Friday, March 30, 2012

Welcome to the Neighborhood

Decatur Township's Newest Resident
(for voting purposes only)
Senator Richard G. Lugar
Before I head out for my blogger vacation (I'm not going anywhere, really), I want to take a moment and welcome Senator Richard Lugar to his new home, Precinct 10 in Decatur Township.

I also vote in Precinct 10.  Let's send in the welcoming committee and make him feel at home!

I'm sure the Senator can expect a membership request from the Decatur Township Republican Club, the Decatur Township Civic Council, and the Decatur Central Lions Club.  Also, the Senator might want to know that on the Richard G. Lugar Educational Complex each year (right across the street from the Lugar family farm) a fair is held by the Lions Club.  Feel free to come across, Senator.  Bring Char, too.

I will say this.  Senator Lugar's farm was initially in the path of I-69.  Suddenly, after he advocated for the route to change, it did.  It's one of the best things that's happened to Decatur Township in a long time.

Anyway, welcome to the neighborhood Senator Lugar.  Don't forget to update that voter registration form.

Blogger Vacation

Dear readers, it's that time again for my spring hiatus.  Thanks so much for your continued readership of the blog.  I just need about a week's rest and I'll be back stronger and better than ever.  Unless something breaks or the mood hits me, I don't anticipate a blog post until April 9.  So, I'll see you then.

In the meantime, if you thought your commute was bad...try these on for size.

Thursday, March 29, 2012

In My Inbox: I'm Invited!

Sometimes, the picture says it all.  I just want to did I score an invitation to this?  Furthermore, should I go?  Nahhh...too pricey.

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

We Can Bluster, but Straub Likely Here to Stay

Dr. Frank Straub
Director of Public Safety
The City-County Council's Public Safety and Criminal Justice Committee considered Frank Straub's performance as the Director of Public Safety, and, at press time (I write this at about 11:00 p.m.) the committee meeting continues.  I doubt that he will get a vote of confidence from the committee, anyway.

Regardless, Straub could fail to win approval, but he could continue to serve if Greg Ballard just forgets to nominate someone to replace him.  If Ballard is a man not considering running again in 2015 for Mayor of Indianapolis, he might just do that.  It's an option on the table.

Bottom line: Get used to Dr. Straub.  I don't think he's going anywhere for a while.

UPDATE:  After a marathon session tonight, the committee decided to postpone action on Straub until more questions could be answered at the next meeting.

Publicly-funded Airport Trying to Elbow Out Privately-owned Business

The Indianapolis International Airport, a government-run agency, has filed two lawsuits to stop a private, park-and-ride facility from being built on property-tax generating land in Decatur Township.  It's big government up against big business, and the taxpayers end up footing the bill twice if the airport wins.

As many of you know, Decatur Township is the smallest township by land and by population with much of the land around the Indianapolis International Airport completely off the tax rolls.  Add in that another large area is off the property tax rolls due to a TIF district for AmeriPlex industrial park, and you have a significant amount of land north of Kentucky Avenue that does nothing for Decatur but make land owner's property taxes higher.

Recently, a developer has been working with AmeriPlex to build an innovative park-and-ride facility on property tax-generating land in Decatur.  This parking facility would serve as a catalyst to jump start further commercial development in the area in the way of businesses that would cater to travelers or township residents.

The park-and-ride facility includes a number of innovative features set to minimize the environmental impact of parking 3,000 cars on a single facility.  It also includes things like carports and other services to people that might want to leave a prized possession like their automobile behind while on a trip.

Over 50 neighbors showed up at the Metropolitan Development Commission hearing to support a complete change in zoning that would allow the development.  Five City-County Councillors from both parties also supported the change in zoning, and the MDC listened.  Over the objections of a very small group of neighbors, the Indy Park and Ride facility in Plainfield, the Indianapolis International Airport and Mayor Greg Ballard, the MDC voted to change the zoning, 6-2.

Things appeared to be all go for this new development that would create a few jobs and some tax revenue for the township until the Indianapolis International Airport stepped in and filed two lawsuits.  The first lawsuit would stay the zoning change, and the second lawsuit would overturn the zoning if a judge agrees with the plaintiff.  This pits the taxpayers against the taxpayers.  It pits a taxpayer-funded public entity against a private company that wants to bring jobs and tax revenue to Decatur Township.

The airport claims that the park-and-ride facility will harm the parking facilities on the airport grounds by cutting into their revenue.  In essence, the government agency (the airport) is using taxpayer money (filing the lawsuit) to try to force out a private company that will create something that generates new tax revenue.  Isn't that what some call un-American?

Pat Andrews has some excellent writing about this case over on her Had Enough Indy blog.  Here is a link.  Fox 59 has also picked up on this story as well.  A link to that report is here.

Hopefully, the airport will drop its lawsuit immediately and realize the damage it is doing to capitalism and the American Way.   Big government vs. a private business just doesn't sound good these days.

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Obama Still in Good Shape for Reelection

The snapshot looks good , but the President can't kick back.
Despite the fact that his approval ratings are hovering just below 50 percent, President Barack Obama is still beating every Republican that's running today, but that's just a snapshot and there's still a long, long, long way to go.

Real Clear Politics puts Obama's average job approval at 47 percent, and his disapproval rating is 46 percent. With the health care initiative currently in front of the U.S. Supreme Court, that can certainly change.  Obama's handling of the War on Terror is also a probable liability with a wide majority of Americans now believing the War in Afghanistan is not worth fighting.  Add in the economy's slow slogging recovery, and it would seem like a perfect storm for the President's opponents.

Even with the liabilities, Obama leads all challengers in the Real Clear Politics average.  Obama is up 5.3 percentage points on average against Mitt Romney.  That advantage grows to 8.7 percentage points when the opponent is Rick Santorum.  He leads Newt Gingrich by an average of 13.3 percentage points and Ron Paul by seven.  That means that the Republican who does second-best against Obama is the one who is in fourth place right now for the nomination.

This further drives home how weak the Republican field is, but that should not give the President any cause to sit back and relax.  Real Clear Politics still rates 130 electoral votes in the toss-up category in its analysis of the individual states.  Obama is credited with 227 electoral votes, and the Republicans get 181.  That means that if Florida and Ohio break for the President that he would be reelected if you believe the RCP analysis.  Perhaps some of these states move around when the GOP gets a nominee for sure.

Despite everything, the President is looking pretty strong when he could be looking somewhat weak as a candidate for reelection.

Monday, March 26, 2012

Rupert Nominated for Governor

Rupert Boneham
Well, the run for Indiana Governor officially has a bona fide celebrity.

Survivor alum Rupert Boneham was nominated by the Indiana Libertarian Party as its candidate for Governor on Saturday at their convention.  Boneham has been running for several months for the office and becomes the first candidate with ballot access to be nominated.  Brad Klopfenstein, a longtime Libertarian Party member and restauranteur, was nominated as Lieutenant Governor.

Boneham brings a great deal of notoriety to the Libertarian Party in Indiana, and he has a solid background as a philanthropist that has used his Survivor winnings to make life better for youth across the community.  He certainly can make things a little more interesting over the next few months.

