Friday, October 31, 2014

HAPPY HALLOWEEN!!


I want to wish everyone a very happy and very safe Halloween.  Bundle up and stay warm, kiddies!

Mrs. Virginia Vaughn, my elementary music teacher used to play this filmstrip for us on Halloween every year.  I still remember it.  Probably the first horror movie I ever saw.  Thanks Mrs. Vaughn, wherever you are.  

Enjoy Camille St. Saens and Danse Macabre to that 60's era filmstrip.  


Expanding Focus to Federal, Statewide, Local Races

This week, I've been looking at the various ballot races across Marion County.  Let's expand our focus out into the statewide races and the races for U.S. House across Indiana.

Let's get this out of the way first, I expect no changes in the U.S. House delegation from Indiana.  Democrats Andre Carson and Pete Visclosky along with Republicans Jackie Walorski, Marlin Stutzman, Todd Rokita, Susan Brooks, Luke Messer, Larry Bucshon, and Todd Young should all return to Congress.  Only Walorski's race will be close.  I'm cheering for Joe Bock, but I just don't get the feeling that this is the year for Walorski to come home.

Nationwide, I think Republicans will gain control of the U.S. Senate.  That's bad news for Democrats in the short term, but it should be great news for 2016.

At the statewide level, the Democrats have run fine campaigns.  Beth White, Mike Claytor, and Mike Boland have all done what they've needed to do.  The problem is that Indiana is a red state.  While we are known to assert our independence every once in a while, we typically elect Republicans in midterm elections to these offices.  That means that likely Connie Lawson, Suzanne Crouch, and Kelly Mitchell will be elected.  
It's hard for me to write that because I believe the three Democrats have the experience and the ideas to be great for Indiana.  I've known Beth White for years, and I consider her a good friend.  She's been devoted for eight years to her job as Marion County Clerk, and she would bring the same zest and zeal to the office of Secretary of State.  

I've become quite friendly with Mike Claytor as well.  His pledge to become the state's watchdog is not just a pledge.  He would be a great friend to taxpayers in Indiana.

Mike Boland, in the times we've met, seems to have the government experience, albeit in Illinois, to be a great Treasurer of State.  He, like Claytor and White, has the energy and ideas to do a great job.

Back in Marion County, a couple of races will be worthy of watching.  JD Ford vs. Mike Delph continues to draw attention.  I think it will be close in Senate District 29.  While few expect House District 91's race to be tight, I have seen a groundswell of support on social media for Democrat Patrick Lockhart as he takes on incumbent Republican Bob Behning.  I wouldn't be surprised if it's closer than people expect.

While this is not your normal midterm, it could still be a fun night to watch election returns!

Thursday, October 30, 2014

Bellwether Races Tell Tale of Ticket

Today, I'm continuing my look at the Marion County races on the ballot for Tuesday.  It's time to look at those races a little bit down the ballot that typically go with the way the straight ticket votes go.  These races tend to get less attention and less interest, but they are just as important as some of the up ballot races...especially in a county like Marion County.

These are the races for Marion County Assessor, Auditor, Clerk, Circuit Court Judge, and Recorder.  I am very excited about the team the Marion County Democratic Party has cobbled together for this 2014 run, and I obviously endorse all of their runs.

On the ticket are two incumbents.  Marion County Assessor Joe O'Connor is running for a second term in his job and Julie Voorhies, after serving eight years as Recorder, wants to move over to Auditor replacing the retiring Billie Breaux.  Both have proven to be excellent and responsive public servants in their time in office.  Both have worked hard to modernize and bring their respective offices up to standards with technology.  O'Connor is unopposed for Assessor, and Tracy McCarty is the Republican running against Voorhies.

Myla Eldridge might as well be an incumbent.  Eldridge has worked closely with current Marion County Clerk Beth White to run efficient and fair elections for the last several years.  She fought off an unfair slating attack from Marion County Coroner Dr. Frank Lloyd and has won the support of many who opposed her with her hard work and dedication in this campaign.  She has staunchly refused to be bitter but has shrugged off that Lloyd challenge and continued to work hard.  Eldridge faces Republican Christine Bischoff who has spent time on the Franklin Township Advisory Board.

There's a three-way race for Marion County Recorder.  Democrat Kate Sweeney Bell finds herself taking on Republican Terry Dove and Libertarian Chris Bowen.  I've known Sweeney Bell for years from our work within the party.  She also has been a strong supporter and ally with the LGBTQ community serving on the board of the Stonewall Democrats.  Kate will go in there and pick right up where Voorhies left off.  She has a bulldog's attitude, and you get the feeling that this is just the beginning for her.

