From Left Field

    Now and again at a Decatur City Council meeting as discussion was winding down, longtime council member Frank Whitacre — who died Sunday at the age of 74 — would offer a "Well, now, hold on a minute," and then launch into untold facts and figures.
    Sometimes other council members would roll their eyes, like, "Here goes Frank." And then everyone would sit back and listen because even if Frank got a little long-winded, he always knew what he was talking about. He always had all the facts and figures.
    We'd sit there on occasion and think, "Now how does he know all that? How does he retain all that?"
    Frank Whitacre, as we all know, was blind, having lost his sight long ago. And it held him back about zero-point-zero. He was one of a kind. Brave enough to walk from his home in Stratton to downtown and on to St. Mary's church ... and back. Think it doesn't take "brave"? Close your eyes and walk through your home.
    And sharp enough to know how to see a situation, even though sightless, understand it and make a solid presentation about it.
    Definitely one of a kind.

    A few other things:

Funding "our" Speedway
    If the Indiana General Assembly authorizes millions of dollars to help pay for a renovation of the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, does that mean we all get to go to the 500 free of charge this year? Hey, they'll be using our taxpayer money to spruce up the place, so why not free admission to thank we taxpayers?
    Sure, and A.J. Foyt will win this year's race and Danica Patrick will be there waiting to give him the milk!.
    By the way, if they don't resolve this sequestration thing before Memorial Day, the traditional flyover prior to the start of the 500 will be grounded. Military flyovers of sporting events is one of the first things to go under the sequestration budget cuts.
    The flyover is when all the drunk folks hold their beers high and chant, "USA! USA!"

Tick, tick, ticking for Charlie
    Charlie White, noted here recently as someone convicted of vote fraud, perjury and theft over a year ago yet still walking around free, may be nearing the end of his freedom.    
    A judge has set a March 15 deadline for the former secretary of state's attorney to file papers explaining why White deserves a new trial.
    After being convicted, White filed an appeal. He later dropped it, saying  he planned to use a different legal tactic: Seeking post-conviction relief from the Hamilton County Court where he was convicted. But no paperwork was ever filed by White's attorney.
The tale of the piano
    Everyone assumed that that 1928 Kimball baby grand piano discovered in the onetime Stoner house before it was demolished had been there for years, but that doesn't appear to be true.
    Neither former judge Jim Heimann nor former state lawmaker Mike Ripley, each of whom had owned the building at one time, had never seen a baby grand in the large structure at Jefferson and Third streets.
    Ripley had an insurance office there, after Heimann had his attorney's office in the building. Ripley, now a lobbyist with the Indiana Chamber of Commerce, told us he sold the building in 1999.
    It is now believed that the last owner, Richard Raudebush, had the piano placed in the home. So how did it suffer so much damage in a relatively short period of time? Water. Med Smith, the library board president who spent over 100 hours restoring the baby grand, said the home's roof leakage was extreme and that much water getting in could have caused considerable damage rather quickly.

Call her frustrated
    The woman on the other end of the telephone was obviously frustrated. She suggested that "maybe if you put something in the paper," it would stop. But, of course, she knew better.
    Vehicles are tearing up the grassy areas in the back portion of Hanna-Nuttman Park, a lovely place which can be a great place for picnics and the like. "It's just a shame what they do back there," she said.
    To make matters worse, our caller was in the back part one day "and someone came along and dumped four kittens back there. Just dumped 'em out. We tried to catch (the kittens) but couldn't. That's awful," she said.
    No disagreement here.
    Which leads us to this:

Shocking, sad numbers
    Perhaps anyone paying any attention wasnt surprised, but some numbers which seem shocking to us came up in a recent year-end report by officials at the county animal shelter.
    In 2012, according to the report, a total of 484 dogs and cats — 278 cats, 206 dogs — were brought to the shelter. That’s an average of 1.3 animals per day!
    Some of them, obviously, had homes and were reclaimed by their owners. But the vast majority were animals people had turned loose to get rid of and/or allowed to stray with no concern for whether or not they returned home.
    From here, it seems to be a sad commentary on humankind.