John Gregg’s $239,114.64 Issueby ABDUL HAKIM SHABAZZ f or IndianaForefrontDemocratic gubernatorial candidate John Gregg has a problem and it’s worth about $239,114.64.Because by the end of the year, that’s how much taxpayers are estimated to have paid for what basically amounts to free healthcare for Gregg, his wife, his ex-wife and two sons.You see back in 2002, when Gregg was Speaker of the House, he along with then Republican Senate Leader Bob Garton passed legislation giving lawmakers lifetime health care. Yes, lifetime, as in when they left office the taxpayers would still be picking up the tab for most of their health insurance.House Speaker Brian Bosma ended the perk in 2006, but due to legal/constitutional restraints they couldn’t end it retroactively. So the Speaker authored a law saying any lawmaker elected or re-elected after 2006 could no longer get the benefit. A number of them retired. And today, Gregg and about 30 other lawmakers are still receiving it.With respect to Gregg’s family, coverage for his former spouse ended in June 5, 2006. Coverage for his current wife began on March 30, 2013 and coverage for his two sons ended on December 31 of 2015. Those same records also show the House of Representatives paid $202,863.63 in benefits for Gregg and his family through the end of 2015 and is expected to pay another $36,251.01 in 2016.Gregg’s campaign is defending the benefit, arguing it’s not free, but he does pay premiums. Which is true, but they won’t disclose the amount.Luckily you have me.In 2002, a traditional family health insurance plan under the state was $8,993.60. A retiring lawmaker would only pay about $343.67 or 4 percent of the costs. And the law locked in that rate for life any lawmaker who had six years and one day of service. Extrapolate that to today. And assuming Gregg is on the traditional plan, he is paying $1,440, saving about $34k -$36k year. Or that’s what you’re paying for him and his family’s health insurance.Now my Democratic friends say this isn’t an issue because Gregg didn’t do anything illegal and some have even brought up Governor Mike Pence’s salary when he was in Congress. And to be honest, I was surprised Gregg was still on the program. I figured he would have been on his own plan since he was President of Vincennes University at one time and worked for a Fortune 500 company. Regardless, I think my democratic friends’ positions show a fundamental misunderstanding of politics.While voters may not appreciate the subtleties between acquired wealth and deferred compensation, they can sure wrap their arms around any politician (who is supposed to be part-time) writing a law to give him and his family basically free health insurance 14 years after they left office.And if you don’t believe me, just watch the campaign commercials that are likely to come out of all this.FacebookTwitterCopy LinkEmail
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PAM and ALI O’DONNELL To the Editor:It is with overwhelming gratitude that my daughter Ali O’Donnell and I say thank you to the Mandie’s Miles of Smiles Organization that held a charity event. No parent should ever have to bury a child. It is the hardest thing for anyone to have to do, but it is a true testament to the grit and humility and generosity that Kelly and Daniel Gallagher and family and friends exude on a daily basis. It would be very easy to just sit down and watch life pass you by but that is not what the Gallagher’s do every day. Instead they give back to the community in the name of their beautiful daughter Mandie who passed in 2015.Every year this organization holds a charity event. They pick a person or a family from the local community that could benefit from their generosity. This year to our surprise they chose my daughter Ali and me. They could not have done it without the help of local residents and businesses. Thank you to Harrington’s Auto Body, Elan Salon, Eugene Klumpp Sr., Sue Gonzalez, Hudacko’s Pharmacy, Franks Theater, Bayonne Tattoo, Crafty Fox Studio, Boho Yoga, Michele Polera, Hallmark, Tony’s Car Clinic, Doggy Spa, Buon Appetito, Teezerz, Bella Sorella, Auto Dynamics, Diamond Dog Grooming, Michele Rojas, Al Richards, Express Urself Roses, Huddle 2, Aphrodite Nails, Sara Pinto, Erica Cangialosi, BCB Bank, The Ballance Family, Senerchia’s, Antonio Vincent’s Bakery, Pizza Master, San Vitos, Sarellis, Pompei Pizza, Brothers Pizzeria, Giovannis, Little Food Café, Titan Tactical, Alex and Terry’s, Buttero’s, 3 Brothers, DJ Ru, Mark and Dee Dee Bottino, Peter and Jade Manley, J&S Chocolate Designs, The Vic Tavern, and our very special friends Kevin and Glenn of Kuhl’sTavern. A very special thank you to Kelly Lynch, Kelly Balance, and Kim Klumpp for all the help and support they give to the Gallagher family and for pulling off yet another successful event. Along with Kelly Gallagher, this group of ladies should be an inspiration to all for giving of themselves year after year and working tirelessly and effortlessly coordinating these events. To all the people who came from near and far to support the Gallagher family and our family, we thank you!When a community comes together like ours has, it is hard to find the right words to show your appreciation. Thank you just seems so inadequate but that is all we can offer, thank you. Please remember, in memory of Tim and Bridget O’Donnell, drive responsibly.