Political Notebook


Harper seeks input on tax abatements

With the Fort Wayne City Council scheduled to spend an entire evening discussing its tax abatement policy this month, Councilman Mitch Harper, R-4th, has sought some public input on the issue.

On his campaign website, MitchHarper.com, he posts a link to a five-question survey asking residents to discuss what issues are important to them. Most of them are fairly straightforward, such as asking what is the most important issue the council can tackle: street maintenance, economic development, public safety, budgetary restraint or other.

One question, however, seems worded in a way that could sway people to choose one side over another. He asks, “Which of the following is of higher priority?” The options are “Equal tax rates for all taxpayers” or “Specialized tax breaks for certain businesses.”

It seems unlikely many people would choose special tax breaks over equality.

Harper on Tuesday called himself the most conservative member in regard to issuing tax abatements, so maybe the question isn’t all that surprising. Of course, being an online survey by nature means it isn’t scientific, but it should be interesting to see the results and how they are used.

He, by the way, said the four multiple-choice questions were intended to get people prepared to answer an open-ended question asking for bold ideas for the city, and the survey isn’t related to the upcoming tax abatement discussion. He added he is well aware that such a survey won’t reveal any scientific results, but he hopes it will provide some good ideas.

Rubio, Mourdock

Richard Mourdock’s victory over Sen. Richard Lugar in the Republican primary has thrust the state treasurer into the national spotlight.

The most recent example is the fact Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., who has long been touted as a vice presidential pick for Mitt Romney, will campaign with Mourdock next month.

The two will meet at a “Rubio Rally for Mourdock” on June 4 at Lucas Estate Sports Barn in Carmel.

While the rally offers moderate entry fees of $100 a person and $25 a student, there will also be two earlier high-dollar VIP events to get closer access with the two politicians. The “Rubio Roundtable” costs $2,500 per attendee and includes a photo. The “Rubio Reception” is $1,000 per attendee with photo or $500 without a picture. Both include access to the rally.

After his win, the Mourdock campaign said it would need to raise money to be successful, and it looks as if it is wasting no time doing just that.

On the air

Republican U.S. Congressman Mike Pence became the first candidate in the 2012 race for governor to hit the TV airwaves last week.

The biographical ad is narrated by his wife, Karen, and highlights their first date – ice skating at Pepsi Coliseum.

“We held hands as we skated,” she recalls, noting the two married 18 months later and are coming up on their 27th wedding anniversary.

“He loves our family, and he just loves Indiana,” Karen Pence said during the 30-second ad, which also calls Mike Pence a lifelong Hoosier and focuses on growing up in Columbus, going to college in Indiana and the start of his career in the state.

The ad will run on broadcast television and cable systems all across Indiana.

In the last week, Democratic opponent John Gregg has been trying to gain traction by calling Pence a Virginian running for office in Indiana. Pence has a home in Arlington, Va., where he and his family live part of the year because of congressional duties.

Good graces

Indiana Rep. Marlin Stutzman, R-3rd, ranked among the top in a report released this week by the Club for Growth on its 2011 Congressional Scorecard.

The survey focused on the voting records of the tea party freshman Republican class of 2010. After a review to see whether their records match their rhetoric, the Club for Growth found that for many of the freshman Republicans’ promises of fiscal responsibility have proved to be empty.

Stutzman received one of the 10 highest scores in the country, with a 99 percent voting record.

Other Indiana congressmen didn’t fare as well – Rep. Larry Buschon, R-8th, 64 percent; Rep. Todd Rokita, R-4th, 88 percent; Rep. Todd Young, R-9th, 77 percent.

Here are some of the other findings in the report:

•In 2011, freshman Republicans received an average score of 71 percent on the Club for Growth’s Congressional Scorecard. The average veteran received a 69 percent. This means the freshman Republicans voted, on average, about the same as the Republicans who were already in Congress.

•A majority of freshman Republicans voted against the conservative Republican Study Committee budget.

•Only 14 freshman Republicans signed a pledge promising never to raise the debt ceiling until, “Cut, Cap, and Balance” had passed.

In the Navy

Sen. Jim Banks, R-Columbia City, has received a commission in the U.S. Navy Reserve – a feat that fulfills a lifelong dream for the husband and father.

He was uncomfortable talking about the news, saying it has nothing to do with his public life.

A number of legislators through the years have been reservists, including in the Indiana National Guard, U.S. Marine Corps and U.S. Army.

“It’s an opportunity to serve my country,” Banks said, noting he has the rank of ensign.

He doesn’t feel his service in the Navy Reserve will affect his time as a state senator, but he said he could be called up for active duty in an extreme situation. Banks said he will in training mode for a while.

“It won’t interfere with my state duties,” he said. “If anything, it will make me a better legislator.”

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.