News From Terre Haute, Indiana

November 20, 2007

Readers' Forum: Nov. 21, 2007


In politics, you sometimes just have to move on

Dear Mr. Mayor: I write today as the unanimously elected secretary of the Vigo County Democratic Central Committee. Your continued efforts to avoid the will of the voters are doing a disservice to our Democratic Party as well as to the democratic process as a whole.

Mayor, unlike many, I can speak from personal experience. You might recall that I overwhelmingly won the Democratic nomination for council-at-large a couple of years ago with my message to repeal the new EDIT, CAGIT, and “Gotcha” income taxes. Between the spring and the fall elections, you and your administration spearheaded a successful effort to defeat me in the general election with the Republican challenger (who I happened to like as well) by 121 votes.

After the election, you and I had a good laugh. You told me, “I hope there aren’t any hard feelings. It’s just politics. I didn’t want to take any chances of losing the tax money. Don’t take it personally.”

Mayor, I didn’t. I understand politics.

Certainly, I had an argument that with a countywide election; 121 votes was close enough for a recount but I had too much respect for the Democratic Party and democratic process to allow my personal gain to affect my common sense.

Now, in addition to a recount, you want to totally discredit Duke Bennett’s candidacy arguing his employer helps children with the use of federal funds. Your committee certainly knew the potential for this argument prior to your loss of the election. You brought up the same issue against your primary opponent, Jim Horrall. Why wait until after the votes are counted? You stated to the local news, “I owe it to the 50 percent of the people who I represent.”

Mr. Mayor, I’d like to remind you that you represent Democrats and Republicans, blacks and whites, rich and poor; 100 percent of the citizens of Terre Haute. And 100 percent of the people of Terre Haute, including your supporters, want a free and fair election. Perhaps it is your inability to recognize that you represent ALL the people that contributed to your defeat. Do you really want to win, or should I say take, an election in such a tainted fashion. If you do figure out a way to stay in office against the will of the voters, do you really think you can be an effective administrator? How much damage to our Democratic candidates next year will make this worthwhile to you?

Now is the time for the leaders of our party to bring the party together, not further divide us. Your advice was correct. It’s just politics. Don’t take it personally. You need to move on.

Pat Mansard and the Democrats ran this election. Pat Mansard and the Democrats counted the votes. Pat Mansard and the Democrats counted more votes for Duke Benentt than for you. Everyone is now watching the process. Everyone wants to know how this will turn out.

Prospective employers are most likely also watching. What message should an executive looking to bring their plant to Terre Haute get out of all this? Perhaps, “Terre Haute: We’ll do what we want!” is appropriate.

It isn’t too late to concede this election. It isn’t too late to congratulate and offer your support to Mayor-elect Duke Benentt. It isn’t too late to allow for a smooth transition. Mr. Mayor, if you truly are interested in what’s best for Terre Haute rather than what’s best for you, it isn’t too late to do the right thing.

— Mike Ellis, secretary

Vigo County Democrat Central Committee



Burke responsibility is to press forward


In the days following Mayor Burke’s announcement that he was filing for a recount, I have been reading all of the “intelligent” letters to the editor.

These citizens are obviously Duke Bennett supporters. And it’s absolutely expected that they would come to his defense. But to bash and insult Mayor Burke, stating he is, and I quote, “pathetic” and “should grow up”, etc., is incredibly childish in itself, not to mention very disrespectful.

Yes, I am a Mayor Burke supporter. With that said, I would expect Duke Bennett to challenge the election results had he lost by only 107 votes, less than 1 percent. That’s 107 votes out of more than 12,000 (which is a sad total turnout in itself. I wonder if these Burke bashers voted? More on that later.

And for these people to say that the majority of citizens did not want Burke is ludicrous. Almost just as many people do not want Bennett in office. And that is the entire point of Mayor Burke requesting a recount; it was that close. Come on. 107 votes do not constitute an overwhelming majority.

Let me ask you something. Was the Burke administration that bad? Did he actually bring this city down? Did Burke just sit back and do nothing for this city and its citizens? What did he do to these letter writers to warrant such vicious personal and political attacks? Drive around the city, folks. This town has not looked this good in quite a long time. And don’t give me the ol’ party line that people are losing their jobs because of Burke. And property taxes. These are all topics for another letter.

It is Mayor Burke’s responsibility to challenge the election results of a difference of only 107 votes, just as it would have been Duke Bennett’s responsibility to challenge had it been the other way around. We’re not talking about 1,000 votes — 107.

If the recount shows that Duke Bennett did actually win, then I hope Mr. Bennett is successful in fulfilling his campaign promises. And, knowing Mayor Burke, I am confident our mayor will work for a smooth transition. But we must know the actual and true results.

Until that time, allow me to leave you with one last thought (for now). If the results do show that Mr. Bennett has won, I pray that we do not see these headlines in the Indy newspaper: “Terre Haute is once again the model of stagnation.”

— Ed Ice, Jr.

Terre Haute



Mayor shows no respect for voters


Is it just possible that those who voted for Duke Bennett used their own judgment when they entered the polling booths?

I resent Mayor Burke’s comment that “Fifty percent of the people believe they can get something for nothing.” He shows no respect or regard for viewpoints other than his own. Losing gracefully is not in the cards for him.

I’m afraid it’s worse than I expected. After reading today’s leading story in the Tribune-Star (Nov. 16 — “Bennett candidacy disputed”) apparently the “greatest job on the planet” has to retained at all costs.

Also, I was offended by Stephanie Salter’s column of Sunday, Nov. 11. I really thought she was more professional than that. It is distasteful and unsettling to read such bias in a newspaper. I realize she has some license to give her viewpoint, but she discredited herself with her childish sarcasm.

Can we please hold our newspaper to a “level above” in their editorials and reporting?

— Carol Cook

Terre Haute