Tuesday, January 31, 2012

NOT Political: Living Life Full Speed

Patty Rigsby at Super Bowl XLIV
One of the joys I have in politics is getting to meet a lot of special people.  People who astound me with their energy and enthusiasm...not only for their enthusiasm for the Democratic Party but their enthusiasm for life.  Look around any room; you'll see them there.

My friend, Patty Hammer Rigsby, always jumps into my brain when I think about living life full speed.  Patty just doesn't slow down at an age where many people would.  She's the Queen of Overinvolvementville.  I won't even endeavor to list all of her activities here but from the Decatur Township Civic Council to the Ben Davis Alumni to the Red Hats to the Decatur Township Democratic Club, Pat is always going.

On Monday, while we were waiting for the doors to be unlocked at the Decatur Middle School for the Decatur Township Civic Council Meeting, Patty told me she was "having a ball downtown."

I, of course, had to ask, "Oh, you're volunteering?"

She said, "Yeah.  I'm on Madonna's stage crew."

My friend, Patty Rigsby, who is just north of 70, is going to be an integral part of Madonna's halftime show at the Super Bowl.  She proudly told me that she ran the "50 Yard Dash" three times at practice the other night because they have exactly six minutes to put the stage up and in place.

Patty couldn't tell me anything about the show, and I didn't ask.  Still, I just am amazed at how people like Patty just live their lives at full speed every day.

I know that Patty is not alone, but she inspires me.  I'm half her age, and I know I don't have the physical ability to do what she's doing in the halftime show.  That says a lot about me, but I think it also says a lot about Patty.

Well, I just had to share that with you all today.  Live life full speed!  Be like Patty.

Burton to Retire

Dan Burton announced today that he is retiring from Congress when his term is up. He will not seek reelection for a 16th term.

The Republican had been expected to squeak past a large Primary field and battle Scott Reske in the November race. Instead, Burton announced to the Indiana House that he was going to retire at the end of his term.

Burton’s retirement sends the Fifth District race into high gear now. Four Republicans are running, and others that had been sitting on the sidelines might decide to jump in. Former Marion County Coroner Dr. John McGoff, former U.S. Attorney Susan Brooks, former U.S. Rep. David McIntosh, and attorney Jack Lugar are in the race. The Star reports that Mike Delph may enter and even slightly hinted that Mitch Daniels might run.

This certainly changes the metrics for Democrat Scott Reske, a State Rep., who is expected to be the Democratic nominee for the seat. Tony Long is also running for the Democratic nod.

With Burton’s retirement, Pete Visclosky will be the longest serving member of the Indiana U.S. House Delegation if he is reelected, as expected, in November.

Rodman Resigns

Mike Rodman
Mike Rodman has resigned as Marion County Treasurer, effective today.  

According to WISH-TV, Rodman resigned to "spend more time with his family."   The timing of this resignation, roughly 11 months before the end of his term, is very curious.  I won't speculate beyond what Rodman told WISH-TV.  

The soon-to-be former Treasurer was barred by the Indiana Constitution from seeking reelection.  One of his Chief Deputy Assessors, Tom Creasser, is the only Democrat filed so far to run for the office in 2012.  He is expected to have Primary competition.

Rodman has shepherded the Treasurer's Office through a very challenging seven years.  With the problems with  property tax assessment, the freeze by Mitch Daniels of all assessments and the time it took to reassess the land in the County all delayed the collection of the taxes and the opportunity to invest the city's money while getting it to the correct entities in the county.  His expertise as a banker really helped him be a very successful Treasurer and elected official in his time in office.  

Rodman also briefly ran for Congress in 2008 as one of the Democrats that pursued the slating nod in January of that year.  He lost to Andre Carson.  As Treasurer, Rodman was a member of the Marion County Commissioners with Auditor Billie Breaux and Assessor Joe O'Connor.  

I wish Rodman well, and I hope to catch up with him soon.

I believe a caucus of Democratic Precinct Committeepersons must select a new Treasurer.  

Monday, January 30, 2012

Breaking News: Smoking Ban Passes Council, 19-9

The City-County Council passed the smoking ban, 19-9, tonight.  This ban, in its current form, will likely be vetoed by Mayor Greg Ballard.

Nevertheless, congratulations to the City-County Council and the Republicans that crossed the aisle and joined the 16 Democrats in support of this important proposal.

Tweeting While in Session

During tonight's City-County Council meeting, the best commentary was coming from the actual Councillors whose Twitter accounts were constant streams of information.

I don't like it.  I don't support it, and I wouldn't do it...and I don't care what side of the aisle you are on as members from both parties were doing it.

I think "tweeting while legislating" should be frowned upon.  Call me old fashioned.

GOP Slates Candidates

The Marion County GOP got together at Ben Davis High School on Saturday and had a good, ole' fashioned slating convention.  The following candidates were slated.

State Senate:
Sen. Scott Schneider, District 30
Sen. Pat Miller, District 32
Sen. Mike Young, District 35
Sen. Brent Waltz, District 36

State House:
Luke Bosso, District 86
Rep. Cindy Noe, District 87
Rep. Brian Bosma, District 88
Rep. Cynthia Kirchhofer, District 89
Rep. Mike Speedy, District 90
Rep. Bob Behning, District 91
Tim Motsinger, District 92
Rep. Dave Frizzell, District 93
A.J. Feeney-Ruiz, District 97
Scott Keller, District 100

Marion Superior Court Judge
Judge Robert Altice
Judge Lisa Borges
Judge Sheila Carlisle
Judge Mike Keele
Judge Bill Nelson
Judge Clark Rogers
Jim Joven
Clayton Graham
Amy Jones
Helen Marchal

Dr. Ed Eppler

Jason Woodruff

Jason Kondy

Of course, as with any slating convention, there were a few interesting choices.

A source of mine tells me that behind-the-scenes there was some maneuvering.  Incumbent Judges Bill Young and S.K. Reid knew they would not be slated.  There were other strong candidates that were told that they would not be slated as well and not to bother with a run.

Two of the House slating choices got my attention.  Scott Keller, a very moderate Republican, was slated in District 100.  As you may remember, he received a ton of blowback from his party for his vote on the Human Rights Ordinance when he was on the City-County Council.  He provided the 15th vote back then for that to pass as Democrat Sherron Franklin had joined the Republicans.  In that district and in an open seat situation (John Day is retiring), Keller could be a formidable foe.  Dems shouldn't be so concerned about him, though.  He's extremely reasonable and intelligent.

Tim Motsinger, a friend of the blog, and one of the few political figures that immediately did the right thing when the whole Tim Durham thing blew up, was slated for Phil Hinkle's soon-to-be old House seat.  The IMPD officer and former Sheriff's deputy returned Durham's $200K plus contribution immediately and dropped out of the race for Marion County Sheriff.

Perennial candidates Jim Joven and A.J. Feeney-Ruiz were also slated.

