Friday, September 30, 2011

Friday Hodge Podge: Georgia on Ballard's Mind; Reske Expected to Announce 5th District Run; Mourdock Doubles Down With Tea Party

Channel 13 reported on its 6:00 p.m. newscast that Mayor Greg Ballard has directed Indy Downtown Inc. to abandon the efforts to rename Georgia Street.

While a few people couldn't see the issue in this, it was clearly a sore spot for many residents of Indianapolis. A Facebook group popped up and quickly gained a number of likes, and the debate was very spirited. Last week, Indy Democrat was first to report that Councillor Angela Mansfield had drafted a proposal for a City-County Council resolution to urge the Mayor to leave Georgia Street as is.

This blog took the position that was finally reached. Alexander Ralston's vision for the city has won least for now. Channel 13 reporter Mary Milz said the city is holding open the possibility of a new name for the street in the future if city residents changed their minds after seeing the new amenities and boardwalk. Indy Downtown Inc. also will manage the boardwalk and venue itself, according to the Mayor's spokesperson.

Reske Running?
Pendleton's Scott Reske has scheduled an announcement on Saturday about the 5th District Congressional race. The Democrat is expected to announce that he's running for Congress against Dan Burton and the assorted other Republicans in this crowded field.

Reske spoke briefly at the Marion County Democratic Party Reverse Raffle and Chili Supper downtown on Sunday. Because it was a loud environment, I missed his comments, but he was there and was given time to speak. Should be interesting to see if he gains traction against Burton and the R's.

Tea Party Endorses Mourdock
The Tea Party Express has endorsed Richard Mourdock, and the Indiana Tea Party has added an endorsement as well.

Given the current feeling of Americans towards the Tea Party, I'm not sure if this is a good thing or a bad thing for Mourdock. Seems like the Tea Party label is becoming so 2010.

Richard Lugar is not a progressive or a liberal, Republicans. He's conservative. Look at his voting record, and you'll see it.

Thursday, September 29, 2011

Malone Attends Forum (Finally); Announces Urge to Consolidate Schools in Marion County

Mayor Greg Ballard's biggest defense so far against Melina Kennedy's education attacks is that the Mayor of Indianapolis and the city, in general, have very little to do with the public school systems in Marion County. Apparently, someone didn't tell Barbara Malone.

The At-Large City-County Councillor dropped a campaign-commercial-ready line at the League of Women Voters At-Large City-County Council Candidates Forum Saturday at the Central Library. After making a joke about smoking something with Bill Levin, she said that Marion County should consolidate all of its school districts, presumably into one school district.

"You want to go smokin' after this, or what?" said Malone to Levin before she dropped this knowledge making me think she actually was smoking something before the forum.

"I think that we should probably look at consolidating the school systems in this particular county. We have ten school systems, at best, if not more but ten public school systems. Half of our tax base is based on the school systems," Malone said. She goes on to cite some skewed history of education in Indiana that somehow Hoosiers didn't want public education and "good folks" from the East forced public education on us. I guess that's why it's prominently featured in the Indiana Constitution and has been since that document became the law of the land.

You can see the entire exchange at about the 1:15 mark here.

The Marion County Democratic Party put out a news release on Malone's statements.

INDIANAPOLIS - At the League of Women Voters Candidate Forum just days ago, incumbent Republican Councilor At-Large Barbara Malone announced the Republican Party’s support for the consolidation of all school districts in Marion County, including Speedway and Beech Grove.

A Tea Party Republican, a leader within the conservative Republican caucus and the sole sponsor of the unpopular 50-year parking deal, Barbara Malone has exercised significant influence within the Republican ranks. This newest proposal, which has no resistance from her fellow Republican candidates, continues to highlight the extraordinary disconnect between Tea Party Republicans and the educational challenges facing the city of Indianapolis and its students.

“We cannot continue to allow this type of reckless proposal to determine how we approach education in our city,” said At-Large Council Candidate and career educator Leroy Robinson. “These issues are far too complex. Mayor Ballard, Barbara Malone, and their Republican Party have bashed our public schools, taken money from the classrooms that need it most, and now they want a one size fits all school district. It is absurd, and we can do better.”

Marion County Democratic Party Chairman Ed Treacy also weighed in on Councilor Malone’s remarks.

“Even former Republican darling and then-mayor Dick Lugar refused to consolidate local school districts,” Treacy said. “But with the Tea Party takeover of the Republican Party, both nationally and locally, we are seeing the remnants of sound judgment all but vanish.”

I think calling Malone a Tea Party Republican is a bit of a stretch, but she has definitely been a loyal conservative vote for Mayor Greg Ballard and Council President Ryan Vaughn. Malone also has spent much of the campaign season seemingly avoiding the forum process altogether. Perhaps she wished she would have steered clear of this one, too.

While the Democratic At-Large candidates have done their absolute best to make every forum, Republicans sometimes have shown up with one or two of the four person cast of candidates and the others "representing the group at other events." Angel Rivera used this excuse at the Decatur Township Civic Council Forum last month when he was the only panelist. As the evening went on, Jackie Cissel showed up (and asked for forgiveness for getting lost) and Michael Kalscheur mentioned nothing about being somewhere else when he spoke briefly.

Consolidating Marion County's schools into one district makes no sense. Making one large bureaucracy would not improve education here.

White Announces More Early Voting Hours

Republicans in power in Marion County don't want to make it easier for you to vote, so Democrat Beth White, the Marion County Clerk, is doing what she can to make sure everyone that wishes to cast a ballot early before the November 8 election can.

White's office released a list of times that a registered voter in Marion County can travel downtown and vote at the Clerk's Office with a "no questions asked" absentee ballot. If you order an absentee ballot by mail, you don't need a government-issued photo ID, but you need a valid reason (unless you fit into a few categories).

Voting in person at the Clerk's Office requires you to do the same things you would normally do to vote on November 8. You need to bring that government-issued ID, and you will be asked to fill out an absentee ballot application. After that ID is checked and found to be satisfactory and in compliance, you receive a ballot and an envelope and can vote your ballot. You put the ballot in the envelope, follow the directions, and your ballot is stored until November 8 when it will be sent to your local polling precinct to be run through the machine on Election Day.

If you feel like you made a mistake, you can "beat your ballot to the polls" on Election Day if you voted by mail or voted early. Whichever arrives or the ballot...becomes the vote you cast. If the ballot arrives first, you will be turned away. If you arrive first, you will vote and the ballot will be uncounted.

Without further ado, here's the release from Clerk White's Office.

Clerk White Announces More Early Voting Hours
Early voting now available three full weekends, free parking with voucher available

INDIANAPOLIS – In response to community requests, Marion County Clerk Beth White announced today the Election Board is adding another weekend - October 22 and 23 - to the early voting calendar.

While many county agencies will be closed on Columbus Day, Monday, October 10, the Clerk’s office will be open from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. for early voting. Voters do not need a reason to cast an in-person early ballot, but they must provide a valid photo ID issued by the state of Indiana or federal government. Early voting hours for Marion County now include:

Monday, October 10 through Friday, October 14: 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.
Monday, October 17 through Friday, October 21: 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.
**ADDED DATES: Saturday, October 22 and Sunday, October 23: 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.
Monday, October 24 through Friday, October 28: 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.
Saturday, October 29 and Sunday, October 30: 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.
Monday, October 31 to Friday, November 4: 8 a.m. to 7 p.m.
Saturday, November 5 and Sunday, November 6: 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.
Last Day! Monday, November 7: 8 a.m. to NOON

The Clerk’s office is located on the first floor of the west wing of the City-County Building in downtown Indianapolis (200 E. Washington Street). Voters should use the Delaware Street entrance for easy access directly to the Clerk’s office. Free parking is available with a voucher at the pay lots just east of the building on Market and Alabama Streets. Voters must pre-pay the lot’s fee, but it is refunded after providing a voucher available in the Election Board office.

