Thursday, December 31, 2009

Politico Lists Top 10 Weirdest Political Moments of 2009

Politico writer Alexander Burns compiled the top ten weirdest political moments of 2009. If you wish to see the article, find it here. What do you think? The article doesn't list numbers, but I'll go in reverse order from the article for fun.

10. Conservative Congressional candidate Doug Hoffman says ACORN stole the 2008 Presidential Election
9. The Battle for the soul of the GOP between Chairman Michael Steele and talk show host Rush Limbaugh (who was hospitalized for chest pains in Hawai'i. Best wishes to El Rushbo).
8. Al Sharpton, Michael Bloomberg, and Newt Gingrich team up for education reform.
7. Tom DeLay on ABC's Dancing With the Stars
6. South Carolina Governor Mark Sanford's extracurricular affairs
5. The White House Beer Summit
4. Disgraced and former Illinois Governor Rod Blagojevich's wife Patti goes on reality TV.
3. Sheila Jackson-Lee invokes the U.S. Constitution at Michael Jackson's funeral.
2. Sarah Palin abruptly resigns as Governor of Alaska.
1. Oathgate...Chief Justice John Roberts flubs the Presidential Oath of Office, and Obama follows suit forcing him to, just-in-case, take the oath again later.

The Decade in Seven Minutes

As we get set to enter 2010, Newsweek does a spectacular job going over the biggest stories of the first decade of the 21st Century in just seven minutes (even though the decade doesn't technically end until next year).

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Mayor Ballard Will Have to Be Wizard To Balance Future Budget

A stop by Marion County Assessor Greg Bowes' website shows the scary reality for this city's future services. Residential property assessments are down countywide. That means that there is going to be less money for city and county services in the future than there is now. With the new one percent caps that will likely be eventually placed in the state's Constitution, the mechanism to raise property taxes above that level will now be gone. Finally, the state revenue forecast continues to be short of where it is supposed to be. What does all that mean?

Mayor Greg Ballard will have to get out his Harry Potter magic wand and conjure up a spell to balance future city and county budgets. You can already see that the Mayor is hiking business fees and is raising other potential revenue generating sources. He's finding out that governing a city this big is not easy especially when he was elected on a platform of not asking for more money.

This revenue issue is not his fault. It's just reality of where we stand, but it really underlines the fact that saying stuff that sounds popular to win elections sometimes comes back to bite you in the rump. Sometimes things that sound good to get you elected don't quite pan out. They also tend to turn into campaign ads for your opposition.

I, for one, hope to the heavens that Mayor Ballard is up to the task to deal with this perfect storm of revenue flow problems, but I fear that he is not. Looks like it's time for a change in 2011. Had enough?

Never A Year Like '09...JibJab Looks Back

The JibJab folks take a look back at 2009. Some of this is on the line, but I think it's pretty much safe for work.

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Councillor Coleman Wants Fans To Override Coaches In Colts Saga

The Indianapolis Star had a piece this morning about how former City-County Council Beurt SerVass is advocating a resolution to endorse the Indianapolis Colts refunding the money for the tickets bought by Colts fans to Sunday's Jets game.

Apparently, there are no takers that wish to pick this one up so far on the Council. That didn't stop the party-proclaimed highest-ranking Libertarian officeholder from saying something moderately stupid about the situation. Councillor Ed Coleman, who might or might not have been wearing blue face paint when he was interviewed by Star writer Francesca Jarosz, said,

"Coaches basically didn't care what the fans wanted; they did what they wanted. It's a load of garbage that they did that," said Coleman, who included himself among the disappointed fans. "(But) I can see the business side of it, whether I like it or not."

Does that mean that fans should now get a say in game planning? Perhaps they should have a keypad at each seat that lets them vote on plays now? What about the next fourth and short decision? Do we draw straws to see which lucky fan gets to be today's defensive coordinator?

Good one, Councillor Coleman, the same man who once said Congressman Carson wasn't "the sharpest tool in the shed." Coleman apparently is not planning to sponsor the resolution, but he would apparently vote for it.

As for incoming Council President Ryan Vaughn, he wisely steered clear of any Council action telling Jarosz that the Council had "better things to do" than to take up the issue.

Personal Prerogative: How Colts Fans Found the Deep End and Leaped Off It

Former Jets and Chiefs head coach Herman Edwards famously had a press conference meltdown where he exclaimed, "You play to win the game!"

It's a novel concept. Playing to win the game. The Indianapolis Colts honestly took a brief hiatus from playing to win the game on Sunday and detoured into playing not to lose a potential shot at a championship. Against Edwards' former team, the New York Jets, and up 15-10, Colts coach Jim Caldwell benched Peyton Manning and most of the rest of the starting lineup. The Jets scored 19 straight points and went on to a 29-15 win over Indy ending the Colts hopes for an undefeated season.

After the game, Colts Vice President Bill Polian told reporters that an undefeated season never actually entered the discussion at the beginning of the year, and I honestly believe he is right. We can sit here and debate the wisdom of the move by the Colts or not, but I could hardly stomach what happened as the Colts bandwagon of fans quickly lost its wheels and fans got nasty.

As I listened to the radio yesterday to both sports and news call-in shows, they were mostly filled with seemingly near-suicidal Colts fans griping about ticket prices and stadium taxes. They were griping about how the dynasty had ended and the impending doom to come forth upon the team. Some called for Polian or Caldwell's heads over the whole incident. Before we do something rash, let's expand this discussion.

To all those fans calling for Polian's head: where were you when this team was 1-15 in 1991? I was there driving the bandwagon, and I can remember when you couldn't pay people to take Colts tickets. It's the leadership of Jim Irsay and, most recently, Bill Polian that have taken this team from a poor to mediocre bunch to the team that WON THE MOST GAMES THIS CENTURY! It's Polian's football mind that brought together the talent to deliver this city's first major league sports championship since the Pacers won the ABA titles in the late 60's and early 70's.

What has Polian done to you? Did he kick your cat? Spank your pet newt? Steal your Christmas presents? Break your yard gnomes? I mean...come on people! Bill Polian is one of the best football minds in the history of the NFL. I'm not going to turn my back on him or, by extension, Jim Caldwell, because they decided not to play to win a game in hopes of instead WINNING A CHAMPIONSHIP. That's the big picture folks.

YOU PLAY TO WIN A CHAMPIONSHIP! The Colts have won enough games to decide how to play these last few games, and we clearly saw what would happen if Peyton Manning breaks an arm or a leg or blows out a knee (see Tom Brady's injury last year), or gets turf toe or whatever. Curtis Painter will not deliver a title. Plain and simple. That's not a knock on him (Colts fans owe him a big drink), but it's simply that Curtis Painter is no Peyton Manning. There's only one Dwight Freeney. There's only one Dallas Clark or Reggie Wayne. Without those people, we, as Colts fans, lose the chance for a Championship. I felt your pain yesterday, but the big picture isn't to be undefeated. The big picture is to be Super Bowl Champions.

Sure, the Colts blew it yesterday, but the chance to win another Super Bowl should excite fans. Instead, our fans, for the most part, acted like spoiled little children yesterday. I am ashamed of those fans that booed. As I said, I wasn't happy, and I think the timing could have been better but my goodness! You would think that Bill Polian was Art Modell and just announced he was taking the Browns to Baltimore here.

So, Colts fans...dry your tears...put away the's over. The dynasty is still here. We have a locker room of professional football players and one of the best franchises in football. It's here in our city.

