Political Notebook


History will show Shoaff flip-flopped


There is no question that Fort Wayne City Councilman John Shoaff, D-at large, is against ending collective bargaining for city employees.

But that’s not what the history books will show.

When the City Council voted May 27 to end collective bargaining for all city workers who are not police or firefighters, Shoaff voted with his two Democratic colleagues against the ban during the council’s committee session. But in the regular session – when the council votes again to make its preliminary vote final – there was a twist.

Shoaff voted with the Republicans in favor of the ordinance, which meant it passed 7-2. Being on the prevailing side allowed him to make a motion to reconsider. That motion – which is privileged, meaning it is not subject to vote – automatically put the measure on hold for two weeks.

On Tuesday, the council voted on Shoaff’s motion to reconsider. That vote failed, meaning the original vote stands – the vote where Shoaff is on record supporting the measure.

“Yes, I’m stuck with that,” he said, laughing. “But in two weeks, I get a chance to correct it, because, of course, I will vote against overriding the mayor’s veto on it.”

So he’ll be on the record as having been in favor of it before – and after – he was opposed to it.

Getting a head start

At a public meeting Thursday on Huntertown’s application for a $14.2 million state revolving fund loan to build a wastewater treatment plant, Brandon Seifert hit officials with a freedom of information request for documents, listing 10 different sets of public records including water, sewer and street plans, paid claims and a detailed list of all the town’s pending litigation cases.

Seifert was the top vote-getter in the GOP primary race for Huntertown Council. He and three other newcomers won council and clerk-treasurer seats in the primary and will likely take office Jan. 1 since a Democratic candidate has yet to challenge them.

Seifert and other newly elected candidates are trying to get more information on the plant proposal, but he said his efforts have been thwarted by town officials who have steadfastly denied his verbal requests, before and after the election.

“I tried simply asking for the information, and that did not work,” Seifert said. “Some would say they would get back to me, and others said they had to check with the town attorney first. Either way, I never heard back.”

Dave Garman, who has been a regular audience member at council meetings for the past three years, also won a council seat in the primary.

Garman, like Seifert, often had to submit written requests citing the state’s Access to Public Records law – for standard records that are supposed to be readily available to anyone who asks for them.

In the meantime, Huntertown seems to be fast-tracking plans to build a wastewater treatment plant – even though the state has yet to approve the plan and even though four new people will be likely be taking office next year.

Thrown in the midst of the controversy and on the hot seats are the three fairly new members of the Utilities Service Board – unpaid volunteers appointed by the elected officials.

Lugar loss revisited

The name of former Sen. Richard Lugar, R-Ind., came up time and again last week after House Majority Leader Eric Cantor, R-Va., was upset in the Virginia primary election.

Traditional and Internet media tried to put Cantor’s loss to tea party candidate David Brat in perspective by reciting the biggest political upsets of the past 20 years.

Among those frequently mentioned were the 1994 general-election loss by House Speaker Tom Foley, D-Wash.; the 2004 general-election loss by Senate Minority Leader Tom Daschle, D-S.D.; and the 2012 Republican primary defeat of Lugar, a six-term incumbent, by state Treasurer Richard Mourdock.

It should be noted that days ahead of the Lugar-Mourdock election, Politico reported that the conservative Young Guns Network had sent mailers to the homes of Hoosier Democrats and independents urging them to support Lugar.

The Young Guns Network was led by former aides to Cantor, who earlier helped co-found Young Guns, a candidate recruitment program and the title of a book he co-authored.

Cantor’s election loss wasn’t the only development that jogged memories of Mourdock’s defeat of Lugar.

Mourdock did so himself during his June 7 speech at the Indiana Republican Party’s state convention in Fort Wayne as he compared the federal government’s debt problems to those in 1930s Germany that produced the regime of Adolf Hitler and his Nazi Party.

Numerous media reports about Mourdock’s speech rehashed his infamous comment – that pregnancy resulting from rape “is something that God intended to happen” – in a debate before the 2012 general election.

Mourdock ended up losing the Senate race to Democratic U.S. Rep. Joe Donnelly.

Joe for Joe in St. Joe

One Joe from St. Joseph County is supporting another’s bid to join him in Congress.

The U.S. House campaign of Joe Bock announced Tuesday that he had received Donnelly’s endorsement.

South Bend resident Bock is the Democratic candidate in Indiana’s 2nd District, which Granger resident Donnelly represented for three terms, from 2007 through 2012.

Bock is challenging Republican Rep. Jackie Walorski in the South Bend district. South Bend native Walorski, then a state lawmaker from Elkhart County, lost to Donnelly in the 2010 election by 1 percent of the votes cast.

Bock is on leave as a professor at Notre Dame’s Eck Institute for Global Health, where he teaches humanitarian ethics and disaster response.

Not-so-secret ballots

Allen County GOP Chairman Steve Shine wondered in an interview whether the Indiana Republican Party should consider announcing county vote totals at its nominating conventions, similar to the way state delegations declare theirs at national political conventions.

The state GOP met June 6 and 7 at Fort Wayne’s Grand Wayne Center. Delegates had one contested race to decide: the treasurer nomination, in which Kelly Mitchell defeated Wayne Seybold and Don Bates in a secret-vote, three-ballot run-off.

Allen County delegates told Political Notebook there was no consensus favorite among the candidates in their delegation.

Knowing how each county’s delegation voted might have added to the drama of the three-way race, Shine said, although he acknowledged that such a system could have compromised the confidential nature of voting.

State GOP Chairman Tim Berry said last week that state election laws and convention rules do not provide for county tallies.

“At a national convention, delegates are pretty much bound” to candidates, Berry said. “There really isn’t the drama of who I’m voting for and who I’m supporting.”

Not only would voting secrecy be jeopardized, the logistics might prolong the voting, said Berry, a Fort Wayne native.

“And then if you were to do it,” he said, “you’d have to have 92 different locations to caucus at the end of each ballot to say, ‘OK, now who are we voting for.’ ”

Dan Stockman and Vivian Sade of The Journal Gazette contributed to this column.

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