Circuit Court Judge sometimes gets overlooked, but it's a critically important office with a six-year term.  Judge Lou Rosenberg opted to retire after one term on the job. If all goes well, he'll hand off to a very capable jurist, Sheryl Lynch.  As a Commissioner, Lynch has distinguished herself and has received high praise from judges and attorneys that have sat in front of her in court.  Therese Hanna is the Republican candidate for Circuit Court Judge.

These races have largely gone to the Democrats since 2004, and there's no reason to think they won't again in 2014.  The great news is that Marion County will be served well by this strong ticket.

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Tatgenhorst Shut Out of Indy Star Voter Guide? No, He Wasn't...See Update

Karl Tatgenhorst
The Indianapolis Star apparently has something against Libertarians?

Two candidates say that when the local newspaper of record published its 2014 Voters Guide that they were conspicuously left out, and one of them would seem to have the e-mail to prove it.

Libertarian candidate for Secretary of State, Karl Tatgenhorst published a post on Facebook with a screenshot of a thank you from the Indy Star for participating in its 2014 Voters Guide, but when you go to that guide, it says he did not participate.

To be fair, Tatgenhorst says that he can't remember filling out the survey but that he's filled out several of them.  He also had that thank you from the Indy Star for filling out the survey in his e-mail archive.

Fellow candidate, Chris Mayo, who is running for the U.S. Congress in the 7th District said on Facebook that he had to call the Star and remind them that he did participate as they had initially given him the cold shoulder in the Voters Guide.

I guess that begs the question, "What does the Star have against Libertarians, anyway?"

This is the Indy Democrat Blog, and you know where I stand on most things.  This is wrong no matter what party's candidate is victimized.  The Star should immediately find Mr. Tatgenhorst's responses or send him a new survey, print the results, and apologize.

UPDATED

See what happens when you try to be nice and tri-partisan?

Just kidding Libertarians!!

Apparently, there was some snafu, and Karl Tatgenhorst did not submit responses to the Indianapolis Star for its voter guide as we erroneously reported earlier.

Thus, I owe the Indianapolis Star an apology and should have fallen back on my journalistic training to always check first before publishing a blog post.  My apologies to the Indianapolis Star.

So, the egg's on my face.  It doesn't happen a lot, but it did in this case.  Mistakes happen, and I shouldn't write blog posts while watching World Series Games.  No excuses.  I own it and move on.

Curry's Earned Four More Years

Marion County Prosecutor
Terry Curry
Four years ago, it was becoming apparent at this time that the Mark Massa campaign was getting desperate in its battle to keep the Prosecutor's seat for Republicans.

The now-Indiana Supreme Court jurist was lobbing ads at Terry Curry questioning his integrity.  Curry fired back a simple ad, and the race was over, but it was probably long over before then.  Curry's campaign in 2010 got elected because of a great ground game that knocked doors and worked very hard.  It was only a precursor as to what we would get from Prosecutor Terry Curry.

During the campaign in 2010, Curry promised to return a sense of dignity and character to the Prosecutor's Office.  He kept his promise.  In fact, he's kept most of his promises from 2010.  It's a fact he's played up in his ads running on TV screens across Indianapolis.

He's gone after white collar criminals.  He's prosecuted high-profile cases aggressively and fairly.  He's been tough when he's had to be, and he's taken risks like refiling charges his predecessor Carl Brizzi dropped against Officer David Bisard.

Some have attempted to criticize Curry on being too soft on some criminals, but the incumbent has earned the endorsement of the Fraternal Order of Police.  They believe he's the right man for the job.  He's also earned the endorsement of the Indianapolis Star.

Duane Merchant
Duane Merchant has the background to be Prosecutor, but his campaign has been laughable.  Some of the IPS School Board candidates have outraised Merchant in a single large contribution report.  I understand that he likely has not gotten as much support as he'd like from the Marion County GOP, but he really doesn't seem to have made much of an effort to raise money at all.  That would have been something he needed to do to put on a credible campaign against Curry.

Even a robust campaign by Merchant likely would not have made a difference in this race.  Terry Curry has earned his second term in office through hard work and strong leadership.

