Tuesday, November 30, 2010

RIP Leslie Nielsen (1926-2010)


On the way to work yesterday morning, I got the news that Leslie Nielsen had passed away. Few actors made me smile and laugh more than this man did. He was a wonderful actor with a long and wide-ranging career.

I will miss Leslie Nielsen. Here's an excellent tribute I found online. Enjoy.

Monday, November 29, 2010

Rumors Flying on Straub, Vaughn


A highly-regarded Republican source tells me that Dr. Frank Straub's about to have some difficulty in the City-County Council getting some of his own appointments past the Republican caucus on the Council. My source tells me that the Republicans are playing hard ball to force Mayor Greg Ballard's hand to appoint a new public safety director.

That's the rumor.

I am having trouble independently confirming this rumor, however. Another highly-regarded source familiar with the Council tells me that key Republicans are actually happy with Straub and feel like they can get some good reforms with him in place. My source also points out that Straub is a Democrat by registration and that should not necessarily be a bad thing for Democrats. Is it time to back off for the Dems?

Split decision.

The same Republican source tells me that if Ballard does not run for re-election that you can expect City-County Council President Ryan Vaughn to do so. After all, Vaughn has carried the Ballard Administration's water loyally. He has been Ballard's voice on the Council even as the President.

My other source, again, doubts that this is true. This source points out that Vaughn could not even get through slating for the Indiana Senate seat he ran for in a Republican area. That was also with Mayor Ballard's help.

Split decision.

The truth is out there, but there are a bunch of rumors flying around, too.

Saturday, November 27, 2010

Bucket Wants Out of Bucket Game


The Old Oaken Bucket has informed its agent, Leigh Steinberg, that it wants out of the IU-Purdue football rivalry at the conclusion of today’s game. The bucket was first awarded in 1925 to the winner of the annual IU-Purdue football game.

Reached for comment, the Bucket said, “The series existed before I was in it, and I think it will continue long after me. I’m just tired of being associated with football that stinks and a game at the end of the year that usually means little more than who gets bragging rights in Indiana.”

The Bucket’s origins are disputed, and there are many stories around where it came from when it first popped up on the scene in 1925. It is believed to be well over 160 years old.

ESPN’s Chris Mortensen is reporting that the Bucket’s representation has been in contact with Bob Kraft and Jim Irsay to become a traveling trophy between the New England Patriots and the Indianapolis Colts. The Bucket says those reports are not true. “I have no desire to be an NFL traveling trophy. I’m content to sit around after all these years and just be a bucket again. I haven’t carried water or any other liquid in years. I want to see if I can do it. Plus, I have all my I’s and P’s to hang around with.”

IU Athletic Director Fred Glass said he was disappointed with the Bucket’s decision, but he understood. Purdue’s Athletic Department could not be reached for comment on this issue, but they did say something obscene about urinating on the Hoosiers.

An inflatable pink flamingo has been contacted to serve as a replacement to the bucket beginning with the 2012 season.

UPDATE
In the wake of IU's thrilling victory, the Bucket has decided to re-evaluate it's position again next season. Said the Bucket, "I am glad IU won. You don't want to know what those Boilermakers do to me."

Thursday, November 25, 2010

HAPPY THANKSGIVING!



It’s somewhat ironic that my 1,000th post on Indy Democrat would come on Thanksgiving.

First of all, I want to wish you and your family Happy Thanksgiving. I hope you are all able to enjoy each other’s company over a great meal at some point today.

On a personal note, I give thanks to you all for reading this blog loyally. I didn’t know what to expect when I started this blog over two years ago. To know that people read and enjoy my work here is overwhelming, so, I really appreciate all you do to support me and this blog. Thanks!

Unless there is breaking news, there will be no posting this weekend due to the holiday. I’m taking the time off from regular posting. So, until Monday, thanks for reading.

P.S.-I picked up something juicy that I'm going to try to track down for Monday. Keep chomping on that turkey.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Dems Race For Nod to Take on Sinking Ballard


While the S.S. Ballard Administration is slowly listing underneath the weight of its own mistakes and ego, three Democrats continue to duke it out for the nod to take on Ballard in 2011. Melina Kennedy, José Evans, and Ron Gibson have entered the race, but, by May, there will be only one left standing.

In the race for Mayor on the Democratic side, Kennedy has put some distance between herself and the rest of the field, but it’s not yet an insurmountable lead. Kennedy has the experience of running a countywide high profile race. Granted, it was a loss, but the name recognition she garnered and things that she learned will be important. Kennedy also has the experience of having worked for Mayor Bart Peterson as his Deputy Mayor for Economic Development. She’s created jobs and has seen city government from the inside of the 25th Floor. As far as the negatives go, people still seem to have concerns about her toughness and her connections to some of the Peterson-era deals. Personally, I can see her turning these things into her favor with a smart campaign.

Evans has run a credible campaign thus far with a just a couple of missteps here and there. So far, Evans has been strongest when he has been able to talk about education. It’s clearly been a passion of his. Unfortunately, under the current structure, the Mayor of Indianapolis has little to do with the day-to-day operation of IPS or any of the Marion County School Corporations. The Mayor can grant charters for charter schools. As I see it, Evans has trailed Kennedy in doing the necessary ground game work in some of the townships. While he has been to Democratic club meetings and events, he has largely been absent from that scene while Kennedy has worked it very hard. He also has made a couple of campaign missteps by jumping the gun on things that never materialized (the ban of take home cars comes to mind). The District 1 Councillor has also found himself at odds at times with his own caucus. Again, these are things that could be turned into positives as he could portray himself as an outsider.

The run of Ron Gibson continues to be a head scratcher to me. Gibson has done very little except throw out a couple of news releases and attend a couple of rallies. Gibson served for four years on the City-County Council but was defeated in his 2007 re-election bid. He is a nice guy with a good military background, and there is much to admire about a man that’s a single parent in this world. He has little to lose by staying in the race because he has little chance of overcoming the two horses in front of him in Kennedy and Evans.

Right now, I’d say it’s close to being Kennedy’s race on the Democratic side, but there are always twists and turns that can happen. If Evans is successful in getting strong support from key constituency groups, he can count on staying in the race for a while. Unlike the Republicans, it’s rare for the Democrats to lose out when they back a candidate. Party backing is really key for D’s to win at slating and in the Primary, and I think it’s clear that Kennedy has that from Ed Treacy, several officeholders and other key figures.

We’ll re-visit the “D” race next month.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Barbara Bush Gets It Exactly Right

Former First Lady Barbara Bush has the distinction of being just the second woman to serve as First Lady and also be the mother of a President. She also has the distinction for sometimes saying the wrong thing at the wrong time. Over the years, she has often found herself at odds with her husband and even the Republican Party.

Most famously, there was the whole Hurricane Katrina quote controversy where, after touring the Astrodome in Houston which was teeming with hurricane refugees, Bush said, “What I'm hearing, which is sort of scary, is they all want to stay in Texas. Everyone is so overwhelmed by the hospitality. And so many of the people in the arena here, you know, were underprivileged anyway, so this is working very well for them.”

It was a quote that showed America how out-of-touch an 80-year-old woman who is, arguably, over-privileged can be with what was going on. That quote aside, “Bar” as George H.W. Bush calls her, has long been a smart and outspoken and oftentimes very poignant spokesperson on many issues. She came out on the side of the choice movement, for example, when it comes to abortion saying that while she opposes abortions that she couldn't make that decision for someone.