I think the big question for Boneham will be: can he escape his own celebrity and be taken seriously as a candidate for Governor?  Boneham has a different draw, but once he gets people in the door, can he talk to them about issues effecting Hoosiers.  The fact that we're spending more significant time talking about a Libertarian candidate is a great compliment to the statewide leadership of the party.

Of course, Boneham's candidacy is interesting, but it's likely that neither Mike Pence nor John Gregg are going to be all that concerned about it.  Until polling data shows that Boneham is a threat, I think neither major party is likely to treat Rupert any differently than any other Libertarian candidate.  In the end, that might be the greatest compliment to Boneham.  I feel like I can't adequately look at this race until all the chess pieces are on the board, so let's wait and see.

The Libertarians named other candidates for office as well:
U.S. Senate-Andrew Horning
U.S. House, District 4-Joe Bowman
U.S. House, District 5-Chard Reid
U.S. House, District 6-Rex Bell
U.S. House, District 7-Jason Sharp
U.S. House, District 8-Bart Gadau
Indiana House, District 28-James Rainwater
Indiana House, District 54-Jeremiah Morrell
Indiana House, District 56-Mark Brim
Indiana House, District 57-Paul Bavard
Indiana House, District 65-Al Cox
Indiana House, District 81-Alexander Avery
Indiana House, District 84-James Hanson
Indiana House, District 87-Fred Peterson
Indiana House, District 89-James Nease
Marion County Superior Court-Jeffrey Knoop

and Gary Johnson won the Straw Poll for President with 87 percent of the vote.

Friday, March 23, 2012

Massa Selected as Supreme Court Justice

Supreme Court Justice
Mark Massa
I was told by several people when he ran that they didn't know why Mark Massa was running for Marion County Prosecutor. My sources told me he had no interest in the job and that he had to be talked into running by Mitch Daniels, himself.

Massa ran, went negative, and lost to current Marion County Prosecutor, Terry Curry.

After Massa lost, some of the same sources told me that they thought Governor Daniels would eventually take care of Massa.  Looks like that happened today.

Despite a resume short on actual judicial experience (he clerked for Randall Shepard), Mark Massa is Indiana's newest Supreme Court Justice.  He was appointed by...Mitch Daniels.

Looks like sometimes it pays to have friends in high places.

IDP Focusing on Wrong Race

I've written on this blog about how I disagree with the tactics of the Indiana Democratic Party on the 2012 Senate Race.

They are focusing a great deal of time, energy, and resources on defeating Richard Lugar in the Republican Primary.  My position is: Richard Mourdock doesn't need any help right now.  Polls are showing that he's doing fine on his own, and Lugar keeps helping him!  The man who does need the party's help is John Gregg.

The Indiana Democratic Party has a website up to take on Mike Pence, but they really aren't doing much with it.  Right now would be a perfect time to be targeting Pence and telling Hoosiers about his record in Congress.  Fact is, he's done little but carry others' water in Congress.

John Gregg, for that matter, is awfully quiet, and this is the time for him to be noisy.  I think I would be focusing on earned media right now.  We should be hearing something from him right now on something, and I am not hearing much.  I think the stakes for this 2012 election are very high.  We need a Democrat in the Governor's Office to balance the Republicans in the legislature.

All of this said, I'm sure smarter people than I am are working on this campaign.  If that's the case, excuse me for being impatient.

Here's the latest ad on Richard Lugar released by the IDP.  I must's a little obscure.

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Latest Lugar Problem May Doom Him

Senator Lugar
When I wrote the blog post that went up earlier today, I wasn't privy to the news that would break later.

Richard Lugar said today that he would pay back taxpayers for hotel bills he racked up.  Why would he need to stay in a hotel when in his home state?  Well, that's because he doesn't have a home in Indiana.  Senator Lugar is a man that is officially out of touch, and I don't just mean a little out of touch.  He's way out of touch.

I have always respected Richard Lugar immensely.  I don't agree with him very often, but I've met him.  I've found him to be one of the best politicians with his constituents of any that I've been around.  At an event, I saw him walk out of the room as the last person to leave because he waited to sign autographs, take pictures, shake hands, and talk to voters.  In that way, Richard Lugar gets it.  He gets Hoosiers, and he's represented us mostly with class over the years.  He was the Republicans many Democrats felt ok voting for.

That's in the past now.  It's surprising to see some of the things that are coming out about the man.  Most detrimental to his cause of remaining in the Senate is this residency issue.  We found out now that because he doesn't have a home in Indiana, he's been sticking us with the bill.  Instead of taking full responsibility, he's pushed the problems off on his staff.  This is Lugar's problem.  Not guarding taxpayer dollars wisely is on him.

By choosing to live in Virginia and not maintain a presence in Indiana, he's given rise to the completely unbelievable assertion that he's not a Hoosier.  He's a man that's been serving Hoosiers all his adult life, but he can't at least rent an apartment in Indiana to maintain a residence here?  That's why he's out of touch, and he shows he's even more out of touch because he clearly, by his actions, doesn't think it matters.

It's only a matter of time now before this great public servant comes home to Indiana...or Virginia...for good.  I think Richard Mourdock's chances of beating him in the primary are close to evening up, and the wounds on his campaign to stay in office have been all inflicted by Mr. Lugar, himself.

Lugar's In Deep

Senator Richard G. Lugar
It's inconceivable to me, but I am thinking, for the first time, that Richard Green Lugar is in trouble. The polls don't look good for him, and Richard Mourdock looks to be closing in on the Indiana icon as Democrat Joe Donnelly waits in the wings for the candidate whose electoral hopes emerge from the nasty primary.

If I were advising Senator Lugar, I would open up my campaign pocketbook and put a full court press on Mourdock by getting his side of the current residency controversy out.  I don't mean to make a snarky ad either that targets Mourdock, but the Senator himself looking the voters in the eye through the TV cameras and explaining why he believes he should be considered a Hoosier.  It's unbelievable that he should have to do this, but it's time to shine a light on his problem.  That's an old saying in politics, but it's time to level with people.  He also needs to consider fixing his problem permanently by at least renting an apartment or a condo for himself and Charlene.  I don't accept the argument that Richard Lugar is not a Hoosier, but some definitely are.

Secondly, it's time to get to work. If he wants to survive, Lugar is going to have to push himself harder as a campaigner.  He needs to get out across the state, and he needs to do it quickly.  He needs to speak to anyone that will listen about his record as a conservative.  He also needs to spend money to get his word out over the airwaves about his record.

If all of this works, his hopes of keeping his job will still be challenged.  Joe Donnelly is just waiting for his opponent.  Donnelly is a hard campaigner, and I've been hearing that he's making inroads with some of the groups initially critical of him.  Lugar will have his hands full in November as well.

One way or another, Richard Lugar has not experienced anything like this in his years in the Senate.  He's going to have to work hard in both May and, if he's successful there, November, just to keep his job.

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

May I Have Your Attention Please...

This is some well-produced political satire, for sure.

By the way, if you check the information box on the video, the lyric was "mass debating" and not something else.  Good stuff here.

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Indiana About to Be Invaded by Republicans

In 2008, Indiana was a part of something exciting, at least for Democrats.  Two brilliant candidates were neck and neck at this point, and Indiana was about to be the center of the political world for just under two months.

Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama each came to Indiana a ton during the campaign, and the fight was so close in the end that Clinton, who had been a heavy favorite, could only muster a close victory.  Combined with Obama's win in North Carolina the same night, it became clear that ultimately, he was the man to beat.

Indiana made a difference again in November as, for the first time since 1964, the state went blue on Election Night for Senator Barack Obama.  We were a part of something big.  Indiana mattered.

Well, it's going to matter again as the Republicans come to our state, but I can't help but feel different.  President Barack Obama is the Democratic nominee.  The four-way Republican craziness heads to our state as Newt Gingrich, Ron Paul, Mitt Romney, and Rick Santorum are locked in a race for the bottom culture vulture fight as each tries to outdo the other to prove who can attract enough hardcore conservatives to win the base and pull ahead in the delegate count.

Romney is the front-runner, but he can't seem to shake anyone off at this point.  Santorum and Gingrich are locked to each leg like little kids that don't want to let go, and Ron Paul is running behind with money and an organization but with not a whole lot to show for it.  So, soon, you'll see the negative ads start running and the culture war will begin.  It's a must different picture than 2008.

Hillary and Barack were pretty much talking ideas by this point.  They were talking about solutions and weren't throwing major body blows at each other.  Hillary was pushing her jobs, jobs, jobs platform, and Barack was out there talking about change.  There was some negativity like Clinton's 3:00 a.m. ad that questioned Obama's readiness, but the candidates weren't trying to muscle at each other over who was the most liberal or the most moderate.  They were connecting with voters, and it was exciting.

There's just not much to excite Republicans right now.  You get the feeling that they just want this painful chapter to be over and done with.  Privately, unless they are just Anti-Obama, they will tell you that they aren't happy with their choices (except for the Ron Paul supporters...they love their guy).

So, I don't know how to handicap this one.  The competitive Senate race between Richard Mourdock and Richard Lugar could help swing this primary, but my radar on the "R" side is just not what it is on the "D" side.

All I know is that Indiana's going to matter again, but it's going to feel entirely different in 2012.

Monday, March 19, 2012

Airing Dirty Laundry: My Laundromat Focus Group

Mitt Romney was on TV, but no one was
watching him rail on teachers unions.
On Sunday morning, I was greeted with a dryer that just wouldn't dry my clothes.  That left me with two loads of wet laundry and nowhere to dry them.

For many people, the laundromat is a way of life.  They might live in a place with no washer/dryer hookup or with no laundry facilities.  Thus, they pile all their clothes into baskets and head to the laundromat.  It's something that I have not had to do since my days at Indiana University.  Thus, I am woefully unprepared for a trip to the laundromat.

So, I piled my two loads of laundry into a clothes hamper and took off at 9:15 a.m. on a Sunday morning for the laundromat.  On the way over, both my clothes and my change bucket spilled all over my car.  I can just imagine that when I pulled into the parking lot of the laundromat all of the customers there had to know I was an amateur.

I bypassed the washers and went straight to the dryer.  I piled my two loads into one heavy-duty dryer, inserted my money and sat down at a table that looked like it had not been cleaned in a while.  The carpet was stained, the neon light accents on the walls buzzed.  Needless to say, I was trying to just get my laundry done and get out of there, but I'm a people watcher.  I began to look around.

There was a man, probably in his late 60's, diligently folding his clothes.  A tall, man in probably his 30's was there in a mismatched shirt and pants.  It was probably his laundry day.  A mother, father and two children were there.  There was a woman with what seemed to be dyed red hair.  Another lady that was a little younger nervously smoked a cigarette just outside the door.  As my laundry tumbled, another middle-aged man walked in with a basket of clothes and began loading everything into two washing machines.  An elderly couple worked on folding a huge amount of clothes.  There was another guy with a "World's Greatest Dad" T-shirt and a cup of coffee in his hand transferring clothes from a washer to a dryer.

A few of the people seemed to know each if this was their normal Sunday activity and perhaps ran into each other each week.  The vast majority of the people though, just sat and played with their phones.  Some read a book or a magazine, and some were working on the task at hand.

I, on the other hand, watched the people.  I was struck with what a diverse group I had run across on this Sunday morning.  I made a mental note to myself that I was going to write this blog post.

My laundry was done.  It was a little after 10:00 a.m.  On one TV, Meet the Press played.  Senator John McCain was on the screen.  On the TV near me, it was Fox News Sunday.  Mitt Romney was on, and he was talking education.  Suddenly, my mind faded from my surroundings to watch Romney.  I listened intently as I folded my clothes and put them in my hamper.

When I was through, I looked around.  The man in his 30's in the mismatched clothes and me were the only two people in the laundromat paying attention to the televisions.

Perhaps he was a political junkie or, in the absence of a remote, maybe he was only watching what was on television.  Nevertheless, I don't know what all this says about America.  What my little focus group at the laundromat did tell me was that people really are paying more attention to their day-to-day lives than the 2012 Presidential race right now.

Saturday, March 17, 2012

The State Kills IYG Plate

The Indiana Youth Group's Plate
I am sure there's celebration today across Indiana in the homes of 20 State Senators, Micah Clark, and Eric Miller. Unfortunately, there's sadness with advocates for LGBT youth.  Indiana found a way to cut off sales of the Indiana Youth Group license plate.

The IYG apparently gave out low numbered plates as a thank you gift for donations.  Other groups had done it, and they had done it for years, but this year the contract loophole was enforced.  Three groups were targeted, and one was the IYG.

It might seem just a part of the normal process of contract law, but, given the comments of State Senate Pro Tempore, David Long, during the last week of the session, this was a telegraphed move.  Given the names of the 20 conservative Republican Senators that signed the letter to the BMV to pull the plate, this was a shot at LGBT Hoosiers.  Mostly, it was a shot at LGBT youth.

The Indianapolis Star reports that Senator Long not only said that this action came because of the violation of the contract with the state but because of a problem he and other Republicans had with the "distribution of sex education materials to young children."

Micah Clark, a right-wing lobbyist, told the Star that the IYG was setting up "homosexual youth groups" in schools with the money raised.  He must be talking about the many chapters of the Gay-Straight Alliance that are popping up in schools across the Hoosier State that are independently begun by students.  He wouldn't understand, though.  Clark has been saying that groups like the IYG are trying to recruit young people into a gay lifestyle.  What a crock know.

I am not proud of my state today.  Indiana is quickly becoming a place that's not very hospitable to the LGBT community.  The more I sit here and think about it; the madder it makes me.  Unless who you are has ever been under attack by your state, I guess you wouldn't understand.  In another forum, I might tell you exactly what I think of the Indiana Republican Senate caucus, but I believe that if I can't say anything nice; I won't say anything at all.

Every advocate should push for a moratorium on all specialty plates so that the actions of each organization that issues them can be reviewed.  The state should spend millions of dollars on the investigation.  After all, it's important to make sure that no one is violating the contract.  We can't single out three groups.

The state's action against the IYG is Indiana University's loss for me.  I will not renew my specialty plate for IU, and I will not buy another specialty plate until the IYG plate is restored.  Instead, I'll take the money that was going to IU and donate it to the IYG.  I urge you to do the same thing.

