Archive for the 'Our town' Category

The yearly yikes

November 21, 2008

Wouldn’t it be nice if we could stay home for the first few snows until all the idiots completed their winter-driving remedial education?

The Indiana State Police suggest drivers look in the mirror before pointing a finger at Mother Nature for weather-related traffic accidents.

With the snow and ice having turned Indiana roads treacherous lately, the state police are full-go in an effort to limit the number of weather-related accidents by emphasizing responsible driving.

“Sometimes it’s a shock to the system when the first snow hits,” said Sgt. Ron Galaviz of the Indiana State Police.

Yeah, sometimes, it’s a shock to the system — like every single year. My previous feline — Pierre — was an inside-outside cat. The first snow of winter, he’d step boldly onto the porch, then immediately come zooming back inside, shaking the stuff off his paws and giving me an accusing look. Then, he’d walk through the house and wait by the back door until I let him out there — “Surely that stuff isn’t everywhere,” I knew he was thinking. Sadly, it was always snowing outside the back door, too. He always forgot, year after year, and we went through this annual routine until the day he died. So now you know: Fort Wayne drivers — dumb as cats.


Us, too

November 20, 2008

On Monday, I did a post taking The Journal Gazette to task for not identifying those quoted in a story about illegal immigration:

I wonder if the JG would pull that “first names only” stunt if this were a bank robber or a burglar. As a matter of fact, would law enforcement let them get away with it, or would some reporter be hauled in front of a grand jury?

An alert reader (and, coincidentally, a JG employee) e-mailed to point out something I’d forgotten, a column by The News-Sentinel’s own Kevin Leininger from Aug. 4, 2007, about a man named Juan: “Juan is here illegally. That’s why he doesn’t want his last name used, even though he was willing to be photographed.” Now, it’s a lot more fun to bash The Journal Gazette, because — well, just because. But we deserve our lumps, too. By not naming illegal immigrants — by helping them stay “in the shadows” — newspapers contribute to the notion that immigrants who break the law by coming here are a separate class of lawbreakers whose only sin is that the rest of us are so heartless and xenophobic. Things are either illegal or they are not. Breaking the law either has consequences or it does not. Those who insist on blurring the lines because they have sympathy for the people in question help breed a disrespect for all laws and the very notion of law.

¡Buen provecho!

November 14, 2008

Did you know that grocery carts have more bacteria than public phones and restrooms? If you use one without at least wiping off the handle with one on the sanitary wipes the stores are starting to provide, you’re taking your life in your hands. But at least, by God, we’re being protected from those dastardly food pushers who are trying to kill us with their evil outdoor grills (third item):

Local health officials are proposing a rule change that would allow restaurants to grill outside whenever they want as long as they prepare and sell the meat inside.

The current ordinance requires food establishments to obtain a separate “onsite cooking” permit that only allows grilling up to 10 days a month. The current rule also allows food to be prepared and stored outside as long as there is adequate cover as well as dish-washing and hand-washing stations.

Yeah, pepare and sell the meat inside. No germs there! How do we ever survive picnics without the help of “local health officials.”

Best in show

November 12, 2008

We have good schools, and we compare well with other Indiana cities on things like crime rates, air quality, job growth and household expenditires. We have kid-friendly amenities like parks and the zoo and Science Central. So:

Business Week magazine released its list of best places to raise children, and the Summit City earned the top spot in the state of Indiana.

The list, ranked on a state-by-state basis, includes cities with 50,000 or more residents and a median family income between $40,000 and $100,000, according to a Business Week story.

[. . .]

Following Fort Wayne on the list were Indianapolis and Bloomington.

All those things are important to the quality of life, but even with them, I don’t think you can say one city is the “best” in which to raise kids. This is a good place to raise some kids, not so good for others. Patty Martone, a retired FWCS assitant superintendent, wrote a guest column for us this week that gets at which ones the city is best for: “Throughout my life, particular relationships have produced the best friends of that period. Two of my pre-school, kindergarten alliances come to mind. Phyllis and Jean were my Bloomingdale neighborhood best friends . . . Throughout grade school and high school, new friends appeared . . . The circle grew, and I worked diligently to keep old friends while broadening the base.”

This was the best place for Patty to be raised in not because of all the amenities but because of the friends she shared those amentities with. She was born here, and all her life she has had a support network of family and friends. No other place would have been as good for her, even if it had all the amenities in the world.