Democrats will get together on February 11 at the Indiana Convention Center.

Sunday, January 29, 2012

RNC Expoits Costa Concordia Disaster for Political Gain

Some RNC Chair Guy...Rinse and Repeat
While the search continues for the bodies of 15 missing people in the Costa Concordia disaster, RNC Chair Reince Priebus thought it would be a good idea to exploit the disaster for political gain on Face the Nation this morning.

Priebus was making a point about how his party will unite behind its nominee when he dropped this zinger, "In a few months, this is all going to be ancient history and we're going to be talking about our own little Captain Schettino, which is President Obama who's abandoning ship here in the United States and is more interested in campaigning than doing his job as President."


With apologies to Bill Tobin, Who the HELL is Reince Priebus?  What outhouse did he crawl in from?  Oh!  Apparently the Wisconsin Republican Party.  The same party that gave us Scott Walker.  Now, it all makes sense.

Every President is afforded the opportunity to campaign for his own reelection bid.  Should the President abandon the campaign trail and lock himself in the Oval Office until November?  No.  That would be essentially throwing the game.

President Obama is doing what every sitting President that has run for reelection in the electronic media era has done before him.  He's doing his job as President while campaigning for office.  It's absolutely ridiculous to assert otherwise.  When President Obama gets done with a campaign event, he gets on Air Force One or Marine One or into a limo where the entire head end of the government is at his disposal.  The Office of the President is and has been ready to react in a Post-9/11 world in an immediate fashion.  That's all beside the point.  The President isn't abandoning ship like Capt. Francesco Schettino apparently did.

Schettino is being roundly portrayed in the media as a coward for his alleged actions following the Costa Concordia disaster.  Is that really what Prebius is trying to say?  Is he trying to brand Obama as a coward?  If so, why does he hide behind some metaphor?  Why doesn't he just come out and say it?  Show some intestinal fortitude, sir.

I also think it's unseemly for the chair of a major political party to invoke a comparison with the Costa Concordia disaster and a presidential campaign.  After all, 17 people are confirmed dead and another 15 are still missing in the hulk of that ship.

It was a stupid comparison, and I think the RNC should apologize for the Chair's comments.  They made no sense and were disrespectful to the families that await word of loved ones in the Costa Concordia disaster.  That shipwreck has nothing to do with the 2012 Presidential Election.

And who the hell is Reince Priebus?

NOT POLITICAL: Olympic Diver Thomas Finchum Can SANG!

If you've followed Olympic sports over the past 10 years or so, you've probably heard of Thomas Finchum.

Thomas has been a force on the Olympic diving scene ever since he was a young boy.  Well, he's still diving, and he's also singing in his spare time trying to get a music career going with his band, Northern Lights.

I've never actually met Thomas, but I've been following him on Facebook.  Today, he posted this unbelievable cover of Adele's Someone Like You.  Enjoy.

Saturday, January 28, 2012

Old Hinkle Plot to Remove At-Large Seats Re-hatched in Senate

Sen. Sue Landske, R-Cedar Lake
(Who looks nothing like this
official photo.)
Phil Hinkle took a lot of heat last year.

One of the most controversial things he did IN the Statehouse was to file an amendment to a bill that would have eliminated the four At-Large seats on the City-County Council in 2016.  After some talk, the amendment he pushed was eventually dropped last session.

Now, an out-of-town lawmaker, Sue Landske, a Republican Senator from Cedar Lake, has filed an amendment on the Senate side to SB 110 to do what Hinkle wanted to do last year again this year.

Of course, the four At-Large seats were a Unigov creation that for many years assured a Republican majority on the City-County Council.  Since the late 1990's, as Marion County and Indianapolis have become more blue, the Council At-Large seats have followed that trend.  After losing two of the four seats and the Democrats picking up another one, suddenly the Republicans want to erase those At-Large seats with D's in all four seats now.

The idea of At-Large seats makes some sense.  You have your district level Councillors that must be attuned to the needs of the specific district, but I think it's good to have four Councillors whose constituents are the entire county.  They should have a more global view of what's good and bad for the city, as a whole.

When Republicans held two of the At-Large seats, I thought it was a bad idea to get rid of the At-Larges.  Now that Democrats hold all four again, I still think Landske's amendment is a bad idea.  I also find it annoying that some lawmaker from Cedar Lake believes it's her place to fiddlefart around with Marion County government.  There's no pressing need to change the makeup of our City-County Council.

If the four At-Large seats didn't exist, the Council would have a 13-12 Republican majority and after GOP operative David Brooks redistricted the Council with little public and no Democratic Party input, this move shows that the fix must be in for sure.  She was put up to this, no question.  I'm just surprised it wasn't Mike Young or Scott Schneider or someone that filed the amendment.

Guess they didn't have the guts.

Friday, January 27, 2012

Republicans Really Jamming RTW Through Now

The Indiana House is done with Right to Work.  That means that the fight returns to the Indiana Senate in a rush to get this thing done before the Super Bowl.

Republicans are done listening to any dissent.  They want this bill on the Governor's desk by Feb. 1, according to multiple news reports.  The reason?  To make things nice and tidy when visitors get here for the Super Bowl on Thursday.  Even the Republicans are admitting it!

Only four more Republican Senators are needed to flip the script here.  Hopefully, those individuals can be found and can be persuaded to change their votes from the 28-22 vote the first time through the Indiana Senate.

As time goes on, the Republicans are becoming more and more power drunk and are becoming less and less accountable to the constituents that put them in office.  The wedge issues continue.  From creationism to gay marriage, you can bet that Republicans will try to tackle it.

Elections most definitely do have consequences.  Unfortunately, Indiana is getting a rather one-sided look at what Republicans do when they hold all the cards.

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Reason Number 1,395,231 Newt Gingrich=Not A Serious Candidate

I'm not making this one up.

Newt Gingrich wants to make the Moon the 51st United State.  Details here.

Ok, begin hysterical laughter.  Thanks, Newt, for playing.  Have a nice life.

Auctioneer Bids For Creationism in Schools

Dennis Kruse (R-Auburn) is an auctioneer by trade, and he was a teacher for five years about 40 years ago.

He's also a longtime Indiana legislator first elected to the Indiana House in 1988.  In 2004, he moved from the House to the Senate.  So, all totaled up, he's spent over 20 years in the Indiana General Assembly.

It's clear from his resume that Kruse has spent a lot of time on education in his time in the General Assembly.  He's the Senate Education Chair.

Kruse is the sponsor of Senate Bill 89.  This bill would allow Indiana school boards to require the teaching of creationism or "creation science" in Indiana classrooms right along with the accepted and evidence-supported theories on the origins of life.

Let's get one thing out of the way, none of us were there when life began.  We don't know how it did, but I would bet that God did not create the world and everything on it in seven days about 10,000 years ago.  Science does not support that theory.  Thus, it's just a story.  It's a hypothesis with no evidence.  In fact, fossils would say that is just simply not true.

