Monday, October 31, 2011

Dr. Straub Can't Support Own "Boss"

Frank Straub is a Democrat. I keep hearing that one from my friends that have wanted me to lay off the Public Safety Director. Some of those friends hold office in Marion County.

If the Marion County Democratic Party is correct, there's no way of telling if Frank Straub is a Democrat or a Republican by voter registration here in Indiana. He's apparently never voted in a primary OR a general election. That's because he's yet to apparently establish residency here. (SEE UPDATE)

That's right. Indy's Public Safety Director...the man who has really taken it upon himself to protect the city and Marion County is apparently so committed to the city that he has yet to establish himself as a resident here. (SEE UPDATE)

That means that this short missive from the Marion County Democratic Party is, well, probably true.

INDIANAPOLIS – The Marion County Democratic Party has learned that Indianapolis Public Safety Director Frank Straub will not vote for Mayor Greg Ballard in the November 8th, 2011 Municipal Election.

When I asked for clarification, a source at the MCDP responded:
After 3 years, Straub has never established residency. He is not registered to vote in Indianapolis, and thus will not be voting for Mayor Ballard. We believe that this shows a concerning lack of commitment not only to his boss, but also to our community. This is an individual who is in charge of one of the most important agencies in the City, who is responsible for Ballard’s job #1, and he has so little faith in the Mayor’s leadership, he won’t even be casting a vote.

Also interesting is the questions raised when you consider that city ordinances require employees to be residents of Marion County.

However you slice it, it's just odd.

The Mayor tells Channel 8 that Dr. Straub meets the residency requirement.

GOP Chair Attacks Star Endorsement of Kennedy

Marion County Republican Chairman Kyle Walker released a scathing criticism of the Indianapolis Star's editorial board for endorsing Melina Kennedy for Mayor. I guess that means that Republicans should throw out the endorsement the Star gave 17 of their party's 29 candidates for City-County Council.

It begins:
Republican friends,

You're probably familiar with Einstein's definition of insanity, "doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results." Evidently, the Indianapolis Star Editorial Board does not recognize that by endorsing Melina Kennedy they are trying to do just that. It should come as no surprise to us, because Mayor Ballard is too pragmatic and just not liberal enough for them.

Yes, the same editorial board that endorsed such Republicans as Barbara Malone and Angel Rivera is apparently insane because it did not find Mayor Greg Ballard "liberal enough" according to Chairman Walker for its endorsement. Does that mean that Ryan Vaughn, who the paper endorsed, is a raving liberal? Christine Scales? Jack Sandlin? Ginny Cain? Yep...must all be crazy lefties.

Listen, I don't always agree with the Indianapolis Star Editorial Board, and I found some of their endorsements quite wrong. That said, I'm not going to go all Chairman Walker and say anything to discredit them.

You know though, in his opening salvo quoted above, Walker inadvertently makes the case that the Star made in its ringing endorsement for Kennedy. Ballard is practical, and Kennedy is idealistic. Ballard is running on the past, and Kennedy is focusing on the future. That's why she's the best candidate at this time. The Star gets it, but the Republicans don't.

Happy Halloween!

Hope you all have a great Halloween.

Saturday, October 29, 2011

It's Just an Endorsement...A Really Significant One

Abdul laments that the Indianapolis Star will be endorsing Melina Kennedy in its Sunday edition. After that, he immediately launched into several internet posts throwing shade on the announcement reminding his followers online that the Star endorsed Bart Peterson in 2007 and, after wanting him to resign, Monroe Gray in 2011. Other commenters on Abdul's page have been asking how the Star could endorse candidates and throwing even more shade on the endorsement.

I don't always agree with the Editorial Board of the Star. In fact, I quite often disagree, but they have looked at the issues and, for good or bad, have endorsed candidates from across the county. There were surprises, and there were expected endorsements. I expected Melina Kennedy to get the Star's endorsement because she is the best candidate for the job.

The fact that the right is up-in-arms and throwing around ridiculous questions either means that they don't understand how the First Amendment works, or the lights at the Ballard campaign just flickered. I think it's the latter.

While they try to throw shade on the endorsement of the largest-circulation newspaper in Indiana, please remind them that it's the EXPECTATION and TRADITION that the Star, via its editorial board, releases endorsements of candidates. This is not something they cooked up to help Melina Kennedy.

The Indianapolis Star, as most of you know, is not a Democratic Party-friendly newspaper historically. The fact that it did not apparently endorse the incumbent is extremely significant.

It definitely starts off the last full week of the 2011 campaign season in a very interesting manner.

Saturday Humor: Colbert on Cain

In Memoriam: Tanya Carson

My thoughts and condolences go out today to Congressman Andre Carson, his wife Mariama, daughter Saleema, and the rest of the Carson family. Yesterday, he reported that his mother, Tanya, had passed away.

Again, my deepest condolences are with the family at this horrible time. Fox 59 reports that the visitation will be Monday from 11:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m. at Crown Hill Cemetery. Services will follow immediately. Other information on how you can express your condolences is available in the Fox 59 article.

Friday, October 28, 2011

Dominguez Announces 2012 Plans

Former Lake County Sheriff Roy Dominguez was once a potential candidate for Indiana Governor, but that's all changed now.

Dominguez has announced that he's running for Lake County Commissioner in 2012, and he will run in a district that has an incumbent Democrat running for reelection.

Back as far as 2009, Dominguez had been exploring a run for the state's highest executive office. He registered a snappy website domain name,, and he started touring the state. When a whisper campaign around Evan Bayh was percolating that the ex-Governor might run for the office again after his Senate resignation, all candidates exploring a run backed off. Eventually, Bayh turned his back on a run for Governor, and John Gregg came forward.

With Gregg in the race, it wasn't likely that Dominguez would continue his run for Governor, and, slowly, he faded into the ether. A few weeks ago, I had a talk with a high-level political operative, and we chatted casually about Dominguez's chances to be on the state ticket as Lieutenant Governor. We agreed that the politics of Lake County might be just too toxic for Dominguez to be considered a serious candidate for maybe the second spot on the ticket right now even though he fit many qualifications.

