Monday, October 20, 2014

My Take: IPS School Board Race

I have yet to weigh in on the IPS School Board race here, and I think it's important to explain why.  If this post is considered a cop out, I'm sorry in advance.

While my father spent almost 40 years in the district, I have had little direct contact with what's going on in IPS from anyone on the inside since he retired in 1997. I feel that I am out of touch, and I can't definitively tell you which candidate would be best able to rub balm on the aches and pains of the district.

What I can tell you is that there is obviously a lot of money at work in a non-partisan and supposedly non-political race.  I've never been a big advocate of the Mayor of Indianapolis appointing the IPS School Board or the Superintendent because I believe it does keep a certain bit of politics out of the race.  With that said, it's hard not to see the potential influence that an influx of cash and endorsements quite possibly could have on the individual Commissioners.  

This is not an indictment of one candidate over another.  I have not dug deep enough into the platforms of each candidate to give you some idea of what I believe is the best course of action forward.  I will just urge voters to be informed and to be cautious going forward.  The balance on that board is precarious as it is: this much I know.  An addition or a subtraction from the board might change the philosophy of IPS considerably.

The most important thing you can do is that when you vote, make sure you turn over the ballot and be informed as you cast your ballot for IPS Board of School Commissioners.  

Sunday, October 19, 2014

Advance Indiana: Ballard To Drop Out of Mayor's Race

Mayor Greg Ballard
Will he or won't he?  That's the question about Mayor Greg Ballard and a potential run for a third term as Mayor of Indianapolis.

According to Advance Indiana blogger Gary Welsh, Ballard will not run for a third term, and an announcement will come as soon as this week.  I'll wait to hear from the Mayor, but it will throw the Republican nomination wide open if Welsh is right.

Former State Senator and Indiana GOP Chair Murray Clark is rumored to be interested in the job. State Senator Jim Merritt has been making noise as well. There are also several other possible candidates that have been bandied around in discussion.

City-County Council Minority Leader Mike McQuillen, City-County Councillor Ben Hunter, City-County Councillor Christine Scales, former City-County Councillor Ike Randolph, Public Safety Director Troy Riggs and IMPD Police Chief Rick Hite have all been rumored at one point or another to be interested. Former Ballard Chief of Staff and Council President Ryan Vaughn seems like an unlikely candidate since he, by his own admission, has stepped away from politics. It also remains to be seen if good candidates like Robert Vane might be interested in a run.

Ballard bowing out would seemingly make Democratic front-runner Joe Hogsett the front-runner in the race. The only Democrat officially in the race right now, Ed DeLaney, alienated several potential supporters last week by taking a swipe on Facebook at an historic decision by the City-County Council to dedicate more money to Animal Care and Control for the care of the animals in their facility.

DeLaney used the decision to increase ACS funding in what I would consider a fallacious argument that the Council was putting "stray dogs" ahead of children by not funding the Mayor's Pre-K plan.  Of course, the Mayor doesn't have a Pre-K plan in front of the Council, and the body did in fact set aside cash for a Pre-K plan.  DeLaney tried to back away from the comment, but it seems the damage was done.

To be honest, I'm surprised the Mayor is making this announcement this week if he does. I expected he would wait until after the November 4 elections as to not be a distraction. That's what Hogsett hinted he's doing by not announcing his run.

We'll have to see how all this shakes out as we approach the 2015 election season.

Friday, October 17, 2014

West Side Candidates Forum Fireworks Fly Between Some Candidates

I attended a candidates forum put on by the West Side Chamber of Commerce last night at the Chapel Hill 7th and 8th Grade Center in Wayne Township.

Candidates for office from Wayne, Pike, and Decatur Townships participated.  Countywide candidates for Prosecutor and Sheriff were also invited.

Most of the night was pretty tame.  Bradford Moulton, the Republican opponent of Karlee Macer, raised eyebrows when he head-scratchingly attacked Macer on veterans issues and community involvement.  Macer is the ranking member on the Veterans Affairs and Public Safety Committee, and she's made the plight of veterans in Indiana a central issue in her legislative agenda since she joined the General Assembly in 2013.  Macer also is well-known in the community.  She's everywhere on the Westside.  Moulton's attacks were laughable.

Macer got in a few zingers.  Upon taking the podium after absorbing Moulton's attacks, Macer said, "I'm Karlee Macer. I know many of you know me. I didn't just show up recently and become involved."  She also took her last moments on stage to thank her family and supporters for allowing her to follow her dreams.

