News From Terre Haute, Indiana

News

July 8, 2013

Donnelly working to stay connected

WASHINGTON, D.C. — On his weekly trips back home to Indiana, U.S. Sen. Joe Donnelly has been snapping photos of high school gyms to add to the Hoosier-themed artwork in his Washington office and collecting mugs for the Wednesday morning coffee hours he hosts for constituents visiting the nation’s capital.

Since taking office six months ago, the freshman senator has immersed himself in big national issues, from immigration reform to the Affordable Care Act. But he’s also been what he calls “laser focused” on staying connected to the people he represents.

For Donnelly, that means frequent travel around the state – where he’s routinely peppered with advice – and a mandate to his staff to respond as quickly as it can to the thousands of emails and phone calls that come in each week, especially those that are requests for help navigating the federal bureaucracy.

“Our job is to make sure that if a veteran has a problem, we take care of it. If there’s a Social Security question, we get it answered,” Donnelly said, in a recent interview in his Washington office. “We’re the hired help. We’re here to serve the people of Indiana.”

It’s gotten a little easier to do. In late May, Donnelly and his staff moved out of their temporary Senate office in a cramped basement space with a single phone line and into permanent digs on the seventh floor of the Senate Hart Office Building.

“I think my office is bigger than my house back in South Bend,” said Donnelly, a former three-term congressman who had a much smaller office when he was in the House. He works to keep some perspective on his power: On a recent day after filling in as the presiding officer in the Senate – as junior senators are called to do – Donnelly had one of his standard evening meals: a microwaved frozen dinner.  

The 56-year-old Democrat was labeled an “accidental senator” by political pundits last November after he won a seat securely held by Republican Sen. Richard Lugar for nearly 40 years. Donnelly’s opponent, Richard Mourdock, who beat Lugar in the primary, saw his campaign implode in the final weeks after comments he’d made about abortion and rape.

Donnelly, though, has taken an intentional approach to his work. Aware that Lugar, though a revered elder statesmen, was criticized for losing touch with Indiana and that Mourdock, a tea party favorite, was seen as an extremist, Donnelly has worked hard to convey the opposite.

In a recent interview with The Washington Post, for example, Donnelly made a point of telling the reporter of his frequent trips back to Indiana, where, he said, some of his best conversations with constituents took place in supermarkets.

Veteran political analyst Brian Howey, publisher of Howey Politics Indiana, said the political lessons from the 2012 election haven’t been lost on Donnelly – or others.  

“Donnelly has always made constituent service and outreach a priority, but 2012 burnished the concept not only with him, but the entire Indiana [congressional] delegation,” Howey said.  

In Washington, Donnelly has embraced the role he played in the House of a politically moderate, fiscally conservative “Blue Dog Democrat” willing to work across the aisle to break partisan gridlock.

Last month, Donnelly, the grandson of Irish immigrants, withheld his support for the Democratic-favored immigration reform bill until it included an amendment to beef up border security that made the legislation more palatable to some of his Republican colleagues.

He’s also joined Republican Sen. Susan Collins of Maine in several efforts to amend the Affordable Care Act, also known as Obamacare. That included a plea to the Obama administration to delay a provision of the ACA that requires employers with 50 or more workers to provide health insurance coverage to their full-time employees or risk a series of escalating tax penalties. The Obama administration granted that delay on Tuesday.

Donnelly said those efforts with Collins, who’d originally opposed the healthcare law, stems from conversations with small business owners around Indiana who complained the ACA requirements were too complicated and difficult to implement in time. But they also stem from a frustration he shares with Collins over the bitter and unyielding partisan divide over the health care law.

Said Donnelly: “You’ve had some folks on one side saying: ‘We don’t like the health care law so we’re not going to do anything to try to improve it.’ And on the Democrat side, you had people say: ‘There are problems with it, but we don’t want to talk about them and we don’t want to fix them, we’ve just got to keep the wagons circled and plow forward.’”  

“And I thought to myself, both of those positions are completely unreflective of reality.”  

Both his vote on the immigration reform bill and his work with Collins garnered Donnelly more national media attention than a freshman senator would usually get, said Andrew Downs, head of the nonpartisan Mike Downs Center for Politics at Indiana University-Purdue University Fort Wayne.

Over the past month, Donnelly has been named or quoted by political reporters in The Washington Post, The New York Times and The Wall Street Journal.

Downs doesn’t expect that attention to diminish, given Donnelly’s unexpected win that put him in the Senate and the $51 million spent by all sides – including many outside forces – in the race for the seat Donnelly now holds.

“He’s one of those people that [media] folks will want to follow,” Downs said. “He’s got an interesting story.”

Donnelly cringes at the notion. “That’s certainly not my focus,” he said. “We have a saying here: No senator in Indiana ever made a lot of progress in Indiana by being the darling of The New York Times or The Washington Post.”

Maureen Hayden covers the Statehouse for CNHI, the Tribune-Star’s parent company. She can be reached at maureen.hayden@indiana

mediagroup.com.  