Yeah, and I don't want to hear anything about the Lucas Oil Stadium mess and how the Colts should be paying every city expense and changing your baby's diapers because we funded that stadium for them...blah blah. That's old and it has nothing to do with this particular argument. The Colts are doing what they believe is best to win a Championship for this city. That's the big picture!

Monday, December 28, 2009

Another Line In the Sand Moment

I have been extremely disappointed in the DNC since Howard Dean left office as the Chairman. Tim Kaine has not been a strong chair, in my opinion, and has taken the DNC backwards. The DNC has not been a strong advocate for the public option, and they have not held the Democratic caucus in the Senate accountable for its actions. So, imagine my joy when I got a phone call from a nice young lady from...the DNC!

I can't remember he name now, but she started to explain all the accomplishments the DNC had listed in her script and told me how disappointed I should be in the Republicans that are holding up progress on true reform in the United States Congress. Then, she got to the ask.

"Can we count on you for a contribution of $200.00 today?"

I said, "No."

I told her that the death of the public option was enough for me and that I would not be contributing to the DNC but to individual local candidates or candidates in support of the public option. I told her that the lack of advocacy on several issues prevents me from donating my cash to the DNC this time around. I explained that I was a Democrat rain or shine, but that I could not find it in my heart to give my money to an organization that I felt has moved backwards since Howard Dean left.

Surprisingly, she didn't try to reason with me too much. She said, "Yeah, I've been getting a lot of that."

That response should say it all to the DNC. Again, the question must be asked: Why are Democrats so afraid to govern from the left? That's what America wanted. They wanted to go a different direction than the way the right was leading us. Instead, Americans are getting some wishy washy mishmash of liberal ideas with moderate or even conservative follow through.

It starts at the top, folks! From President Obama to the Senate to certain areas of the House to Tim Kaine to all Democrats, when will you do what you were elected to do and bring us REAL change instead of diet change. You are losing support because you won't do what you were elected to do.

I'm sorry, but that's my line. I hope the DNC joins me on the liberal side of it. After all, liberal values are Democratic Party values, and we aren't doing a very good job of standing up for them.

Sunday, December 27, 2009

Health Care Bill is Progress, I Guess

The health care bill passed on Christmas Eve by the Senate certainly is not the change we all needed, but I guess it is a victory of some sorts for President Obama.

I have reviewed a couple of summaries of the bills passed by the House and the Senate, and I'm not convinced that this mess is over yet. What is clear is that, under both bills, more Americans will be insured. The House bill, however, is more along the lines of what Democrats and, yes, Americans want.

Polls show that Americans prefer at least the offering of a public option in the process of health care reform. The Senate bill, negotiated by Harry Reid, has no public option component. In this case, as many have rightly pointed out, Joe Lieberman became more powerful than the 435 voting members of the United States House as he singlehandedly killed that popular portion of the bill.

Now, since both bills are so different, a conference committee made up of senior House and Senate members will iron out the differences into a final bill that will need to be passed. The version passed must be identical. According to the Associated Press, it looks like it won't be until early next year. The final version of the bill, if passed by both the Senate and the House, will be on President Obama's desk after that process.

The public option still has a pulse. I'm sure that the House will advocate for it, but the Senate will likely fight it. There are some other issues in the Senate bill that have raised liberal ire. Some feel as if the Senate version is a bit of a giveaway to the insurance companies.

I just hope that the Senate and the House can settle their differences and come to an agreement on a bill that not only just increases the number of people insured but increases the quality of health care in the United States. Until then, any victories celebrated by Democrats in Congress or by President Obama will be seen as hollow in my book. The Senate bill was a chicken out on real reform. My hope is that Nancy Pelosi and the House's bill lives to fight another day...especially in the form of the public option.

Anything short of a public option is just, pardon me Sarah Palin, lipstick on a pig.

Saturday, December 26, 2009

Saturday Humor: This One...Well...Try Not to Laugh Too Much

Right wing rapper Hi-Caliber's song called Patriotic People. There are so many things wrong with this song that I don't even want to go into them all here. Anyway, feel free to laugh and be disturbed all at once.

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Personal Prerogative: Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays!

Today, I start a short holiday hiatus here. Unless something particularly interesting sparks some creativity, I'm not planning on posting anything for at least December 23, Christmas Eve, and Christmas Day.

So, please have a safe, happy, and healthy time with family and friends. Whether you celebrate Christmas or some other holiday, this is a great time to come together in the spirit of love and togetherness. There is no better celebration of any holiday period than family and friends.

I thank you all for helping me get through this first Christmas with out my father. You have helped me through this with your simple encouragement by reading my sometimes incoherent ramblings I post here. Thanks for everything you have done to support this blog. I am averaging over 240 hits per day here, and that blows my mind. Those certainly aren't huge numbers compared to some other blogs, but it is humbling to think that many folks care about what I write. All of these blogs have a personality and a purpose. I am humbled that you spend a little bit of time here each day or week or month. I truly appreciate looking ahead towards a great future on the horizon.

Again, Merry Christmas to you all and all of yours! This song is a little melancholy, but I think it describes what many feel this holiday season. The love we have for those that are here and maybe a little longing for those who are not here. Thanks again for all you do! Enjoy your family this holiday season.

Airport Authority Wins...State Wins...City Wins...Property Taxpayers Lose

The Indianapolis Airport Authority announced that it's looking for ways to redevelop the 8,100 acres of land that sits currently off the property tax rolls in Decatur Township, Wayne Township, and in Hendricks County.

According to an article in the Indianapolis Star, the huge tracts of land currently occupied by the old airport terminal and parking lots could become some sort of "aiport city" attraction that would no doubt bring in dollars to the city and state in the form of sales tax and to the airport in the form of revenue, but the taxpayers in the various townships and municipalities would certainly lose out because all of that land as generates $0 in taxes. The Airport Authority is a governmental entity.

The taxpayers would continue to get shafted as the airport gets a free ride to profit. There has to be a reasonable solution to this, but I honestly don't know what it is. Perhaps the Airport Authority could work with a potential developer and actually sell them the land with specific zoning committments attached to it? That way, the land would go into the private sector and thus be on the tax rolls. That's just a silly suggestion from a neophyte that doesn't know the rules, honestly. I don't know what the airport can and can't do. It just seems wrong to me that all this land generates no tax dollars.

I doubt the Airport Authority wants to change the status quo except to redevelop the land within a plan they approve. I can't say that I honestly blame them. It's just nice to hope for some further property tax relief from more land being back on the tax rolls instead of being held in reserve for future projects. Actually, the prospect of whatever "airport city" might become sounds rather interesting. I just wish it helped out the local taxpayer a little bit. Lord knows we get it from every side!

Monday, December 21, 2009

One Office at a Time, Baron...Hill Announces Interest in Governor's Mansion

Nothing major to report here, but Rep. Baron Hill, who has spent all but two of the last 10 years in Congress, is thinking about running for Governor in 2012. That would be two years after he runs for re-election to the Indiana House. I think it was a BAD IDEA for him to announce (as he did to the Indianapolis Star) that he's even thinking about running for Governor in 2012.

Seems like this is a ready-made campaign ad for Todd Young or Mike Sodrel or whomever runs agains the "Blue Dog" Democrat in Indiana's 9th District race. Maybe the script might read:

Baron Hill says he wants to represent the Ninth Congressional District, but can we trust him to represent us fully? He also says he is considering running for Governor in 2012. Do we want a full-time representative or one that's campaigning for another office? (Insert name here) wants to be your representative in Congress. Instead of running for something else, (this person) cares about the Ninth District. (This person) will fight hard for you...blah blah blah.

