Political Notebook

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Shine to mediate county officials’ clash

The recent spat between the Allen County Council and county commissioners has sparked the county’s GOP chairman to attempt to mediate.

County Republican Chairman Steve Shine has asked all 10 members of the two bodies – all are Republicans – to join him for a caucus next month, according to a letter from Shine obtained by Political Notebook.

While the letter, dated Aug. 16, states only that the caucus will involve discussions of “several matters to the local party,” when contacted, Shine said it was an effort to discuss the recent dispute between the two groups over county employee retirement funds.

This month, the council voted to stop making the 3 percent contribution to staff retirement funds that are designated as the employees’ share. This prompted Commissioner Nelson Peters to send an email to council members and county employees criticizing the council’s action.

Peters email prompted a response from Councilman Paul Moss, R-at large, who accused the commissioner of playing politics and fanning “the flames of employee discontent.”

We’d have to imagine getting them all together to discuss this should be interesting, but because a caucus is exempt from the state’s public meeting laws, Shine said he will keep the event private.

The caucus will be held from 11:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. Sept. 6 at Allen County GOP headquarters.

Clerk spat Round 2

Apparently the awkwardness surrounding Fort Wayne City Councilwoman Liz Brown’s attempt to introduce politics into a council meeting didn’t stop her from trying again last week.

For the second time, Brown tried to have Republican clerk nominee Zach Bonahoom operate a presentation she planned to make to the council. The first attempt was stymied when the entire discussion was delayed.

The latest attempt, for a one-page presentation on solid waste revenues and expenses, was killed before the television cameras even began rolling. Clerk Sandy Kennedy, a Democrat, told Brown she would not allow Bonahoom to operate city equipment because he is not a city employee.

This prompted a heated exchange between the two with Brown questioning why Bonahoom could not help and who made such a policy.

“I set the policy for that because it belongs to the city clerk,” Kennedy replied.

Brown conceded, but only after asking to see a copy of the policy in the future.

Reliving history

The Tom Henry and Paula Hughes campaigns last week got out their DeLoreans and traveled back in time to remind voters about their opponents’ previous stances.

Hughes on Friday held an event to affirm her pledge not to raise taxes as a thinly veiled way to attack some of Henry’s previous efforts to raise taxes.

In the late 1980s, then-Councilman Henry worked with staunch Republican Don Schmidt to create a county option income tax. In addition, Henry asked to raise the property tax levy by $3.7 million upon taking office in 2008 – a plan that was supported by the Republican-led City Council but rejected by the state.

“I have pledged to protect the best interest of the taxpayer while Mayor Henry has made raising taxes the hallmark of his lengthy political career,” Hughes said in a statement.

Henry’s campaign went back to Hughes’ days as director of the Downtown Improvement District to attack her seeming change of position since then. At the time, Hughes supported an effort to build an arena downtown, a massive property tax-supported library expansion and the expansion of Grand Wayne Center. She also was an early supporter of Harrison Square.

“I believe strengthening our downtown is an important part of the long term health of our community, and I remember when Paula Hughes felt the same way,” Mayor Henry said in a statement. “It’s clear by her recent statements that she has changed her mind now that she’s running for mayor.”

And it’s only August.

Chilling coincidence

As Hoosiers arrived at the State Fair in the days following the deadly stage collapse, they were handed the 2011 Indiana State Fair program.

On the back cover is an ad from the Indiana Department of Homeland Security containing eerie advice.

“Emergencies can happen at any time,” the ad warns, with a picture of a serene home and a strike of lightning in the distance. “Being prepared makes a difference.”

Visiting Indiana

Former Utah Gov. Jon Huntsman last week became the second GOP presidential candidate to accept the Indiana Republican Party’s invitation to address Hoosiers about the nation’s financial footing.

His visit will be Aug. 29 and will include evening remarks to Republican supporters, candidates and elected officials in downtown Indianapolis.

Herman Cain visited last week.

A third, higher-profile candidate might also be on his way soon.

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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