In the meantime, here are the 20 Senators that signed the letter to the BMV:
Brent Steele
Carlin Yoder
Connie Lawson (the new Secretary of State)
Dennis Kruse
Doug Eckertly
Greg Walker
James (Jim) Banks
James Birck
Jim Merritt
Jim Tomes
John Waterman
R. Michael Young
Pat Miller
Phil Boots
Randall Head
Richard Bray
Ronnie Alting
Ryan Mishler
Sue Landske
Travis Holdman

IYG is investigating what recourse it has from here.

Friday, March 16, 2012

Obama Releases Campaign Video

President Barack Obama
Last night, President Barack Obama released a campaign "resume' film" that states his case for reelection.  It's an excellent piece that runs about 17 minutes.

As you might imagine, the right is up-in-arms about it, but it's a really well-done piece of video work that does remind people that we have made "Change We Can Believe In" since President Obama took office in 2009.

Here's the thing.  Has President Obama been perfect?  If you've been reading this blog very long, you know that I've had my moments of doubt.  I've been critical of the President at times, but what I like is that he's making the tough decisions.  He's taking the tough criticism, and he's not afraid to take a hard look at his own policy and beliefs and evolve them.

I am proud of my vote, and, it should come as little surprise that I will be proud to vote for President Obama again in November 2012.

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Election Board Says Lugar Must Have Indiana Address

The Marion County Election Board has drawn the ire of Richard Lugar after ruling that the Senator and his wife, Char, are not eligible to vote in the precinct they are currently registered in because he no longer lives there.  The vote was 2-1 with Democrats Beth White and Mark Sullivan voting Lugar ineligible and Republican Patrick Dietrick voting him legal.

According to the Indianapolis Star, White said that there's no indication that Lugar knowingly violated the law.  Lugar plans to appeal.

In other news, Abdul-Hakim Shabazz reports that the Election Board also voted down satellite voting centers for the May election.

Supremes Hath Spoken: White Legal

Charlie White
The Indiana Supreme Court ruled against the Indiana Democratic Party and overturned Judge Lou Rosenberg's decision that Charlie White was not a legal candidate when he ran for Indiana Secretary of State.  This means that Vop Osili will still be City-County Councillor Osili and not Secretary of State Osili.

The Supremes said that the IDP waited until after the election was over to file the complaint instead of filing it beforehand.  It also said that voters were likely aware of the concerns, but they voted for White anyway.

Governor Mitch Daniels will now appoint a permanent replacement for White.  Jerold Bonnett has quietly served in the office as interim Secretary of State since White was removed from office last month.

City-County Councillor
Vop Osili
Attorney Karen Celestino-Horseman, who, in the interest of full disclosure, is one of my good friends, told the Indianapolis Star that the Democrats could not have filed the case any earlier because they didn't find out about the situation until after the deadline had passed to file the case.  She also said that the responsibility for vetting candidates should not be the opposing party's job.

In a late afternoon release, Osili thanked his supporters and said he was continuing to focus on his current job, "Although I won't be Secretary of State, I am honored to fulfill my desire for public service as a City-County Councillor in Indianapolis, and I am excited to continue in that capacity."

Ballard Should Swallow Pride, Admit Mistakes, Work With Council to Solve Budget Woes

Mayor Greg Ballard
Let's get this out of the way first.

Greg Ballard has no cover anymore.  The Mayor of Indianapolis (and the then Republican-led City-County Council) has been exposed for the poor leadership he has shown in being up front about this city's resources the last few years.

To be fair, he would have had to be a fiscal ninja to lead the city fiscally through this mess given the property tax caps he has had to deal with, but, with no oversight, it's now all hitting the fan.  The ninja has no clothes.

After years of suspicion that Indianapolis could not be in good fiscal shape, Mayor Greg Ballard's own administration seems to be confirming that the city is in trouble and really in trouble in the area of public safety.

Let's be fair.  Melina Kennedy would have found herself almost exactly in this position had she won the election in 2011.  The question is, how quickly would we have known and would it have been more quickly than Mayor Ballard's folks have told us?  Probably.

It's all behind us now.  That's enough politics.  We need to get past the past and face the problem that is now in front of us.  Indy is in crisis, and it's not going to be pleasant to get out of it.  This is Mayor Ballard's problem as much as it is the Council's now.  How we got here is not really issue as much as how it will get fixed.

However deep the deficit is in whatever areas, the biggest needs should be identified and taken off the list.  After that, the belt gets very tight.  There can be no more tricks or bandages.  No more raiding TIFs or moving money around.  There can be no more lack of oversight or accountability.  Indianapolis needs solutions from Mayor Ballard.  It needs leadership from its Council, and it probably needs patience from the rest of us.

It's official.  The Super Bowl honeymoon is over, Mr. Mayor.  Now, you must truly show your leadership at work.

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Council Priorities Shift with D's In Charge

City-County Building
When the Republicans were in charge of the City-County Council, the priorities were the same as Mayor Greg Ballard's.  It should come as no surprise to anyone, but that's changed with a new party in charge of the City-County Council.

When Democrats swept to power in last year's Council elections, the new Council Majority has wasted no time in making history.  They elected the first female President of the Council in Maggie Lewis, but also they are taking up issues that have been largely ignored in Marion County.

I attended Wednesday night's meeting at the Decatur Township Democratic Club, and I was pleased to see over 60 people there to watch freshman City-County Councillor John Barth talk about his first few months on the Council.

Barth talked about the struggles to get things through the process all the way that seemed like common sense ideas.  He talked about his efforts with the smoking ban that was derailed by Mayor Greg Ballard.  Barth said the proposal was crafted by charting out Ballard's previous public positions on the matter and trying to make the legislation meet what the Mayor had said in public.

Obviously, Ballard did not agree and vetoed the proposal over his concerns about private clubs and veterans halls being able to retain smoking and to allow children into those establishments.  That proposal, which received bi-partisan support as a handful of Republicans joined the Democrats, is now dead.  Barth said he has not given up on the issue and will soon be rolling out another proposal to try to curb smoking in public places in Marion County.

City-County Councillor
John Barth
Another priority for this Council session has been to deal with the large number of unwanted animals from other counties that end up in Marion County's Animal Care and Control or ACC.  Barth said that, on average, one animal is put to death every hour the Marion County ACC operates.  That's just not acceptable, and Barth and his colleagues set out to do something about it.

Barth said that a proposal passed through committee to charge a $40 fee to out-of-county people surrendering an animal in Marion County.  Because Marion County was free, Barth said that other similar agencies in other counties would send unadoptable dogs to Marion County because they couldn't do anything with them.  Now, a revenue stream has been developed that will exists to deal with controlling the pet population.  Barth said the dollars generated from this new fee will go to spay and neuter programs to try to reduce enforcement issues for ACC.  He also said that the ordinance will be written to allow ACC to work with those surrendering an animal to lower the fee if they cannot afford it.

Of course, Barth spent some time on the upcoming budget battle and what is predicted to be a big shortfall.  Because some of the TIF districts were raided to "honestly balance" 2011's budget, that money is not available this year.  Also, Barth said that public safety budgets have been poorly funded including $10 million missing from Sheriff John Layton's budget to pay for inmate health care in the Marion County Jail.  In short, Barth says that the opposing parties in different branches of government has brought much needed oversight to the budgeting process.