Dominguez is a minority candidate. He also is from Northern Indiana in Da Region. Gregg is from Southwestern Indiana, and there's always a movement to balance the ticket. Depending on what happens, in 2012, I would think that Gregg would look north of Indianapolis as his Lieutenant Gubernatorial candidate. Lots of time before he has to think about that.

Dominguez is a great man. He's a true gentleman, and I've really enjoyed my four or five conversations with him. I had a nice long conversation with him in French Lick back in 2010 during the IDEA Convention. Of course, I can't report any of that because what happens in French Lick, stays in French Lick.

The person least thrilled about Roy's decision has to be the current Lake County Second District County Commissioner, Gerry Scheub. Dominguez is a popular figure in Lake County and likely will be the favorite to win that seat next year.

I'd say mark Dominguez off your list of potential Lieutenant Governor candidates.

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Litebox Deal Just Doesn't Sound Right

Just a day after trumpeting the new jobs Litebox, Inc. was bringing into Indianapolis, the Indianapolis Star finally covered a few of the behind-the-scenes questions the IBJ and I immediately thought of in after reading about a "California start-up" wanting to bring its HQ to town.

Listen, nothing against Litebox. It sounds like a great company idea, and I really appreciate owner Bob Yanagihara wanting to come to town, but it's clear from the Star's write-up that DevelopIndy (and, by extension, the Ballard Administration) didn't do its due diligence before scheduling the press conference announcing the company's arrival.

The Star article can be read here.

The story is comical in parts. This company that was supposed to be providing all these new jobs in town has, it appears, uncertain financial backing. When pushed by the media, a city employee jumped in and tried to play himself off as an employee of Yangihara's, according to the Star.

What an embarrassment for the Governor to be standing there thinking he's welcoming a major new employer to town when so many of the details clearly were not ferreted out ahead of time by DevelopIndy. The land hasn't even been sold to the company yet.

Here is the IBJ's take.

Something tells me this one was rushed out by Mayor Ballard's Office (or campaign) so that it could be a factor in the November 8 election.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Mansfield Questioning No Bid Contract

Angela Mansfield, District 2 City-County Councillor, has filed a Proposal for a Council Resolution to censure and remove City-County Council President Ryan Vaughn from his position and cancel a wasteful $225,000 contract (viewable here) with Republican operative David Brooks to modify Marion County voting precinct boundaries and redistrict the Council's 25 district seats. That's a long first sentence, but it's what's being reported tonight here.

With funding buried in the "honestly balanced" budget passed a few Mondays ago, the contract is a seemingly transparent no-bid giveaway to one of the most well-known Republican operatives in Marion County politics. Brooks, while continuing his deep involvement in Marion County politics, is a Hamilton County resident. His wife is Susan Brooks, a candidate for the Fifth District Congressional seat in 2012.

According to WRTV, Democrats say they did not know anything about the contract with Brooks until it was nearly time to pass it. Mansfield's proposal is here on WRTV's website and is a scathing read.

Another part of this is the possible shirking of his responsibilities by Mayor Greg Ballard. WRTV also has Marion County Clerk Beth White's memo to Mayor Ballard on the situation. That memo is available here.

To his credit, Paul Ogden was on top of this on October 7.

Get Ready for Polling Numbers

We are now less than two weeks away from Election Day, and there's no polling beyond internal polling that's been released from the campaigns. Since we aren't privy to those numbers, we have to take them at face value.

This is not unusual. Back in 2007, WTHR released a poll just about now showing Mayor Bart Peterson leading Greg Ballard 43-39 with an error margin of 4.9 percent. Libertarian Fred Peterson, who raised hardly any money and had hardly campaigned, had five percent of the vote. As Bart Peterson told WTHR at that time, "I know it's a cliche, but Election Day is really the only poll that matters."

He was right.

On Election night, Ballard won with just over 50 percent of the vote to Bart Peterson's slighly over 47 percent. Fred Peterson got just 2.3 percent of the vote.

I would ASSUME that you will see some polling be released sometime in the next few days showing us that this is, in fact, a very similar race to 2007. I think it's going to be very close. You can certainly tell by the tactics the campaigns are resorting to these days.

My friend Paul Ogden penned this excellent analysis of what has been a mildly negative affair between Ballard and Kennedy. Only recently have the gloves started to come off over Ballard's use of the words "difficult population" to describe out-of-work African-Americans at a debate over a week ago.

The term spawned a radio ad by the Marion County Democratic Party that Ballard angrily responded to on a later debate on WTLC-AM. Ballard has released a rebuttal ad using some influential African-American church leaders that support him. Libertarian candidate Chris Bowen has been criticizing these church leaders for appearing in the ad for Ballard on Abdul-Hakim Shabazz's Facebook page.

To be honest, though, Ogden's right. The campaigns are mostly staying on message and trying to throw each's interpretation of sometimes the same facts at each other. There's been more back-and-forth here than in any Mayoral race I can remember recently here in the Circle City.

It's a close race. It has to be, so look for those polls...even maybe today. I have a feeling that they're out there or are about to be.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Demolished Tarkington Park Shelter Continues to Be Issue for Northside Residents

The Edward Pierre-designed shelter at Tarkington Park was unceremoniously torn down without any neighborhood input a few weeks ago.

At the time, there were a number of news reports on the subject with angry neighbors saying that they should have been consulted before the city took such a drastic step with a historically-significant building by a renowned architect.

Mayor Greg Ballard responded to the neighborhood criticism at the WTHR/Indianapolis Star/Indianapolis Recorder debate with a throw away line. "There's no such thing as a historic restroom," said Ballard, who claims he has pages of crime report data that justified the decision to unilaterally rip the structure down. Now, the city has budgeted $200,000 to replace the old shelter.