My gut says that it's bad politics for Hill, and it may speak poorly for the guy. Regardless, the way things are going, Mitch Daniels may bankrupt the state just like he did the federal government (as Bush's Budget Director) before walking out the door. I guess we shall see what happens.

Rep. Hill must realize now the toothpaste is out of the tube now on a Gubernatorial run. It's hard to run for one office when you've got the RNC and others on your back let alone two...especially when you keep giving them ammo (see the YouTube of the town hall incident with a student journalist).

Run for one office at a time, Rep. Hill.

Higher Education Suffers Under Weight of Budget Cuts

Governor Mitch Daniels, in addition to requesting cuts in K-12 education budgets, has asked the seven post-secondary institutions to also cut their budgets to the quick. Sunday, according to WIBC, Indiana University said that everything from athletics to majors was on the table.

Let's go back to this past summer. When Indiana, Indiana State, and Purdue tried to raise tuition, who cried? The Republicans did...under the leadership of Luke Kenley and Mitch Daniels. Kenley held hearings forcing the schools to testify why they would need to raise tutition. He even tried to withhold their funding for building projects.

Again, this is the pattern of Governor Daniels and the Republicans. Colleges need money to operate, so when the colleges tried to raise the tuition, they ran afoul of Republicans in state government and told they could not without facing consequences. K-12 used to be able to get money from levying property taxes. Rather than fixing that system, the Governor and his Republican caucus in the Senate decided to throw out the baby with the bathwater. Not wanting to rock the boat and smarting from some shots by the Guv across their bow, the Democrats caved and this new mess passed. No more would the more stable property taxes fund education. Instead, sales tax and other state revenue taxes more susceptible to a poor economic climate took over. Well, here we now stand.

Little by little, public education is being choked out by the Governor and many Republicans in the General Assembly at all levels, K-12 and post secondary. I ask again, where did that $1 billion Mitch wanted and required to be preserved in the budget go? Who did it go to? What was it used for? Why weren't we told it was gone? Did it go to one of your "trade missions" to Asia? Maybe a couple of fill-ups in the RV-1 tank? I dunno. I'm not saying anything untoward happened here, but inquiring minds do want to know.

I guess the point's not here, and his Mitchiness not telling us where it went. Governor Daniels and the Republicans will never probably be asked these questions. Some Democrats have some fault in this, too. Several of the Dems helped pass this budget that clearly wasn't worth the paper on which it was printed.

Now, we're all...well...I have a strong term, but this is a family blog.

Friday, December 18, 2009

Dude, Where's Our Surplus?

For the past couple of years, Mitch Daniels has moaned about the imperative of keeping a $1 billion surplus in the state coffers. He's made it a centerpiece of his budget requests, and, part of the reason the General Assembly went to a special session last time around was due to the preservation of this surplus. That $1 billion was untouchable, and he wouldn't sign a budget that didn't include it.

So, the General Assembly, anxious to deliver a budget to keep the state running, went back to the drawing board and hammered out a budget agreement that compromised on the school funding formula and made certain that $1 billion was left for a rainy day. The budget was passed. Oh, Happy Day! Well...not quite.

Now, Governor Daniels tells us that the $1 billion surplus is gone. poof Just like that. The state's been in such dire need lately that the surplus vanished, and he didn't even tell us that it disappeared.

Don't you think we deserve more? Don't you believe that someone needs to get an accounting of where this hard fought $1 billion went and why it no longer exists in the state budget. If it was set aside and was not to be touched so that we could have a rainy day fund...when did it start raining.

While we are given pithy yet somewhat snarky answers, K-12 education is being slashed to the bone. Folks, we can sit here and gripe about how schools spend the cash that's given to them, but when you can't even set a budget...that's scary. Maybe there are other answers out there as to how schools can save money and keep teachers in the classroom. In the interest of full disclosure, I'm one of those concerned teachers that is frightened for the state of education in Indiana right now. When the funding is cut so close to the quick, it's the students that are the ones paying the price as their education suffers. Schools will continue to do the best they can with what they are given, and, just maybe, someday soon will emerge leaner and meaner and ready to fight. Public schools will work this out and make it work for kids. I know that much for a fact.

Then again, public education has never meant much to Mitch Daniels. If it did, that $1 billion would have gone to education. If it did, he needs to show us where it did and why that $1 billion is gone. I may be off base here, and maybe I missed something. I just feel like Indiana students, parents, teachers, and communities are at least owed an explanation as to where that money went, and why Johnny might be in a government class with 40 other students in a room designed for 25 next year because his school district couldn't afford to pay to replace a teacher that retired.

Of course, I think these little tidbits are minor to Team Daniels. They are more worried about discipline issues, disrespecting the teaching profession, and whether a half day is allowable. Forget the great series that Matt Tully is writing in the Star about Manual High School. Let's beat down the schools more instead of making what they need a priority. It's not with this Governor or the Republican-controlled Indiana Senate. Under Mitch Daniels, the money is gone, and schools now have no way to get it back other than the less-than-desirable referendum.

So, Anderson has to consolidate its two high schools into one school on one side of town or the other. Formerly affluent Franklin Township is proposing shuttering schools, and Decatur Township is in such trouble that it's thinking about axing the highly-successful Decatur Discovery Academy and the Challenger Center. Schools and programs are being slashed, and kids are losing out. The Governor's explanation is the same as his explanation for what happened to the campaign cash he got from Tim Durham. He says the money's been spent. On what Mitch...that's all we want to know. Where did that $1 billion go? Did it even exist in the first place?

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Howard Dean is Right! Defeat the Senate Health Care Bill!

Dr. Howard Dean made headlines last night by urging, on Countdown with Keith Olbermann, that the current gutted and compromised health care reform bill be defeated in the Senate. Unfortnately, members of his own party took the opportunity to attack him rather than to listen to his message. Here's the story from KO.

Visit for breaking news, world news, and news about the economy

Howard Dean is right. This bill sucks. It's awful, and it needs to be defeated. This isn't the bill passed out of the House. This isn't the bill anyone but the insurance companies want. It's not real reform, and it is absolutely ridiculous that it's being presented as such. Harry Reid should be run home to Nevada for this bait and switch he has pulled on his own party. I sure hope Harry enjoys his time back in the minority soon. And, for the PRESIDENT to attack Governor Dean for advocating for health reform when it is the President that's ready to make the American people accept this wishy washy mishmash of mess they call the Senate bill, is preposterous. Bravo Howard Dean...the conscience of the Liberal Wing of the Democratic Party!

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Breaux Campaigning, Holds Fundraiser Friday

Earlier in the year, it was rumored (quite ominously in some cases) that Billie Breaux would not be running for re-election as Auditor. The incumbent announced to the world through this blog that she would in fact be taking at least one more bite at the apple in 2010 and running again.

Now, she is set to hold a fundraiser on Friday from 5:00 to 7:00 p.m. at 664 E. Arch Street in Indianapolis. The event has many hosts. Here is the notification from her newly-minted Facebook group, Re-Elect Marion County Auditor Billie J. Breaux.

We hope you'll join your hosts
Sen. Jean Breaux, Hon Debbie Jenkins, Sarah Riordan, Carey Hamilton, Hon. Julie Voorhies, Claudia Fuentes, Mark St. John, Indianapolis Mexican Business Alliance and Zach Adamson & Christian Mosburg
as we honor and support our friend Auditor Billie Breaux. Please stop by after work or before your weekend starts for drinks and delicious hors d'oeuvres.

