PHIL WIELAND: Tourism power play just political horse manure

2013-04-05T00:00:00Z PHIL WIELAND: Tourism power play just political horse manureBy Phil Wieland phil.wieland@nwi.com, (219) 548-4352 nwitimes.com

A wise man once crooned "A horse is a horse, of course, of course."

You might recognize the line from the theme song of the old "Mr. Ed" TV show about a talking horse — the 1960s version of reality TV. The song fails to mention that a horse's patoot is a horse's patoot, as Valparaiso's own state Rep. Ed "Mr. Ed" Soliday demonstrated two weeks ago.

Mr. Ed gave himself a case of email hoof-in-mouth when he sent comments complaining about Indiana Dunes Tourism lobbyist Brett Ashton and saying he had informed the mayors and Porter County commissioners that if Ashton's client, presumably Porter County tourism poobah Lorelei Weimer, wasn't removed by the following Wednesday, Mr. Ed would resign Thursday morning.

Among the email's recipients was a local correspondent for a Chicago-based newspaper. This allegedly was an error, like accidentally hitting "Reply all" so your boss gets the email with the obscene reference to his managerial talents or his wife.

The resulting news story described tempers flaring over language in a Senate bill that hinted at a possible takeover of Porter County tourism by Lake County tourism poobah Speros Batistatos. The bickering over that issue had Mr. Ed worried about the bill's other valuable economic development benefits.

Why he didn't also demand the removal of Batistatos isn't explained because Mr. Ed declined comment to the Chicago-based newspaper on his email. It was then left for everyone who saw the story, and I understand it was a dozen or more, to await the removal bloodbath and the ensuing political wrangling over filling the vacancy.

In case you missed the big news stories about Weimer's removal or Mr. Ed's resignation, don't sweat it. No such story appeared because neither happened. The clamor for Weimer's removal by local officials never materialized, and Mr. Ed outdid Michael Jackson in backward moonwalking his way out of resigning.

He told The Times' statehouse bureau chief he wasn't feeling well the night he sent the email, and that it was a heat-of-the-moment kind of thing, apparently from the fever of whatever ailed him that night.

I'm sure he must have been sick to the point of delirium to threaten resignation over such an issue. The problem with such threats is people might figure they can do without your services more than those of the person you oppose.

I just hope everyone's getting along again and Mr. Ed is over his bug. It must have severely affected his mouth and throat, which would explain why, unlike the original Mr. Ed, he was talking out the other end of his equine anatomy.

The opinions are those of the writer. He can be reached at phil.wieland@nwi.com or (219) 548-4352.

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