Now, at 85, Mrs. Bush hits the nail on the head with Sarah Palin in an interview with Larry King. The clip is below. “Bar” uncorks her whammy after H.W.’s impressions of the Tea Party…which are also very interesting. For an old line and somewhat reasonable Republican, it’s interesting to hear him not give a full endorsement of the Tea Party views.



Seeing Barbara Bush’s face following her comments just drove home that the former First Lady meant EXACTLY what she said. It’s, frankly, kind of hard to argue with the lady that reminded George W. Bush of Julia Carson (at least he said so when he addressed the Indiana Black Expo a few years back).

Monday, November 22, 2010

Obama/Biden Return to Hoosierland


Tomorrow, President Barack Obama and Vice President Joe Biden will be making a joint appearance in Kokomo, Indiana, to talk about the positive effects of the stimulus. These are not the actions of a President that has given up on Indiana.

At last check, Obama's approval rating in Indiana was hovering around 35 percent. With the 2012 Presidential Election well underway (and it is underway), Obama's visit signifies yet another visit to the state while he's a sitting President. You might remember that Obama made Indiana his first outside-the-White House venture after he was inaugurated in 2009.

Clearly, the President feels that Indiana may be in play again in 2012. Of course, a couple of Hoosiers are thinking about running for President. Mike Pence and Mitch Daniels are both mentioned as GOP possibles running for the nation's highest executive office. Indiana would likely be out of reach if one of those two end up on the ballot.

Still, it's not really that normal for the President to come to Indiana for a rally. I can think of only a couple of times it has happened prior. I remember Ronald Reagan showing up in Mooresville for lunch. Hmmm...maybe a couple of speeches here and there by Presidents for conventions and the like. But, an actual rally on its own? Not many of those over my lifetime.

I think it says that President Obama and his campaign clearly have not given up on Indiana in 2012 and are likely to contest things here again.

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Yep, She's Running



Former Illinois Senator, Ambassador to New Zealand, and Presidential candidate Carol Moseley Braun has entered the Chicago Mayoral Election. Moseley Braun joins former White House Chief of Staff and former U.S. Rep. Rahm Emanuel and current Illinois 7th District Rep. Danny Davis among several others in the crowded field.

Anyone else that wishes to get in the pool must get 12,500 signatures prior to Nov. 22. Look for this to be a major story in early 2011 as the race wraps Feb. 22 and then goes on to a likely run-off if no one get 50 percent of the vote on April 5.

Early polls show Emanuel with a sizable but not by any means insurmountable lead, and there are still two more days for more to join in. According to Wikipedia, here's a list of those in the running so far.

Gery Chico, chair of the City Colleges Board
Christopher Cooper, civil rights attorney and former U.S. Marine
Danny K. Davis, U.S. Representative from Illinois's 7th district
Ryan Graves, Chicago Water Management Department employee
Wilfredo De Jesús, Assemblies of God congregation leader
Miguel del Valle, city clerk
Rahm Emanuel, former White House Chief of Staff and former U.S. Representative from Illinois's 5th district
Garrison Medill, political consultant
James Meeks, State Senator
Carol Moseley Braun, former U.S. Senator from Illinois
Mitch Newman, businessman and physician
Cynthia Plaster Caster, artist
Jay Stone, hypnotherapist
William "Dock" Walls, community activist and former aide to Mayor Harold Washington
Fred White, citizen candidate
Patricia Van Pelt-Watkins, non-profit administrator and activist

Saturday Humor: Auto-Tuning Bush vs. Kanye


Kanye West and George Bush made headlines with their much-publicized recent back-and-forth spat. It was only a matter of time before the schmoyoho YouTube channel got a hold of it. They are the same folks that do the "Auto Tune the News" skits. Enjoy.

Friday, November 19, 2010

Holiday Travel Brings Up TSA Screening Practices


The new passenger screening procedures by the Transportation Security Administration seem to be rather intrusive. The new body scanners show everything you have, and, if you refuse that, you can expect to be felt up by a TSA employee with their new frisking technique. All is being done in the name of safety and security, and there are plenty of people that support the TSA’s position.

There are, however, many that aren’t ok with this. Personally, I would rather not be exposed to the world in a body scanner nor given the business by a TSA employee, but, as someone that flies every once in a while, it really doesn’t affect me all that often.

So, what makes this a political issue? The Libertarian Party of Indiana has taken a stance against the TSA’s screening procedures at Indianapolis International Airport. I guess Ed Coleman now knows how to vote if this comes up in front of him on the City-County Council. Libertarians have little in the way of muscle to push any agenda through any legislative body, but it is consistent with the platform of their party. I salute them for taking a stand.

It’s a tricky position for the two parties in control of Washington. It could also signify the first Tea Party vs. Republican Party showdown. You see, many opposing the TSA’s methods of screening passengers are saying that it clearly violates the Fourth Amendment to the United States Constitution for unreasonable search and seizure. Many of the ones yelling and screaming are Tea Partiers.

They have a point. Exposing my naughty bits when there’s no reason to think I’m a terrorist may be unreasonable. In this day and age, though, it seems that the TSA is thinking that everyone that buys a plane ticket might just be a terrorist. I’m not so sure that’s the right way to do it, either. The purchasing of a plane ticket should not be an invitation for a sexual assault (which some people are calling the TSA’s techniques, now).

There’s another side to this, though.

Let’s say Congress follows through and takes a hard look at what the TSA is doing. Let’s say that, for example, they force the TSA to lighten their techniques and do away with the body scanners and aggressive pat downs. You cannot get upset and say that the government has gone soft on preventing terrorism if the awful happens. I think you understand what I mean without going into too much detail. It’s a Catch-22 for the government. Keep up the hard line techniques and get complaints or let down the guard and be at more of a risk.

So, for now, if you don’t want to be searched in the way the TSA will likely search you, rent a car and drive. If you plan to fly, be ready to take off your belt, your shoes, and empty those pockets. Be sure to leave your water bottles behind (I almost got busted in the Tampa Airport for having one of those) and certainly keep your seats and tray tables in the upright and locked position on landing.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Lugar In Tea Party Crosshairs


Richard Lugar is an icon. At 78 years old, he seems healthy and is a respected moderate voice in a Republican Party that has moved far to the right.

That might just be his downfall.

Reports are surfacing that Indiana’s Senior Senator might be in line for a Tea Party-backed primary challenger in 2012. Now, it finally looks like there may be some faces put to the challenge list.

One of those faces is the arch-conservative Mike Delph. The State Senator has backed everything from a marriage amendment to the Indiana Constitution to an Arizona-style immigration bill. When you talk to him face-to-face, he’s a nice enough guy, but his conservatism on social issues is near right wingnut level. Thus, he fits right in with many Tea Partiers.

Another name that’s being circulated is that of Joe Arpaio’s buddy, Richard Mourdock. The Indiana State Treasurer swept back into office on the Republican tide that gave wide majorities on both sides of the Indiana General Assembly to Governor Mitch Daniels. Mourdock has also been linked to Tea Party Must-See-TV host, Glenn Beck, as they both headlined a fundraiser last year.

Some of the re-treads that ran against Dan Coats in the 2010 Republican U.S. Senate Primary can also be expected to perhaps throw their hats into the ring.

What does it mean for Richard Lugar?

Lugar pulls support from both sides of the aisle even though he has a strong conservative voting record. I don't see Lugar completely abandoning his core values (like John McCain did in Arizona), and I think he will be himself. Lugar is thoughtful and responsive to his constituents, and I was impressed when I met him at a Decatur Township Education Foundation function a few years back. It was fun to watch him pose for pictures, sign autographs, and discuss policy with everyone that came up to him (even though his handlers were trying to pull him away). Richard Lugar was the last one to leave that room.

