Political Notebook

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Crawford decries council’s gender-bill vote

Having former members address the Fort Wayne City Council is rare, but Dr. John Crawford’s comments were even more surprising.

Mainly because the former Republican councilman was critical of the actions of the body’s GOP majority.

Crawford said the council should have allowed the introduction of a bill that would have added gender identity and sexual orientation into the same level of protected class as race and religion, allowing the city to investigate claims of discrimination.

The council rejected giving the bill a hearing on a 5-4 party line vote with all Republicans opposing it.

Crawford said the city should have taken the progressive step of debating the contentious issue, even though he admitted he was unsure he would have supported it in a final vote.

“I think it would have been important for council to introduce this even if you were going to vote against it,” he said.

Crawford noted he was the only Republican member to support a previous measure that gave some protections to people discriminated against based on their sexual orientation. He said a longtime employee shouldn’t be fired just because his boss finds out he is homosexual.

“To me that’s not only wrong, that’s very, very wrong,” he said.

More council fun

Crawford’s speech wasn’t the only interesting event during Tuesday’s discussion related to the discrimination bill.

•Councilman Tom Didier, R-3rd, explained that part of the reason he voted against the bill was that he had been discriminated against as well. In high school he was called “gay” because he sang and danced.

“I didn’t get a law when someone was poking me down the hallway when I was 14, 15 years old, calling me names and everything else,” Didier said. “I dealt with it. If anything, it made me a stronger person.”

•The last bill to fail to be introduced was proposed by Councilman Marty Bender, R-at large, who wanted to reduce the city’s smoking restrictions. Although it’s not known whether Bender voted against the discrimination bill’s introduction as payback for some council Democrats, Councilwoman Karen Goldner, D-2nd, supported his effort to introduce the bill to reduce smoking restrictions at the time. Goldner was the author of the discrimination bill.

•Bender also took the unusual step of denying someone the chance to speak. The person was from out of town, so Bender said the open microphone was for Fort Wayne residents only. Numerous people from outside the city limits have spoken before to council members, but after the initial speaker cursed multiple times, Bender was likely just trying to keep tempers from exploding.

Cart before horse

The council last week appointed two new members to the Downtown Improvement District board: Zachary Benedict and T.K. Herman.

Unfortunately for the two appointees, the spots they were going to fill hadn’t been created at the time of their appointments.

It was only later in the meeting that the council took the final vote to expand the district from 13 to 15 members.

The bill didn’t become official until Mayor Tom Henry signed it later in the week.

What makes the early selection all the more unusual is that council members previously said they wouldn’t vote on those appointments until after the spots were officially created.

Joe Bonahoom, council attorney, said the timing of the votes probably doesn’t negate the appointments.

State of the 6th

Fort Wayne City Councilman Glynn Hines will present his 11th “State of the Sixth District Address” Saturday at Link’s Wonderland, 1711 E. Creighton Ave.

The public event will include highlights of the district from 2009 and projects targeted for this year. Neighborhood association presidents, elected officials and city department officials are expected to attend.

The event will begin at 10 a.m., and a free continental breakfast will be served.

Bennett in Decatur

Indiana Superintendent of Public Instruction Tony Bennett will be the keynote speaker at this year’s Adams County Republican Party Lincoln Day Dinner.

The event will be April 14 at the Knights of Columbus Hall, 1703 High St., Decatur.

To make reservations, call Rob Noetzel at 724-3478, Connie Moser at 724-3734 or Jerry Walker at 583-8960. The VIP reception will begin at 6 p.m. and costs $100.

People who wish to attend the 7 p.m. dinner only will pay $25.

Reservations can also be made by sending an e-mail to the party at adamscountygop@yahoo.com.

To reach Political Notebook by e-mail, contact Benjamin Lanka at blanka@jg.net or Niki Kelly at nkelly@jg.net. To discuss this entry of Political Notebook or others, go to the Political Notebook topic of “The Board” at www.journalgazette.net.

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