That hasn't stopped neighbors from complaining. In a letter to the editor, Indianapolis resident Tim Harmon told the Indianapolis Star that the reason the structure was in disrepair was that the city had ignored it. "The only reason this building was run down was because the Parks Department under the leadership of Mayor Greg Ballard had let it become run-down," wrote Harmon. A Facebook page has sprung up trying to get the city to rebuild the old shelter to Pierre's plans.

I'm willing to grant the point that the Parks Department may have ultimately been justified in by knocking down this decaying structure. They just should have gotten neighborhood input.

When you dig a little deeper, there's no indication that the historic shelter, however, was in danger. The city's improvement plan on parks says nothing about knocking down the old shelter and building a new one. It just talks about resurfacing sidewalks in Tarkington Park. But even if crime was a problem in this shelter (which Harmon seems to take issue with in his Letter to the Editor), the issue here, I believe, is that the city completely ignored the feelings of the people that use the park or the people in the surrounding neighborhoods. This is almost the same exact issue as the Georgia Street controversy.

At times Mayor Ballard shows little leadership, but at other times, he shows the ability to steamroll the opinions that really might be necessary to make sure the best thing happens for a neighborhood or the city. It is an inconsistency that is hard to fathom.

And, if Mayor Ballard thinks there's no such thing as an "historic restroom" he needs to go to St. Petersburg, Florida and look at this beautiful facility called "Little St. Mary's".

Legend has it that the restroom, located in downtown St. Petersburg, was designed by Henry Taylor in protest for not being paid satisfactorily for designing St. Mary's Catholic Church there in the city. That's just legend, but it also has made the 1927 landmark a focal point of city tours and a somewhat ironic location to enjoy a chuckle.

Can you imagine if Mayor Ballard were Mayor of St. Pete?

Monday, October 24, 2011

Boneham Seeking Libertarian Nod

I'm sure you've heard it by now. Rupert Boneham wants to be your Governor. The celebrity of Survivor fame announced on Saturday that he was seeking the Libertarian nomination for Governor. It will certainly make this 2012 race for Indiana Governor that much more compelling.

Boneham, should he receive the nomination, will most certainly be included in the debates and certainly will receive lots of national press for his run. It will make this more of a nationally-interesting race.

It's too early to say just how hard Rupert will run at the nomination or how this will affect the already developing landscape. Before he came in, it was shaping up to be pretty interesting anyway.

On the Republican side, you have Mike Pence, the ultra-conservative, Tea Party-backed, fundraising machine against Jim Wallace, the moderate, mostly self-financed businessman with a former fighter pilot background.

Former Indiana Speaker of the House John Gregg is the major Democrat in the race. Gregg's homespun, self-deprecating manner hide a shrewd legislator that rose to the highest levels of the state legislature before stepping aside to be a good father. Well, John's boys are all grown up now, and he's ready to step back into the fight.

Pence is the frontrunner for the Republicans, and Gregg is running practically alone for the Democratic nod. Many political pundits thought this was Pence's race to lose should he get through the Primary, but others, like me, have said that John Gregg, a pro-gun, pro-life, and moderate Democrat should not be overlooked as a force to be reckoned with.

Now enter Boneham. He's definitely a political neophyte, but he's won elections before. After all, he was the "People's Choice" on Survivor winning him a $1,000,000 jackpot. Boneham has built a ton of good will towards him for his work as a youth advocate and philanthropist. His rags-to-riches story is inspiring. All of that goes on the table in a political campaign. Will the voters buy in to Boneham's positions on the issues?

He's already establishing himself as anti-union. Abdul gleefully reported on his new Indy Politics site that Boneham supports the Right to Work (for less) legislation at the Statehouse. That likely will not win him too many moderate Democratic votes. People will now start paying attention to Boneham in an entirely new way.

Will the star of Survivor be able to stand up in that climate where not everyone likes you all the time? We shall see. His entry into the race has already brought a national focus. Type Rupert Boneham Governor into any search engine and national articles pop up.

The way I see it, Boneham needs to decide now how he is going to run. Are we keeping the long hair and beard and tie dye? Are we going to make an image change? Is it "Rupert" that we're going to get as Governor or Rupert Boneham?

Should be an interesting 2012.

Sunday, October 23, 2011

An Apology

I have listed indydemocrat at gmail dot com as my e-mail for the blog (with the @ and the .). Many of you have e-mailed me and sent me notes. I just now got around to checking my e-mail from this page. There were 33 e-mails there.

I just want to apologize to you if you sent me a note. Please, keep sending e-mail, and I'll try to remember to check this one more often.

Friday, October 21, 2011

One Candidate is Having Fun This Campaign Season

I've written about him before here. There's one candidate that's running for City-County Council At-Large that's having a ball. That's the one and only Bill Levin.

The Libertarian has released a new web ad. I can't embed it here on my blog, but I'll give you the link. Here it is.

This is probably the best political spot I've seen this campaign season. As far as substance, there isn't much, but that's ok. I don't think that's the point of the piece. It's an anti-establishment piece for sure showing Levin in the rain, in Broad Ripple, and in true superhero character. This plays off Bill's "cool factor" because I can't imagine anyone else pulling off this ad.

Good work from the Levin camp. Clearly, they are having the most fun this campaign.

Ballard On Defense As Mayor's Race Enters Final Days

The Mayor’s race just entered the fourth quarter. There are diverging strategies evident from both campaigns.

For Ballard, his strategy is defensive for sure. He’s playing this election not to lose. He continues to highlight his so-called accomplishments from his first term and not offering much more than a loose set of goals. He has still offered no vision other than to say, “Look what I’ve done.”

Kennedy unleashed a neighborhood initiative on Sunday in a place the Indianapolis Star reported had the city’s highest unemployment rate. Rather than concentrating on streets and roads, Kennedy wants to concentrate her plan on the people that drive on them.

All of this is playing for the last bit of undecided voters who remain unsure about a man who has been in office for four years that has yet to give a closing argument about why he should get another four years.

In analysis, Kennedy’s still playing to win, and she should be. The Mayor appears to be frantic and desperate, and he should be. Come November 8, he may become the first one-term Mayor of the Unigov era.

