Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Maggie for Mayor?

Indy Star columnist Matt Tully “broke” the news on Tuesday that Maggie Lewis was mulling over a run for Mayor of Indianapolis, and that’s something that you’ve known for months if you read this blog.

The Lewis watch had seemed to cool over the past few months, but Tully has her on the record that she’ll be making a decision over the next few weeks.
Council President Maggie Lewis
photo courtesy indstate.edu
Tony Campbell, Photographer

As far as candidates for Mayor go, Lewis shatters the mold. We’ve never had a major party candidate win the nomination for Mayor like her, and she has the record to back it up.

Some might use her seat on the Capital Improvement Board against her, but she has done a good job as City-County Council President, overall. She’s been able to strike a few deals across the aisle and keep her caucus somewhat in line. That’s not always easy to do. I’ve heard former Marion County Democratic Party Chair Ed Treacy say that herding Democrats is like herding cats. He’s exactly correct. It’s not easy.  While Lewis is still young, she is currently serving as one of Mayor Greg Ballard’s most visible foils, but she has managed to disagree at times with the Mayor with a great deal of class and without appearing too disagreeable. 

Suddenly, the once empty field is getting crowded.  Frank Short is in the race, and Dan Parker is overdue to let us know his intentions. We know Ed Delaney may be deciding soon.  Lewis now adds her name to the shortlist.  Should she run, she will be a tough out for the others.  She combines experience, name recognition, and that something different many D's are looking for in their 2015 candidate. 

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Pence "Dixie Chicks" Obama Administration in Germany?

Last week, Governor Mike Pence had some tough words for the Obama Administration on foreign policy.  His comments came on foreign soil while he was traveling on his purported trade mission.

Pence
While in Germany, Pence accused the Obama Administration of not doing enough in Ukraine to stop Vladimir Putin's aggressiveness.  Said Pence, "History teaches us that weakness and appeasement invite aggression."  He continued, "With Russian aggression on the rise, it's clear that our policy of conciliatory diplomacy has failed."

Later Pence said that he believed the United States should "take immediate steps" by "deploying" missile defense in Poland and the Czech Republic."  If this sounds like an 80's remake of the Cold War, stop me.

First of all, Governor Pence, when you are in a foreign land, when did it become okay to criticize your President?  Isn't that what some Republicans might call, inappropriate or, at worst, unpatriotic.  I mean, look at what your buddies did to the Dixie Chicks back in the early 2000's when they spoke out against President Bush's warmongering policies in Iraq.  Lead singer Natalie Maines said, "Just so you know, we're on the good side with y'all. We do not want this war, this violence, and we're ashamed that the President of the United States is from Texas."

With his words, Mike Pence shows exactly the kind of President he might be: brash and undisciplined.  His comments in a foreign country showed a lack of judgement, and his plan was next to laughable and showed a certain nostalgia for the 80's when we stood at a constant threat of war with the U.S.S.R.  Ratcheting up missile defense would just probably escalate the situation.

Pence had better just stick to being a Governor and a former Congressman with a less-than-distinguished record and leave the real foreign policy to those in the arena.

Monday, April 21, 2014

Pence Can't Master Photo Opportunity

Mike Pence’s potential run for President has taken a higher flight this past week as the Governor traipsed off to Germany on a "targeted" trade mission.
During the trip, Pence settled in for a Pacers game, and his wife, Karen Pence tweeted something that proved yet again what everyone knows. Mike Pence is bad at the photo op...and he'd better get better.

The Indiana First Lady tweeted out a picture purporting to have the Governor watching the Indiana Pacers game. The problem is that the game is coming through on a laptop, and everyone with the exception of Pence (who is watching from an awkward side angle) and the First Lady look horribly uncomfortable.



The picture says, "Hi everyone...we're all awkwardly watching this Pacers game from the same side of the table.  Yeah...that's the ticket!"

It’s like when Pence tried to show how he was mowing his lawn…that didn’t need mowing…in dress shoes.
I don’t know who is giving Governor Pence his marching orders or his advice, but he clearly needs to be in the incubator for another few years before he runs for President. His less-than-distinguished record as a do-little Congressional representative and gubernatorial record built upon another Governor’s successes will indeed be scrutinized. 

In the end, they’ll find a politician who can’t do photo ops and has little substance. They’ll find a guy that can’t debate well and won’t stand the scrutiny of a full blown Presidential race.

Pence is being portrayed as a sign of hope for the GOP in 2016. If that’s the guy the GOP is hoping for, Democrats have little to be worried about.  He can't even master the easy photo op!

7th District Congressional Race Includes One Out-of-State Candidate

Erin Kent Magee
On May 6, there will be a Primary to see who the two candidates will be for Congressional District 7 in Indianapolis.  

