Archive for April, 2006

Dyngus Day 2006

Every year on the Monday after Easter, South Bend, Indiana marks the celebration of a great political and cultural institution - Dyngus Day.

dyngus day

The celebration is a traditional Polish holiday, but was brought to Indiana by Polish immigrants in South Bend 76 years ago. The home turf and “founding mother church of Dyngus Day” is the West Side Democratic & Civic Club.

west side club

While South Bend claims to be the home of Dyngus Day, and celebrations now pop up across northern Indiana, Buffalo, New York insists on asserting its dubious claim as well.

Because the event occurs so close to the primary elections, Dyngusing long ago became inextricably linked with politics, and Dyngus Day is viewed as the official kick-off to the campaign season.

I took some pictures at the West Side Democratic Club yesterday as local dignitaries, candidates, and even the Washington High School girls basketball team were introduced to the crowd.

dyngus day

Dyngus Day is a great opportunity to eat good kielbasa and noodles while catching up with old friends at dozens of stops across town.

While Dyngus Day is officially a Polish holiday – celebrated at Polish social clubs across the city, it has expanded to encompass almost every ethnic group in our area. In 1971, the African American community launched the official celebration of Solidarity Day to be celebrated alongside Dyngus Day. The official Solidarity Day headquarters is at the Elks Club on Western Avenue (and the food there is excellent).

The Belgians join in the fun at the BK Club in Mishawaka, and there is also an unofficial Irish “O’Dyngus Day” celebrated at Fiddler’s Hearth in South Bend. For the first time this year, there was also an official dedicated Latino celebration of Dyngus Day at the St. Adalbert’s Church parish hall.

The traditionally Democratic-leaning festival always draws political candidates from across the state. The most famous guest of honor was Robert F. Kennedy during his 1968 Presidential campaign. Today, Republican candidates also take advantage of the opportunity to greet voters in the festive crowds – but they are still excluded from the stage at the West Side Club.

dyngus day

If you haven’t had the opportunity to go Dyngusing, and you enjoy good food and good-natured politics, I highly recommend you visit next time.

For even more Dyngus Trivia, Jack Colwell of the South Bend Tribune has put together a fun quiz entitled “Think You Know Dyngus Day? Prove it.

Add comment April 18th, 2006

Young Professionals Network meeting

Earlier this week, Senator John Broden (D – South Bend) and I spoke at a meeting of the Young Professionals Network – a networking and professional development group for younger people that is affiliated with the St. Joseph County Chamber of Commerce.

We gave a recap of the legislative session and answered questions about different issues of interest to the members, as well as questions about our workload and how we approach the legislative process.

Groups like this are a great way to ensure that younger professionals develop roots in our community and help counteract the “brain drain” phenomenon of Indiana college graduates leaving the state for employment elsewhere.

Incidentally, the meeting was held at the College Football Hall of Fame, and if you have never paid a visit to the Hall, you should stop in some time. It is a great interactive museum with nice banquet and meeting facilities as well.

college football hall of fame

Add comment April 14th, 2006

School fees decision from the Indiana Supreme Court

The Indiana Supreme Court recently held that “service fees” charged by school corporations are prohibited under Indiana’s constitutional guarantee of a “free and equal” education.

In Nagy v. Evansville-Vanderburgh County School Corp., the court, however, decided not to address the issue of whether charging for school textbook rental was also a violation of the state Constitution.

The South Bend Tribune made their opinion of the Court’s decision clear in an editorial this week:

So just what should an Indiana Supreme Court justice be expected to do for his public service pay? Answer the hard questions? Or just the easy ones?

It seems to us that the court took the easy way out with its ruling on Nagy v. Evansville-Vanderburgh County School Corp. The justices settled the specific matter regarding the constitutionality of student services fees. But they punted the question of textbook rental fees back to the Indiana General Assembly — even though legislators long have ducked the state’s duty to fully fund textbooks for public school students.

I agree that textbook rental fees should be eliminated so that Indiana students may receive the benefit of a truly free education.

However, I also tend to agree with Justice Sullivan’s dissent, which takes a more deferential approach to Legislative authority to determine what exactly is funded in the public education system.

The Court’s opinion is available here (.pdf), and more coverage is available at Advance Indiana and the Indiana Law Blog.

6 comments April 11th, 2006

University research and economic development

Universities in Indiana are continuing to lead the way in technological innovation that can help our state stay competitive in the global economy. Indiana University has announced the acquisition a new supercomputer expected to be one of the fastest in the world, and possibly the fastest university-owned computer.

The impact on research funding will help develop the technological infrastructure of our state and lead to more investment in innovative science:

Research means research grants, and MacIntyre said IU expects to receive $477 million for research of all kinds this year. The new computer is intended to help IU reach a long-term goal of attracting $800 million in grants each year.

Purdue University is also staying at the cutting edge, and their Energy Center Hydrogen Initiative Symposium recently concluded its inaugural meeting:

The meeting, which ends today, comes about two months after President Bush used his State of the Union address to trumpet continuing research that could eventually fill the nation’s highways with fuel-cell cars and hydrogen filling stations.

More than 100 people are attending Purdue’s Hydrogen Initiative Symposium to hear scientists and officials from the U.S. Department of Energy, NASA and several national laboratories discuss the challenges of harnessing hydrogen for transportation systems.

Basic university research directly translates into market innovations for Indiana businesses and is crucial for the future economic development of our state.

Now that we live in a world where China has officially surpassed the United States in internet usage, it is apparent that resting on our laurels is not an option. In order to stay ahead of the competition, create new jobs, and ensure opportunity for the next generation we must continue to invest in the research and technology that drove the financial engine of our country for the last century.

If you are interested in other similar university-sponsored projects in Indiana, here are a few I have discussed in the last several months:

Nanotechnology Center Opens in Indiana
Update on South Bend Tech Park
ND research results in possible CSO fix
Supercomputing grid comes to South Bend

2 comments April 7th, 2006


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