Joining Barth at the meeting were fellow At-Large Councillors Zach Adamson and Leroy Robinson.  Over and over again, Adamson and Robinson talked about getting public input and that they want to have a wide range of opinions on the issues that affect Marion County residents.  The Democrats have revived the Community Affairs Committee, and that will meet out in the townships or away from the City-County Building.  Dems also have a bi-partisan agreement to bring Councillors into the neighborhoods as well so that ideas are more readily shared.

In more ways than one, the change in party signified a new way of doing business on the Council.

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

House Democrats' Loss Will Hopefully Be Someone's Future Gain

Rep. Jeb Bardon (D-Indianapolis)
Jeb Bardon is far too classy to point fingers when it comes to what happened to him in redistricting, but we don't have to hear it from him to know.

By the decree of the House Republicans, Bardon's district was absorbed by other districts, and his place of residence was put into Vanessa Summers' district.  It's something that happened to other people on both sides of the aisle, but, in Bardon's case it seems most cruel.

Bardon, showing the class he's been long known for, decided to defer to the longer-serving Summers, a longtime family friend of his, and not to pursue another term in the Indiana House.  Honestly, I feel good for him.  After his term ends in January, he can now move on to other things, and I look forward to whatever the next step is for him.

As a legislator, Bardon has built a solid record in the House, and that will serve him well if and when he decides what he's going to do next.  He began in the state legislature as a very young man, and he's still young now after what will be 14 years in the Indiana House.  Bardon has never been shy about listening to his constituents.  I am not a constituent, but I can remember him asking me about my opinion on education policy, alcohol sales legislation, and listening to me rant on more than one occasion about something.  He would always stand and listen as long as he had to and be ready with a response about what was going on in the legislature.

"Jon, have you heard about..." he would start.  Then, he would explain the bill and what it might or might not do.  I haven't had this conversation with him just once but countless times.

With that heavy legislative schedule, Bardon continued to operate his family business of Westside sandwich shops and to spend time with his children and his wife.

In many ways, Jeb is too good to be true.  He's clearly in the game of politics for all the right reasons.  That's why I look forward to his next venture with great hope.  I hope that this is not the last we see out of him, and he can always count on me for support.

Monday, March 12, 2012

All Day Cares Should Be Licensed

Yesterday, John Tuohy of the Indianapolis Star penned an article about the status of Indiana's faith-based and non-faith-based day care centers.

The conclusion: many faith-based day care centers don't have the same standards for safety that other day care centers must follow.

The concern: more state regulation raises the specter of state control over what can and cannot be taught at the schools.

It's yet another front on the First Amendment battlefield of separation of church and state.  I say church and state isn't the issue.  The issue is child safety and what are these unlicensed faith-based centers to protect precious youngsters?

Whenever we start talking about law on this blog, I always remind you that I am no lawyer.  So, let's get that out of the way yet again, but the way I understand the Constitution is that the First Amendment says Congress shall make no law abridging the freedom of speech or religion or the free exercise of those two things.  Thus, if the state stays away from what these faith-based day care places are teaching and keeps with what they are doing to protect our children, then I don't see what the problem is.

Lobbyists like Micah Clark tell Tuohy of a doomsday scenario where government regulations extend to what is taught within the school.  Furthermore, he talks about cost issues.  My question is, if a day care center cannot spend the necessary money that needs to be spent to keep kids safe, then why should it be allowed to stay in business anyway?  Some of these regulations will be costly, but wouldn't you want your day care provider to spare no expense in keeping your children safe?

Clark's argument falls flat as well because, as Tuohy points out, there are currently regulated faith-based organizations that say the state has no interest in what's being taught at the day cares.  I don't believe that the state could possibly regulate every curriculum at every day care in the state when it already has public schools and preschools to worry about.  

How much different is the regulation between licensed and unlicensed facilities?  Tuohy says that the regulated facilities must follow 192 rules and that unregulated facilities must follow just 21.  What's scary is that Tuohy's report says that the number of unlicensed faith-based facilities now exceeds the number of licensed ones, 730-601.

Of course, I'm sure it's more complicated than flipping a switch and saying that everything should be regulated, but I don't think there's anything wrong with setting minimum standards for what a day care center is and what it should do everything possible to make sure the children it services are safe.  That leaves the decision on curriculum up to the center and to the parents that use it and gives parents the peace of mind that someone is looking out to keep their youngsters safe and secure.

Sunday, March 11, 2012

He Blocked Me!

Steve Davis
Well, Steve Davis must read my blog.

After a couple of posts (here and here) mentioning some of the things he has been tweeting, the candidate for 7th District Congress, Steve Davis, has blocked me from reading his tweets on Twitter.  Guess it's ok if you follow him only if you're a sheep going with the herd.  Must not like those voices of dissent.

You'd think someone running for Congress would have a tougher skin.  Marvin Scott certainly did.

Oh well.  It's his prerogative.  He's welcome to follow my Twitter feed still.  I have my ways to find out what's going on with his campaign other than Twitter.

Guess I'll have to find my entertainment elsewhere.

Four Years Ago...

Congressman Andre' Carson
Congressman Andre' Carson was elected as the Representative for Indiana's 7th District succeeding his grandmother, the late Julia Carson.  While Congressman Carson could never replace his grandma, he's definitely picked up her legacy and moved forward.

Happy Anniversary Congressman!  It's been a great four years, and you deserve two more this November.

Saturday, March 10, 2012

IDP Attacking Lugar for Innovative Plan

Indiana Democratic Party Chair (Still)
Dan Parker
The Indiana Democratic Party has released an ad that targets Senator Richard Lugar for his alleged support of a $1 per gallon gas tax hike.  The ad provides no context.

According to what I can gather, Lugar's suggestion was not to simply take the $1 per gallon gas tax, but it was to return that money back to people via social security, payroll tax cuts, or other benefits.  The initial thought was to raise gas prices to encourage automakers to make more fuel efficient vehicles, spur innovation, and encourage use of alternative fuels.  In other words, his proposal, which I doubt he would advocate today, was to improve the environment and end our dependency on foreign oil.  Kind of a different perspective on the issue, if you ask me.

Now, I know the IDP wants Lugar out, but I think they would be more wise to sit back and let the Republicans spend their cash and treasure trying to beat each other rather than interfering.  If they really wanted to help Richard Mourdock, they could jump in on this Lugar residency issue, but I would be careful playing kingmaker too much.  We know Richard Lugar, but we don't no Richard Mourdock.

I think that a big picture look is necessary.  Joe Donnelly will be a great General Election candidate, but Indiana is a very tenuous place for statewide Democratic candidates right now.  I'm not saying Donnelly can't win, but I think you should be careful, if you're the IDP, on where you place your chips right now.  With the wrong Richard, no Democrat will win.  If I were Dan Parker, I'd save my money and let this one play out.

In my view, this is a poor tactic by the Democrats.

Friday, March 9, 2012

Friday Hodge Podge: Meter Blues; Senate News; Assembly Wraps

Meter Blues
You remember that landmark parking deal that was supposed to be such a big boon for the city? Well, the numbers are coming in.