“We’ve done our best to make Clerk’s office early voting more accessible by adding evening and weekend hours and working with our partners to provide easy access to our office and free parking, “ Clerk White said. “I hope voters use this flexible option and participate in our local election.”

Another absentee option available to voters is vote-by-mail. Voters must first submit an application, indicating one of the state-approved reasons for voting absentee. After the application is approved, an absentee ballot is mailed to the voter along with a postage-paid return envelope. Civilian absentee ballots are due no later than Election Day, Tuesday, November 8. Vote-by-mail applications are available online at or by calling (317) 327-VOTE.

For state-level voting questions or to register to vote, visit

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

13 Investigates Exposes Government Waste at Lottery Office

No more money for public schools? Plenty of money for a new lotto office. WTHR's Bob Segal is on the case.

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

LGBT Candidates Signal Step Forward for Societal Attitudes

Yesterday, the Indianapolis Star’s Jon Murray penned an article talking about the three openly gay candidates running for City-County Council.

Zach Adamson, Jackie Butler, and Todd Woodmansee, as the article points out, are all Democrats and are trying to prove on the campaign trail that people care more about issues affecting the city and county more than the sexual orientation of the person elected to address them.

I’m glad the article was written. It certainly signals a change in the atmosphere of politics in Marion County. If the three are elected along with Melina Kennedy as Mayor, we will have a female Mayor, gay City-County Councillors, and a Muslim Congressman. In 2008, Indianapolis voted, by a wide margin, for an African-American for President. Fifteen years ago, did you ever think this would be possible?

Back then, Indianapolis was still a Republican stronghold, one of the most conservative big cities in the nation. How things have changed! With that said, there’s still a long way to go. And, while Murray did a great job on the piece, here’s to hoping that in the future an article like this won’t need to be written because being gay will be just like being straight.

Nevertheless, I’m very proud of my party, my friends Todd, Jackie, and Zach, and the LGBT community in Indianapolis for putting forward some qualified and excellent candidates for public office.

Monday, September 26, 2011

Open Question About Mayor Ballard's Latest Ad

We really haven't seen much of the "cards" played yet in politics for this Mayoral race in 2011. With that said, I think Mayor Greg Ballard came very close to playing the "gender card" with his latest ad.

The content of the ad is simple. Ballard's responding to Kennedy's ad campaign that has been highly critical of him. The ad is trying to connect Kennedy to tax increases that happened under the administration of Bart Peterson.

Multiple news sources have reported that Kennedy is on record supporting a tax increase in town back during her 2006 run for Prosecutor, but that was not a frivolous tax increase. It was one to help the Prosecutor's Office hire more people to ease jail overcrowding, and that was a problem in 2006. In the world of politics, Ballard's ad is perfectly fine in that regard. I think it's misleading and out of context, but, frankly, that's how you run a campaign sometimes.

As far as the Ballard record portion of the ad, he's again taking credit for someone else's work: something he does very often.

The drop in property taxes that we all have experienced (to some detriment to our schools and local governments) came at the General Assembly level and not the local level. The perception of Ballard as a key player in that fight is somewhat comical. His stance was to support the cuts, but that type of decision has left Indianapolis shortchanged in public safety and has forced folks at IMPD officers to buy their own toilet paper, hand sanitizer, and other supplies to work.

We all love cheaper property taxes. Mine went down a lot, but the legislature did the cut without looking at its effect. It was a short sighted solution for an immediate political win. Kind of like selling off our water and sewer utility as well as our parking assets, but I digress.

Let's look at the subtext of Ballard's ad. It uses a multicultural cast of actors to get its point across. Again, no objection. That's smart. You want to appeal to a broad range of people, so make the people look like the viewers. Here's where it gets interesting, and I'm sure you noticed it. I'm going to assume that Ballard's camp intentionally chose an all-female cast for the ad to criticize Kennedy. I'm sure that Republicans will say that he did that to appeal to Kennedy's perceived strength among female voters. The question I have is, "Is that playing the gender card?"

I am not sure I'm ready to drop the sexist card on the table, but I think some will call Ballard's ad mildly sexist. Maybe they are hypersensitive folks, but this was an intentional choice by the Ballard camp to use an all female cast of actors in this ad. Maybe the thinking is that women will accept criticism of a female candidate only if it's coming from women and that Ballard doesn't want to seem like the big bad wolf. I think it's a point worth mentioning.

Then again, I could be off base. I don't think the ad is very effective. A couple of the ladies in the spot seem to be reading off a teleprompter, and it's clearly more negative in tone than Ballard's first few ads. It's a signal of a change in tactics and that Kennedy's criticisms are hurting the Mayor's polling in some fashion.

Sunday, September 25, 2011

Sad Story of Education Reform

Here's a story that would be funny if it weren't true. What if a state took a public institution and completely revamped it on the urging of the federal government and then the federal government decided that perhaps that wasn't the way to go in the first place? Well, that public institution is education, and it looks like the Obama Administration may be abandoning the "Race to the Top" or severely changing it.

The problem is that Indiana adopted many of the things RTTP suggested. Those changes included merit-based pay for teachers, ending teachers' seniority-based benefits, and a new emphasis on teacher evaluation.

States like Indiana rushed to get to the top. Well, according to the Huffington Post, funding for RTTP may not be renewed. States like Indiana are applying for waivers to get a pass on some of the more stringent No Child Left Behind guidelines. Now, we are stuck with another NCLB education reform. It's called an unfunded mandate.

It's another example of how you can't make education the same for every district in every corner of this country. Students are different, and they have different needs. Focusing on the teachers and administrators only solves a portion of the problem. Jamming reforms down the throats of our schools is a poor way to fix them. Until we focus on making life better for our students and getting them more ready to learn, especially in our urban areas, we will be, to use a cliche, behind the eight ball in public education for years.

Friday, September 23, 2011

Question: If Ballard's Still Up Double Digits? Then Why Go Negative?

Mayor Greg Ballard's strongest supporters pooh poohed yesterday's news that Melina Kennedy was ahead, 40-38, in a poll of 403 likely voters. The poll revealed that 21 percent of those polled were undecided.

Initially, Kyle Walker, Marion County Republican Party Chair, issued a declaration that Mayor Ballard was up "double digits" in their polling. If there's nothing to be concerned about, then why did the Mayor's campaign release a misleading and, what some would call, negative, retort.

Melina Kennedy weighs in in this e-mail to supporters.
Dear Friends,
I am pleased to share some exciting news about the campaign. Yesterday evening, a poll conducted by Riggs Research Services showed that among likely voters in Marion County, our campaign is leading Mayor Ballard by two points, 40-38.

This is very exciting and encouraging news. Your support has helped move us into this position. The poll results show that our message about stronger schools, improving public safety, and creating jobs is resonating with voters.

Unfortunately, less than 24 hours after the poll was released, the Mayor began unleashing a personal and misleading attack ad. In the ad, the Mayor claims that I supported an income tax increase while I was Deputy Mayor. I had no role in this. And, if he is referring to the Local Option Income Tax (LOIT) increase in 2007, this occurred two years after I left my position with the City.

And more disappointing is that Mayor Ballard made a campaign pledge in 2008 to FULLY repeal the LOIT. Not only has he broken this promise, but since taking office he has raised taxes, rates and fees more than 140 times – 143 to be precise. These tax hikes imposed by the Mayor have stifled job creation throughout our city. And, the Mayor's tax increases have made it more difficult for entrepreneurs, small businesses and working families to survive and succeed in our city.

I am open to discussing our records and discussing the issues, but to attack me personally and attempt to mislead the public with distorted facts is the worst type of politics. The Mayor has claimed to not be political, but his attack ads are nothing more than a vastly political move to try and keep his job.

We can do better.

That’s why I continue to be committed to improving educational outcomes, creating jobs, spurring economic development, and fighting crime by putting more than 100 officers back on the street and restoring crime prevention grants.

We have critical issues to address in order to move our city forward and that’s exactly what I’m focused on doing.

Thanks for your continued support.