Support Levels:
Supporter $25
Patron $50
Benefactor $75

Bring canned food items for local food pantry to enter our door prize.
Please RSVP so we can plan to have enough to eat and drink

I will not be able to attend the fundraiser, but it's good to see that the rumors of Auditor Breaux's retirement were quite exaggerated. One of the most beloved figures in the local Democratic Party, she is clearly out and about and actively campaigning despite the rumors that were circulating earlier. Breaux is a former State Senator and the mother of current State Senator, Jean Breaux, a rising star in the Indiana Democratic Party.

Auditor Breaux, Marion County Clerk Beth White, and Pike Township Board Member Joe O'Connor are running unopposed for the Democratic nominations for Auditor, Clerk, and Assessor, respectively. The Dem nod in the Marion County Sheriff's race remains contested between current MCSD Executive Officer, Col. John Layton, and Sgt. Mark Brown of IMPD.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Voorhies Confirms Cancer Diagnosis

Marion County Recorder Julie Voorhies confirmed minutes ago what many had feared, her husband and Central Labor Council President Bob Voorhies has cancer.

From her Facebook page:
"Facebook friends and family, Bob has been diagnosed with Stage 4 Matastisized Lung Cancer in several organs. We are beginning treatment Monday the 22nd. Bob is doing well and we are ready to put up a good fight. Thank you for all your prayers, thoughts and wishes."

This certainly is not the news anyone would have liked to have heard, but miracles do happen. Bob will give this cancer a fight like its never seen before. I'm sure he could use your thoughts and your prayers this holiday season, so, if you get a moment, think of Bob and his family. He needs our support.

Who's Making the Rounds: Decatur Version

I just realized that I've been neglecting the "Who's Making the Rounds" feature on the blog, so here's the latest entry from the Decatur Township Democratic Club's December Meeting and Holiday Party.

The speaker for the night was Floyd County Central Committee Chairman Samuel Locke, candidate for Indiana Auditor. Locke talked about how he could save money if elected Auditor of State by innovation and talked about adding more transparency to state government by, among other things, acting as a check against Republican Governor Mitch Daniels on the State Board of Finance.

The Connersville native said that he could save the state money by making some innovative changes in the Auditor's Office. Locke said that the state currently fails to implement what he calls an "accounts payable recovery system" to make sure the state isn't paying vendors more than once for the same service or that fraud is not occurring. He believes he can save $10 million with this simple innovation at little or no cost to the state.

He also advocated more transparency in the Auditor's Office by opening up the process of asking for records. He said that he recently contacted Auditor of State Tim Berry asking for four pieces of public information. It took 30 days for Berry's Office to answer only half of the request, and the state charged $17.30 for copies.

Locke said the City of Louisville has implemented a free web application created by a vendor that allows users to type in a simple search term such as "salt" and that provides the user with all the details on the city's purchases of salt including how much was paid and to whom. He said there's not any reason why the state couldn't implement the same system again, at little or no cost.

Locke said the Auditor serves on the State Board of Finance with the Governor and the Treasurer. He also put in a plug for Pete Buttigieg who is running for Treasurer of State. If Buttigieg is elected, Locke said that for the first time Mitch Daniels could experience what it's like to have a decision overridden.

Other candidates, dignitaries, possible candidates and officeholders present included the following:
Marion County Democratic Party Chairman Ed Treacy
Melina Kennedy, running for Mayor
Former Secretary of State Joe Hogsett
Mark Brown and John Layton, candidates for Marion County Sheriff
Terry Curry, candidate for Marion County Prosecutor
Marion County Clerk Beth White, running for re-election
Marion County Superior Court Judges Becky Pierson-Treacy, Gerald Zore, and Mark Stoner
District 22 City-County Council Candidate Christopher Jackson
At Large City-County Council Candidates Zach Adamson and Annette Johnson (who also sits on the Pike Township Board)
Center Township Board Member George Farley
Decatur Township Small Claims Court Judge Candidate Steve Terrell
and Indiana House District 91 Candidate Tim Huber

Monday, December 14, 2009

Peterson Endorses Kennedy

Melina Kennedy's string of endorsements continued Monday as former two-term Indianapolis Mayor Bart Peterson endorsed his former Deputy Mayor's candidacy for Mayor of Indianapolis. Terry "Scoop" Burns reported that this news was coming a few days ago over at the Indianapolis Times blog.

If you haven't seen it yet, here's the release from the Kennedy campaign.

Indianapolis--Today, former Indianapolis mayor Bart Peterson endorsed Melina Kennedy in her campaign for mayor of Indianapolis. Peterson, whom Kennedy served as Deputy Mayor and Economic Development Director, singled out Kennedy's accomplishments, leadership and work ethic in supporting her candidacy.

"First, Melina is a proven and experienced job-creator. When hundreds lost their jobs at the United Airlines airport maintenance facility, I watched Melina work incredibly hard and show remarkable creativity to bring new jobs to Indianapolis. At the end of the day, after relentless effort, we brought a new company to Indianapolis that now employs hundreds at the facility again."

"Second, Melina is a courageous, passionate and visionary leader. As a husband and father, I know Melina will work tirelessly to build an Indianapolis where our children and grandchildren can be safe, receive high quality education, and reach their dreams. Melina knows how to reach across lines that sometimes separate people, bringing together families, neighborhoods, labor, business, and the broader community."

"And finally, no one out-works Melina. She won't stop until we are a leader in job creation. She won't stop until every child gets the education they need to achieve their potential. And she won't stop until our rivers run clean and we are a truly sustainable city."

Kennedy thanked Peterson for his support and his leadership of Indianapolis. "I am honored to have Mayor Peterson's support. His dedication to this city, his leadership, and his passion for new ideas made this city a better place to live, work and raise a family."

With this one, Kennedy has pulled in a major endorsement. Peterson's nod probably won't effect Brian Williams' campaign for the office or keep out folks like José Evans, but it might make former Peterson Administration City Controller Kathy Davis think twice before entering the fray. It seems awfully early for Peterson, a current executive at Lilly, to throw his weight one way or another, so maybe this one was a shot across Davis' bow as she continues to weigh a run. Rumor on the street is that Davis has a big name backer of her own. I guess we shall see!

Republicans, Democrats Disagree in Zogby Poll on Favorite Christmas Tune

According to pollster John Zogby, O! Holy Night is the favorite Christmas song of those surveyed in a poll earlier this month. Buried in the poll results was a gem about Republicans and Democrats. Here is the full release from Zogby, who you can find at

"Utica, NY -- Americans prefer signs that it's Christmas starting the day after Thanksgiving, with 59% of adults saying they like to see Christmas lights on homes, store displays, and hear Christmas tunes on the radio the day after Thanksgiving and no sooner (and also no later!), according to a new Zogby poll.

Speaking of Christmas tunes, out of a list of nine choices, we asked Americans to vote for their three favorite holiday songs. O Holy Night was the clear winner with 58% of adults voting for it as their 1st, 2nd, or 3rd favorite holiday song. White Christmas (41%), and The Christmas Song (Chestnuts Roasting on an Open Fire) (38%) also topped the list. Grandma Got Run Over by a Reindeer (10%) and Adam Sandler's the Hanukkah Song (9%) received the fewest votes.