The City of Indianapolis profit is $1 million short of where it thought it would be, according to the Indianapolis Star.  The 50-year parking meter lease was supposed to pull in $2.1 million, but, after everything is said and done, the Star reports the city will pocket $1.1 million.  It's revenue, so that's something to cheer about, but it's not the over $3.5 million in revenue the vendor pocketed, according to the Star.

The Star article says Ballard sees the program as a success because of the uptick in revenue and the $20 million up front payment.  I guess we shall see.  My friend Pat Andrews does some excellent analysis here on her Had Enough Indy blog.

Senate News
The Indiana Senate race moves forward with Richard Mourdock picking up the NRA endorsement, and Richard Lugar still needing to answer questions about his residency.  Tea Party members filed a lawsuit this week appealing the Indiana Election Commission's dismissal of its claim that Lugar no longer resides in Indiana and is thus ineligible for office.  This is definitely the fight of Lugar's Senate career.

Joe Donnelly continues to build momentum on the Democratic side.  I have heard that some constituency groups have had good meetings with Donnelly.  That should help him with the base.

Session Wraps
The Indiana General Assembly will wrap up business on time today.  This is the second-straight year that the body got all of its work done on time...even after a Democrat walkout over Right to Work this year.

When the body reconvenes in January, you have to wonder what the makeup will be.  Will the Democrats be able to cut in to the Republican majorities, or will Republicans maintain or expand their advantages.  We'll find out in November.

This will be the swan song for three of my favorite Representatives.  Rep. Bill Crawford is retiring, and Rep. Jeb Bardon is leaving the House after his district was absorbed into another in redistricting.

Chairman Crawford and Representative Day are a legends for a reason.  They stood up for the voiceless for many years and gave them a voice and excellent representation.  I am honored that I can call Representative Bardon my friend.  You won't find many in that body that take their jobs more seriously than he does.

The House will miss all three!

Thursday, March 8, 2012

Open Letter to Senate President Pro Tem David Long: Save the Plate

Dear Senator Long,
It's time to cut through the rhetoric and time for a straight up conversation.

I understand that you finally found a loophole that you think will get rid of the specialty license plate that will provide needed fundraising to the Indiana Youth Group, a great organization that helps LGBT youth.  You believe, according to the Indianapolis Star, that the IYG violated the terms of its specialty plate contract with the state and that the contract can be voided.  The Star also reports that the BMV has allowed other groups to do the exact same thing that you believe will void the IYG's contract.

I know you are a busy man, and I know that this is a busy time for you, but I hope you will read this and remember it.  I want to tell you my story.

When I was a child growing up, I always felt different.  I didn't understand why, but I just wasn't like everyone else.  I could never understand the feelings inside myself and why they weren't like the feelings of other young people my age.  Thus, I felt alone, ostracized, and like an alien.  I hatched many plans to kill myself.

I never tried to end my life, but, for many years up until my early teens, I thought about it daily.  Thankfully, I had the best grandmother a boy could have and patient, loving parents that helped me through all of that.  They didn't understand everything, and I never told them everything at the time.  They just knew that I had a lot to give to this society, and that I shouldn't end it all because I was different.

It was not until later in my life that I truly understood what those feelings I had when I was little meant.  I put it all together in my brain, and, finally, at the age of 21, I stepped out of the closet and into this person I am now.  I hadn't changed, and I had not become anything different.  I just stopped worrying about what others thought.  The truth is that I was free, and it felt good.  I haven't had a thought of killing myself since, and I would never do it now.  I love this life, and no one is going to bring me down.

It was those formative years, though, that were the toughest ones.  I only wish that I knew about the IYG when I was young and all the wonderful things that they do for young people.

I first heard about the IYG when I was a new teacher.  I had a student who identified herself as a lesbian that mentioned those three letters and all that they had done for her.  Since, I've grown more familiar with the great organization and the many services they provide for our young people that feel different, just like I did.

I guess I don't understand why this is something to object to.  Why helping people like me is such a bad thing when we have study after study that shows that LGBT youth end their own lives and face bullying and other awful things at a higher rate than their peers.  I can't understand the logic even from those who profess to be Christians.  The "Christian" thing to do is to lend a hand to those in need, and that's what IYG does.

My family saved my life, but, for many young people, the IYG is the only place they can turn for a friendly face and for someone that understands them.  Then again, I would never expect you to understand that.

Please tell these young people they matter.  You don't have to understand them.  Just know that what you're doing will affect them more than you ever know.  It's up to you.

Thanks for your time,

P.S.-Thanks to my wonderful mom and dad and to my wonderful Grandma Easter who always taught me, before it was popular, that, "It gets better."

YouTube Vid Ranks Top 10 Most Powerful Women

Ok, so I didn't have time to do my homework last night.  I haven't done this in a while, but here's a video for your enjoyment.

On YouTube, there is a channel called All Time Top 10's.  This is the kind of thing they produce.  Excellent videos!

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Indiana Youth Group Specialty Plate Back on Chopping Block

Sheila Kennedy reports that the Indiana General Assembly is about to pull some shenanigans and put the specialty plate that benefits the Indiana Youth Group back on the chopping block.

During this session, the forces on the extreme Christian right (among them, Eric Miller of Advance America and Micah Clark of the American Family Associattion of Indiana) have tried just about every way they can to kill the plate which will raise funds to provide services for LGBT youth including putting pressure on Republican lawmakers in both houses of the General Assembly.  Key Republicans were ready to pull the plug on most specialty plates...including all the ones passed in 2012.  That included the brand new IYG plate.

It appeared that the  plate was safe after the sponsor of the bill killed it for this session citing that the debate had gotten too political.  Well, there are forces that are trying to pull that back into play.

IYG's services help young people become comfortable in their own skins, come to terms with who they are, and even prevent suicide.  The forces against the IYG believe the organization exists to recruit young people to the gay lifestyle.  It's so ridiculous it barely registers mentioning, but it's part of the story because our legislators are buying in.

Kennedy's blog post details how this is to go down.  I hope you'll read it, and then I hope you'll react.  Pick up the phone and call your state representatives and state senators at 1-800-382-9841.  Our LGBT youth could use your help.  The office opens at 8:15 a.m.

NOT Political: Goodwin Center Trying To Stand On Its Own

For many years in Decatur Township, there was no community center.  For young students, there was no place to get head start services, and, for seniors, there was nowhere that provided programs for them.

The Goodwin Center is located at 3935 W. Mooresville Rd.
in Decatur Township.
That all changed a few years ago when the Mary Rigg Neighborhood Center opened the George T. Goodwin Center with the help of Decatur Township Schools in a former school building adjacent to Stephen Decatur Elementary.

Quickly, the center became quite popular launching programs aimed at young and young at heart.  A Head Start program opened, and the Silver Eagles became a place where senior citizens could feel young again.  Pottery and genealogy classes began.  CPR classes were taught there.  Fun trips were organized.  A food pantry was established to feed hungry township residents.  It became a place where people could get their taxes done or meet with the Mayor's Neighborhood Liaison and just be a part of the community.  It became a Decatur Township gathering spot.

Last year, it became threatened.  According to those familiar with the situation, Mary Rigg wanted to absorb many of the programs and shut down the community center, but that simply was not going to happen in Decatur Township.