Melina Kennedy

Now, you might say that what's good for the goose is good for the gander and that Melina went negative first. I would dispute how negative she has gone. She really has not been all that negative. I'd say she's been more comparative, but that's neither here nor there. The Mayor is clearly feeling heat. The kid gloves are coming off, and it's probably only going to get worse. The campaign appears to be "game on" now, and the momentum is in Kennedy's court.

The bigger question in this poll is how can 21 percent of the electorate still be undecided about an incumbent Mayor. Furthermore, how is he polling 12 points below 50 percent. Mayor Bart Peterson's numbers didn't deflate until, essentially, the last two weeks of the campaign.

Things are getting purty interestin' around these here parts.

Friday Hodge Podge: Kennedy Leads Poll; Historic Indiana Takes on Rebuild Indy; Dems Pay Up

Kennedy Pulls Ahead in Poll
After reports to the contrary on other sites, the Marion County Democratic Party released polling results to supporters for the first time yesterday. The results show that Melina Kennedy has taken the lead over Greg Ballard. Here's the release:

Over the evenings of September 20-21, the Marion County Democratic Party conducted a survey of 403 likely voters in Marion County. The research was conducted by Jim Riggs, Ph.D., of Riggs Research Services, a locally-based professional public opinion polling firm. The sample was geographically and demographically representative. The results came back this morning, and I wanted you to be the first to know the exciting news in the race for Indianapolis Mayor.

Forty-seven days before Election Day, Democratic nominee Melina Kennedy has overtaken Republican incumbent Greg Ballard. Weeks before outside observers anticipated, Kennedy has taken the lead and is only picking up her pace. Conventional wisdom dictates that an incumbent below fifty-percent is in trouble.

We just got the results back and are still digesting them, but wanted to share with you the exciting news first. Melina Kennedy now leads Greg Ballard 40-38. The full results are as follows:

The candidates in the upcoming election for Mayor of Indianapolis are Melina Kennedy, the Democrat, and Greg Ballard, the Republican. For whom would you vote if the election was held today – Kennedy or Greg Ballard? [If “Not Sure,” ASK:] Well, which way do you lean at this time – Lean Kennedy or Lean Ballard? (N=403)

N (Solid Support)
Democrat, Melina Kennedy 40 (38)
Republican, Greg Ballard 38 (36)
Don't Know or Undecided 21

This is good news for Kennedy, but the road is still long.

Historic Indianapolis Enters Fray on Rebuild Indy
The folks over at Historic Indianapolis are not political by nature, but they are definitely pro-history. They are extremely critical of the Rebuild Indy initiative which would rather knock down some potentially historic homes in Indianapolis instead of giving them new lives. They released this video on YouTube.

Dems Paying Fines For Walkout
Several news outlets report that the Democratic House Caucus, who staged a month-long walkout this last General Assembly session, have paid almost all the fines owed. The Associate Press reports just $12,000 remains uncollected. A lawsuit over the fines also remains unheard, according to the AP.

It wasn't about the fines; it was the principle. I still say BRAVO to the legislators that participated.

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Top Secret Conversation Reveals New Name for Georgia Street

(Disclaimer) The details of the following blog post were translated from mouse-ese. The truth or falsity of some of these details may have shifted during shipping. Please, don't try this at home. In short, this is all in fun.

Indy Democrat informants, the mice in Greg Ballard's Office, phoned in this transcript of a recent discussion between Mayor Greg Ballard and some young advisors on renaming Georgia Street.

Advisor 1: Mr. Mayor, polls are showing that people just don't believe we should change the name of Georgia Street. We need to do something about it.

Advisor 2: Yes, Mr. Mayor, the last thing you want to do is upset the electorate right before an election. Don't you remember what happened when Mayor Peterson passed that public safety tax hike in 2007?

Mayor Ballard: Peterson? I've had enough of that guy. Who is he anyway?

Advisor 1: He's the guy you defeated to win this office.

Ballard: You mean Bart? That's his last name?

Advisor 2: (Shaking head) Yes, Mr. Mayor. Bart Peterson.

Ballard: Well, you're probably right. I shouldn't raise taxes.

Advisor 1: We aren't talking about that, sir.

Ballard: That's right. We want to name Georgia Street something else, right?

Advisor 2: Yes, but the public is against us.

Ballard: Now, when have we ever listened to the public. I mean, what do they really have to say? Indy Downtown wants to rename it, and I'm going to do it. I'm not a political guy, so I'm just going to let a corporation do my job.

Advisor 1: (Chuckling) Surely, you're kidding Mr. Mayor.

Ballard: Kindling? There's a fire? Oh my gosh! FIRE! FIRE!

Advisor 2: Calm down sir. No fire.

Frank Straub bursts into the room.

Straub: Sir, did I hear you say fire? You're not supposed to fire anyone without my approval.

Ballard: Oh yes, I'm sorry sir. My apologies.

Straub: Well, this is going to cost you. You're in timeout for five minutes. Get in the corner.

Advisor 1: No, Dr. Straub. The Mayor misunderstood me and thought I said kindling.

Ballard: Kindling? Fire?

Advisor 2: (exasperated) Mr. Mayor, there is no fire.


Mayor Ballard slumps his head and walks to the corner.

(Five minutes later)

Straub: (Looking at his watch) Are you going to be a good Mayor?

Ballard: Yes, sir.

Straub: Ok, you can come out now. But no KFC Popcorn Chicken for you later.

Ballard: (Frowning and hanging head) Ok sir.

Straub leaves the room whistling the Imperial March.

Ballard: I'm glad he's gone. He can be a real doodyhead.

Straub: (From outside door) I HEARD THAT!

Ballard flashes a worried look.

Advisor 1: Now, sir, we need to discuss this Georgia Street thing. You have a big announcement in a couple of days, and we really need to know what you're thinking.

Ballard: Well, I look at it this way. It's been Georgia Street for 190 years, so I think it's time for a change.

Advisor 2: Some people would argue the opposite, Mr. Mayor.

Ballard: Well, they're doodyheads just like Straub.

Straub: (From outside door) IT'S DR. STRAUB!

Ballard: Sorry!

Advisor 1: Well, what do you want to name it Mr. Mayor? We have lots of suggestions. Hospitality Way, Champions Way, Hudnut Boulevard.

Ballard: (Laughing) You said Hudnut.

Advisor 2: Yes, why is that a problem that he said that.

Ballard: (Guffawing) That's just a funny word. Hudnut. Hehehehehehehe.

Advisor 1: Well, sir, he was arguably one of the best Mayors this city has ever seen. I mean, he was instrumental in bringing the Colts here.

Ballard: Yes, the Colts. I love going to see them play at Conseco Fieldhouse.

Advisor 2: Sir, I think you mean the Pacers.

Ballard: Yeah, them too. (Continues without a breath) I think we need something that captures the essence of Indianapolis. I mean, this is a showcase street.

Advisor 2: (Eagerly) Yes, sir, go on.

Ballard: So, I've decided to name the street "That Street that Runs Between Conseco Fieldhouse and the Convention Center Street"

Advisor 1: (Facepalm)

Advisor 2: (Facepalm)

Ballard: What?

Straub: (From outside door) Just name it after me!

Ballard: Doodyhead Drive?

Straub: (From outside door) WHAT?

Ballard: Sorry, Dr. Doodyhead Drive.

Straub: (From outside door) I should have stayed in New York.

And that's how the street formerly known as Georgia Street became henceforth known as Dr. Doodyhead Drive.

Georgia Street Debate Going to Council

Second District City-County Councillor Angela Mansfield has drafted a proposal for a Council Resolution urging Mayor Ballard and the Metropolitan Development Commission to keep 190 year-old Georgia Street named just as it is today.

The drafted proposal, which will be introduced on October 3, has been obtained by Indy Democrat, and it relies heavily on a historical and economic rationale as the reason to keep Georgia Street just as it is. Here's the meat and potatoes of the proposal.