 

1
Text Only | Photo Reprints
News
  • MET070914 house exterior.jpg Historic Ohio Boulevard house inspired by 1948 Cary Grant movie

    Spurred in 1948 by a newly released movie staring Cary Grant and Myrna Loy, coupled with a growing post-World War II housing market, General Electric partnered with Hollywood’s RKO Studios to build “dream homes” throughout the country.

    July 9, 2014 4 Photos 1 Story

  • Detour ahead

    A panel of public and private officials is calling for $10 billion in projects to upgrade Indiana’s aging roads and bridges, but its members concede there’s no money to pay for it all.

    July 9, 2014

  • MET070814 barrels.jpg MARK BENNETT: Making road work a barrel of fun for drivers

    We’re lucky orange barrels can’t talk.

    July 9, 2014 2 Photos

  • City Council to take up city finances tonight

    The Terre Haute City Council will have a chance in a special meeting tonight to delve deeply into the city’s financial health. However, council members are being asked to avoid raising the most controversial subject of recent weeks: The city’s use of Redevelopment Commission tax increment finance (TIF) money.

    July 9, 2014

  • Bennett accepts $5,000 fine in ethics settlement

    Former Indiana Schools Superintendent Tony Bennett has agreed to pay $5,000 as part of a settlement with Indiana’s ethics watchdog in which he admits to using state resources for campaign work but is cleared of formal ethics violations in the grade-change scandal that cost him his job as Florida’s schools chief last year.

    July 9, 2014

  • Vermillion Jail trusties face new charges

    Two former inmate trusties at the Vermillion County Jail face new criminal charges after a recently discovered security breach at the jail.

    July 9, 2014

  • Lawrence police acquire armored military vehicle

    A central Indiana city has acquired an armored military vehicle for use in highly dangerous situations.

    July 9, 2014

  • Free carwash for law enforcement

    Mike’s Carwash locations in Central Indiana, including Terre Haute, will honor the sacrifice of IMPD Officer Perry Renn and thank all those who serve and protect our communities with a free carwash for police and emergency personnel today and Friday.

    July 9, 2014

  • MET070814 voice four.jpg Hitting a high note

    A 17-year-old from Casey, Ill., won “The Voice of the Valley” Tuesday night, singing and shaking his hips and legs to an Elvis Presley song, then wooing the grandstand audience at the Wabash Valley Fairgrounds with a country tune.

    July 9, 2014 2 Photos

  • MET 070814 STORM STAUNTON.jpg Clay County residents clean up debris, get power back

    Several power outages still affected hundreds of Duke Energy customers on Tuesday, more than 24 hours after storms and strong winds swept through west-central Indiana, leaving a swath of damage in the Staunton, Brazil and Center Point areas.

    July 9, 2014 4 Photos

  • MET 052106 EVANBAYH ADDRESS.jpg Return to Indiana?

    Evan Bayh is keeping Indiana Democrats on hold.

    July 9, 2014 1 Photo

  • Planning under way for 2014 Downtown Block Party

    Wabash Avenue will be full of activity Aug. 23 as the 2014 Downtown Terre Haute Block Party takes over five city blocks in a celebration of music, food and events.

    July 8, 2014

  • MET 070814 CATHOLIC WARE.jpg VIDEO UPDATE: Guys give food bank a lift

    A $14,000 donation Tuesday from Guys Who Give enables Catholic Charities to be at nearly 75 percent of its $2.5 million goal to purchase and operate a new, larger food bank near Terre Haute International Airport-Hulman Field.

    July 8, 2014 2 Photos

  • wilson,robert.jpg ‘Dangerous’ suspect in police custody

    A man sought by the Vermillion County Sheriff's Department has been nabbed by police in Indianapolis.

    July 8, 2014 1 Photo

  • eBus brings financial empowerment to town

    A 40-foot long mobile classroom is scheduled to roll  into Terre Haute today, carrying what its sponsors call “financial empowerment.”

    July 8, 2014

  • MET 070714 CULVER PHOTO.jpg Maker of history

    A humble man with a heart for helping others is an apt description for Terre Haute resident Curtis B. Culver.
    Culver died July 2 at age 94, leaving behind a legacy of missionary work and social involvement.

    July 7, 2014 3 Photos

  • MET 070714 TRASH TRANSFER.jpg Petitioners push for recycling at fair

    A Vigo County environmental activist hopes to convince the Vigo County Fair Board to start recycling, especially during the county fair, and has started an online petition.

    July 7, 2014 5 Photos

  • MET 070714 SULLIVAN SQ2.jpg Veterans call on commissioners to protect war memorial

    Installing a camera on the second floor of the Sullivan County Courthouse may be one solution to curtailing what several veterans are calling a disgrace to a memorial that honors Americans who gave their lives in service to the country.

    July 7, 2014 4 Photos

  • Schools ethics case: Proposed deal to be reviewed

    The State Ethics Commission is set to review a proposed settlement Thursday in the ethics case against former Indiana Schools Superintendent Tony Bennett.