Sen. Dennis Kruse
I am more apt to believe the theory of intelligent design over the story of creation.  Intelligent design is not provable, but it is the idea that an intelligent entity guided evolution or somehow delivered on a plan to create the universe and everything in it.  It's not really provable, but it seems more believable than "creation science" or anything related to it.  Then again, religious-based theory has no place in science.

If I were a science educator, I would be embarrassed to teach creationism along science in my public school classroom.  If I were a parent, and I wanted my child to receive a religious-based education, I would take the necessary steps and move my child to a school that will teach the curriculum I agree with.

There's no way this bill will ever pass Constitutional muster.  NO WAY.

Finally, what's most scary is that a professional auctioneer (who was a teacher from 1970-1975) thinks that he knows best about what should be taught in an Indiana science classroom in 2012.  This is why we need educators to wake up and educate our legislators.  Speak in one clear voice that these kinds of religious stories have no place in our public school classrooms.

Thankfully, SB 89 is getting a lot of push back.  Let's hope that continues.

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

RTW Nearly Done Deal

Speaker Brian Bosma got his Right to Work bill by a margin of 54-44 in the Indiana House.  While Bosma got what he wanted, Indiana workers got the shaft.  It's fitting that the weather is terrible outside tonight.  This "job creation" bill is a step back for working Hoosiers.

Don't let anyone tell you that it isn't.

Indiana will become only the 23rd state to adopt RTW if the Senate and the House now pass each other's identical bills.

A change in the vote of four Senators or five Representatives could derail Speaker Bosma's plans to stick it to Hoosier working families.

Home Should Be Off Limits

Unless you want Brian Bosma and Right to Work supporters to come to your house and protest outside your home, you should stay away from his home.

Right to Work opponents decided to protest inside Speaker Bosma's neighborhood and outside his home.  I'm not talking one or two...like 30 or 40 people.  This is not the way to A) win friends or B) get him to respect your point of view; it's just a way to annoy people.

Maybe that's ok with you, but it's not ok with me.  Protest loudly at the Statehouse...even in front of the Governor's Mansion.  That's a state building (although you probably won't find Mitch Daniels there).  Don't go into a private neighborhood and occupy it.  That's not cool.

Delay on State of the Union Reaction

As usual, when the President gives a State of the Union Address, my day job calls.  I did not get to watch the speech, but I will and will bring you my reaction when I get the chance.

Sorry for any inconvenience.

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

In Memoriam: Judge Bill Fisher

Decatur Township Small Claims Court Judge Bill Fisher has passed away...far far too young.  There is no word yet on arrangements.

The Republican was elected in 2006 to his first term and was reelected in the Midterm Election in 2010. 

I send my deepest condolences to Judge Fisher's family and friends.  In my dealings with the Judge, he was always cordial to me despite our political differences.

Judge Fisher, Rest In Peace.

Someone Somewhere Has Great Sense of Humor; GOP Debate Thoughts

It appears that someone at NBC or someone that submits the program descriptions to Xfinity/Comcast made an error for the 9-10:00 p.m. time slot last night...or did they?
Yep.  That pretty much covers it.
On the topic of the debate, I thought it was the strongest debate.  We saw some clear delineations between the candidates.  If I were scoring it, I would put Ron Paul as the winner.  

Paul continually separates himself from the field as the one true outsider voice on the stage.  It doesn't mean that I agree with him on some of his more interesting public policy positions, but I found his answers as to how to handle delicate situations with Cuba and Iran both refreshing and spot on.  Ron Paul may be 76 years old, but his thinking on issues like that is most definitely 21st Century and not a relic of the Cold War.

Rick Santorum may open his mouth and say crazy things, but he looked the part of a President tonight.  His closing comments were a pointed appeal to the hard core conservatives.  It might be enough to keep his campaign alive for now.

As far as Romney, I thought he connected a few big punches on Gingrich.  He was much more engaged and seemed more agile on his feet.  He still comes across as cold and really does not connect well.  His coining of the phrase "self deport" might be a pop culture moment.

Then, there's Newt.  Many people noticed how Gingrich seemed less the debate master (I won't use the same term that my friend Matt Stone did) than in the past without a cheering and encouraging crowd.  I thought he looked bored most of the night and seemed to be thinking that he's running for President in about 1980.

Well, that's it for now.  The State of the Union is tonight.  It's Barack Obama's turn.

Monday, January 23, 2012

Right To Work Passes Indiana Senate, 28-22

With nine Republicans joining the 13 Democrats in opposition, Right to Work passed the Indiana Senate, 28-22.  The fight now moves to the Indiana House where 11 of the 100 Republicans will be needed to join the Dems to defeat the bill.

Indiana Statehouse
This may sound like a daunting task, but I think that nine Republican Senators joining the Democrats is fairly remarkable.  The nine Senators who crossed the invisible line include:

Senator Vaneta Becker
Senator Richard Bray
Senator Ed Charbonneau
Senator Johnny Nugent
Senator Sue Landske
Senator Brent Steele
Senator Jim Tomes
Senator Brent Waltz
Senator John Waterman

The entire Senate Democratic caucus led by Vi Simpson voted against the bill.

Thank you.

Interestingly, money has been spent against Mary Ann Sullivan, who is running for Brent Waltz's Senate seat, for her opposition on Right to Work.  The horrible and misleading ads are paid for by a mysterious group that is backing RTW.  Well, kind of looks like the money is down the drain now.  The guy whose seat they are trying to preserve is an RTW opponent.  Personally, I think Waltz feels the heat.

The fight now goes to the House.  If 11 Republicans cross the line like their Senate colleagues did, that means this battle is over.  After that, it's back to the Senate where the fight continues for four more votes.

There's life in the opposition.  Message sent!

Fox 59 (who erroneously reports the nature of the bill itself...yet again) says the Democrats have walked out of the House in protest.

What's Abdul Selling?

A friend of mine e-mailed me this screen shot of an ad from the Indiana Barrister blog taken at about 7:30 a.m.

I'm thinking Abdul probably got hit with a bad ad, but still...  Oh well, I'm sure he would say, "No such thing as bad publicity and, hey, they're paying me.  Capitalism at work, my friend."

The ad is still there as of 5:31 p.m.

Presidential Race Gets Interesting

Former House Speaker
Newt Gingrich
Former Massachusetts
Gov. Mitt Romney
Saturday, Newt Gingrich scored a come-from-behind upset by knocking off Mitt Romney and the rest of the GOP field in winning the South Carolina Primary.  Gingrich's win was huge, and it signals, yet again, that Republicans just aren't comfortable with Mitt Romney.