Lugar's biggest problem is that he's had it easy for a long, long time. He hasn't had a difficult election since his win over Floyd Fithian in 1982 where he captured 53 percent of the vote. Since then he has not gotten less than 66.6 percent of the vote. Essentially, it's been 30 years since he's had a challenge of any sort.

2012 will be different. You can bet that the far right will take their shots at Lugar early, but I think it will be hard to make them stick. Unlike Dan Coats, Lugar is a Hoosier through and through who may be wrong on many issues, but he has never simply walked away from his native state like Coats did. Many feel that he’s a person of impeccable character and intelligence. He doesn’t have the dubious ties to lobbying that Coats does. In fact, even Democrats can be proud of the way Lugar has conducted himself…even if they don’t agree with him on nearly anything. A crowded primary field gives Lugar the easy nomination especially if guys like Mourdock and Delph enter the race.

If the primary is bruising, it may leave open the door for a Democratic challenger in the wings. Who that challenger might be, I don't know. After all, Dems didn't even bother to put anyone on the ballot in 2006, and Lugar received 87 percent of the vote.

Lugar and Evan Bayh have spent much of the last 12 years either just slightly to the left or right of each other, and they have failed to engage in the many times partisan bomb throwing that goes on in Washington. Instead, they have made those in their own parties mad by throwing the shade on their own at times. For Bayh, I think it was more calculated. I just think Lugar is a reasonable guy.

That doesn’t mean that I will be crossing over in the 2012 Primary to vote for Lugar or that he even has my vote for the General Election, either. It just means that Lugar is an entirely different animal. A campaign to defeat him will have to leave out Lugar the man and attack him on his positions. If someone tries to tear Lugar's character down, I think that will be the quickest way to a defeat.

It's possible to beat Richard Lugar in the primary, but I just don't think it's likely.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Indy Democrat Investigation: Council President Ryan Vaughn Apparently Doesn't Understand Robert's Rules of Order


During the debate on the ACS parking deal, Democrat Brian Mahern called out Council President, Republican Ryan Vaughn, the Council's presiding officer, for continually taking part in debate while still chairing the meeting instead of handing off the gavel to Vice President, Republican Marilyn Pfisterer.

After some research on my own as well as a few comments left on the blog, I have come to the conclusion that Mahern seems to be right with the spirit of Robert's Rules of Order and that Vaughn apparently doesn't understand the rules (leaving some to think something more sinister).

RulesOnline.com states the following:
The chairman sometimes calls a member to the chair and takes part in the debate. This should rarely be done, and nothing can justify it in a case where much feeling is shown and there is a liability to difficulty in preserving order. If the chairman has even the appearance of being a partisan, he loses much of his ability to control those who are on the opposite side of the question. There is nothing to justify the unfortunate habit some chairmen have of constantly speaking on questions before the assembly, even interrupting the member who has the floor. One who expects to take an active part in debate should never accept the chair, or at least should not resume the chair, after having made his speech, until after the pending question is disposed of. The presiding officer of a large assembly should never be chosen for any reason except his ability to preside.


Rules Online backs itself up in the footnotes:
"Though the Speaker (Chairman) may of right speak to matters of order and be first heard, he is restrained from speaking on any other subject except where the House have occasion for facts within his knowledge; then he may, with their leave, state the matter of fact." [Jefferson's Manual, sec. XVII.]

"It is a general rule in all deliberative assemblies, that the presiding officer shall not participate in the debate or other proceedings, in any other capacity than as such officer. He is only allowed, therefore, to state matters of fact within his knowledge; to inform the assembly on points of order or the course of proceeding when called upon for that purpose, or when he finds it necessary to do so; and, on appeals from his decision on questions of order, to address the assembly in debate. [Cushing's Manual, §202.]


So, Councillor Mahern appears to be correct. Given President Vaughn's admission of "an appearance" of a conflict of interest, some tidbit like this would only seem to fuel the fire, don't you think?

President Vaughn, I invite you to respond to this blog post if I am in error.

At Some Point, the Problem is With You!



Last Friday's outburst by Dr. Frank Straub at an assembly of IMPD officers showed much about the kind of person he is. He's frustrated and at the end of his rope, and I understand why.

He's tired...just like we all are...of the riff raff in IMPD. I know many good people within the department that are tired of it, too. They are fed up, and they want the good news to bubble up instead of the bad. If Dr. Straub were to look, I think he would find this to be the prevailing opinion.

The fact is this. Under Straub's watch, more and more and more of these stories continue to bubble up. Under Straub's watch, a few IMPD officers are still continuing to bring embarrassment to the Department and to the city. Under Straub's watch, things aren't getting better.

Unfortunately, Mayor Greg Ballard, by many accounts, has handed the control of everything public safety over to Straub with little oversight. It was Ballard, you will recall, that wrested control of IMPD back to the Mayor from the elected Sheriff, Frank Anderson, as one of the first major actions of his Administration. Thus, this has been his Department since 2008.

Even if you buy that Straub has not been on the job that long, Mayor Ballard has. He and previous Public Safety Director, Scott Newman, oversaw this Department prior to Straub.

Thus, if there's exasperation on the part of Straub at the officers of IMPD, much of that has to go directly back to himself, his predecessor, and to his boss, Mayor Ballard.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Ballard Has Learned Little from Peterson's 2007 Loss


“Those who don't know history are destined to repeat it.”
--Edmund Burke

In 2007, then-Indianapolis Mayor Bart Peterson made a compelling argument for a 0.65 income tax increase. Sure, it was an election year, but Peterson barely had an opponent in Greg Ballard. His election seemed to be a foregone conclusion. Thus, Mayor Peterson tied the 0.65 percent county income tax increase to public safety.

In the end, that tax increase among the other taxes and fees that had been raised and the angst over the property tax craziness (over which Mayor Peterson had no control), doomed Peterson to a loss to Greg Ballard.

Many blamed Peterson's inability to read the tea leaves and inability to recognize Ballard as a threat early enough. Some blamed Peterson's income tax increase as well.

Fast forward to 2010. Mayor Greg Ballard is in no way as secure as Peterson was at this point in his tenure as Mayor. Now, he is blatantly going against the will of the people and has turned his back on his constituents in pushing through a couple of horribly conceived and constructed city asset transfers. The latest of which was a deal that essentially sold off the city's parking assets for 50 years in return for an amount of money far less than what the city could have potentially made for doing the job of upgrading its meters and keeping the profits itself.

That's immaterial. Councillor Ed Coleman, a Libertarian, said it best at Monday's Council meeting. After disclosing that he had received 33 e-mails before the meeting that all had asked him to vote against the parking proposal and not one e-mail asking him to vote for the proposal, Coleman said, "Our constituency is against this."

Coleman voted against the parking proposal. With Ballard's backing, it passed anyway.

Mayor Peterson was a popular and strong mayor. He did many things right, but, in the end, Mayor Ballard capitalized on the income tax increase and property tax angst to pull off the major upset.

For Melina Kennedy or Jose Evans or Ron Gibson, it may not even be that hard. With Dr. Frank Straub running rampant over on the public safety side destroying IMPD's morale and making unilateral decisions with no oversight and Mayor Ballard's constant and incessant penchant for making bad business deals for city assets, overcoming this Mayor in a General Election battle would seem to be the favored outcome.

Mayor Ballard isn't listening to his contituents anymore. That's not how he campaigned.

