Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Testy Testy at Park Indy

This weekend, I retweeted a tweet from Matt Tully, the Indianapolis Star writer. His tweet was in regards to a parking meter purchase. It read:

Line item on my credit card statement: 25 cents for "ParkIndy Meter Fee, San Diego CA."

So, I get back this tweet from @parkindy. To me, it sounds like someone is just a LITTLE defensive.

Our credit card processor and manufacturer for the single space meters are one in the same. And HQd in San Diego.

Come to find out, I was not the only one to get tweeted by Park Indy. A few candidates for City-County Council that picked up my retweet also were tweeted. I also saw another friend of mine had a similar tweet from the organization.

Not sure the answer helped disprove the point which is that the meter deal gives our parking dollars to an out of state company.

What do I make out of all this? I don't know. Clearly someone is paying attention to Twitter, though, at Park Indy.

Carson's Incendiary Comments Disappoint

Congressman Andre Carson is my Congressman, and I remain a proud constituent. Even as a proud constituent, I must say that I am incredibly disappointed in my Congressman's statements at a Congressional Black Caucus event in Miami last week.

I'm sure many of you have already heard about his comments by now. Right wing radio and the blogosphere are blowing up about the comments, and the crazies are also out distorting and passing half truths about the Congressman and the Carson family. Then again, the incendiary comments of Congressman Carson truly beat on that hornets' nest.

In Miami last week, Carson was addressing a group at the Congressional Black Caucus event. He was caught on audio talking about the Tea Party movement. Carson said that some in the Tea Party movement wished that African-Americans were “second class citizens” and would love to see the Congressman and other African-Americans “hanging on a tree.”

Here is audio of the event with a little video. It begins at about the 24 second mark.

Before we go any further, I think Congressman Carson was expressing a sentiment that many in his audience shared. You can tell by the response to his comments on the audio. That still doesn't make it right for polite conversation in this hypercharged political world that we all live in.

We need legislators and leaders that can rise above all of this rancor and craziness that is spewed from both sides. Unfortunately, my Congressman did not rise above it. He stuck his foot right in it.I didn't like that. I have shared my thoughts with the Congressman directly who thanked me for my candor.

We simply don't need these over-the-top comments. They invite and increase the retaliation on the other side, and that was already happening. On the syndicated Dana Show on WIBC, a local resident called in with the "truth" about Andre Carson. First of all, she said he "changed his name" to run for Congress to Andre Carson. She talked about how the seat was simply handed off to Carson and how he had "just gotten out of college" and had "no experience" to serve in Congress. The fact is that, even briefly, Congressman Carson was a sitting City-County Councillor when he was elected to Congress. Carson never, to my knowledge, changed his name to Carson simply to run for Congress. Carson's college was completed well before he entered politics, and, most importantly, Carson won a contested caucus, a tough special election, a seven-way primary, and a General Election fight to earn his seat. Nothing was handed to him. He won fair and square.

That's exactly what I'm talking about, though. Sometimes when people say things that are controversial, it's all you hear, and the story becomes all about the messenger rather than the message. You don't hear the message. Are there racists in the Tea Party? YES! There are, however, racists in EVERY political group. There are racists in every walk of life even some 50 years after the Civil Rights Act was passed. The message should be that racism exists everywhere. Let's root that out and change that.

Buried in the message as well is that Congress cannot get things done in this nasty place we live in rhetorically. Congressman Carson's opinions that he expressed here have done nothing to change that, but the Congressman didn't say anything that I have not heard before. It's just not an opinion I subscribe to, in general.

Some are calling for the Congressman's job, but I don't think the Congressman should resign. It's up to him whether he apologizes or not. I would hope that he does. Bottom line, though, it doesn't change my level of support for my Congressman nor does it change the way I feel about my friend, Andre Carson. I know his heart, and I've seen him in action. Regardless of this incident, he remains an active and responsible advocate for this community, and I don't want to be represented by anyone else.

Coleman vs. Interesting Undercard

On November 8, people will be paying attention to the political races at the top of the ballot.

If Kennedy vs. Ballard vs. Bowen is the main event, few would expect the District 24 race for City-County Council to be a very interesting undercard, and things just got even more interesting last week.

Libertarian incumbent Ed Coleman, as most of you know, is an At-Large Councillor. He made the decision to give up his seat and run for the District 24 seat currently held by another incumbent, Jack Sandlin. Sandlin was not elected but was appointed to the seat replacing now State Rep. Mike Speedy.

Recently, the Libertarian National Committee made a huge donation to Coleman in the amount of $50,000. Sandlin, who was ousted as Perry Township Trustee by Perry Township voters in 2006, has about 20 percent of that total in his campaign account, according to the Indianapolis Star. That means that Coleman is pretty much now the most well-financed Libertarian in recent memory, if not ever, in Marion County politics.

Given Sandlin's history with Perry voters, it's not unreasonable to think that Coleman's newly found campaign warchest might come in quite handy.

Also notable is that Marion County Democratic Party Chairman, Ed Treacy, chose to leave this seat wide open on the Democratic side of the ballot and allow the anti-Sandlin votes to coalesce around Coleman.

Will the money Coleman now has be enough to cause Republicans to scratch and vote for a Libertarian. I guess we'll find out on November 8. Should be fun to watch.

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Pence Already Appears to Be Flip Flopping Already

Just a couple of weeks ago, Mike Pence made headlines when he flip flopped and talked went against his own policy of not talking policy until May of 2012.

His first bite at the apple? Pence wanted to cut the income and corporate taxes to three percent as well as get rid of the inheritance tax and chop a fourth tax he did not identify.

Pence is out talking policy again. At a function in New Albany last week, Pence took a second bite at the apple, time to cut the payroll tax, income tax and (again) the inheritance tax and replace it with the flat tax.

So, does this supersede the first plan, or is that one still in effect? What is that fourth tax? Is it the payroll tax? Will he reveal the fourth tax? I'm so freakin' confused. This is all just a little taxing.

Pence must know that fiddling with the state's tax structure could be extremely detrimental to schools and local government. We've already seen what the property tax caps have done to school funding as well as tightening local government budgets.

What do we know about Mike Pence so far? He's got a closet full of flip flops. I've said it before, and I'll say it again, perhaps Pence should have just followed his own advice and stayed policy silent until May 2012.

Monday, August 29, 2011

No Joke: Rupert Forms Exploratory Committee

Well, folks, Rupert Boneham, Survivor contestant and local philanthropist, has thrown his hat in the ring, sort of, for Governor of Indiana. So, this could be your next Governor...

Do I see tie-dye suits in the offing?

Perhaps a move to make Brian Bosma grow a beard?

A VERY interesting three man debate where the winner must win the immunity idol or be forced out of the race?

In all seriousness, Boneham announced on his campaign website that he has formed an exploratory committee to look at a run for the state's highest office. While I wish folks like Rupert would test their sea legs in a legislative or local office first, I don't begrudge anyone the chance to take a shot at the Governor's Office.

Rupert is a cool guy who has done immensely wonderful things for kids, and, if he decides to run, he will add another voice to the race. Heck, he might bring some folks that haven't been in the process before into the fold. I say, go for it Rupert!

