INdiana Systemic Thinking

October 2, 2008

State Sen. Marvin Riegsecker Loses Cancer Battle

From the AP, via the Fort Wayne Journal Gazette:

State Sen. Marvin Riegsecker, a Goshen Republican who helped push statewide adoption of daylight saving time during his two decades in the Indiana General Assembly, died Tuesday at age 71.

Riegsecker died of cancer at the Indiana University Medical Center in Indianapolis, where he was surrounded by his wife, Norma, and immediate family members, according to the Senate Republican caucus. Riegsecker was diagnosed this year with lymphoma and decided not to seek re-election.

Riegsecker, a retired pharmacist who was first elected to the Senate in 1988, was a longtime supporter of statewide daylight saving time and helped usher the contentious proposal through the legislature in 2005.

“I just want to get this over with,” Riegsecker said on the day when the daylight time bill won final approval. “I guarantee if it’s not over with, it will come back to haunt us again.”

Riegsecker represented Senate District 12, which covers most of Elkhart County in northern Indiana. He worked to protect consumers from counterfeit prescription drugs and championed causes such as providing services to those with developmental disabilities.

“In my four years in state government, I never met a kinder or more decent person than Marvin Riegsecker,” Gov. Mitch Daniels said. “Plus, he was brave in helping us tackle tough issues, always caring more about Indiana’s future than his own political future.”

Riegsecker was hospitalized for parts of the last legislative session.

“Legislative colleagues will always remember Sen. Riegsecker’s intelligence, passion and commitment,” said Senate President Pro Tem David Long, R-Fort Wayne. “We will all miss Marvin greatly.”

The Blogmeister wishes Sen. Reigsecker’s family well in their time of sorrow.

February 24, 2008

Sen. David Ford Pens Letter, Updates Condition

State Senator David Ford updates us on his condition in a letter published by the Fort Wayne Journal Gazette.  I’ll post the whole letter here.

I would first like to thank Rep. Tim Harris for hosting our town meetings while I have been ill. He has been a really great partner, as we have represented Blackford and Grant counties over the last four years.

Second, I profoundly want to thank everyone in the Senate district for their support, prayers, cards, e-mails and wishes that have been sent.

I have been diagnosed with pancreatic cancer, and I am now home and feeling very well. I am under the care of my nurse-wife Joyce, sister-in-law Kelly Ford and Family Hospice of Northeast Indiana. They are a troop of angels who make it possible for me live in my own home and still get a very high level of medical care and attention. I have begun a course of chemotherapy with Lutheran Hospital in Fort Wayne. So far my body is tolerating the treatment quite well.

I have not been able to get back to the Statehouse since falling ill on Jan. 15, but I am able to participate in several ways. I attend caucuses through teleconferencing. I talk to various Senate colleagues on the phone daily. I get all of the bills and documents electronically. I can watch the Senate sessions and committee hearings live via the Internet. With the help of Senate co-authors, I have two bills (SB 190 and SB 197) that have already passed the Senate and House of Representatives and will shortly be on their way to the governor for his signature.

Obviously, this is not the way I would prefer to be representing my district, but it is the best I can do for now. I am able to deal with all of my mail, calls and e-mail, so if you contact me with your thoughts on legislation or your needs with regard to state government, I and my wonderful legislative assistant will give the same service that we have tried to provide in the past.

Briefly, on the issues: Rep. Harris has a handout covering major points of the Senate Republicans’ property tax relief package. I am firmly convinced that the General Assembly will take major steps toward property tax reform by the end of the session.

Thank you for your understanding and for all of your kindnesses. It is this “heart of gold” spirit within Hoosiers that constantly reminds me of why I do this job and how important it really is.

SEN. DAVID FORD  Hartford City

February 20, 2008

Ashcroft Investigated Regarding Zimmer Appointment

Here is a little something from the South Bend Tribune’s Business Section.  Apparently after Warsaw based Zimmer Holdings, an orthopedic manufacturer, negotiated itself out of trouble last year, U.S. Attorney Christopher Christie appointed former Attorney General John Ashcroft’s firm to “monitor” the company.  Specifically:

Under the contract, Ashcroft’s firm will monitor Warsaw-based orthopedics manufacturer Zimmer Holdings as part of an agreement the corporation entered into to settle a fraud investigation by Christie’s office.

The problem with this appointment?  Well, no one knows what this monitoring is to include and how Ashcroft’s firm was selected.  So what does the firm receive for this non-specific monitoring?  Answer: “The deal is worth between $27 million and $52 million over 18 months”.

