Saturday, October 22, 2016

Bayh Can Help Fix Broken Senate

Evan Bayh
Evan Bayh is not perfect.

Not by a long shot, and I've been critical at times of him here on this blog.  Sometimes, it's important to step back and take the long view of things though.

Bayh was a successful Secretary of State and then two-term Governor of Indiana.  Bayh won election to that office in a tight fight over Republican Lieutenant Governor John Mutz.  He was the first Democrat in two decades to serve in the office.

Serve he did.  Probably his lasting gift to the state besides lower taxes and a state surplus was the 21st Century Scholars Program.  Years later, that program still continues to help students that deserve to go to college be able to do so.

Evan Bayh then went to the United States Senate, and, I'll be honest, many Democrats found his service there less palatable than his Governorship.  But, in a testament to his leadership, for the next 16 years, red Indiana had a purple tint.  Bayh Democrats, those middle-of-the-road, careful D's populated the Statehouse.

So, as I looked at my ballot in the voting booth the other day, I didn't even hesitate to mark my ballot for Evan Bayh.  After all, John McCain has said that if Republicans control the Senate you can expect them to hold the United States hostage until they get nominees for the U.S. Supreme Court that meet their demands, Constitution be damned, he expects Republicans to block President Hillary Clinton's nominees, should she win the Race for the White House.

You see, Todd Young is a Republican, and I'm not sure what he's done in Congress nor has he given us much idea.  He's been one of 435...indistinguishable from the rest.  He has no programs with his name on it.  All Todd Young will do in the Senate is toe the party line.  He will serve the Republican Party and not the state of Indiana.

We know Evan Bayh won't do that.  Bayh's bucked his party and even trended more conservative at times than Richard Lugar on some issues when they were both in the Senate.  Bayh won't be the gridlock in the Senate.  Like Indiana's current junior Senator, I think Bayh is part of the solution to fixing a broken Senate.

You see, what makes Bayh not liked by many Democrats is actually one of his best qualities.  Bayh reaches across the aisle.  Sometime, he votes like a Republican.

I just can't see Todd Young doing that.  Make sure you send Evan Bayh to the Senate.  Heck, Joe Donnelly's seat may even depend on it in 2018.  It will be a lot easier for Joe to stay in the Senate with a partner like Evan Bayh on his side.

Don't look for perfection. Look for the guy that will get things done.  That's Evan Bayh.

Friday, October 21, 2016

I Voted No on Mass Transit Referendum

One of Chicago's "L" Trains
I voted no on the mass transit referendum.

Believe me, I'm sympathetic to all the reasons to vote yes, and I may even agree with some of them.  However, this plan is a bandage on a gaping wound and will do little to solve the mass transit problems with IndyGo in certain parts of the city.

One of those parts is where I live.  I live in Decatur Township, and this plan does little to nothing for this area of town.  The problems facing residents down here with access to mass transit will continue, so I don't feel that I should have to pay for it.  Call me selfish, short-sighted, a hypocrite...whatever, but I just don't feel that this is something I can support.

I \don't buy that there is any long term plan to solve this issue in this area.  If I did, I would think differently about this plan.  Kentucky Avenue and/or the railroad tracks along Kentucky Avenue would be a perfect corridor for plan expansion, but it won't come.  I've already been told by a City-County Councillor, a Democrat, that we don't have any destinations down here and that we don't have enough residents to support expansion.

To me, that tells me that there's no plan for the city to ever help us down here build up what we have.  They are content with Decatur Township taking the trash from he rest of the city and putting it in the landfill down here.  They are content with the IPL Harding Street plant powering the city from extreme Northeast Decatur, but they aren't serious about helping us bring restaurants, shopping centers, and other amenities that would attract higher-level housing down here.  Nope.  We're supposed to fund the rest of the county north of Troy Avenue but get nothing this way.

I am pro-mass transit, and I would support a tax increase to get it done. I voted for the Eskenazi Hospital referendum, and I voted yes on the Decatur Township schools referendum.  I just can't support this halfway done plan that won't address the myriad of needs in my neck of the woods.