This John Gregg supporter welcomes your voice in the campaign.

Ballard Camp Forgetting 2007

Greg Ballard's mouthpiece, Kyle Walker attacked Melina Kennedy for negative campaigning in the Mayor's race. Does Mayor Ballard really expect us to believe he has credibility on this? Charges of negative campaigning coming from the guy that had the slogan "Had Enough?" in 2007?

Ballard did nothing but promise unrealistic things and send negative attacks (both coordinated and uncoordinated) towards the former Mayor during that race. Now, we are four years later, and he wants us to forget and instead somehow believe that Kennedy's comparison ads are negative.

Ballard's 2007 campaign was born on third base, but they thought they hit the triple. It was an easy task to whip up the property tax angst and point it at Peterson. As much as he capitalized on that, Ballard also used the COIT increase (which still hasn't been repealed) against Peterson though the money was to go to public safety. The only thing they had to do was GO NEGATIVE.

Thing is, Ballard's not alone on the "Melina is negative" bandwagon, the Marion County GOP is also criticizing Kennedy for a negative campaign when we just came off the 2010 race for Prosecutor in which Mark Massa's negative ads against Terry Curry drew wide criticism from political figures and partisans on both sides of the aisle.

Finally, why is it negative campaigning to point out things that others have said? It's not like Kennedy is calling the Mayor names or saying anything that hasn't been said by others. She's simply pointing out that all the sterling things that Republicans would have you believe about Mayor Ballard's education record are distorted. If it's negative at all, it's very softly negative.

Don't buy Ballard's victim approach. These are similar tactics that he used against Mayor Peterson in 2007, and he and the Marion County GOP know it.

Sunday, August 28, 2011

French Lick Provides Good Time for All

The annual IDEA Convention took place this past weekend in French Lick, and, even though I was not there, some of Indy Democrat's correspondents were there. They sent me this report.


So, it sounds like it was a good time. Hope to make it down there myself next year. Let's hope that none of the charges stick! That would be a horrible blow to CENSORED AND REDACTED's campaign for CENSORED AND REDACTED.

Well, that's a pretty clear report. Hope you enjoyed it as much as CENSORED AND REDACTED enjoyed the IDEA convention! Never knew you could use those for that purpose.

Saturday, August 27, 2011

Officer Shot In Drive-by

I'm sure you've heard by now that Officer Dustin Carmack was shot in the hip in a shooting last night on the Westside.

I first heard about this last night, but this is my first chance to send my thoughts and prayers to Officer Carmack for a full and complete recovery. The officer is listed in good condition, according to the Indianapolis Star, and that's the best news one can hear, given the circumstances.

This story is being repeated too often in this city. I will stop short of being political, but does it really feel like crime is down here? Two officers just this year have been shot. Officer David Moore succumbed to his injuries.

To all the readers in blue and to all the public safety officials in general, my hat's off to you for what you do each and every day in this city. You make Indianapolis a livable place by keeping us safe.

Again, my best to Officer Carmack.

Friday, August 26, 2011

Hurricane Irene Threatens Six Years After Katrina

Well, here we are, six years almost to the day of the landfall of Hurricane Katrina in New Orleans, and we are staring another potentially catastrophic storm right in the eye.

This time, it's Hurricane Irene. Irene is definitely going to strain this country's ability to deal with a huge disaster, perhaps more than ever before.

There have been stronger storms than Irene, but she's taking dead aim at an area of the country that is heavily populated and not used to getting this kind of weather. We all knew it was possible, a strong hurricane taking aim at the megalopolis. This one is going to hit us where it will hurt.

These are the times you hope that you have leaders that are capable of making the right split-second decisions. You hope that you have elected leaders that can put politics aside and are ready and that have put the right people in place to take care of the needs of those effected by the storm.

Make no mistake, this will be a doozy even if it doesn't turn out to be the catastrophic storm that many are predicting. It's sure to cause some major damage and, at minimum, a major disruption to life in some of our most populated areas.

The storm is taking aim with an initial landfall likely in coastal North Carolina on Saturday morning. The storm is then forecast to continue its northward movement into Virginia, West Virginia, Pennsylvania, Maryland, Delaware, New Jersey, New York, Massachusetts, Rhode Island, Vermont, New Hampshire, and Maine. It doesn't look like the nation's capital will be spared the effects of the storm, either.

Now we wait. Mother Nature is ready to unleash it's fury on us again, and you hope that the plans that have been made are enough. This country cannot have another Katrina, but it's hard to imagine a disaster on this kind of scale affecting this many people.

Tonight, we are all East Coasters. Whatever you need, count on us to help. Here we go. We'll make it through this with you, together.

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Garrison's Guest Host Compares Gay Marriage to Bestiality, Pedophilia

I was driving back to work from a doctor's appointment today, and I turned on the Garrison program on 93.1, WIBC. Garrison was off, and Tom Rose was substituting for him.

Rose was interviewing an author named John Lott, the author of More Guns, Less Crime, in reference to some ridiculous report that some psychologists want to decriminalize pedophilia. I say ridiculous not because the report doesn't exist but because what judge or legislature would overturn longstanding criminal law that rightly protects children. Personally, it's a ridiculous thing to devote time to on a local radio program...especially when there's a City-County Council race, a Mayor's race, and all sorts of interesting local things going on right now.

Anyway, the right apparently is inflamed over this non-issue and is using this one issue to paint all liberals with one usual.

Rose brought up the theory of moral relativity or the idea that as things become more accepted, they stop being wrong. He suddenly brought gay marriage into the equation by saying, "One guy wants to marry a man. That's fine. The other guy his horse. That's fine. Another guy wants to sexually abuse children. Well, hey, that's fine, too." You can hear the entire interview on the podcast from the Garrison show website. Click to about the 18:07 to hear the quote start.


I picked up my phone, dialed 239-9393, and I gave the producer a piece of my mind. Where do they find these folks?

Ballard's Economic Plan: Full of Holes

Mayor Greg Ballard released a five point economic plan yesterday. It's incredibly thin on detail, and it is really full of nothing but fluff and will do nothing to solve the city's budget crisis.

The plan, detailed here, would create at least two new government agencies, force the Mayor into the role of a lobbyist as well as into doing the Secretary of State's job for him.

I'll dive more into specifics when I have a chance to digest it. But, at first blush, I have to say, "After almost four years in office, Mr. Mayor, is this all ya got?"

The Curious Case of Bill Levin Goes to Video

Bill Levin, Libertarian for At-Large City-County Council, has released this video. Hat tip to Gary Welsh over at Advance Indiana for posting this to his site.

And, while I'm at it, I was critical of Gary asking for donations on his blog over at my Facebook page. Immediately, I was lambasted by several of my friends for being unfair to Gary. If there's one thing I don't ever want to do, it's to be unfair. I'd like to take this opportunity to apologize to Gary for being unfair with my comments.

Now back to Bill Levin. Blair Englehart's group put the video together, and I think it's excellent. It certainly shows Bill at his best. The video also shows Bill as more than a novelty act. He talks some issues. You'll also notice Carlos May, a Ballard Administration official, in the video.