So, a determined group set forth to keep it open.  Working with the MSD of Decatur Township, the center determined that there still was a need for the Goodwin Center's services in Decatur.  What followed was a messy divorce probably best left to just that description.  Toby York, the only executive director the center had ever known, tendered his resignation to Mary Rigg, and it was immediately accepted, and, on the first day of 2012, the center became a stand alone Community Center.

Slowly but surely, the Goodwin Center is starting to ramp up its programs again.  York and Dorothy Moore, the only two employees of the center, began working without salaries and volunteering their time and efforts.  Volunteers have showed up to help get the center's legs back under it.  It was like starting from scratch.  From paying the bills to keeping up the insurance, it all became the responsibility of the Goodwin Center.

Today, York spends his time writing grants for every last dollar he can find, and the Goodwin Center is open and getting stronger by the day.  In essence, it never closed.  People that went there for programming never experienced any down time.  The food pantry is still open and working to distribute food to the needy families of Decatur Township.

It can't happen alone, though.  The Hawthorne Community Center stepped in with some help for York to allow the Goodwin Center to operate as a non-profit.  Others have been donating as well writing checks for thousands of dollars to help the dreams of York and the determined residents of Decatur Township to keep open their community center.

A new board is in place now, and the Goodwin Center is well on its way to rebuilding the programs and services that were there before Mary Rigg left.

Why am I writing this?  Because I believe in this place.  I believe that its story needed to be told, and I call on my readers to help in any way you can.  Call the Goodwin Center at (317) 247-5201 to find out how.  You can also send donations to the George T. Goodwin Center at 3935 W. Mooresville Road, Indianapolis, IN 46221.

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Latest Politician in Trouble Close By

Beech Grove City Hall
Mayor Dennis Buckley of Beech Grove is calling for the resignation of a City Councillor embroiled in a sex scandal.

The Indianapolis Star reports that IMPD Police arrested David Mobley, Beech Grove City Councillor At-Large, after he allegedly offered an undercover officer money to perform a sex act on him around 11:00 this morning.

I've said it before, and I'll say it again.  It's never fun to see someone's life explode onto the front pages of the local newspaper, and it's up to Mobley whether he will answer Mayor Buckley's call to resign.  After all, Buckley and Mobley, both Democrats, are members of separate branches of Beech Grove City Government, but I respect Buckley for his strong stand.

All's Quiet on the Ballard Front--For Now

Mayor Greg Ballard
Except for his refusal to sign the bi-partisan smoking ban in Marion County, Greg Ballard is having a great 2012.

He's trucking along and under the radar for the moment.  He just appears to open something or cut a ribbon or two.  He's all smiles.

That's about to change.  An unrelated comment to another one of my posts here (that I did not approve since it was unrelated to my original post) pointed out that Indianapolis is going to have a critical budget shortfall upcoming, and Ballard is going to have to be a bi-partisan wizard to solve it.

When Ballard had full reign over the Council, the budgeting process was easier.  Raid a TIF here...move a little money there...say the budget was honestly balanced until you believe it, and it was done.  Now, with a Democratic-majority Council, things are going to get scrutinized a little more.  The big man is going to have to be a little bit more creative than just handing a budget to Ryan Vaughn with a "do pass" demand.

On the other side of that, the budget is also no time to get political for the Democrats.  They will have to take an objective look at things as well and be bi-partisan.  This is no time for revenge.  It's time for solutions.

While the first few months of 2012 have been good ones for Ballard, I think it's about to get a little bumpy if he cannot reach across the aisle and engage key Democrats on this budget.  We can't just kick the can down the street.  Real people are in need of real city services.  Time to see what Mr. Ballard and the Council can do for the citizens of Indianapolis, together.  I have confidence in my friends on the Council.  We'll see what Mr. Mayor has, too.

Monday, March 5, 2012

Limbaugh's Ship May Be Leaking Water

Rush Limbaugh has been saying offensive things for years.  His most recent controversy may be the one that finally does him in after all this time.

Rush Limbaugh
I'm sure you've heard about the controversy by now.  Limbaugh called a Georgetown University Law Student who testified in front of Congress as a part of the birth control debate that currently is front page news across the country "a slut" and "a prostitute" on his radio show.  Limbaugh has since half-heartedly apologized, but that has not deflected the left from continuing to attack Limbaugh, who seems more vulnerable now then ever.

Presidential candidates like Newt Gingrich, who appeared on Sunday morning on Meet the Press, have mostly steered clear of the Rush controversy instead trying to deflect this back somehow on President Obama while pretty much just re-framing the point Limbaugh tried to make.  That point is that birth control is somehow a license to be promiscuous.  That's a totally bogus claim, and the Republicans know it.  Rachel Maddow did an excellent analysis of how silly this idea is on Friday.

The same Constitutional Amendment that the Republicans point to in this fight is also something that defends Rush Limbaugh's right to call someone names.  It's the First Amendment which regulates the government's ability to pass legislation abridging free speech or the freedom of religion.  Republicans argue that President Obama's old plan to make employers provide contraception through Obamacare (he has since compromised on that) somehow threatens religious employers' freedom of religion.

Back to Rush, he has the right to say what he said.  However offensive it is to you or me or to Sandra Fluke, Limbaugh's First Amendment rights protect him.  Of course, Fluke may file a lawsuit against Limbaugh for libel, but that's extremely hard to prove.  Limbaugh's lawyers would no doubt dig through all of Fluke's past personal history to find ways to get Limbaugh off the hook.

All of that said, the left, many women, and even some on the right have every right to push back at him.  If you're one of those people that want to silence El Rushbo, then there's a way to do it, and it's not to write the FCC.

Instead of writing the FCC, write, DO NOT CALL, the stations that air Rush Limbaugh.  By FCC regulation, commercial broadcast stations must keep letters from the listeners in their public files for three years.

After you're done writing the stations, put pressure on Rush's advertisers.  Tell them how offended you were by his comments and the way he portrayed this woman.  Since a majority of women use some sort of birth control, Rush insulted not only Sandra Fluke but a wide range of women.  Remind the advertisers of that fact.  Limbaugh is already losing advertisers, and, if he loses more, he will be in serious trouble.

You see, Limbaugh's show is a cash cow for radio stations.  His loyal listeners tune in daily and drive his ratings up.  His numbers have been falling in recent years.  They were down 33 percent over a year in 2011, and I would assume that this latest controversy won't necessarily help him.  As his numbers fall, his revenue falls.  Eventually, stations will grow tired of dealing with Limbaugh's controversial nature and decide that he's just not worth carrying anymore, and it happens very quickly.

Radio is a place where you can still have an impact on what programming is aired.  It's a local game.  If you want change, target the local stations that air Limbaugh and the businesses that advertise on his show.

I won't make a time prediction, but it looks like to me, it's only a matter of time until El Rushbo's show is a memory.  He's hit the iceberg, and he's taking on water.

If you want more information about how you can make a difference, here's an FCC publication called "The Public and Broadcasting" for your reference.

Sunday, March 4, 2012

Civil Discourse NOW!

I was on Mark Small and Paul Ogden's Civil Discourse Now program.  It was my second appearance.

