Political Notebook

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Mayor, Matt Kelty talk on radio show

Mayor Tom Henry took to the airwaves last week to discuss city initiatives with a former political opponent.

Matt Kelty was hosting a show – which he called High Energy State – from 3 to 6 p.m. on WOWO. It was a type of on-air audition, one of a few being considered to fill the time slot permanently. On Wednesday, Kelty welcomed the mayor, the man who defeated him handily in the 2007 municipal election.

But the former political opponents acted like anything but; in fact, they were extremely friendly to each other.

Kelty took time to ask about the mayor’s family and mentioned his architecture profession more times than his political past. His legal trouble regarding political finances during their opposing campaigns was not broached.

The only mention of their campaign came at the beginning when Kelty said the last time the two talked publicly was during their debates.

Instead, Kelty complimented the work of the mayor, going so far as to call Parkview Field and Harrison Square “gorgeous,” although he repeated his concerns about using so much public money.

Kelty even said he supported the mayor’s idea to offer corporations extra incentives to locate within the city’s downtown. Overall, Henry’s former opponent gave him a passing grade.

“You are doing a fine job, as far as I’m concerned,” Kelty said.

The former mayoral candidate isn’t the only one getting a shot at the time slot. Zach Bonahoom, who unsuccessfully tried to unseat Clerk Sandy Kennedy last year, had an audition before Kelty’s. Gary Snyder will do the show this week after a short time hosting a show from 9 p.m. to midnight.

Cut check

Club for Growth is keeping track of how members of the U.S. House vote on amendments to cut spending from appropriations bills.

The fiscally conservative organization says 13 congressmen – all Republicans – have supported each of 45 proposals to reduce spending in fiscal year 2013. Five more have 100 percent voting records but missed some votes on amendments.

Rep. Marlin Stutzman, R-3rd, supported 43 amendments and opposed two, for a 98 percent score.

Rep. Mike Pence, R-6th, who is running for governor, voted to support 41 of the 45 proposals.

Rep. Dan Burton, R-5th, who is not seeking re-election, favored 40 of the 42 amendments on which he voted.

Most of the proposals would have trimmed spending for federal departments of transportation, housing and urban development, energy and water, commerce, justice and science.

Rep. Joe Donnelly, D-2nd, the Democratic candidate for a Senate seat from Indiana, voted for two spending cuts, opposed 29 and did not vote on 14 amendments, for a 6 percent score. Seventy-nine Democrats voted for one of the amendments, and 48 Democrats voted for none.

The Washington-based Club for Growth endorsed each of the amendments. The group is headed by Chris Chocola, a former Hoosier congressman who lost his seat to Donnelly in the 2006 election.

Pushing policies

The major party candidates for the Indiana governor’s race both released policy proposals last week – one on child abuse and neglect reforms, the other on veterans issues.

Democratic Sen. Vi Simpson – running mate of John Gregg – visited Fort Wayne on Thursday to discuss reforms to the Indiana Department of Child Services.

The three prongs of the plan are reinstating protective services for kids struggling with mental illness; a public education campaign to increase adoptions; and creating the office of child advocate.

“I think the DCS has failed the children of this state,” she said, differentiating its employees with management that focused on reverting money back to state coffers rather than spending it on services.

On Friday, Republican Mike Pence added his latest proposal – establishing a goal of procuring 3 percent of the state’s business contracts for veteran-owned businesses.

In the first six months of 2011, the state spent $1.18 billion on contracts.

If 3 percent of that total was awarded to veteran-owned businesses, it would have pumped more than $35 million into those businesses.

The state currently doesn’t certify or track veteran-owned businesses or contracts though the Indiana Department of Administration and a legislative study committee on veteran affairs has studied the issue.

Pence also announced an initiative to help veterans by eliminating income restrictions on scholarships that let them send their children to a school of their choice.

Late but needed

The Fort Wayne City Council rebuffed – or at least delayed – an unusual attempt by Mayor Tom Henry’s administration to add a new city employee in the middle of the year.

The council voted to delay the creation of an administrative assistant position for the police radio shop. City staff argued the position was needed, especially with the transition to a new $17 million radio system for the city and county.

Councilman John Crawford, R-at large, questioned whether the position was really needed now. He said every idea sounds good on its own, but the council must weigh spending requests against each other, which is most properly done during the budget discussion.

While it’s unusual for the city to request new employees midyear, the staff made it clear the position was to be full time and permanent.

With the council set to discuss budget projections and overall finances at the end of the month, Crawford said it would be more appropriate to debate the proposed position after that meeting. He acknowledged, however, that the person was probably needed given the workload facing the radio shop.

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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