Here's the overall ranking:
#1 O Holy Night: 58%
#2 WhiteChristmas: 41%
#3 The Christmas Song (Chestnuts Roasting on an Open Fire): 38%
#4 It's Beginning to Look a Lot Like Christmas: 28%
#5 It's the Most Wonderful Time of the Year: 24%
#6 Trans-Siberian Orchestra's Christmas Eve/Sarajevo 12/24: 17%
#7 Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer: 15%
#8 Grandma Got Run Over by a Reindeer: 10%
#9 Adam Sandler's The Hanukkah Song: 9%

Most Republicans enjoy O Holy Night, with 67% of them voting for it as one of their three favorite holiday songs compared to 56% of independents and 50% of Democrats. More women (62%) than men (53%) prefer this song and considering the strong religious theme, so do adults who attend religious services at least once a week. Seventy-six percent of adults who attend religious services more than once a week say O Holy Night is on their top three list as do 72% of Americans who go to church at least weekly. Only 25% of people who say they never attend religious services picked O Holy Night as one of their three favorite holiday songs. White Christmas leads among those who never attend religious services but only 36% of this group voted for White Christmas as a top three; 16% said either none of the listed songs were their favorite or that they do not listen to or enjoy holiday songs.

Zogby International conducted an online survey of 2,330 adults from November 4 - November 6, 2009. A sampling of Zogby International's online panel, which is representative of the adult population of the US, was invited to participate. Slight weights were added region, party, age, race, religion, gender, education to more accurately reflect the population. The margin of error is +/- 2.1 percentage points. Margins of error are higher in sub-groups."

I LOVE O! Holy Night, and I'm not a churchgoer, but this one is my favorite. Enjoy...

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Gubernatorial Grind: Schellinger Running Again?

Looks like either Jim Schellinger may be considering another run for Governor in 2012 or some of his supporters want him to do so. The Indianapolis architect's Facebook page appears to have never been shut down. Recently, I received an invite to join the Facebook group.

If you ask some Dems, Schellinger didn't make friends with them last time around by never really coming full out for Jill Long Thompson after the bitter primary fight. He did send a letter of endorsement to county chairs, but he never really got out there for JLT. Un-satisfyingly, we never saw Schellinger symbolically embrace Long Thompson as the party candidate after she narrowly defeated him in May 2008. The loss for Schellinger came after he had raised tons of campaign cash, but the money didn't matter as the underdog Long Thompson upset the bigger checkbook of Schellinger.

It was no secret that Schellinger was the state party's choice last time around, and, even though Long Thompson took the primary win, it seemed like the Indiana Democratic Party (like Schellinger) never really completely supported her. Long Thompson was handily defeated by Governor Mitch Daniels even though the state went blue nationally for the first time since 1964. In August, Schellinger was seen at the IDEA Convention shaking hands and looking very much like a candidate for something. We will see if this new slow boil behind Schellinger convinces him to run.

Can all be forgiven for 2008? Democrats are a forgiving group, and Schellinger's lack of support wasn't what ultimately doomed the JLT campaign though, it honestly probably contributed some. It's an awfully good group of candidates that might give it a go in 2012 and if Schellinger runs, he will have to emerge from that group. That's unlike the situation in 2008 where it was just Schellinger, Long Thompson, and then-Senate Majority Leader Richard Young of Milltown.

Other potential Democrats that may be vying for the Democratic Gubernatorial nomination include Evansville Mayor Jonathan Weinzapfel, Congressman Baron Hill, State Senator Vi Simpson, Lake County Sheriff Roy Dominguez, Hammond Mayor Tom McDermott, former State Health Commissioner Woody Myers, former Secretary of State Joe Hogsett, and I'm sure there are others. Dominguez and Weinzapfel appear to be the most likely candidates of the group with the others having been mentioned or rumored to be at least interested in the job.

Friday, December 11, 2009

Personal Prerogative: Two Weeks Til Christmas?

Hard to believe, but today is December 11. That means that there are just 14 days left until Christmas Day. Where has this year gone?

Doesn't it just seem like yesterday that we were all watching President Barack Obama become our nation's first African-American President as Supreme Court Chief Justice John Roberts botched his first bite at the apple of swearing in a President? I mean, that's been nearly 11 months ago.

Since then, it just has seemed like our ears have been pinned back and we've been hurtling forward through 2009 towards 2010. In just three weeks, we'll be welcoming in Baby New Year for 2010. As that year wobbles to get its sea legs, we'll be ushering in another political cycle after a very busy year with few notable elections. Soon, the political ads will begin running again, and we politicos will turn our attention back to national and local races across the country as Republicans, Democrats, and maybe others begin to battle for political control of the government at all levels.

I am really looking forward to the new year and the promise that comes with it. I tend to be a hopeful person, and there are a number of things that I would like to see happen in this upcoming year. As time draws closer to New Year's Day, I'll share some of those things with you, the loyal reader. I will also begin going back and reviewing some of the top stories from the year 2009. From Obama's Inauguration to Michael Jackson's death to the fall of Tiger Woods to the defeat of the public option, it's been an interesting year!

2010 should be even more interesting, and I don't know if that's even possible. Whatever happens, I hope you'll spend time with this blog and continue to be a loyal reader. Thanks for all you do!

Thursday, December 10, 2009

The Public Option is Dead...Long Live the Fear of Reform

After Nancy Pelosi did her job in the House by pushing through the controversial but long-awaited public option, it was expected that the health care bill, as passed in the House, would have tough sledding in the Senate. Still, it was also expected to have some form of a public option present in the bill. Well, that plug got pulled. The public option is dead. It's gone. It's out of the bill, and Harry Reid killed it because he was so eager to please everyone.

When Republicans held the Congress, they didn't care about other people's feelings or what Democrats desired. They moved forward their agenda without any regard for any opposition. What they felt was important became law. Tax cuts for the richest Americans, billions of dollars for an unnecessary war, and more items than I can even mention here were placed into law. All the time, the real problems of this country were ignored. Wall Street ran roughshod over Main Street as the gap between rich and poor exploded into a chasm. Democrats waited in the wings for the right moment to rise back into power. The Republicans got greedy, and the voters got mad.

Riding anti-war sentiment, the Democrats were placed in power in 2006. Without a Democrat in the Oval Office, we were told, real change would never come. When things didn't improve, voters rewarded Dems with President Barack Obama and even bigger majorities in Congress. Dems were given marching orders...ENACT CHANGE! Instead, we've been given more of the same.

Sure, the Democrats have thrown us a bone here or there with things like hate crimes legislation that included LGBT and disability protections that has been signed into law. The War in Iraq is slowly de-escalating from an American point of view, and the strategy has changed in Afghanistan. President Obama has done an admirable job repairing the United States' reputation around the world and has emphasized that the United States foreign policy is no longer, "If you're not with us, you are against us."

The fundamental domestic change that Congress was given marching orders on in 2008 was to improve the economy and provide for health care for Americans. On both accords, the Democratic Congress and the Obama Administration have had mixed results. A big reason why is that I feel the Democrats have abandoned that mission the American voters sent to Washington for them to enact. Instead, they've given the obstructionists and the fear mongers too much credence and too much clout.

Democratic leadership...especially in the Senate...has allowed the tea partiers and the right wing to scare the American public and the legislators themselves away from the change we needed. At the same time, President Obama has been, honestly, a less-than-helpful advocate from the bully pulpit of the Presidency by often waiting too long to address issues and to set a suggested agenda.

Harry Reid continues to underwhelm as Senate Majority leader. He has struggled to keep his own caucus in line and continues to be moved and kicked around by the Republicans. Unfortunately, the Nevada Democrat seems to think that compromise involves handing the keys to the opposition all to often. That's what's happened in this health care debate. I know that the Senate health care bill will be an improvement over the current policy in this country which spends too much to be only around 40th in the world.