As I watched the coverage on Saturday night, I was struck by one statistic.  Evangelical voters voted for Gingrich by a 60 to 40 margin over Romney and the field.  This is Newt Gingrich, a man that is an admitted adulterer and, quite possibly, a fan of an "open marriage" that evangelicals are gravitating to.  Evangelical voters just aren't in Romney's corner.  I mean...they voted for Newt Gingrich.  I don't get that one.

Rep. Ron Paul (R-TX)
Former U.S. Senator
Rick Santorum (R-PA)
The longer that Gingrich is in "frontrunner" position; the more certain I am that he will implode.  Eventually, Romney, I believe, will retake his position as frontrunner, but he needs to connect with Republicans.  He needs to do it fast.

He needs to stop pretending that he's inevitable and get down and make connections.  As Chris Matthews said the other night, Mitt needs to ditch the teleprompter.  He needs to get down and find out what the populist message is out there.  He's so clearly out of touch.

At this point, this nomination should be his to win.  Like Nebraska to his Indiana, Romney is letting the field hang around and isn't putting the game away.  It's up to him to spend this week grabbing this message by the you know whats and making it a comeback for him.  If not, this is going to maybe get to Indiana.

The peculiar thing is that none of the candidates other than Ron Paul seem to have comparable resources to Romney and certainly any of the others would need even more help to compete with the President.
President Barack Obama

President Barack Obama benefited from the long primary season in 2008.  It made him a better candidate to go up against John McCain.  I don't think you can say the same thing for Mitt Romney.  He's been lazy.  To put it in football terms, so far, it appears that Romney was sitting on the football...then fumbled it and Newt lumbered in for a game tying touchdown to extend the game.

Nearly forgotten this time around in South Carolina was Ron Paul.  He needs to work hard to Florida to finish third to keep hope alive, I think.  I think further last place finishes will hurt his viability.

Finally, I think Rick Santorum is done.  He won Iowa, but I just don't see a path to victory if evangelicals are willing to back a Gingrich campaign in a state like South Carolina.  He certainly is not going to do well in Florida.  This is down to a Gingrich vs. Romney fight there.

A win for Romney in Florida may settle the race a bit, but a win for Gingrich makes things look like we're going to be in for the long haul.  That makes this a win for Obama...who unlike McCain four years ago...has the advantage of incumbency.

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Giffords to Step Down

In a video that was posted on YouTube, Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords announced that she is resigning from Congress.  It's a profile in courage.  To the Congresswoman, I wish a continued recovery, and I hope that she will remain a powerful voice for everyone with obstacles to overcome.

President Obama Sings Rev. Al

Finally getting around to posting this one.  Who knew the President could sing?

Saturday, January 21, 2012

Gingrich Wins South Carolina Primary

Newt Gingrich Greets
Supporters in S.C.
Newt Gingrich won the South Carolina Primary.  He is the Rasputin of 2012's Presidential campaign.

Rasputin Gingrich trailed by double digits in the polls, but he surged back after a very tough week for Mitt Romney on the campaign trail and a couple of strong debate performances.  Rick Santorum finished third, and Ron Paul brought up the rear.

Now, it's on to Florida.  Romney has to get his legs back under him.  I predict between now and the Florida Primary, Gingrich will do something to hurt himself.  One way or another, Gingrich has to put an organization underneath him.

He will appear on Meet the Press tomorrow morning.

Friday, January 20, 2012

Friday Hodge Podge: No Opa to Sopa; Presidential Circus Moves South; Indiana Congressional Races on Radar

Given the massive Wednesday internet protests by major websites (including friend of the blog Bil Browning’s Bilerico Project website), House Republican leaders appear to be moving away from the Stop Online Piracy Act or SOPA.

I must say, this is a rare moment in history that I completely agree with John Boehner, Eric Cantor, and other Republicans in the House.  Seventh District Congressman Andre Carson is also an opponent of the measure.

The Protect IP Privacy Act or PIPA, the Senate version of the bill is moving forward, according to Democratic leader Harry Reid. President Barack Obama finds himself in opposition to both of the bills, and it’s doubtful that Congress could find the muster to overturn a veto. Thus, it appears that PIPA might be dead in the water, too…even as it moves forward.

I would not let up. Sometimes these types of bills can find their way to law riding on other bills. It’s important to remain alert and vigilant.

Presidential Circus Ring Moves to South Carolina Saturday; Obama Up on TV
Saturday’s South Carolina Presidential Primary will be an interesting one. Mitt Romney leads in the polls, but he’s seen his lead there eaten away slowly.

Also, the Iowa Caucus results have been changed. Rick Santorum is now leading the vote totals there by 30 something votes now in the certified results. Experts say the antiquated way votes are recorded by precinct captains in the Republican caucus may result in us never exactly knowing who won the Caucus. For now, it gives Santorum a victory without the actual experience of being able to get much momentum from it.

While the Republicans slug it out, President Obama has decided to take his campaign to the airwaves.

Blessed with incumbency and strong fundraising, Obama will be airing ads in critical states like Michigan, Ohio, Nevada and Virginia. Should the Republicans get in a slugfest with one another, Obama will surely benefit not only from his status as the almost assured nominee but from the way the Republicans are identifying each other with voters.

Look for an announcement soon about an official Indiana presence for the Obama campaign. Looks like he’s going to play in all 50 states and D.C. again!

Two Indiana Democratic Races Make DCCC Lists
The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee seems to believe Indiana’s 8th District will return to the “Bloody 8th” this year as it has made it a targeted “Emerging Race” district. In the 8th, Dave Crooks is expected to be taking on Republican incumbent Larry Buschon.

Buschon took the seat back for the Republicans when popular Democrat Brad Ellsworth ran for Senate in 2010. That move, precipitated by Evan Bayh’s decision not to seek reelection, left Trent Van Haaften with only a few months to get a campaign up and running.

In Indiana’s 2nd District, Brendan Mullen will likely face Jackie Walorski in November. The DCCC is targeting that race in its “Red to Blue” program. Of course, that’s funny because the district is currently blue. Current seat holder Joe Donnelly is hoping to move down the hall and become a U.S. Senator in November. The district took on a much more red hue with redistricting moving out Kokomo from the Congressional District.

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Perry OUT...Endorses Gingrich

Governor Rick Perry, R-TX
Rick Perry dropped out of the Presidential race today, and he endorsed Newt Gingrich.

Yesterday, failed politician Sarah Palin endorsed Gingrich. It also appears that Gingrich, the Rasputin of the 2012 Presidential Campaign, is riding a new wave of popularity and may have a second wind as the anti-Romney.

All I have to say is, REALLY?

I mean, as we enter crunch time of the 2012 primary campaign season, this is really the best the Republicans can do? They chase off the guy with the credentials (Jon Huntsman), jettison three crazy people (Herman Cain, Michele Bachmann, and Rick Perry) and we’re left with a flip-flopper (Mitt Romney), a celebrity (Ron Paul), a crazy person (Rick Santorum), and a retread has been with questionable character and a penchant for saying stupid things (Newt).