Vote for Bill Levin from Englehart Group on Vimeo.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Pat Summitt: A Hero

Pat Summitt is one tough competitor. She's now entering a battle that she likely cannot win, but I wouldn't count her out.

The winningest coach in college basketball history released this video statement yesterday.

So, the woman that has always been in control now has to face the realization that she cannot be so in control anymore. It's a somewhat cruel and ironic twist of life that has befallen her. I know that she will confront it eyes wide open and do it with as much class as she can.

My grandfather had Alzheimer's Disease when he passed. He died of stomach cancer, but the Alzheimer's prevented him from being able to tell us or his caregivers why he could no longer eat. It was only after a trip to the hospital that the truth was revealed. By then, it was too late.

Alzheimer's is a cruel and awful disease. It robs people of their humanity, and it does so at a slow and painful pace. It's not something I would wish on anyone after watching my grandfather go from being a strong man to a person completely dependent on others to live.

That's what's ahead for Coach Summitt unless we find a miracle cure. Medical science is advancing. Coach Summitt will slowly begin her decline at some point, and it will happen in front of us. That said, she plans to fight this by doing what she loves. She will continue to coach basketball for the Lady Volunteers.

I will continue to be a big fan. Pat Summitt exudes and always will define what it means to win with class, lose with dignity, and make a difference in the lives of young people. I salute her and wish her the best. It's time to go win another title for Coach, Lady Vols!

Heat Back on Hinkle

High profile Republicans continued to call for the resignation of Phil Hinkle from his State Representative seat in the wake of a recent scandal involving a personal matter.

Hinkle released a statement to the media yesterday.

Hat tip to Abdul-Hakim Shabazz for posting the statement on his blog.

It's time for a little inside baseball. I'm sure a few of you may have chuckled and rolled your eyes when Hinkle says that he did not plan to run for another term before this incident. I believe him. You know why? Because he told me.

Hinkle told me at a community function leading up to the 2010 election that he was seriously considering making that run his last go around.

So, now, as a lame duck and disgraced lawmaker, what can he do for his constituents? Little. Thus, as a political commentator and blogger, I would also urge Phil Hinkle to resign for the good of his district and allow someone to serve the constituents in House 92 the way they deserve to be served without the baggage of this story and the embarrassment he has brought them.

But, as a friend, I would advise Phil to resign his office and continue to try to salvage the relationship he has with his family without the pressures of dealing with this story everyday as a public figure.

Phil, you do what's best for you. The ball is in your court.

Pence Supporters Seem to See Nomination as Inevitable

Mike Pence's supporters believe that the divisive U.S. Representative is so electable that they are already talking about Lieutenant Governor candidates. Um, one small detail there...he's in a potentially tough primary.

There's only one candidate that is running television advertisements for the 2012 Gubernatorial race right now, and that's Jim Wallace. The Hamilton County businessman, Army veteran, and Harvard Business School graduate has cash in his pocket. Clearly, he's not being shy about spending it.

All the while, Pence supporters are whistling calmly as if no one else is in the race. Career politician and current Indiana Auditor of State, Tim Berry, is being floated as a candidate for Lieutenant Governor as well as others. Pence must first get through the Primary.

It's this kind of arrogance among the Pence supporters that may turn more independent voters off and perhaps even pull some Democrats over to play in the Republican Primary come 2012. After all, can anyone have much confidence in Pence's uneven start to his campaign for Governor? Sure he can raise money, but his first policy point on tax cuts drew as much criticism as praise from economists and potential voters.

I think Wallace is still an underdog at this point, but he can take a big bite out of Pence before John Gregg gets to him.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Law Change Means Easy November for Some Candidates

What does it mean to get elected? In Indiana, in some elections, it means less than it used to.

Due to a change in state law during the 2010 General Assembly Session, if you are an unopposed candidate in a municipal election outside Marion County, then no one needs to show up to vote for you on November 8. You are, essentially, appointed.

From the Indiana Code:
IC 3-10-7-6
Municipal office elections; time; restrictions
Sec. 6. (a) A municipal election conducted under this chapter shall be held at the time prescribed by IC 3-10-6.
(b) This subsection applies to a municipal office elected during a municipal or general election. An election may not be held for a municipal office if:
(1) there is only one (1) nominee for the office or only one (1) person has filed a declaration of intent to be a write-in candidate for the office under IC 3-8-2-2.5; and
(2) no person has filed a declaration of intent to be a write-in candidate for the office under IC 3-8-2-2.5 that results in a contest for election to the same municipal office.
As added by P.L.5-1986, SEC.6. Amended by P.L.11-1987, SEC.4; P.L.4-1991, SEC.56; P.L.8-1992, SEC.13; P.L.3-1995, SEC.89; P.L.4-1996, SEC.53; P.L.14-2004, SEC.86; P.L.225-2011, SEC.48.

There’s something wrong with that, to me. Sure, it does add some extra cost to print ballots and go through the motions of an election, but the act of someone going to the polls on Election Day and casting at least one ballot to elect someone seems to be the way the electoral process should work. There’s something unseemly to me to be “appointed” to an office where you should have been elected, and that’s essentially what happened when this new law passed.

To all those that stand unopposed for election, congratulations on your win. To all Indiana voters, sadly, your voice was usurped by your state government.

Monday, August 22, 2011

Seventh Victim Dies in Fair Stage Collapse

Word came late today that the horrible August 13 tragedy at the Indiana State Fairgrounds Grandstand has claimed another victim. Cincinnati's Meagan Toothman was a 24-year-old high school cheerleading coach. As an organ donor, her death may give others a chance at life. My thoughts and prayers go out to her family and friends.

Alina Bigjohny, Nate Byrd, Glenn Goodrich, Jennifer Haskell, Christina Santiago, and Tammy Vandam also perished from the injuries they suffered in the collapse.

Outta Touch with Mayor Ballard

I have an idea for a new show on WCTY, Channel 16. Let's call it Outta Touch with Mayor Greg Ballard.

I attended the United Democrats Picnic at Garfield Park, and there were over 200 people in attendance there to eat some good food, have some good conversation, and enjoy the afternoon. Melina Kennedy was of course there as were many of the incumbent and, hopefully, future incumbent City-County Councillors. The line of the day went to District 21 candidate Todd Woodmansee.

Woodmansee got up and gave a rousing speech. At the end, he brought up the words of a great band, "As Hall and Oates sang in the '80's, they're out of touch and, come November 8th, they're out of time." Great closing words in reference to Mayor Ballard and the Republicans, but it really a prescient statement given the interview I had heard driving to the picnic.

I was listening to the Jersey Johnny Show on 1070, the Fan. Mayor Ballard is a frequent guest on the program, and he was on talking about the upcoming Super Bowl and other sporting events. Jersey Johnny brought up the fact that 64,000 seats were sold for the Colts Friday night preseason game against the professional football team from Washington, D.C. Johnny said that even though all the seats were sold that there were a lot of unoccupied seats for the preseason game. He suggested that someone give tickets that they weren't going to use to a neighbor kid and his family so that they could experience an NFL game. Great suggestion!

Mayor Ballard said that he enjoys going to Colts games, "I'm at every game," said the Mayor. He says that he often gives access to the city suite to those that, "wouldn't otherwise get to go to the game." Then, he dropped this knowledge on the city of Indianapolis.