And Fourseam, Ky., was the best place for me to be raised, though it had not a single thing you would think of as an amenity. There was a coal company commissary, one church and a three-room schoolhouse. Most people didn’t even have indoor plumbing. But my aunt and uncle and cousin lived just up the road, and all my parents’ relatives lived in the same county less than an hour’s drive away. I was mostly already “raised” (by my standards, at least) at age 12 when we moved to Fort Wayne. But, still, it was one of the most jarring experiences of my life to realize that, once I walked out of my parents’ house for that first day of school, I was on my own.

If we want to do a better job of raising our kids, maybe we should do a better job of staying in one place instead of trying to find the “best” place.

Bad Santa

November 12, 2008
Workers begin installing the energy-efficient Santa.

Workers begin installing the energy-efficient Santa.

I know I make fun of goofy green proposals, but I’m not against all of them. The new-and-improved downtown Santa is a good example:

National City Bank, along with its other sponsors, announced Monday that all 24,717 incandescent light bulbs in the locally famous Santa and reindeer display will be changed to more energy-efficient LED light bulbs.

The new bulbs will require less maintenance, use 90 percent less electricity, create a brighter display and last five times as long as the old bulbs. Best of all, somebody other than taxpayers is picking up the tab. What’s not to like?

Of course, we have to admit that this will contribute to saving the Earth only in a symbolic sort of way. If we truly want to link Christmas and climate change, we will have to finally admit the truth that Santa has been part of the problem instead of part of the solution. Instead of galivanting all over the globe delivering toys, making God only knows how big a carbon footprint, he needs to start paying attention to the melting ice and snow all around him at the North Pole. Only then will he be ready to take his rightful place as one of the saviors of the planet.

Hard to grasp, nice to see

November 11, 2008


Hey, Hon, look who’s running!

November 5, 2008

I knew Robert E. Armstrong. Long before he was mayor, he was my gym teacher in high school. Nice fella.

But you know what? He’s DEAD! If you don’t believe me, here’s the Wikipedia entry on him. All you people who keep voting for Robert A. Armstrong, including the ones who gave him a term on the FWCS board and the ones who just put him on County Council, are MORONS! Please promise not to vote in any more elections, or else I’m going to change my name to Ronald Reagan and run for governor.

Thanks. I feel much better now.

No dissent

November 5, 2008

Most of posts today will be about the election yesterday, so if you’re burned out on politics, maybe you can watch Turner Classic Movies instead.

The outcome that surprised me the most was the one for three Fort Wayne Community Schools Board seats, although in retrospect it probably shouldn’t have. All three candidates closely identified with defeating the proposed $500 million bond issue lost, including Evert Mol, the leader of the anti-bond drive, and Jon Olinger, the only board member to vote against the bond issue. The three people who won, including longest-serving board member Steve Corona, think the school system is headed in the right direction.

The most obvious conclusion to jump to is that the voters weren’t paying attention and didn’t make the bond-issue connection. But it’s just as likely that they voted the way they did for a variety of reasons and that being against the bond issue wasn’t enough of a reason for them to vote for somebody. Besides, the voters already proved they can stop a misguided spending proposal, so what do they have to worry about if another one comes along?

But if there are some FWCS patrons who don’t think the system is headed in the right direction, they’d better start paying attention, because there will no longer be a single voice of dissent on the board. A couple of superintendents ago, the school board had such fractious divisions that every board meeting seemed on the verge of dissolving in a fist fight. Not healthy. But neither is a rubber-stamp board, which seems to be what we’re going to have.

It’s all out there

November 3, 2008

It’s been a while since I updated my blogroll, so I just added about 20 more local blogs. That doesn’t begin to cover the local blogosphere — it’s growing all the time. But I tried to include a representative sample of all that’s out there among the ones that are updated on a regular basis. There are, for example, a couple of mostly food blogs. There are some good sites for local photos. There’s a bunch of atheists. There’s My HUD House, which, along with the already included The Pa-IN Erudition, will give you a not-available-elsewhere view of southeast Fort Wayne. There’s Fort Wayne Politics, which covers City Council especially well, with video often included.

There’s something out there for everyone, from the purely personal to the reportorial and opinion mongering — sort of like a growing and ever changing newspaper. People already link to each other and refer to posts others have made. The next step will be for somebody to put up a daily digest of what’s out there, like BlogNetNews does for state blogs.

