Saturday, February 24, 2007
PORTAGE: Republican David Fagan will not seek re-election
From Friday, February 23, 2007 12:34 AM CST
BY ROBERT BLASZKIEWICZblaszk@nwitimes.com219.762.1397, ext. 2228 PORTAGE David Fagan announced Thursday that he will not seek re-election to his 2nd District seat, making it the third open seat on the City Council for this year's election.
Primaries promise twists, turns
PORTAGE: 16 Dems vie for council seats; GOP has 1 running uncontested
From Saturday, February 24, 2007 1:18 AM CST
BY JOYCE RUSSELL firstname.lastname@example.org 219.762.1397, ext. 2222 PORTAGE Longtime City Councilman Mark Oprisko said he'd been "going back and forth" for weeks deciding whether or not he'd seek his sixth term on the council.On Friday, Oprisko decided. He added one of the many twists to this year's Democrat municipal primary election. They include the return of a former councilman to the race, a handful of city employees throwing their hats into the ring and two Portage Township Board members seeking a seat on the council.
Thursday, February 22, 2007
Today's news is that David Butterfield decided against running, which is the right answer to allow the City to debate its future rather than its past. I give Butterfield credit for making the right decision, though Butterfield's parting shots at Costas were a bit unbecoming. Between Butterfield, Essany, and McCasland, am I hearing a broken record?
"For three years I have watched the all-Republican city administration vote to spend, switch, shuffle and slide the windfall of the toll road buyout, economic development income taxes, many loans and our tax money from one account or fund to another," he said in a statement released to the media. "Then, in a few weeks, it happens all over again and usually by a unanimous vote.
There have been other vague decisions such as the elimination of the cinema earlier than necessary, the method of buying established businesses in the guise of progress and the disregard for our environment.
"The redevelopment commission, which Jon Costas opposed at the time of its creation, now has a budget which currently might surpass the city budget, and it spends more annually than was originally approved for its lifetime. The ethics of this administration might be considered clever, but, in my opinion, it does not benefit the taxpayers."
It takes a certain kind of old-fashioned grace not to criticize one's successor, to let that person run things differently even if one disagrees, and to acknowledge that one might not always have done things right while he was in charge. Dave, when did you lose that grace and join the ranks of sore losers, the critics, and the bullies?
Leon West comments:
It seems a lot of people complain over there (in Valparaiso), but no one wants to run for office. I don't know what the reason is.
The reason is that Valparaiso is doing fabulously and most people know it. Costas has won the lottery for Valparaiso in getting $16M in state and federal grants, and property taxes under Costas are rising less quickly than they did under Butterfield. That's why the Dems' poll last week showed Costas would win handily against McCasland and against either Essany or Butterfield.
With their first and second picks bowing out, Dems apparently are sending in a third-stringer to lead the municipal ticket. That doesn't augur well for Dems' prospects in City Council races. At least Dave will be there to lead the heckling:
"The fact that I am not a candidate will allow me the opportunity to speak openly in the coming months.
It's too bad that Butterfield is using his talents to tear-down his successor rather than to help improve our city.
Wednesday, February 21, 2007
I'm a huge fan of young people being involved in leadership and in politics. But like with Essany's quixotic comerade Bob McCasland (see below), Essany has yet to propose much to improve our city besides more negativity. This is the same Essany who insinuated that Costas is a racist on WVLP in 2005 now tells the Times, "I will work to ensure Valparaiso remains inclusive and not elitist," which is code for "racist." Then he accuses Costas of engaging in "nonsense" and treating tax dollars like "Monopoly Money."
Nowhere does Essany propose a single new idea for improving our city. Perhaps he has none? Or perhaps ideas aren't not why he's running.
Memo to Michael: Elections in Valparaiso are not won on negativity. Cut the B.S., stop slamming hizzoner, run a positive campaign, and tell us why you can do it better.
Up next: a last-minute Butterfield filing? Or did his political career end with trying to shoehorn the hospital into a residential neighborhood?
