Kokomo Tribune; Kokomo, Indiana

Opinion

September 16, 2013

BRIAN HOWEY: Atop the dome with Frank O'Bannon

Governor, who died 10 years ago, was arbitrator and facilitator.

(Continued)

“I said, ‘I’ll tell ya, you can trust me because I’ll veto it. That’s the thing that can hold this together.’”

I’ll never forget the last time I saw Frank O’Bannon. He keynoted the Indiana Democratic Editorial Association banquet on Aug. 23, 2003. I was at a table with other journalists, and we had all heard the governor speak many times. Ho-hum.

O’Bannon took to the dais and began speaking and something jarred me. I picked up my reporter pad and began taking notes on what would be his last public speech. The governor recalled how New York Gov. Franklin D. Roosevelt attended a National Governors’ Association meeting in West Baden in 1931 and marveled at the hotel there with the largest free-spanning dome in the world. O’Bannon himself was steering his state through a tough recession, and the governor was trying to buck up his party and keep the faith in the foundations. “We’re not in decline, we’re in ascent,” O’Bannon drawled.

And O’Bannon talked of West Baden Springs Hotel architect Harrison Albright, “who stood on top of the dome as the supports were taken out” while the local citizens looked on. The governor explained that many thought the dome would collapse, instead of standing for the next century.

“I feel like I’m on that dome tonight,” O’Bannon said.

Brian Howey publishes at www.howeypolitics.com. Find him on Twitter @hwypol.

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