Political Notebook

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Little humor; much witty repartee

A conference panel with the four legislative caucus leaders last week provided a glimpse into what is to come this session.

And it’s not pretty.

The usually good-natured crew testily sparred on right-to-work facts and statistics – often interrupting each other with pointed remarks.

Senate President Pro Tem David Long, R-Fort Wayne, at one point said it would be nice if all legislators stayed in their seats – a reference to last year’s walkout by House Democrats.

House Democratic Leader Pat Bauer dryly said, “It’s so wonderful to have a lecture from the Senate.”

Long responded that at least his members stayed to work every day.

Senate Minority Leader Vi Simpson, D-Bloomington, said the legislature is going to be eaten up by right-to-work instead of other important issues.

Long disputed that, saying lots of issues will be discussed.

“On second-reading amendments,” a snarky Simpson said.

Moderator John Gregg, who is running for governor as a Democrat, gamely switched the topic to upcoming elections, saying, “I see I’m going to have to bring a stick in January.”

A council Christmas

While 911 communications, building-cost overruns and plenty of other meaty issues were on its agenda, the Fort Wayne City Council saved its most heated debate for whether it should meet this week.

In an effort to expedite a $20 million water project, the council tried to approve it the same day it was introduced. Council President Mitch Harper, R-4th, blocked that effort – only one opponent is needed.

Councilwoman Karen Goldner, D-2nd, then used a separate tactic to bring it for discussion, which needs only a supermajority for approval.

Goldner succeeded in bringing it up for discussion, only to have Harper offer criticism for a seeming rush to approve such a large project.

“Some of these large expenditures need at least a week,” he said, while saying it seemed large projects have a habit of coming up late in an election year.

The only problem is that nobody on the council, save Harper, knew whether the council would meet this Tuesday.

Several members of the council and city staff said they had no idea whether there would be a meeting because Harper had yet to rule on whether one would be necessary.

Councilman Tim Pape, D-5th, labeled Harper’s attack a smear on city staff and said the water project has been discussed numerous times before. “There’s no surprise here. There’s no haste here.”

Harper said he didn’t know whether there would be a need for a meeting until he saw what ordinances were to be introduced by the administration. He also couldn’t resist retorting to Pape’s comment.

“I look forward to next year when there will be more temperate comments made at the table,” he said, referring to Pape not seeking re-election.

In the spirit of giving, the council decided to have one more meeting this year to discuss and debate city issues.

Happy holidays.

Who are they for?

Legislative leaders took a few minutes last week to tackle the upcoming election cycle at a preview of the 2012 session.

Senate Minority Leader Vi Simpson, D-Bloomington, said she believes State Treasurer Richard Mourdock will “unfortunately” turn out to be the GOP U.S. Senate nominee.

But Senate President Pro Tem David Long, R-Fort Wayne, said if businessman Bob Thomas gets in the race, he will dilute Mourdock’s support – giving the race to U.S. Sen. Richard Lugar.

On the presidential side, Long made clear he has not endorsed Rick Perry, and House Democratic Leader Patrick Bauer said he is rooting for Newt Gingrich because “it will be a hoot.”

He and Simpson agreed that President Obama will be re-elected regardless.

Republican House Speaker Brian Bosma said he looks forward to a gubernatorial showdown between GOP U.S. Rep. Mike Pence and former Democratic House Speaker John Gregg – both former law school classmates.

He encouraged some Lincoln-Douglas style debates between the two – on a bus, “and I’ll drive it.”

Photo out

Allen County Commissioner Nelson Peters’ campaign website had an early hiccup last week.

Within a few days of launching his site, Political Notebook was contacted by Nathan Gotsch – a former local blogger – regarding one of Peters’ pictures.

Gotsch claimed it was taken by him during the 2007 mayoral primary and Peters did not have permission to use it. The photo was of Peters dressed in a suit sitting behind a desk.

When asked about the photo, Peters said he didn’t remember where or when the picture was taken but to avoid any problems he removed it immediately.

Inauguration in

The swearing-in ceremony for Mayor Tom Henry, the city clerk and council members will again be on New Year’s Day.

Invitations have been sent for the public event, which will be at noon at Arts United Center, 303 E. Main St.

It is the same venue used for Henry’s initial inauguration in 2007.

Pressure might be on his grandchildren to provide the mayor with inspiration for his speech. In 2007, Henry shared a children’s story, “Election Day” by Margaret McNamara, which was given to him for Christmas by his granddaughter.

A reception will follow the ceremony.

To reach Political Notebook by email, 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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