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Moammar Gaddafi Dead

Word from Libya today that one of the world's most notorious dictators has met the same fate as many notorious dictators before him. Moammar Gaddafi is dead.

Details are here.

Daniels Wades Into At-Large Council Race

City-County Council President Ryan Vaughn tweeted yesterday that Governor Mitch Daniels had endorsed Republican At-Large City-County Councillor Angel Rivera and would be taking his endorsement to the airwaves in the form of a radio ad.

Why would the GOP need a guy like Daniels to get involved in a common City-County Council race? My guess is that internal polling must be showing that Rivera is in some serious trouble.

The At-Large race is key to the Democrats gaining back control of the City-County Council. An excellent slate of Democratic candidates as well as a high-profile and popular Libertarian (Bill Levin) combine to form a perfect storm of problems for Republican incumbents like Rivera and Barbara Malone.

The GOP needs those two seats to hold because it does not look like it's going to pick up any seats on November 8.

It also, I think, signals some weakness for Mayor Ballard. Why would Rivera need a bigger fish than the guy running with him on the ticket to improve his electoral chances? It just strikes me as odd.

I think Daniels' entry into the 2011 election fight is a bit late and all for naught. I predict a four-seat sweep on Election Day by Zach Adamson, John Barth, Pam Hickman, and Leroy Robinson.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Dr. White Offends Most Vulnerable With Comments

This might surprise many, but I have a great deal of respect for Dr. Eugene White. Dr. White took on a challenge a few years ago. He moved from the relatively comfortable confines of the superintendent's job at the MSD of Washington Township to the frying pan as the Superintendent of Indianapolis Public Schools.

IPS has so many challenges that any superintendent would find that move daunting, but Dr. White moved there. He has had some success, but the challenges continue. I'm sure there's many things he'd love to snap his fingers and change, but it just doesn't work that way in IPS.

The other night, on WIBC's Denny Smith program, Dr. White was trying to make a point that IPS cannot take only the students it wishes into its school system. He said that the district must take the students whether they were "blind, crippled, or crazy."

That's unforgivable. I'm sorry Dr. White, but, if that's how you feel about your students with disabilities, then you need to move on. Dr. White has apologized for his reference, but that isn't enough. So far, the IPS Board of School Commissioners has refused to take more action against the superintendent.

To be fair, Dr. White has a point (offensive language aside), but his terms in describing it were absolutely unacceptable. It's true that public schools must take almost every student that walks up to their doors. Unlike private schools or charter schools which can be a bit more selective in their admissions process (charters by limiting their enrollment), public schools must accept the student that comes in with severe emotional disabilities or extreme physical issues or that are blind or deaf. Public schools must spend money to hire the necessary people to give those students the best education they can get.

Here's the thing: it is the absolutely MORAL and RIGHT thing for a school to provide whatever education it can for those young people. Public schools do this, and it's one of the reasons that I love being a teacher in a public school. These young people are special, and they should be treated with the same respect as the regular education student they typically rub shoulders with. I salute my colleagues that provide services to these young people.

Those students and the people that teach them shouldn't have to hear the leader of the state's largest school system call them, "blind, crippled, or crazy." That's just inexcusable.

The above post represents the opinion of the author only and no public school or school system.

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Dan Wheldon (1978-2011)

Two-time Indianapolis 500 Champion, Dan Wheldon, passed away after being in a horrifying 13-car accident at Las Vegas Motor Speedway today.

Dan Wheldon loved going fast. He was a man of fashion and class. His marriage and subsequent fatherhood mellowed him a bit, but he still charged hard on the track with skill and excellence. He was focused and driven, but he was always affable and classy with the media and with his fans. Dan knew the risks, and he died going fast.

I love IndyCar racing. I always have. It's one of my most favorite things in the world to watch and follow as a fan, but today, my heart is as broken as it can be over something like this. My thoughts and prayers are with his wife, Susie, and sons, Sebastian and Oliver.

Saturday, October 15, 2011

Kennedy Wins Debate, Easily

I attended the WTHR/Indianapolis Star/Indianapolis Recorder debate tonight at the University of Indianapolis. A few things really stuck out in my mind.

I think that if you went in being a strong supporter of either candidate, you left being a strong supporter of your candidate. Mayor Ballard did nothing to fumble the ball in the minds of his Kool-Aid drinkers in the Marion County GOP, and Melina Kennedy appealed strongly to her hardcore supporters as well.

I was not a viewer at home, but I did talk to someone that watched a portion of the debate. This person is a strong Republican. Her response to me, "Melina Kennedy had better answers."

My source told me that Mayor Ballard's answer about the comprehensive smoking ban in Marion County was really off. She said that she not only believes this county is ready for it, but it's long past time for one.

Despite all of this, she says she still likes Mayor Ballard as a person. She said that he came across as more warm but that Kennedy was by far the most business-like in her approach. "I really am on the fence on this one," said my source.

My source voted for Bush and McCain in the last two Presidential elections.

I think that's truly the issue right now for Mayor Ballard. Despite the fact that he's been in office for four years, he really has only a few iffy things to hang his hat on. Tonight, he made no more clear appeal for his vision than he has previously.

If you listen carefully to these things, Melina Kennedy came across as the more Mayoral candidate. She was prepared. She spoke directly to the voter in the camera, and what came out of her mouth was focused on the question. Mayor Ballard wandered all around rhetorically. He even fumbled the first question that asked what the ONE main issue of this campaign was. Ballard warbled all over the place about his record. Kennedy refocused herself with laser like precision, "The question was what one issue is most important," said Kennedy before launching into the education issue that has become her strongest campaign plank, in my view.

It's the right plank, too. Education is so related to everything on the docket. From economic development all the way to crime, education...or the lack of a quality key. Kennedy has a plan. Ballard has a bunch of initiatives, and he can warble through them all.

I thought Ballard missed a huge opportunity to address unemployment in this county as well. The question was asked about the unemployment rate of African-Americans in the county. All Ballard could do was read off a laundry list of initiatives and programs currently in place. He doesn't get it. Those AREN'T WORKING! If the status quo was working, then we wouldn't have one in four African American males out of work in this city. Kennedy, of course, articulated a plan to increase job prospects in the city.