Finally, if you don't believe Curry has had an effect on the office he was elected to, just ask someone that has worked there.  He has definitely restored the integrity to the office and has made it much more responsive to the community.  The Community Prosecutor Program continues to work.  Curry has also made it a point to use his office to educate the community on everything from fraud perpetrated against seniors to the effects of bullying.  I've seen him talk to teenagers about their problems, and he sincerely wants the best for this community.  He's never stopped coming to party functions and events (as sometimes busy officials do outside of their election cycles).  He is approachable and easy to get to know.

Terry Curry has earned a second term to further transform the Marion County Prosecutor's Office.  I hope you'll join me in supporting him.

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Layton's Accomplishments, 40 Years of Experience Should Earn Him Second Term

Marion County Sheriff
John Layton
Once upon a time, the Marion County Jail was inhumane and so overcrowded that Judge Sarah Evans Barker imposed a cap on the number of inmates that could be in the lockup at one time.

Then, Sheriff Frank Anderson was elected.  That change made a big difference in the direction of the jail.  Pretty soon, the court order was lifted.  The comparisons between jails in Tijuana stopped.  The treatment of prisoners improved, and the jail was on the road to accreditation.  A key member of Anderson's team was Colonel John Layton.

In 2010, John Layton was elected Sheriff of Marion County.  In four years, he's put his own spin on the Sheriff's Office despite challenges none of his predecessors ever faced.  Sheriff Layton has continued improvements at the jail and his team has earned the prestigious American Correctional Association accreditation for the Marion County Jail.  

Under Layton, the Marion County Sheriff's Office has also earned other accreditations. The innovative Hope Hall program has made a difference for a number of female inmates.  Layton also was voted Sheriff of the Year just this year by his peers in the State of Indiana.  He's continued to hold the line against sex offenders and those that would do harm to our youth by conducting warrant sweeps and assigning each deputy (including himself) a group of offenders to personally monitor.

Have things been perfect? No. There have been, at times, concerning problems, and Sheriff Layton is the first to take responsibility for those issues. Layton has been up front, honest, and transparent when dealing with those issues.  When a member of his team has done something to betray the public trust, he has acted swiftly.  When problems have occurred, he has had a plan to fix it.  With the volume of people that the Marion County Sheriff's Office processes on a yearly basis, it's amazing there aren't more errors.  Changing the sheriff won't solve those problems.

Emmitt Carney
Emmitt Carney is a good man who has strong credentials and a long history of community involvement as a youth baseball coach.  His law enforcement experience in Kentucky and with the ATF would really look strong if the Marion County Sheriff's Office was pre-merger.  For the Marion County Sheriff's Office of 2014, John Layton is the best choice.

Carney's experience would also look great if he wasn't running against John Layton who has 40 years of experience...all within the Marion County Sheriff's Office.  He's served in almost every capacity possible within the MCSO.  Carney can't match the depth of knowledge or quality of experience that Layton has.  

Finally, I've watched John Layton build one of the most diverse and welcoming government agencies that I've ever seen.  When I have attended campaign functions for Layton, you see people of all sorts and families of all different makeups there.  John Layton understands that a diverse MCSO reflects the community it serves.  I'm proud to have supported Sheriff Layton four years ago, and I look forward to casting my vote for him again.

Layton deserves another four years in office, and I hope you'll join me in voting to give him a second term.

Monday, October 27, 2014

Independent House District 92 Candidate Arrested

Sometimes you have to reset the "I've seen enough to know I've seen it all" boundaries.  In politics, that happens on a near daily basis.

Here's the latest one.

In House District 92, Representative Karlee Macer, a Democrat, is working hard to defend her seat over Republican challenger Bradford Moulton.  A third name had entered the race in the spring as an independent candidate. 

That candidate, John Couch, has now been arrested. Accused of stalking Macer, Couch has also been charged with three other crimes.  Here is the report from WISH-TV, Channel 8's Jim Shella.  As Shella notes, Couch denies stalking Macer.



UPDATE:
The Indianapolis Star report provides a bit more detail.

On a personal note, I want to wish my friend Representative Macer and her family the best and encourage her to keep up the fight for those she is serving on the Westside and in the State of Indiana.

Hogsett Shows Formidable Energy in Early-Going of Mayor's Race

Joe Hogsett Campaigns in Speedway
Photo from Facebook
Ladies and gentlemen, as I reclined on my couch Saturday, I came to a realization.  In the time that I had reclined, Joe Hogsett had made three campaign stops.

That's why it's going to be tough to beat Joe in 2015.  He's out now and running all across the city for Mayor.  The thing is...he's hitting Republican areas.  Hogsett released the picture I've included in this piece on Facebook as he sat down for a late breakfast or early lunch at Charlie Brown's Pancake House...a SPEEDWAY landmark.