Monday, November 15, 2010

Gibson Reacts to Parking Deal Passage


Democratic candidate for Mayor, Ron Gibson, sent out this news release about 8:30 p.m. tonight.

Privatization of Parking Meters is Fleecing the City -- And Citizens

Indianapolis - “The approval of the 50-year lease of the City’s parking meters to ACS is a fleecing of citizens and visitors to fund a corporate entity, with no guarantee that there will be a benefit to the City of Indianapolis. ACS already has a bad track record of privatization with the State”, said Mayoral Candidate Ron Gibson.

“I agree that the parking meters need to be upgraded, but the city could invest in the technology by first using the annual $700,000 profit from current meters and raising rates. Then, by way of revenue bonds, borrow -- only as necessary -- additional funds to complete the project and then the City will retain all revenues and profits versus allowing a company to gain exuberant profits on the backs of our residents and visitors under the guise of improving infrastructural needs. In other words, this deal is so profitable to corporate and special interests that it passed with a vote by a Council member who had clear conflict of interest. The people of Indianapolis deserve better representation and leadership”, said Gibson.

Let's consider that Deputy Mayor Huber thinks that any and all future mayors will relish an annual income stream of $4 million per year from parking meters -- that is, if there are enough customers. There is no guarantee in this contract that there will be sufficient income for either ACS or the City or that if there is insufficient income, that ACS will still send the City $4 million. Too, if the future changes and leadership decides to terminate the contract, there can be a humongous penalty of some $19.8 million to ACS. There is also a 2-year prohibition against the City, in that event, of the City bringing in another vendor or the City operating the meters, thus guaranteeing them another 2 years of our parking meter revenue. Why are we paying an out-of-town vendor to upgrade our parking meters and take our money? There are qualified and capable vendors here that can do the job with fewer negatives. Has anyone considered the cost of attorneys in any lawsuit with ACS, even if ACS defaults on this contract? And don't forget about the water and sewer services that is still not finalized while the City is already spending the sales proceeds, if any.

"There is no doubt that infrastructure needs are huge. However, let's not put ourselves in a precarious position just to look good as the election cycle approaches. This piecemeal approach of what looks like giveaways has to stop while we take a deep breath and let the citizens make input to how our assets and indebtedness should be conducted", said Gibson.

Parking Deal Passes


Well, it was an entertaining debate, but the parking asset transfer to ACS passed the City-County Council, 15-14.

Republican Christine Scales voted with the Democrats as did Libertarian Ed Coleman. As expected, Democrat Paul Bateman voted for the proposal.

Councillor Vernon Brown, a Democrat, got in the best zinger of the night. In his explanation of the proposal, Councillor Bob Lutz, a Republican, said that one of the reasons to do this proposal was because government doesn't make good business decisions and regulating parking involves business decisions. So, when given an opportunity, Brown said that he agreed with Councillor Lutz that Mayor Ballard's Administration does a poor job making business decisions.

Councillor Coleman also revealed that he had received 33 e-mails today and that all 33 were for him to vote against the proposal and that not one wanted him to vote for the proposal.

In the course of the debate, Council President Ryan Vaughn acknowledged the appearance of a conflict of interest since the law firm he works for, Barnes and Thornburg, had a hand in the negotiation of the proposal. Despite this appearance, he voted for the proposal anyway.

Again, the inability for Democrats to stay on the bus together sunk the ability to overturn a bad deal for the city and its residents.

Kennedy Speaks Out on Parking Deal



Early this afternoon, Democratic candidate for Mayor, Melina Kennedy, released this statement to the media on the proposed parking assets transfer to ACS. Here is the release:

Economic Development and Our Future must be Paramount in Parking Deal

There has been much debate about Mayor Ballard’s proposed contract with an out-of-state contractor to sell off the City’s parking meters. After considering the Mayor's proposal and listening to that public debate, I have drawn three conclusions that in my view ought to drive the discussion about parking meter modernization.

First, I support the concept of upgrading meters and modernizing their operation and parking enforcement as beneficial to the City in the short and long term. It is not necessarily controversial to observe that our parking meters are antiquated, technology has changed for the better, and that we may draw important lessons pro and con from what other cities have done in their efforts to modernize their parking assets and policies.

Second, however, I am convinced that the Mayor's current proposal will hinder current and future economic development. As the City's former Deputy Mayor for Economic Development, I know that development projects require careful coordination among competing interests, and that many projects fail as their costs rise. By agreeing to substantial penalties for even temporary removal of meters, the Mayor is increasing the cost of every future development that requires closure of parking meters (beyond a minor allowance). The Mayor's proposal, if adopted, will impose greater costs on projects that require removal of parking meters and will make economic development that much harder to achieve. Consider the number of projects where parking meters were bagged or removed for substantial periods of time: the downtown mall, the
Convention Center, the canal, sports venues, restaurants, hotels, the Cultural Trail. All of these projects took a long time to build and would have involved substantial penalties and increased costs to develop had the parking concession agreement now being proposed by Mayor Ballard been in place.

Third, as an alternative, we can do what other cities have been able to achieve in upgrading parking meters without relinquishing all control of their local rights of way to out-of-state corporate interests. For example, recent reports from Minneapolis suggest that our parking meters could be upgraded at a far lower cost than the Mayor contends and without compromising local revenue or control by having the city upgrade meters directly. And in that process I would also support the public-private partnerships with local companies here that both would aid the city in making those upgrades as well as operate the system, as is done now with local companies.

Indianapolis must retain the power and flexibility to react to changing economic needs, but it cannot do so under the deal proposed by Mayor Ballard. Especially in these economic times, we need to be thinking about how we preserve our options for the most aggressive and appropriate economic development now and into the future.

"Strong Armed" Straub May Have Inserted Foot


Fox 59 ran this report yesterday.

 

Update:
Mayor Ballard tells WIBC that he supports his Public Safety Director and apparently the methods Straub used in the meeting with police officers. "These aren't young girls he was talking to," Ballard told WIBC.

So, I guess potentially tainting an investigation is ok with Mayor Ballard. Had enough yet?

Parking Deal Up For Vote Tonight


The City-County Council will take up the ACS parking deal at tonight's City-County Council meeting.

I urge anyone who wishes to make their voices heard on this to attend the meeting tonight at 7:00 p.m. in the SerVaas Public Assembly Room at the City-County Building.

I haven't done much on this issue here, but the following blogs have. Go there and read up.

Indy Student
Ogden on Politics
Had Enough Indy

Personal Prerogative: Sick :(


Sorry. There is no update of note for today. I just didn't feel like writing anything in depth. I've got some sort of cold complete with sore throat. Anyway, I will be back on Tuesday with a brand new update. Sorry!

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Yep, He's Running



Rahm Emanuel announced today that he will run to become the next Mayor of Chicago ending speculation that he would seek that office since he left his job as White House Chief of Staff earlier this year. The 50-year-old former U.S. Representative and former Clinton and Obama Administration veteran was a key ally and advisor in Mayor Richard Daley's run for Mayor back in 1989.

Mayor Daley announced a few months ago that he would not seek another term of office. He has been the Mayor of Chicago since 1989.

This should be a fun race to watch. The election is on February 22 in Chi-town with a possible runoff on April 5 if no one receives 50 percent of the vote.

Saturday Humor: Bush!

With George W. Bush back in the spotlight these last few days, I thought it would be fun to look back at some of the highlights of his Presidency...when it comes to bloopers. These would almost be funny if the guy didn't put our troops in harm's way for no reason (in Iraq) and didn't trample the Constitution, go crazy with spending, tax breaks for corporations, allow the economy to tank, etc., etc., etc.