If a third party candidate can’t capture the hearts and minds of conservatives and Republicans this year, then I don’t know when it’s going to happen, and if Barack Obama doesn’t dust this field, then I will weep for my country.

Mitch Daniels, Chris Christie, and Mike Pence should be kicking themselves very hard for passing on this campaign season. Not only would they have been the best candidates in the Republican field, but they would have maybe had a chance in November. Personally, I think they stayed out because they know their best chance is in 2016…at least for Pence and Christie.

Perry’s miniscule support won’t swing anything. His leaving the race only takes away one source of comic relief and a former frontrunner for the nomination that burned out almost as quickly as he was lit.

Senate Law Intended to Close 4th Amendment Conundrum May Create More Problems

Last year, the Indiana Supreme Court reached a decision on Barnes v. Indiana that set liberty-minded Hoosiers into a tailspin.  It essentially said that people don't have the right to resist the unlawful entry of police officers into their homes.

Senate Bill 1 Author
Sen. Mike Young, R-Indianapolis
The knee jerk Indiana Senate has been at work to try to set the decision right by passing a law out of committee that gives people limited rights to resist law enforcement from trying to enter your home without a warrant.

The question is...would the law even apply to the Barnes v. Indiana situation?   It appears that Senate Bill 1, the Indiana law intended to fix the issue raised in that Supreme Court case, also is maybe a bit problematic.

Senator Mike Young, who authored the bill, wrote it in such a way that a home owner would have the right to resist an unlawful entry of an officer in limited cases.  Key under the bill is the identification of the person trying to gain entry.  If a homeowner does not know it's an officer, then the bill gives them the right to use reasonable force, including physical force, to resist the law enforcement officer's unlawful entry into the home.  If a person knows it is a police officer, then you can use reasonable force to keep them out of the home but not physical force.

The bill, however, immediately sets out the following situations where one may not resist:

1.  An investigation of suspected domestic or family violence (as defined in Indiana Code)
2.  The entry of a dwelling by a law enforcement officer who has a reasonable belief that a person inside the dwelling has been or is at risk of physical harm.
3.  An entry into a residence by invitation of at least one (1) adult resident, unless one (1) ore more other adult residents.
Also included are provisions for an officer entering a dwelling in "hot pursuit" or an officer entering to catch an escaping criminal, or with a warrant.

Looking at the facts of Barnes v. Indiana, I'm not sure the new law just passed out of committee would apply.

Let me add in here that I am just a teacher; I am not a lawyer.

In Barnes v. Indiana, the officer responding to an incident was dispatched on a 911 call that was classified as a domestic violence call.  That makes it easy to think that the officer might be in that frame of mind going in.

Upon arriving on the scene, the first responding officer found the husband, Richard Barnes and Mary Barnes in at minimum a major disagreement.  Richard Barnes was getting his things and in an agitated mood and so was his wife Mary.  It's hard to determine if the officer could have determined whether or not a person was at risk of harm, but it's also easy to see how they could.

I just don't think Senate Bill 1 would have helped Mr. Barnes be justified in keeping the officer out of his home.  I don't think it touches, what I consider, the heart of the poor Supreme Court decision.

The big problem in the decision set down by the Supreme Court was the statement in the decision that the "right to reasonably resist an unlawful entry into a home is no longer recognized under Indiana law."  Senate Bill 1 tries to provide the right, but I think it's sloppily written and will put law enforcement officials into tough situations.

I don't know how you fix the Supreme Court's decision, but I think remedies now available under Senate Bill 1 are problems now waiting to happen should it pass into law.

If I'm wrong on this, please set me straight my lawyer friends.

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Daniels Once Opposed Right to Work; Facing Criticism from Fellow GOP Members

If Mitt Romney or Ron Paul or whoever survives the GOP Primary picks Governor Mitch Daniels as his running mate, he's going to find a flip-flopper on Right to Work.

It's just now making the mainstream, but Governor Daniels once wrote in a letter to Bill Dugan that he didn't believe Indiana needed Right to Work to succeed.  The bad news is; the letter still exists.  See it below.

Apparently, Mitch Daniels has a lot in common with Governor Mitt Romney; he will apparently say anything to get elected.

It hasn't been a particularly good few days for Mitch on the RTW debate. He's getting push back from his own party.  The Lunch Pail Republicans have launched their own ads against Right to Work, and one of their members, David Fagan, told WTHR that they are ready to run Republicans for office that will not support Right to Work in the legislature.

Before you right him off as some RINO, you should know that Fagan was appointed by Governor Daniels to the Indiana Port Commission in 2007.  He was also appointed by Daniels to the Law Enforcement Training Board (also appointed to that board by Governor Evan Bayh, Governor Joe Kernan, and Governor Frank O'Bannon). Besides being a member of the International Union of Operating Engineers Local 150, Fagan held office in Portage.

Today should be an interesting day as Brian Bosma is promising to fine Democrats for not showing up in the legislature.  We'll see what happens.

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Big Week for Right to Work Fight

The Indiana Statehouse
The Right to Work fight has entered what appears to be the fourth quarter as a deal last week brought the Democrats back to the House when the Republicans agreed to allow debate on a statewide referendum on Right to Work.

My good friend Erin Rosenberg brought up a great point on her Facebook last week, however, and I think I agree with her.  While I really enjoy the idea of statewide voters deciding whether Indiana should still be one of the less than half states in the country with Right to Work, that this is what we elect our legislators for.  We elect our lawmakers to lead and to represent us.  We don't really elect them to throw the hard decisions back at us.

With that said, I understand what Pat Bauer is doing here.  He's getting the deal he can get, and Brian Bosma is, too.  Bosma knows that, in an election year, the worst thing he can do is make the Democrats out to be the heroes of organized labor to whip up the, no doubt, thousands of protesters that will appear at the Statehouse.  Bauer understands that, in an election year, he probably can't keep walking out of the legislature with his caucus while trying to win back the Governor's Office.  It's kind of like the two sides need each other.

While a referendum kicks the can down the street a little longer, both sides can claim some sort of victory if it passes to the voters.  Dems will say that the people will now decide, and the GOP can say that progress has been made.  Deep down though, Republicans should not want this to go to a referendum.  There's too much on the line for them with the opinion polls being too ambiguous.

I guess the fight is on.

Monday, January 16, 2012

Filmmaker Raising Money for Documentary

YouTube star Ryan James Yezak is trying to raise money to make a documentary called Second Class Citizens which will profile gay rights movement in a variety of different ways.  He's doing it on kickstarter.com, a website dedicated to raising money for important projects.

This is his video sent out over YouTube to try to raise funds.  Please watch and cry...like I did.  And donate here if it so moves you.  I did last night.

I am not a second class citizen.

Daniels, GOP Returning Some Tainted Durham Money

Governor Mitch Daniels
I guess not all the money had not been spent, after all.

