Kokomo Tribune; Kokomo, Indiana

October 3, 2009

Public Eye - Sunday, Oct. 4, 2009

By SCOTT SMITH and KEN de la BASTIDE

Getting out the watering can

As landscaping plans move forward for the Courthouse Square, one of the concerns raised by Howard County commissioners was how the plants are going to be watered.

The commissioners decided not to spend $1,500 on a new outdoor water faucet on the courthouse grounds. That means the one spigot will have to be used with lengths of garden hose stretched to each corner of the property.

The problem for the remainder of 2009 has been resolved with a landscaping contractor agreeing to water the plantings after 4 p.m. when the courthouse is closed so people won’t trip on the hose.

For 2010, John Wiles, executive director of the Kokomo Downtown Association, and Howard County Councilman Paul Wyman have volunteered to do the watering.

At a meeting last week of the committee working on a downtown comprehensive plan, Wyman said he plans to wear an apron when performing the watering chores.

He said the apron might include the words “County Tax Relief,” an obvious reference to the commissioners’ decision not to add a second outdoor faucet.

Even inmates get a holiday

At the meeting, Wiles said the landscaping work on the four sides of the Howard County Courthouse is set for Oct. 12, which happens to be Columbus Day. Wiles said volunteers were being sought to perform the work and said the Howard County inmate work crew would be asked to assist.

Wiles then noted that Columbus Day is a holiday for county employees and the inmate work crew wouldn’t be working because of the holiday. It would probably be ill-advised to have the crew work without county employees supervising anyway.

Pro-life argument

With the ongoing debate in Congress on health-care reform, Rep. Joe Donnelly, D-2nd District, has joined with 183 members of the U.S. House in sending a letter to the leadership asking for a vote on an amendment to prohibit government funding of abortions.

“As a pro-life congressman, I am committed to protecting life at all stages,” Donnelly said in a press release. “I signed onto this letter because, as we consider health-care reform legislation, I want to see an amendment passed that would prohibit federal funds from paying for abortions.”

Burton calls for hearings

U.S. Rep. Dan Burton is one of many Obama administration critics on Capitol Hill now openly calling for a clarification of the president’s strategy in Afghanistan.

In a letter sent Thursday, Burton called for open congressional hearings, mainly to hear Gen. Stanley McChrystal’s assessment of the situation, and the reasons why McChrystal, the top commander in that front, wants more troops.

Burton’s letter and its accompanying press release, however, gave no indication of how the congressman feels about sending more troops. The president has a second meeting with top advisers scheduled for next Wednesday. In the meantime, expect the issue to remain a matter of speculation.

Donnelly redistricted?

Veteran Indiana political observer Jack Colwell said in a recent Howey Politics Indiana column that the National Republican Congressional Committee is hoping to find a solid opponent to take on Donnelly in 2010, possibly state legislator Jackie Walorski, a Glenn Beck conservative.

But Colwell said the better opportunity to target Donnelly might be in 2012, for the following reasons:

“Republicans are likely to draw the maps and could make it much, much more difficult for Donnelly to win. Think of the 2nd [District] with all of Elkhart County included, Kokomo and Michigan City removed and some additional changes to the south for Republican flavor,” Colwell wrote.