Ballard couldn't even close out the debate correctly. You always want to end a debate with a closing argument. Kennedy hit a home run with her closing comments, but Ballard decided to do a little negative campaigning in his closing statement. Hardly what you'd expect from a non-political guy. He has NO VISION to articulate only a loose list things he says he's accomplished.

People have told me that Kennedy needs to give a reason why Ballard should be dumped out of office. Tonight, I think that was evident. At this critical moment, there is only one candidate that has a command of the issues and a plan to address them: Melina Kennedy.

Libertarians Cry Foul
I can sympathize with the Marion County Libertarian Party. I believe their candidate Chris Bowen should have been included in this debate. Bowen is quick on his feet, and I've heard him do an excellent job of articulating more of a vision than Mayor Greg Ballard. His inclusion would have made Ballard likely the third-best candidate on the stage.

With that said, I can also see the other side. The Libertarians have never drawn much support in a countywide election. Ed Coleman, the lone current Libertarian officeholder, became a Libertarian after finding himself at odds with the Republican Party when he was in office.

I think Coleman's race against Jack Sandlin in District 24 as well as Bowen's performance on November 8 will go a long way in deciding how a Libertarian candidate will be treated in the future.

SNL Takes on Republican Field

Friday, October 14, 2011

Tea Party Sets Sights Directly on Dick Lugar's Seat

In 2010, incumbent challenges were fairly rampant by the Tea Party members of the Republican Party. Well, it looks like one man has emerged as the focal point of Tea Party folks' efforts in 2012, and that's Richard G. Lugar.

Lucky him, right?

Lugar is just far too liberal for the Tea Party, and I have heard from more than one exasperated Republican that Lugar is out of touch with the Indiana GOP as well. They think that even though Lugar has a ton of money in the bank that he can use to defend himself.

I think he's going to need it. Richard Mourdock may not have raised nearly as much, but he's gotten the attention of a wide variety of Tea Party groups. That means that those groups can run their own ads on behalf of Mourdock.

Democratic candidate Joe Donnelly noted the Tea Party's fixation on Lugar for 2012, and he's trying to capitalize on it. In a letter to potential donors, Donnelly points out that Lugar is definitely under attack from forces inside his own party, "While Joe focuses on meeting Hoosiers across the state and increasing opportunities to improve our economy, the Republicans will continue their intra-party scrap. It gives our campaign the opportunity to prepare for whichever person comes out of an already ugly primary. And because of your help, we will be ready. Guaranteed."

I am interested to see how long Mourdock can ride this Tea Party wave. It seems like it's cresting or already has crashed to the shore. Lugar may be "vulnerable" as the Associated Press calls him, but he's far from a goner. It's Lugar's millions versus Mourdock's minions.

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Signature Controversy Further Proves Ridiculousness of Voter ID Bill

There's a budding controversy in Northern Indiana regarding the petitions filed on behalf of Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama to get them on the Indiana ballot in 2008.

The South Bend Tribune published a report that many of the signatures on the Clinton and Obama documents appear to have been forged or copied from other petitions. Yesterday, the Associated Press reported that former Indiana Governor Joe Kernan says that his signature on the Barack Obama petition is not really his signature.

Both the Indiana GOP and the Indiana Democratic Party are calling for investigations into the peculiarities. According to the Indiana Democratic Party, Obama and Clinton both had enough signatures to account for the problems with the alleged forged ones.

This is certainly further proof that Indiana's election laws need a tweek or two. Elections in Indiana are a bipartisan affair with both the major political parties having a responsibility in the matter.

To me, this further proves that a person, appearing in person at a polling site, is much less likely to try to commit shenanigans than perhaps someone behind the scenes filing a petition for a candidate. Perhaps our laws should be geared that way?

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Charlie White: A True Hoosier Embarrassment

Thank you to the Hoosiers that voted for Charlie White for Indiana Secretary of State. I wish I could shake every one of your hands. You have truly elected a great public servant who thinks of his state over himself. He's a true public servant in every way. In case you didn't know, that's a little sarcasm. In reality, Charlie White is an Indiana embarrassment, and he keeps proving it.

White filed a criminal complaint against Susan and Evan Bayh for taking a homestead credit and continuing to vote in Indiana despite the fact that White claims they live in the Washington, D.C. area. Now, I'm not the biggest Evan Bayh fan in the world, and the fact that he's become Fox News' token Democrat (along the lines of Dick Morris, Greta Van Susteran, and, formerly, Alan Colmes) is not lost on me. But, this is not a case that's filed on its potential merits. It's filed for Charlie White's personal benefit. In other words, to prove a personal point. The Secretary of's complaint is filled with personal language, attacks, and vitriol. Regardless of any merit this case might have (and I'm a teacher not a lawyer), I think the way the complaint is written gets in the way of whatever message is contained within it.

It's clear that Charlie White is an angry man and he's now, it appears to me, using his office for his own benefit. Kind of makes you long for the good old days of Todd Rokita.

If you voted for Charlie White, I hope you're happy with your vote because it makes me nauseous.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Vote Early; BMV Requests Renewals

Early in-person voting for the November 8, 2011 election began on Monday at the Clerk’s Office at the City-County Building. The nuts and bolts specifics are available on Clerk Beth White’s website. Here are the hours.

· Oct. 10 - 14 - Early voting, 8 a.m. - 5 p.m.
· Oct. 17 - 21 - Early voting, 8 a.m. - 5 p.m.
· Oct. 22 & 23 - Early Voting, 10 a.m. - 5 p.m.
· Oct. 24 - 28 - Early voting, 8 a.m. - 5 p.m.
· Oct. 29 & 30 - Early voting, 10 a.m. - 5 p.m.
· Oct 31 - Nov. 4 - Early voting, 8 a.m. - 7 p.m.
· Nov. 5 & 6 - Early voting, 10 a.m. - 5 p.m.
· Nov. 7 - Early voting ends at NOON

· Nov. 8 - Election Day! Polls open 6 a.m. to 6 p.m.