Unless the candidate's name is Ballard and is able to outspend Hogsett, it's starting to look like a very daunting task for the GOP to even foster a token effort.  They might be wise, as some have stated, to punt on the Mayor's race and try to make a play for the 13 seats they'll need to control the Council.  That's even going to be tough.

Joe Hogsett will get the working class vote of Indianapolis that has scratched for Greg Ballard in the last two elections.  Mark this tape.  He may even grow some coattails.  This race is different for a number of reasons.  A Mayor's campaign is the ultimate test of the old "Who do you want to have a beer with?"

Ballard has won that race twice.  He's not going to beat Hogsett in that regard, and he knows it.  Instead of a big Congressional District or a statewide campaign.  Hogsett only has to worry about contacting as many voters as he can in Marion County and Indianapolis, and he's already working it.

Friday, October 24, 2014

Most Bloggers Missing Context in Ford "Non-troversy"

Paul Ogden
As controversies go, this one is really a stretch.

Curt Smith, noted for his leadership of the Indiana Family Institute, wrote a piece for Indiana Forefront that took, out of context, a response to a candidate forum question by State Senate candidate JD Ford and is trying to blow it up into a campaign four-alarm fire.  You can follow the link above and see the whole kerfuffle.

Hmm...I wonder why Smith wouldn't want Ford to serve in the Indiana Senate?  Oh yeah, that's right.  Curt Smith is one of the leaders of the Indiana Family Institute, an organization that strongly supported HJR-3 and  has pushed other anti-gay legislation in Indiana.

Only Abdul-Hakim Shabazz has stated the truth.  In his IndyPolitics.org post on the issue, Abdul says, "The Indiana Family Institute is going after Democratic State Senate candidate JD Ford, accusing him of saying businesses that discriminate based on sexual-orientation should not receive public safety services."

He gets it right. The IFI and Ford's opponent, Senator Mike Delph have a long mutual admiration society thing going.  You see, the Indiana Family Institute, under the leadership of President Curt Smith, presented one Mike Delph with its "legislator of the year" award just last year.  Just last year, Smith and Delph held a joint press conference on HJR-3.

Unfortunately, other bloggers in town have decided to portray this whole episode in quite disappointing fashion. My friend, Paul Ogden, called this Ford's "Todd Akin moment" on the campaign trail.  Are you kidding me?  Let's revisit what Mr. Akin said.

“If it’s legitimate rape, the female body has ways to try to shut the whole thing down,” said Akin during the 2012 race.  Really?  We think what JD Ford said in that clipped 30 second video was the same thing?  Come on Paul, you're smarter than that.

I've already spent more time on this than should have been.  I have other things to accomplish today, and this insignificant non-troversy is not one of them.

And before you go saying, "Jon...you want to see JD Ford win that race in Senate District 29."  

Yeah, I do.  No bones about it.  I also care about  being fair and letting people make their own decisions.  Just know you're reading this on the Indy Democrat blog and take what I say for what it's worth.

58th Mayor's Night Out Produces Small Crowd

Mayor Greg Ballard
I attended the 58th Mayor's Night Out in Decatur Township yesterday night.

I've been critical before of Mayor Greg Ballard and these road shows before, but I found last night's event much different.  It was interesting and informative.

First of all, I thought the Mayor seemed rested and on point more than I had seen him in the previous events I have attended. He sometimes will stumble around and not finish a point, but I thought there was less of that last night.  By and large, he answered the questions himself last night, and did a pretty good job.

Secondly, there was some pretty interesting information.  The Mayor used the opportunity to introduce the new Safetown Indy website.  I went in and found some of the data pretty interesting as well as the website design itself.

The problem was there just weren't very many people there.  I would say out of the entire audience maybe 10 or so people were not connected directly with the school system or the city in one way or another.  There were three City-County Councillors in attendance and a whole host of deputy mayors and department heads.  Even if the program isn't all that useful, it's still a great way to get in touch with your city.

I'm not admonishing the good folks of Decatur. It is tough to get away for an hour or so for many people especially this time of year. Also, I believe Decatur Township is still on Fall Break and some folks may be out of town.

We all care about our neighborhoods, and we all care about our city. These types of events are excellent ways to get in touch and involved.  Maybe by pooh-poohing them in the past I've been part of the problem.  I hope not.  I've said before that I like the idea.  If the Mayor handled them all like he did tonight, I'd even be much more of a fan of these events.