Political Notebook

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    The Indiana Right to Life Political Action Committee has endorsed six area Republicans seeking Statehouse office.
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Mayoral mudslinging online

The battle between Mayor Tom Henry and Republican challenger Paula Hughes got feisty last week.

Allen County Democrats and Republicans both went online to show what they claimed were the “real” sides of their opponents: www.therealtomhenry.com and www.therealpaula.com.

Not surprisingly, neither website offered a flattering view of the opposition. In general, each tried to paint the opponent as a tax-happy politician.

The debate intensified after local Democrats challenged the accuracy of the GOP site.

Democratic Chairman Mike Bynum sent a letter to local GOP Chairman Steve Shine on Tuesday asking him to take down the site www.therealtomhenry.com until all the information posted could be properly vetted.

“In your attempt to attack a well liked, well respected Mayor, you failed to check your facts. We call on you to take the site down until such time as you can verify what information you are promoting to the public and to be sure your arguments are factual,” he wrote.

The argument in question states that Henry “proposed a whopping 34 percent property tax increase for his first budget as mayor.”

The statement originally cited only a story from The News-Sentinel, which doesn’t include such information. It does say, “Roller presented to council in October the $134 million budget; however, with public safety-related items included, the spending plan goes up to $180.55 million.”

While $180 million is 34 percent higher than $134 million, the two numbers do not represent an increase in the proposed budget. Instead, one represents the total budget amount, and the smaller one represents the portion backed by property taxes.

Later Wednesday, Shine admitted that a formatting error on the website may have caused some confusion. The bullet point now also references a story from The Journal Gazette stating that the 2009 budget was estimated to raise property tax rates by 34 percent. The story also said, however, that homeowners would be paying less on their tax bills because of protections given to them by the state.

In reality, the budget raised tax rates by 15.8 percent.

Zoeller to hopefuls: Hold the robo-calls

Indiana Attorney General Greg Zoeller has put political candidates on notice: Don’t “robo-call” Hoosiers.

In a recent letter to political parties, Zoeller stressed the importance of respecting Indiana’s auto dialer law. This law restricts the use of technology that automatically dials residential phone numbers and plays prerecorded messages – an activity known as robo-calling.

“The message to political parties and candidates is quite simple, but I want it to be clear; respect Hoosiers’ privacy, respect our laws – do not robo-call,” Zoeller said.

Campaigns and political groups are allowed to make robo-calls to households only if the recipient opts to receive such calls. Disregarding the law can result in the attorney general filing a lawsuit seeking civil penalties up to $5,000 per violation.

Last year, Indiana political party leaders signed a pledge crafted by Zoeller that disavowed robo-calls and urged candidates to refrain from using such tactics. Because of the “Treaty of 2010,” Zoeller said his office saw a significant decline in the number of robo-call complaints.

Hoosiers who believe they have been robo-dialed can file a complaint with the Attorney General’s Consumer Protection Division online at www.indianaconsumer.com or by calling 1-888-834-9969.

Plans under way for Daniels portrait

The Indiana State Museum is seeking an artist to create Gov. Mitch Daniels’ official portrait.

The 42-inch-by-32-inch oil or acrylic portrait will be placed among the state’s collection. Portraits of Daniels’ predecessors are hung around the Statehouse.

It is slated to be unveiled in December 2012, shortly before Daniels’ term runs out.

Applications are available at www.indianamuseum.org/portrait and are due by Oct. 14. Finalists are required to meet with the selection committee and present one or two authentic pieces of their work in November.

To be considered, artists are required to be a resident or native of Indiana, with a preference given to current residents.

Council candidate pushing salary cuts

A Democratic City Council candidate appears to be jumping on an idea proposed by the Republican mayoral nominee: slashing salaries.

Steve Shafer this week announced he wants to save money by dramatically reducing the salaries of council members. Shafer is running against Councilman Tom Smith, R-1st, for the northeast city district.

Shafer said salaries should be reduced to $1 with a $100 per diem added for each meeting attended. Council members currently earn $21,414 annually for the part-time work. But they are allowed to obtain city health insurance.

“I urge City Council to ‘bite the bullet’ and make these changes in their budget,” he said in a written statement. “If not, I will introduce an amendment to the Salary Ordinance when I am elected.”

Salaries for elected officials must be set in the previous year, so if Shafer wins election, he wouldn’t be able to change the 2012 pay of council members. The total of all council salaries accounts for about 0.1 percent of the city’s total budget.

Republican mayoral nominee Paula Hughes has campaigned on slashing the mayor’s salary.

To reach Political Notebook by e-mail, contact Benjamin Lanka at blanka@jg.net or Niki Kelly at nkelly@jg.net. An expanded Political Notebook can also be found as a daily blog at www.journalgazette.net/politicalnotebook.

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