As Warsaw Police Department’s controversy festers, State Rep. Dave Wolkins is saying what many on both sides of the issue are thinking.
Residual anger from the Aaron Rovenstine scandal a few years ago continues to linger and has complicated some people’s impressions of the uproar over Warsaw Police Chief Scott Whitaker interaction with a 74-year-old man he suspected erroneously of driving while impaired.
As you may recall, Rovenstine was forced to resign as sheriff after being found guilty of one of ten counts he had been facing. Some contend that a rivalry between the Kosciusko County Sheriff’s office and Warsaw city police helped fuel the investigation into Rovenstine. Many – especially many Republicans – believe the entire episode was much about nothing and unfairly tainted the Rovenstine name that has been at the center of local Republican politics for decades.
Adding to the circumstances has been Warsaw Mayor Joe Thallemer’s unwavering support of Whitaker.
Wolkins summed up his thoughts during an interview earlier this week when he was critical of Whitaker and suggested city council could seek legal representation to look into the matter further.
“I’m still not happy about what happened to Aaron Rovenstine. I try to keep that out of my thoughts on the whole thing,” Wolkins said. “That does, to a certain extent, makes me biased,” Wolkins said.
Meanwhile, the artwork to the right, drawn on a napkin by attorney Austin Rovenstine (son of Aaron) was left behind at B-Mac’s restaurant in Warsaw earlier this week. Austin says he’s been restrained in the past on discussing his thoughts about the city-county rivalry, but couldn’t resist leaving behind a comment via a cartoon.
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DORIOT RESPONDS — State Sen. Blake Doriot asked for a chance to respond to a Poli (Sigh) item two weeks ago on payday loans. The Syracuse area lawmaker supported SB 613, which has moved to the House for consideration.
Doriot called the legislation a “necessary evil” that he points out includes a cooling off period prohibiting borrowers from quickly returning to borrow more money.
He said payday loans provide an alternative for folks with low credit ratings and facing an emergency. More than 60 groups have voiced opposition to the legislation. Doriot said he has heard complaints about his support for the bill.
“If the non-profits are so against this, then they need to figure out a way to fill the marketplace. If they fill the marketplace with loans that (offer lower interest rates), then these other companies are going to go away,” Doriot said.
He added, “Do I like it? No. Are there going to be some people who are going to get hurt? Yeah, I’m sorry. I don’t know how we protect everybody from themselves.”
Local state lawmakers were asked about the legislation Friday in Warsaw. You can find their thoughts halfway down in this story.
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ONE MAN DEBATE? — Mayor Thallemer was unavailable for comment for my story Thursday about mayoral challenger Ron Shoemaker’s decision to not participate in the only debate scheduled before the May 7 primary. Without formally bowing out, Shoemaker announced on Facebook plans for a listening tour event at the Kosciusko County Fairgrounds the same time as the April 11 debate. He had previously said he wanted council candidates to be part of the debate and said Thursday that he thought the Republican party should be more involved.
Thallemer’s reaction, via email, was simple: “I will attend the debate. I will be prepared. I look forward to engaging my opponent.”
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ULTIMATE GOAL? — Kosciusko County Fair Board Treasurer Sheal Dirck offered his thoughts on the race track lawsuit by homeowners this week on Facebook. He’s alleging their goal is to shut down the fairgrounds by including a nuisance count in the lawsuit, which seeks to limit noisy events. “If the plaintiffs prevail in count 2, that’s game over. Your community fairgrounds will be history,” Dirck wrote. I’m told plaintiffs find that claim to be offensive and will hopefully have time to respond next week.
On a related note, two Democratic candidates for city council, Jack Brunetto and Sara McNeal-Strahan Lefensky, attended Monday’s fair board meeting and offered verbal support for the fair.
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ON TV Sunday – If Sunday morning news shows are part of your routine, you might have added interest this weekend. Third District U.S. Rep. Jim Banks, of Columbia City, is scheduled to be on CNN’s State of the Union. Presidential hopeful and South Bend Mayor Pete Buttigieg is scheduled to be on Fox News Sunday.
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DILLINGER VIDEO CLIP — Former city councilman Kyle Babcock unearthed a video about infamous bank robber John Dillinger during Dillinger’s brief stop in Warsaw in the 1930s. It’s worth a look. As Babcock mentioned on Facebook, his stepfather, Mike Hodges, a five-term mayor of Warsaw, was the fireman seen in the video. “I always heard the stories, but never knew this old newsreel existed. So cool!” Babcock wrote in a post.
Dan Spalding covers city government and politics for InkFreeNews. He can be reached at [email protected] or at (574) 855-7612.