County Assessor Missing (in) Action

When the South Bend Tribune headline reads, "St. Joseph County assessor not seen in office for weeks," one can be fairly confident it’s going to be an interesting story. I wasn’t disappointed.

Although the recent focus has been on townships and how their usefulness has long since gone away in most cases, the original local government efficiency recommendations from the Kernan-Shepard Commission also noted that county officials (like the assessor) should be appointed rather than elected. Wouldn’t that come in handy in this case?

Here’s a brief excerpt below and a link to the full story.

St. Joseph County Assessor David Wesolowski, defeated in his Democratic primary bid this spring for a seventh term, has not been at work since at least mid-April.

Wesolowski confirms that he’s been out of the office for several weeks but says he’s been taking some deserved time off.

"He’s been in hiding," said Dennis Dillman, a member of the Property Tax Assessment Board of Appeals, which operates out of the same office as Wesolowski on the third floor of the County-City Building.

Reached by cell phone Friday, Wesolowski explained that he took time off in April to campaign and that he has been on vacation since "for health purposes and everything else, too."

"I’m entitled to that," he said, adding that he has kept in touch with the office by both phone and e-mail and even visited there Wednesday afternoon.

As an elected official, Wesolowski is not required by state law to work a certain number of hours or to report the hours that he does work. He receives no set number of vacation days, personal days or sick days. 

Low-Carbon Fuel Standard Would Be Bad News

All the environmental rage in Washington has been centered around three words — cap and trade. A new threat expands the word count by one. It’s called low-carbon fuel standard.

It’s only a proposal at this point, but a dangerous one, according to State Rep. David Wolkins. The Winona Lake Republican, long active in environmental issues at the state level, penned a recent column in the South Bend Tribune.

Wolkins writes, in part:

"(An LCFS) is not about making the fuel in your car today better, cleaner or more affordable; but it is designed to make the fuels we rely on today more scarce, more expensive and less available. To that end, it will be successful."

It’s termed another job-killing mandate. Sounds like the last thing we need to be talking about.

The People Speak Through ‘Letters to Our Leaders’

If you’re going to borrow an idea or a title from someone, six-term Indiana Sen. Richard Lugar is not a bad person to emulate. Lugar’s 1988 "Letters to the Next President" was a book on U.S. foreign policy and his well-honed suggestions for future actions in various parts of the world. (A more recent entry from former Okahoma governor and U.S. senator David Boren, now the president of the University of Oklahoma, was titled "A Letter to America.")

The Indiana Chamber’s focus is our state. While the letters on key public policy issues are being delivered directly to the candidates for governor, they’re also intended for all those involved in the lawmaking and regulatory process. Thus, Letters to Our Leaders is the title.

Several of our state’s leading newspapers, including the Indianapolis Star and the South Bend Tribune, have this morning published overviews of the campaign. Additionally, you can watch the video of Indiana Chamber President Kevin Brinegar discussing the reasons for releasing the letters. The effort officially kicks off this afternoon with five press conferences around the state. The letters, press releases and short videos on each policy area will be available online at 1:30 p.m. today, and this site seeks your input on the issues important to our state’s economic future. 

Who came up with the topics and the suggestions for these letters? You did, at least indirectly. The Chamber’s Economic Development Committee led the project, with input from the executive committee and board of directors. It was leaders of companies big and small, located throughout the state. The more than 4,800 Chamber member companies employ 800,000 Hoosiers.

Governor Mitch Daniels and Democratic challenger Jill Long Thompson, the people of Indiana have something to say. We look forward to your responses.


Preparing Adults for a Brighter Future

The title of this post also served as the subtitle of an Indiana Chamber study released earlier this year titled Indiana’s Adult Education and Workforce Skills Performance Report.

There are many Hoosiers with a vested interest in overcoming the challenges — such as 651,000 workers with no college education and earning less than a living wage.

Two names at the top of that list of interested parties are Thomas Snyder, president of Ivy Tech Community College, and Teresa Voors, commissioner of the Indiana Department of Workforce Development. Snyder and Voors, along with Mark Lawrance (a Chamber senior vice president who oversaw the study in his role as head of the Chamber Foundation) are taking the message around the state. Audiences in Bloomington, Evansville, Fort Wayne and South Bend have heard about the needs, what the state is already doing well and how public and private sector leaders are working together to craft additional solutions.

The Fort Wayne Journal Gazette and the South Bend Tribune report on the recent visits to their communities. Gary and Indianapolis are among the upcoming stops.

Contact Lawrance to learn about the study and what many are saying is the No. 1 long-term challenge facing our state.