Saturday, February 17, 2007
After reviewing the ideas for a Central Park in Valparaiso, his answer is, well I sure wouldn't do it, but it's not really my call.
"County Commissioner Bob Harper said he thinks the concept is great, but the County Council is the body that would have to decide to fund it."It's a nice-looking project, there's not doubt about that," Harper said. "I think the council will have a hard time justifying to the voters in their districts spending money for a project for one town when they all have a need for creating parks and things."
County Councilman Robert Poparad said he heard talk of creating a Central Park last year but has not seen the city's plan yet."I look forward to seeing the plan, but I will not commit to anything," Poparad said. "There are a lot of municipalities that need money."
"It's at least a year away, if it is to happen," Costas said. "If it's a good idea, it will happen."
When given the chance to have a legal parks impact fee for the whole county, he decided instead to take 20-30% of every new development. Now he still doesn't have any money to maintain all those little pocket parks does he?
Thursday, February 15, 2007
Thursday, February 08, 2007
I also don't see the difference between what are Commissioners attempted to do with Bucher's property on S.R. 2 and what the State would be doing with the Illiana. Aren't both examples of government forcing the alteration in value and character of a person's private property? Again, if Daniels does it, that's bad.... but if Harper and Knoblock do it, that's good.
I guess I just see a double-standard being employed here and it's troubling. Mostly because I think rational, well-intentioned people are being manipulated for political purposes.
Wednesday, February 07, 2007
February 7, 2007
Memorial Opera House, Valparaiso, IN
Dear Friends and Supporters:
Thank you so much for coming here tonight.
I am deeply honored and grateful that you have taken time out of your busy schedule to be with me as I share my plans about the next four years.
First of all, I want to express my appreciation for giving me the opportunity to serve as mayor of Valparaiso for the last three years. If it weren’t for your support, encouragement and generosity, I would not have had that privilege. It has been an exciting, humbling and gratifying experience. Valparaiso is indeed an amazing place filled with extraordinary people.
When I announced my candidacy four years ago, I sensed that Valparaiso was ready for positive change, for “New Ideas and More Energy.” I felt that our citizens longed to see the city rise to a higher plane, to shed some withering feathers and fly to new heights. There was a persistent sentiment that we could be better than we were, that we were not living up to our full potential. In short, it was time for change.
And you made that change happen. You brought the collective energy, momentum, ideas and resources to defeat a five-term incumbent by a significant margin. That’s the beauty of democracy: Government by the people and for the people.
When I asked for your support here, at my 2003 announcement speech, I made several pledges. First, I promised that I would be a proactive leader and not a caretaker. Second, I pledged that I would identify and take on the difficult issues and find real and lasting answers to our city’s most pressing challenges. Finally, I promised to avoid playing politics and make decisions based upon the next generation and not the next election.
And three years later the outcome is clear. “New Ideas and More Energy” has given birth to “Leadership, Action, and Results.” The positive changes are all around us.
Our road recovery plan reversed years of under funded road repair and is making for smooth driving all over town. Previously, we were spending about 17% of what is necessary to resurface our roads on a 15-year rotation. Therefore we were on a 42- year rotation, and we all know roads do no last 42 years before they need repair. We solved the problem and have paved over 26 miles of roads in the last three years. By the end of 2007, we will have paved almost 40 miles – nearly one-third of our city roads.
While we enjoy new growth in population and businesses, our first priority was to fix areas that have declined with age. Thanks to our planning and persistence County Seat Plaza and East Lincolnway are experiencing extreme makeovers and our historic downtown is more beautiful and vibrant than ever.
We implementd better long term planning with the city’s first annexation plan and made sure that new growth enhances rather than detracts from our quality of life by completing a number of large annexations. We made sure that apartment growth would not out pace single family construction by down zoning 160 acres from multi family to single family in our west side annexation.
Three years ago the Vale Park extension was just another good idea. Today it is reality. The city’s most beautiful road: A two minute vacation.