A PROPOSAL FOR A COUNCIL RESOLUTION urging the Mayor and the Metropolitan Development Commission to cease and desist from all efforts to rename Georgia Street.

WHEREAS, a community's history contributes to its personality and the preservation of that history provides a living link to the roots of that community and its people, all of which adds to Indianapolis' unique character; and

WHEREAS, according to Indianapolis' own home page: "When platting Indianapolis in 1821, surveyor Alexander Ralston allowed one square mile for the city, never imagining it would grow larger."; and

WHEREAS, Georgia Street was given its name in the original 1821 plat of the City of Indianapolis; and

WHEREAS, during the construction along Georgia Street area businesses have suffered significant economic detriment; and

WHEREAS, a street name change will cause those same businesses to incur unnecessary expenditures due to address changes and may cause further economic loss due to loss of location identity; and

WHEREAS, the City and its leaders embraced the perpetual partnership among the past, present and the future which partnership encourages each generation to employ the best of contemporary thought and technology without rejecting the history, culture, traditions and values on which our lives and futures are / were built; and

WHEREAS, without the physical presence of Georgia Street, today and into the future, some of the details of what and where Georgia Street actually was will be lost; and more details will be lost as we pass on our stories of Indianapolis to the next generation and the next; now therefore,


Section 1. The Indianapolis City Council recommends and urges the Mayor and the Metropolitan Development Commission to keep and respect the 190-year old street name (Georgia) from Alexander Ralston's original 1821 plat of the City of Indianapolis and to reject any proposal that we rename Georgia Street.

Section 2. The Council joins with the citizens and entities that want to keep the last three (3) blocks of Georgia Street within the mile square.

Section 3. Upon adoption of this resolution, the Council Clerk will forward a copy to the Mayor and to the Metropolitan Development Commission.

Section 4. This resolution shall be in full force and effect upon adoption and compliance with IC 36-3-4-14.

Here's the thing, when you list out the reasons to rename Georgia Street, they are easily outweighed by the reasons NOT to rename the street. The only reasons I've seen in favor? To have a cool competition to name's cool. The reasons against it are spelled out in the proposal above. In short, no one that I've talked to on Facebook or in person has given me a singular compelling reason as to why this name change is necessary.

Our city's assets may be for sale, but our city's history must be preserved. I say keep Georgia Street as Alexander Ralston intended it.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Ballard's New Ad Contains Big Laugh Line

Just saw Mayor Greg Ballard's third ad for Mayor, and I laughed out loud.

The ad, which is interspersed with video of the Mayor out and about as well as at work, contains a quote that seems to take aim at Melina Kennedy's campaign. Forgive me for not having the exact quote. This is from memory, but it says something like, "Leadership isn't about complaining it's about..."

As I've stated before in other blog posts, this criticism comes from a man whose 2007 yard sign and bumper sticker slogan was "Had Enough?"

First of all, Melina Kennedy has been firm but rather fair with the Mayor so far. Her attacks have not been extraordinarily personal. In fact, the ads have been right on target. Ballard is calling political debate "complaining", and I can't believe he keeps criticizing fair ads that point out deficiencies in his record. Talk about thin skin.

Had enough?

Voter Turnout Pathetic in Indiana; Time to Change It

If you're reading this blog, you're probably a voter. That puts you far outside the norm in Indiana. A Civic Health Study ranks Indiana 48th in voter turnout going off the 2010 election, according to an editorial published in the Fort Wayne Journal Gazette.

This really hits home for me. As someone that grew up in a household where news was a regular part of my television watching diet, I cannot believe so many people can just let other people determine the individuals that make, sign, and pass laws in this city, state and nation.

I can remember going with my mom to the polling sites when I was very little and watching her pull the big lever (usually the Republican one, full disclosure) and having that civic duty and right being impressed upon me.

As the editorial points out, Indiana has made it very difficult to vote with its extensive voter ID bill, and the Election Board (specifically the Republican on the Election Board) just refused to open satellite voting sites in Marion County again for the municipal elections. The GOP has spoken, and it's pleased with the voter turnout in the state. Why make it easier on someone to cast a ballot?

So, here we are, Indiana is 48th in voter turnout, and the powers-that-be don't seem to care because they want to stay the powers-that-be. Just another reason why people don't care, either.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Treacy Attacks Ballard on Jobs Record

The Marion County Democratic Party has been EXTREMELY active in the warfare of a close mayoral election. Yesterday, Chairman Ed Treacy lobbed a big volley aimed right at Mayor Greg Ballard's record on jobs and the recent revelation that Indy's unemployment rate has ticked up.

September 19, 2011

Ballard Out of Touch, Marion County Residents Out of Work

INDIANAPOLIS - Marion County Democratic Party Chairman Ed Treacy released today the following statement in response to Mayor Ballard’s recent interview with WRTV6:

Over the weekend, increasingly out of touch Mayor Greg Ballard said that Indianapolis has a “stable jobs climate.” Perhaps everything seems great when the Mayor is enjoying expensive seats at Lucas Oil Stadium, taking taxpayer funded trips to exotic locations, or reaping the benefits of his free country club memberships, but for the rest of us, times aren’t so good. Mayor Ballard has presided over the loss of 35,000 jobs in Indianapolis, and Marion County unemployment has risen to 9.2% - now passing the national average. Talk of flimsy job commitments isn’t good enough. We need actual jobs in Marion County, not more broken promises.

While Ballard continues to wear the mask of a folksy, non-political character and claims to be “just like the rest of us,” it is clear that the perks of public office have blinded him to the plight of our unemployed neighbors and friends. The candidate who promised to end country club politics is now the Mayor who has forgotten about countless Marion County residents who struggle to make ends meet. It is time Greg Ballard gets his pink slip, and we get Marion County residents back to work.

Treacy's attack hits on three fronts. The obvious first front is the jobs front. If you're a sitting Mayor, the last thing you want is an unemployment rate that is going up. I don't care how many commitments you've managed to garner; those simply are not jobs.

Front two is the perception that Ballard is not political. We've already discussed that one ad nauseum here. By his actions, Ballard has shown he (or the people he cedes control to) is just as political as anyone in the lions cage of politics.

Finally, the final front is this other perception that Ballard is one of us by highlighting his "trade missions" and his "free country club memberships." By his own admission, Ballard could not believe the number of people that had never been in Lucas Oil Stadium.

Pretty effective statement by the Chair. In just two paragraphs, he hits the Mayor's campaign on three fronts.

Monday, September 19, 2011

Abdul Charging Hefty Price for Political Gossip

Since leaving WXNT (show was dumped due to corporate decision), right-leaning political commentator Abdul-Hakim Shabazz hasn't missed a beat. You have to give him that whether you like him or not. One of his latest moves is pretty shameless, even for Mr. Shabazz.

I know he's an avid reader of the blog. He even occasionally gives me some love as he did (indirectly and out of context) on the RTV6 Capitol Watchblog, today. I appreciate that, and I really do appreciate his friendship. Our rivalry is more of a friendly one. That said, I have to call him out on something.

Abdul is peddling political rumors and innuendo for $20. That's right. Stuff that he's essentially making up (or largely basing on complete hearsay) is going for cash money on his new political website. Guess I'm doing it all wrong!

I'm sure someone is paying the price, so good for Abdul for getting it. I just can't believe what some people will pay for.

Ballard Education Plan Lacks Solutions

When Melina Kennedy released her education plan, many educators cheered. While it's true that the Mayor of Indianapolis has, as Greg Ballard put it, no "jurisdictional authority" over public school districts in the city, the Mayor has a bully pulpit that is pretty darn big and can create programs and initiatives to address many of the things our students lack when they reach public school doors. Kennedy's plan shows vision. Ballard's recently-released plan is more of another bandage on the problem.

Kennedy wants to try to focus on literacy issues with our youngsters. Soon, all third graders will have to pass a reading test to move on to fourth grade. It's a reform I tend to agree with. Studies show that if students are not reading on grade level by the third grade that they will continue to be behind.

