Political Notebook

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    Sen. Joe Donnelly in recent days endorsed David Kolbe in Indiana House District 22, traveled to Iowa to stump for U.S. Senate candidate Bruce Braley and joined state House District 81 candidate Thad Gerardot for a campaign appearance in downtown
  • Coats, Donnelly donate to campaigns
    Neither of Indiana’s U.S. senators is on the election ballot this year, but that hasn’t stopped them from dipping into their campaign war chests.
  • Boland pledges to donate salary to community
    If elected, Democratic State Treasurer candidate Mike Boland would donate his salary to the community.

Stutzman, Democrat pals

Work together on subcommittee to benefit veterans

Who says Republican and Democratic congressmen can’t get along?

Reps. Marlin Stutzman, R-3rd, and Bruce Braley, D-Iowa, conducted field hearings of the House Veterans’ Affairs Subcommittee on Economic Opportunity in Waterloo, Iowa, on Monday and Fort Wayne on Wednesday.

Stutzman, a freshman lawmaker, is chairman of the eight-member subcommittee. Braley, first elected in 2006, is the ranking Democrat on the panel. Their offices are next door in the Longworth House Office Building.

“I’m going to say something shocking: Chairman Stutzman and I are good friends,” Braley said at the close of Wednesday’s hearing at the downtown Allen County Public Library.

“He’s a Republican; I’m a Democrat,” the former trial attorney said. “When I found out I was going to have the honor of working with him on this committee, the first thing I said to him is, ‘What can I do to help you be successful?’ Because when it comes to serving our nation’s veterans, there is nothing that should be more non-partisan than helping our veterans in every way that we can. And that’s why I am so proud to serve with him.

“I like Marlin. I think he likes me,” Braley said, prompting laughter from the audience. “I think you rarely see that on TV these days, and it happens a lot more than you think.

“I think if we did more hearings like this, if we spent more time outside Washington talking to real people whose lives are impacted by the policies we set, we’d all be better off,” he said.

Stutzman responded: “I do like him. He and I both have an understanding that the challenges we face as Americans aren’t Republican problems or Democrat problems – they’re American problems. And we have to address them as Americans.”

Political salaries

Republican mayoral nominee Paula Hughes held an event on Thursday to again tout her promise to slash the mayor’s salary by nearly $30,000 if elected.

Hughes has repeatedly said the mayor of Fort Wayne should not make more than the mayor of Indianapolis or the governor of Indiana, and the cut would help lead by example.

Fort Wayne’s mayor makes $123,600.

This time, however, Hughes was joined by Rep. Marlin Stutzman, R-3rd, which on the surface seemed like a slightly odd pick. While Stutzman did vote to reduce congressional pay, he is still paid a base salary of $174,000 plus multiple perks. This is nearly double Gov. Mitch Daniels’ salary.

Mayor Tom Henry’s campaign manager was quick to point out this pay discrepancy.

“Only Paula Hughes would hold a press conference about pay cuts with a congressman who makes $174,000 a year,” Justin Schall said. “The real question is what kind of mayor she’d be.”

Hughes declined to comment on Stutzman’s salary, saying she was only trying to bring the mayoral pay in line with other Indiana mayors.

Stutzman, however, said he is only one legislator and wanted to lower his pay even further. As an executive, the mayor can lead by example, which is what Hughes is trying to do, he said.

The govís support

It appears Gov. Mitch Daniels isn’t going to heed Rep. Phil GiaQuinta’s call to rescind his endorsement of Republican Zach Bonahoom for city clerk.

GiaQuinta, D-Fort Wayne, issued a statement on Monday condemning Bonahoom’s previous tweet labeling a parking attendant as a “parking Nazi.”

“Referring to our public servants as Nazis is grossly inappropriate and demonstrates an incredible lack of judgment. Anyone who would equate city employees with mass murderers clearly has no place holding city office,” he said in the news release.

“I have worked with Governor Daniels for several years now and while we disagree on many things, I doubt that we disagree over the serious breach of decency that occurred here. I would hope that Governor Daniels would not have endorsed this young man had he known of his serious lack of judgment. He does now and should withdraw his support.”

Daniels response?

“The good news is the election will be over in 20 days.”

Snow and leaves

Mayor Tom Henry on Wednesday tried to make hay of some recent comments of his opponent, saying she is planning to cut vital city services.

“On County Council, Paula Hughes voted to cut vital services like snow removal,” Henry said. “Now she says leaf collection is a luxury she would consider eliminating.”

Hughes, however, said Henry was simply “playing politics” by changing the facts. She said the statement that she cut snow removal is “ludicrous” and that she called leaf collection a luxury in comparison to police and fire protection.

Henry was joined by several neighborhood officials at his event, who called on voters to oppose candidates willing to cut important services.

Hughes said her record speaks for itself.

The record:

“My perspective on the leaf pickup is it is a luxury as a citizen,” Hughes previously told The Journal Gazette. “Do I enjoy it? Yes. Do I think we need to evaluate whether that is a priority? … I think it is up for discussion.”

Allen County cut its highway department by 20 percent in 2008, including laying off 19 employees, because of reduced revenues caused by the city’s annexation of much of Aboite Township. Hughes served on the County Council that approved this budget.

Highway officials said at the time they would send 10 to 12 fewer trucks out to plow snow along county roads because of the cuts. This would cause the department to need another hour to 90 minutes to clear main roads, a spokeswoman said at the time.

Brian Francisco, The Journal Gazette Washington editor, contributed to this column.

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.