I just kind of feel like the Democratic caucus, especially in the United States Senate, has squandered this critical moment when the American public was thinking outside the box. The window of opportunity is slowly coming to a close, and I think Congress and the President have done very little to take advantage of it.

The public option is dead, and my party ultimately killed it; Harry Reid playing politics with people's lives. Just makes you sooooo happy to be a Democrat today. Is my sarcasm palpable?

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Breaking News: Voorhies Family Rocked By Cancer Scare

Marion County Recorder Julie Voorhies announced on her Facebook page yesterday afternoon that her husband and AFL-CIO Central Labor Council President Bob Voorhies is in the hospital being tested for cancer in multiple areas of his body. She reports that Bob is in good spirits but is in a great deal of pain.

If you know Bob Voorhies, you know that the disease doesn't know what it's gotten itself into! It doesn't have a chance! As previously mentioned, Bob is a political and union legend in these parts. He sometimes seems larger than life and is certainly one of a kind. All the clichés fit him even though he is not a cliché.

This year, the Voorhies family will be all over the ballot in parts of Marion County. Not only is Julie running countywide for re-election as Marion County Recorder, Bob's son, Brett, is running for Phil Hinkle's House District 92 seat.

I would like to send wishes for a speedy recovery to Bob and best wishes to his family as they cope with this tough news this holiday season.

Remembering Pearl Harbor 68 Years (and Two Days) Later

Monday was the anniversary of the Japanese sneak attack at Pearl Harbor drawing the United States into World War II and bringing the war perilously close to the continental United States. On December 8, President Roosevelt stood before Congress and asked for a declaration of war against Japan.

Of course, the declaration passed 82-0 in the Senate and 388-1 in the House. Rep. Jeannette Rankin (R-Montana) was the only member of Congress to vote against the declaration. Rankin would later vote present on other World War II declarations.

What followed the December 7 attacks changed the course of United States history. Beginning to emerge from the Great Depression, the United States was thrust into a war it did not choose (despite what the conspiracy theorists say). It would emerge on the other side an economic and military superpower. Along the way in between the moment of attack and the moment the treaty was signed aboard the USS Missouri, America lost much in the name of freedom.

The United States lost around 416,800 soldiers, sailors, airmen and military personnel. Another 1,700 American civilians perished. Worldwide almost 22.6 million people died in the conflict with another 34.6 million civilians killed. Of course this is including not only those that died in the Pacific Theatre but also the war in Europe and Africa.

It's hard to even imagine a conflict on that scale these days. It's also amazing to think about how this country and its allies won the multi-faceted and multi-campaigned war.

Some of those that saw action are still around. Individuals like Southside Democratic Club President Larry Ryan who currently sits on the Center Township Advisory Board continue to be active in politics and in helping to keep our memories alive. Unfortunately, like World War I veterans a generation behind them, the number of veterans from World War II continues to decline. The "Greatest Generation" is slowly dying off and taking the history of the conflict with them. According to the VA, 900 World War II vets die EACH DAY! I checked the Indianapolis Star obituaries Tuesday, and I quickly found five obituaries listed citing service in WW II.

My grandmother actually died on the 55th anniversary of the United States' entry to World War II. While she didn't serve in any official military capacity, Twila Easter was born on January 9, 1910, and she suffered through the war as the rest of the country did...with ration books and worry while struggling to raise a young family with my grandfather. A few of her brothers were fighting in the war, and, to the day she died, she always hated hearing the Christmas song, "I'll Be Home for Christmas" because it reminded her of that time and feeling helpless with her brothers, my great uncles, fighting in the war.

Thankfully, her brothers all came home in one piece. Other families were not so fortunate to have such good luck. Many a family was torn apart during World War II as fathers, brothers, and others perished in the name of the preservation of the United States and our way of life.

At home, the war effort turned this country into an economic giant as women went to work doing everything from making the tanks to roll through Eastern Europe or playing baseball to keep the homefront folks entertained. My paternal grandfather, Henry S. Easter, Sr. worked as a tool designer for International Harvester and helped with wartime production on the homefront.

Families weren't the only ones sacrificing, the great athletes of the time also went to war putting their careers on hold. Baseball greats like Ted Williams and Joe DiMaggio, household names, among others, went to bat for their country instead of the Red Sox or the Yankees. Can you imagine Peyton Manning or Tom Brady hanging up their cleats for four years to fight for America? Hard to even put your head around.

But, it all started on the fateful day, December 7, 1941, in the then-United States territory of Hawaii.

After the war, Japan has become one of our closest allies and an ecoonomic superpower in the world, but it has never become a military power again due to the treaties we signed. The Emperor of Japan, Hirohito, became a largely ceremonial figure after the war. He passed away in 1989. The United State President, George H.W. Bush, attended his funeral.

December 7 should be a day that we always remember. We should remember it for not only what happened at Pearl Harbor, but what happened after the Japanese attack there. It was a day that has lived in infamy, but it also is a day to remember that no matter how hate can flow and what enemies can be made that, eventually, wounds heal, divisions repair, and friendship can ultimately triumph over tyranny.

If you get a moment this week, find a veteran and tell them thank you. You get bonus points if you can find a World War II veteran. Thank them for fighting so hard to keep us safe and free.

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Uganda Using Junk Data to Justify Bill That Would Kill Gays

Rachel Maddow did some extremely good journalistic work on Richard Cohen and the International Healing Organization whose work is being used by Ugandans to justify a bill to kill gays. Here's the 17:30 interview. It's worth watching!

Visit for breaking news, world news, and news about the economy

The Living Room "Ban" Never Existed According to Mansfield

Local radio host and blogger Abdul Hakim-Shabazz posted a few weeks ago that Councillor Angela Mansfield had been effectively banned from the Living Room Lounge downtown due to her advocacy for the comprehensive air ordinance and that the owner had told the servers not to serve her.

Here's the exact wording from this post:
And speaking of the end of a beautiful friendship, City-County Councilor Angela Mansfield, co-author of the current smoking ban proposal, has reportedly been banned from the Living Room Lounge at 9th and Penn. Mansfield has cited the Living Room Lounge as a place where she loves the food, but doesn’t like the secondhand smoke. Well apparently the owner has told the staff she won’t have to worry about the smoke, because she’s no longer welcome and has ordered the staff not to serve her.

Councillor Mansfield sent me an e-mail yesterday saying that due to an emergency she had not been able to send me a message on the subject, but she says that the Living Room never banned her at all and that the owner, Tammy Jones, said that she never had never instructed her staff not to serve the Councillor. "She said although we disagree on the smoking issue, she would never be so petty," said Mansfield.

Looks like Abdul was completely off in his rumormongering. He rumored that Beth White was running for Prosecutor, too. That one didn't pan out, either.

I would like to issue a full and complete apology to Tammy Jones and the staff of the Living Room Lounge for criticizing them for something they did not do. I completely retract my previous post and have pasted this post as an update into the original post.

Thank you also to Councillor Mansfield for setting the record straight. Abdul...what's up buddy? My rumors are usually at least grounded in fact.

Monday, December 7, 2009

Where Were Those New Trucks?

On my way to work, I found a snow plow…sitting behind the McDonald’s at 10th & Girls School Road! (Sorry for my poor photography skills.)

According to the very nice lady at the drive-thru window, she said she arrived at work at 4:25 a.m. and that she had not seen one truck until that guy pulled up and then spent the next 30 minutes “drinking coffee.”

“I guess I have the wrong job,” laughed the lady at the drive-thru.

He was still there when I pulled back around after getting my food, and I snapped that photo.