I say to the powers that be that if you want my tax dollars, I just ask that you give me a plan worth raising my taxes for before I will vote to raise them.

Thursday, October 20, 2016

Two Supremely Qualified Candidates Battling to Replace Zoeller

Judge Lorenzo Arredondo
There's a key race on the ballot that few people are talking about.

It's the race for Indiana Attorney General, and either one of the candidates running for this job hope to make history on Election Night.

On the Democratic side, Judge Lorenzo Arredondo was the Lake County Circuit Court Judge from 1976 to 2010.  Arredondo has taught judges to be judges and is also a former classroom teacher.  He's a brilliant legal scholar, and he would be an excellent Attorney General.  If elected, the Democrat would be the first former judge to serve as Indiana Attorney General and the first Latino elected to a statewide executive office.

Curtis Hill
Elkhart County Prosecutor Curtis Hill, Jr. is the Republican
nominee for the office.  If elected, Hill would be the first African-American man elected to a statewide executive office (Dwayne Sawyer was appointed, and Pamela Carter was the first African-American and female African-American elected to statewide office).  Hill is now in his 13th-year as Elkhart County Prosecutor.  Before that, he was a deputy prosecutor and was a private practicing attorney.

Qualifications are not a question.  These two are supremely qualified to be Attorney General.  It comes down to a question of philosophy.  If elected, what will the Attorney General do?  Zoeller has often used his position to take the state to court over political fights.  When he has done this as he has in cases against immigration, Obamacare, gay marriage, and the auto bailout, he has usually lost spending millions of dollars in taxpayer money on appealing or pushing cases over a political agenda.

Judging from Curtis Hill's website, it sounds as if he has a very similar philosophy as Zoeller.  From his website:

As your Attorney General, I will not hesitate to fight back against executive orders, agency rules, or legislation that seeks to invade our lives in violation of the Constitution. I will establish a federalism unit to fight for and restore the proper balance between our federal government, our state, and the people of Indiana. You should expect your Attorney General to lead with courage and as your Attorney General, you can count on me to stand my ground for Indiana and protect the rights of Hoosiers!

Arredondo has said straight up that he would not use the office as a political one to push his own philosophy of government.  Arredondo talks on his website about using the office for much more of its other functions.  Judge Arredondo says he wishes to be a consumer advocate for Hoosiers as well as a good steward of taxpayer dollars.  On his website, he says he will be tough on crime and push for better policies on curing Indiana's opiate problem and keeping criminals behind bars.

Let me state this.  I think either candidate will do a fine job as Indiana's Attorney General, but I feel that Lorenzo Arredondo is the best choice.  His depth of experience and his ideas for the office will serve Hoosiers well.

It's a critical choice for Hoosiers.

Wednesday, October 19, 2016

Trump Finishes Trump in Third Debate

Donald Trump sunk himself.  He took himself down.

Regardless of what was said in the debate, Donald Trump, a major party nominee, said before a vote was counted that he would essentially not accept the results of he election.  "I'll keep you in suspense," said Trump.

Game. Set. Match.  Hillary Clinton was the winner on points, on temperament, and on style.

Clinton also got so under Trump's skin that later he called her, "a nasty woman."

Trump would be wise to read this letter left in the Oval Office by George H.W. Bush for his successor Bill Clinton.  The words are beautiful.

Bayh Defeats Young in Only Debate of 2016 U.S. Senate Race

Evan Bayh
Last night's debate between Todd Young, Evan Bayh, and Lucy Brenton turned out to be a rout after all.  The winner was Evan Bayh.

Bayh was on his best game all evening long and showed absolutely no rust as he expertly took every political attack Young could throw at him.  Bayh was even successful at diverting several of the attacks right back at Young.  For example, Young attacked Bayh for walking away from the Senate as things started to heat up again in the War on Terror.  Bayh easily sidestepped the brunt of the attack by explaining his national security credentials and deftly used the opportunity to attack Young's record on veteran's affairs.  Young found himself on the attack all night, but he left himself wide open for Bayh to knock him around a bit.