Doesn't sound like it's all of what Tim Durham donated, but, according to the Indiana Business Journal and the Associated Press, the Governor and the Indiana GOP are going to return about $88,000 in contributions to Fair Finance, the bankrupt company Durham formerly ran and where he's accused of bilking investors out of huge chunks of change.

Daniels reportedly received a lot more than just the $10,000 his Aiming Higher PAC is returning.  The Governor has received a reported $200,000 over the years from the disgraced businessman.  Wonder if we'll see that money go back?

Until this time, Daniels had refused to give any of the money back saying that it had all been spent.

Remembering Dr. King

No words necessary:

Sunday, January 15, 2012

And Another One's Gone...

Jon Huntsman
Jon Huntsman has joined the ranks of the Republicans no longer running for President in 2012.  According to reports, he's abandoning his run at the White House.  The same reports say that he's going to endorse Mitt Romney...just eight days after his defense of his own service to the United States in the face of attacks from Romney.

Hopefully, this isn't the last we see of him.  Perhaps this is just not his time.

Friday, January 13, 2012

McQuillen Greatly Over-exaggerates Council Disagreement

City-County Councillor Mike McQuillen, R-14
GOP Council Minority Leader, Mike McQuillen, was visibly angry over the Democratic decision to reduce seats for the GOP on key Council Committees at Monday's Council Meeting.

Abdul-Hakim Shabazz reports on his Indy Politics website that McQuillen says the Democrats' move essentially means there will be no support on key Council proposals to overturn a Mayor's veto.  So, if, for example, the Dems try to pass a smoking ban and the Mayor vetoes it that maybe the Republicans won't help to override the veto.

What I found really funny was McQuillen's rhetoric, and I'm not the first person to point it out.  We can debate whether the Dems may be going too far in reducing GOP representation on the committees, but McQuillen is saying that Democrats should "work with" the Republicans to ensure their proposals pass the Mayor's desk.  That doesn't pass the smell test to me for a number of reasons.

First of all, it's highly unlikely that Republicans will buck their own Mayor to join the D's unless there is good reason.  After all, in the four years they were in control, I can't hardly think of anything the Mayor and the Council majority disagreed on.  It was pretty lockstep.  Secondly, when things like redistricting, the parking deal, the water deal, the first bite at the smoking ban, many appointments, and a variety of other things came up when the Republicans were in charge, they didn't listen to the Democrats at all.  Instead, they did EXACTLY what they wanted to do, and that was the Ballard Administration's bidding.

I'm not saying that it's a good or a bad idea for the Dems to do what they did, but certainly a smart man like McQuillen has to see the reason for the moves.  I understand that he has a job to do, but it might have been better to let this one pass rather than be so visibly angry over it that it looked like he wanted to slam the 44-oz. Steak & Shake cup right in front of him on the desk to the floor on Monday night.  Classy.

It just seems a little too early in the game to be griping and complaining over this when we just had a big fight over something similar as the GOP went out the door.  Short memories on that side of the aisle, I guess.

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Where Does Richard Lugar Live?

The Charlie White case that has been in the news for months now has put the spotlight on where politicians hang their hats and vote.

Indiana Resident?
Senator Richard Lugar, R-IN
At one point, White took a sour grapes shot at former Indiana Senator Evan Bayh by questioning his residency since he's been out of office vs. where he should be registered to vote.  Bloggers like my friend Paul Ogden have defended White, and I respect him for taking that unpopular position.

White might have had a better case had he gone after Richard Lugar, a sitting Senator, that apparently does not own an Indiana address and has been using a house he hasn't owned in, as Ogden has pointed out on numerous occasions, for three decades.

To be a Senator, you must satisfy three requirements spelled out in the United States Constitution.  You must be at least 30 years of age (Lugar will be nearing 80 if reelected).  You must be a U.S. Citizen for at least nine years at the time of election (Lugar has that one covered).  Finally, you must be a resident of the state you are elected to represent.  That one is still up in the air.

When Lugar is in Indiana, his campaign has admitted that he only lives in hotel rooms.  He does own property in Decatur Township, but that is a large farm full of mostly trees.  There is a small home adjacent to the farm, but I don't know if that is inhabited by anyone or if it even, at this point, is Lugar's property.

As Ogden points out, Lugar has been utilizing an address that he has not lived in for years as his Indiana address for BMV records as well as voting.

We all understand that Richard Lugar does not lose his residency of his state for federal service in the legislature from that state.  He is free to live in the Washington, D.C. area, but does that mean that he can also use someone else's address for his voter registration and BMV records?

At best, it's a major oversight by a man out of touch with political reality.  At worst, it could be a violation of election law.

Lugar's case also shows how stupid Indiana's Voter ID law is.  If Lugar shows up with a drivers license or ID card with that address he's been using on it, he gets to vote because it only checks his name and photo.  The address doesn't make a difference.  Anyway, if he votes absentee, no ID is required.

If Richard Mourdock or Joe Donnelly don't make an issue out of this, then they're crazy.

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

My Letter to Senator Jim Tomes

A House for Learning...Not Worship

I sent Senator Jim Tomes an e-mail, and I wanted to share it with you.  I would encourage anyone else to send Senater Tomes a respectful e-mail as well about Senate Bill 251 that would allow a public or charter school board to require the reading of the Lord's Prayer at the start of a school day.  His e-mail is Senator.Tomes@iga.in.gov.  

I now share my note to the Senator with you.

Senator Tomes,
In 2011, you wrote, "At some point, in a country and state where the people rule, we the people must decide what kind of role we want our government to take. Do we need a government nanny?" 
Apparently, that does not extend to classrooms where teachers who are not Christian could be forced to read the Lord's Prayer to their students. 
This is absolutely unacceptable.  Please withdraw this bill.  We have a First Amendment that students and teachers are free to exercise.  Part of that is that the government shall not establish a religion, and this bill would do that.  
I consider myself a Christian, but I also consider myself an American.  Your bill is a slap in the face to our Constitution and our Bill of Rights as well as to the thousands of Hoosiers that do not worship as you do. 
Withdraw your bill today.  
Jon E. Easter

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Republican Senator Loses All Connection to Reality

Sen. Jim Tomes, R-Wadesville
Sometimes I use the phrase that I’ve been around long enough to know that I’ve seen it all. A bill introduced in the Indiana Senate yesterday once again proves that I haven’t seen anything.

Senator Jim Tomes, a Republican from Indiana’s 49th District in extreme southwest Indiana has introduced Senate Bill 251 that would allow a public or Indiana charter school board to require the reading of the Lord’s Prayer at the beginning of school each day.

Think about that: a public school REQUIRING the reading of the Lord’s Prayer. Think about a teacher being REQUIRED to read the Lord’s Prayer…even if they are not Christian.

I have no words for this one; none that I can put here anyway.

We elect some pretty interesting people to public office, don’t we?