Stuck in the past

October 29, 2008

The Journal Gazette can’t bring itself to endorse Mike Pence for Congress. After praising Pence’s opponent for having better views on such things as health care and the economy, the JG says this:

It is the war and his position on it that should give voters concern about Pence. Pence, who has shown admirable skepticism, courage and independence on other matters, has accepted without challenge the current strategy despite the failures in Iraq and Afghanistan.

All right, which one of you forgot to tell the JG that the surge worked, the war is pretty much over and we seemed to have actually won it? I know it wasn’t my turn.

Not so good in Afghanistan — we can grant them that one.

Enough said

October 23, 2008

And so it ends

October 21, 2008

Rule No. 1 in the criminal-justice arena should be that you don’t get to plead guilty and still go on and on about how you were framed. Matt Kelty’s most ardent supporters have always wanted his legal problems to be about a Democratic-moderate Republican-media conspiracy to “get” Kelty because he had the audacity to challenge orthodox views. I hope they all especially pay attention to this paragraph in Kevin Leininger’s column:

Given the just-released damning e-mails between Kelty and key supporters, and Kelty’s own admission in court Monday – pleading guilty to misdemeanor false informing and two counts of felony filing a fraudulent campaign finance report – that he knowingly broke the law then lied about it, it’s time for those bracelets to come off – and for everyone involved to admit that this sorry episode was never about Matt Kelty or the issues he championed.

Certainly many of Kelty’s detractors were glad to see his problems and no doubt rejoice in this outcome. Maybe some in the Republican establishment even urged Kelty to come clean after the primary for reasons that are less than pure. But campaign finance law, whether you agree with it or not, is designed to provide transparency — so voters know who is supporting whom and can thus make informed decisions at the polls. The Kelty people knew this and, the record now clearly shows, deliberately set out to circumvent the intent of the law, for whatever reasons. That’s all this ever was and all it is now.

For what it’s worth, I never really believed Kelty wanted to be mayor or a representative even though he ran spirited campaigns for those offices. He is a movement conservative who wanted to hold office — any office — so he could advance that cause. As Leininger says, that cause will exist with or without any specific individual.

The cookie crumbles

October 21, 2008


If you like your Archway cookies, better get them fast — that is, if it’s not too late.

A sign in the cookie aisle at the North Anthony Scott’s Foods on Monday said, “Effective immediately, Archway and Mother’s cookies has closed and stopped operations.”

 [. . .]

A message left at the company’s headquarters in Battle Creek, Mich., wasn’t returned, and a woman who answered the phone at the Ashland, Ohio, plant today said it had closed. A news release issued by the company, Archway & Mother’s Cookie Co., said it has filed bankruptcy under Chapter 11 and has discontinued U.S. manufacturing operations. The company also sold products under the Mother’s Cake & Cookie Co. subsidiary. The company’s Canadian plant was not affected by the bankruptcy.

While other folks were snapping up fancy cookies, I stuck with the soft and chewy Archways. Nothing better than raspberry-filled cookies and a cold glass of milk. Stories I’ve seen elsewhere said the company was done in by rising fuel and ingredient prices. Another victim of the failed Bush policies!

Square shooting

October 20, 2008

This isn’t going to end well, is it?

A downturn in the housing and financial markets apparently has produced a downsizing in Harrison Square’s behind-schedule condominium project.

As originally envisioned, the 62 condos were supposed to be substantially complete by next June. But slow sales attributed largely to economic conditions have pushed construction back and have now caused the project’s developer, Barry Real Estate Cos., to eliminate an entire floor of what had been a four-story building, according to City Council President Tom Didier, R-3rd District.

The change, which Didier discussed last week with Barry officials at the company’s headquarters in Atlanta, would reduce the number of condos to just under 30, and the project’s cost from about $21 million to about $14.5 million – the minimum investment allowable under Barry’s contract with the city.

Overpromised and underserved again, which will kick cynicism about the political process up another notch or two.  People may say  they’d prefer a two- three-bedroom condominium, but if the market’s not there for the one-bedrooms . . .

It’s good to know that at least the retail part of the project seems on track so far, with letters of intent from tenants that would fill about 80 percent of the available space.

A miracle year?

October 20, 2008

There is a much stronger “throw all the bums out” rumble this year than in past congressional-election years. Even Mike Pence mentioned it when he interviewed with us a couple of weeks ago. Fort Wayne resident Rob Binford did a guest column expressing the anger out there pretty well:

There is only way voters can demonstrate that “we the people” are still in charge. We need to send them all home. Fire each and every one of them! Nothing less than a clean sweep of all incumbents will get the job done.