The other fireworks came from Senator Mike Delph, the GOP incumbent in District 29, vs. his Democratic opponent, J.D. Ford.  Ford spoke first giving a calm and reasoned layout of his platform.  He fielded a question on mass transit saying that despite the cost, it would be worth it to have a world class city and to attract young people.

Delph, with whom I had a very good conversation with prior to the meeting, launched into quite another zone when he took the podium.  Delph called mass transit a boondoggle and pointed out that Indy's designers had not designed the city for mass transit in the 1830's.  "We liked our mass transit so much that we paved over the tracks," Delph said.

Delph also said that a couple of the answers to reducing crime would be to return to "Judeo-Christian values" and two-parent families.  He said he wouldn't apologize for his views nor for speaking out against his own caucus.  He also railed against the courts saying, "Judicial tyranny is overrunning our state's sovereignty."  Clearly, he's still confused about the court's role in government.

The entire forum can be seen at this link.  They did have some problems with the technology.  It's also playing on WCTY.

Thursday, October 16, 2014

Few Hoosier Political Ads on TV So Far in 2014

I've been on vacation this week, so it's given me a chance to catch up on some television viewing.

One thing I've noticed is the dearth of political ads.  It's almost scary.  We are just a little under three weeks from Election Day, and there's really only two ads up and running consistently.

One is for Democratic candidate for Secretary of State, Beth White.  

White's ad is TOTALLY Beth White.  It's cheery and light, but it has some substance buried within it.  It's catchy and memorable, and it's been running a lot.  Makes you wonder where the incumbent's ads have been.  Connie Lawson, an appointed officeholder running for her first solo term, has yet to run an ad that I've seen.  It's almost as if she thinks she's got this thing in the bag.  

The other ad I've seen is for Suzanne Crouch, Republican for Indiana Auditor.

To be honest, it's another strong, positive ad.  The red glasses theme carries throughout well, and it gives a personality to an otherwise personality-free office.  Some of the accomplishments of Crouch seem overstated given her short time on the job.  It could also be termed critical of her predecessors, Dwayne Sawyer and Tim Berry.  The ad feels like a spot that's for someone seeking the office instead of an incumbent in some ways, and I think that's smart.  It's not as good as White's ad, but it's solid.

I've heard that Mike Claytor will be up with an ad for Auditor of State soon from the Democratic side of things.  I also wonder if we'll see any ads for some of the Indiana House and Senate races.  

We've certainly come a long way from the 2010 election season with no competitive U.S. House races in the Indy market and no Senate seat being fought over. In 2010, Terry Curry and John Layton were both up and on television with ads by this point in their races.  Layton's original ad for Sheriff is still one of my all time favorite spots.

I guess this is all just a symptom of a 2014 campaign season that just hasn't been all that exciting to this point at least here in Indiana.  Don't tell that to the candidates, though!

My friend, Abdul-Hakim Shabazz of WIBC and tells me that Lawson has an ad up and running on cable TV and will be up everywhere next week.  I did a YouTube search and found this spot.  It's pretty good, but it's a little cliched.  Again, I haven't seen some of the things she touts as accomplishments, but it's a strong, hard-edged ad.


This ad just went up on Mike Claytor's YouTube page.  The tone is more negative, but it gets its message across well.  No one is minding the store.  It doesn't attack Suzanne Crouch but more the entire problem of state government corruption.

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Despite Checkered Track Record, Angie's List Gets More from City

Mayor Greg Ballard announced a plan to give local company Angie's List $25 million in public assistance in order for them to expand their operations on the city's Eastside and provide 1000 new jobs.

Angie's List, according to the plan as outlined in the IBJ, will spend $40 million of their own in the plan, but local bloggers and others have serious questions about the health of Angie's List and recent layoffs by the company.

Just this past August, the company laid off 97 workers in its sales department.  The IBJ also points out that despite being in business for 19 years, the company hasn't turned a profit yet.

Advance Indiana blogger Gary Welsh, a Republican, hits a home run with this blog post on the deal calling the deal "crony capitalism."  He points out that Angie's List CEO Bill Oesterle has given to both the campaigns of Mayor Greg Ballard and Governor Mike Pence.  Coincidentally, those are two of the people who stood up at the news conference yesterday with Oesterle and company founder Angie Hicks.

While you could term Welsh's reaction as that of a single blogger, the pushback on the Mayor's official Facebook page is also there.  See below.

Screenshot from Facebook
It appears that this deal has come under more great scrutiny than normal deals.  Hope it works out for the Eastside, but, with the history of Angie's List, who knows?  Kind of a big bet with $25 million of our dollars!

