Political Notebook

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  • Hamilton honored by ex-Congress group
    Lee Hamilton recently received the 2014 Distinguished Service Award of the U.S. Association of Former Members of Congress.
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Democrats disavow Kosciusko pol

It’s not unusual for there to be some dissension within any political party, but a local Democratic candidate appeared to go a bit too far in criticizing the party hierarchy.

The Democratic Party of Kosciusko County pulled its support from Larry Rensberger, the party’s candidate for the 1st District County Council seat, after Rensberger wrote a scathing column that appeared in the Warsaw Times-Union.

In the piece, Rensberger tells people to vote against Democrats Brad Ellsworth, Joe Donnelly and Tom Hayhurst while saying people should draft Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer to be the next president. Rensberger is overtly critical of the national health care law signed by President Obama because it limits people’s control over their lives.

One of the stronger passages was, “You may damn the rich if you wish, but when was the last time you saw jobs being created by the poor? And face the simple fact, if you are rich, and you are taxed too much, the rich will take these jobs to other countries.”

Rensberger, who previously ran unsuccessfully for state representative, did ask people to vote to keep Democrats in the majority in the Indiana House. In 2006, Rensberger said he was a lifelong Republican who joined the Democratic Party in 2005 after Rep. Bill Ruppel’s vote in favor of daylight saving time and two license branch closures in the district.

Terry Bartley, Kosciusko County Democratic chairman, responded by saying he understood people should be able to express their opinions, but Rensberger’s comments were so out of line with the party that he questioned the candidate’s affiliation with Democrats at all. Bartley also said he expects at least one labor union to pull its support from Rensberger.

The loss of the party endorsement doesn’t bother Rensberger, who called himself a Republican-Democrat. He said he still opposes much of what Mitch Daniels has done in the state but contends it’s better than where Obama is taking the country.

Rensberger, who faces Republican Doug Heinisch in the fall election, said he will stay on the ballot but admits in such a Republican area he wasn’t going to win anyway.

No debates for you

Sen. Tom Wyss, R-Fort Wayne, is resisting attempts by his Democratic challenger to draw him into a heated race.

Jack Morris sought a clean campaign pledge from Wyss about two months ago and followed that up with a request for debates. Wyss has not responded to either.

“Tom and I have a chance to change the tone in politics. I see no reason why we should deprive the voters of what they deserve,” Morris said.

But Wyss said in between the two letters from the Morris campaign, several friends and supporters received push poll calls questioning the amount of travel Wyss does at taxpayer expense.

Wyss serves on several national committees related to homeland security issues, and the federal government often pays for his travel.

“After pulling that I just ignored the debate request,” said Wyss, who noted that Morris could check with Democratic colleagues to know he doesn’t campaign negatively.

Morris’ campaign manager, Derek Thomas, said the campaign has done no polling in the race at all. He also checked with the Indiana Democratic Party officials, who said they have not polled in Senate District 15.

“We don’t know where that’s coming from,” he said.

Tell me about it

The Fort Wayne City Council’s public hearing on a proposed ban of marijuana substitute, K2, was almost derailed before it began.

Councilman Mitch Harper, R-4th, wrote the ban and called for the hearing, but he forgot to tell his council president and clerk about it. They did not forget to tell him about his mistake.

President Marty Bender, R-at large, started the public reprimand of Harper by saying there was a miscommunication and asked whether the council could even legally conduct a public hearing without providing proper notice.

Of course, the council can have a courtesy hearing whenever it wants, a point Harper argued, but Bender required the entire council to weigh in on the matter first.

Clerk Sandy Kennedy said when a council member wants to hear public comment on an issue, it’s proper to announce it publicly so her office can be ready to take names in advance of people who want to speak.

The comments appeared to upset Harper enough that he threatened to cancel the meeting altogether, even though more than a dozen people in the audience wanted to speak.

“It’s my ordinance and I’m making the motion to hold,” he said.

Harper was eventually talked down by other members and the hearing was conducted. During it, Bender had to call the police officer on duty to remove one speaker whom he deemed was out of line.

You donít say

File this one under the heading of “duh.”

CampusReform.org completed an in-depth profile of the political climate at Indiana University as part of an ongoing project to research the nation’s top 100 universities.

The research shows liberal political bias at Indiana University based on the school’s faculty, student organizations and administrative policies.

Liberal student groups at IU outnumber conservative groups 25 to 7. The political leanings of university professors are similarly biased. Specifically, 92 percent of the school’s contributing faculty and staff gave their political donations to Democratic candidates (in total, almost $215,000) and a mere 8 percent to Republicans in the 2008 presidential election.

Perhaps more surprising is that Purdue University is also listed as liberal by the group.

The full profiles are available online at www.campusreform.org.

The group is profiling the nation’s top 100 colleges and universities as ranked by U.S. News & World Report.

More than 50 profiles have already been researched and published. New profiles are added regularly to CampusReform.org.

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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