Political Notebook

  • Huckabee, Priebus coming to state GOP convention
    Former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee and national GOP Chairman Reince Priebus will speak at the state party’s convention in Fort Wayne.
  • Signs of the times
    It’s spring, when the roadways are lined with flowers, wildlife and political signs.
  • Fries gets Farm nod
    Allen County Sheriff Ken Fries has received the endorsement of the Indiana Farm Bureau ELECT in his primary election race for the District 15 Indiana State Senate seat.

Libertarian backs repeal of right-to-work

Libertarian candidate for governor Rupert Boneham said last week he will fight to repeal the right-to-work law if elected.

He said as an active and proud union member he doesn’t believe someone should be forced to join or pay fees to another group as a condition of employment.

But his stronger conviction is that the state has “no authority or right to legislate contracts between a private company and its workforce.”

He pointed out that negotiations over a “closed shop” could have been used as a positive trade during contract talks. For instance, those involved in negotiations could have traded compulsory union membership for things like merit over seniority or lower health care costs.

“Some in this race to be Indiana’s next governor are shying away from the RTW discussion. While they’re saying things like, ‘It’s time to move beyond this, ...’ I am proudly and loudly saying that, as governor, I will fight to repeal this intrusion into private businesses,” Boneham said. “I will work to restore the legally contracted rights of private workers and unions. Together, we will repeal this, like we did in 1965.”

Democratic gubernatorial candidate John Gregg issued a statement about moving past the issue. He later had to clarify his support of union members.

Religion, politics

An IPFW forum Thursday will examine the role of religion in presidential politics.

Two members of the political science department will be the featured speakers – assistant professor Elliot Bartkey and associate professor Michael Wolf.

The forum will be from noon to 1:15 p.m. at Walb Student Union, Rooms G-21 and G-21A. The program is free and open to the public, and a simple lunch will be served. Reservations are not required.

The forum is part of a monthly lecture series sponsored by IPFW’s Campus Ministries. For more information, call 481-6992, email ministry@ipfw.edu or go to ipfw.edu/ministry.

Loss of trust

In just a few weeks, City Councilman Russ Jehl, R-2nd, has proved he will not shy away from contentious topics in his first year on the council.

Having already stalled a rezoning project to appease a northern neighborhood, Jehl on Tuesday offered some of the strongest criticism of City Utilities’ request to increase water rates by 40 percent. Unlike some previous critics, Jehl does not raise his voice when going after the administration, but his words are just as pointed.

He said inflation has increased prices at the same time average household incomes have fallen, making it more difficult for residents to handle a rate increase.

But the real sting came when he said residents were more upset with how the increase was announced than its cost.

“It’s about the loss of trust,” he said, noting city staff last year said no rate increase would be necessary because of the city’s conversion to a ultraviolet disinfection process. Although technically accurate, Jehl said that argument hid what was really happening.

Utilities Director Kumar Menon apologized if it appeared the utility was hiding its plans to increase rates, and he said there would be a greater effort to communicate with the council.

“There was no intent to mask our intentions,” Menon said.

It was the second straight week an administration official apologized to the council regarding the timing of information being released.

Journal Gazette Washington Editor Brian Francisco contributed to this report.

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.