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Hogsett Speaks in Decatur Township

Joe Hogsett Speaks to the Decatur Democrats
Photo from Facebook
Former U.S. Attorney Joe Hogsett spoke to the Decatur Township Democratic Club, and he brought a simple message.  If Greg Ballard is going to be the Republican candidate for Mayor...he'd better have his running shoes on.

Hogsett arrived in the room early and worked it to the hilt.  Hugs, kisses, handshakes, and old stories were exchanged.  It was like five years that he had been out of the political game had not occurred.  The distinct feeling was "Joe was back" and he was with his people.

His prepared remarks talked at length about how important it is to support the 2014 candidates.  He said that anyone that has volunteered for his campaign at this early stage is being encouraged to make calls for the Democratic slate of candidates this year.

Later, when pressed, Hogsett hinted that an official announcement about his campaign would follow the November 4 election.  "We'll have a whole year to talk about the issues," Hogsett said.

Hogsett promised a vigorous campaign spending a lot of time on the Southside of Indianapolis which he said he feels has been neglected by the Mayor.  He also said that he will be spending a lot of time talking about crime and criticized the Mayor for taking this long to come up with a crime plan.

Closing his visit in Decatur, Hogsett had a chance to drive home what seemed like might make a good theme for a Mayoral campaign.  He said that there are some beautiful neighborhoods and areas in Indianapolis.  He called them "gilded in gold" areas.  Hogsett said that if you go sometimes just a few blocks down the road that you'll find some of the toughest neighborhoods in town.  He said that in these areas that the residents have "lost hope."  Hogsett said, "Well, I think that it's our provide them again with hope."

Monday, October 13, 2014

Ballard's Plan to Fight Crime Overdue, Borrows from Predecessor

Mayor Greg Ballard
Why did it take you seven years, Mr. Mayor?

The Mayor of Indianapolis finally appears to be paying attention to crime-ridden neighborhoods in our city, but his tactics are part old school and new school.

First of all, this renewed interest in these communities is coming leading into an election year.  While I don't doubt his sincerity, I do think it's interesting that he hasn't done anything he's willing to squawk about the six neighborhoods his administration has identified as high crime areas in the first seven years of his term.  After all, none of these neighborhoods are experiencing crime waves for the first time.  It's been this way for years.

Secondly, his idea of blitzing these areas with more resources is nothing new.  In fact, Ballard's predecessor, Bart Peterson, kind of used this principle to attempt to reduce crime in the Meadows area.  The results were, admittedly mixed.

Data-driven decision making is a great idea, and I salute the Mayor for trying it.  I sincerely hope that his plan works.  That said, he's several years late to the party and most of his plan is anything but groundbreaking.

By the way, borrowing from his predecessor, Peterson, or his 2007 opponent, Melina Kennedy, seems to be something Ballard is doing a lot of lately.

Monday, October 6, 2014

Marriage Equality Comes to Indiana

I don't even know where to begin.

Apparently, this morning a huge rainbow appeared over Central Indiana.  Even Mike Delph, the State Senator who has doggedly fought marriage equality for years, noticed it.

God's rainbow perhaps was the sign of another promise as well: equality.

For all the money, time, effort, and talent spent on this issue, the fight for marriage equality in Indiana sort of ended with a whimper.  There was no dramatic hearing in front of the nine most-powerful jurists in the country or dramatic wait for the verdict outside the pillared-court building.  Nope.  The United States Supreme Court simply said that it didn't want to hear the case bumped up to them by the appeal of the 7th Circuit Court of Appeals decision a few weeks ago.  The Supreme Court has allowed the decision to stand.

Marriage equality is a reality in Indiana.

I can't tell you how I feel right now.  I don't think it has sunk in.  I finally have the right to marry the man I love...whoever that man may one day turn out to be.  It's remarkable, and I'm sure that I'll be able to express my feelings more clearly at another time.

Here's the real impact.  The children born today in Indiana will have the right to marry the person they wish to marry.  Love will be the determining factor, and it will have been that way from the time they were born.  They will have never known a state that discriminated against people on the basis of the sexual orientation when it comes to marriage.

There's still work left to do.  For example, you can still be fired simply because you're gay in Indiana.  This, however, is a start.

Thank you to everyone that made this historic day a reality.  You have no idea how much your efforts mean to me.

Sunday, October 5, 2014

Blog on Hiatus through 10/14

I'm taking a few days off to deal with the day job.  It's going to be a busy week.  I'll pop in if anything groundbreaking happens.  Otherwise, see you October 14.

Friday, October 3, 2014

Giffords Fighting Hard to Regain Life

Earlier this week, USA Today pens this emotional piece about how former Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords continues to fight back from injuries sustained in a January 2011 shooting.

It's a remarkable piece you can read here.