If you think your own representative should be spared because he or she has done a pretty good job of bringing home the bacon, you need to remember that what looks like “bacon” to you looks like “pork” to everyone else.

Forget the incumbents’ standard argument that we need experienced representatives who know how government works. The way Washington works is precisely the problem, and it will never change as long as the incumbents who manipulate and benefit from the process are still around.

The only way to change the process is to change the players and hold the new players to higher standards. Then if the newly elected Congress resumes the old ways, we can just send them home, too, and try again.

Why should you vote to unseat an incumbent who shares your political philosophy? Start by considering what he or she has actually accomplished to make that philosophy a reality. Most elected officials talk a good game but achieve precious few results.

I doubt if anything close to what these people want will happen. Any of it that does will affect Republicans more than Democrats. But if such a miracle were possible, this would be the year for it.

Your tax dollars . . .oh, never mind

October 16, 2008

The Local Government Efficiency Study Committee is pressuring the city and county to try again on a joing police facility, but nobody is having any of it:

Ft. Wayne Mayor Tom Henry and the three Allen County Commissioners said at the end of September that sharing space for police functions in the City-County Building would be too costly to taxpayers.

I really don’t get this. There are plenty of vacant buildings in this city, many of them not requiring major renovation. After looking at all the options, the only one city and county can come up with is one in which housing two similar operations in one building instead of two costs more? Man, that’s some hard work involved there.

In the meantime, a task force has been formed to decide what to do about Taylor University’s 14 buildings and 30 acres now that Taylor is ending its Fort Wayne undergraduate program.

“It would make an interesting location for a police department,” said Fort Wayne Police Chief Rusty York. “Right now, all of our options are open with a search for a new home.”

Interesting? OK, I guess. But that location is not close to downtown, not in a major crime area (thank goodness!), not near any of the other organizations the police have to deal with. Besides, I’d like to see a shopping complex there with all the stores the south side doesn’t have now. Then we can tear it all down in five years and move the baseball stadium there.

Quick change artist

October 16, 2008

“Michelle Obama’s message resonates with Fort Wayne crowd,” the headline on our story reads. What message? She’s just saying the same thing the campaign has been saying for months, in fact, the only thing Democrats always say:

“Isn’t it time for a change? Isn’t it time for new solutions? Don’t we deserve leaders who get it?”

Yeah, a change. That’s what I want. I’m so tired of big Republican government. Give me big Democratic government instead! 

I get it, too.

Another one bites the dust

October 14, 2008

This is one of those stories that I can’t consider the larger implications of until I learn how it affects my selfish interests:

Taylor University officials announced Monday that the Fort Wayne campus will stop offering its traditional undergraduate program effective this spring.

[. . .]

Garringer said currently 299 full-time 38 part-time students attend Taylor Fort Wayne, with 213 of those living in on-campus housing. The Fort Wayne campus also employs 18 fulltime and 24 part-time faculty members.

“Some of the ramifications of the (board’s) decision are still being discussed,” Garringer said, but officials said it does not affect Taylor’s growing online learning program, which numbers nearly 600 students. Neither does it impact Taylor’s Fort Wayne-based MBA program, or the WBCL Radio Network.

Taylor has always been an anchor of my neighborhood, even closer than the old Lutheran Hospital campus. If 213 of the students live on on-campus housing, that would seem to be an empty building or two in the future. How many more will there be? What is Taylor going to do about using those buildings or working with someone who will make use of them? The university apparently owns the buildings, and they are all paid for.

Here’s a personal reaction from Andrew J. Booth

The cheap stuff

October 9, 2008

Hey, we’re used to flying out of Indy to get the lower air fares, so let’s all hop in our cars and drive there to get the cheap stuff!

Gas prices are slipping nationally and statewide, but drivers at Indianapolis filling stations are getting it cheaper than most places.

Overnight, AAA said the cost of the cheapest gallon of fuel fell to $3.26, down 5 cents from Tuesday. The average is $3.44 nationally and $3.41 in Indiana, but Indy pumps are charging less than Bloomington, Gary, Fort Wayne, Evansville, Terre Haute and South Bend.

Oh, wait, hold on just a sec . . .

Finally, right on one

October 8, 2008

Yesterday, I wrote an editorial saying the mayor’s proposed budget didn’t go far enough in making spending cuts: “Wouldn’t deeper cuts in 2009 make it easier to make cuts in 2010?” Last night, the City Council had its first go around on the budget:

It was with that fact in mind that all the council members seemed to agree a flat budget simply was not good enough.