Young repeatedly tried to make Bayh out to be an out-of-touch lobbyist who cares more about his bottom line than Hoosiers, but that's a tough case to make on Bayh.  For his part, on several issues, Bayh said he disagreed with Hillary Clinton most notably cap and trade and general trade policy.  Bayh pledged, as he has for years, to work across the aisle.

Repeatedly, Young touted his Hoosierism and the fact that he's a former Marine.  There is certainly
Todd Young
nothing wrong with his service, and I thank him for it.  It just seems that this is the basis of his entire campaign instead of accomplishments he might be able to point to over six years in Congress.  In fact, it was like Young wanted people to believe that Bayh was coming at this race as the incumbent.  Bayh one time pointed out that it was Young and not him that was actually in Congress currently.

Lucy Brenton
Lucy Brenton was entertaining.  While she definitely made her Libertarian friends happy with her campaign rhetoric all night, she provided more of a sideshow at times to the main event
between Young and Bayh.  Brenton notably was the only candidate to talk extensively about being a parent (mother of 10 children).

It was not a good night for Todd Young.  The few remaining undecideds in the race did get to see a stark contrast between the Congressman and the former Senator.  Bayh was very smooth all night and rarely found himself in trouble.  Young was the aggressor showing that he believes the polling that he is behind in the race.

This one will be close on Election Day, but I didn't see anything that Bayh did to lose the election. He had an excellent debate.  This one will largely come down to what the voters think in this and which candidate they trust with their vote.

Tuesday, October 18, 2016

Glenda Ritz Deserves Four More Years to Reform Education with Governor John Gregg

Superintendent Ritz
Of all the races on the ballot, because of my day job, Superintendent of Public Instruction means a lot to me.

For those of you that don't know, I've been a public educator since 1997.  I teach at the Area 31 Career Center in Wayne Township where I've been since 1999.  I write this endorsement not in my capacity in any way, shape or form as anything but a voter and someone who is very concerned about education in the state.  As always, this is just my opinion.

As I began to approach my decision on who to place my trust in to help lead the state's education policy, I tried to get past the party description of both candidates as well as how they've been characterized by their opposition.

I started with a web search to see what I could learn about the candidate I had no opinion about, Jennifer McCormick.  Through that search, I was able to find that Dr. McCormick is a capable and respected education leader in the state.  She has articulated some very strong opinions with which I agree.  For example, she believes that the entire performance pay system isn't working.  She believes that paying teachers matters, and she also believes that a single letter grade doesn't represent he performance of a school.  On the other hand, I'm a bit concerned that she wants to take a top down approach when it comes to evaluating teachers as opposed to the current way of setting guidelines and allowing school districts to meet those guidelines on evaluating their teachers as they see fit.  That's a huge concern to me.

Dr. Jennifer McCormick
Many of her proposals have little detail attached to them, and she did not really perform that well under direct questioning at Monday's Superintendent of Public Instruction Debate.  What I did learn is that the Democratic attempt to tie her to Tony Bennett's failed leadership of the Department of Education is unfair and completely inaccurate.  In fact, McCormick not only takes issue with how Ritz has done business but also is willing to attack the political climate of the DOE under Bennett.

Turning to Superintendent Ritz, my main concern has been has she been up to the task of leading the Department of Education.  Let's begin with this: it's been a very difficult climate for a Democrat at the Statehouse these four years.

It seems that nearly everyone in that building with any power or authority has been out to get Ritz.  She has been ridiculed as essentially "just a librarian" by David Long.  She has been undercut by Governor Mike Pence who tried to create a shadow Department of Education.  She has been railroaded by his appointments on the Indiana Board of Education, and the General Assembly, for the first time in the history of Indiana, passed legislation removing the elected Superintendent of Public Instruction as Chair of the Indiana Board of Education.

In short, any plans Ritz has had to change education in this state have been met with the scrutiny of an entire Indiana government structure that has been against her.  It's almost impossible to do anything in that climate.

Ritz has gotten things done.  She has held her head high, and she hasn't let being the target of every Republican's frustration at Democrats in state government stop her.  This is among her best attributes.  With a true partner in the Governor's Office, it will be interesting to see what the next four years of education might be like.  John Gregg has the right ideas.

