Political Notebook

  • Daniels' near-presidential run dissected
    In the end, it was the lure of playing the hallowed grounds of Augusta National Golf Club that brought then-Gov. Mitch Daniels and a tight-knit group of friends and supporters together in the fall of 2009 to discuss whether he should run for
  • 2 Hoosiers named to U.S. House Energy Committee
    Reps. Susan Brooks, R-5th, and Larry Bucshon, R-8th, have been named to the U.S. House Energy and Commerce Committee for the 114th Congress.
  • Indiana House sets leaders for session
    The Indiana House has tapped leadership and committee chairs for the 2015 General Assembly.

Politicos praise embattled Guard leader

Sen. Dan Coats, R-Ind., and Rep. Marlin Stutzman, R-3rd, went to bat Wednesday for Maj. Gen. R. Martin Umbarger, the National Guard’s top officer in Indiana.

The Army’s inspector general is investigating a complaint that while in uniform, Umbarger recorded a video in 2011 promoting an Indianapolis Christian non-profit group that offers marriage counseling to military families. The complaint was lodged by the Military Religious Freedom Foundation.

“General Umbarger has worked tirelessly to support his troops and their families by helping them manage the stress and the many sacrifices that come with military service,” Coats said in a statement. “I believe the General was acting with the best interest of his troops in mind, and I will continue to fully support him.”

Stutzman said in a statement: “General Umbarger’s patriotism and sense of duty are unmatched. His heart for our men and women in uniform is obvious and exactly why I know he is the right leader for Indiana’s National Guard.”

Gov. Mitch Daniels backed Umbarger a day earlier.

The Indianapolis Star has reported that the Military Religious Freedom Foundation, based in Albuquerque, N.M., seeks the removal and court-martial of Umbarger, the Guard’s adjutant general of Indiana since 2004.

Huntertown’s views

In a representative democracy, there is always a balance of gathering public input and allowing elected officials to make decisions.

That balance was vehemently questioned during last week’s Huntertown Town Council meeting.

The council allows for public comment at the end of its meeting, which drew the ire from some residents who said they should be able to speak throughout the meeting on whatever item they deem necessary. The suggestion drew some concerns from council members and the council’s attorney about letting the elected officials have time to debate among themselves.

Other residents argued that public comment should be given at the start of the meeting, before votes are taken. The council responded by saying it used to be at the start but people complained that it should be at the end so they could respond to what was discussed.

In the end, the council agreed to offer public comment at the beginning and at the end of the meeting.

Candidate speaks up

A Democratic lawyer running for state attorney general said Wednesday if elected she would become the primary partner in cleaning up the state’s sex offender registry.

Kay Fleming would create a task force in the attorney general’s office to work with all 92 county sheriffs and the Indiana Department of Correction to ensure the registry “is as accurate and up-to-date as possible.”

She also said it has to be compliant with federal law so the state doesn’t lose grant dollars.

One recent issue that has plagued the registry is whether to remove the names of those convicted for sex-related crimes before the registry existed. Indiana courts have ruled in favor of those seeking to remove their names, but each county is handling it differently.

“The attorney general is already involved,” Fleming said. “I just think they need to take a stronger role and be a stronger partner for the state.”

She is running against incumbent Republican Attorney General Greg Zoeller.

Notebook changes

This will be the final Political Notebook column that city government reporter Benjamin Lanka will co-author as he leaves Fort Wayne to move closer to family in Ohio.

The column and blog remain, with Washington Editor Brian Francisco joining Statehouse Bureau Chief Niki Kelly in writing the column.

Reporter Dan Stockman also will regularly contribute with city and county political items.

To reach Political Notebook by email, contact Brian Francisco at bfrancisco@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.