Kennedy's plan puts a special focus at a city level on creating programs that will aid our schools in getting students reading on grade level by grade three. Mayor Ballard has no solution targeting this fundamental issue. Instead, he wants to beef up charter schools and, with a "charter school incubator", create more of them.

Creating more charter schools won't help our public schools or make our students more ready to learn. It simply won't. It also won't help our students be more ready to enter the classroom, and that's what Melina Kennedy's plan would do. It focuses on readiness. This is what Kennedy heard from educators in her education forums on the campaign trail.

Ballard also wants to provide tax breaks to non-profits that create charter schools. The income tax money of non-profits that locate in Marion County would then be given back to the organizations to spend on their schools. Potentially this could not only be a First Amendment sticky point, but it also would further reduce the amount of money in the city's coffers. With an already stretched budget, it would seem to be a silly prospect to provide tax breaks to non-profit organizations that already don't pay taxes.

The Mayor also said he wishes to take over the four failing IPS schools once they emerge from state control. This plan was already smacked down by the Superintendent of Public Instruction, Tony Bennett, and it was roundly laughed out loudly by education experts.

Bottom line, for a Mayor that has been, as Star writer Matt Tully put it, "absent" on education for four years, it seems silly that he would want to suddenly be engaged now. I guess his hastily-created plan shows that he's feeling some heat on the issue from Melina Kennedy. He's reluctantly been dragged on to a battlefield he doesn't want to fight on. This is not only a tactical win from Kennedy, but it shows that this Mayor really has no vision on education.

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Fred Nation Signs Everywhere in Terre Haute

On Friday, my day job took me to Terre Haute for a high school football game, but my for fun job as a political commentator took notice of the crazy number of Fred Nation signs I saw in my brief time in the city.

If yard signs are any indication, looks like Nation may be the next Mayor of Terre Haute. "Look Forward" Terre Haute!

It's Official! Horning Enters Senate Race

Joe Donnelly must be smiling a mile wide. Libertarian Andrew Horning is running for U.S. Senate in 2012.

Here is the statement:
Andrew Horning,
Candidate for Indiana U.S.A. Senate
Constitution Day,
September 16, 2011

The Freedom Farm, Freedom, Indiana

We The People have exactly and only what We The People have chosen. It should now be apparent that We The People have chosen badly for a very long time.

We The People have nobody else to blame for the endless wars, rising debts, rising crime, dropping wealth and standard of living…we have chosen every injustice, every lawless law, every bit of our ungoverned government.

The good news is that we should no longer worry about the catastrophe that’s about to engulf us, because it’s now too late to stop it. More good news is that we’ll soon be free of the ease that clouded our perceptions and retarded our actions.

Even more good news is that it is never too late to decide how We The People are to create and maintain a society by which we can live together in relative peace, prosperity and safety.

And today is a very good day to start that discussion of life over politics.

Today, the Cassandra-like Libertarians must avoid the temptation to say “I told you so,” and instead keep on working for what’s true, and what works. Libertarians and other forward-thinking people should be on hand to rebuild what generations of bad choices and the entrenched abstractions of our so-called and unconstitutional “Two Party System” have destroyed: Law and Order, Liberty and Justice for All.

Today, Libertarians need not explain why they dare oppose the so-called “Two Party System.” Today, anybody who would vote for any Democratic or Republican Party candidate has, in the words of Desi Arnaz, “got some e’splainin’ to do!”

So today, in the interest of having the right people in the right places in the event that We The People decide that this is the right time to stop the madness, I am announcing my candidacy for the office of U.S.A. Senator for the State of Indiana.

Horning is a bright, talented, and well-spoken candidate with a strong working knowledge of the Constitution and an even stronger wit. He will make this drab race a little bit more colorful. He also figures to take a two to five percent bite out of the Republican candidate for Senate.

If that is Richard Lugar, Horning can play his campaign on Constitutional issues to draw over the Tea Partiers disillusioned by Lugar's moderate views. If Mourdock wins the primary, Horning can target Republicans that aren't quite sure about the Treasurer's far right views by playing up Libertarian social views.

Joe Donnelly benefits in many ways from this announcement. He could also see some effects the other way, though. Horning could be seen as a reasonable alternative to someone like Donnelly that may be to the right on some social issues.

One way or another, Andy Horning is a serious candidate and is not a novelty act. He may not win in 2012, but he will certainly make the party more fun.

Friday, September 16, 2011

Friday Hodge Podge: Delph Dumps Senate Run, Plowman Convicted, Happy Birthday John Layton, Blogger Note

Delph Out
Well, unbeknownst to me (who put in a blog post for Sep. 15 that he was considering a run) Mike Delph pulled out of any Congressional races for 2012 on Wednesday. Delph, who seems to want to be a national player so bad that he can taste it, cited family concerns as his overall reason for pulling out of the 2012 derbies.

If it truly was the desire to continue to focus in on raising his family, I say bravo. The bad news is that Delph will be still here in Indiana to push the Tea Party line.

Plowman Plowed
Lincoln Plowman, former IMPD command level officer and City-County Councillor, was found guilty in federal court of attempted extortion and bribery. Plowman is just the latest Republican to find himself in a pickle with the wrong side of justice. This fact did not escape the Marion County Democratic Party who sent out this release:

Lincoln Plowman, a former Republican City-County Councillor and senior leader of his caucus, was found guilty today on charges of extortion and bribery, further exposing the culture of corruption that has defined the Marion County Republican Party for years. Plowman, who was ironically handpicked by Mayor Greg Ballard to run the IMPD Vice Unit, joins the likes of federally indicted Republican fundraiser Tim Durham, disgraced State Representative Phil Hinkle, the late Constable Roy Houchins, and discredited former prosecutor Carl Brizzi on the ever-growing list of corrupt politicians who have permeated the Republican establishment.

We already know the Marion County Republican Party is crumbling, and it now leads us to question the integrity of its foundation. With Mayor Ballard’s closest friends and political allies continuing to fall all around him, it is hard to tell who we can trust, if anyone, in the Republican Party. Enough is enough. We need to clean up our local government and Ballard should be the next to go.

Layton's Birthday
John Layton will celebrate his birthday with friends at an event on Saturday at his home. It's being billed as his "59th" birthday. Happy Birthday to one of my favorite public officials and my good friend, Sheriff John Layton.

No Posts This Weekend

Unless there is something breaking, I'm taking the weekend off. We'll see you on Monday!

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Libertarians May Make Real Difference in 2012

The Indiana Libertarian Party is quietly putting together a very interesting group of statewide candidates in 2012.

A week or so ago, Rupert Boneham decided to form an exploratory committee for Governor of Indiana. It remains to be seen whether or not the Survivor People's Champ can muster the kind of support it will take to mount a serious challenge or campaign.

Libertarians have another potential candidate that is more than a serious challenger in that realm.

Former candidate for Mayor of Indianapolis, Governor of Indiana, and 7th District Congress, Andrew Horning announced on his Facebook page that he is considering a run for U.S. Senate in 2012, presumably as a Libertarian. Horning ran for Congress before as a Republican against Julia Carson in 2004 and ran a very credible campaign.

Andy is smart, well-spoken, and may pull the votes of moderates (and even Democrats) that aren't sure about Joe Donnelly or Richard Lugar or, if necessary, would never in a billion years vote for Richard Mourdock.

Much still depends on what happens on the right side of the ledger. The bubbling Republican primary fight is currently simmering on the stove. Lugar and Mourdoch are iin. Mike Delph still has his finger in the stew testing the temperature.

With due respect to Senator Lugar, Horning would be the best choice for Republicans in 2012. That should be good news for Joe Donnelly, but Horning may also be a sensible choice for disillusioned Democrats who dislike Donnelly's moderate views.

2012 is getting more interesting by the minute!

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Who's In Charge of IMPD?

When Greg Ballard ran for Mayor in 2007, he promised that he would bring IMPD back under control of the elected Mayor of Indianapolis instead of the elected Sheriff of Marion County. Four years later, it's hard to tell just exactly who is control of IMPD.

