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The Journal Gazette

Sunday, April 30, 2017 1:00 am

Pence daughter shares Pacific trip tales

NIKI KELLY and BRIAN FRANCISCO | The Journal Gazette

Charlotte Pence recently enjoyed jetting around the Asia Pacific on a 10-day trip with her father, Vice President Mike Pence, and family.

The stops included South Korea, Japan, Indonesia, Australia and Hawaii.

Those who follow her on Instagram got all kinds of behind-the-scenes snippets. In addition to traditional Instagram photos, Charlotte Pence posted a lot on her story, including some videos.

Some shots are quirky and focus on family; others show international customs and some appreciate the amazing scenery.

In one she and sister Audrey – who generally has shied from the public life – show off their attempt at Ikebana, the Japanese art of flower arrangement.

But after spending 53 hours in the air and covering 21,750 nautical miles, the trip brought the Pence family back to Washington, D.C. That's where Charlotte Pence quickly added a picture of her cat Oreo on her lap.

Town hall will go on without Banks

Indivisible Indiana Third Congressional District has invited Rep. Jim Banks, R-3rd, to a town hall meeting May 13 in Angola.

It appears that Banks' attendance is optional at the forum, which will be from 10:30 a.m. to noon at the Steuben County Community Center.

Indivisible organizer Judy Rowe wrote in an invitation to Banks' office that “arrangements are made, the media notified and the event will proceed regardless of participation by our Congressman.”

Banks told Political Notebook he does not plan to be there because the date falls on Mother's Day weekend and he has other plans.

Rowe wrote to Banks' scheduler: “Elected officials have a duty to offer periodic communication with their constituents in a public forum. Citing security concerns, Congressman Banks has chosen to avoid that obligation by severely limiting the number, location, and notice of public meetings.”

Since taking office in January, Banks has had an open house at his Fort Wayne office and public forums in Portland and Decatur.

Indivisible is a nationwide network of activists opposed to President Donald Trump's policy agenda. Its chapters have scheduled town hall meetings for other members of Congress who did not show up.

On April 22, for instance, an Indivisible chapter had a forum in Victorville, California, for Republican Rep. Paul Cook. In Cook's absence, Indivisible placed a cardboard cutout displaying his image on a stage, and some people directed their comments and questions to the cutout, the Daily Press of Victorville reported.

On April 18, an Indivisible chapter sponsored an “Empty Chair Town Hall” in Wichita Falls, Texas, for Republican Rep. Mac Thornberry, who did not attend, the Times Record News of Wichita Falls reported.

Assembly session: The numbers are in

Just a moment to review the Indiana legislative session by the numbers.

One hundred fifty lawmakers filed 1,246 bills.

Two hundred seventy-one passed.

Of those, 129 were unanimous votes.

Gov. Eric Holcomb has signed all but 13 with only one veto so far.

The final remains could be interesting – containing gambling tax changes; language to address cold beer at convenience stores; the legalization of baby boxes and trimming of a solar incentive.

Traffic snarls

One Fort Wayne city councilman described ongoing construction projects in downtown Fort Wayne as an “absolute cluster.”

Councilman Tom Didier, R-3rd, noted ongoing difficulties motorists have maneuvering Harrison and Calhoun streets, as well as Washington and Jefferson boulevards.

“In the aspects of the construction, you cannot get around downtown,” Didier said Tuesday. “I'm going to be the devil's advocate here and say hopefully they get this done quickly.”

However, Didier praised improvement work to East State Boulevard, saying it's taken nearly a decade to get those improvements moving.

Dave Gong 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.