I like McCormick, but I have concerns about her platform and her ability to stand up to the Republican Party that will almost certainly still be in control of the Indiana General Assembly.  I like Ritz even though her first term in office has been largely frustrated by partisan fights and disappointing political machinations.

In 2016, I've decided to endorse Glenda Ritz for another four-year term in office.  I think that with Governor John Gregg, Ritz will have a different climate to work from and will successfully help to improve education in the state.  As a teacher, I think she is the right person to recruit others to teach.  She's tough and has been tested against almost everything the Republicans can throw at her.

I will be voting for Glenda Ritz.

Bayh, Brenton, Young to Debate Tonight

Tonight is the first and only debate between Todd Young, Evan Bayh, and Lucy Brenton, candidates for Indiana's junior U.S. Senate seat.

I wish I could tell you what to expect.  I just don't know.  The tone of the race through ads for both major party candidates has been increasingly nasty for weeks.  Now, hardly anything positive is coming out of the Bayh or Young campaign.

After a poor start, I think the Bayh campaign has finally gotten its act together and has begun to hit Todd Young as hard as he's hit Bayh.  I still think it was a mistake for Bayh's camp to allow Young's campaign to define the veteran Indiana political figure.  After 30 years in public life, there should be no question in anyone's mind who Evan Bayh is or what he stands for.

I'm interested to see how Bayh answers questions about his post-U.S. Senate employment.  Conversely, I'm interested to see how Young responds to direct questioning over his record when it comes to his positions on entitlements and student loan debt.  

Brenton winning this race is unlikely, but she could prove herself more than just a spoiler if she can have a strong showing in probably her first major exposure of the campaign.

We'll find out from 7-8 pm tonight.  The debate will air locally on WFYI or WTHR.  It will also stream at You can submit questions there for the debate.

Monday, October 17, 2016

Holcomb Subliminally Bringing Up LGBT Civil Rights Issue?

The race for Indiana Governor is either neck and neck or firmly within John Gregg's mustache depending on what poll you believe.

A couple of polls show Gregg and Holcomb within the margin of error of each other, but a Monmouth University poll that came out last week shows Gregg up 12 points.  

The ads have become a little more negative in the race, but they have not reached the depths of some of the other races on the ballot, and the first two debates between Gregg, Holcomb, and Libertarian Rex Bell drew praise for their substance and civility.

That's why something that's in an Eric Holcomb ad is raising the eyebrows of moderate Republicans and Democrats across the state.

For a moment in one of Holcomb's recent ads, John Gregg is shown in front of the Metro, and Indianapolis bar that caters to the LGBT community.  

Gregg has been outspoken this time around from day one of his campaign on the issue of civil rights for the LGBT community.  He has gone as far as to, according to the most staunch activists, apologize for his former positions and promise to make this his top priority if elected.  He says that no matter what happens in the General Assembly that Gregg will sign an executive order dedicated to preventing discrimination against LGBT Hoosiers.

Holcomb has refused to take a position other than to say there is no consensus in the legislature and that he has essentially no stomach to fight for what's right despite widespread polling supporting the addition of LGBT Hoosiers as a protected class under the state's non-discrimination law.  Moderate Republicans also generally support the idea.  It's Holcomb's hardcore right wing base that opposes it.

When I heard about the Holcomb ad, I scoured the internet for any sign of it. It's not on Holcomb's YouTube channel.  This morning, one of my Facebook friends, Jeff Lilly, posted a screenshot of the ad.  With permission, I post it here.  

Screenshot courtesy of Jeff Lilly on Facebook

To me, it seems pretty cut and dry, and it's pretty sad and stupid.  As some Republicans have pointed out, for this to work negatively against Gregg, people across the state would need to know what the Metro is, and any Republican that knows the Metro would probably be turned off by the tactic.  

Anyway, that old tired adage, "It is what it is," applies here.  You don't need me to tell you what to believe.  Make your own judgement on this one.  I will say that I think this is rather low.  Stay strong John.  You're on the right side of history.