For those of you so inclined. There will be an Early Voting Rally today at the City Market at 11:00 a.m. Melina Kennedy will be there as well as some entertainment. Then, the group will proceed across the street to the Clerk's Office and vote early. If you can make it, I'm sure they'd love to see you!

The Indiana Bureau of Motor Vehicles put out a request to Indiana residents. If you need to renew your drivers’ license in the next year, do it now. You can renew your license for up to one year from the expiration date. So, for me, that means that I can renew my license since it expires in late July.

Of course, there is another side of this. Everyone in Indiana needs a federally-issued or state-issued ID card to vote. With a Presidential election year coming up, I’m sure that you will all want to make sure your ID is up-to-date and ready to go for November 2012. Make sure you check your ID’s expiration date and then take the necessary steps to renew it on time.

If you already have a new secure ID, you can simply go online and renew. For those of us, like me, that do not have the new secure ID, I have to go to the branch and wait in line with the crowds. Looks like this should be a one-time-only wait though if you can renew online in the future by law.

Monday, October 10, 2011

Mayor's Latest Attack Ad Sloppy At Best

Not only is Melina Kennedy proving to be the better, more informed, and more ready candidate for Mayor of Indianapolis, she's also running a better campaign, and every time Greg Ballard releases a new ad, it just underlines that assessment even more.

Ballard's latest bit of comedy stars another "real person" critic of Melina Kennedy. Almost everything that comes out of this, presumably, paid (female) actor's mouth is easily rebuttable. Certainly not the kind of tactics you might expect from a man that has a "double digit" lead as Marion County GOP Chair Kyle Walker wants you to believe the Mayor has over Kennedy.

Here's the ad.

Let's go point-by-point.

The ad is correct. Property taxes are indeed lower now than they were when Melina Kennedy was Mayor Bart Peterson's Deputy Mayor. That has NOTHING to do with the Mayor of Indianapolis. Ballard hopped aboard the Tea Party express on property taxes, and that angst carried him to the Mayor's Office. The fact is the Mayor has no control over property taxes and what happens in the Indiana General Assembly. The ball had begun to roll long before anyone knew who Greg Ballard was. And, furthermore, Bart Peterson knew the issue in 2007. He knew what a problem property taxes were then. I sat in a closed-door strategy meeting in 2007 where, for the first time, a politician explained the issue to me and the other Ward Chairs in Marion County. That was Bart Peterson. Many of us urged him to take his explanation to the airwaves and to YouTube, but his campaign chose unwisely to continue to run from ahead. It's one of the reasons he lost.

If Ballard wants to take credit for someone else's homework and over something he had no control, then he has to drop the criticism of Melina Kennedy for her stance on education. The Mayor, beyond the granting and supervision of the city's charter schools, has little direct control over education. Kennedy has been unfairly criticized, as Matt Tully points out in an excellent Sunday column, for wanting to make the Office of the Mayor a leader in education in this city. Unless he's willing to drop the campaign tactic of criticizing Kennedy's view, he needs to stop taking credit for something he did little more than advocate for at, frankly, the end of the third quarter (to use a sports metaphor).

Pushing that issue aside, the other two issues in the ad are Kennedy's support of a tax increase and the cutting of police officer positions during the Peterson Administration.

Kennedy, when she ran for Prosecutor, supported a tax increase to ease jail overcrowding at the Marion County Jail. The problem was that offenders were waiting too long for trial and they were not moving through the jail fast enough. The tax increase that was passed gave more revenue to the courts and to the Marion County Prosecutor to speed up the wheels of justice. As a result, the Marion County Jail went from being compared to a jail in Tijuana, Mexico to being one of the only accredited jails in the country. Of course, Mayor Ballard, trying to win a political campaign, won't tell you that he has supported over 140 tax and fee increases. He doesn't even try to rebut that in this ad. Instead, he puts a laser light focus on Kennedy's support of a worthy tax increase and makes it a focus of this campaign ad.

Another "don't go there" moment should have been this idea that somehow Mayor Peterson (and by extension, Kennedy) cut police officers. Let's go back to this post I wrote earlier this year after Ryan Vaughn penned what appeared to be a whopping lie in an Indy Star op/ed. He was apparently, like a good and loyal foot soldier, trying out this claim that the Peterson Administration cut officers. Peterson, in fact, added 200 officers which is more than the 44 officers I can come up with that Mayor Ballard has added. It's also well short of the 750 officers candidate Ballard promised us in 2007. So, again, he's opening up a dangerous battlefield for himself.

Ronald Reagan always used to say, "Shine a lantern on your problem," as a candidate. I'm not sure these are the problems Greg Ballard wants to shine a lantern on. He's definitely not fighting like a confident, battle-tested, front-runner. He's trying to land sloppy haymakers, and he's leaving himself open for the jab that's going to knock him to the canvass.

That comes on November 8.

Happy Columbus Day!

Sunday, October 9, 2011

In Memoriam: Al Davis (1929-2011)

When you look up rebel in the dictionary, there should be a picture of Al Davis beside the word. The owner of the Oakland Raiders passed away last week at the age of 82, and that proved that even he was not cantankerous enough to beat the Grim Reaper.

Davis was a pioneer. He successfully sued the NFL for the right to move his football team and won. He took on the league many times. He also took on cast-offs and malcontents and somehow, with a few notable exceptions, the moves typically worked out.

Sadly, his team has become a shadow of its former self under his recent guidance. A slew of poor coaching hires, bad draft picks, shaky free agent moves, and wild trades has left his team without a winning season since 2002, the last time they played in the Super Bowl. All the while, he became a caricature of his former self.

All that's forgotten now. Al Davis' legacy is that of a true rebel. His "Commitment to Excellence" produced a lot of "Just Win Baby" moments. He will be missed by football and the pro football community.

By the way, his beloved Raiders upset the Houston Texans, 25-20, today in Houston. That one's for you Al.

