They’re back this year and invading a mailbox near you.
A series of political ads created and distributed by the Porter County GOP
over the past two weeks have their Democratic counterparts crying foul over
the content blaming them for late tax bills prior to 2010.
One chides the Dems for teacher layoffs and school program cuts, and another
alleges that cities and towns were left with no money to hire law
The GOP mailers center on an imaginary football team called “The Fumbling
Four”, the players being County Council at-large candidates Bob Poparad,
Sylvia Graham, and Dan Whitten along with South County Commissioner
Candidate Laura Shurr Blaney.
Whitten, current president of the County Council, made mention of the ads
during last Monday’s special Council meeting held to approve the Valparaiso
Community Schools budget. He said he had received phone calls from residents
concerned that he would politicize and make big cuts to the budget. He
called the mailers “desperate” and “outrageous” and the budget he supported
along with all other members of the County Council was agreed upon by
Valparaiso School officials.
“I know (the budget) is in good hands,” Whitten said.
Whitten later went on to say he is “disgusted” by the GOP fliers and that
this type of political attack reminds him of “Cook County backdoor
politics.” The Democrats were actually part of the solutions that led to
on-time tax bills in 2010, he added.
Graham said that nearly every county in Indiana during 2009 shared the
problem of late tax bills because of changes in state legislation regarding
property taxes and school funding. She said she was part of the effort to
place a state-certified software system in the county auditor and assessor
offices that got taxes back on track.
“I did everything I could to give them the tools to do their job,” she said.
Blaney said County government is not responsible for the deficiencies in
school’s General Fund budgets which pay for teacher and aide positions. She
said the state took control of those budgets in 2008 and they are funded
through sales taxes.
But Ken Taylor, an organizer for the Porter County GOP, told the Tribune
there is evidence to back the mailers’ claims. The mailers cite a series of
articles and editorials published by the local media, mainly from 2009, when
months had gone by without the county tax bills going out.
One of the articles, Taylor said, described a plan made by then County
Treasurer and Republican Jim Murphy that would have loaned money to other
taxing units but the Council, which was made up of six Democrats and one
Republican, did not approve the plan or even vote on it. A discussion
involving use of hospital interest money to be lent to the other taxing
units was also turned down, leaving them with no payments and large amounts
of interest, due to having to borrow from other sources.
Taylor cited another article that said the Portage School District saw a hit
to its budget of $439,000 from the late tax bills.
Meanwhile, Graham said voters should be cautious of any campaign materials
they receive between now and Election Day on Nov. 6.
“Anything that comes out a short time before the election only has the
purpose to get votes,” she said. That also includes a “selective” letter
that was signed and sent by fellow Dems Whitten and Blaney over the weekend
to county employees saying they supported a failed version of the 2013
budget that would have given raises they feel the employees deserve, Graham
Poparad said the GOP mailers are “blatantly misleading” and one of them
cited articles from years when he wasn’t even on the Council. “It’s nothing
but ridiculous,” he said.
He asked when somebody from the GOP would take a stand against negative
campaigning and mudslinging.
According to Taylor, the ads were created solely by the Porter County GOP
group and not by any of the candidates.
Poparad does have one more complaint to lodge – the position he was given to
play on “The Fumbling Four.”
“Why don’t I get to be quarterback? I think I would make a great
quarterback,” Poparad said.