Political Notebook

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Henry resists heat from NRA

Mayor Tom Henry’s membership in “Mayors Against Illegal Guns” didn’t go unnoticed by the National Rifle Association.

In a letter last week, the NRA asked its members to pressure Henry to quit the group. The NRA has made efforts across the country to get mayors to leave the group founded by New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg and Boston Mayor Thomas Menino.

“It is critical that your mayor disassociate himself from this anti-gun group and you can do your part by contacting his office today and urging him to withdraw his MAIG membership,” the letter said.

That urging doesn’t seem as if it will sway Fort Wayne’s mayor. In a statement, he said he understood many people are passionate about gun rights, but the group he joined respects the rights of law-abiding people to own firearms.

“As a non-partisan group of more than 450 mayors, our sole focus is fighting crime,” he said. “Recognizing the role illegal guns play in crime and violence in Fort Wayne and across this country, we should all be committed to law enforcement and public safety by advocating for policies and sharing the best practices to remove illegal guns from our streets.”

Other Indiana mayors in the group are Angola Mayor Dick Hickman, Columbia City Mayor Fred Armstrong, Goshen Mayor Allan Kauffman, Linton Mayor Tom Jones and South Bend Mayor Stephen Luecke.

Secret contracts

The Fort Wayne City Council last week took ample time debating whether the city administration should have to disclose a list of every contract for professional services. It delayed voting on the matter so revisions could be made.

The list would include lobbyists, consultants and attorneys, but Deputy Mayor Greg Purcell argued such transparency would hurt economic development efforts because it would also reveal land appraisals and purchases. This would scare away investors, he argued.

But later that evening the council showed it can approve bills while also keeping information secret. The council must approve all contracts of more than $100,000 currently. Under that rule, the council Tuesday approved buying land for the Covington Road Trail.

The bill, however, didn’t include the purchase price of the land, the address of the land or the owner of the land – information typically released when the city buys property.

Dawn Ritchie, the city’s greenway manager, said the city wanted to keep that information private so other landowners couldn’t use the purchase price as a basis for other land-purchase offers made for the trail. The council approved the anonymous bill unanimously.

Inquiring minds

Anyone interested in the Commission for Higher Education’s trip last Thursday to a TinCaps game didn’t have to look far for information.

In fact, you didn’t even have to ask.

The group noted on its Web site that the suite and game tickets were being provided compliments of Parkview Hospital as part of a two-day visit to town for its monthly meeting.

And if you were wondering whether any conflicts were involved, there was a note clarifying that “Parkview would never have a need to come before the commission for approval of any programs or capital projects.”

What was that?

When local township trustees came before the County Council last week, council members asked a lot of questions – some trustees say too many.

The council, led by Republican Paula Hughes, wanted to know how much rent each trustee pays, their salaries, how much their advisory board members earn, whether any family members work for them, and what standards they follow in doling out poor relief.

Most of the trustees answered the questions, but some trustees felt the questions were antagonistic. Only Wayne Township Trustee Rick Stevenson refused. He said he was there to discuss budgetary matters, not how he operates his office.

Peers honor O’Day

Allen County Assessor Stacey O’Day was selected as Indiana’s assessor of the year.

She was one of six officials nominated last week during the Indiana County Assessors Association conference in Indianapolis. O’Day is on the association’s legislative committee and is serving a two-year term as the group’s first vice president.

O’Day took over the county office in 2007 after defeating Democratic incumbent Pat Love. She ran on her experience and has since overseen the re-crafting of the office to take on township assessing duties.

Amanda Iacone of The Journal Gazette contributed to this column.

To reach Political Notebook by e-mail, contact Benjamin Lanka at blanka@jg.net or Niki Kelly at nkelly@jg.net. To discuss this entry of Political Notebook or others, go to the Political Notebook topic of “The Board” at www.journalgazette.net.

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