"It always amazes me the number of people that have never been in Lucas Oil Stadium," said the Mayor.

Well, Mr. Mayor, let me educate you. It costs money to go to LOS. Money that some people just don't have in Marion County. I was there at a high school event on Saturday night for the Peyback Classic. Tickets were $10 (though I was there as a media member). Parking was $10, and I paid $9.25 for the smallest Diet Coke and the smallest popcorn I could buy. Had I paid for a ticket, I'm out $29.25. Multiply that times four. That's a hefty amount even for a non-Colts event. For a Colts game, the cheapest ticket is $48 a seat.

The vast majority of the citizens of Indianapolis cannot afford to go to an event at Lucas Oil Stadium. When Lucas Oil Stadium was built, studies showed that almost 2/3 of the people that went to Colts games did not come from Marion County. These are your citizens, Mr. Mayor. Shouldn't you know that? I would think so.

That's why we need that show. Mayor Ballard is out of touch, and soon, he will be out of time. Thanks to Todd, we have the theme song.

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Qadafi On The Run

Well, it's not a Paul McCartney song, but it appears the bells of freedom may be ringing again in an African capital.

Rebels are apparently closing in on control of Tripoli, Libya tonight, and CNN is reporting that two of Muammar Qadafi's sons may be captured.

More to come!

Saturday, August 20, 2011

Does City Care about Fountain Square?

The expansion of the Cultural Trail down to Fountain Square was supposed to have been a big help for the wonderful example of urban revitalization. Now, coupled with a bad economic situation, the construction, that was supposed to have been complete by now, has helped spell doom for a couple of businesses and is perhaps sealing the fate of a few others.

Late last year, I discovered the wonderful Square Rootz Deli. The gay-owned and operated business featured some truly delicious sandwiches. The Hoshi Melt was something of culinary art. Today, you can't get a Hoshi Melt anymore in Fountain Square because the deli is gone. Square Rootz is not the only one that felt more than a pinch there.

Local media has been on the subject, and the Indianapolis Star just reported on it today.

The Star reports that normal city line that old trolley tracks and the discovery of a vault have slowed construction, but one local report from channel 13 talks about the lack of progress and work on the project.

I think the city should be helping these businesses out more instead of letting them die on the vine. Perhaps using some of the fake prop-up shell game money that Mayor Ballard used to create the illusion of a balanced budget could be diverted to a small advertising campaign to help people understand the wonders of Fountain Square.

It might go a little way to helping businesses in the Square know that the city cares about them and what happens to them in the future. It might also keep those small, lifeblood-of-the-city, businesses from shutting down. The project was supposed to have been finished last month, but the city is now saying that it will be the end of the year before the project is done.

Stewart on Right's Response to Buffett

Friday, August 19, 2011

Stage Collapse Claims Sixth Victim

Jennifer Haskell, a Ball State student, became the sixth victim of the Indiana State Fair stage collapse.

My thoughts and prayers remain with Haskell, her family, and all the others affected by this awful tragedy.

Friday Hodge Podge: yVote Program Kicks Off; IDP Attacks Lugar; Democrats To Picnic

yVote Program Begins Another School Year
Marion County Clerk Beth White will soon be back in schools across the county registering voters and educating them on the election process. It's part of the innovative yVote program that has registered thousands of young people to vote over the last three years.

From the yVote website:
yVote! brings an Election Day experience into Marion County classrooms. Clerk Beth White and her staff offer a basic civics lesson to high school students, giving students a hands-on demonstration with the county’s voting machine. Plus, eligible students can register to vote for the first time.

If you would like your student’s school to participate, please ask the principal or teacher to contact Patrick Becker at 317-327-2050 or email The voter registration deadline for the November 8 election is Tuesday, October 11 and it is preferred that all visits occur before then.

On November 8, Marion County voters will go to the polls to participate in a municipal election. Through yVote!, our newest voters will know what to expect and should have a positive first experience, encouraging their participation in this and future elections.

IDP Goes After Lugar on "Strong Economy" Claim
The Indiana Democratic Party has released the following video comparing Richard Lugar's recent comments on the economy to some John McCain made in 2008.

While the video clearly takes Lugar to task, one can't help but think that it may go a little overboard and could hurt President Obama in his own state. For his part, Joe Donnelly circulated the video along with a fundraising plea.

Major Democratic Picnic Sunday
Marion County Democrats will gather at Garfield Park on Sunday under the famous Pagota shelter for some food and some fun.

Sponsored by the local Democratic clubs, the Indiana Stonewall Democrats, Attorney Nate Lee, and the Marion County Democratic Party, the 4th Annual United Democrats Picnic has quickly become a great summer tradition.

This year, as always, you can expect some candidates and politicking, but the most fun part of the afternoon is just getting together and enjoying an afternoon in a great city park with some like-minded individuals.

If you're coming, there is just one request. Bring A Dish! If Your Last Name Begins With:

A-J - Bring Chips and Snacks
K-P - Bring Vegetables/Salads
Q-Z - Bring Deserts
Elected Officials and Candidates - PLEASE BRING A DOOR PRIZE!!!

There's always games for the kids, door prizes, and enough food to feed a herd of donkeys. The event starts at 1:00 p.m. and ends at 3:00. The Pagota is located at 2345 Pagoda Drive on Indy's Southside.

Thursday, August 18, 2011

7th District's Carson Continues to Work Diligently

On Friday, Congressman André Carson met with job seekers at his annual job fair. On Wednesday, the Congressman held a forum on Medicare in Beech Grove. He also has opened a health care center, helped to dedicate a park, and had time to hobknob with some young professionals. The Congressman is an ever-present force in his community.

While Congress takes a beating in the press, Congressman Carson has started shining a light his own direction. He broke with his President and voted no on the debt ceiling deal because he felt the deal didn't demonstrate the shared sacrifice many believe would help solve the debt crisis.

I believe Carson understands the new challenges he will face as of January when his district shifts to the south a bit. The Congressman will represent areas of Marion County that, at different times, have been in the district of Steve Buyer, Todd Rokita, or Dan Burton.

No matter what the new district's boundaries will be, Carson is popular among his base, and no one can deny how hard he works at the job. He continues to be a strong representative and advocate for Indiana's 7th District.

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Wallace Can Tie Wagon To Daniels Legacy Easier Than Pence Can

Even though many Democrats don't have much use for him anymore, Governor Mitch Daniels remains a popular figure among many independents, moderates, and most Republicans.

His record as Governor would play very well to his voters if he were able to run for reelection in 2012. You won't find many liberal Democrats, teachers, local government employees, or union members that would want to keep Mitch, but you might find a good number of others that would vote for a possible third term. As much as I don't understand why anyone would vote for Mitch again, many would.

That's why I think the smart thing to do for the GOP candidate running for Governor in 2012 would be to tie my wagon to his and pledge to continue the Daniels legacy. It would be a message that would not resonate with Daniels foes like this blogger, but it might just get the Daniels friends on your side.

Of the two Republicans in the race, one has a better chance of hooking himself to Governor Daniels, and that's not Mike Pence.