It does make you wonder how the city touted all of its new snow plows and salt trucks last week but seemed to have hid them all this morning for a measly inch of snow. Of course you remember Greg Ballard telling everyone last year in January after the big snow that you were on your own to shovel out. The buck was passed to indicate that a bum forecast caused the city to not put enough trucks on the street. Funny though, I seem to have watched the news last night during the football halftime cut-in update, and Fox 59 was already calling for this one to be a messy rush hour.

You were on your own again this morning, and your city services seem to have failed you. You can blame less money and smaller budgets if you wish, but you can't explain to me how someone that normally has a 12 minute drive to work saw that drive increase to well over three hours. It happened this morning.

I salute our hardworking men and women that plow our roads and keep us safe, and, maybe I caught this one isolated truck driver needing a break. I admit that I’m not up on city policy for those drivers. Maybe it’s a mandated break after so many hours of work. If that’s the case, I’m sorry for pointing this out. I am pretty sure that it didn't look good though.

Prosecutorial Pile-up: Where the Race Stands Heading into 2010

It's been a while since I've taken a look at the Marion County Prosecutor's race, so I thought I would go ahead and do a status report here on this blustery Monday.

Things look very good for Democratic fortunes right now. Carl Brizzi's chances of re-election seem to get more and more wounded with every passing possible Tim Durham connection that gets reported. Did anyone else think that his odd interview on Channel 8 hurt him more than it helped him? While we're on the Durham subject for a moment, Brizzi and any other officeholder or candidate that took money from Durham should do what Tim Motsinger did: return it.

That goes for the Democrats, too. Baron Hill, I'm talking to you!

Let's get back to the Prosecutor's race. On the Republican side, who knows who's running for the seat? I don't. For now, it's Brizzi. If it is Brizzi, I will say it now, the Democrats will easily win election. Right or wrong, the campaign ads are ready-made tying the incumbent to some allegedly unseemly things. Since Brizzi seems unwilling at this point, it might be time for an enterprising Republican to stand up and take the bull by the horns and get in the race. That might quietly push aside Brizzi because the Marion County GOP is not going to push aside Brizzi on its own. Tom John seems too weak to lead a revolt.

On the Democratic side, Terry Curry continues to be the front runner for the nomination with David Orentlicher and Greg Bowes chasing him. While many 2010 and 2011 candidates are receiving endorsements, Curry's camp has been somewhat quiet with any major ones on their side. Recently, his webpage went live in bare bones form. For a frontrunner, the news has been kind of quiet lately from Curry. He has been holding fundraisers including one a couple of Sundays ago at the Firefighter's Union Hall on Mass Ave. Some heavy-hitters were sponsors.

Orentlicher had been extremely quiet lately with little or no activity from his campaign, but the Marion County Democratic Party Weekly List published a fundraiser for David O set to take place Wednesday:

"A fundraiser honoring David Orentlicher, candidate for Marion County Prosecutor, will be held on Wednesday, Dec. 9, from 6 p.m. to 7:30 p.m., at the home of Catherine Gibson, 5256 N. Capitol, 253-2829. Suggested donations: $50, $100, $150, or $200."

Seems clear that David O. is very much in the race until slating at least.

I had an e-mail exchange over my two-part blog analysis of Greg Bowes' campaign decision to totally bypass the slating convention and appeal to the voters at the May 2010 Primary, and Greg wasn't mad at me. I still haven't heard much from Greg's campaign other than the letter announcing he was detouring past slating and the occasional club appearance.

Whatever candidate wins at slating and then at the primary on the Democratic side would seem to be playing from the front if Brizzi does or doesn't run. If I were advising Brizzi, I would advise him not run for re-election, host his radio show, and see how this Durham mess all plays out. There will likely be other offices for him someday if he emerges from this mess with some of his reputation intact.

Another possibility is the addition of a quality third party candidate to the race. The Libertarians got lucky when Ed Coleman fell into their laps in changing his party affiliation from Republican to Libertarian. Now, they are calling him the highest Libertarian serving in public office today...puhleeze. Nevertheless, the Libertarians proved they have some muscle by helping to send the smoking ban down in flames by advocating against it. A good Libertarian might pull more votes away from the Repub running further electing the Democratic candidate. Keep an eye on that one.

The Prosecutorial Pile-up remains an intriguing race to see who will serve as Marion County's lawyer over at least the next four years. I know that I'm interested to see how it unfolds from here.

Sunday, December 6, 2009

Gay Members of Congress Say Change Is Close

President Barack Obama has spent nearly the first year of his presidency scratching off or at least attempting to scratch off campaign promise after campaign promise. Most recently, he cemented his promise to pay more attention to the War on Terror in Afghanistan by sending 30,000 more troops that way. Some of those promises have been deferred.

Many of those promises have to do with gay issues. President Obama promised during the campaign to wipe out the un-gay-friendly "Don't Ask Don't Tell" policy, and, while having huge majorities in both houses of Congress, he has yet to make good on that promise.

Sure, you can say that Mr. Obama has just been busy or that his priorities have been elsewhere due to an economic situation that seen his approval ratings fall faster than a penny dropped from the Empire State Building. While those things have rightly diverted his attention from more domestic issues, he has largely ignored the so-called gay agenda.

There have been little glimpses of progress. He nominated a gay ambassador. He also signed an Executive Order (due to expire at the end of his term) extending partner benefits to federal government employees in same sex relationships, but still, the biggest example of institutional homophobia in the U.S. remains: Don't Ask, Don't Tell. (DADT)

On the face of it, it seems like perhaps a good policy...for 1994. You're free to be homosexual, but you can't tell anyone about it. The moment that you do or that you are get discharged. It's all over. It doesn't matter if you're one of the few people that knows Arabic in the're gay, you're gone. That's not what I call the new military. That type of policy has no place in a 21st century America. It's a ridiculous little policy that the world probably laughs at when America turns its back.

Well, that policy among others are hopefully about to change, according to two of the three openly-gay members of Congress. Wisconson Democrat Tammy Baldwin and Colorado Democrat Jared Polis, both members of the U.S. House, say in an article by the Associated Press' Lisa Leff that bills to extend health care partner benefits to federal employees in same sex relationships and to end discrimination in the workplace for gay and transgender individuals are on the way in this coming session.

They also say that an end to DADT may be around the corner as well. That could be attached to a military spending bill for next year. The Democrats used a similar tactic to get the Shepard-Byrd Hate Crimes Prevention Act passed even drawing a yes vote from Indiana's Richard Lugar in the process.

As for President Obama's part in this, Polis and Baldwin told the Associated Press to put the blame on Congress for being slow to act. I disagree. The bully pulpit of the United States President is unmatched. If President Obama wanted to end DADT, I think it would happen relatively quickly and easily. Then again, nothing he seems to have wanted done has come very quickly and easily. The President seems to have spent a great deal of political capital, and he is in sore need of building it back up. When he rode the wave of good feelings into the Oval Office, he squandered a chance to make a change on DADT.

Hopefully soon, these bills will come up for a vote in Congress and the LGBT community will have something truly great to celebrate on a federal level.

Friday, December 4, 2009

Layton Gets Big Union Endorsement in Sheriff's Race

Marion County Sheriff’s Department Executive Officer, Col. John Layton, picked up a HUGE union endorsement Wednesday as the United Steelworkers Local 1999 voted to endorse the candidate for Sheriff. This is the first major union endorsement in the battle for the Democratic nomination that figures to go all the way to the May 2010 Primary Election.

