Monthly Archives: July 2006

Poverty in the Not So Big City

The Brookings Institute did a study on poverty in large US cities. According to the Star, they found that Indianapolis has more of the kinds of businesses that target poor people – businesses such as pay day loan, rent-to-own, and instant tax refund stores – than other large cities. Grocery stores in poorer Indy neighborhoods are smaller than stores in more affluent areas and charge higher prices.

The photo in the Star shows a shopping plaza at 30th and Lafayette Road, which is an area with more black residents. But it’s not limited to black neighborhoods. There are at least four check cashing stores in my neighborhood. Thankfully, we have one bank. While there are grocery stores in our neighborhood, I have to travel 15 miles if I want to buy tofu, tempeh, or anything organic at anything that resembles a reasonable price. I live three miles south of Downtown Indianapolis. In general, prices are higher and the selection isn’t very good.

Mel asked me why I thought Indy had so many more of these businesses than other large cities. Part of what attracts and retains folks to Indy is the lower cost of living. We offer big city amenities in a mostly affordable package. Real estate is inexpensive. It’s cheaper to advertise. It costs less money to live and run a business in the city of Indianapolis. My guess is that there’s a much higher return on investment for these businesses in a city like Indianapolis. All big cities have large concentrations of poor people. It’s cheaper to open a check cashing store on South Madison than it is in San Francisco or New York or Chicago.

In response to this economic reality, the City of Indianapolis and the State of Indiana need to artificially inflate the cost of running these kinds of businesses. They need to call instant tax refunds, rent to own, and pay day loans what they are – loan sharking. We already have laws against loan sharking. They need to include these kinds of businesses in ordinances and legislation. Our community development corporations need to work on attracting businesses that don’t prey on poor people. Finally, our students should be required to take courses like home economics and personal finance where they learn about grocery shopping and banking (and how you shouldn’t be able to do both of those things in the same building).

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Seduced by Sad Puppy Eyes

Rosie convinced me not to crate her this morning while I went to run an errand. As I was leaving, I eyed a box of manuals and cables that came with my motherboard and considered moving them to a higher spot. But she was laying on the floor in a ball and when she flashed those big brown eyes at me, I knew I would come home to find her in the exact some spot.

Boy was I wrong. I came home to find my coveted SATA and round IDE cables chewed into a million pieces. That’s right, Rosie. It’s my fault. You’re just an innocent puppy who doesn’t know right from wrong.

Now that I’m home, she’s taking a nap on the couch, of course.

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Zucchini Carrot Oatbran Muffins

Ness and I have been the grateful recipients of three large zucchini from a friend’s garden. Last week Ness made whole wheat pasta with brown butter sauce, fresh herbs and cherry tomatoes from our garden, and grilled zucchini. Saturday night we did zucchini, roasted red pepper and hungarian wax pepper sandwiches. Last night I made Zucchini Carrot Oatbran muffins– a variation on a recipe I’ve been perfecting as my go-to whole grain breakfast colon-cleanser muffin. There are at least 6 grams of fiber per muffin. If you substitute a half banana for the egg, there is no saturated fat at all.

Zucchini Carrot Oatbran Muffins

DRY INGREDIENTS:

1 1/2 cups oat bran
1 cup whole wheat flour
1 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1 1/4 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
1 teaspoon cinnamon
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Same Old Story

The Star has printed several articles recently about the mismanagement of our county’s juvenile court system. The court was overseen for many years by Judge James Payne who recently moved on to a state job. I was only Judge Payne’s guest for one night, but I could’ve told anybody who cared to listen that the juvenile court system was messed up. Payne ran it like it was his own fiefdom. Mismanaged is an understatement.

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Making Sense of the Middle East

Back when 9/11 happened, I sought to understand the events of that day in the larger context of why they happened. Two resources that I used quite extensively were BBC News and Counterpunch. If you want a better understanding of what’s happening between Hezbollah and Israel right now, I recommend checking out these two sources.

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A Dog Lover’s Call to Action

I’m getting a lot of hits on my post regarding alleged inhumane treatment at the Good Dog Hotel & Spa in Broad Ripple. It seems we aren’t the only ones who had a bad experience. We no longer take Rosie to Good Dog. She now goes to Barkalounge in Beech Grove, and she absolutely loves it. The staff and the environment at Barkalounge are completely different than what we experience at Good Dog. Katy takes her dogs to a place near downtown that she absolutely loves. I’ll post the name as soon as I find it.

In the meantime, I’d like to hear from more people regarding their experiences at Good Dog. I’d love to hear from some folks who’ve had good experiences. There has to be somebody out there. More importantly, I’d like to start brainstorming some ideas for how we can channel these complaints to the proper authorities. It has been alleged by commenters on this blog (myself included) that Good Dog doesn’t treat dogs humanely. If that’s the case, we need to do more than just bitch in cyberspace.

Is there a city agency that we should contact? You’d call animal control if your neighbor was neglecting his dog, but I don’t know if that’s the right approach for a business. Complainants could file with the BBB, but I’m not sure how much teeth that really has. If dogs are indeed being neglected, I want to find someone with the authority to do something about it. Now.

Update: I added a page to the blog that offers some tips on selecting a doggy day care provider and what to do to report animal neglect.

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Yum

I can’t wait to try out my new kitchen plumbing. Here’s what’s for dinner tonight:

Cucumber and Kalamata olive salad topped with a sun dried tomato and feta cheese dressing

Penne with grilled chicken, zucchini, and tomatoes in a basil and parsley brown butter sauce

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