The Journal Gazette
Sunday, July 18, 2021 1:00 am

Democrats' tour boosts infrastructure bill

NIKI KELLY | The Journal Gazette

Fresh off the end of a tour celebrating the American Rescue Plan, the Indiana Democratic Party is at it again.

The party last week launched a second statewide tour to highlight why Indiana needs to revitalize its infrastructure system. The American Jobs Plan tour will bring together voters from across Indiana to hear about a plan to create good-paying jobs, renovate Indiana's current infrastructure needs, and build a better future for Hoosier families, a news release said.

This includes fixing Indiana's crumbling roads and bridges, taking broadband internet expansion to the next level, eliminating child-care deserts for families, strengthening unions and securing better health care access for more than 400,000 veterans in the state.

The Indiana Democrats said their party's jobs plan “will fix a state economy that currently makes Hoosiers work more for less and does little to set families up for long-term success – all thanks to the Indiana Republican Party.”

The American Jobs Plan is being pushed by President Joe Biden in Congress.

“President Joe Biden's American Jobs Plan will fix the problems that Indiana Republicans have failed to address by creating a level playing field for hard-working folks who deserve a brighter future for themselves and their families. Democrats are hopeful Republicans will join us to get this done instead of defaulting to blatant partisanship,” said State Party Chairman Mike Schmuhl.

The first two events were in St. Joseph and Tippecanoe counties and details about other stops will be released soon.

Friend or enemy?

Government watchdog Accountable.US has identified Indiana Attorney General Todd Rokita as an enemy of progress due to his opposition to key issues such as addressing climate change and making health care accessible for all.

The group recently launched a new campaign, “Enemies of Progress,” outlining the potential threats that Rokita and other Republican attorneys general around the country pose to advancements that support all Americans. Accountable.US also released its first report highlighting how Rokita and others are using their positions as top law enforcement officials to defend their campaign donors, not their constituents.

“Instead of fighting for their best interests, Attorney General Rokita is spending Hoosiers' taxpayer dollars on frivolous lawsuits against the Biden administration on behalf of his special interest donors,” said Kyle Herrig, president of Accountable.US. “Rokita has worked to undermine democracy and suppress the voices of voters in his state – so it's no surprise to see him now try to obstruct progress on initiatives that will improve lives and the economy for his constituents.”

Accountable.US bills itself as nonpartisan but regularly focuses on Republican leaders.

Rokita's alleged transgressions include:

• Instituting one of the nation's first voter identification laws, which the organization claims leads to voter suppression.

• Trying to undermine the 2020 U.S. election by signing onto a case seeking to overturn the results of the presidential election in other states.

• Allegedly making racist comments in campaign ads.

Rokita's office responded with “any time you fight for Hoosier commonsense and family values, those who are frightened by such convictions and who have no valid intellectual response will become unhinged, calling you names and trying to mislead the public. That's how you know you are winning. Such is the case with these Leftists who hate America and what it stands for. Hoosiers will see right through this blatant political attack from a far-Left, out-of-state, dark-money group.”

Contentious council meeting

Fort Wayne City Council's meeting lasted more than 21/2 hours, and it was filled with discussions and many opinions shared from the council and public alike. 

Contentious issues included the vaccine passport resolution that failed with a 4-4-1 vote and four members voting against a tax abatement resolution from even being introduced Tuesday. The vaccine passport vote was along party lines, but that wasn't the case with the other votes. 

Nine people sat through the long meeting to have their voices heard. They covered a range of topics: the employee shortage at Three Rivers Ambulance Authority, COVID-19 vaccinations and mask wearing, noise from fireworks and upcoming construction on the Hillegas Road widening. 

Council members seemed to rush through their personal comments to end the long, tense meeting. Sharon Tucker, D-6th, one of the last to speak, said it felt like all of the air had been taken out of the meeting room at Citizens Square.

“It's a yucky feeling in the room,” she said. “I'll have to burn some sage or something.” 

The tension was immediately broken as her fellow council members and some in the audience burst into laughter. 

Devan Filchak of The Journal Gazette contributed to this column. 

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