U.S. Rep Linda Sanchez (D-Calf.) is looking into the deal and “U.S. Rep. Frank Pallone, D-N.J., has also introduced a bill that would increase oversight and establish specific rules for such appointments”.  A hearing before a subcommittee of the House Judiciary Committee is scheduled for next Tuesday, according to the story.

This story has the potential to get real interesting real quick as we get more details into this seemingly sweetheart deal.

February 16, 2008

Follow Up: Lennington Gives Up Tax Court

Following up on my posts here and here, the Muncie Star Press is reporting:

Delaware County Circuit Court 5 Judge Wayne Lennington has relinquished jurisdiction over all cases related to tax sales, a week after acknowledging he was the target of a criminal investigation that involves his personal investments.

All five Delaware Circuit Court judges, including Lennington, signed an order Wednesday that transferred tax sale cases to the other four courts, and allowed the re-assignment of criminal cases from Lennington’s court at Delaware County Prosecutor Mark McKinney’s discretion.

February 14, 2008

Update: Sen. Ford’s Condition

The Howey Political Report posted an update late last night on the condition of State Senator David Ford:

State Sen. David C. Ford (R-Hartford City) who is fighting pancreatic cancer, is back home receiving hospice services and continues to monitor legislative business, the Senate Majority Caucus announced late Wednesday. Ford participated this week in discussions with Statehouse colleagues via speaker phone. In late January, family members confirmed the Hartford City lawmaker was “critically ill with cancer” and underwent surgery.  Ford started his first course of chemotherapy and said his body is responding to the treatment, but it is too early to determine its success. Ford said he is answering e-mails, checking on the status of his legislation and is encouraged by his bills’ progress. Although difficult at times, Ford said the Internet allows him to watch session and committee meetings.

February 9, 2008

Delaware Judge Now Says He is Extortion Victim

In a follow up to my post yesterday, Delaware County Circuit Court Judge Wayne Lennington now says he was a victim of an extortion plot, according to the Muncie Star Press:

Judge Wayne Lennington said Friday he believed an extortion attempt might have kindled an already existing investigation into his business affairs.

“If I would have paid him, I’m sure it wouldn’t have gone anywhere,” said the Delaware Circuit Court 5 judge. “But I wasn’t going to do that.”

On Friday, Lennington provided The Star Press with a copy of an e-mail whose author threatened to deliver to federal investigators information that was damaging to Lennington and a business partner, Joseph Gray, unless the men paid him $250,000.

The judge said he believed his extortionist was an Ohio man he had met once through Gray.

In a May 30, 2007 e-mail to Gray, the man purportedly wrote, “My attorney assures me that the material in my possession are sufficient to have Judge Lennington removed from the bench, and the both of you criminally prosecuted.”

Furthermore, the e-mail stated the man would be willing to turn over to investigators:

  • Taped conversations between himself and Gray about Gray’s relationship with Lennington.
  • Faxes to him from Lennington’s home.
  • “Copies of prints from the golf course,” which Lennington believes is a reference to an aerial photograph Lennington provided Gray of a Delaware County golf course they were considering buying.
  • Information about “unfettered access” to tax sale information.Sometime after receiving the e-mail, Gray showed the message to Lennington, the judge said.Lennington told The Star Press he had never done anything illegal so he felt comfortable sharing the extortion message with state police and Delaware County Prosecutor Mark McKinney’s office.
  • The judge could not provide a precise timeline concerning when Gray first provided him the e-mail and when he notified authorities.

    Lennington said he has not heard back from the police or prosecutor.

    While Lennington was under investigation before the extortion attempt, the fact that he refused to cooperate with the extortionist might have indirectly “intensified” investigators efforts to bring him down, the judge suggested.

    He questioned whether the extortionist, embittered by Lennington’s resolve, was feeding authorities false information that the judge conspired with Gray in illegal scams.

    An effort to reach the alleged extortionist through the e-mail address provided by Lennington was unsuccessful.

    Lennington didn’t mention the extortion letter during the Thursday interview in which he confirmed he was being investigated. The judge said he wasn’t comfortable with releasing the letter until a second conversation with a reporter on Friday.

    February 8, 2008

    Delaware County Circuit Court Judge Under Investigation

    From the Muncie Star Press:

    Delaware Circuit Court 5 Judge Wayne Lennington acknowledged Thursday he is under criminal investigation for his connection to investment properties but denied any wrongdoing.

    Lennington, 77 — a local attorney for four decades before his 1998 appointment to the bench — said he was guilty only of associating himself with an Ohio man he now describes as a scam artist.

    “I didn’t do nothing except get screwed,” the judge said. Lennington said he believes he is under investigation by Indiana State Police and the Delaware County prosecutor’s office for his business ties to ESS Investments LLC, which is operated by Joseph Gray and chartered out of Westerville, Ohio.

