Home > Political Animal > Dotting "I"s, crossing "T"s, meaning nothing

Dotting "I"s, crossing "T"s, meaning nothing

By Jim Sack

Fort Wayne Reader

2013-09-22


The Allen County Election Board recently announced that their staff will audit much more closely the finance reports of candidates for local office. Go ahead, it doesn’t matter. Of course, it will make officials feel good and look good as they furl brows and wag fingers, but it is so much busy work. Whether candidates can add or not, whether their numbers are a few dollars off one way or the other is insignificant given that hundreds of thousands of dollars may well be spent off the local books in the last critical days of the coming city election. Those outside,“secret” dollars are more likely to determine who governs the community, not you.

Ask Win Moses. A couple years back the long time state representative, the former mayor and before that city councilman, was defeated by what amounted to an 11th Hour flood of outside money. Where did it come from…heck, nobody seems to know, or more likely won’t say, but it paid for a barrage of negative media designed to make Win look dangerous, irresponsible, devious and, in short, painted a picture of a someone significantly different than his long-time constituents knew him to be. Given his district had been shifted to the “right,” his long-time constituents had become the minority of voters in his district.

Speculation is that the money came from the Koch Brothers, a pair of billionaires who push right-wing causes and make their money from, among other things, euphemistically rebranded clean coal. Somebody, perhaps the Kochs, went after Win because he was one of the most prominent leaders in the state Democratic Party and a nemesis of coal companies and the utility fraternity in the Indiana. If you have ever heard of the Consumer Action Coalition, Win is among the founders. So, the three-martini-set picked Win off as they have done against other environmentally active Democrats around the country.

Another local political friend recently boasted that the Kochs and the state Republican leadership will spend a million to oust Mayor Tom Henry, and not a dime of the deluge will show up on the forms the Allen County Election Board promises to tot and retot until Todt. Their promises to painstakingly total and retotal figures, compare signatures to bank records, check for hanging chads, and make sure Boulevard is properly spelled means next to nothing. Wag those fingers, the big money goes right around them and has more effect on local elections than their meaningless audit.

Police in the Bushes

Visualize a police car lurking in the bushes just the leeward side of a hill waiting to pounce on speeders. Not in Fort Wayne. Instead, police cars hide at the back of parking lots, on campuses, in church parking lots and where ever they might find a little seclusion. A captain says the practice of finding a quiet corner during a shift is so officers can write reports or handle other routine duties without the public bothering them with…pleas for help… One would think that with an understaffed (remember the tax hike was, in part, based on an under strength FWPD) police force that the simple presence of a cruiser in plain sight might dampen speeders of make other bad guys, the one’s who have caused the spike in Fort Wayne’s burglary rate, think twice and head elsewhere. Car 54, Where Are You?

ITT Aerospace and Fort Wayne

Fort Wayne is part of the military-industrial complex. ITT Aerospace, BAE and a score more companies make components for the military. We have a very large Air Guard base as well as National Guard and Reserve facilities.

Talk is and has been for a while that ITT will consolidate its local offices closer to central facilities in upstate New York around Rochester. Perhaps they see writing on a wall. Maybe they are contemplating the effects of the Sequester, the drawdown in Afghanistan and Iraq and the public reticence to enter distant wars, such as Syria. Perhaps their internal strategists believe the shale oil boom North Dakota will mean less need to defend the Saudi autocrats. Pulling back to shield only our friends in Israel is becoming a real possibility as new oil comes on line, as natural gas is in abundance and as alternative energy sources increasingly contribute to a sense of energy independence.

Same rumor is going around about BAE, another provider to the military, that is housed in a part of the old GE complex off Broadway. Story goes the building is not in good repair and the rent is overly high, so the company is looking for sites in western Ohio among the cornfields.

Of course, nobody will confirm either rumor. Think of it as just a bit of smoke, no fire, really.

Fort Wayne has long been a military town — Fort Wayne is Seventh on Hitler’s List, was the title of Michael Martone’s book. Defense spending still figures heavily in the minds of local planners considering how to expand pods (medical, auto, education, transportation, military) of local commerce. Perhaps it should be last on their list.

The Democrats and Labor

Usually, Democrats have a close and mutually supportive relationship with labor. During a given Labor Day event a dozen or more Democratic Party office holders would happily mingle with the crowd and exchange views as a part of the family. Not so this Labor Day past. Mayor Tom Henry had a prior commitment. Glynn Hines was not there. John Shoaff did not attend. Rick Stevenson did not show at the day-long event in Headwaters Park, nor was the staunchest of Democrats and beloved City Clerk Sandy Kennedy. Had it not been for City Councilman Geoff Paddock, State Representative Phil GiaQuinta and former State Representative Win Moses, it could have been taken as a snub.

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