Here is the release:

“United Steelworkers Local 1999 Endorses Col. John Layton For Marion County Sheriff

Wednesday, December 2, 2009
Media Contact: Ross Wells, (317)250-5985

Indianapolis-- Today, United Steelworkers Local 1999 endorsed Colonel John Layton's bid for the office of Marion County Sheriff. Local 1999's President Chuck Jones cited Col. Layton's experience as a proven law enforcement officer as a key factor behind the union's endorsement.

"Through 35 years with the Marion County Sheriff's Department, Col. Layton has experienced every facet of this fine department. From his beginning working in the hospital detention unit, and continuing with his 2003 promotion to Chief Executive Officer, John is the right person to lead this Department into the future."

Col. Layton thanked Jones, and praised the Steelworkers dedication and invaluable work on behalf of Indianapolis. "I'm extremely humbled to receive this endorsement,” he said. The Steelworkers have played a large part in building everything that makes Indianapolis great.” Layton's late father was a member of Local 1999 for 37 years.

Currently serving as Chief Executive Officer of the Marion County Sheriff's Department, Col. Layton began his career with the Department in 1974, as a Deputy Sheriff. Marion County Sheriff Frank Anderson is prohibited from seeking a third term because of term limits.”

Layton and veteran IMPD Sgt. Mark Brown are battling it out in what is forecast to be a race-to-watch in 2010. Sheriff Frank Anderson accompanied Layton to file his paperwork to become a candidate a couple of months ago. Brown has been in the fight since June and claims to have support from rank-and-file officers in the MCSD and IMPD. I guess we shall see!

Is Kathy Davis Running for Mayor?

A few days ago, local radio host Abdul Hakim-Shabazz dropped a big rumor on his blog that former Lieutenant Governor Kathy Davis was considering a run for Mayor of Indianapolis.

I wanted to know if the rumor was true, so I e-mailed Davis to ask her. I received a fairly quick response back that completely, totally, and utterly dodged the question. She acted as if I never asked it. Read into that what you will, but Kathy Davis would be a candidate who definitely would make, on paper, a great candidate for Mayor of Indianapolis as well as an amazingly challenging opponent for Democrats and current seat warmer...whoops...holder, Mayor Greg Ballard.

Davis has a business background as the principal in Davis Design Group. According to the website of the company, Davis Design Group provides "clients with innovative tools to design public policy, delivery systems and change strategies. Using cutting edge technology that represents the best of its kind, we determine and interpret the impact of public policy on the attitudes and actions of people. We offer predictions and forecasts with unprecedented accuracy to improve results in education, health, safety, and economic growth."

Besides her own very unique business, Davis has been an executive at Cummins Engine. She was the City Controller of Indianapolis. Under Governors Evan Bayh and Frank O'Bannon, Davis was the State Budget Director, the Deputy Commissioner of the Indiana Department of Transportation and led the FSSA where she managed a $4 billion budget. When Governor O'Bannon passed away, she was appointed by Governor Joe Kernan to be his Lieutenant Governor. She was the first female Lieutenant Governor in Indiana history and, by even the toughest critic, accomplished much in that job. Besides all of this, Davis is a MIT (degree in mechanical engineering) and Harvard Business School graduate. She's a smart cookie, and that might be an understatement. Her resume is a unique blend of public and private that no other candidate probably can match.

Her refusal to even entertain my question in her e-mail tells me that Brian Williams and Melina Kennedy may be joined at some point by the former Lieutenant Governor and that Abdul probably nailed this one. Add in some of the other folks out there considering runs, and this Mayoral Marathon may just be in its early miles.

Woods Not Perfect...Just Human

Let me start off with a shocker. I’m a golfer and a huge golf fan, but I’ve never been a big Tiger Woods fan.

Sure, it’s hard not to root for the guy every once in a while, but there has just always been something about Tiger, especially the last few years, that I have not found enjoyable about the way he plays the game. I never have considered him a paragon of character or someone I would wish my future son or daughter might grow up to be like.

I would want the child to be successful, but I would not my kids to act the way Tiger does on camera on the course. He’s been known to toss golf clubs, curse in disgust, and treat the press and fans with a certain aloofness that I find concerning for someone of his caliber. In short, I’m probably one of the very few golf nuts that while not rooting against him doesn’t necessarily root for him all the time.

I save that for Phil Mickelson. I won’t lie…I’m a Phil guy. Who else could snap hook a drive into a sponsor tent to lose the U.S. Open and handle it with grace? Phil never tosses clubs or is heard dropping curse words on the course. If you gave me a choice of someone to emulate on the golf course by the way they act in battle, I’m choosing Phil.

Those things said, I want to salute Tiger for coming clean and showing character by taking responsibility for his actions after the recent revelations that he had been unfaithful to his marital vows. My late father always taught me that honesty is the most important attribute someone can have. Often, in politics and in the entertainment world, we deal with the direct opposite. Someone tells a lie or stretches the truth, and the people are left holding the bag.

In this case, Tiger didn’t have to say a word. TMZ and other media sources could have dealt with the more salacious side of this, but Tiger could have remained quiet. Instead, given the mounting evidence, Tiger decided to own the problem and be honest about his personal failings. As Chris Matthews wrote in Hardball, Woods is “hanging a lantern on his problem.” He decided to attack the beast head on and apologize to his fans and to the many that look up to him. That showed a type of character I haven’t seen from Tiger on the golf course.

Now, as his many sponsors such as Nike and Gatorade decide what they will do with one of their chief pitchmen’s reputation now in the trash, Tiger can concentrate on setting things right in his personal life. I’m sure there will likely be more revelations about indiscretions, but Tiger came clean that he is not perfect. Suddenly, I like Tiger more.

I think the reason I didn’t like Tiger as much as Phil was that Phil appeared to be more human. I saw Tiger as the robot, the machine, the superhero. The formerly frumpy Mickelson (only now buffing out), to me, is an everyman…a character actor more than a silver screen idol, the smiling-through-the-pain class act. We saw a bit of Phil’s character this past year when his wife and his mother were both diagnosed with breast cancer within a few weeks of each other. Phil has always been human, and I’m now realizing that Tiger is, too. Tiger has been knocked down a couple of pegs by his own admission and own actions.

Of course, I do not condone any of Tiger’s personal indiscretions. What he did was wrong when it comes to his family, and those folks are ultimately the people that he answers to on a daily basis, not his fans. They are the ones that he will now have to make things right with, and it won’t be us. He needs to put his life back together, and he doesn’t need TMZ or ESPN to watch his every move doing it.

Yes, I get it. The tabloid media only gives us what we want, but I think we’re the problem sometimes. If we hold up a mirror, would it show us that we root for those perfect ones to fall? While I didn’t always root for Tiger on the course, I hate to see this entire situation unfold. Now, it seems unavoidable, but I guess does our want not need to know really outweigh a public figure’s right to work this out with his family?

I don’t think it does in this case. Tiger is not the governor of a state or a legislator or a judge. His actions are personal ones, so I wish that the reports and the money being made off Tiger’s stupid decision to cheat on his wife, Elin, would stop. I know it won’t though, and I’m sure that there will be more money made off this sad domestic train wreck.

Doesn’t it just feel a little dirty though? It feels like to me that I’m looking deep into Tiger’s clothes hamper and pulling out the dirtiest of the dirty laundry when I watch this stuff. Yuck.

So, I look forward to the day that I see Tiger the machine dominate the world of golf again. He is still the greatest golfer in the world, and he has my respect for that. I just hope that Tiger the machine internalizes this mess, learns his lesson, and continues bringing joy to golf fans for his play on course instead of his escapades off it.