The headline was pretty simple: Warsaw City Council Explores The Idea Of Hiring Its Own Attorney.
Getting to the possible end result in which council would retain its own attorney for questions they’d rather not ask the city attorney or two provided by the state will be a long slog and it certainly won’t show up as a shiny new item in the proposed 2020 city budget.
Council is looking to assemble a task force that would look at the issue, but that work could take some considerable research. Two council members (Michael Klondaris and Ron Shoemaker) voiced support for hiring an attorney. Council President Diane Quance, who brought up the issue after some council members contacted her, sounded timid about the idea and pointed out potential pitfalls. Councilman Jerry Frush seemed open to the idea and fellow councilman Jack Wilhite said Friday he’s open to listening to the plan, but admitted Monday he had just learned about the idea. Councilman Jeff Grose on Monday questioned the need, the cost and the intricacies that go with trying to develop a plan that would have broad support and work well. The seventh council member, Cindy Dobbins, did not attend Monday’s council meeting when it was discussed.
But even if the council can muster four votes to advance the plan, it’s probably something that needs broad support. It would be hard to imagine four of seven pushing this though, especially given the fact Mayor Joe Thallemer and the entire council are Republicans.
The biggest hurdle, though, would likely be the Board of Public Works and Safety, a three-person board that includes Thallemer, Grose and George Clemens. The board has final approval on any contracts. Thallemer has said he would not stand in the way if the council adopts the idea. So it would appear Clemens would provide the key vote. He declined to comment Friday until he learns more about the possible plan.
If approved, money would come from the council’s professional services category, which is already being beefed up after the board of works agreed to increase the number for first-year city attorney Scott Reust, who replaced Michael Valentine. So not only did the city boost Reust’s annual wage, but councilis now looking at padding the budget for additional outside legal advice.
Exactly how much a city council attorney might cost annually is anyone’s guess. The one thing almost everyone agrees on is that that is only one of many looming questions.
Update: Quance contacted me Saturday morning to point out that I incorrectly said council approved the number of hours Reust would work annually (it was the board of works). She also objected to describing her as timid about the idea. She said she’s being “cautious.” She said she plans to delegate $10,000 in next year’s budget for the council attorney.
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BANKS CHALLENGER? — It looks like a doctor from Warsaw may challenge U.S. Rep. Jim Banks for his 3rd District seat in Congress in the 2020 primary. Chris Magiera is touting a conservative, constitutional approach on his Facebook page. He’s a strong supporter of gun rights and opposes abortion. The longtime gastroenterologist is the husband of Pam Galloway, who ran for the district seat in 2016 when Banks first ran and eventually won. You can learn more about Magiera’s approach on his campaign page.
EARLY INDICATOR? — Sunday’s annual Kosciusko County Fair Parade in Warsaw starts at 4 p.m. and it looks like there will be some political candidates participating. Based on a quick check on Facebook, Magiera will be there. And State Rep. Curt Nisly (District 22) is scheduled to participate. Local Republicans are expected to have an entry in the parade.
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PENCE BOOK — Here’s a prediction: An upcoming book by former Associated Press reporter, Tom LoBianco, about Vice President Mike Pence will cause a momentary national stir. The book, “Piety & Power: Mike Pence and the Taking of the White House,” will be released on Sept. 24. Publisher HarperCollins claims no journalist has covered Pence for as long or as closely as LoBianco, who worked in Indianapolis while Pence was governor.
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UPDATE — The next round of debates for candidates seeking to win the Democratic Party’s nomination for president will be July 30 and 31.
One of those who will be there is South Bend Mayor Pete Buttigieg who had an impressive fundraising haul for the second quarter of 2019, amassing nearly $25 million from more than 400,000 donors. That was apparently tops for the quarter among the 20 or so candidates. Others who did well monetarily included Former Vice President Joe Biden who raised $21.5 million with over 256,000 donors; Sen. Bernie Sanders who raised $18 million with nearly 1 million donors and Sen. Kamala Harris who raised nearly $12 million from 279,000 donors. Deadline to file reports is July 15, so a full assessment is not possible.
But what’s interesting is that while Buttigieg fares well in the money race, he lost a step or two in the polls as Harris and Elizabeth Warren both gained support. I guess we’ll see if Buttigieg can retain any momentum in the polls and how the killing of a black man last month by a white police officer might have hurt him with voters.
Buttigieg is expected to headline a list of guests participating in the Young Democrats of America convention in Indianapolis from July 17-20.
Dan Spalding is the editor of InkFreeNews.com.
He covers city government and politics and always welcomes your input.
He can be reached at [email protected] or at (574) 855-7612.