It's Jim Wallace. Wallace has a resume that compares favorably with Daniels prior to becoming Governor of Indiana. He also is also more a moderate with none of the baggage of being in Congress the last few years.

I can see Wallace taking this sort of strategy to heart. If you follow his Facebook page, Wallace has posted a picture of himself with the Governor as well as made it known that he was riding with Daniels in a charity motorcycle ride. While Mike Pence is out in Washington doing more damage to our country by being an obstructionist Republican in Congress, Wallace is maybe starting to paint himself as the man that will make it a third term for the policies of Governor Daniels.

Pence's tax cut plan was roundly criticized by economists and political strategists aside. Coupled with the poor way he launched his campaign from Washington, D.C., it looks like the odds on front runner for the Republican nomination is nothing more than on unstable campaign strategy footing with a lot of money in the bank.

Don't get me wrong, I'm 100 percent in the tank for John Gregg. I just think there is an opportunity for Jim Wallace to make an argument to Governor Daniels' voters on both sides of the aisle.

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Weather Channel Meteorologist Takes on "Fluke" Assessment of Saturday's Storm

Saturday's stage collapse at the Indiana State Fair was clearly a tragedy, but according to a Weather Channel Meteorologist, it was no fluke.

Tim Ballisty, an Editorial Meteorologist for the Weather Channel, writes a very strong argument supporting his assessment.

Ballisty writes:

In a recent AP article, Governor Mitch Daniels of Indiana was quoted as saying that the blast of wind that toppled the stage rigging at the Indiana State Fair killing 5 people was a "fluke event".

A "fluke" by definition is an unlikely chance occurrence. The destructive and deadly wind gust on Saturday evening in Indianapolis was no chance occurrence.

Let's stop bucketing meteorology and weather in general into some magical mystery science that can't be explained. When a tragic accident due to existing extreme weather conditions occurs, there is a notion to just throw your hands up in the air and say, "well, nothing could have been done to avoid this" or "nobody could have seen this coming" or "it was just a damn fluke". In many instances, that just simply is not the case and it wasn't the case in the tragedy at the Indiana State Fairgrounds. Powerful, damaging winds were a known threat several days before and during the minutes leading up to the stage collapse.

The piece, linked here, goes on to lay out in detail the facts behind his argument. Besides the soundness of the canopy over the stage, the reaction of organizers to the approaching weather will no doubt be part of any potential lawsuits, and any potential efforts to paint this as anything other than normal Indiana summer weather will meet this strong challenge that Ballisty articulates in his piece.

I am not making this political. In fact, I think Governor Mitch Daniels has showed a very human side in his reaction to this tragedy. His words have been heartfelt, and it was truly touching when he nearly choked up when talking about how proud he was to be the Governor of Indiana at the memorial service.

With that said, it's clear to this Weather Channel meteorologist that the Governor's assessment of this as a "fluke event" is just not accurate.

Ballard Supporters Must Give Up Property Tax Issue to Criticize Kennedy Education Plan

I was reading the Indy Star online when I noticed this ad.

Mayor Greg Ballard
98.5% of homeowners’ property taxes are lower now than in 2007

It was a simple ad. There was no art connected to it or anything, but I found it as perfect fodder to those that are criticizing Melina Kennedy for taking on education as a key piece of her campaign when the Mayor has little direct control over it. I think that's a weak counterargument to Kennedy's strong position on education: that a Mayor who is actively involved in the conversation CAN make a difference.

In contrast, Greg Ballard is taking sole credit for lowering property taxes when he did little but advocate for them. He used the "bully pulpit" of the Mayor's Office to throw his support behind the tax caps that have crippled city and county government. All the while, fees and other taxes have gone up. Now, the city is apparently using TIF district funds to give the illusion of a balanced budget.

Voters approved those property tax caps after they were passed by the Indiana General Assembly. It remains to be seen how much Ballard actually had to do with the issue other than a good argument in favor of caps. Ballard's advocacy of the issue is EXACTLY, in my view, what Kennedy is proposing to do for education reform in the city.

Thus, when you hear a Ballard supporter denigrate Kennedy for her advocacy for our schools, tell them that they have to take Ballard's role in reducing property taxes off the table, too.

Sunday, August 14, 2011

No Posting Monday

Out of respect for the victims of the disaster at the Indiana State Fair on Saturday night, there will be no posting on Monday.

Indy Democrat will return to its normal posting schedule on Tuesday. My thoughts and prayers remain with the victims of this tragedy and their families, friends, and loved ones.

Dr. Greg Forbes on Last Night's State Fair Accident

Dr. Greg Forbes from the Weather Channel explains the weather phenomena that was responsible for last night's stage collapse.

State Fair Stage Collapse Brings Out Best of Indianapolis

Last night was a bad night for Indianapolis. But, as happens so many times, out of a bad night comes something good.

When the stage came crashing down at the Indiana State Fairgrounds, people ran. They ran for their lives. After they stopped running, they did what many people wouldn't. They ran back.

Video after video shows the horrible stage collapse. Video after video shows people running just as fast back to the stage to help remove the collapsed stage and get out those that were in peril.

As of this time, we do not know how many people will be injured or killed, but we do know that the fast actions of hundreds of Hoosiers and other concert goers probably saved lives. Bravo to all of those brave heroes that ran back towards the stage, and bravo to all of the first responders who were there within moments to do their jobs.

It was a team effort to save lives. This early morning, I'm proud to be a resident of Indianapolis...and a Hoosier. My thoughts and prayers are with all those injured and killed tonight as well as their families, friends, and loved ones.

Governor Mitch Daniels had this to say regarding last night's response to the disaster:

"What needs saying most about last night's freakish accident was that we saw on display the best qualities of both public and private Hoosiers.. Emergency management personnel was instantaneous and highly professional. It's equally important to say ... that individual Hoosiers ran to the trouble instead of from the trouble by the hundreds. That's the character that we associate with our state."

We are in agreement, Governor.

Saturday, August 13, 2011

Grandstand Stage Collapses at Indiana State Fair

Tragedy visited the Indiana State Fairgrounds on Saturday night, again.

Just across the road from the site of arguably the city's most infamous tragedy, a stage collapsed in front of an estimated 12,000 people who gathered to watch a popular country act. Four people are dead, and 40 people are injured as of this hour. Sunday activities at the fair have been called off, and the fairgrounds will be closed.

According to multiple sources, a severe thunderstorm warning was issued around 8:39 p.m. for Marion County. About 10 minutes later, a strong gust of wind hit the Indiana State Fairgrounds Grandstand stage area and toppled a large canopy rigging that covered the main stage. The canopy and associated lighting structures, video screens, trusses, and other equipment dropped in seconds onto the stage and into the VIP seating area just in front of the stage.

Sugarland was the headlining group of the concert along with opening act Sara Bareilles. Bareilles had just finished her set when dark clouds began to threaten. According to multiple media reports, a man made an announcement updating the crowd as to what might happen if weather were to get worse. Shortly after he left the stage, the gust of wind toppled it.

Immediately after the stage collapsed, video shows hundreds of concert goers running back to help with the relief effort.

