Political Notebook

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Hines irked at Democratic leader change

Apparently, City Councilman Glynn Hines, D-6th, is not happy with some of the recent changes in the Allen County Democratic Party.

In his state of the district speech, given March 17, Hines openly criticized the powers within the party and appeared to question whether he was right in supporting Mayor Tom Henry during last year’s election.

A week before the councilman’s speech, then-Democratic Party Chairman Mike Bynum abruptly announced his resignation from the leadership post and declined to offer an explanation for the decision. According to Hines, that is because it wasn’t Bynum’s choice.

He said some people expressed concern with the party leadership, so Hines suggested they meet to discuss the problems.

“When I left that meeting, I was under the assumption that Mike (Bynum) had decided to stay in office. Lo and behold, I find out he was encouraged or forced to resign,” Hines said during the speech.

Such actions did not sit well with Hines, who has served on City Council since the spring of 1999.

“The truth is that right now there are many of us who live in the 6th District, who live in Fort Wayne for that matter, who are very upset with the leadership of our own party for the way that they have chosen to take a person who worked hard to get them re-elected and then in the late-night hour make a decision by themselves without (conferring) with at least the longest-serving City Council member,” he said. “They think that those of us who live on the southeast side live on the plantation, we don’t make any decisions in their perspective, and they’re wrong.”

He later hinted that Wayne Township Trustee Richard Stevenson questioned whether they should support Henry last year – although he never mentioned the mayor by name – but Hines convinced him otherwise. He said he isn’t sure whether that was the right decision and planned to be as difficult to deal with on the council as newly elected Councilman Russ Jehl, R-2nd.

“When they come to City Council and ask for our vote, don’t take me for granted,” he said.

Hines was clear in his intent for this part of his annual address to be heard, noting it was being recorded.

Accounting tips

With accounting textbooks and manuals in hand, Democratic gubernatorial candidate John Gregg stood outside the Indiana Statehouse on Friday offering up advice for Gov. Mitch Daniels’ administration.

Gregg had a basic accounting skills book as well as the “Accounting Workbook for Dummies.”

The move came after state budget officials admitted Thursday to mistakenly not sending $206 million in tax revenue to local officials to provide public services. It was the second major financial error adding up to more than $500 million in mismanagement in recent months.

“This is a boondoggle of the greatest degree,” Gregg said of the blunder.

He called for a thorough investigation not only on the cause of the mistake but the full ramifications of it, noting some Hoosiers lost their jobs due to budget cuts in local governments.

He also chided his Republican opponent for governor, Congressman Mike Pence, for being silent on the error, noting Daniels’ creation of the Office of Management and Budget in 2005 was a Washington solution that didn’t work.

Unsmooth transition

John Court’s transition into the leadership post of the local Democrats has been anything but seamless.

First, the party leaders were lambasted by City Councilman Glynn Hines for ousting former Chairman Mike Bynum, and then he had to answer questions about personal unpaid federal income taxes.

On Wednesday his self-described friend, Butch Morgan, was indicted for felony voter fraud violations related to forged signatures for Barack Obama in the 2008 presidential campaign. Court was active in the St. Joseph County Democratic Party before moving to Fort Wayne.

Court said he has known Morgan for several years, although he stressed he wasn’t in South Bend at the time the alleged offenses occurred. Morgan was a close enough friend to travel to Fort Wayne and attend the caucus where Court was elected chairman, drawing a thanks from Court.

Regarding the charges against Morgan and three other Democrats, Court said he simply didn’t know enough to comment. He said that in speaking with Morgan, he wasn’t informed any indictments loomed. Court said he will wait to see how the legal case unfolds before passing judgment.

“Time will tell, like everything else,” he said.

Doubling down

It seems Democratic gubernatorial candidate John Gregg is a little more concerned about the right-to-work legislation passed this year than he let on at first.

Or maybe he just remembered that union supporters are a key demographic of the Democratic Party.

Shortly after the controversial law was passed in February, Gregg sent out this statement:

“It’s time to move beyond this divisive issue. Indiana needs a governor and a legislature that show up for work every day and work together with one focus – creating jobs, whether it’s for a union or non-union workplace. Because in the end, it doesn’t matter if you’re in a union or not – if you get laid off, you’re not bringing home a paycheck.”

But on the road in the past week, Gregg seems to be retreating a bit.

The Indiana Republican Party pointed out that Gregg called for the repeal of the law at a Hammond campaign stop.

And then, a few days later at an Indianapolis stop, he said if he is elected governor of Indiana, the new right-to-work law will be repealed.

Bold words on such a “divisive issue.”

Souder back home

Mark Souder, a former congressman in Indiana’s 3rd District, has returned to Fort Wayne after a lengthy hospital stay in Iowa.

Souder and his wife, Diane, were driving back from Denver after visiting their son Nathan and his family when the former lawmaker fell ill March 23 in Iowa City.

He said his abdominal pain turned out to be gallstones that were causing pancreatitis, liver problems, a blood infection and high blood pressure.

“I experienced severe pain and needed to go to the emergency room for the first time in my life,” Souder, 61, said in a Facebook message Thursday. “After several surgeries and 11 nights of hospitalization, we are finally home. I was very fortunate that our motel the night the attacks started was just a few miles from the University of Iowa Medical Hospitals, where I received excellent care.”

He said he and his wife appreciate “all the prayers we received.”

Souder was a Republican member of Congress from 1995 until 2010, when he resigned after acknowledging an extramarital affair.

Journal Gazette Washington Editor Brian Francisco contributed to this column.

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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