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Sunday, August 19, 2018 1:00 am

Pols mourn passing of Butcher

NIKI KELLY and BRIAN FRANCISCO | The Journal Gazette

National and local elected officials offered condolences to the family of Fort Wayne broadcaster Charly Butcher, who died Wednesday. Politicians, including Congressmen Jim Banks and Todd Rokita, as well as Vice President Mike Pence and the Allen County commissioners, expressed sorrow and shared memories of the storied WOWO personality.

“Karen & I were deeply saddened to learn of the passing of a friend and an Indiana radio institution, Charly Butcher. Charly was a friendly voice in the morning for more than 30 years, with deep commitment to his family and the listening audience,” Pence wrote. “Charly Butcher was a great broadcaster and even better person and he will be missed. We send our prayers and condolences to Sarah, their children, their friends and every Hoosier who will miss this truly good man. God bless Charly Butcher.”

Banks offered Butcher's wife and children condolences.

“Charly Butcher was a broadcasting icon and a beloved northeast Indiana legend. I am heartbroken about his passing, and I will forever cherish the moments I spent with Charly, both on and off air. Our entire region mourns his loss, but his irreplaceable voice and legacy will live on for generations to come,” Banks said. “I offer my deepest condolences to Charly's wife Sarah, his three children, his extended family and his colleagues at WOWO.”

Rokita reminisced about spending time with Butcher on his “Morning News” segment.

“Tonight my friends in northeast Indiana made me aware of the unfortunate news that my friend, revered WOWO broadcaster Charly Butcher, passed away. It has been an honor and a privilege to accompany Charly on his 'Morning News' segment over the years,” Rokita wrote. “Charly is a beacon of truth and courage to all that have known him and has always put the interests of his listeners and community first. Your legacy lives on, my friend.”

Prof tries to predict legislators' votes

State government might not get the headlines that national matters do, but states make many meaningful policy decisions.

So Purdue University professor of political science Eric Waltenburg teamed up with Dan Goldwasser, assistant professor of computer science, to help people better understand the impact of decisions made at the state level.

Together, they lead a project focused on developing a forecasting model to predict state legislator voting behavior.

“If our project works like I'm hoping it does, it will open up the policy-making process and people will have a better sense as to what legislative outcomes may be,” Waltenburg said. “It would demystify the state legislative process for the public.”

State legislatures are assemblies of elected members who vote on laws and policy for their state. In a roll call vote, each legislator's name is called, and they must indicate on the record whether they are for or against a particular piece of legislation. Using public sources such as Twitter, political blogs, newspaper accounts and historical roll-call data from the past decade, computer scientists working with Waltenburg will use machine learning techniques to predict which way a legislator may vote on a particular bill.

“What we're trying to do is identify key forces – I refer to them as revealed preferences – among legislators and use those preferences to predict outcomes,” Waltenburg said. “We have huge amounts of historical roll-call data at the state level, and with that data we're able to produce relational matrices for how each legislator votes in relation to every other member of the legislature.”

Ultimately, they aim to produce a website where people could go to predict the outcome of a particular piece of legislation. Goldwasser added that the impact of decisions made at the state level are more significant than people think, despite the fact that they will not get the same coverage as those made at the national level.

The team has a static model for the Indiana House but would ultimately like to develop a forecasting model for all states and their chambers. Their project was one of eight selected by Purdue's Integrative Data Science Initiative to be funded for a two-year period.

Civil female candidates invited

Advancing Voices of Women will have the next program of its Civil Conversations series Monday in downtown Fort Wayne.

“A Civil Conversation with the Women Running for Office – November 2018” will be 5:30 to 7 p.m. at the Arts United Center, 303 E. Main St. AVOW said all local and statewide women candidates have been invited. Those expected to participate, according to a Friday news release, are:

• Courtney Tritch, U.S. Congress, 3rd District

• State Sen. Liz Brown, Indiana State Senate, 15th District

• Kathy Zoucha, Indiana State Senate, 15th District

• Marty Lemert, Indiana House of Representatives, 52nd District

• Sharon Tucker, Allen County Council

• Denita Bell Washington, Adams Township trustee

• Melissa Rinehart, Perry Township trustee

• Bev Zuber, Wayne Township assessor

 To RSVP for the free program, go to www.eventbrite.com.

As of Friday, about 40 seats remained.

Dave Gong of The Journal Gazette contributed to this column.

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 be found as a daily blog at www.journalgazette.net/politicalnotebook.