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The Journal Gazette

Sunday, March 04, 2018 1:00 am

Parties' college groups unite on gun issue

NIKI KELLY and BRIAN FRANCISCO | The Journal Gazette

The Fort Wayne College Democrats and the College Republicans of Fort Wayne came together last week to draft a bipartisan statement for their representatives and senators at the state and federal level to pass reforms they believe can save lives.

The statement will include support for legislation that requires the use of a background check on all gun purchases, thereby closing the gun show loophole, and requires states to input data into the National Instant Criminal Background Check System. It will also support permitting the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to study gun violence, and bans the manufacturing, sale or possession of bump stocks.

Brandon Blumenherst, president of the Fort Wayne College Democrats, said his group is “pleased to work across the aisle with our Republican colleagues to send this statement to our state and federal elected officials. Our main goal in doing this is to encourage our legislators to create legislation with our four points listed above so we can help prevent some of these shootings and save lives.

“We want to maintain an active dialogue with the College Republicans of Fort Wayne and continue to work with them to show our elected officials that we must work across the aisle to create solutions to complex problems such as gun violence.”

Lewis Ostermeyer, president of the College Republicans of Fort Wayne, said his group is “proud to open a discussion with the Fort Wayne College Democrats on the issue of gun violence. While we may not agree on many specifics, the goals of saving lives and protecting constitutional rights are something we can all agree on.

“The College Republicans of Fort Wayne hope to contribute to making IPFW a bipartisan environment with dialogue amongst all students. We hope that both of these organizations will be a place for students to become better informed individuals.”

Phone solicitor

Fort Wayne City Councilman Tom Didier, R-3rd, wants more callers for his monthly council call-in television show.

“It is called a council call-in show, people,” Didier said. “The last couple of months, we've needed some callers. It would be lovely.”

The next episode of council call-in will be 7 p.m. Wednesday on Comcast cable channel 58 and FiOS channel 28. Didier's guest this month will be City Councilman Geoff Paddock, D-5th.

The show can be reached by calling 260-422-3902.

Shutdown sharing

Two candidates for a U.S. Senate seat from Indiana say they have donated to Fort Wayne organizations pay they earned during the federal government shutdown in January.

Democratic Sen. Joe Donnelly said in a statement that he spread the $940 salary he received during the 3-day shutdown among 10 food banks in Indiana, including the Fort Wayne-based Community Harvest Food Bank of Northeast Indiana. Donnelly said he sent checks for $94 to each of the agencies.

U.S. Rep. Luke Messer said in a statement he donated his shutdown pay to Allen County Right to Life, which opposes abortion rights. Messer is among three candidates seeking the Republican nomination to challenge Donnelly in the Nov. 6 general election.

One of Messer's GOP rivals, U.S. Rep. Todd Rokita, had said in January he planned to donate his shutdown pay to charities that support families of border patrol agents and law enforcement officers “who have died at the hands of illegal immigrants.”

The government shutdown occurred when federal funding ran out after the Senate failed to pass a stopgap spending bill. A temporary spending measure won approval after majority Republicans pledged to consider immigration legislation pushed by Democrats in the Senate.

State a preference

Americans have much more confidence in their state governments than they do the federal government, according to a survey conducted for the Indiana University Center on Responsive Government.

Among the findings: 76.2 percent of survey respondents said they were more likely to seek assistance in solving a problem from the state government rather than the federal government, 71.3 percent said state lawmakers are more ethical than members of Congress, 63.3 percent said their state economy is affected more by state policies than federal policies, and 61.4 percent said state governments should exercise more power in policymaking than the federal government.

Also, 52 percent said state governments were either very or moderately responsive to people's concerns, compared with 22.5 percent who said the federal government was.

Yet 69.6 percent said they paid more attention to news about the federal government than news about state government.

The nationwide survey of 1,000 people was conducted in November and December by internet polling firm YouGov Polimetrix. Indiana University released the results Wednesday.

Asked whether members of Congress should stand up for their principles no matter what or compromise with opponents to get something done, 60.3 percent of survey respondents favored compromise.

“The public really does expect and want Congress to find a way to get things done through the art of compromise, which is of course under assault every day in our modern Congress,” IU political scientist Edward Carmines said in a statement.

Carmines oversees the yearly survey.

Dave Gong of The Journal Gazette contributed to this column.

To reach Political Notebook, email Brian Francisco at or Niki Kelly at An expanded Political Notebook can be found as a daily blog at notebook.