Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Dr. Straub Likely Not Going Anywhere

Public Safety Director
Frank Straub
As many predicted, Frank Straub is not going anywhere for the foreseeable future as Public Safety Director.

Dr. Straub, who has been eerily quiet since his resignation announcement in April, was supposed to be cleaning out his office tomorrow and heading for another locality.  According to the Indianapolis Star, Straub is going to likely be here until a successor is found--whenever that is.

It doesn't sound like there's any sense of urgency to find his replacement.  Straub is, according to the Seattle Times, a finalist for the Spokane, Washington police chief job.  The Times reports that Straub was in town on July 25 for an interview.

If he doesn't get that job, the Ballard Administration could continue to drag its feet on replacing Dr. Straub.  I would have to say that if I was someone who thought I was getting another position, I wouldn't commit to stay on here.  The Star article is ambiguous as to whether or not Straub agreed to stay on, but the city is apparently trying to keep him.

I guess we will see what happens from here.

Analysis: Romney's VEEP Choice Should Be...

Mitt Romney
In my analysis of the Race for the White House in 2012, one thing has become abundantly clear.  In just about every scenario, Mitt Romney must carry Ohio to win four years in the White House.

That's why I think that Romney needs to pick Ohio Senator Rob Portman as his running mate.  Portman is a safe pick, and the popular Senator has an impressive resume filled with Executive Branch and Legislative Branch experience.

A former member of the U.S. House, Portman served as Trade Representative for the U.S. before being scooped up by George W. Bush to run the Office of Management and Budget.  Portman's terms in those office are more of a liability for him in his own base rather than perhaps with independents.  Portman is more moderate and aligns himself with the political temperament of George H.W. Bush.

Beyond all of this, Romney MUST win Ohio.  I think Romney can win Florida without picking Marco Rubio, and he can win New Hampshire on his own given his popularity in the state.  If he concentrates on those two states and holding the other states he should win, that gives him a path to 270 votes.  In fact, under my analysis, Romney winning Ohio and New Hampshire would swing the election to him by the final electoral total of 270-268.  Ohio has 18 Electoral Votes and New Hampshire has four.

Of course, this also assumes Romney is able to hold onto a slim lead in North Carolina and break a polling tie with Obama in Virginia.

Portman, I think, if Romney is thinking a Vice Presidential candidate can swing a state, is probably his best bet to help him to 270.  He, of course, may not be thinking in this direction.

The wind is still at President Barack Obama's back, though.  He leads in the important battleground states, but the specter of a worsening economy could definitely change things over the next 98 days.

Prediction Time (Part I)

We are just under 100 days out from Election Day, and, like many other bloggers, I've decided to release some election predictions.  Today, I'll look at the executive branch races on the national and Indiana ballot, President and Governor.  I will revisit these predictions as the election season goes on, so, here we go!

President Barack Obama
In the race for the White House, things remain tight nationally, but it's good news for President Barack Obama that this isn't really a national race with former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney.  This is a group of 50 state races for electors that will meet in each state as part of the Electoral College.  Ignore the national polls, it's the battleground states that hold the key to this one.

I have looked at the polls and the historical trends and this is what I come up with about 100 days out.

I assign the following states for President Barack Obama and Vice President Joe Biden:

California, Colorado, Connecticut, District of Columbia, Delaware, Hawaii, Illinois, Iowa, Maine (All Congressional Districts), Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, Nevada, Ohio, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Washington, Wisconsin, Vermont

I assign the following states for Mitt Romney and his To Be Announced running mate:

Alabama, Alaska, Arizona, Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, Idaho, Indiana, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Missouri, Mississippi, Montana, Nebraska (All Congressional Districts), North Carolina, North Dakota, Oklahoma, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, Virginia, West Virginia, Wyoming

Obama/Biden:  24 States plus D.C., 290 Electoral Votes
Romney/TBA:  26 States, 248 Electoral Votes

Romney is TOTALLY in this thing though.  He is one or two critical states from making this thing really close or perhaps turning in a landslide.  For example, if he turns Ohio and New Hampshire red, he's the winner of the election.  If he turns Ohio and Michigan, he wins in a landslide.  It's that close!

Mike Pence
Mike Pence is running a campaign built on date stories and good feelings. 

He’s shown he can ice skate, bob his head while saying he’ll protect your job, support our troops, and exploit a natural disaster. I still haven’t heard much policy discussion. He’s playing from ahead.

It’s up to John Gregg and Rupert Boneham to go get him on a number of issues. Whether or not they can knock Pence off his pedestal remains to be seen. Pence is going to have to make some errors, and we’ve already seen him do that a few times this race.

It’s hard to argue against the idea that this is Pence’s race to lose with just under 100 days to go. Gregg needs to start making a dent and soon or else Pence will be doing ads while he romps with puppies and kitties.

Coming up tomorrow...the legislative races.  