I had a great time.  Please, feel free to skip Meet the Press this morning and watch this for high-quality political analysis.

Seriously, though, we had a great time.  You can check out the website here.

Saturday, March 3, 2012

Thinking of Southern Indiana

Photo by Michael Conroy, Associated Press
Governor Mitch Daniels and U.S. Rep. Todd Young tour
tornado damage at Henryville Jr.-Sr. High School
I am a weather watcher, and I sometimes irritate my friends with postings on this blog and on my other social media sites about severe weather when things get bad.  Yesterday, we saw in a horrible way what can happen when Mother Nature's fury is unleashed.

The National Storm Prediction Center in Oklahoma issued a rare March "Potentially Dangerous Situation" Tornado Watch yesterday morning, and I knew things would be bad.  I just didn't know how bad and where they would be.  Several major tornadoes, as you know by now, raked Indiana's southern-most counties and caused widespread death and destruction.

As I write this, 14 Hoosiers are dead and many more injured.  Small towns like Marysville and Henryville have been temporarily wiped from the map.

My best wishes are with the people of Southern Indiana as they dig out and clean up what was left behind when these mammoth tornadoes ripped their way across the countryside.

For those that have lost so much, you are all in my heart.

To help, donate to the Red Cross by clicking here.

Friday, March 2, 2012

Marion County Senate Races Should Be Interesting

Half of Indiana's Senate Districts are up for grabs in 2012, and that includes many of the districts that are either in or partially in Marion County.

Nine new Senate Districts have all or a portion of their territory in the state's most-populated county, and seven of those districts are up for election in 2012.  Let's take a district-by-district look at the filings.

Districts 29 and 31 are not up for election this time, so Senator Mike Delph and Senator Jim Merritt will wait until 2014 to make decisions about running again.  Districts 33 and 34 are represented by Democrats Greg Taylor and Jean Breaux, respectively.  Thus far, no one has filed against them though that's subject to change when Republicans can fill open ballot positions this summer.  Libertarians will also name candidates in March.  For now, though, Breaux and Taylor can relax.

That leaves five contested districts and are they ever contested!

In District 28, a district that now has a long neck that comes into Marion County from the east is an open seat as Beverly Gard is retiring.  Three Republicans are vying for the GOP nomination.  Mike Crider, Chris Lytle, and Jon Merlou have all filed.  On the Democratic side, only one Democrat is in the race.  That's Michael Adkins.

District 30 features a, right now, heads up battle between incumbent Republican Scott Schneider and Democratic challenger Tim Delaney.  Again, Libertarians could enter the fray in this district or any of the others I'm about to mention.

Senator Pat Miller has a clear path to the Republican nomination in District 32.  Former State Representative John Barnes and Patti Mink will battle for the Democratic spot.  District 32 now completely lies within Marion County.

Incumbent Mike Young finds himself under attack from his own party as Daniel Kinnamon takes him on for the Republican nomination in redrawn District 35.  Democratic candidate Mark Waterfill, an attorney, is unopposed for the Democratic nomination in this district that no longer includes any of Morgan or Johnson Counties.

An interesting race is expected in District 36 as incumbent Republican Brent Waltz takes on Representative Mary Ann Sullivan.  Sullivan is a hard worker and this redrawn district that now just necks into Johnson County is prime for a pickup.

If Democrats pick up a couple of seats here, they would still be in the heavy minority, but it would be a step forward, overall.  With other targeted Senate seats statewide, Dems could take a huge step forward. Senate Minority Leader Vi Simpson believes it's possible, and the Democrats will do everything to make it happen in Marion County.

Thursday, March 1, 2012

A Look At Marion County's Indiana House Races

All 100 Indiana House of Representatives seats will be up for election in November, and redistricting has changed things for those wanting to either keep a seat or be seated in the General Assembly in early 2013.  House Districts 86 through 100 are all either contained completely within or are made up of a part of Marion County.

Let's begin with House District 86, currently held by Representative Ed Delaney, a Democrat.  Delaney has no primary opponent.  His Republican challenger also has no opponent, so Luke Bosso and Delaney will go head-to-head in November.  That's what's due to happen, but it could change as Libertarians may decide to run candidates in this district or any of the ones discussed in this post.

In House District 87, incumbent Cindy Noe faces no opposition for the GOP nomination.  Christina Hale has filed for the Democratic nod, and she is also unopposed.

House District 88 clips the Northwest side of Indianapolis, and Indiana Speaker of the House Brian Bosma currently is the only candidate for election there.  Bosma is sure to have an opponent when Democrats can fill ballot vacancies by late June.

Incumbent Cindy Kirchhofer, a Republican, faces no oppostion, so far, in House District 89.  Again, Democrats can fill the empty ballot slot after the Primary is over.  Fellow Republican Mike Speedy is in the same situation in District 90 down on Indy's Southeastside.

One of the more interesting races may be in House District 91 which through redistricting now extends from Western Perry Township across Decatur Township and into Hendricks County.  There is a battle for a major party nomination, but it's in the party of the incumbent, Republican Bob Behning.  Behning finds himself up against Lunch Pail Republican Michael Scott.  Behning voted for Right to Work.  Democrat Mike Blinn, an attorney, will be unopposed for the nomination on the other side of the aisle.

Phil Hinkle is retiring in District 92.  There's a mad scramble on both sides of the aisle as six candidates are seeking the nomination of the Republicans and Democrats.  The trio of Republicans include Tim Motsinger, Brad Rider, and Richard Scott, Sr.  On the Democratic side, it's Brian Cooper, Tyjuan Garrett, and Karlee Macer battling it out.

David Frizzell is the incumbent in District 93 which covers parts of Perry Township into Johnson County.  He will run again for the GOP nomination.  On the Democratic side, it's Ryan Guillory that will battle Frizzell for the seat in November.

Incumbent Democrats Cherrish Pryor and John Bartlett find themselves unopposed in Districts 94 and 95, respectively, and Democrat Robin Shackleford, who ran a great race for Senate in 2010 against Mike Delph, will try to hold retiring House icon Bill Crawford's House seat.  Currently, she also has no opposition.

Democrat Greg Porter has no primary opposition, but Republican Karl Scharnberg has filed to face Porter in November.

House District 97's incumbent, Mary Ann Sullivan, is attempting to move over to the Indiana Senate and is not seeking reelection to her House seat, so two young stars of the future are going to wage political war here.  Justin Moed is filed for the Democrats, and A.J. Feeney-Ruiz, last seen in November running against Vop Osili for City-County Council, will be the Republican candidate.

That leaves us with House District 99.  Because of redistricting, Representative Jeb Bardon is without a district now.  His old 25th District was swallowed up.  To stay in the House, Jeb would have to battle a friend and colleague, Vanessa Summers.  In a classy move, Bardon is stepping aside and is leaving the House, for now.  Summers will be the Democratic nominee as the incumbent.  Republican David T. Blank is also filed in the 99th.

Democrat John Day has been an institution in House District 100 for years, but he's retiring.  Republican Scott Keller, a former City-County Councillor, has filed to run for the GOP, and two Democrats, Dan Forestal, who is slated, and Zach Mullholland are battling for the D's.

In a few key places across Marion County, there's a lot to be decided in May before we can even look ahead to November.