Oh well...he's gone now, and, no, I don't miss him.

Friday, November 12, 2010

Vop Osili Speaks Out on Mayoral Rumors


Recently, there have been some rumors floating around that Vop Osili was interested in running for Mayor of Indianapolis and challenging Melina Kennedy in the primary. I decided to go directly to Vop and ask him.

So, on Friday, I sent him an e-mail directly asking him about the validity of the rumor.

He told me there was "absolutely no truth" to the rumor that he is running for Mayor. He also said he was a "huge fan" of Melina Kennedy.

Personal Prerogative: Why?

This has nothing to do with politics. Nothing at all.

As I was watching the footage of the cruise ship being towed back to port in San Diego after an engine fire rendered it a very large buoy, I began thinking, "WHY?"

Why on Earth do we need a floating Las Vegas hotel? These super massive cruise ships just scream problem. An aircraft carrier was activated to help get food and supplies to the stranded passengers, and the close to 4,500 passengers and crew finally were able to get on dry ground after three long days at sea. No one was injured...just probably mildly annoyed with the Spam diet.

On the other coast, the world's largest cruise ship, Royal Carribean's Allure of the Seas arrived for service at Port Everglades in Florida. This vessel is an 1,200 feet long. Built in Finland, it squeezed under the Store Belt Bridge in Denmark by a mere 18 inches. The bottom of the bridge is over 21 stories above the water, and the ship is some 236 feet tall. The captain had to drop the retractable exhaust pipes to squeeze under.

By contrast, the RMS Titanic was 882.5 feet long and 175 feet from water to smokestack funnel. I really don't have anything else to add, but I think these floating cities are remarkable, but I guess I just don't get it. Whatever happened to the good old days of Captain Stubing and the Love Boat. The 550 foot Pacific Princess looks quite tiny compared to today's behemoths. The old Love Boat is still in service, by the way, according to Wikipedia. It operates out of Nassau, Bahamas, and it has dropped the Princess from its name. It's just the Pacific now.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Honoring Our Veterans


Today is the day that we celebrate all those brave men and women who have given so much so that we can continue to live as free Americans. To all veterans, thank you for all you have done, and, to your fallen colleagues, I salute your sacrifices.

Thank you for fighting to allow me to write this blog and express my opinions as a free citizen of the United States. Thank a veteran today!

Below is an upbeat tribute video to our troops as Gene Simmons from KISS performs the theme songs of the various branches of service.



And, below, is a more solemn tribute. I have used this song often because I think it expresses so well the way our troops sometimes drop everything in their lives to rush into battle and serve their country. To all my friends, former students, and blog readers who have served, this one's for you.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Bisard Report Released


Today, the City of Indianapolis released IMPD's internal investigation report into the fatal accident that killed Eric Wells and critically injured two other motorcyclists, Kurt Weekly and Mary Mills.

According to the report, Officer David Bisard was driving his IMPD squad car at a high rate of speed with his emergency lights on to a call he had not been dispatched to. He also was apparently sending messages on his department-issued laptop right before he plowed into the intersection and struck the motorcyclists.

I have yet to read the 47-page report, and I intend to do so before I respond to this any more.

I will just say that it sounds as if that everyone up to the Public Safety Director had better speed up the pace of reform here or overhaul the way investigations, crime scenes, accident scenes, and other areas are managed. This sounds to me, as represented by Chief Paul Ciesielski, Public Safety Director Frank Straub, and Mayor Greg Ballard, to be a case that was botched completely at nearly every level.

Kennedy, Marion County Democratic Party Set Scene for 2011



In an e-mail entitled "Our Journey Begins", Melina Kennedy, Democratic candidate for Mayor, looks ahead to the upcoming campaign.


Friends,

A little more than a week ago, citizens of Indianapolis voted for candidates willing to build a new tomorrow. They voted to return courage and conviction to Capitol Hill in the form of Congressman Andre Carson. They voted to return experience and strength to the Marion County Sheriff's Department in Sheriff-elect John Layton. Residents also voted to bring a renewed sense of dignity and integrity to the Marion County Prosecutor's Office in Prosecutor-elect Terry Curry. Auditor Billie Breaux, Recorder Julie Voorhies and Clerk Beth White will continue their outstanding service as well.

In the coming weeks, we will begin a similar journey to bring change to City Hall. Much like those mentioned above, the choice we will offer voters is not one between two political parties, but between two different visions for the future of our city. While some seem satisfied with the status quo, I fundamentally believe that our city can reach higher.

Together, we can build a city of opportunity and prosperity. We can create new jobs by building a stronger local economy and embracing innovation. We can bring real, meaningful, and unapologetic reforms to our police department by putting politics aside and making the hard decisions. We can more aggressively attack the gangs, guns, and drugs that drive crime rates higher and destroy young lives. We can rededicate ourselves to providing a quality education to every child in our city by looking forward to the bipartisan, common sense solutions that tomorrow offers. In short, we can make our sons and daughters tomorrows better than our todays.
Every great journey begins with a single step, and on November 2nd we took the first step in long journey toward making Indianapolis a city of opportunity.

Though our road will assuredly be a long one, it is a journey worth making.
Let's continue on . . .


Sincerely,
Melina Kennedy


In contrast to Kennedy's relatively positive message, the Marion County Democratic Party has released a scathing web video, The Ballard Years, Vol.2. It's scathing.



In case you didn't see Vol. 1, here it is from September.



We're off and running in 2011!

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Marion County Political Landscape Looks Promising for Dems in 2011


The political landscape in Marion County is one of opportunity and one of challenge for Democrats as the party attempts to re-take the crown jewel of City/County Government, the Mayor’s Office, and the majority on the City-County Council.

Working for the Democrats is that Marion County is now, officially, a blue county. We knew this before, but the brutal 2010 midterm election season was a political bloodbath for Democrats all across Indiana. Not in Marion County where the Democratic Marion County ticket carried through easily. The closest county race was for Prosecutor, and Terry Curry prevailed over the well-funded and Mitch Daniels-backed Mark Massa by 8,587 votes in the uncertified results. John Layton had 119,303 votes in the race for Sheriff to lead the ticket. There were 20,969 more Democratic straight ticket votes than Republican straight ticket votes.

In the 7th District race, Congressman André Carson showed strong results with 58 percent of the vote, that margin came after he ran a race without running from a liberal agenda. He ran on his record, and he won easily despite an opponent that used some pretty deplorable rhetoric at times.

Those facts would tend to make you think that the wind is behind the Democrats, but there are complicating factors.

Mayor Greg Ballard, who has yet to announce his 2011 intentions, has built up a healthy campaign war chest, and, after spinning his wheels early in his term, has launched a series of initiatives that he can tout as a record. It's all in how that record is spun by both sides that will determine what happens.

The two major “feathers” Ballard will try to stick in his cap are the water utilities transfer deal that saw Citizens Energy take over the water and sewer utilities in Indianapolis. It was a very controversial plan that Ballard claims brought Indianapolis dollars for infrastructure improvements. The Rebuild Indy plan has begun with road, sidewalk, and other repairs citywide. The Ballard Administration has been good to get their Rebuild Indy signs up and posted around the city. I pass, off the top of my head, four of them on my daily drive to work. No work has begun in any of these areas that I pass yet, but the signs have been up for several weeks.

