The Indiana Catholic Conference sent letters to all 150 state lawmakers last week weighing in on several labor and union issues, including a right-to-work proposal.
The two-page statement signed by officials from five area dioceses doesnt definitively state a position on the controversial bill being pushed by GOP legislative leadership.
The Indiana Catholic Conference is the public policy voice of the Catholic Church in Indiana.
The proposed right-to-work measure would make it illegal for an employer and union to include a contract clause requiring all employees covered by the contract to pay some sort of union dues or representation fee.
The letter from the Indiana Catholic Conference states that workers have a right to a just wage, safe working environment and the ability to form unions.
But it said it is a concern when unions that charge excessive dues use their financial resources to support politicians or political parties that clearly devalue the sanctity of life or the institution of marriage.
It also said that any form of coercion on the part of business ownership, management or a union is to be condemned.
Glenn Tebbe, executive director of the Catholic Conference, was surprised the letter became public so quickly and said the church is not against unions.
We see unions as a contributing factor to the common good. That purpose is to defend and promote the just causes of workers and working conditions. Thats their proper purpose, he said.
But he noted that labor unions can become too identified with one political party and stray from those purposes.
We are not saying unions are bad or unions are perfect, Tebbe said.
We wanted to give some principles for legislators to think about as they determine prudent public policy.
Up and running
Allen County Recorder John McGauley is not wasting any time in launching his campaign for county commissioner.
McGauley on Monday unveiled his campaigns website: johnmcgauley.com. The site touts his accomplishments as recorder and provides background on the candidate.
It also offers some sharp criticism for the current state of county government and some pretty dramatic changes he would like to implement.
McGauley writes he will examine consolidating fleet maintenance, purchasing, human resources, public safety and transportation (street and highway) departments and any other support functions shared between Allen County, the City of Fort Wayne and our communitys other municipalities.
He also wrote he supports eliminating the dysfunctional three-member Board of Commissioners arrangement and creating a single executive for the county. He also supports prohibiting county employees from serving on the County Council. Those issues should be enough to start a good debate with incumbent Commissioner Nelson Peters.
Peters previously said he will seek a third term, although he will have a formal announcement closer to Jan. 1.
Hoosiers interested in some good-natured political ribbing cant miss the 2012 Indiana Gridiron Dinner.
The Indiana Fiscal Policy Institute is reviving the old Indiana political tradition, which was put on for years by the Indianapolis Press Club. It has been nearly a decade since the last event.
The laughfests used to be the social highlight of many legislative sessions, with the best lines repeated for days.
This years revival will be headlined by Gov. Mitch Daniels in Indianapolis on Feb. 22. House Speaker Brian Bosma will join former Gov. Joe Kernan as roastmasters with gubernatorial contenders Mike Pence, John Gregg, Jim Wallace and Rupert Boneham on the spit.
Aside from being a night to gather in fun and frivolity, the Gridiron is a way to raise money toward endowing a research directors chair at the Indiana Fiscal Policy Institute. The institute is a non-partisan, non-profit dedicated to research into the states fiscal policy and budget practices.
Tickets arent cheap at $100, but the night could live in infamy.
To learn more or buy tickets, go to indianagridiron.com/.
Another joins race
A former staffer for Rep. Mike Pence, R-6th, hopes to replace him.
Gospel music promoter Andrew Phipps of Muncie announced Monday he will seek the 2012 Republican nomination for the congressional seat Pence is leaving to run for governor next year.
Phipps was community relations director for Pence in 2001, Pences first year in the House.
At least five other Republicans have announced their candidacies for the 6th District seat. Former state lawmaker Luke Messer of Shelbyville has raised by far the most money in campaign contributions, according to reports filed with the Federal Election Commission. At least three people have indicated they might seek the Democratic nomination.
In a statement, Phipps called Congress a pitiful mess because of special-interest money and incumbents who turn down term limits; feather their nests; homestead close to the Potomac and then accept the status quo, unwilling to do what ought to be done.
He said Christian values can become the underpinning for better public policy.
The socialistic, secular approach that replaces capitalism with a nanny state and in the process destroys our traditional values will become a reality unless something is done very quickly, he said.
Phipps taught social studies for 33 years, mostly at Southside High School in Muncie. He is founder and host of the Phipps Gospel Sing on radio and television.
Adams, Wells and southern Allen County are in the 6th District but will join the 3rd District for next years primary and general elections, because of new boundaries drawn by the state legislature. The 6th District will add counties in southeast Indiana.
Journal Gazette Washington Editor Brian Francisco contributed to this column.