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Make hay while the sun shines

By Jim Sack

Fort Wayne Reader

2014-03-06


Liz Brown

There is a contest to replace affable, capable Senator Tom Wyss in Indianapolis between County Councilman Darren Vogt, outgoing Sheriff Ken Fries and former city Councilwoman Liz Brown. All are conservatives, so there is hardly a difference there. All are veterans, so no need to choose between insider or neophyte. But, there is one key difference – the ability to build coalitions. Simply put, the essential trait any politician needs to get laws passed is a winning personality. Republicans we have spoken with point to Fries as the one who is best able to muster votes. Liz Brown, they remark, had a very divisive tenure on city council where she often found herself outvoted 8 to 1, meaning she could not generate even the first vote from her party colleagues. Darren Vogt is considered less caustic than Mrs. Brown, but he is seen as stubborn, uncompromising and dogmatic, traits that will not rally the troops to his standard in the state house. Fries, on the other hand, is seen as a team builder.

Pay to Be A Republican

Republicans office holders in Allen Country who want to receive the support of the party have to pay to play. Office holders often bemoan the sizeable dues, between one and eight percent of their office salary. Where does the money go, you might ask? A bit of the money goes to get candidate names and faces on campaign literature sponsored by the party central committee. The lion’s share goes to the chairman, Steve Shine directly and indirectly. He owns the building in which the party operates and charges, critics say, exorbitant rent to use the space. According to one former official he also charges the party the utilities, insurance and taxes for the building. One would think that if the money went for more campaign materials, more campaign support and more campaign get-out-the-vote expenses the ACGOP might someday win the mayor’s office.

South Wayne Light

Most traffic engineers would tell you their job is to facilitate smooth traffic flow, which brings me to a traffic light at Rudisill and South Wayne on the city’s bucolic south side: it only impedes traffic flow. The light, you see, is on a timer. Every thirty seconds it changes to red from green. It doesn’t matter that very, very seldom does a car traveling on lightly traveled South Wayne need the assistance of that light to cross or to join traffic on to the boulevard – every thirty seconds all traffic stops on Rudisill…for nothing. All traffic means school buses with their screeching brakes and screaming passengers, smelly, lumbering garbage trucks, police vehicles, the mayor’s convoy and you. Sunday morning at 6am there invariably will be one lonely blue hair in her Malibu waiting at a red on Rudisill for no reason whatsoever. Six AM. The cost is her time and your time. The cost is pollution. The cost is wear and tear on brakes and engines. The cost is tax dollars as services sit. The cost is noise pollution as those lumbering garbage trucks accelerate toward Fairfield. Certainly, the South Wayne light is not the only relic in Fort Wayne where so many lights are now on trip mechanisms, which itself is outdated. In all the antiquated lights waste tens of thousands of citizen and public hours and cost hundreds of gallons a day in wasted fuel. Your money, folks. The greatly increased noise makes living near those corners much less desirable. So, why does the city not replace or remove great-great-great-grandma-generation lights? Good question. Apparently, it is not transformational enough to merit the traffic engineer’s attention when there are new, sexier projects to ponder over donuts and coffee.

Marlin’s Russia

The invasion of Ukraine by Russia reminds us of a comment Congressguy Marlin Stutzman made on local radio when campaigning for that office first time around. Marlin quoted a business buddy of his who said it was easier to do business in Russia than the US. Wrong! It was wrong then and glaringly so now. Marlin, however, chose to endorse the comment by saying “how did it get this way?” In short, he agreed with his buddy that Russia was more open, less corrupt and more business-friendly than the US. Sheez. One guesses Marlin was merely pandering to his ill-educated, irrational and angry tea-party base that sees every law from food safety to building codes as an infringement on their personal right to do whatever they want, regardless of effect or damage to others, just as a matter of principle. One has to wonder, though, whether the congressman was that stupid then (probably) and if he has learned anything since (maybe). Truth be told, it is easier since 1989 to invest in Russia, but getting your money out of Putin’s motherland is another story all together. As evident in Ukraine, the Russians play by their own rules: for example, a contract, signed, sealed and delivered, is merely a starting point that the Russ observe only as far as it is in their best interests. You might think you have the law on your side… And one word defines their economic system: kleptocracy. The system is corrupt from top to bottom. They observe no laws at the top. They respect no rights for their people, trading partners or their neighbors. Marlin was either ignorant, pandering or both…probably both.

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