The other major deal that Ballard has been trying to push forward is the transfer of the city’s parking assets to ACS. The original draft met strong resistance, and Ballard’s folks have re-drafted the plan. That plan is also receiving mixed to negative reviews even from Ballard’s own party, and it appears to have a tough road ahead for approval. Ballard clearly is taking the privatization page out of the Republican playbook, and that can be a negative if he goes too far. He might have done so with this parking mess.

Negatives for Ballard include the public safety situation. There is some talk on the street that the Mayor has lost support among the rank-and-file IMPD officers and their commanders with the hiring of Dr. Frank Straub. Straub was brought in to make changes, and, for better or worse, he’s done that. In the process, he may have irreparably upset the balance of things for Ballard who may face opposition from his own police force. Untied loose ends in the Eric Wells case and the Brandon Johnson case hang in the balance.

Ballard also is touting a balanced budget that clearly is NOT balanced. The receipts are outpaced by the expenses. Libraries are cutting staff and closing certain days. Parks are receiving cuts. The Pacers, however, are receiving new incentives to stay in Indianapolis, and the CIB budget is taking precedence over keeping the things that make this community livable viable. These are problems for the Mayor.

The real question is where is Ballard's base? Ballard campaigned as an anti-establishment, tax reducing, spending reducer. He’s been anything but. Ask many of his grassroots supporters from 2007. They will tell you that they feel like they've been used. He promised one thing, but they've gotten another. A strong Libertarian candidate could certainly siphon off a lot of votes, in my opinion, from Ballard.

Unfortunately for Ballard, he also recorded ads talking about too many taxes and fees in 2007. Expect to see these boogers come back to bite him.



Those are Ballard's problems. Democrats also have yet to settle on a candidate for Mayor in 2011.

Melina Kennedy would seem to be the frontrunner right now. She’s been running for Mayor for over a year now and has done the most in terms of ground work regularly appearing on the Democratic club scene to woo potential slating voters while holding citywide forums to listen to issues. City-County Councillor José Evans has also been running a strong effort also organizing forums and holding weekly Facebook talks on education. Former Councillor Ron Gibson has been largely absent from the scene but is still running. These may or may not be the only three candidates for Democrats by the time all is said and done.

At the City-County Council level, a few district races have some interesting developments. Those are just beginning to shake out. The key to which party claims the majority lies with which party takes the four at-large seats. Republicans currently hold a 15-13-1 majority with two of the four at-large council seats on their side of the ledger.

Sitting in those four seats are Libertarian Ed Coleman, Republican Barbara Malone, Republican Angel Rivera, and Democrat Joanne Sanders.

It’s going to be difficult for Coleman to remain in his seat. The Marion County Libertarian Party has really done an excellent job in many ways, but Coleman was a Republican when he was elected and switched parties during his term. He will struggle against the major parties although his presence on the Council will certainly help his run.

Malone has done little since she joined the Council. She has largely stayed under the radar. Rivera only joined the Council fairly recently after Kent Smith resigned due to his military responsibilities.

Sanders has been a strong and solid voice for Democrats and the minority party. She has been working with a very difficult caucus that often has fractured. If you ask those in the know, they will usually tell you that Sanders takes her job as a Councillor very seriously and is very effective. She has been vocal and an on point counterbalance to Council President Ryan Vaughn.

Led by Sanders, a strong Democratic push for the three other at-large seats has begun. Annette Johnson, John Barth, and Zach Adamson have all been out and running high-profile campaigns. Adamson has even gotten some face time on local news over the parking issue. That kind of earned media is critical in a race where 12 percent of the vote gets you easily elected. Barth has impeccable credentials, and Johnson has proven she can win races in Pike Township. There are also other potential candidates lurking in the wings, but Adamson, Barth, and Johnson have done much in the way of early work and could be difficult to beat in a four month campaign leading up to slating. Slating would be a big key to winning a primary that typically draws very few voters.

All in all, it looks like a very good opportunity to reclaim the council for Democrats. Republicans swept into power on angst over property taxes as well as a little bit of failure to see the landscape clearly by the Democrats. The Dems, led by then-Mayor Bart Peterson, pushed through a 0.65 income tax increase during the election year. That as well as an effective campaign run by the Republicans doomed Dems in a year where property taxes skyrocketed and the only incumbents to blame were Peterson and the At-Large Councillors Gibson, Boyd, and Conley. The landscape has changed tremendously.

I’m looking forward to an interesting year of elections and writing about them. I hope you join me on the journey.

Monday, November 8, 2010

What to Do For Indiana Democrats?


With Evan Bayh now out of office and no control over any state office or either side of the General Assembly, Democrats have to be asking…who’s in charge of the party?

The Indiana Democratic Party failed to claim even the Secretary of State’s Office with a strong candidate vs. a guy that is, frankly, an accused felon. The IDP did help turn Indiana blue in 2008, but it didn’t turn those results into a win for Jill Long Thompson in the Governor’s race. I don’t know if Dan Parker can survive the aftermath of 2010 or if he will even want to continue as Party Chair into the future.

Bayh is also damaged following this election. The former-guy-who-could-do-no-wrong is now being partially blamed by Democrats for what happened Tuesday. He's taken heat on TV from Rachel Maddow and others for turning his back on his own party.

I am interested to see what Bayh will do when he makes his decision whether or not to run for Governor in 2012. I know more than one Democrat that’s promising to sit out the Governor’s race if he does run. That only likely elects somebody like Mike Pence.

So, who emerges as the head of the party? Both Rep. Pat Bauer and Sen. Vi Simpson, the presumptive Democratic caucus leaders in the House and Senate, have few bullets in their guns to stave off a Republican attack on many traditionally Democratic constituency groups and the public school system. That weakens their ability to lead the party.

Terry Curry probably becomes the state’s most powerful Democrat with the position of Marion County Prosecutor. Since lawsuits can be filed against state government only in Marion County, the Marion County Prosecutor many times gets the duty of investigating corruption there. This is why Mitch Daniels poured thousands of dollars into the race to elect Mark Massa. He didn’t want anyone looking over his shoulder. Curry will be a good watchdog and steward of that office, but he is likely to be too busy to be the guiding light of the party.

The bench right now is short. Ed Treacy might be an option, but I just don't see him leaving the Marion County Chairmanship before taking back the City-County Council and the Mayor's Office. There are other options as well, but I think the status quo will, believe it or not, stay in place.

Parker, whom I like personally, is connected with Evan Bayh and has been for years. As long as Bayh wants to run for Governor, I think you'll still find Dan Parker as the chairman of the party, if he wants to be. Parker has been chair since 2004. I just don't know if there is anyone short of Treacy out there to challenge him and get it done with the backing of Evan Bayh.

I guess that means that rank-and-file Democrats need to convince Bayh that he needs to stay home in 2012 and not run. That might be tougher to do than anyone thinks. Dems like Jonathan Weinzapfel and Roy Dominguez had good starts at running for Governor. Suddenly, they backed off after Bayh decided to leave the Senate.

Bayh says his decision will come around New Year's. Even with Democrats seemingly outside his window with hot oil and pitchforks, there's a long time to mollify the masses. If Governor Daniels starts going against his early promise for bi-partisanship, you may find Dems waxing romantic about the two-term Governor who actually did a pretty good job as an executive. I still think the most liberal of Dems will find a Bayh 2012 run hard to swallow.

The struggle for control of the IDP will either be a non-story or a battle royale! All will be answered in time. In the meantime, it's time to turn the page forward to 2011.

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Indy Fairly Calm After Piland Decision


In the wake of the Jerry Piland exoneration by the IMPD Civilian Merit Commission in the alleged beating of Brandon Johnson, some cities might have erupted in violence. Again, Indianapolis did not.

