Kokomo Tribune; Kokomo, Indiana

September 15, 2013

Public Eye


Kokomo Tribune

---- — An often-used phrase

For several years, Kokomo Mayor Greg Goodnight has been quick to point out that “city residents pay county taxes” when it came to discussions regarding services funded by both the city and Howard County.

It has almost become a mantra in local political circles, and was recently used by a Tipton County official during discussions concerning the combining of law enforcement services in a proposed new jail.

At the Howard County Council meeting last week, the council approved a joint resolution, also adopted by the Kokomo Common Council, finalizing the agreement concerning funding the combined dispatch services.

For those with a short memory, the city lowered its maximum property tax levy by $338,319 and the county is increasing its tax levy by the same amount to eliminate double taxation of Kokomo property owners.

“Indeed city residents pay county taxes,” Larry Murrell, Howard County attorney said, “but they’re not being double taxed.”

Whodunit?

There’s palpable frustration among Republican circles over the ongoing string of stories concerning former Indiana Superintendent of Public Instruction Tony Bennett.

This week, Bennett and his staff were the subject of an Associated Press story, based on emails obtained through Indiana’s Access to Public Records law, which suggested they’d done campaign work on the public dime. Bennett and the former staffers concerned all denied doing so.

GOP leaders would like the slow drip of new revelations to stop. This week, state GOP chairman Tim Berry called attention to a story by a conservative Florida web-based news outlet called The Sunshine State News, which aired anonymous claims that current Superintendent Glenda Ritz’ staff is leaking stuff to the AP.

Berry wants Ritz to address the Sunshine article.

“It’s been two days since the story posted and not a peep from Glenda Ritz’s office,” Berry said. “Is the report accurate? Did the superintendent of public instruction use her elected office to coordinate with a media outlet to smear her former political opponent?”

We already know the AP received the emails from Ritz’ office, in response to a records request. Berry apparently wants an admission from Ritz’ communications director, David Galvin (Kokomo Mayor Greg Goodnight’s former projects director) that the AP was directed to specific emails. We suspect that is not going to happen.

Running for re-election

Tipton County Republican Phil Heron has indicated that he plans to seek a second term as a county commissioner in 2014. Heron was first elected in 2010 when he defeated incumbent Democrat Ken Ziegler.

There is already one contested primary battle in the Republican Party next year. Incumbent Sheriff John Moses, who plans to seek a second term, is being opposed by Indiana State Police Detective Tony Frawley in the May primary.

It also appears likely there will be some new names on the Tipton County ballot next year. Current Treasurer Bonita Guffey, a Democrat, is not eligible to run for a third term and indicated she will not seek another office. Republican Assessor Linda Altherr has also said she doesn’t intend to seek another term.

Current Auditor Greg Townsend, who was elected by GOP precinct committeemen when Mandy Inman resigned last June, has expressed an interest in running for treasurer.