A weeklong deluge of union protesters made for an interesting week at the Statehouse.
The pop machines were empty; hundreds of pizzas were delivered daily to the building and there was a constant din echoing off marble floors and columns.
Even Gov. Mitch Daniels noticed the activities, saying the music that labor supporters provided got better later in the week.
The Dixieland band was darn good. And one guy could sing just beautifully, he said. The (Bob) Dylan impersonator needed a little work, I thought.
The union men and women also regularly cheered when House Speaker Brian Bosma, R-Indianapolis, announced there was no quorum to do business.
Never has a failure of a quorum been so popular, he deadpanned from the microphone.
But it wasn’t all fun and games.
Bosma said he received pictures from people displaying their firearms. A spitting incident Wednesday was also reported, without any details, as well as protesters coming toe-to-toe with members and using profanity, Bosma said.
But the speaker finished the week having a civil discussion with about 150 workers on the fourth floor of the Statehouse – some of them are informed. Some are misinformed. We had quite a conversation.
While the Indiana House shut down last week, the Indiana Senate never missed a beat.
The 50 senators plowed through a long calendar Tuesday to meet a deadline for voting on all bills.
They debated abortion regulations, collective bargaining for teachers, unemployment insurance tax increases and cuts, merit pay for educators, marijuana, nepotism in public office, local government reform, tax cuts and an emotional immigration bill.
Both Republicans and Democrats in the Senate did their job, worked their tails off, said Senate President Pro Tem David Long, R-Fort Wayne.
Senate Democrats, by the way, are so few in number that their absence can’t keep the Senate from attaining a quorum, so a walkout would achieve nothing.
In all, the chamber passed 196 bills in the first half of the legislative session with all but six on bipartisan votes.
That’s why Long didn’t appreciate an Indianapolis Star editorial that focused mostly on the shenanigans in the House but then lumped all legislators together.
Long quoted it as saying never underestimate Indiana legislators’ ability to make themselves look foolish, and the entire General Assembly needs to finally concentrate on the complex fiscal, economic and educational challenges facing this state.
Long said to suggest Indiana senators aren’t doing their job and throw everyone under the bus is poor journalism and the Senate deserved an apology.
Sometimes appearances matter.
Fort Wayne Clerk Sandy Kennedy learned that lesson last week after WOWO questioned the fact that her campaign finance account’s address was her clerk’s office in the City-County Building. A local conservative blogger previously accused her of breaking the law by campaigning from her government post.
Kennedy said the address was used when her new treasurer, Angie Davis, took over. Davis works for Kennedy in the clerk’s office. Kennedy said it was crazy for people to think she campaigns from her office, noting she didn’t know when she’d have time to do that on top of her regular work.
People who know me, know I’d never do anything like that, she said.
Even so, it certainly does not look proper to be mixing a taxpayer-financed office with a political campaign, if only on paper.
Kennedy filed an amendment last week changing her campaign address to a private residence.
Word of the week
House Speaker Brian Bosma, R-Indianapolis, delivered the best line of the walkout last week – Nuts!
That is what he told House Minority Leader Patrick Bauer, D-South Bend, on Wednesday when they spoke by phone about a list of bills the Democrats want killed or overhauled.
Bosma then related the story of Gen. Anthony McAuliffe, who when handed a German ultimatum to surrender during the Battle of the Bulge, replied, Nuts! The phrase became a morale-booster for American forces and is famed to this day.
On Thursday Bauer said conversations with Bosma had improved – he didn’t say Nuts!’ one time.