“We have to cut more than the mayor suggests,” councilman Tim Pape, D-5th District, said. “I think that’s obvious.”

What’s that you say? “Attaboy, Leo!”? Speak up — I can’t HEAR YOU.

So long, Hartley’s

October 8, 2008

A sad day — we’re losing Hartley’s. Well, not exactly, but close enough:

In a Newschannel 15 exclusive, Chappell’s officials say a big change is coming to the Broadway restaurant and fish market.  The 23-year-old business is expected to merge with Hartley’s restaurant on Fairfield.

Tuesday afternoon, Gary Chappell signed a deal to purchase the Hartley’s restaurant.  Hartley’s has been in business for 25-years at the Fairfield location.

Chappell says he will add the best of Hartley’s with the best of Chappell’s and re-open his Broadway location using both names.  The Broadway location will be extensively renovated inside and out.

What’s it gonna be called? Chartley’s? Harppell’s? If the place does keep the best of Chappell’s and Hartley’s, it is sure to be one of Fort Wayne’s best restaurants, and that’s good news for Broadway and surrounding neighborhoods.

But what will be lost to me and all the others who treasure Hartley’s is a specific ambience — a particular feeling of a particular place that resides comfortably in memory. I don’t know why, but Hartley’s became the special place my family went to for one dinner a month. I never laughed so hard while eating such good food as on those nights with my mother, brother, sister and spouses and friends.

No lights, no problem

October 8, 2008

The traffic signals were out at two busy intersections on my way to work this morning — Broadway and Jefferson and Broadway and Washington — and all the drivers just went into four-way-stop mode. It was very smooth and efficient, no panic or frustration. Why can’t we react that way all the time to unforeseen difficulties?

Start over, do nothing

October 7, 2008

Considering what a botch Washington has already made of education, this is a small comfort:

Both candidates – Republican John McCain and Democrat Barack Obama – have been quick to clarify that education is still a concern, especially considering that NCLB will have to be renewed – with changes, both agree – during the next administration. But they admit it’s something that is not at the forefront of most Americans’ minds.

“I hope that they either make a lot of changes at the federal level or scrap it and start from scratch,” said Joe Nichols, IPFW School of Education department chairman.

Actually, the best thing to do would be to scrap it, then do nothing. Leave education to the state and local levels. I might trust the feds to run a computer program keeping track of innovative programs around the country worth studying and possibly imitating. Might.


October 3, 2008

My reaction to the Wizards foofaraw was probably the same as a lot of other people’s: The TinCaps is a pretty silly name, but the logo is awesome. But Ben Smith says a lot of other names probably seemed silly at first:

Tell me, too, how it’s any dopier than “Red Sox” or “White Sox” or any other nickname we’ve all come to regard as iconic over the years. I still get amused snickers when I try to explain Komets-with-a-K to people outside the Midwest. And you just know there were piles of folks in Toledo wondering what the heck kind of nickname “Mud Hens” was the first time they heard it.

And Angry White Boy says the logo was cribbed from a car company logo (sorry, can’t link; it keeps locking up my browser when I go to

At least the name has some local history behind it, though it depends too much on the myth that John Chapman was just a poor itinerent appleseed-strewer. He was actally an astute businessman who traveled westward just ahead of the migrating hordes and figured out the exact places where his apple nurseries could flourish. But sports and myths go well together, so maybe the name will grow on us.

The main problem with it, as with Mad Ants, is that it is a name that means a lot locally but has to constantly be explained to people outside of Fort Wayne. That means that until the name sinks in and becomes familiar, we’re going to get a lot of giggles.

Bruisin’ for a cruisin’

October 2, 2008

I know this is another dead horse I just can’t stop beating, but this is just so stupid:

Responding to the spike in gas prices, York, whose department spends about $1.6 million on gas for cruisers, decided officers who take their cruisers home should pay a fee to help cover costs. The new policy requires $25 payments in each two-week pay period and $30 for officers who live outside the city. Officers can pay or keep their cruisers parked at their homes or at designated locations when off-duty.

Take-home cars were sold as a way of deterring crime by making cruisers more visible. Why should any of us care if cruisers are more visible outside of town? Let those who live in other places worry about and pay for deterring crime in those places. Why do police officers who live out of town have take-home cars? Why do they even live out of town, anyway?