Political Notebook

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Delph’s tweeting tweaking Zoeller

The war of words between Sen. Mike Delph, R-Carmel, and Republican Attorney General Greg Zoeller escalated last week.

Delph went on a Twitter rant about Zoeller canceling a commitment with the Harrison County Republican Party to attend a news conference on immigration in Washington, D.C.

Delph and Zoeller have tangled over Zoeller’s defense of an immigration law the legislature passed several years ago that Delph wrote. Zoeller declined to further fight parts of the lawsuit after the U.S. Supreme Court ruled on a similar case – a move that infuriated Delph.

“What a complete charlatan,” Delph said in his tweets. “It’s too bad the Indiana Disciplinary Commission won’t pursue. I always was taught such conduct could be grounds for disbarment.”

Zoeller’s office declined to respond to the personal attack.

But spokesman Bryan Corbin explained Zoeller’s absence during a Thursday night political dinner in Corydon.

He said Zoeller represented at a U.S. Senate news conference the 36 state attorneys general who signed a letter urging Congress to make federal immigration reform a priority.

The news conference was originally scheduled for Tuesday morning but was postponed as a result of the Boston Marathon bombings. The new time was late Thursday afternoon, and Zoeller could not get a flight back in time for the Harrison County event.

“The scheduling conflict is unfortunate but Mr. Zoeller’s job as attorney general must come first, before attending party events,” Corbin said. “Former Attorney General Steve Carter had offered to substitute and speak in Mr. Zoeller’s place in Corydon, but the dinner organizers declined.”

The rookie scores

You can forgive Ben Groeneweg if he looked a little nervous as he took a seat at the end of the City Council table Tuesday. After all, this was the City Utilities engineering program manager’s first time ever coming before the council.

Even worse, those who had gone before him had had a rough time of it: Former City Utilities employee turned consultant Ted Nitza had been informed that his consulting company’s contract couldn’t be approved because there was no proof his company existed. And parks department officials had to explain – in excruciating detail – why they chose a consultant that didn’t have the lowest prices.

So there was good-natured chuckling around the table when council members realized they had fresh meat to devour.

But things went swimmingly for Groeneweg as he explained the city’s deal with AP Wireless Investments to handle renting out space on its water towers for cellphone towers. In fact, it went so well, the measure was approved unanimously.

Of course, Groeneweg came to the table with not just an ace up his sleeve but something like a royal flush in his hand: He wasn’t asking for the city to spend money; the deal calls for AP Wireless Investments to pay the city $1.3 million up front, plus 80 percent of any future rents.

Amendments wither

Several proposed constitutional amendments have met their demise this year.

One offered by Senate President Pro Tem David Long, R-Fort Wayne, was to call for a constitutional convention on limiting the commerce and taxing powers of the U.S. Congress.

Senate Joint Resolution 18 was not heard in the Indiana House.

Interestingly, though, the House passed two bills – not resolutions – setting up how delegates would be chosen and the duties of the delegates if a constitutional convention ever arises.

Long said after hearing concerns about the resolution he decided it would be better to focus on controlling the standards of a convention for other states to emulate. If enough states have those controls in law it might make others more comfortable with calling the convention.

A constitutional convention has never been called, and many fear it would devolve into a runaway convention dealing with any number of issues.

Also, a proposed amendment to the Indiana Constitution – about the right to hunt, fish and farm – has been halted.

Rep. Don Lehe, R-Brookston, said there were several other agricultural bills moving that had proved controversial so it was the consensus to let Senate Joint Resolution 7 die.

That amendment has been approved once by the General Assembly and must be approved either this year or next to go to the public on a ballot. Not moving the amendment this year doesn’t affect or slow down the process.

“I still think it’s an important issue,” Lehe said.

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

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