    ESS has owned at least five properties on the south side of Muncie and in the northeastside Whiteley neighborhood since 2004. Those five properties account for more than $32,000 in delinquent real estate taxes and city sewage bills, according to the Delaware County treasurer’s office.

    Lennington said he never had ownership interest in ESS Investments, which despite its Ohio charter maintains a South Carolina address and a disconnected South Carolina phone number.

    He admits, however, to lending Gray $20,000 shortly after ESS bought the local houses to finance their restoration.

    “I thought we could fix them up and flip them and make some money,” Lennington said, adding most homes went unrestored and he never saw a return on his investment.

    Being a gullible investor and knowing a slumlord, however, are not illegal. Instead, evidence suggests investigators are interested in Lennington because of his longtime role as administrator of Delaware County’s tax court.

    Staci Schneider, a spokesman for Attorney General Steve Carter, would not confirm Thursday night whether their office was conducting an investigation into Lennington, nor would ISP Sgt. Rod Russell, the public information officer for the Redkey post.

    Lennington said he never acted improperly as tax sale judge nor did he use his authority for financial gain.

    February 5, 2008

    IAMFT Announcement

    For those who are members (or who would like to be, we’re not picky) of IAMFT, this just came through:

    SAVE THE DATE

    IAMFT REGIONAL MEETING & MENTORING DAY

    Dear Region 2 IAMFT Members:

    All are invited and encouraged to attend this year’s IAMFT Student Mentoring Day and Regional Get-Together so please mark your calendars now…

    • LOCATION:  Campus of IPFW in Fort Wayne, 2nd floor, Walb Student Union
    • DATE: Saturday, March 1, 2008
    • TIME:  10:00 a.m. to 12 Noon(coffee and snacks will be provided)

    This event is co-sponsored by IAMFT and the Marriage and Family Therapy program at IPFW.  If you have questions or would like more information, please contact Linda Wark at (260) 481-6083; warkl@ipfw.edu  or Kurt Gregory (260) 432-2311 email:  kurtglmft@aboitecounseling.com

    We’ll need to know if you plan to attend no later than February 25th.  Thank you and we’ll look forward to seeing you on March 1st!

    Region 2 is basically the Northeast part of the state.  If you need to see if you are in the region, here is a map.

    Mitch Harper Gets Some Good Press

    It’s refreshing to see not only a positive story about a politician, but also a politician doing whats right for his constituents.  Mitch Harper is a freshman Fort Wayne City Council member, but is already taking a leadership position on the council, so says Tracy Warner in his Fort Wayne Journal Gazette column today.  Warner is referencing a story yesterday reporting on a press conference Harper had with co-council member Tim Smith.  They presented their list of concerns about Fort Wayne Mayor Tom Henry’s plan to enact a previously declined tax levy.  By doing this, Harper has shown his political and personal intelligence, as well as his loyalty to his constituents.

    But, we already knew that.  Harper is also the editor of Fort Wayne Observed a local Fort Wayne Blog.  He is probably too modest to post this himself, so I thought I would.   Keep up the good work Mitch.

    By the way, both stories are worthwhile reading, as is FWoB! 🙂

    February 2, 2008

    Child Porn @ Work Not Illegal

    According to the St. Joe County Prosecutors Office, if your surfing the net for porn at work and child porn pop-ups, or pop-unders, appear, you are not guilty of a crime.  Good to know.  Can we please just make a law against stupid people and get it over with?  I mean I get the point, the guy wasn’t intentionally looking for child porn, but he was being stupid by looking for porn at work.  I just don’t get it.  I mean if you want to look at porn at home, more power to you, but why bring it into the workplace?  From the South Bend Tribune:

    A former YWCA employee has been cleared of charges of possession of child pornography after prosecutors determined the images appeared on his computer without his consent.

    Catherine Wilson, a spokeswoman for the St. Joseph County Prosecutor, said investigators determined that John B. Penney, 55, was not looking for child pornography when the images appeared on his computer.

    Wilson said the images of child pornography found on Penney’s work computer “almost certainly were the result of ‘pop-up’ or ‘pop-under’ windows generated during other online searches” for adult pornography.

    Penny was a legal advocate for the YWCA who lost his job after the images allegedly surfaced on his work computer.

    Deputy Prosecutor Eric Tamashasky said on Thursday that Internet users should be cautious when surfing the Internet to avoid coming across illegal material, such as child pornography. He said users of adult pornography run a higher risk of accidental exposure to illegal material.

    No, really?  Sheesh.

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