INDIANAPOLIS – Property taxes might be on the top of the list, but they aren’t the only issue on the minds of Indiana lawmakers.
Rep. Scott Reske, D-Pendleton, plans to introduce legislation in January to resolve the dispute between cable companies and independent programmers – including the NFL Network and the Big Ten Network.
The bill will be necessary only if the Federal Communications Commission doesn’t fix the situation first.
“If this matter cannot be resolved by the parties involved or at the federal level, I will introduce a bill that would, at a minimum, establish a third-party dispute resolution process concerning cable programming,” Reske said in a statement.
The NFL Network and Big Ten Network are specialized sports channels that some large cable companies either refuse to carry because of the high cost or place in more expensive packages.
Reske recently sent a letter to the FCC asking it to carefully examine whether there are anti-competitive forces harming consumers’ ability to access popular programming not owned by the cable companies.
He also noted that many Hoosiers were not able to watch the Super Bowl champion Indianapolis Colts take on the Atlanta Falcons on Thanksgiving night because it aired on the NFL Network.
“Cable companies are allowed monopolies and we need to make sure Hoosiers have reasonable input into cable programming,” Reske said. “We’re not suggesting government should take sides in programming disputes; we’re advocating a way to get this matter resolved.”
Rested and ready
Mayor-elect Tom Henry said he feels ready to get started with his administration after taking a short vacation with his wife, Cindy.
Henry said the couple spent a few days in Indianapolis and also traveled to French Lick to see the new casino. He also plans to take another trip with his wife this week to Boston to attend a national conference for newly elected mayors that will also be attended by Indianapolis Mayor-elect Greg Ballard.
Henry agreed this trip will be more work-related but said his wife didn’t mind and actually enjoys the political environment. He said he expects her to take a prominent – yet volunteer – role in his administration promoting social services.
“She’s very sensitive to the plight of the poor and disenfranchised,” Henry said of his wife.
Legislators dedicated a new memorial in the Indiana House last week, one honoring colleagues who died while serving in office.
“Their contributions to the state of Indiana have no doubt helped shape our past, present and future,” a program said about the new memorial. “Many of the laws we live by today are the result of months and years of hard work by the legislators listed on the plaque.”
The names of 58 former House members grace the memorial, dating back to 1816.
Some from northeast Indiana include:
•Gloria Goeglein, a Republican who served Allen County from 1990 to 2001;
•Philip Tipton Warner, a Republican who served Elkhart, LaGrange and Noble counties from 1970 to 1998;
•Orville H. Moody, a Republican who served DeKalb and Steuben counties from 1984 to 1989;
•James Alphonso Moody, a Republican who served Steuben and LaGrange counties in 1935. He was elected again in November 1936 but died before the 1937 session convened.
The frail health of Rep. Julia Carson, D-7th, has caused a flutter of activity among other Indianapolis pols eager for the chance to run in an open congressional seat.
Carson has missed 319 votes this year – only four other current House members have more – but she has not announced her resignation or intention to retire when her term ends next year.
Nonetheless, Carson’s predecessor, Andy Jacobs, endorsed Carson’s grandson for the seat. Because Jacobs and Carson are close, political observers understood his announcement to mean that Carson will not run again.
So far, the Marion County treasurer, a Democrat, said he will run, and a Republican state representative said he will seek the GOP nomination.
If Carson retires, the list of candidates is not likely to stop there. When Jacobs retired in 1996, seven Democrats scrambled to win their party’s nomination.
There is a saying that politics makes interesting bedfellows, but it also makes interesting adversaries, as was shown in last week’s Fort Wayne City Council debate over the Aqua Indiana takeover.
Defending the private utility was Pat Callahan, the company’s utility engineer. Of course, Callahan had a history with the city, working for City Utilities for nearly 15 years, including as an engineering manager. He moved to the private company in January.
As if the negotiations weren’t tense enough, Callahan was pitted directly against Ted Nitza, the city’s chief contractor working on the acquisition. When Callahan worked for the city, he hired and supervised Nitza. That didn’t stop either one from accusing the other of providing misleading information, and Callahan told the council that Nitza was a salesman providing a slick presentation, but it didn’t cover the whole story.
The Federal Aviation Administration provided proof last week of just how slowly the wheels of government grind along.
The department finally signed off on a deal to release property owned by the Fort Wayne Allen County Airport Authority to the city of Fort Wayne as part of a project to ease the bend in the road between Indianapolis Road and Ferguson Road.
But the agency’s approval came more than two years after construction work was finished. The city and airport authority handled the land swap locally some time ago, airport director Tory Richardson said.
Washington Editor Sylvia A. Smith and Amanda Iacone of The Journal Gazette contributed to this column.