Political Notebook

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Shine’s mom catches caucus mistake

The number of voters participating in the caucus to replace Rep. Randy Borror was almost accidentally – and wrongly – expanded.

Notices were sent out this month to the precinct officials to participate in the caucus, informing them of the time, date and location. The only problem is that about 40 of the 55 notices mailed out were to precinct officials who don’t live in Borror’s district, which mostly covers St. Joseph Township in northeast Fort Wayne.

Steve Shine, Allen County Republican chairman, said he was told recently that some residents who didn’t live in the area received notices.

For example, City Councilman Mitch Harper, R-4th, who lives in western Fort Wayne, got a notice for the caucus.

Shine immediately called the state GOP, which runs the caucus, to investigate the problem. The state party uncovered that it had received an inaccurate precinct list from the state election commission.

A correct list was then created, and notices were sent again to the nearly 50 voters who will participate in Saturday’s caucus. Shine said residents who wrongly received notices will also get a letter telling them of the mistake.

The hero in the matter was Shine’s mother, who received one of the inaccurate notices. The family matriarch called her son after realizing she was asked to participate in a separate caucus this year to pick an opponent for Rep. Phil GiaQuinta.

Forum fun

Those interested in learning about the candidates for the House District 84 vacancy can attend a forum at 7 p.m. Monday in the St. Joseph Township Hall.

Fort Wayne City Councilman Mitch Harper and his blog Fort Wayne Observed are sponsoring the event.

The hall is at the northwest corner of Maplecrest and St. Joe Center roads.

The declared candidates to replace Randy Borror, so far, are business owner Bob Morris; Allen County Commissioner Bill Brown; former Fort Wayne Community Schools board member Jon Olinger; and 3rd Congressional District Director Derek Pillie.

The deadline to file for Saturday’s caucuses – one to fill the immediate vacancy in the office and the other to fill the fall ballot opening – is Wednesday.

Adding to the error

Sometimes it’s so easy for candidates to get it right in their campaign commercials that you have to wonder why they get it wrong.

This is the case of southern Indiana Democratic Congressman Brad Ellsworth, who is running for Indiana’s open U.S. Senate seat against Republican Dan Coats.

In his first ad, Ellsworth said “one thing that 25 years as a sheriff teaches you is zero tolerance for bull.”

Actually, though, Ellsworth served only eight years as an elected sheriff and the rest as a deputy. In fact, Indiana law prevents anyone from serving more than two consecutive four-year terms as sheriff.

A few blogs and newspapers pointed out this is an easy fix. He could have said “25 years with the sheriff’s department” or “25 years patrolling the streets” or “25 years wearing a badge.”

To make matters worse, Ellsworth repeats the error in even stronger terms in his second ad, saying “my 25 years as sheriff was all about putting other people’s needs first.”

It’s a small thing. And it probably wouldn’t even be an issue if it didn’t seem as if he is basing his candidacy on being a sheriff and not a congressman.

Busker brawl

An innocent attempt by Councilwoman Liz Brown, R-at large, to clean up a sloppy law Tuesday night derailed into questions of constitutionality and her abandonment of the effort.

Brown brought a proposal to change the city’s begging ordinance to eliminate sections that were clearly unenforceable, such as the part that prevents begging for two miles outside the city limits, an area where the City Council has no jurisdiction. She even proposed amendments to allow street performers, or buskers, to solicit money with a permit.

Councilman Tim Pape, D-5th, questioned whether the law prohibiting begging was a violation of a person’s right to free speech. He asked the council attorney to research the question.

Council President Marty Bender, R-at large, said firefighters solicit money for charity on the streets every year, which while technically illegal, is never enforced. Bender is a deputy police chief.

“We’re basically told the law isn’t any good,” he said.

Brown withdrew her bill in disgust, saying she wasn’t willing to do the research on constitutional matters. In the end, the bad law still stands.

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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