Is it poor figurehead Chief of Police, Paul Ciesielski? Is it Public Safety Director Frank Straub? Is it Ballard? If you believe this report from Fox 59, you just can't be sure.

The long and short of it, the person that's least in control of the day-to-day operations of the police department seems to be Greg Ballard. It's clear that he has no idea of what's happening there, and it's another example of why the FOP endorsed Melina Kennedy for Mayor.

The Fox 59 report also takes on Mayor Ballard's repeated claim about how crime is down in Indianapolis. Some crime is up. Fox 59 says that crime is pretty much stagnant.

I will also tell you another reason why many in the FOP are tired of Ballard. You can ask them this yourselves if you don't believe me. The original ordinance that merged the Marion County Sheriff's Department patrol deputies and IMPD has been completely blown over by Ballard and his Public Safety Department. Little attention has been paid to promises the ordinances made in the realm of management positions. Many of the command posts feature former IPD personnel instead of former MCSD deputies.

So, who's in charge of IMPD? I don't even think Mayor Ballard knows! Another broken promise by Mr. Mayor.

Hospitality Way? Really?

Just a few months after accepting proposals to change Monument Circle into something else it doesn't need to be, the City of Indianapolis is trying to rename a street in downtown Indianapolis.

Georgia Street, a short but important side artery in downtown Indianapolis is apparently going to be renamed. Why? Because they can.

Some of the suggested names so far, according to my friend Matt Stone over at Indy Student, include: Champions Way and Hospitality Way. Yeah...might as well name it Doofus Street!

If it must be renamed, I say rename it Hudnut Avenue. In my opinion, no single Mayor is responsible for what Indianapolis has become more than Bill Hudnut. He had the vision of Indianapolis becoming a World Class City and did what it took to build it. Yes, he was a Republican, but he was a good Mayor.

That said, I just don't seen any reason why it needs to be renamed. Georgia Street is fine. It has a bit of character, and it has history. This short but wonderful piece on Historic Indianapolis' website describes some of that history. Certainly, we don't need something stupid on that street sign. Hospitality Way is like growing up with the name Jon Easter. Your first name is a toilet and your last name a holiday where you can add "bunny" to the end. Not that I know anything about that.

Can you imagine how Washington Street will laugh at Hospitality Way? Meridian Street will be rolling down Market! Don't do this to your city. Rise up and tell the good folks downtown to keep Georgia Street as the name of Georgia Street.

Join the battle on Facebook!

"You All Know, Politics Isn't My Thing" Becomes Quick Joke Line for Indy Residents

Editor's Note: Due to a snafu, this posted an hour early and is Wednesday's post. Enjoy your extra time of preview!

Mayor Greg Ballard's second TV ad is supposed to be all about how the bumbling Lt. Col. became the most powerful executive officeholder in Marion County and the City of Indianapolis and just wants to keep on keeping on. It starts out with a line that has become a clear joke to the citizens of Indianapolis.

"You all know, politics isn't my thing."

What a jokester. Mayor Ballard has continued to portray himself as this nice guy that somehow finished first in 2007. He should be credited for riding the wave of property tax angst that took him, grassroots and all, into the Mayor's Office. Once there, it took him a while to come up with someone else's vision before he became Steve Goldsmith on steroids.

While Goldsmith's idea was to privatize city services, Ballard's been busy selling off our assets for short term political gains. Out popped all those "Rebuild Indy" signs with the promise of all the work...or the bulk of it done by the November. Hmm...what happens in November?

Then there's this business about the satellite voting centers. In 2008 and 2009, the Mayor was FOR the satellites. Now, he's against them. Of course, his political career is on the line now in 2011. Why would he want to ENCOURAGE people to get out and vote?

Oh, that non-political mayor!!

Everyone thought that Ballard wouldn't be a prisoner to the GOP's whims. After all, they didn't really help him the last time around. Immediately, the GOP surrounded this political neophyte and some of the power brokers started setting up another Republican administration like the eight years of Bart Peterson never happened. We were treated to the Scott Newmans and the Bob Grands of the world again as the Mayor's advisers.

Nope, this guy isn't political; he's more than political. From his flip-flop on the smoking ordinance to the water utility deal, this guy is tried and true Republican. Don't let him fool you.

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

GOP Votes Thumbs Down on Satellite Voting Centers

As expected, the Marion County Election Board denied a proposal to provide satellite voting centers yesterday. Patrick Dietrick, the lone Republican on the Election Board, voted no, killing the proposal.

The question is again…why?

The Marion County Republican Party and its Chairman, Kyle Walker, has yet to answer that question. They pull out the bogeyman and play fear factor techniques. The truth of the matter is that this model has worked to perfection twice before, and it would have worked again in 2011. With no evidence of a reasonable issue with satellite voting centers, satellite supporters to speculate about an answer for this odd 2010 reversal by the GOP to pull support.

My speculation is that in 2008, in-person absentee voting outpaced mail-in absentee voting for the first time in history. 2009 was a referendum the Mayor (and many others) wanted to pass to build a new Wishard Hospital. Given the record results for many Democrats not named Jill Long Thompson in Marion County back in 2008 and the overwhelming and wide support for Wishard in 2009, I think the GOP was scared about what the results might have looked like in 2010 and is scared about what the results might be in 2011. Why would you want to make it easier to get people to vote when you want to suppress the vote?

Again, it’s speculation. I have no evidence that this is the issue, but you can’t keep crying about ballot security and cost issues when there really were no issues. Beth White’s record as clerk in these two areas is spotless. She has been honest and up front when issues have been discovered.

The only reasonable excuse for turning down satellite voting again is, as I see it, fear of losing elections. Well, guess what, as they say in the musical Hairspray, “You can’t stop the beat.” Change is coming to Marion County, but the voters are just going to have to work a little harder to cast their votes to get it.

For his part, Ed Treacy was a little more blunt than I a release from the Marion County Democratic Party.

It is no surprise that Mayor Greg Ballard and his Republican Party today ignored massive public support for satellite voting rights. It is clear to tens of thousands of Marion County residents that Republicans don’t care about their right to vote. Republicans have raised two concerns: cost and security. Both have been resolved. The United Auto Workers generously offered $50,000 to cover the expenses of satellite voting locations, and the Marion County Sheriff’s Department agreed to provide the exact same protections as years past. Unfortunately, Republicans aren’t interested in solutions; they just want to stop voters from throwing them out of office.

It is pathetically apparent that Mayor Ballard is not the “aww-shucks” newbie portrayed in a recent, slick television ad, but a foot soldier in the far-right wing of the Republican establishment. While Republican insiders like Chairman Kyle Walker give orders, Greg Ballard is relegated to taking them. Today, with Ballard continuing to hide behind his political superiors, satellite voting rights were again recklessly denied to thousands of Marion County voters. Greg Ballard has claimed he isn’t political, unfortunately, it now appears he’s not even in charge.

Ouch, but well said.

Monday, September 12, 2011

The $50,000 Question Indy's GOP Refuses to Answer

Last week, Marion County Clerk Beth White announced a gift from the United Auto Workers that would provide $50,000 to have two satellite voting centers in Marion County. The three-member election board considers the proposal today, but it isn't expected to pass unanimously...and it must.

Southport Mayor Robin Thoman, a Republican, and Washington Township Trustee Frank Short, a Democrat, agreed to provide the space for the centers. It would have been a real election under Indiana law. The Election Board's lawyer even gave the plan the go ahead.

The Marion County GOP, who participates in the election process and would have been involved in running the satellite centers, has done nothing but criticize the plan and, by extension, make it more difficult for people to vote. Republican Patrick Deitrick, the GOP's lone Election Board member, clearly has no mind of his own on the issue and will do GOP Chair Kyle Walker's bidding. Expect a no vote. That's still a shock to me.

You see, it's not like this is a new thing. Marion County has run two elections with satellite centers, the General Election in 2008 and the Special Referendum in 2009, without any complaints of voter fraud, ballot security, or other issues. In 2010, the GOP balked, and in 2011, they are balking again.

