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Visit to Seattle puts mayor in stitches


If you’ve seen Fort Wayne Mayor Tom Henry lately, you’ve probably noticed the shiner he’s sporting.

But good luck trying to get the story of how it happened.

“I accidentally went to a Republican party,” Henry, a Democrat, said, laughing. “I mentioned Obamacare and woke up in the emergency room with a black eye.”

Or there’s this version:

“(My wife) Cindy tells people at The Green Frog that she hit me, so you’d better not mess with her.” More laughter.

The truth? Henry was in Seattle for a conference and slipped on a wet marble floor in the hotel lobby. While falling, he hit his head on a table, leaving him with a black eye and stitches.

“The whole time they were sewing me up, I was complaining that I wanted to get back to the conference because I was missing some really good seminars,” Henry said. “The doctor said, ‘Listen, if it had been one inch to the right, you’d have lost your eye. One inch to the left, it would have been in your temple, and it could have killed you. Now how do you feel about being here?’

“I told him, ‘Now that you mention it, I kind of like it here. Keep doing what you’re doing.’ ”

Standing for small

Syracuse state Rep. Rebecca Kubacki recently was honored with the Small Business Champion award by the Indiana Chamber of Commerce for her work to help improve Indiana’s small-business climate.

“I believe it is critical for legislators to do our part to advance policies that allow small businesses to grow and create new jobs here in Indiana,” she said. “I am honored to receive this award for supporting growing businesses and will continue to do so in the upcoming 2014 legislative session.”

Kubacki was one of five legislators to receive the award Nov. 18 at the chamber’s 2014 Central Indiana Legislative Preview, which featured a panel discussion by General Assembly caucus leaders on what issues to expect during the upcoming session.

“Small businesses cannot thrive and create jobs under heavy-handed government regulation. Today, we honor five legislators who demonstrate through their voting records that they understand this,” said Kevin Brinegar, Indiana Chamber president and CEO. “Each one has shown support for the vital economic growth and job creation tools our state needs.”

The Small Business Champion awards have been given annually since 1993. The award was based on voting and advocacy during the 2013 legislative session.

Preventing dropouts

Gov. Mike Pence was recently named vice chairman of the national board of directors for Jobs for America’s Graduates.

“Jobs for America’s Graduates is an extraordinary organization that has made an impact on increasing access to both education and careers for at-risk young people across the country, including right here in the Hoosier State,” Pence said.

“As an advocate of ensuring career pathways in education for all of our students, and especially those most at risk for dropping out of school, I am truly humbled by the invitation to serve on the board. I look forward to helping to better and brighten the futures of America’s and Indiana’s youth in this role.”

Pence joins Delaware Gov. Jack Markell, who is the board’s chairman, as well as Montana Gov. Steve Bullock and Nevada Gov. Brian Sandoval, fellow vice chairmen.

JAG is a state-based national nonprofit organization dedicated to preventing dropouts among young people who are most at risk.

National security

U.S. senators from Indiana are pushing legislation to require Senate approval of nominees for National Security Agency director and the establishment of a new war memorial.

Sens. Dan Coats, R-Ind., and Barbara Mikulski, D-Md., have introduced an amendment to the defense authorization bill mandating that presidential appointments of NSA directors be confirmed by the Senate. The amendment also would make the NSA’s inspector general an independent position requiring Senate confirmation.

Coats said in a statement that the legislation would bring “greater transparency and even stronger oversight” to the NSA.

Sens. Joe Donnelly, D-Ind., and John Boozman, R-Ark., saw the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee on Friday pass their bill to authorize the construction of a National Desert Storm and Desert Shield Memorial.

The memorial would recognize the 600,000 U.S. troops deployed to the Middle East in 1990-91, including 293 who died, to repel Iraq’s invasion of Kuwait.

Donnelly, in a statement, said the forces, “including more than 60,000 Hoosiers, deserve to have their bravery and sacrifices honored.”

The memorial would be built on federal land in the District of Columbia and financed through private funds.

Reality sewers

Fort Wayne City Utilities program manager Justin Brugger recently gave the City Council its annual update on the Long Term Control Plan, the city’s 18-year, $240 million effort to keep sewage overflows out of the rivers.

Brugger gives the update every fall, but this year’s timing was especially fortuitous, he told council members: It was World Toilet Day.

And just to drive the point home, Brugger reminded the council of the classic children’s book on potty training: “Everybody Poops.”

“There may be a small dose of humor in this, but it’s reality, and it’s the reality City Utilities deals with every day,” Brugger said.

Dan Stockman of The Journal Gazette contributed to this column.

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