontgo
  4. Call or email your House Representative and demand that they return to Washington and vote up or down on offshore drilling
There's business to be done for the American people, and a five week vacation is out of the question.

Visiting Chinese teachers to watch Olympics from NWI

"The 29th Summer Olympiad opening Friday in Beijing will allow the world to see 'the real image of China,' said [Huili] Jiang, one of 14 college English teachers from Hangzhou, China, nearing the end of a month's study at Valparaiso University.

They plan to watch the Olympic opening ceremony [tomorrow] with the American colleagues they've worked with this summer, at either a local restaurant or other gathering spot.

Jiang said she is excited to share that experience with American friends and see what they think of an Olympic kickoff rumored to be among the most spectacular" (retrieved from the NWI Times, August 7, 2008).

Exciting times! Now I wonder if this might hit home a little more for us (Chicago) in 2016?

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

Tornado Confirmed in NW Indiana

I was up fairly late last night watching the storm out of my window (not a smart idea, but it was fun). It appears that Griffith got hit the hardest. The NWI Times reported that Griffith has been declared a disaster area, and that they had to begin evacuating people from the Mansard Apartments late last night. The Red Cross has been providing food and shelter to residents with damaged homes today. The Times also reports:
"Monday's storms had killed power to about 33,000 NIPSCO customers as of 9:30 p.m., said spokesman Larry Graham. About 200,000 homes and businesses were without power in Illinois at 9:30 p.m., said ComEd spokesman Joe Trost. Lansing accounted for about 10,000 of those customers, he said."

"National Weather Service meteorologists did not immediately confirm any tornado touchdowns. But trained spotters reported high-rotation winds in DeKalb and Kane counties in northeastern Illinois. Meteorologist Brad Churchill said 60-mph to 80-mph winds were expected."

I wonder how many people are still without power today. Probably quite a few. How did the storm affect you? Did you have any damage? NWI Connect would love to hear your story....

Monday, August 4, 2008

New Homeless Center in Valparaiso

Note: I serve on the board of this new group. The idea? To use a beat up old building, rehab it, assist homeless men during the day with life and planning to get ahead ... then start a small business in the facility that will help pay the bills to operate. Simple eh?

VALPARAISO | Tom Isakson's excitement grew as he walked around the inside of the abandoned auto repair shop at 653 Axe Ave., just north of Duffy's Place.

Where there are now dusty counters, discarded supplies and cobwebs, he sees a computer room, exercise equipment and an in-house business venture, all designed to help homeless men regain self-sufficiency.

"This is not a crash pad, it's a launch pad," Isakson said.

Isakson, who recently left his longtime leadership role with the local Spring Valley homeless shelter, has taken over as executive director of New Creation Business Advocates.

The new not-for-profit organization, formed by a group of local Christian business leaders, is behind the creation of the men's service center.

The center will serve the men spending nights and being fed at various churches as part of a rotating shelter program operated by the Valparaiso Christian Ministerial Association, Isakson said. The shelter program, which ran a pilot program in February and March, will start up again Oct. 1 through April 1.

During the day, the men will be provided with opportunities at the center to clean up and look for work, Isakson said. They will have access to telephones, e-mail, Internet job searches, copy machines, resume writing classes and newspapers. They also can take advantage of exercise equipment and various counseling and group therapy sessions to help tackle the underlying causes of their homelessness.

"I know these guys have been wounded by their prior experiences," he said.

Isakson said he will serve as case manager, helping the men to set goals and monitor their progress.

Besides the more than 2,000 square feet of office space, the former auto repair shop offers more than 3,000 square feet of warehouse space that will be used for some type of business venture to put the men to work and benefit the center financially.

"We want to be like our men. We want to earn our own money," Isakson said.

A donation from an anonymous foundation will cover the building and rehabilitation costs, he said, but volunteer workers are needed.

Volunteers also are needed as receptionists and life skills teachers, including counselors and job coaches.

Anyone wishing to lend a hand is encouraged to contact Isakson at (219) 241-2777 or at tomisakson@aol.com.

Sunday, August 3, 2008

Lake County Fair!!!

The Lake County Fair is going on right now, from August 1-10. My wife and I went the other night and had a good time. Be sure to check out Louie's Tacos, which is located all on the way on the west side of the fairgrounds, near the Army climbing wall. Louie is a great guy (I work with him) and he's selling them for only $1 per taco! They are delicious (and addictive). See you at the fair!