It's not really about the UAW. It's about the Marion County GOP. Why on Earth would the decide to suddenly pull their support for something that they once supported and that even Mayor Ballard championed? Do they think Beth White is going to hand the keys to the UAW to run the election? HECK NO. It's all about politics. The very thing that the GOP's own Mayor Ballard says he's not very good at.

Well, as Marion County Democratic Party Chair Ed Treacy called for last week, it's time for Mayor Ballard to put his words into action. If he isn't about politics, he needs to sign off on the plan to provide two satellite voting centers in Marion County and tell the GOP representative on the Election Board to change his no vote to yes.

If the GOP is so concerned, then they should monitor the heck out of it. The UAW didn't say it was buying off the clerk and the inspectors. It is just providing the cash to run an election. It's much the same way that schools are asked to foot the bill for referendum votes.

Those on the other side against the plan have spent more time criticizing the donor and questioning the process, but where were those voices when the satellite centers were open and operating? There were no voices speaking out then. The Mayor and the Marion County GOP were on board.

So, what changed? That's the $50,000 question. So far, Kyle Walker and his "no politics" Mayor has no answer.

Sunday, September 11, 2011

9/11/2001, A Day That Changed Life in America Forever

Today, we pause out of our hustle and bustle and remember, if for a fleeting moment between watching football and juggling life, what happened 10 years ago in New York, Washington, and Shanksville.

Today, we look back at the moment we heard the awful news that America was indeed under attack. For some of us, the videos will bring back haunting memories and remembrances of those that survived and were lost. In one way or another, anyone that was alive on 9/11/01 or that has been born after has seen life in America be much different than it was before that terrible day in American history.

For me, I remember much about that day. It started for me like many others. I went to work. ISTEP testing was going on at Ben Davis High School, and I was asked to sit and watch one of the umpteen doors into the school building. Shortly after the first plane hit the WTC, the choir secretary approached me and asked me if I had heard what happened in New York. I told her no, and she explained to me that a plane had hit the World Trade Center. At that point, neither of us suspected terrorism. It was a few minutes later when I heard that another plane had hit the South Tower and many people had seen it happen live on TV that I knew we had a much different situation on our hands.

The rest of the day was spent watching news coverage on a small TV monitor. I could only get Fox in my classroom, but the students and I crowded around the small TV screen. I had one student whose grandmother worked in the Pentagon. It took him some time, but he would find out that she was ok.

In the weeks that followed, there were various tributes and events including a stuffed animal drive that filled an entire large display case with stuffed animals to send to a NYC elementary school that was near the site of Ground Zero.

As far as where we've come since that day, I don't know. I think it's very difficult to say. In many ways, we are safer. In some ways, we are just as vulnerable as we were that day. That's a discussion for another day.

Today, let's just remember the victims, the survivors, the first responders, and all those that were directly and indirectly affected by that horrible day.

Friday, September 9, 2011

Friday Hodge Podge: Various Reactions to Various Topics, Ballard Ad

Obama Speech Reactions
I watched President Barack Obama's speech about the economy and job creation last night, and, while I support the President's premise and his efforts, I could not help but feel a little fatigued from all the initiatives we have tried. I'm sure it's the same fatigue that the President is feeling, too.

With that said, I know that the President has to do something. Even though Congress has more control over some of the things that can shake loose the economy, people were looking to the President for leadership. It was poor political staging to upstage the NFL's return act, but it was definitely a speech that showed a great deal of leadership. Obama's numbers keep sagging, and he had to do something.

Republicans Underwhelming
Well, Michele Bachmann has been relegated to carnival barker act (sorry to carnival barkers), Ron Paul continues to make himself look appealing (despite his actual record), and Jon Huntsman keeps getting ignored, but that battle between the two Ken dolls is really taking off.

I never thought George W. Bush could run for another term, but this Rick Perry disguise is really fooling some people. The other properly-coiffed one is, of course, Mitt Romney. Romney sure looks like he's out of central casting for President, but he's very underwhelming on the charisma meter and his ideas show a disconnect with the Governor he was in Massachusetts.

Does anyone else think that if Mitt Romney would just be himself and be the guy he was when he was the Governor of Massachusetts that he would be a very attractive choice to pull votes over from Democrats?

Did I watch the Republican debate on Wednesday? Nope. I had paint to watch dry.

Interesting Case in South Bend
A judge in South Bend ruled that the City of South Bend could not transfer public lands to South Bend St. Joe High School to build a football field. Why? Because the move would violate the First Amendment.

So, let me get this straight, we can give money earmarked for public schools to religious institutions, but we can't give public land to them. Hmm...probably an apples to oranges comparison here, but we'll see if this might be a new precedent that could be used in the fight against vouchers.

Ballard's Second Ad
Everytime Greg Ballard says, "We all know; politics really isn't my thing," in his new ad, I want to barf. Dude, you're a Mayor and an elected official. You are a politician that's got our assets tied up in your reelection campaign (disguised as an infrastructure improvement plan).

STOP IT! Politics is exactly what you do, everyday. It's the business of being the Mayor of one of the largest cities in the country is, Mr. Mayor. Quit playing the "aw shucks" card.

The truth is what many of us seem to know, "Mayor isn't your thing, either." Is it November, yet?

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Kennedy Releases Economic, Jobs Plan

Melina Kennedy released a plan to grow the economy and create jobs in Indianapolis. For your consideration, I am publishing the plan in full. You can see it on Kennedy's website here.

Kennedy Announces Plan to Create Jobs and Grow the Indianapolis Economy

September 06, 2011

Kennedy’s Plan to Create Jobs and Grow the Indianapolis Economy

Indianapolis must reclaim its position as an engine of job growth for central Indiana and the State of Indiana. Indianapolis faces enormous challenges with the loss of more than 35,000 jobs in the last three years, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Having spent the last eighteen months meeting with over 100 local business owners to learn about barriers to their businesses, a consistent message emerged: the Mayor must do more work with our existing business owners, particularly our often-neglected small- and medium-sized businesses, to create an environment where they can thrive and create well-paying jobs. We also must foster entrepreneurialism and develop and train our workforce if we are to provide a base of employers in the future and supply workers who can meet employers’ needs. In particular, there are four consistent areas where the City must do better:

· Promoting job creation by reducing barriers and burdens,
· Promoting growth of local small business through strategic use of city resources,
· Improving leadership on local workforce development, and
· Fostering and supporting local entrepreneurialism.

The following initiatives are things a Kennedy Administration would do to enhance entrepreneurialism, support small- and medium-sized businesses, and prime the Indianapolis economy for job growth:

I. Promoting Job Creation by Reducing Barriers and Burdens:

The Challenge: For small and medium-sized businesses in particular, navigating state and local tax, permitting, and regulatory issues is time-consuming and diverts these companies from their primary business purposes. Over the last four years, changes in the structure of the city administration have made it more cumbersome and difficult to navigate the process. If the City truly wants to be known as a place that fosters the growth of our small and medium-sized businesses and maximizes their job-creation capabilities, we must do better at providing these businesses with the tools they need to address regulatory and permitting issues. To solve these problems, a Kennedy Administration will:

Business 411 Initiative:

· Provide a single point of contact (via a combination of phone, e-mail and website access to information) where the City will answer business-related questions, connect businesses with appropriate agencies or offices, and provide other help problem solving information for issues facing local businesses. Promotes efficiency and ease for businesses.

· Conduct training and provide updated information for City employees, and in particular, neighborhood liaisons so that they can more readily provide information resident entrepreneurs and business owners in our neighborhoods.

Educational Webinars; Business Owner's Guide:

· Implement a quarterly webinar explaining how to navigate particularly complex aspects of the local tax, regulatory, and permitting environment, which often are overwhelming for small and new businesses.

· Create a "Business Owner's Guide to City Government" to make working with the City more user-friendly.

