Political Notebook

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Senator’s condo is casualty

Perception is often reality in politics, which has led a legislative leader and former lawmaker to decide to sell their downtown Indianapolis condominium.

Senate President Pro Tem David Long, R-Fort Wayne, and former House member Randy Borror bought the condo together about six years ago when both were serving in the General Assembly.

It provided a home base for the colleagues when spending weeks at a time in Indianapolis on legislative business. Other lawmakers rent apartments or stay in hotels.

But Borror left the House in 2010 to join a lobbying firm. He instituted a self-imposed one-year moratorium against lobbying his former legislative colleagues during the 2011 session.

But that won’t be the case next year, causing the co-owners to decide it might not be best for a legislative leader to jointly own assets with a lobbyist.

“I hate to do it because I love the place,” Long said. “We will remain the closest of friends, but this change of relationship is awkward. As far as public perception, it’s the right move.”

The three-bedroom condo on Broadway is listed at $159,900 – slightly above its most recent tax assessment value of $142,800. It also has a total of 1,300 square feet and two bathrooms.

The property taxes are quite high – almost $3,000 a year – but that’s because Long and Borror aren’t eligible for a homestead credit or the 1 percent property tax cap.

That was effective

Democratic legislators Win Moses and Phil GiaQuinta last Thursday held an event to publicly endorse former Indiana House speaker John Gregg for governor.

Democrats supporting Democrats is nothing new, but the legislators said it was important to show their support in an effort to eliminate any primary challenges for Gregg. GiaQuinta said the party wanted to avoid the contested primary of 2008, when candidates were forced to spend millions of dollars before getting to challenge Gov. Mitch Daniels.

Gregg even said he does not expect to face a primary challenger next year.

Oops.

That same day, Democratic businessman Thomas Lenfert of Georgetown announced his plans to seek the governor’s mansion. If he can successfully collect signatures from 500 registered voters in each of the state’s congressional districts, Gregg will have a primary opponent.

Attacking your support

Fort Wayne City Councilwoman Liz Brown, R-at large, wrote a guest column last week criticizing the $1.4 million effort by the city and Allen County to improve the permitting process.

In it she notes the numerous previous efforts to improve permitting and questions how this will be different. Brown, who lost the Republican mayoral primary election in May, was critical of adding more bureaucracy to the process with the city-county committee that will oversee the improvements.

In a separate email, she questions whether this committee must follow state law regarding public meetings, including giving appropriate advance notice.

Missing for most of the column, however, is the fact that Brown voted in favor of the proposal. She does try to explain her vote by saying the ordinance meant nothing.

“In actuality, all we voted on was the opportunity for this soon-to-be-formed legal entity to go off and begin the process of determining how to hire an undetermined number of entities, who will then implement a streamlined permitting plan,” she wrote.

Well, at least that is clear.

Dining with dignitaries

Sen. Dan Coats, R-Ind., and his wife, Marsha, were among the guests last week at the White House state dinner for German Chancellor Angela Merkel.

Sen. Coats was ambassador to Germany from 2001 to 2005 under President George W. Bush. At the time, Merkel was leader of the conservative Christian Democratic Union party.

Singer-songwriter James Taylor performed at the black-tie event Tuesday in the Rose Garden. The menu at the state dinner reportedly included tuna from Hawaii, petit filet, Maryland crab ravioli, salad from the garden of first lady Michelle Obama and apple strudel.

Coats sat next to Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton during the dinner, according to Tara DiJulio, his communications director. DiJulio said they discussed foreign affairs.

Coats visited with Merkel and other German officials he had worked with as ambassador.

“He said she was happy to see him and even happier to see Mrs. Coats,” DiJulio said in an email. “Mrs. Coats and Chancellor Merkel had a good personal relationship during their time in Germany.”

Other guests included Supreme Court Chief Justice John Roberts, Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner, Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., and House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif.

Journal Gazette Washington Editor Brian Francisco contributed to this column.

To reach Political Notebook by email, 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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