Of course, this is not the first time tragedy has struck at a huge public gathering at the Indiana State Fairgrounds, the 1963 Coliseum explosion occurred just a few hundred feet from the stage collapse. A leaky propane tank ignited by a popcorn machine on Halloween night blew out large sections of the Coliseum seating area throwing the people in those seats onto the ice along with large pieces of concrete. The explosion killed 74 and injured close to 400 people.

For the latest information, go to one of the following websites.

To check the status of a loved one, visit

Here's video of the collapse from YouTube

Music Pix filed this video on YouTube of the aftermath.

College Humor Riffs on Religion

Jon Stewart Reacts to Gaze Gate!

Pretty much my argument, exactly.

Friday, August 12, 2011

Thoughts on Phil Hinkle

Some days reading the newspaper headlines is easy, and some days it’s not. Today was one of those latter days.

The Indianapolis Star has an extensive report on my longtime family friend, Rep. Phil Hinkle, and a personal matter. I’m not going to get into it.

I know that when many of my readers read the story that you probably had a reaction. Mine was shock.

I’ve known Phil for 36 years (he knew me before I was born), and I’ve known his family for my entire life. I went to kindergarten the first day in the same car as his daughter, J.J., and his son, Tony, was a couple of years behind me at Ben Davis. We used to be babysat by the same person, and I can remember playing with Star Wars figures with Tony. Barb, Phil’s wife, was a teacher of mine at Fulton Junior High School, and, when I became a teacher, I worked with her in her role as an officer of the Wayne Township Classroom Teachers Association.

Believe it or not, Phil Hinkle is a big reason why I blog here as often as I do. He was an early fan of the blog, and he would always encourage me to blog more often back at the time when I would post sporadically. In short, the Hinkles and the Easters go way back.

That’s why I can’t feel anything but pain and sorrow for the Hinkle family. I would like to take this time to tell the Hinkles that I’m thinking about them. If you can't tell, I take no joy from this story. In fact, I almost cried when I read it. I think Phil's family deserved better from their patriarch.

After he deals with whatever comes out of this story, I hope that Rep. Hinkle is able to get his life back together. I really do.

I won't be taking comments on this one.

Friday Hodge Podge: Catching Up

During the week, I always get a number of news releases that sometimes I just don't have a chance to react to in a timely manner. Today's hodge podge is dedicated to just that, catching up.

Sanders Attacks Ballard on Use of Utility Deal Money
From the Marion County Democratic Party
INDIANAPOLIS - Today, Indianapolis City-County Council Minority Leader Joanne Sanders released the following statement with respect to the City-County Council Rules and Public Policy Committee's consideration of Proposal 212 this evening:

Mayor Ballard promised that he would not use the asset transfer proceeds to prop up the budget. He is now breaking that promise with a proposal to place $80 million of the proceeds into a “fiscal stability” fund. Additionally, the Mayor is attempting to take $104,700,000 to pay for a number of undisclosed services and consulting fees.

We know that Mayor Ballard is using asset transfer proceeds to “prop up” the city’s balance sheet and make up for his budget mismanagement over the last three and a half years. The significance of that decision is that $80 million is not available for infrastructure, education, crime-fighting, or job creation.

Together, this totals more than $184 million being diverted away from things that build physical and human capital in our City.

This proposal raises many questions and the public has the right to know:
1) Why is $185 million being spent differently than the Mayor promised?
2) What specifically is the $104 million being spent on?
3) Why wasn’t the City-County Council directly informed of the spending plan?
4) Why wasn’t this spending plan communicated to the public at the time the water and sewer transfer deal was taking place?
5) Would the public still back such a plan if they knew that approximately $185 million of the one-time money is not going to be used for infrastructure as promised?
6) Would the council have still voted for such a proposal?

In recent years and on Mayor Ballard's watch, the City has spent down fund balances – including using rainy day funds last year to, in the controller’s words, “prop up” the budget. Now, because of his fiscal mismanagement, Mayor Ballard needs to replenish city fund balances to avoid losing the AAA bond rating and putting Indianapolis economic future in jeopardy. If you want an 'honestly balanced budget,' the first thing you have to do is be honest.

Many loyal to Ballard have been critical of Melina Kennedy's plan to utilize a portion of the money from the utility deal for her Vision 2021 plan. Looks like Mayor Ballard is using it to perpetuate his record of reactionary leadership.

Kennedy Gets Endorsed
from the Melina Kennedy Campaign
Last Thursday, I was thrilled to receive the endorsement from the Tobacco-Free Kids Action Fund.

This prominent organization endorsed my campaign because of my continued commitment to a comprehensive smoking ban in Indianapolis, in contrast to the current Mayor who continues to voice his opposition to such a ban.

This is not only a health issue, but also an economic development issue. The longer we wait to pass a comprehensive smoking ban, the further we fall behind the more than 600 cities that already have one in place. To me this is just not acceptable.

Indeed, we should already be providing a smoke-free environment for our workers and families who live in Indianapolis. And we should offer a smoke-free city for out of town visitors who expect such an environment when they attend world-class events in a world-class city.

I want to share with you an excerpt from the Tobacco-Free Kids Action Fund press release:

“As a former Deputy Mayor for Economic Development and now as a candidate, Melina Kennedy understands that going smoke-free is good for health and good for business in Indianapolis. She has been a strong advocate for protecting families and workers from the proven dangers of secondhand smoke. She understands that it is time for Indianapolis to protect everyone’s right to breathe clean air and join the list of great cities that are smoke-free,” said Matthew L. Myers, President of the Tobacco-Free Kids Action Fund.

“For the last four years, Mayor Ballard has stood in the way of protecting the health of all Indianapolis workers and customers. Indianapolis doesn’t need any more excuses. Workers and families need a mayor who will make sure that a comprehensive smoke-free law gets on the books in Indianapolis. Melina Kennedy will provide that leadership,” Myers said.

You can be assured that, as mayor, I will be committed to passing a truly comprehensive smoking ban, just as I am committed to improving public safety, fixing our education system and creating jobs in Indianapolis.

Melina Kennedy

Lugar's Economy Comment Draws Rebuke from DSCC
From the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee
Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee Press Secretary Shripal Shah issued the following statement responding to Indiana Senator Dick Lugar declaring last night that the economy is “strong”:

"After 35 years in Washington, Senator Lugar is clearly out of touch with the struggles that so many Hoosier are facing right now. His remarks are nothing short of insulting to the Hoosier families who are very worried about what's happening on Wall Street and don't feel that the economy is strong. Senator Lugar has demonstrated exactly why even rank and file Hoosier Republicans are saying that it is time for a change. Hoosiers already knew it was time for new leadership and Senator Lugar’s remarks only reinforce that sentiment.”


Senator Lugar declared that the economy is “strong.” In an interview with WDRB in Louisville, Senator Lugar said “The American economy is still strong, that we're making progress although it's very slow in terms of job creation, and that we still have a dollar that is the world currency and we are still selling bonds to everybody all over the world despite the S&P downgrade.” [WDRB, 8/9/11]

Gosh that was an easy post. I guess I need to check my e-mail more often!

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Kennedy on TV

Editor's Note: See the update at the end of post.