In my research to find out a little more information about the good Senator, I found this tidbit from a 2011 guest column Tomes wrote.

At some point, in a country and state where the people rule, we the people must decide what kind of role we want our government to take. Do we need a government nanny?
Apparently, that doesn't extend to our classrooms where Tomes feels it necessary to push his religion on the rest of us.

New Hampshire Preview: Romney Must Win Big

As voters go to the polls in New Hampshire for the "First in the Nation" primary election, the big favorite in the polls is former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney, but he had better deliver on that favorite status with a big win.

Former Massachusetts Governor
Willard Mitt Romney
Romney should win in New Hampshire.  These voters know him pretty well.  He's been a constant fixture in politics in neighboring Massachusetts since 1994, and he ran for President in 2008 targeting New Hampshire heavily.

In that 2008 Primary, Romney did well in counties neighboring Massachusetts, Romney fell short in 2008 to John McCain who used the victory to propel himself forward to the eventual nomination.  Romney got 31 percent of the vote.  Tonight, he should easily outdistance the rest of the field, but the question will be who wins enough support to realistically continue on to South Carolina as well as who finishes in the second place spot.

So far, it's been Ron Paul finding himself riding shotgun to Romney.  He's been right around 20 percent in the polls while the other candidates continue to jockey around.  I think regardless of what happens that Rick Santorum, Newt Gingrich, and Rick Perry will continue to South Carolina.  None of them really expect to win there in New Hampshire.  This, however, is gut check time for Jon Huntsman.

I think Huntsman must break into the top four to continue his bid, and it's going to be a close fight for him.  He could conceivably come in as high as second, but it's more likely that Paul finishes second.  I think Santorum's surge from Iowa carries him home in third.  Huntsman slots in fourth with Gingrich behind in fifth.  Rick Perry should have dropped out after failing to make much impact in Iowa, but he clearly doesn't know when to quit.  He will be a distant sixth and probably still go on to South Carolina and make his last stand instead of back to Texas where he belongs.

President Barack Obama continues to be in a strong position for reelection.

Monday, January 9, 2012

Democrats Begin Leadership of City-County Council Tonight

For just the second time in the history of Unigov, the Indianapolis/Marion County City-County Council will be headed by Democrats when the Council opens its first meeting tonight at 7:00 p.m. in the Beurt SerVaas Public Assembly Room down at the City-County Building.

City-County Building
Sixteen Democrats and 13 Republicans will begin a four year quest to make life better here in Indianapolis.  There will be new faces, people to watch in the caucus, and much more as Republicans transition to the minority again and Mayor Greg Ballard has to begin to work across the aisle to get his agenda to match the Democrats' agenda on the Council.  If there is no agreement, there will be gridlock, and government here in Indianapolis will be locked up tight like the government we've seen in Washington, D.C. over the past few years.

Things have not gotten off to the smoothest start between the two separate branches of government.  By his public comment, Ballard mistakenly seems to think the Council is still to serve at his beck-and-call while the Democrats want to make it clear that the Council is its own entity.

All-in-all there are four or five Democrats on the Council that I think probably want to be Mayor someday in the future as well.  Keeping their ambitions in check while trying to move the ball forward for the city will be extremely interesting to watch.

I do believe the Democrats got it right when they promoted a dynamic Councillor like Maggie Lewis to be the Council President.  Like any new job, she will probably make a couple of mistakes, but I think she is definitely a bright and worthy leader for the caucus.  She has already expressed a willingness to work with the Mayor.  Now is the time to put words aside and make actions speak loudly.

Hoosiers Pack Hearings on Right to Work

"Standing Room Only" Crowds at Weekend RTW Hearings
Democrats held hearings in Gary and Evansville this past weekend on Right to Work, and the room was jam packed.

This shows exactly why Brian Bosma wants to fast track this bill and get it passed.  He knows the longer that this fight drags on, the tougher it's going to be to pass it.

This is why it's important to stay strong for our Indiana House Democrats.  Let them know they are supported by Hoosiers!

Saturday, January 7, 2012

National Anthem Bill Makes Indiana Laughingstock

As many of you may be aware right now, one of the bills being considered by the General Assembly this session takes aim at people singing the National Anthem at Indiana's public schools and institutions.

Rep. Vaneta "Performance Standards" Becker
This bill, sponsored by Republican Vaneta Becker of Evansville, would charge the Indiana Department of Education to come up with performance standards, would force those people that sing the anthem at public school or university events to sign a document saying they will stick to those standards, and then fine them $25 if they don't.  It's a silly, stupid, ridiculous bill, honestly.  It's the kind of bill that should make people that support the freedoms of the First Amendment very worried.

Regardless, can we be honest about our National Anthem?

First of all, let me get this straight.  There's nothing that moves me to tears like a beautiful rendition of the National Anthem.  Many come to mind.  I heard four young men from the Ben Davis Choir do a barbershop quartet version just the other day before a Ben Davis Lady Giants basketball game that I thought was just amazing.  I stood and clapped for those guys long after most had sat down.  I love my country, and I love my country's anthem.

The concept of a "national anthem" is something that honestly probably never crossed the Founding Fathers' minds when they were coming up with our nation's Constitution.  So, the National Anthem isn't something sacred to me in that vein.  Our National Anthem was originally a poem written by Francis Scott Key.  He was witnessing the Battle of Fort McHenry during the War of 1812, and he penned the poem after seeing that the fort defenses held and the British did not take the fort.  At some point, the poem was set to the words of a Scottish social club's song.  Some have said that it was a drinking song.  So, the National Anthem was never "written" but more "evolved" as a song.  

The National Anthem became our National Anthem in 1931 when Herbert Hoover, no doubt needing a national pick-me-up, signed a Congressional Resolution.  It apparently wasn't until World War II that it became commonplace for the National Anthem to be played or sung before sporting events.  That's the background.

So, here we are.  Where perhaps someday soon here in Indiana, someone will be fined for violating some ridiculous performance standards for taking a artistic liberty on a song that celebrates the country whose Constitution guarantees the freedom of taking artistic liberty in the first place.  

Welcome to Indiana....where a performance like the one below could unfortunately someday get you fined.

I say this song belongs to no one.  I don't like it when people disrespect it, but to say this young lady didn't do this song justice is absolutely crazy and sad.  It's performances like that one that Becker's ridiculous overreach will target.

Rachel Maddow Weighs in on Indiana's RTW Fight

Friday, January 6, 2012

Post-Iowa Thoughts

Eight votes!

On Tuesday, the Iowa Caucus came down to a three man race between Governor Mitt Romney, former Senator Rick Santorum, and Representative Ron Paul of Texas.  As the evening waned, it became apparent that Ron Paul would not have the number of votes necessary to win, but after that, it became a neck-and-neck battle between Romney and Santorum.