I've Gone Pink

Yep. It's breast cancer awareness month. My mom is a survivor, and I love her. My aunt and my cousin are both survivors as well.

I know you all have been affected in one way or another by this horrible disease. It's time to kick cancer's butt! For the rest of the month, my main header will remain pink to draw attention to breast cancer awareness.

Visit the American Cancer Society for more information on how you can help in the fight to beat cancer once and for all.

Friday, October 7, 2011

Just One Reason Why I Still Support Barack Obama II

Got a little misty watching this. Consider, under President Barack Obama, men and women of our military forces can now serve proudly and openly without any regard for their sexual orientation. Thank you, Mr. President. Enjoy the video.

ALL of our fighting men and women are heroes, but I really want to thank those LGBT servicemen and servicewomen that have fought for me and for us even though this country's policy was to look down upon them as a second-class citizen based on who they love.

Now, for a little under a month, I can say that happens no more in this country.

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Is Mayor Greg Ballard a Tea Party Guy?

The Marion County Democratic Party has labeled some local GOP officials as Tea Party members lately. One was Barbara Malone, At-Large City-County Councillor (which I thought was a stretch). Now, the label is being applied to Mayor Greg Ballard. Is it a valid label?

To answer or, more appropriately, ponder this question, it's important to look at the two Greg Ballards that have developed over the last four years. The 2007 version that successfully campaigned for Mayor and the 2011 version which, I'll give this away, has little in common with that 2007 version.

Let's get this out of the way. Mayor Greg Ballard, as he has governed, may be conservative (some conservatives disagree). He may have some Tea Party views, but to say he embraces the Tea Party as it is in 2011 is simply not accurate, but, before you take me out of context and quote that last sentence, read the rest of the post.

In the most recent news release by the MCDP, discussed here, Greg Ballard is labeled as the "original Tea Party candidate." Looking back at 2007 and how Ballard took an almost entirely negative campaign to a win, it's hard not to recognize some of the similarities between Tea Party core tenets and the ideas the Mayor was campaigning on in '07.

Mainly, it was the property tax angst as well as the angst at the county option income tax increase that Ballard capitalized on in 2007. That grassroots anti-tax wave sounds like the start of something that we've come to know as the Tea Party, and Ballard rode it.

Once in office, Ballard has presided over the raising of over 140 taxes and fees. Some of those are "user fees", but the fact of the matter is that the users are paying more to do things they used to do for less. That's no Tea Party guy, and the first people to tell you about it are the Tea Partiers. They want little to do with the man they originally helped put on the 25th Floor. The impression that I get is that many of those original Ballard early-adopters, those "Taxed Enough Already" Tea Party folks, are going to sit on their hands on November 8. Ballard has lost his original base.

So, in answer to the question posed in the headline. In 2007, the answer was yes. In 2011, the answer is that he wants to be. Ballard is still putting out the Tea Party line...even if it's exaggerated or flat untrue. He's saying that he "honestly balanced budgets" and didn't raise taxes. RIIIIIGHT. As Mayor Greg Ballard, the man has been anything but a Tea Party individual even though he still wants to be.

The characterization of Mayor Ballard as the "original Tea Party candidate" is quite prescient, and, by the way he's conducting his campaign, he still wants to be a member of the Tea Party. Thus, anyone criticizing the Marion County Democratic Party for connecting the Mayor to anything Tea Party should examine the campaign carefully and re-think their criticism. I think the MCDP is well within the bounds to make the connection because that's the campaign Greg Ballard is running regardless of how he has been as Mayor.

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

In Memoriam: Steve Jobs (1955-2011)

Tonight comes word that Apple founder Steve Jobs has passed away, and the world has gotten a little less creative.

I have no doubt that by the time history is written on computers and this amazing era that we all live in that Jobs will be remembered as one of the most innovative and most important people to have lived in this time. Jobs' stewardship of the Apple company and the attitude and innovation he brought to computers and to devices we use everyday such as IPhones, IPads, IPods, Apple laptops, and other items will not be fully understood until we look back upon it.

Jobs is survived by his wife and his four children.

Debate Release for Marion County GOP

Boy...don't they sound excited over at the Marion County GOP about their candidate (sarcasm intended). Count the campaign talking points in this one.

In response to this evening's debate, Marion County Republican Chairman Kyle Walker issued the following statement

(INDIANAPOLIS) "This evening, Mayor Ballard again demonstrated why he is the right person to lead Indianapolis. His answers demonstrating his record of achievement and commitment to Indianapolis' future made him the winner in tonight's debate. From his proven track record of helping neighborhoods, the fact that crime is down, and his record-setting job commitments for the City, Mayor Ballard has made tremendous strides in the last 3 1/2 years. We are confident that on November 8, voters will re-elect Mayor Ballard to keep moving Indianapolis forward."

Ballard in Desperation Mode?

The Marion County Democratic Party amplified some heavy accusations towards Mayor Greg Ballard's campaign that it is inappropriately calling city officials in the City-County Building and trying to sway them to show their support for the Mayor.

Here's the release in full:
Ballard Campaign Throwing Weight Around in City-County Building

Ballard’s Team Caught Making Inappropriate Campaign Calls to Staff Offices

INDIANAPOLIS - Distraught city employees have come forward with accusations that Mayor Ballard’s campaign made calls to offices in the City-County Building. Recorded voicemails, obtained by the Marion County Democratic Party and available for the media, exaggerate the Mayor’s record and urge city officials to display yard signs in support of the Mayor. A public records request has been submitted to evaluate the degree by which these infractions have occurred.

With just 34 days until the 2011 Municipal Election, Mayor Greg Ballard, the first Tea Party candidate, is quickly losing steam and getting sloppy. Local headlines scream of Ballard’s limited understanding of policy, his numerous broken promises, and his propensity to ignore Marion County residents. These, alongside the bold vision put forth by Melina Kennedy, have the Mayor now stooping to a new low as his campaign hopes to inappropriately coerce or compel city workers to support Ballard’s unhealthy reelection campaign.