And we’ve stopped the tendency to defer our problems to the next generation. We’ve started construction on a police station to replace our 127 year old facility. In 1980, the city commissioned a study that concluded that the station was then clearly obsolete. Our new Washington Street police facility is economical yet functional and will be in operation by this fall. Our third fire station on the city’s west side is also under construction. It’s being built and equipped with reserves thanks to the foresight of our center township trustee Chuck Conover.
The long awaited Valparaiso Street project finally started last year and we are making progress on many infrastructure improvements. We are strengthening neighborhoods, improving our policing and safety departments and expanding a park legacy that we’ve all come to appreciate.
Our city council acted boldly by adopting the region’s first non smoking ordinance, a move that will improve the health of our citizens and make us a fitter city. In 2006 we improved the city’s ethics ordinance and established our first multi-site historic district.
Under the watchful and experienced eyes of long-term clerk treasurer, Sharon Swihart, our city finances are strong and solid. This month I will ask the council to create the city’s first rainy day fund and complete a plan to fully fund it so that by 2011 it will have over $3 Million, enough to allow us to go an entire year without borrowing for operating funds.
Indeed, a visitor to our city who hasn't been here in four years might not recognize it. Our city has grown by 2.5 square miles as we have annexed outlying areas that had city benefits but didn't pay city taxes. We have created a climate which helps our companies expand and which attracts new businesses to Valpo, creating hundreds of new jobs. Our visitor would find free wireless internet in the downtown, and helpful way finding signs throughout town. His children or grandchildren would be safer as our police department, under new leadership since 2003, has focused on stopping speeding in neighborhoods, and keeping crime rates low. Our visitor wouldn't recognize County Seat Plaza, and soon he won't have to choose between smoking or non in our restaurants and work places.
Although a visitor from 2004 wouldn't notice it, our city government is smaller and employs fewer people than when I became mayor. A visitor might not know that we have saved $600,000 in health care costs in 2006. A visitor might not know that we purchased Jesse-Pfiffer park or that Valparaiso will soon have a public transportation system. A visitor might not even notice that the old car wash is gone or that a new police station and YMCA are coming. Today, Valparaiso is more efficient, more attractive, larger, cleaner, healthier, more proud, and a better city than it was four years ago. We started with leadership. We took action. We achieved results.
Yet while we have brought much positive change, we never forget that some things should never change. Things like determination, generosity, creativity, collaboration, respect, risk, integrity and compassion. These are the values that define our community and forge our quality of live.
Make no mistake about it. We have gotten serious about investing in our city. You can only ignore problems for so long. When you neglect your house its value declines, and when you neglect the infrastructure needs of the city, everyone’s property values and quality of life begin to erode.
Some have criticized me for investing too much in our city, in our roads, intersections, sewers and sidewalks. But that’s the best part of the story. Armed with a detailed and sensible strategic plan, we have been able to attract an unprecedented amount of state and federal funds to help fund our infrastructure improvements. Over the last three years we have received approximately $16 Million in state and federal funds to pay for projects that are currently under construction or planned to be in the next several years. Indeed, the only thing I like better than investing in our city is doing it with money from Washington and Indianapolis.
Four years ago I campaigned on a written plan called the Costas Plan. That plan outlined what I felt had to be done to strengthen our city. Shortly after taking office the Costas Plan evolved into the city’s strategic plan and since then we have focused our energy on deliberate and methodical execution of that plan.
Four years from now, through wise investing, careful planning, and strong leadership, Valparaiso will again be changed. In the next four years, we must finish the job in Eastgate, transforming our city's east entrance into an attractive gateway to downtown. In the next for years, we must continue to aggressively court new employers to bring high-paying jobs to Valparaiso. We will construct a new business incubator specializing in in vitro diagnostics, and create a certified technology park. We must continue to invest in infrastructure, roads, sewers, and our water system, and make sure that the new proposed Southlake commuter train arrives on time. In the next four years, we must continue to seek state and federal grants that will allow a better Valparaiso without burdening local taxpayers. We must preserve our quality of life while building a dynamic city that our children and grandchildren will be proud to come home to.