In the end, I predict the Democrats will send Andre Carson to a resounding victory over his opponents Pierre Quincy Pullins, Rev. Mmoja Ajabu, and Curtis Godfrey.  I know, I'm really stepping out on a limb there.  I predict the Republicans will elect either Cat Ping or Gordon Smith to face Carson in the fall with the possibility of J.D. Miniear coming in first as well.

The most intriguing candidate in the race just might be a man named Erin Kent Magee.  

Magee doesn't even live in Indianapolis.  He lives in Florida.  Therefore, if by some miracle, he is elected, he can't even legally serve.  He told Amos Brown that if he wins election in the primary that he'll move to Indiana.  That would satisfy the legal requirement of the Constitution for him to be an inhabitant.

Another interesting tidbit about candidate Magee is that he is coming off a 2012 run for President of the United States on the Republican ticket.  It also appears that he has a backup plan if he doesn't win the 2014 Primary.  Project Vote Smart lists him as a candidate for Florida Congressional District 17.  I suppose it could be a mistake, but...

There's not much to Magee's campaign website.  It appears that he's a birther.  He also has a YouTube video where he explains his run for President and why he believes he got no traction.  On that channel, there are other videos.  Some really make sense...others...well...they're out there.

I don't know where this post is going.  I guess it just goes to show you that it takes all kinds of folks to make the world go around, especially in politics.  I wish Mr. Magee well.

Friday, April 18, 2014

Beth White Outraises Incumbent Connie Lawson Nearly 2 to 1

Beth White
Beth White is in it to win it.

Some of my Republican friends told me not to be surprised to see Beth White not only outraise their candidate, Connie Lawson, but they expected her to outwork her, too. If the early numbers are any indication, we could be heading for just that.
Connie Lawson
White trails Lawson in total cash on hand, but she raised $76,000 this past quarter. Lawson only raised $41,000. That’s nearly a two-to-one advantage, and it’s quite surprising given that Lawson is an incumbent.

Of course, Lawson hasn’t stood for election before as Secretary of State. She was appointed by Governor Mitch Daniels to take over the Office of the Secretary of State when Charlie White was booted from the Statehouse. Lawson is a former member of the Indiana General Assembly and also at one time held Hendricks County Office.

White is the sitting Marion County Clerk, and she had to fight to get that job. She lost a tight race in 2002 to Doris Anne Sadler. In 2006, she was elected to the office and was sent back to the City-County Building for a second term in 2010. She is constitutionally barred from running for a third term as clerk and has been traversing the state now for months in pursuit of the Secretary of State's job.  It seems to be working.

Lawson would be well-advised not to take a well-funded Beth White lightly if she wants to remain Secretary of State. If she wants to keep her job, she's probably going to have to push herself further than most incumbent Secretary of States have ever pushed themselves in a reelection fight.  White is making a clear impact, and another quarter like this will mean that Lawson could be in real trouble financially.

Lawson and White will be officially nominated at their respective state conventions later this spring/summer.

Thursday, April 17, 2014

Market East Coming to Indy

In a coordinated announcement with Indy Downtown and others, Mayor Ballard rolled out the newest name for Indy’s newest commercial district.

Market East, which encompasses the City-County Building, the City Market, the soon-to-be-built Market Tower, and the upcoming Cummins facility plus the surrounding area, brings an identity to an area of town that sorely needs it especially since July 1999 when Market Square Arena became a pile of twisted metal and rubble.

The Mayor also announced a contest to revision the City-County Building’s plaza and the footprint of the long forgotten Marion County Courthouse that used to sit on it. The city rolled everything out on a nice website, www.marketeastindy.com. It’s really something to look at.

Wouldn’t it be nice if Mayor Ballard put the same kind of effort into ending the rash of violence in the city? I give him credit for trying, but Market East won’t be anything spectacular without a safe city around us.

Perhaps I’m being unfair, but it seems like we have misplaced our priorities sometimes.

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Wednesday Humor: SNL Spoofs CNN

Even as hope dims, CNN has kept with the Malaysian Air Flight 370 story.  It was only a matter of time before Saturday Night Live spoofed their devotion to the story which has had little new news to report since it broke but also cable news in general.  What a pleasant surprise SNL has been this year.

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

2014 Primary Season Eerily Quiet

Here we are, it’s just a few weeks out from the 2014 Primary Election, and there’s really not much to talk about.

I’ve been sitting here wracking my brain for interesting stories to put here on the blog for days, and there's just not much interesting on the ballot for Primary '14.

This is not 2008 when a hotly-contested Presidential race brought folks out. It’s not 2010 or 2012 when there were serious primary challenges for U.S. Senate and U.S. House. This is gentle 2014, and there’s just not much to talk about.

This time, you have judicial candidates fighting for their jobs on the bench.  House District 91 has been interesting. The band of candidates that have come out of the woodwork to challenge Congressman Carson could provide some wacky copy. If the Treasurer of State race were something Primary voters voted in , I could see the three-way race between Wayne Seybold, Don Bates, Jr., and Kelly Mitchell on the Republican side as a knockdown drag out. That will be fought at the Republican Convention in Fort Wayne.