Melina Kennedy is escalating the campaign for Mayor of Indianapolis by hitting the television stations with the first ad of the campaign. No one knows the exact details of the ad that is expected to air today during the evening newscasts.

This certainly is the first big spend by the Kennedy campaign, and it signals an escalation of the race that has its finish line just 88 days away.

Mayor Greg Ballard continues to be quietly going about his campaign for Mayor rarely making any comments on any issues of note in public. This didn't escape fellow blogger, Terry Burns, who riffed on an Indy Star report that Mayor Ballard was adamant about something, the size of 14 executive lockers at the new bike hub in the City Market.

Instead, it's been Kennedy who's been the aggressor lately on major issues of crime, economic development, and education. She's delivered major policy speeches to two organizations. Her Vision 2021 plan has provided a clear mission statement for her first term in office. She also went on the record on how to improve education in Indianapolis as well while Ballard has remained silent.

I am interested to see what Kennedy's first ad will highlight. Kennedy has some money to spend, and it's clear now that she's ready to put her campaign to unseat the Mayor in front of even more potential voters.

Kennedy's ad indeed aired tonight. I saw it at least twice on WTHR. The ad was positive playing up Kennedy's compelling bio point where she waited tables to help put herself through IU. It used that as a transition to highlight her education platform. Granted, the Mayor has little direct control over traditional public schools or private schools in town, but the Mayor can issue charters and revoke them.

It's a large bully pulpit to advocate for our children and our community. Kennedy's first ad pointed all of that out. Unfortunately, it's not available on YouTube only on her website. Here's a link to the video page.

Reminder: Congressman André Carson's Job Fair Tomorrow

Congressman André Carson's Central Indiana Job Fair will take place at IUPUI on Friday. Here is the most recent release from Carson's Congressional Office.

INDIANAPOLIS – Nearly 70 employers with approximately 1,200 available jobs will participate in Congressman André Carson’s Central Indiana Job Fair on Friday.

The job fair, hosted by Carson in cooperation with Ivy Tech Community College and IUPUI, will be held on Friday, August 12 from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. at the IUPUI Campus Center in downtown Indianapolis.

WHAT: Central Indiana Job Fair

WHEN: Fri., August 12, 9 a.m. to 3 p.m.

WHERE: IUPUI’s Campus Center, 4th Floor
420 University Blvd
(Corner of Michigan St. and University Blvd.)

Participating Employers

1040 Tax Biz



Allison Transmission

Ascension Health (Ministry Service Center)

Atterbury Job Corps Center

BC Forward

Butler McDonald

Caregivers, Inc.

Central Indiana Men in Business

Central Indiana Regional Blood Center

Charles Schwab

Children's Museum


Community Health Network

Companion Care Company

Cornerstone Associates LLC

Deem & Central Securities Communications

Defender Home Security

Dick's Sporting Goods

Domtar Paper Co

Drug Enforcement Administration

ELS Language Center

Express Employment Professionals

Express Scripts


FedEx Ground

Garcia Construction

Goldberg & Segal Associates

H & R Block

Harlan Laboratories, Inc.

HH Gregg

Indiana Association for Child Care Resource and Referral

Indianapolis Fire Department

Indianapolis Housing Agency

Indianapolis Public Transportation Corp/IndyGo

Indianapolis Yellow Cab

IU Health

Ivy Tech Community College - Central Indiana

Kelly Services

Marion County Sheriff’s Department


Mike's Carwash, Inc.

Monarch Beverage

People Link Staffing


Pridgeon & Clay, Inc.

Primerica Financial Services



Ricker Oil Company

Right At Home

Securitas Security Services USA, Inc.


Simon Property Group

Slingshot SEI

Spartan Staffing

Speedway LLC

St. Francis Health

Sunglass Hut

The Mitchel Group

Trotter Construction Company IN, LLC

U.S. Department of Labor

U.S. Postal Service

Verizon Wireless


Wishard Health Services


For more information on the job fair please visit or call 317-283-6516.

The event is free. Good luck to all the job seekers.

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Abdul Announces on Facebook that Friday to be Last "Abdul In the Morning" Show on WXNT

"Hey guys, I wanted to let you all know Friday will be my last day as morning show host on WXNT radio. Full details in the morning."

And with that, Indy's controversial radio host and right-leaning blogger, Abdul-Hakim Shabazz announced he is done as the morning man on WXNT. No other details have been provided.

If you read between the lines of the post, there are a number of indicators there that Abdul may be moving on to a different media presence or perhaps even a different station or time slot. I guess we will have to wait until his show tomorrow morning to find out more.

Mike Delph=Richard Lugar's Best Friend

Mike Delph is considering a run for U.S. Senate, according to the Fort Wayne Journal Gazette. If he does run, let’s all congratulate Richard Lugar on winning the Republican nomination and likely another term in the U.S. Senate.

A Tea Party favorite, Delph’s entry in the race would dilute the TP’s power to put its support behind one candidate and strengthen Richard Lugar’s stronger position as a longtime and trusted incumbent. Lugar’s base would reelect the Senator in the Primary.

It’s the same thing that happened with Congressman Dan Burton’s 2010 race. The Congressman was able to get the plurality of the vote due to a crowded field of those behind him. While he was far from a majority, he went on to an easy victory over Democrat Tim Crawford and two other candidates in the General Election.

Delph is significantly behind the game in fundraising and support building. Mourdock has been at this for a long time, and Lugar has raised a staggering war chest. It is very quizzical why Delph would pick this moment in time to consider a run. He has about the same chance of winning a three way race with Mourdock and Lugar as a snowball does on the Midway of the Indiana State Fair.

If he does enter the race, it should be good political theater, but it should also maintain the status quo for Indiana’s Senior Senator.

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Pence Shows He's Clueless on Running State Government

Mike Pence wants to cut your taxes, but is it the responsible thing to do?

After saying that he would not talk about the 2012 Governor’s race until May of 2012, Mike Pence broke his silence and made his first major policy suggestion. Pence suggested cutting four taxes for Hoosiers to, as he would put it, promote economic growth in the state. He has identified three taxes he wishes to cut, and those cuts would cost MILLIONS in revenue for Indiana classrooms and local governments. A fourth tax he wishes to cut has yet to be identified.

WRTV reports that economists are questioning Pence’s plan. Pence, for his part, says that he would not push the plan until state cash reserves are higher.

In other words, it’s a ploy to try to get elected.

The plan put forth by Pence would seem to benefit the wealthiest Hoosiers by reducing income taxes, lowering the corporate tax rate to match that of income taxes, and remove the inheritance tax completely. Economist Morton Marcus called the plan out as "good theater, bad policy."

What concerns me is that the Daniels Administration has already cut and slashed everything to the bone to build a mirage of a state budget surplus of $1 billion. Traditional public schools are in dire financial shape with even the best-run districts due to go upside down on the balance sheet within five years. Pence’s plan to dig further into state revenue could further cripple the ability of the state’s public schools to deliver education to students. The plan could also have the unintended consequence of forcing local governments to raise their taxes to survive. In essence, the cut in revenues to the state would be made up by cities like Indianapolis trying to replace them.

No surprise Pence would try this deal. His brand of Republican leadership has brought this country to its knees in Washington. The reckless spending of George W. Bush on wars and other programs while the country continued to slice revenue planted the seeds we see now in the current debt crisis.

