Kokomo Tribune; Kokomo, Indiana

January 12, 2013

Public eye - Sunday, Jan. 13, 2013

By Ken de la Bastide and Scott Smith
Tribune columnists

Moving up the ranks

Kokomo Mayor Greg Goodnight continued his rise in Howey Politics Indiana’s annual “Power 50” list of Hoosier politicians, coming in 23rd this year, up 10 spots from 2012 and 20 spots from 2011, when he made his Power 50 debut.

HPI editor Brian Howey has made no secret of his regard for Goodnight, and continues to rate Goodnight as a potential statewide candidate.

“The second-term mayor has been an innovative and popular mayor of the City of Firsts,” Howey wrote. “He is a prolific fundraiser while leading his city beyond the near 2008-09 automaker catastrophe, reaching out to work with Marion Mayor Seybold to create the ‘auto belt’ economic zone.”

Just above and below Goodnight in the list were Fort Wayne Mayor Tom Henry and Indiana Republican Chairman Eric Holcomb.

Taxing Amazon?

Forget vouchers, the bill with potentially the biggest impact on local schools might be a bill to slap a sales tax on e-commerce, co-authored by State Rep. Eric Turner, R-Cicero.

The dollars involved are immense, considering Indiana has yet to tax online sales, and for better or for worse, the schools are now largely funded by sales and income taxes.

According to the fiscal impact statement published with the bill, HB1007, a study conducted by the Indiana Fiscal Policy Institute and the Ball State University Center for Business and Economic Research estimated the state loses between $39.6 million to $114.3 million a year. A University of Tennessee study estimated Indiana’s e-commerce-related sales and use tax revenue losses to be $195.3 million and $216.9 million last year.

The IFPI/Ball State study also found no statistical difference in the likelihood of the e-retailers to make business location decisions based on whether or not a state has an online sales tax, according to the impact statement produced by the state’s Legislative Services Agency.

confined spaces

City firefighters raised some eyebrows when the new Fire Station 4 was built with a dormitory for firefighters to sleep in, rather than individual bedrooms.

You can’t blame the firefighters for thinking they were going to get an upgrade. The two most recently built fire stations — station 2 (on Center Road) and 5 (on West Sycamore), have individual bedrooms. The other three stations (including the former Station 4 on Webster) have dorms. Firefighters work 24 hour shifts. That’s why they need a place to crash.

Kokomo Fire Chief Pat O’Neill said Station 5 was built for the city as part of a land swap deal with Walgreens. Station 2 is closer to the size of Station 1 downtown, and the space lent itself to individual bedrooms, rather than a massive dormitory, he added. He said he would prefer that in the future, when the aging stations on Boulevard (6) and Apperson (3) get replaced, dorms are built in those stations as well.

For whom the bell tolls

Tyler Moore, president of the Howard County Board of County Commissioners, was decked out Monday with a Notre Dame tie, letter jacket and cow bell in anticipation of the national championship college football game against the University of Alabama.

Moore, a graduate of Notre Dame and former cheerleader, rang the bell several times during the meeting with the hope that the “Fighting Irish” would capture the national championship.

During the game, which was over by halftime with Alabama leading 28-0, Moore probably got precious few opportunities to ring the bell. The Irish lost the game by a 42-to-14 score. More people talked about Brent Musberger’s commentary after the game than Notre Dame’s performance.

As they used to say in Brooklyn when the beloved Dodgers lost to the hated Yankees, “Wait until next year.”