    July 7, 2014

  • Man airlifted to Indy after early morning crash

    A Clay City man sustained non-life-threatening injuries in a head-on collision early Monday morning on Indiana 46 at Riley Road southeast of Terre Haute.

    July 7, 2014

  • Man agrees to plea on youth sex charges

    A Terre Haute man received a suspended sentence in a plea agreement signed Monday as his jury trial was about to commence in Vigo Superior Court 1.

    July 7, 2014

  • Downtown fire victim ID released

    Carbon monoxide poisoning was the cause of death for 61-year-old William Sonnefield, a resident of Deming Center who died in a late Thursday night fire inside his apartment. The Vigo County Coroner’s office released the victim’s name Monday.

    July 7, 2014

  • MET 070614 FORD CONVERT.jpg Farmyard games

    Susan Ooley-Viray’s love of tractors started as a Christmas gift about five years ago from her husband, John.

    July 6, 2014 6 Photos

  • MET 062914 100TH ANNIV.jpg St. George's: Century of faith

    From its formation in a sewing circle of European immigrant women, surviving a fire that destroyed its building, to expanding with a new parish hall, St. George’s Episcopal Church has endured to celebrate its 100th anniversary next Sunday.

    July 6, 2014 6 Photos

  • Turtle Hello.jpg MIKE LUNSFORD: Wet in Wyoming, wandering turtles and other tales of the road

    It is an odd thing, after all the miles I drove a few weeks ago — to the mountains of Wyoming and back again — that today I remember most of all stopping along the road in two places nearly 600 miles apart.

    July 6, 2014 2 Photos

  • STATE OF THE STATEHOUSE: Financial hardships mount for military families

    Days before the July 4th holiday, Holly Petraeus stood on the steps of the imposing Indiana War Memorial, in front of a bank of cameras, and made a plea to military families: Don’t let pride stand in the way of asking for help.

    July 6, 2014

  • RESTAURANT INSPECTIONS: July 7, 2014

    June 16-20

    July 6, 2014

  • Man in critical condition after July 4 stabbing

    A Sullivan County man remained in critical condition Sunday at Methodist Hospital in Indianapolis after being stabbed on July 4.

    July 6, 2014

  • MET07514 fair hunt:pete.jpg Day at the fair

    Though the Vigo County Fair officially opens today, Saturday was a busy day around the Wabash Valley Fairgrounds as open class exhibits were entered and judged and commercial vendors made final adjustments to their stands.

    July 5, 2014 11 Photos

  • MET07514 meth house.jpg Finding a meth lab

    Finding out if a property has been the previous site of a clandestine methamphetamine lab has become easier through a new online database recently rolled out by the Indiana State Police.

    July 5, 2014 1 Photo

Latest News
TribStar.com Poll
AP Video
World's Tallest Water Slide: See It for Yourself Four Kids, Two Adults Shot Dead Near Houston Kim Kardashian Hits Up Valentino Show in Paris Connecticut Boy Dies Inside Parked Car Police: Prostitute Accused in Overdose Death Fans Dying to Be Near Jazz Greats Robots Gearing Up for Their Own 'World Cup' Israeli Offensive Escalates in Gaza Attack Israeli-Palestinian Tensions, Attacks Escalate Chimp-attack Victim Lobbies Congress Service Held for 200 Whose Bodies Went Unclaimed Police: Prostitute Linked to 2nd Death Argentina to Face Germany in World Cup Final APNewsBreak: Different Attackers in Benghazi? Raw: Obama Shoots Pool in Denver Raw: Australia Hosts Annual Beer Can Regatta Neighbors Mourn Killing of Texas Family Art of Haitian Machete Fighting Revived "Hotwives" Spoofs Reality TV Teachers Get Lesson in Interactive Technology
NDN Video
Tiny Hamsters Who Ate Burritos are Back for a Tiny Hedgehog's Party Watch Kelly Ripa Get Soaked! 'Referee' Hands Out Yellow Cards for Social Faux Pas in NYC 2014 Emmy Nominees: 8 Snub Shockers Emma Watson Is Va-Va-Voom in Valentino 7 Infamous Sports Blowouts Argentina tops Holland in World Cup semifinals News flush: Japanese toilet exhibition making a splash Emmy Nominations: What to Watch For 'Game of Thrones' Leads 66th Emmy Awards Nominations Photographic 'Proof' That LeBron Is Leaving Miami - @TheBuzzeronFOX Elephant Pool Party at The Oregon Zoo Must-See! Berry and Fallon Form Human Hamster Wheel Pilot buys pizzas for travelers delayed by storm Klose nets record, Germany rout Brazil 7-1 'Purrmanently Sad Cat' Looks Adorably Sad All the Time Pharrell 'humbled' by success of mega-hit 'Happy' Day After: Brazil Reeling in WC Loss Jennifer Lawrence Facepalms Emma Watson Athletes Bare All for ESPN Magazine's Body Issue
Parade
Magazine

Click HERE to read all your Parade favorites including Hollywood Wire, Celebrity interviews and photo galleries, Food recipes and cooking tips, Games and lots more.
  • -

     

    March 12, 2010

activity
Real Estate News