Recently, Governor Daniels said that a person should run for public office not to be something but to do something. Public service is about the citizen and the city, not political ambition. Though we’ve accomplished many of the goals of our strategic plan over the last three years, our work is not complete. Much more needs to be done.
Therefore I am pleased and excited to announce today that I will run for reelection as mayor of the great city of Valparaiso.
I pledge to once again wage a campaign that is positive, issue-focused and which makes the city proud. I will run with enthusiasm, candor and an open ear. We will find joy in the campaign journey as we seek to explore the ideas and objectives that will build strong neighborhoods and a vibrant city.
Once again I need your help in this effort. Campaigns require much energy and resources. Without you we could not have come this far and with you the sky is the limit. Let us once again team up and take the field.
We will proceed with the wisdom of Lincoln, the courage of Martin Luther King and the tenacity of Churchill. Together we can and together we will.
Valparaiso was praised as being in the prime location for in vitro technological jobs ... "McGill said the city hopes to open a business incubator by the end of the year, and the VEDC plans to concentrate a portion of its investment in such a project in these emerging technologies to help diversify and expand the city's economy"
Porter Starke head suggests that trying to care for psychiatric patients without medicare could "bancrupt" the agency. Governor Mitch Daniels is trying to help fast track, but it may not be fast enough. Over 600 patients were admitted last year, and where will they go this year?
Monday, February 05, 2007
Sunday, February 04, 2007
From www.nwi.com or go straight to the chats ongoing today on NWI Interact
Porter County needs to slow down development
Guest Commentary by Carole Knoblock and Bob Harper
From Saturday, February 3, 2007
by Carole Knoblock and Bob Harper
Your paper printed former Porter Township Trustee Bob Wichlinski's commentary criticizing our position on 100 South.The debate surrounds the proposal to widen 100 South in Porter County. This would be done with the use of both federal and local money.109th Street in Lake County connects to Porter County's 100 South.Where 109th has been widened, there have been strip malls, multi-family housing projects and subdivisions going up along side it.The entire premise of widening 100 South is to continue to bring that development to South Porter County. This project is being driven by those that tell us economic development is the only thing important to quality of life.In fact, Wichlinski recently stated he didn't have a problem if the Illiana Expressway came through south Porter County and took some of his property because he does not fear progress.If Porter County commits to the 100 South project, we would be required to come up with $1.5 million to match the federal funds. This is almost half of our highway budget for a year.We need to be concerned about spending money on all our roads, which is what we've always done.
We are also committed to trying to maintain as much as possible the rural residential character of south Porter County.There are people who scoff at those who talk against this project. However, what progress is for one man might not be progress for another.To many families in Porter County, progress means living in a community with a low crime rate. Progress means sending their children to schools that are safe and where gangs do not rule. Progress is having their children join clubs like 4-H, Cub and Girl Scouts and not street gangs that exist in our high-population areas.Progress is raising their families in an area where taxes are not sky-high and going even higher because of level after level of government.Progress is driving their kids home from school and seeing deer in the field or observing geese by a pond and having their children enjoy those sights.Our county is truly a beautiful county. To the north we have the Indiana Dunes and to the south the Kankakee River and the Kankakee River wetlands. In between, we have many acres of beautiful trees, farmland, rivers, streams and wetlands.
To many, it is progress to live and raise a family in a rural residential community of this type.If we are truly committed to attempting to try to maintain some semblance of what we now enjoy here in this county, we cannot jump on board every new project simply because it is sold by business people and government leaders as for our own good.We need to slow down and judge many of these matters for ourselves.
Friday, February 02, 2007
New Portage assessor is the former assistant.
Use CEDIT money in the county to fund $200,000 for Pathways Family Drug Treatment center? Is that really what economic development money is for?