Iowa Caucus Winner Mitt Romney
I had predicted that either Paul or Santorum would win Iowa, and I didn't really think it would be close.  I thought Romney could have finished as low as fourth.  To me, I think Romney's win in Iowa, no matter how narrow, was mildly surprising, and I think it's a decent start for Romney.  He still has miles to go before he's the best pal of the base of the party, but, eventually, I think that people will come around to him.

Santorum, however, showed that he's the latest candidate to carry the "Anti-Romney" designation.  He did it at the right time, as the votes began in Iowa.  I would argue that had the former Senator peaked any earlier, he would have been the same as any of the other "Anti-Romney" standard bearers.  Santorum will now have to work over the next week to get some sort of organization together for the remainder of the campaign.

Paul had a nice steady night.  With his loyal base, he remains the   darkhorse most capable of upsetting Romney for the nomination.

The big losers in the Iowa Caucus were Rick Perry and Michele Bachmann.  Both Perry and Bachmann were former national poll leaders that peaked too soon.  Bachmann has ended her campaign, and Perry sounded on caucus night like a man that was considering dropping out though he will apparently continue on.

Jon Huntsman has been barely relevant, unfortunately, since he announced his campaign.  I don't think anyone really notices what he's doing at this point.  He has, however, put a great deal of effort into New Hampshire.  If the does poorly there or fails to make a splash, it's curtains for a good candidate.

That leaves us with Newt Gingrich.  His bitter, fear mongering, and, at times, angry concession speech in Iowa shows that the Newt-ster plans to hang around a while and give Mitt Romney and Ron Paul (NOT SANTORUM) some trouble.

The Republican circus heads off to New Hampshire where Romney is now the favorite.  He needs to show more broad support.  An eight-vote win again will be considered a loss for the former Massachusetts Governor.

Thursday, January 5, 2012

Do Delay

Democrats Remain in Caucus on First Day of
2012 Short Session
The Democrats stopped the Right to Work Bill for one day in the Indiana General Assembly.  That's one day Brian Bosma had to wait before getting "his precious".

It's one more day of Bosma looking foolish behind the Speaker's Podium at the Statehouse.

It's one more day that Indiana workers and their families have before the Republicans impose their will upon us.

Bosma says that Democrats violated the anti-walkout statute by staying in caucus all day.  The statute provides for three days for Dems to hold up business in the Statehouse before $1,000 per day fines are levied.  I say to the Democrats, do whatever it takes.

I would ask Speaker Bosma this...if the state is so far behind Right to Work legislation, what does he have to fear from statewide hearings that Democrats are asking for?  It's a bill that will seriously damage the right of workers to collectively bargain for fair wages and working conditions.  It's the Right to Work (FOR LESS).

Republican vendettas have no place in government when it comes to the wages and working conditions of working people in Indiana, just ask Indiana teachers.  Teachers went through this fight and lost last year.

This time, Bosma and Governor Mitch Daniels have overplayed their hands.  They've tried to squash dissent with outrageous limits on protests at the Statehouse.  If they really wanted this bill to go through with a chance at support, they would give the minority what it want on hearings instead of the so-called fast track through to the Governor's Desk.

Democrats, keep doing what it takes.  It's important work for Hoosiers.

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Daniels Surrenders on Statehouse Access Rules

Governor Mitch Daniels proved by his actions yesterday that the new capacity rules at the Statehouse were politically motivated.  He removed them as quickly as he put them into effect.

As you remember, the Governor announced last week that the Statehouse capacity would be set at 3,000 persons including the number of people working at the people's house.  Before the ink was dry Democrats and other civil libertarians were crying foul, but the Governor proved once again that he's no Scott Walker.

It's not known if some of the other crowd control walls and things will remain outside the legislative chambers.  I was told by a legislator that these recently went up to apparently keep Hoosiers from seeing their government at work.

Daniels is nothing if not pragmatic.  He knew that these rules likely would not stand up in court because of the exceptions that had been granted for lobbyists and other groups.  When it was announced that a religious-based prayer ceremony would have attendees check in through the West Door to avoid the "general public" checking in at the East Door, this was a decision he had to make.

I have to credit the Governor for not squashing dissent.  Now, I urge that dissent to be loud, be proud, but be respectful of the People's House, too.

Carson Amendments Singed Into Law

Parts of the controversial National Defense Authorization Act have made civil libertarians cringe, but Congressman Andre Carson managed to slip in a couple of great amendments to help our troops returning from war and military families plan for the future.

To be fair, it should be noted that Congressman Carson voted against the bill, and I thank him for his vote.

From the Congressman's Office:
President Obama Signs into Law Two Bills Authored by Rep. André Carson
Carson Amendments Provide Significant Improvements to Programs Serving Military Families

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Over the weekend, President Barack Obama signed into law the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2012, a bill that includes two amendments authored by Congressman AndrĂ© Carson (D-IN).

Rep. Andre Carson, D-IN
Congressman Carson’s first amendment, which contains provisions of his Service Members Mental Health Screening Act, requires the Department of Defense to take into account health records from past deployments and military activity during mandatory pre- and post-deployment mental health assessments.  Under the current law, screenings from past deployments are not shared between units, inhibiting comprehensive understanding of the mental health challenges facing deployed service men and women. 

The amendment was inspired by Indianapolis resident Gregg Keesling, whose son, Army Specialist Chancellor Keesling, committed suicide in June 2009 while on his second deployment in Iraq.  Specialist Keesling had been previously deployed with another unit where he suffered from mental health issues.  These issues were not considered in the assessment he received prior to his second deployment.

“It changes the lack of information-sharing that currently exists,” Mr. Keesling said of Congressman Carson’s amendment. “If this was in place prior to my son’s second deployment, it could have saved his life just like it will for so many service members who will be deploying in the future.”

“We provide some of the best health care in the world to our service members who are wounded in combat.  Sadly, we can’t say the same thing about those suffering from invisible wounds,” Congressman Carson said.  “These brave men and women make extraordinary sacrifices and face unimaginable challenges.  They deserve to receive the best possible mental health care, where and when they need it.”

Congressman Carson’s second amendment is the Military Families Financial Preparedness Act, which seeks to put military families on a path towards long-term financial stability upon returning to civilian life. Under this legislation, mandatory pre-separation counseling sessions will include information on budgets, saving, credit, and mortgages and will help veterans and their spouses to create a long-term financial plan.

“Our men and women in uniform have served our nation bravely, both at home and abroad.  Unfortunately, for many this service around the world means that they have never had an opportunity to find reasonably priced housing, manage day-to-day bills associated with living on a civilian income, or have yet to start saving for their futures.  This puts both veterans and their families at a significant risk of foreclosure and unmanageable debt.  They deserve to be better prepared for the demands of civilian life.”

“I’m proud to have authored these bills, and I believe they offer strong improvements to the programs that serve our military families,” said Congressman Carson. “We need to continually find ways to build up and protect these brave men and women, and I am resolved to keep fighting on their behalf.”