Annual Business Climate Surveys:

· Conduct a survey to determine the "State of Business" (i.e., overall health of local business and identify regulatory and permitting issues of concern) for our local community each year.

· Conduct performance surveys of various City agencies that interact with business owners.

· Assign a troubleshooter to address the prior year's concerns by communicating with appropriate people, departments and agencies.

II. Promoting Growth of Local Small Business Through Strategic Use of City Resources:

The Challenge: In recent years, the Mayor has spent a disproportionate amount of time on traveling the world in hopes of attracting large foreign investment to the detriment of local businesses and their needs. The Mayor of Indianapolis should spend the most time where most job-creation occurs: Locally. To enhance our local business growth, a Kennedy Administration will:

Existing business outreach and “Think Indy" Campaign for Local Businesses:

· Devote section of City website where businesses register as “locally grown” and create a search capability that will allow residents to search for a local business by product or service type.

· Launch “Think Indy” campaign encouraging evaluation of Indianapolis businesses when they make a purchase.

· Conduct extensive outreach to existing businesses (with the mayor and appropriate staff) to regularly communicate with the existing business community about their issues and concerns.

Collaborative Capital Commission:

· Create a Collaborative Capital Commission consisting of 15 to 20 Indianapolis business leaders charged with the mission of supporting small- and medium-sized businesses in the community.

· Mentors will deliver business mentoring advice to local business owners that have applied to, and been approved by, the Commission to participate.

Community Advantage Pilot Initiative:

· Create partnerships with community-based lenders so that Indianapolis can join the Small Business Administration's Community Advantage Pilot initiative to reach underserved small businesses.

Promote Small Business Development Throughout Our Community – Minority and Women Business Owners:

· Encourage minorities and women to create and grow new businesses, and provide support to such businesses during their early growth stages. Explore reciprocity or better coordination between and state and local certification processes to streamline the process.

III. Improving Leadership on Local Workforce Development:

The Challenge: Indianapolis is home to some of the most talented human capital, and our world-class universities and colleges provide a ready supply of raw materials and human capital to meet most workforce needs of our local employers. Nonetheless, for those who are struggling in the workforce or struggling to make their way into the workforce, we need to ensure they have access to continuing education and skills-building to ensure that they have the appropriate type and level of skills needed by our employers. This requires a better understanding of our current workforce and business’s needs; and it requires a more comprehensive approach to all segments of the workforce, including youth and ex-offenders seeking re-entry into the community. To address these needs, a Kennedy Administration will:

Neighborhood-Level Workforce Assessment:

· Work with local companies in an effort to increase hiring in particularly hard hit neighborhoods, and collaborate with the community colleges and other workforce development partners to direct targeted training resources to these neighborhoods so that the neighborhood residents will fit the needs of hiring companies.

Develop the City's Emerging Clusters Through Asset Mapping, Marketing and Cluster Specific Workforce Development:

· Work with business community to ensure comprehensive, up-to-date asset mapping is done for the most promising industry clusters; and link individuals, organizations and institutions with a common goal of growing each such sector. Companies in the technology, life sciences, clean energy, and motor sports sectors, among others, are key to developing our workforce skills and training, but the City has not helped support and spur these sectors to the degree needed.

· Market cluster strengths regionally, extending to Indiana's colleges and universities where cluster innovation drivers often originate.

Focusing on Youth, Coordinating with Schools and Neighborhood Community Centers, and Addressing Re-entry:

· Work with local companies in an effort to develop tomorrow's workforce by offering a series of experiences for youth, preparing them to choose a career path and build a self-sufficient life. These experiences will include: job shadowing, summer jobs, career pathway initiatives in high schools and working with employers and community centers to provide a Summer Job experience for 1000 kids within in two years.

· Coordinate and expand upon current work within community and neighborhood centers to improve on current job training efforts, including cross training and awareness of job opportunities between community and neighborhood centers, and assure grass roots outreach to workers. Similarly, work with schools to provide information and linkages to families in need of job training to help move families out of poverty.

· Create a more effective approach to address the employment challenges of ex-offenders seeking to re-enter the community. The City will partner with businesses, the Department of Corrections, Marion County Probation, community centers and other key stakeholders to help returning offenders assimilate back into the community, a key aspect of which is finding stable employment, with specific sector training, expanded job banks for ex-offenders and expanding transitional job opportunities.

IV. Fostering and Supporting local Entrepreneurialism:

The Challenge: As other economies have developed around the world, it has become increasingly difficult to compete on the basis of hard work and productivity alone. Today, successful businesses must also possess entrepreneurial drive, capacity for innovation, and adaptation to rapidly changing markets. Consequently, we must now find ways to also identify, cultivate, and support entrepreneurialism. To spur such entrepreneurialism, a Kennedy Administration will:

Proof of Concept Partnerships:

· Create a "proof of concept" partnership with local educational institutions to support entrepreneurs who may be engaged in full-time careers yet looking for a way to develop their innovations, and pair entrepreneurs and MBA students looking for real world opportunities to jointly develop an early-stage business plan for the entrepreneur's innovative concept.

Angel Funding Promotion:

· Establish a partnership with an equity capital sourcing technology platform to identify local, emerging high growth companies that may need access to equity capital and link these companies with the local investment community.

Entrepreneur Engagement Initiative:

· Work with organizations focused on talent attraction and retention to engage in a targeted marketing campaign to bring back successful entrepreneurs who are originally from the state, and identify emerging entrepreneurial talents encourage them to start their careers in Indianapolis.

· Identify opportunities to recruit entrepreneurial talent internationally, leveraging the resources and access to entrepreneurial talent of institutions like Indiana University, Purdue University and IUPUI.

Future Entrepreneurs Initiative:

· Identify and partner with local entrepreneurs to fund merit scholarships for Marion County high school graduates who have demonstrated entrepreneurial endeavors. The scholarship recipient will continue to develop and refine his or her business plan during college with other scholarship winners and local entrepreneurial mentors, and will be obligated to pursue an entrepreneurial opportunity in Indianapolis for at least two years after graduation.

Technology Seed Fund:

· Help support and grow local technology seed funds, such as TechPoint’s current funding initiative to support technology sector companies.

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

More Cooks in Kitchen in 2nd District Congressional Race

Well, two Democrats want to be the next Congressperson from Indiana's 2nd District. Now, there are two Republicans. Frontrunner for the GOP nomination, Jackie Walorski, has been joined by LaPorte businessman Mitch Feikes.

This is not good news for Walorski who clearly counted on a clear path to the nomination in May 2012.

Can Feikes pull the upset over the well-financed Walorsky? That remains to be seen. The GOP says he has to settle his party status first.

As you may know, Indiana is a state that does not technically register voters by party. So, in Hoosierland, when someone says they are a "registered Republican" they are technically incorrect. Party affiliation can be determined by what primary the voter played around or voted in in the previous election. According to reports, Republicans are claiming that Feikes is a Democrat.

One way or another, it looks like Walorski may have to spend a little cash in the primary that she probably would not have had to spend. The parties want to see a Walorski vs. Mullen matchup, but it looks like the voters will determine if they agree or not.

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Perception=Reality on Crime

It's been a tough few days for Mayor Ballard on the campaign trail capped off by last week's big news that the FOP would be endorsing his Democratic opponent Melina Kennedy.

Of course, the Republican spin meisters are already off saying things like the vote was rigged. Isn't it funny what a difference four years makes? It was Ballard that won the endorsement of the FOP four years ago.

The Mayor can also tout in commercials that crime is down (he's about to again), but it really doesn't feel like it to the victims of these crimes.

Over the weekend, Scott Coxey, City-County Council candidate in District 23 had his car broken into and his garage door opened. Apparently nothing was stolen because the Coxeys have dogs, but it's still scary. For the Coxey's and their Southside neighbors, does it seem like crime is down? Nope.

This is something that plays out many times a day across Indianapolis. Numbers can be made to say many things. The way people feel is a personal thing. For crime victims, you can't change that with words and slick commercials.