From Left Field

    A couple of Republican lawmakers in Indiana want welfare recipients to pass drug tests before they can receive benefits. Sen. Jean Leising, R-Oldenburg, and Rep. Heath VanNatter, R-Kokomo, are having bills drafted to submit when the next legislative session begins January 4.
    ‘‘I think people are just fed up with the government not spending their tax money wisely,’’ VanNatter said. ‘‘If (welfare recipients) have money to spend on drugs maybe they shouldn’t be on welfare.’’
    Yeh, you bet. Great idea. If they're going to take our tax money, then, by doggies, we deserve to know they aren't using drugs.
    It's such a great idea, in fact, that we think it should be extended to all members of the Legislature.
    Hey, they're taking our money, too. And, like Van Natter said, those of us out here in the hinterlands deserve to know our money isn't being spent unwisely on lawmakers who are doing drugs. If they have money to spend on drugs, maybe they shouldn't be in the Legislature!

Listening closely
    Overheard at the Decatur City Council meeting
    •  The fourth — or was it fifth ... or eighth? — attempt to smooth out the S.13th St. railroad crossing, just south of Adams St., appears to be a giant success. One hardly knows it's there when crossing it these days.
    "Very nice," Assistant Police Chief Greg Cook said at the last council meeting.
    "Isn't that something?" praised Mayor John Schultz.
    "Better keep your fingers crossed until spring," cautioned Councilman Charlie Cook, ever the skeptic — and rightly so in this case.
    • FInding an excellent bargain on a sandbagging machine and with no time to get council approval, the mayor paid $880 out of his own funds to purchase the device. When it came time to reimburse the mayor at the council meeting, there were — expectedly — some joking comments before unanimous approval.
    One was something along the lines of just renting it from the mayor if the machine is ever needed, rather than buying it from him. "Yeh, and the rent you're going to pay is going to be pretty steep," Schultz fired back.
    • The mayor is always joking that City Attorney Tim Baker's No. 1 priority is "keeping the mayor out of jail." So when it was noted at the meeting that the law fund, which is used to pay Baker for his legal work on behalf of the city, was broke, council approved an additional appropriation of $500 for the fund.
    "That's cheaper than bailing him (Schultz) out," Councilman Bill Crone cracked.

Happy birthday, Annabelle!
    Happy birthday to a grand lady, Annabelle Heller, who will mark her 90th birthday on Sunday with an open house (2-4 p.m.) at Woodcrest.    In a behind-the-scenes manner, Annabelle played a key role in the production of this newspaper for many years, keeping her late husband Dave at the top of his performance level as the advertising manager of the Daily Democrat.
    He was truly a unique — and beloved — guy, for many years the only ad rep for the newspaper. He had ads stuffed in every pocket, in every drawer, and on every table, and never once did one fail to get in on time.
    Dave and Annabelle were an early version of the current Mary Matlin-James Carville union, although without all the political shouting and media presence. Dave was from the staunchly Democratic Heller family and Annabelle from the staunchly Republican Doan family — and it sure worked for them!
    Happy birthday and enjoy the day!