The Journal Gazette
Sunday, November 24, 2019 1:00 am

Site offers conversations to steer from

BRIAN FRANCISCO and NIKI KELLY | The Journal Gazette

Thanksgiving is around the corner, and the website Ranker has identified hot-button topics families should avoid while sharing turkey and potatoes.

These are issues “that are most likely to cause disagreement,” the crowdsourced rankings site said in its guide to Thanksgiving conversations. And Ranker breaks them down by age group.

Baby boomers – ages 58 and older – are rabid about terrorism, immigration and moral decline. Members of Generation X – ages 38 to 58 – are opinionated about homelessness, affordable housing and campaign finance reform. Millennials and zoomers – ages 18 to 38 – care most about abortion, police brutality and pollution.

Ranker, which is based in Los Angeles, found that abortion, immigration/terrorism and gender equality are the topics most likely to spark arguments among all age groups. Findings are based on 300,000 votes from 40,000 visitors to the website.

Ranker says Indiana is the state with the strongest feelings about gender equality. Hoosiers are 20 times more likely than residents of other states to think that gender equality “matters a lot.”

Topics identified as safest for discussion at dinner tables are ineffective government, health care reform and education.

The Ranker guide came out Tuesday, when thousands of public school teachers were converging on the Indiana Statehouse in Indianapolis to advocate for pay increases and changes in standardized testing, teacher training requirements and a high school performance measure. Political Notebook is guessing education will be a lively discussion topic at many Hoosier family gatherings this Thanksgiving.

2 local women chosen for Lugar Series

Two Fort Wayne residents have been selected for the 30th class of the Richard G. Lugar Excellence in Public Service Series.

Rachel Lott and Kimberly Wagner are among the 20 Hoosiers who will participate in the not-for-profit leadership development program for Republican women.

Lott is director of marketing and community outreach at Hillsdale Hospital in Michigan. She sought the Republican nomination for the Fort Wayne City Council seat in the city's 4th District in the May primary election.

Wagner is chief of staff for the chancellor of Purdue University Fort Wayne. 

More than 500 women have been trained by the Lugar Series, named for the longtime U.S. senator who died in April.

Holcomb commutes drug sentence

Gov. Eric Holcomb last week commuted the sentence of a convicted drug offender from Elkhart County. 

Berto Dooley, 40, will be released from prison about 18 months early after Holcomb's action. He was convicted in 2003 in Elkhart County of possession with intent to distribute cocaine, a Class A felony, and of being a habitual substance offender.

He was 24 when he committed the crime and has less than two years left on his sentence. Holcomb's executive order said since then Dooley has “actively and extensively undertaken efforts to better himself while incarcerated.” That includes earning several higher education degrees and being a mentor and tutor to other inmates. 

The Indiana Parole Board recommended the commutation. Dooley's sentence was commuted with the suspension of the remainder of his executed sentence. He must serve six months of home detention, after which he will be released on parole.

To reach Political Notebook by email, contact Brian Francisco at or Niki Kelly at An expanded Political Notebook can be found as a daily blog at

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