Now, Washington Mike aka Debt Deal Mike, wants to bring the failed Bush policies back to Indiana. Perhaps someone needs to sit down and explain to Mike Pence that Indiana is not Washington, D.C.

Hey, Mr. Pence, maybe it was better just to keep your mouth shut. It's clear you have no idea how to run a state.

What's Wrong With This Picture?


Listen, I think Michele Bachmann is two cylinders short of an engine, but these kinds of selections by a news magazine like Newsweek are a little out of bounds, in my view. I mean, this is Newsweek and not some harebrained Indiana blog.

Ok, I've actually used photos that may have made people look silly at times, but I don't consider what I do here high journalism. It's opinion. I have the right, as the editor of this blog, to select pictures to illustrate a point.

I'm not a major magazine with thousands of subscribers that puts myself out there as some journalistic exercise. There is a difference, and I'm willing to continue to debate anyone on this.

So, I think Newsweek was just wrong for choosing that particular photo out of no doubt several that were taken in the session. It's not a candid shot. These folks knew what they were doing to begin with, and they did it.

This is why the "lamestream" media claims have legs!

Monday, August 8, 2011

Kennedy Provides Four Point Plan to Foster Educational Outcomes Improvement

Melina Kennedy listened to all different sorts of stakeholders to help her craft her plan to improve education in Indianapolis. Last Thursday, she announced her plan in a speech to the Indianapolis Sertoma Club. Again, it's excellent policy, and her speech took on Mayor Greg Ballard where he has dropped the ball.

Read the entire speech here.

Kennedy sent out this release to supporters describing her plan in brief.

Dear Friends,

Today, I presented a four part plan to improve educational outcomes during a speech before the downtown Sertoma Club. And two weeks ago I announced my 2021 Vision – a plan to fund, without new taxes, several initiatives to make Indianapolis a quality of life capital, including education.

My four part plan to improve educational outcomes:
1) Sustained Mayoral Engagement
2) Investments in Early Childhood Literacy
3) Continued Charter School Improvement & Accountability
4) Maximizing Resources and Partnerships to Improve Educational Outcomes

As many of you are aware, this summer I have been meeting with community leaders, business leaders, teachers, superintendents, students, parents and education experts to discuss the challenges and opportunities facing our schools. These meetings have been extremely valuable as I crafted my plan.

Education is critical to the success of our city and it must be a priority of any mayor. Our children and our city can no longer afford to have a mayor who sits on the sidelines and watches what happens to our schools...

Children who do not graduate from high school are three times more likely than college graduates to be unemployed. When they do find employment, kids who drop out earn just one-third of what college graduates earn. Most sobering, children who don't complete high school are 8 times more likely than high school graduates to end up in jail or prison.

We know that as educational outcomes improve, the crime rate falls, poverty decreases, and more of our neighbors have the skills to get good jobs. In my view, the connection between education and these critical issues makes a mayor's focus on education not simply a choice, but a duty.

The surest way to improve educational outcomes is to make sure that our children can read at grade level by the end of third grade and through the initiative 2021 Vision, we can enhance existing programs that work, begin new initiatives, and ensure that we use existing city-county points of contact to promote literacy.

We should not settle for an ordinary education system, we should demand of ourselves an education system that is extraordinary. Our children deserve it and the future of our city depends on it.

Melina Kennedy

As I posted a week or so ago, I had the honor to be a part of one of Kennedy's roundtables, and, as I read the specifics of her education plan, I see not only Kennedy's fingerprints on the plan but those of the people that were in the room with me on that Tuesday afternoon at the Villages on Meridian Street.

One plan she outlined in her speech was something we directly talked about at our table, and I'm sure she heard the refrain again and again. From her speech to the Sertoma Club:

...we must have a mayor who is fully engaged in public education. We often hear that, by law, the mayor of Indianapolis has little direct involvement in public education. An exception to that is the charter school authorizing power that former Mayor Bart Peterson sought and received in 2001. To his credit, Mayor Ballard has mostly maintained the Indianapolis charter schools initiative. But Mayor Ballard has also been virtually absent from any other meaningful discussion about education – an absence of leadership that our city can no longer afford.

Public education is too important to sit on the sidelines. As mayor, I'll go to work every day focused on things my administration can do to improve educational outcomes for our children.

I will start by convening regular discussions with all the participants in the public education system throughout my term as mayor. This includes regular meetings with Marion County's eleven school superintendents – something that seems simple enough, but hasn't been done by the current mayor.

We talked about continuing the dialogue between all stakeholders across Marion County to keep the ideas alive and flowing. It's clear that Kennedy heard what people were saying in those meetings.

Laying asphalt is easy and selling our assets makes a quick buck, but building a "2021 Vision" is something Mayor Greg Ballard has never done. Kennedy is building that vision for a better city plank by plank. Is it November yet?

Friday, August 5, 2011

Lemonade with John Gregg

Early this week, I casually e-mailed a friend of mine that I would be in the Sandborn area on Thursday afternoon to “see where the next Governor of Indiana, John Gregg, was from.” Imagine my surprise when I got a message that I should stop by for some lemonade.

So, that’s exactly what I did. I entered the tiny town of Sandborn and wound my way out to the Gregg Household on a narrow county road. That’s where I found John Gregg, dressed in a t-shirt, shorts, and tennis shoes, home alone. He had just taken a break from making phone calls to potential supporters across the state.

Gregg made the lemonade as he described the history of the property where he lives with his two sons. Neither young Gregg was at the ranch. One was working, and the other was at football practice.

I sat down with the gubernatorial candidate, and we talked. We talked a little about politics and a lot about family. John made the lemonade while I petted his dog, Klaus, “German dog, German name,” laughed Gregg. And, that’s John Gregg. Approachable, affable, hospitable.

When we did talk about the campaign, it was about how hard the man from Sandborn was working at the job. County fairs, parades, festivals, and phone calls have been Gregg’s life recently. His boys have been helping him on the trail. Klaus has been spending time up the road at the home of Gregg’s parents. “He’s a house dog,” said Gregg.

Refill on the lemonade. Gregg then took me on a short tour of the home, a beautiful two story home set back far off the road. He took me out on to the front porch showed me a tree line two miles off that marks where the White River cuts across the countryside. He took me out back and showed me a set of trees just outside the Knox County line in Greene County. It’s evident that John Gregg loves this area where he was born and raised. It’s hard not to. When we stepped out on the front porch, it was hard to hear anything but insects and the warm Indiana breeze rustling through the waves of shoulder high corn on a summer afternoon. Even this city boy felt the stress slide off.

Gregg’s used to the noise of the state capital having spent many years as the Speaker and co-Speaker of the House. Gregg worked with Governor Evan Bayh and Governor Frank O’Bannon to build budget surpluses and an overall strong record retiring in 2002.

Now, he’s back. He’s slimmer. While the weight he carried as speaker is gone, the moustache he had isn’t. It’s still there as is that fighting spirit that took him to the most powerful seat in the Indiana House. That’s why I wouldn’t count him out in this political comeback.

Mike Pence is Washington, but John Gregg is pure Indiana.