To suggest fallout from Warsaw Police Chief Scott Whitaker’s situation has become hyper-politicized might be an understatement. Consider the following events as city officials dealt with criticism of the chief’s handling of a confusing set of circumstances on Jan. 25 and two officers who were each suspended Friday in connection with the incident.
- After Monday night’s City Council meeting, former mayoral candidate Kyle Babcock wheeled his video camera on a tripod up to the front of council chambers where Mayor Joe Thallemer and others were talking and began shouting (rather loudly) questions about plans for a city council executive session, which was later canceled. City Councilman Ron Shoemaker’s concern over the meeting’s legality seemed to catch officials off guard. So did Babcock’s boisterous questioning, but Thallemer and city attorney Scott Reust remained calm and appeared stunned at what seemed like performance art by Babcock. Ultimately, Babcock chose not to post the exchange on his Facebook page, Online Warsaw.
- The anonymous admins at Warsaw Community tried their best to whip up excitement ahead of Friday’s board of works meeting that was called to consider action against the officers. The group urged folks to attend the meeting, claiming the board (made of Thallemer, George Clemens and Jeff Grose) are just toadies for Thallemer and can’t be trusted
- But the most outrageous move occurred when the Facebook group alleged Thallemer had changed the meeting to an executive session, which would exclude the public. The suggestion was ludicrous and baseless and led the city to issue a statement attempting to tamp down the falsehood. Thallemer even denounced the nonsense at the start of Friday’s meeting. Amazingly, almost all of the four dozen commenters reacting to Warsaw Community’s claim on its Facebook page seemed to accept it hook, line and sinker. After the city clarified the issue, WC again urged people to pack the meeting. All of this looked like an attempt to gin up anger at the mayor.
- It appears the public supports the officers actions far more than the chief’s actions in the growing rift over the Jan. 25 incident. An overwhelming number of comments left on the InkFreeNews Facebook page either supported the officers or criticized the chief.
GOOD WEEK FOR SHOEMAKER – If there was anyone to gain politically from this mess, it would be Shoemaker who is running against Thallemer in the May primary. He pulled off an impressive legal challenge to Thallemer’s plans for an executive session and coincidentally saw his first billboard go up on Winona Avenue Monday. As far as I am aware, the sign represents the first of the election season. (Update: I’m told another sign can now be seen along US 30)
FAIRGROUNDS UPDATE — If you care about the fate of the fairgrounds, you might want to attend the Kosciusko County Fair Board meeting at 7 p.m. Monday at the fairgrounds. Supporters of the fair continue to urge folks to become more involved and support new fundraising efforts as the fair board continues its suit in pursuit of being allowed to operate motorized racing. Fair finances appear to be tight, to say the least. The meeting is open to the public.
FOUR REMINDERS – Things to keep in mind:
- Mayor Thallemer will deliver his State of the City speech at 12:30 p.m. Tuesday at 2517 Banquet Hall. The event is open to the public.
- A second Third House sponsored by the Kosciusko Chamber of Commerce is set for noon Friday, March 15, at the Shrine Building and is part of Warsaw Rotary Club’s regular meeting. According to the club’s website, those expected to participate are State Reps. Dave Wolkins, Curt Nisly and State Sen. Ryan Mishler.
- If you want a closer look at South Bend Mayor Pete Buttigieg and his presidential aspirations, CNN is broadcasting an hour-long town hall with him at 9 p.m. Sunday. Buttigieg spent three days this past week in Iowa and continues to get a lot of positive media buzz. Hoosier political reporter Brian Howey looked into his campaign and has some worthwhile observations. Two other presidential wannabees also will be featured Sunday night on CNN. They include former Congressman John Delaney of Maryland at 7 p.m. and Rep. Tulsi Gabbard of Hawaii at 8 p.m.
- And finally, a reminder that Daylight Saving Time returns Sunday morning. If you are reading this Saturday, (March 9), don’t forget to move your clocks forward one hour before going to bed.