So, why even have a primary? Why not let the parties choose their candidates…as the Libertarians do at a convention...and save taxpayers a few dollars? Thankfully, not every year is like this.

As a Democratic Party voter, I like to have a say in who represents my party. Maybe that’s the best answer. Primaries do, from time to time, produce upsets. In some communities across Indiana, the primary is the only election, and it’s the general that’s a snoozer.

I think 2014 is just an anomaly, and we'll be back to hotly contested primaries next year. I just wouldn’t expect a ton of voters to turn out on Election Day. Call my cynical, but I’m struggling to find reasons to go to the polls that day myself, but I'll be there. It's my civic duty.  I have friends on the ballot, and it's good to support all those people that gave up a day of their lives to work the polls.

It is all the more reason to think the status quo will prevail on May 6. Party loyalists will go to the polls and likely select the same candidates they have always selected, and we’ll go to the General Election when the real fun starts. 

Monday, April 14, 2014

Scott Needs GOTV Effort, Help from Teachers to Beat Behning

Michael Scott
Teachers will have not one, but two chances to vote against Bob Behning this election season.  Behning must be just a little concerned.

The Republican Chair of the House Education Committee is facing Republican Michael Scott in the May Primary.  Scott has some TV commercials running.  Like spring dandelions, the florist's yard signs have popped up all around Decatur Township including some of the huge variety.  Some of the biggest signs are along the road on the Richard Lugar Farm on Mann Road.

Bob Behning
I have yet to see a Scott sign, but we still have a couple of weeks.  Scott is a Lunch Pail Republican who ran against Behning in 2012 after the Decatur Township Republican voted for the virulently anti-union right-to-work legislation.  That year, he didn't fare too well against the veteran legislator.  Now, he's reaching out to teachers, too.

It's a smart ploy.  I had a chance to speak with House 91's Democratic nominee, Patrick Lockhart.  Lockhart says that he's been speaking with lots of teachers, and they seem united against Behning.  Lockhart says teachers have had enough of Behning and are ready to brush him aside in 2014.

Patrick Lockhart
As Tony Bennett found out...you don't mess with teachers.  If Scott can bottle the angst that Ritz did against his opponent, then he might have a good chance.

In many ways, a house district race is tougher than a statewide race.  It shouldn't be, but it is.  People know less about local races than state races, and those voters that would be needed to buck Behning's loyal primary-goers stay at home until the fall or until a Presidential year.  Scott has to motivate these folks to get out.  I'm not sure a few weeks of walking right before the primary will help.  That's why it's going to take the same kind of phone calls to people in HD91 to beat Behning that teachers made to help beat Bennett.

Certainly, I wish Scott the best.  If Behning loses, it's a good thing for education across the state.  Of course, I'm in the tank for Patrick Lockhart.  I think he's awesome and will make a tremendous House District 91 State Rep.  Since Lockhart is unopposed now, I'll be working hard against whatever Republican wins the May Primary.

Friday, April 11, 2014

Teachers Again Targeted by Reformers

Indiana Rep. Bob Behning thinks that the teacher evaluation numbers were unrealistic.

State Board of Education Member Gordon Hendry believes that the teacher evaluation system failed.

A florist and a businessman walk into a bar…

That may be unfair, but I would ask the florist (Behning) and the businessman (Hendry) what percentage of teachers they believe should have failed their evaluation? 

As it stands, just under three percent of Indiana teachers rates as “needs improvement” or “ineffective”. Eighty-seven percent of those teachers evaluated rated in the top two categories of the four category teacher evaluation system which looks an awful lot like model legislation pushed by the American Legislative Exchange Council or ALEC.

To me, that would be cause to celebrate. Instead, Behning wants to use the data to further push his reforms, and Hendry is talking failure.  Both seem to be pushing for drastic measures.

Behning in particular is the scariest one.  He's talking things like removing local control from parts of the evaluation process and expecting more of a bell curve of results.

I’m willing to say that the system needs some tweaks, but I’d like to see what they want to tweak and why they want to tweak it. If the tweak is made so that more teachers fail their evaluations unfairly, then I would think that there will be a great amount of push back during the next General Assembly session.

All I know is that I have a lot more confidence in an educator like Glenda Ritz to make reforms than a businessman like Hendry or a florist like Behning. Ritz at least knows what it’s like to be on the inside of a public school classroom. I will also agree that what needs to be done is what's best for the students that walk through the door into our classrooms.

What they will find is that most teachers are effective and that successful schools require more than just an highly-effective teacher and administration.  The school can do everything right but still fail if all stakeholders are not on board.  I know that's not what the florist or the businessman want to hear, but that's the truth as I see it.

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