Indianapolis has a long history of reacting in this manner. Most famously, Indianapolis was one of the few major cities to avoid riots following the 1968 assassination of Dr. Martin Luther King. Many credit Robert F. Kennedy's famous speech here in the city that evening for keeping things peaceful.

There are some hard conversations left down the road in this case, and I'm sure that we have not heard the last of it. I personally believe that something inappropriate happened that night when Brandon Johnson sustained those injuries. I simply believe that whoever acted inappropriately should be held accountable. If IMPD's investigation was incomplete or wrong and Piland was not responsible, then the decision on his exoneration was justified. To me, I'll be honest, it was surprising. Then again, I wasn't there.

Police have a tough job, and I am a big supporter of the men and women in blue and brown. I was told to always respect law enforcement, and I always have. There was even one time that a Marion County Sheriff's Deputy was just flat out rude to me at an accident scene of a wreck I was involved in but I did not cause. I shut up and followed his directions even though I was angry to just be sitting at a stoplight and to be pulled into someone else's wreck. I let that Deputy do his job even though I felt he was being overly aggressive and unprofessional. I rationalized not filing a complaint because I didn't know what run he was on before he came to the accident scene.

My great grandfather (pictured in 1938 when he was a town marshall, I think), who died 11 years before I was born, was a member of the Indianapolis Police Department back in the early 20th Century. I have one of his badges and the sergeant emblem that went on his hat. Law enforcement officials, I respect and honor your service to this community.

I think many others in Indianapolis do the same. They understand that the actions of a couple of handfuls of people in your ranks do not, in general, represent the entirety of your force. That's why I think many are disgusted and appalled by what happened to Brandon Johnson (and Eric Wells and others), but they did not take those actions to the streets of Indianapolis.

I say, let's keep it that way.

Friday, November 5, 2010

Mayoral Candidates React to Piland Decision


I’m sure most of you have heard by now, Officer Jerry Piland was exonerated by the IMPD Merit Board in the case of the brutalization of Brandon Johnson.

Despite the findings of fact in IMPD’s own internal investigation and the strong recommendation to fire Piland from Chief Paul Ciesielski, the Merit Board voted 6-1 against the Chief and for Piland. Afterwards, as he spoke to his fellow officers, Piland showed little regret or humility. According to Channel 13, Piland said, "I appreciate every single text message you have sent me in the last five months, every single thought, card, everything...Because that is what this profession is about,is that right there, it's about us. We got to work everyday for us and that's what matters and that shows here today. We all know that everybody wanted to make this about something it wasn't, but we're here and that's what counts and I appreciate it guys. Thank you very much."

Yes...it's about you, Officer Piland. It's all about you. (Hopefully you detected the sarcasm there.)

Understandably, Mayor Greg Ballard was disappointed in the decision by the Merit Board as was Ciesielski. Johnson’s legal team says the case is far from over.

For their part, two of Indy’s Democratic Mayoral candidates weighed in on the decision in short statements. Councillor Jose Evans said:

I am disgusted and appalled by the Merit Board’s decision not to uphold Chief Ciesielski’s recommendation to fire Officer Piland. The case proved that Officer Piland used excessive force against Brandon Johnson. "The level of force that Officer Piland was exhibiting at this point was not a 'hard empty hand,'" said Sgt. Scott Hessong, IMPD Internal Affairs. Hessong said it was "deadly force." This case also showed that Brandon Johnson did not resist to a level that would justify the force that was used against him. There is no doubt in my mind that Office Piland crossed the line and that this decision is a slap in the face to the Johnson family and to our community.


Former Deputy Mayor Melina Kennedy said:

As a mother, the pictures of Brandon Johnson made me sick for him and his family. The pictures show that he was brutally treated. I’m disappointed with this administration’s actions and with this result. Brandon Johnson deservers (sic) better and Indianapolis deserves better.


Ron Gibson also has released a statement. The former City-County Councillor even advocates returning IMPD to a non-merit department. I publish it as it came from Gibson:

“Today’s verdict by the Indianapolis Police Merit Board of 'not guilty' says that the current lack of cultural sensitivity and bad actions of a few officers is acceptable within IMPD. This is wrong and justice needs to be served. By no means does this verdict restore the public’s confidence in its police department”, said Mayoral Candidate Ron Gibson.

"Despite this verdict, the Mayor and Public Safety Director should take the appropriate personnel actions to ensure change in the culture within IMPD, increase efforts to recruit diversity into the department, and conduct a thorough review of the rules of appropriate behavior by sworn officers", said Gibson.

"It appears that the conduct of Officer Bisard and Officer Piland are to be condoned, regardless of the efforts of Chief Cieselski (sic) and other senior personnel. Mayor Ballard and the City-County Council need to seriously review and revise the parameters of the Police Merit Board. Allowing such despicable behavior by IMPD officers, in spite of the Chief's efforts to improve the force, is unacceptable to the City's communities. If review suggests elimination of the Police Merit Board, so be it! After all, we have a Chief and deputies to manage the force, with a Public Safety Director between the Chief and the Mayor. This decision highly suggests that the Police Merit Board is an anachronism; with decisions such as this, it should be eliminated" said Gibson.


The Baptist Ministers Alliance of Indianapolis' reaction was published in a Star report earlier today. Here is that article.

It looks like this issue won't be going away for Mayor Ballard and Public Safety Director Frank Straub.

Carson Goes Back to Washington


I will admit that I was a little concerned on Tuesday when I heard early election returns coming in. The 7th Congressional District race was closer than I expected at that point. For like 2.1 seconds, I entertained the possibility of Congressman Marvin Scott. Finally, as the night wore on and the votes were reported, Congressman Andre Carson pulled away for a 30,778 vote win over Scott. Thank goodness. I didn't want to sell my house.

At nearly 59 percent of the vote, the percentage was the second-highest in this incarnation of the 7th Congressional District since it was first created in 2002. Carson takes back to Washington a mandate to continue pushing and supporting a liberal/progressive agenda.

Unlike many Democrats, Carson didn’t run away from the reforms he voted for. He ran toward them. It probably cost him some votes (he garnered 65 percent of the vote in 2008), but it didn’t cost him the election.

It also underscores another reason why Marvin Scott should slink off into the sunset. Scott tried his hardest to make Carson’s religion an issue in this campaign. He also tried to get people to believe that the 7th District was “5,500 voters” from changing to a Republican district. His association with noted ultra conservative and controversial pundit Stan Solomon hurt his credibility. Also, the incessant and totally false claims that Carson somehow believes and wants to enact Sharia Law were just well…we’ll leave it at that.

Carson won the 7th District because he’s a good candidate and he’s been a great Congressman for his constituents. He’s been visible, responsive, and accessible. On the day of the Labor Day Parade, for example, he marched in that parade and then went down and marched in the Miracle Mile Parade in Perry Township. In mid-October, he was in Decatur Township. He’s been in Beech Grove and all over the Northside. Carson is everywhere in the 7th, and, if anyone tells you he’s not, they aren’t looking.

Carson proved once again at the ballot box that he is absolutely the right person for this job. The fact that his last name is Carson might have opened a few doors, but the way he has conducted himself at the highest level as a Congressman is what has kept him there and has guaranteed him another two years in office.

The 7th District can be proud of Andre Carson, and the voters that gave him that winning margin can be proud of keeping him in Congress.

Thursday, November 4, 2010

No, Unfortunately, We Can't Stop Them


Indiana Democrats, the political weatherman has spoken. Hunker down, it's going to be a long storm.