“The Mayor recognizes that this race is one where he is clearly winded and falling behind, and he is desperate,” said Marion County Democratic Party Chairman Ed Treacy. “These calls, done inappropriately into staff offices, are nothing short of veiled threats-either support the Mayor or suffer the consequences. This type of activity is unacceptable and highlights further why Greg Ballard has got to go.”

Ballard's campaign has really no choice but to answer the claims, and I will be interested to see what those answers might be. Bottom line, it appears that this type of behavior by the Mayor's campaign is showing some level of desperation. You don't resort to tactics like these if you have that double digit lead that Marion County GOP Chair Kyle Walker wants you to believe the Mayor has.

There's probably more to come on this one.

Eighth District Race Crowding for '12

Are you running for Congress in Indiana’s 8th District? No? Well, you may be the only one that isn’t. Three seemingly powerful Democrats and two Republicans (including incumbent Larry Buschon) are vying for the seat that may once again become Indiana’s most competitive Congressional seat.

The “Bloody Eighth” became a little more favorable to Democrats, according to most analysts after it was reconfigured following the 2010 Census. The district, as it was, had been represented by both Republicans and Democrats. Buschon won the seat over Trent Van Haaften in 2010 while Congressman Brad Ellsworth decided to try his hand in the Senate.

Early speculators seemed to think Ellsworth might give Congress a try again, but Ellsworth shot those rumors down quickly. Instead, his former district director, Patrick Scates announced he is entering the race. Scates is running against former State Representative Dave Crooks and Warrick County Democratic Chairman Terry White for the Democratic nomination. Unlike the 2nd District where Brendan Mullen is the party-backed choice against Democrat Andrew Straw, Indiana Democratic Party Chairman Dan Parker is just going to let this one play out in the primary.

The Congressional races are taking shape across the state for 2012, but this one probably be the one many will pay attention to. The First and Seventh Districts still figure to be Democratic seats. The Second, Third, Fourth, Fifth, Sixth, and formerly-competitive Ninth all were drawn as seemingly Republican territory in the new maps. That leaves the “Bloody Eighth”.

Much depends on the mood of the electorate and how much President Obama decides to play in Indiana. Most analysts agree that Obama’s chances are probably not as good as they were in 2008, but who thought at this point he would win Indiana then? We just didn’t know.

A competitive Governor’s race with Eighth District resident, John Gregg could also help the Democrat running for Congress in that area.

As always, the Eighth will be one to watch.

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Tully: Kennedy's "Command of the Issues" Better than Ballard's

On Sunday, Matt Tully penned a column on the first debate, and some of the things he said were quite surprising things to say about a sitting Mayor. Tully gave the debate heavily to Melina Kennedy, but his opinions of Mayor Greg Ballard should give any voter some pause.

You can read the full Matt Tully piece here hiding behind an innocuous headline about debates. My favorite line from the piece, and, potentially the most troubling for Ballard, "She (Kennedy) is clearly more comfortable in the setting and, as a policy wonk and a former deputy mayor, she seems much more in command of the issues facing the city."

Tully doesn't come right out and say it, but one can read that statement that the Mayor is out-of-touch with the city he's been at the head of for four years. Further, Tully takes the Mayor to task for his robotic and unimaginative answers to questions asked. "Ballard, never a master of policy, these days comes across as a candidate who has been heavily coached. He fills his answers with a mix of rapid-fire talking points, provided by his advisers, and dry managerial statistics and jargon," writes Tully. Did I mention that Tully moderated the debate?

All of these things are ready-made campaign commercial material for Kennedy. Perhaps as you read this, her campaign staff is working on an ad right now with the quote about the "command of the issues" she has over the man who has been Mayor.

Of course, those of us that have supported Melina Kennedy are not surprised by this, but in a county that trends Democratic, Greg Ballard needs to have all the support he can get. Having the political writer of record for a historically pro-Republican newspaper give the "command of the issues" to your Democratic opponent is not a good thing for the sitting Mayor.

Tully's right. Melina Kennedy does know the issues better than Greg Ballard does, and it's one of the many reasons a vote for her is the way to go on November 8.

Monday, October 3, 2011

Thud! New Name for Georgia Street Idea Fails to Get One Republican Vote

Late tonight, the Keep the historic name "Georgia Street" Facebook page reported that a City-County Council resolution urging the Mayor and the Metropolitan Development Commission to keep Georgia Street as the name of...well...Georgia Street passed unanimously. The Indy Star also has this report.

This means that is there bi-partisan support to keep the name, but that Mayor Greg Ballard's dogged determination to rename the three-block street that runs between Conseco Fieldhouse and the Indiana Convention Center has no support among City-County Councillors in his own party.

A Mayor can't get one Council vote from his own party for something he wants badly? Trouble in paradise!

The Worst Political Ad So Far This Campaign Season

Congratulations to the Greg Ballard campaign. You've managed to take a great idea and mess it up. The Ballard camp released this ad on the internet Friday, and it's really just not very good. The ad is called "Man on the Street" and it features "Man on the Street" interviews with Ballard supporters.

Ok, there is absolutely nothing wrong with this idea, but the execution is awful. It's clear that the Ballard camp was trying to go for, again, a multi-cultural and gender mixed group of people, and I'm sure that they are all nice folks. The ad is clearly set up and scripted, and it makes you doubt the very sincere comments these folks may have about the Mayor.

This ad hits all of Mayor Ballard's campaign planks. From taxes to infrastructure to "he's not political" to OOOO RAH...he's a Marine.

This ad says that Mayor Ballard needs to script supporters' comments about him.

The best way to do a "Man on the Street" ad is to truly make it "Man on the Street". Trust the public and let them talk. That's exactly what I would do if I were the Melina Kennedy campaign. Be honest with people and tell them what your purpose is, but set up a camera and get truly "Man on the Street" comments from folks. You could go negative and make it about Mayor Ballard or maybe more positive and ask them what they like about the city. But, Ballard has opened up the door for it..

This is the way to do a "supporters" ad. Julia Carson's campaign got it right.

Gosh, I miss that woman.