Political Notebook

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Crawford calls for tax freeze

For the second time in this relatively young general election season, former Fort Wayne City Councilman John Crawford is trying to drive a public policy debate.

On Wednesday, Crawford announced his desire for the city to freeze property taxes for next year’s budget and possibly into 2013.

To pay for any needed increases in spending, he suggested the city could use some of its cash reserves or some of the money from the lease and sale of the former electric utility to Indiana Michigan Power.

He said the best way to restrain government growth is to restrict its revenue. Crawford made the announcement early – budget discussions don’t begin until next month – to allow time for debate on whether taxes should be increased.

This is the second issue on which Crawford has submitted a proposal publicly. In early August, he waded into the contentious debate over how the city hires consultants and other professionals. He suggested competitive bidding be used for those services.

That effort won him plaudits from several officials and even a sit-down discussion with Deputy Mayor Beth Malloy over how some of Crawford’s ideas could be incorporated into a proposal by the mayor.

Although it is normal for political candidates to make policy proposals during a campaign, the response to Crawford’s ideas shows he still has some clout – and he plans to use it.

Moss mulls move

Allen County Councilman Paul Moss, R-at large, is considering whether to seek a seat in the Statehouse next year.

Moss on Tuesday said he filed paperwork with the state to create an exploratory committee for the purpose of possibly running for the seat representing House District 52. The newly drawn district includes all of DeKalb County, much of Perry Township in Allen County – where Moss resides – and part of southeast Steuben County.

Moss first ran for the council in 2004, when he was awarded the seat early by caucus after the departure of Margaret Ankenbruck. He won election in 2004 and 2008.

The House seat is currently held by Rep. David Yarde, R-Garrett, but Yarde is considering running for the Senate District 13 seat next year against incumbent Republican Sue Glick of LaGrange.

Moss’ council seat is up for election next year, so a choice to run for the legislature would prevent him from seeking a third council term. He said he sees the move as a natural move politically and a way to be involved in decisions statewide.

“This is simply a natural progression in my effort to reduce the tax burden on hard-working Hoosiers,” he said in a release.

Moss, 48, lives in Huntertown and is CEO of MedPartners, a joint venture between Lutheran Health Network and Three Rivers Medical Associates that provides group health products to employers throughout northeast Indiana. He also serves as a senior vice president for Lutheran.

Hughes aide in class

The campaign finance director for Republican mayoral candidate Paula Hughes might one day turn up on a ballot herself if participation in a leadership program for GOP women is any indication.

Brenda Gerber is among 22 women from 15 counties, and the only applicant from northeast Indiana, accepted for the Richard G. Lugar Excellence in Public Service Series.

Allen County women who have completed the program in recent years include former Allen County Councilwoman Hughes; City Councilwoman Liz Brown, who ran against Hughes in the spring mayoral primary election; and Linda Buskirk, GOP mayoral candidate in 1999 and 2003.

“I am thrilled to be selected, and I do have an interest in running for office someday,” Gerber told Political Notebook.

Gerber has been Hughes’ campaign finance director for nearly a year. She is a former executive director for the Fort Wayne Center for Learning and has worked in sales for Fort Wayne-based handbag manufacturer Vera Bradley Designs Inc.

The non-profit leadership program, named for and affiliated with Sen. Richard Lugar, R-Ind., was founded in 1990 and is based in Indianapolis. The class meets monthly for nine months and has sessions with government and political officials, lobbyists, media representatives and Lugar himself.

The program’s mission is to “increase the number and influence of Hoosier Republican women in elected and appointed governmental and political positions at the local, state and federal levels.”

Civic health ranked

Indiana’s civic engagement – including voting and volunteerism – is under the microscope in a first-ever report to be released Wednesday.

The results of the Indiana Civic Health Index will be available that day in conjunction with an advance screening of the film “We The People.” It will be published online at www.inbf.org at 9 a.m.

The report includes details on civic health such as community involvement, volunteerism, voter registration and turnout, the role of the press and the role of education in civic awareness. The report will also detail how Indiana compares to the rest of the nation.

Former U.S. Rep. Lee Hamilton, who is the director of the Center on Congress at Indiana University, and Indiana Supreme Court Chief Justice Randall T. Shepard serve as chairmen of the assessment.

The Indiana Bar Foundation, the National Conference on Citizenship, Indiana University Northwest and the Hoosier State Press Association are project sponsors and funded the study.

To call attention to the release of the report, Inland Sea Productions is presenting an unfinished digital rough-cut version of the film “We The People” for project sponsors Wednesday at the Indiana State Museum. It is not open to the public.

The film chronicles America’s history and its founding documents and will be completed in an IMAX version in 2012.

Bennett to speak

Superintendent of Public Instruction Tony Bennett will give his second annual State of Education address at 6 p.m. Tuesday in Indianapolis.

The speech will be at the Indiana Historical Society. Details are still forthcoming on whether the event will be open to the public or by invitation only, but it will be streamed live on the Department of Education’s website at www.in.gov/doe.

Last year, Bennett pushed overhauls such as evaluating teachers based in part on student test scores, which lawmakers put into law in April.

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. Items that appear in Political Notebook and others not published can be found online as a daily blog at www.journalgazette.net/section/LOCAL0202.

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