The Republican statewide hurricane that swept a man accused of voter fraud into the Office of Secretary of State and a Washington lobbyist into the U.S. Senate has also swept in a huge Republican Indiana House majority and has shrunk the Democratic caucus in the Indiana Senate so much that now Democrats are not needed to do business at all in the Senate.

All of this means that lame duck Indiana Governor Mitch Daniels can pretty much run roughshod over anyone that has opposed him over the last six years. Fit him for his crown. He's now Napoleon.

Sure to be in his sights are the House Democratic caucus, public school teachers and administrators, organized labor, and minority groups. If you don't think he will, just wait.

Expect the Indiana General Assembly to end collective bargaining and make this state a “right to work” state. Expect the Indiana General Assembly to try to pass Arizona-like immigration legislation that will be discriminatory to minorities. Expect the Indiana General Assembly to do everything in its power to dissolve the Indiana State Teachers Association and to make public schools suffer so that more people go the private school direction. Expect the consolidation of local government so that townships no longer exist and small school districts are forced to consolidate with larger ones.

The voices of dissent will be there, and they will be strong, but there’s now nothing stopping Governor Daniels. For all intents and purposes, if it comes out of his mouth, and he wants it done, it will be law.

Even more insidious is what Governor Daniels can now do in redistricting. In many years, if reforms didn’t work, the opposing party could be ready to gain back the seats it lost in the next election. This time, Republicans will be drawing the Indiana House maps and the Indiana Senate maps. There will be no control of the General Assembly for Democrats in the foreseeable future if those maps are drawn correctly. Forget all this talk about fair redistricting. That’s done.

Indiana’s Republicans already had the right to draw the Indiana Congressional Districts. It looks like reapportionment will not take any seats from the state, but it does look like districts like the 2nd District and the 9th District can be redrawn in a way that Democrats will never control them. Republicans can also play defense in the 8th District where it looks like Brad Ellsworth could conceivably give it a go in 2012 against the newly-elected Larry Buschon.

The best Democrats can hope for in 2012 is that a strong candidate for Governor emerges. I’m not so sure that candidate is Evan Bayh. Bayh’s blueprint of a Blue Dog caucus in Indiana is not producing results anymore. Voters have strongly rejected it.

It’s time for a reboot at the state level, and it’s going to require a new mold to figure out things. The same old same old same old with the same old characters leading the way won’t work. I have a feeling the growing pains aren’t going to be pretty as old guard vestiges hang on for dear life. Voters already handed control of every state office and the General Assembly to Mitch Daniels. You can’t get much worse than that.

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Curry Leads County Office Sweep for Dems


Marion County voters have spoken and despite Mitch Daniels' great influence on the race, there is a change in power at the Prosecutor's Office.

When he is sworn in, Terry Curry will become the first Democrat to serve as Marion County Prosecutor in 16 years. Republican Mark Massa's late attempt to go negative showed only desperation. With Curry in office, finally, the stench of Carl Brizzi's term as Prosecutor will dissipate.

Curry arguably becomes the most powerful Democrat in Indiana. With Republicans dominating nearly every office in the State House, Curry is the man who would have the responsibility of investigating state government. Massa was a hand-picked and well-qualified candidate, but his campaign derailed over the last month before trying to get back on track.

Instead, it was Curry that closed his campaign with a strong finish, but it was Massa that provided the opportunity.

Massa's negative ad on Curry's defense of a sex offender when Curry was a defense attorney turned the stomach of many voters. Massa was expecting the opposite effect when his campaign tried to link Curry's defense attorney record to what he might do as Prosecutor.

Instead, Curry responded with one of the strongest ads of the campaign that drove home the point that, for Curry, the job of Prosecutor is personal. It looks like that message resonated with voters. As someone who was critical of Curry's campaign in the early going, I'm very pleased that it picked up quickly. Looks like the early ground-game focus helped to provide the win.

The Marion County Democratic Party had a good night, overall. While there were some discouraging results at the Indiana House and Senate level (Frank Anderson's and John Barnes' defeats among them), the county ticket swept the day. Congressman Andre Carson easily rebuffed Marvin Scott, and Vop Osili won the county giving Democrats continued ballot position and polling site inspector jobs for four more years.

Looks like the MCDP still has some fight in it, and this just underscores that Marion County is, by-and-large, a Democratic county. In this good Republican year, Marion County still looks pretty blue although there were some changes in the townships.

I'm going to sleep on things. I wouldn't be very honest if I didn't say that I'm extremely disappointed in the national scene. I'm also extremely disappointed that the local candidates here in Decatur Township didn't win and were not even close. Bittersweet thoughts are in my head right now though the idea of Terry Curry in the Prosecutor's Office makes it more sweet.

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

The Polls Are Open!!


At 6:00 a.m., 587 of the 590 precincts opened on time. Marion County Clerk Beth White reports that there were minor problems at three precincts. All polls are open now.

I voted at 6:11 a.m. at the Decatur Intermediate Learning Center. I was the 10th voter to put a ballot in the machine. Things went very smoothly. Exercise your franchise!

VOTE!

Early Voting Numbers Show Potential For Bigger Turnout


The tide for voting before Election Day has been very high this year.

In the normally sedate midterm elections, voter turnout is typically down. It appears that has changed this year. Over the last week, I have seen multiple Facebook posts from friends saying that they waited in long lines to vote in person at the Marion County Clerk’s Office and at the two satellite sites. Now, the numbers on early voting are in, and they are impressive.

21,825 voters took advantage of absentee voting. Of those, 10,697 were early voters. 7,530 voters exercised their franchise in person at the Clerk's Office. 3,167 voters utilized the two satellite voting sites on Indy's Eastside. The rest of the numbers include vote-by-mail, traveling board, and military ballots. The 21,825 includes about 1,600 ballots that have yet to be returned, according to the Clerk's Office. These numbers are up from 13,245 absentee voters in 2006 and 10,449 voters in 2000.

That means that more people took advantage of the early voting process this time despite the GOP-led efforts to curb it. Marion County Clerk Beth White should be commended for using the powers at her disposal to make sure that there were a variety of voting options for all of Marion County’s voters. In short, it's been a busy few weeks in the Marion County Clerk's Office. Beth White has also seen the busiest four-year election cycle ever recorded with eight elections instead of the normal six. This extraordinary situation included the 2008 Special Election following Julia Carson's death and the 2009 Wishard and school referendums.

If early voting numbers are an indicator, when the polls open today, that could mean a larger-than-expected turnout for a midterm election. Who knows what that means in Marion County?

That could mean that Republicans and other conservatives decided that enough was enough and went in droves to the early voting polling sites to cast their vote. It could also mean just the opposite; that the pleas of President Barack Obama, Organizing for America, and other organizations have turned out a more left-leaning early voting tally. Pundits typically say that early voting in person benefits Democrats most.

Still, the bottom line is that not enough people exercise their right to vote. For some people, they are turned off by the political process. Others are turned off by candidates. Still others feel like they don’t have a stake in the action. The process, however, is inescapable.

Elections do matter. Congresswoman Carson often said on politics, “When you’re born, you’re birth certificate is signed by a bureaucrat, and, when you die, your death certificate is signed by a bureaucrat. You can’t escape it.”

She was right. The political process affects us all. That’s why you need to get out today and exercise your right to vote. Nothing says you have to fill in every circle. Just, when you’re in doubt, I urge you to vote for Democrats.

Click below to see the numbers from Beth White's Office for yourself.

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