Monday, July 30, 2012

Ballard Playing Games with Domestic Partnership Ordinance

What's wrong Mr. Mayor?  You chicken?
The Domestic Partnership Proposal 213 should already be a done deal for the City of Indianapolis and be an ordinance by now, but it's been Mayor Greg Ballard's Office that has been dragging its feet and kicking the can down the road.

Ballard, according to media reports, has concerns over the proposal believing that it will give straight couples in Indianapolis a reason not to marry.  Reports say (and he's not denying it) the Mayor is trying to strike out language that would make the proposal apply to opposite sex couples and make it only a same-sex couple ordinance if passed.  This would likely cause most of the Republicans and maybe a couple of Democrats supporting the measure currently to vote against the proposal.

So, that raises the question: how often do people get married for benefits only?  I'm sure it happens. I know there are definitely "marriages of convenience" out there. I really don't think that's germane to this ordinance, though. I don't think this will cause a significant change in the rate of people joining in holy matrimony. Pretty much, if you want to get married; you will get married. If not, you won't. Benefits aren't going to change that. This just opens another door for some couples that meet very specific requirements to get benefits from the City of Indianapolis. The financial benefits of marriage still outweigh any benefits this proposal would allow qualifying couples to receive from the city.

My sources say that Ballard is getting inundated with outside of Indiana e-mail messages from marriage equality opponents that have the complete wrong idea about the ordinance.  Indy Democrat sources say that the e-mails are often filled with inaccuracies and things that don't even apply to this proposal.  Apparently, the Mayor is having trouble standing up and saying those things to these groups.

The Domestic Partnership Benefits Proposal passed out of the Rules and Public Policy Committee and will likely be up in front of the full City-County Council for a vote on August 13.

Saturday, July 28, 2012

Straw Won't Poll on Ballot in 2nd

Andrew Straw
Green Party candidate Andrew Straw. a civil rights attorney, tried to qualify for the ballot in November under a technicality in Indiana's 2nd Congressional District.  Turns out, according to the Indiana Secretary of State, his reading of the law was incorrect.

Straw attempted to qualify for the ballot by submitting only his own signature on a petition.  His argument was that since Mitch Daniels selected Connie Lawson for the Secretary of State's position after Charlie White's conviction that he could simply submit one signature.

Uhh...no. WBST in South Bend has the story here.

Straw has thrown whatever support he has behind Joe Ruiz, the Libertarian candidate.

However unlikely to succeed Straw's plan to get himself on the ballot was, it does underline the difficulty that other parties than the three that have ballot access have in simply getting on the ballot.  Republicans, Democrats, and Libertarians hold all the cards when it comes to getting on the ballot.  Other candidates must work harder and often do not qualify.

I don't know if this will affect the 2nd District race much.  After all, Straw began the race as a Democratic candidate and chose to change to the Green Party when the local Democratic power brokers and the Indiana Democratic Party came out in support of Brendan Mullen.  Ruiz and Republican Jackie Walorski are the other candidates in the race.  I think that without Straw in this race that it actually works out better for Mullen to not have someone directly competing with him for liberal votes.

The 2nd District seat is open with Joe Donnelly currently running for Senate.

Friday, July 27, 2012

New Mourdock Ad Invokes Daniels

Richard Mourdock's new ad attempts to link Joe Donnelly to Barack Obama's policies and tries to cast him in the light of a big spender and a tax raiser.  One other thing that the ad tries to do is to link Mourdock to Governor Mitch Daniels.

This may seem odd to political junkies. You may remember that in the months leading up to the May Primary that one of the biggest supporters of Mourdock's opponent, Senator Richard Lugar, was Mitch Daniels. He cut two very effective ads for Senator Lugar. After the votes were counted, Daniels did stand on the same stage as Mourdock in a show of support and solidarity for the Indiana GOP, but it was clear that Daniels cast his lot with Lugar for the Senator's experience, clout, and knowledge. That, however, is only part of the story.

Last month, Governor Daniels accepted the job to be the next President of Purdue University.  As part of the process of becoming a non-political university president, Daniels unloaded his PAC's sizable warchest and pledged to not campaign in the upcoming election season except to defend his own administration's record.  Daniels was quoted in the Indianapolis Star as saying, "No campaigning...No commenting about anybody's campaign in the state, out of the state, anywhere at all. No fundraising. Nothing."

Now, his name shows up in a prominent ad for Mourdock.  Was this Mourdock going rogue and simply including Daniels' name in his ad?  Did Mitch Daniels approve the use of his name in the ad?  If he did approve his name being used in the ad, then is this a break of the promises he made against campaigning?  Finally, if he did not approve the use of his name, will he call out Richard Mourdock and ask him to withdraw the ad?

Many interesting questions to answer for both the Governor and Mr. Mourdock.

To be fair, Joe Donnelly also has a new ad out where he invokes the name of Richard Lugar.  Still, I think the Mourdock ad requires more explaining given that Daniels swore off politics.

Here's the Donnelly ad:

Innocent Bystander, K-9 Officer Gunned Down in Pendleton

K-9 Officer Kilo

The law enforcement community is mourning the loss of a K-9 officer today as a family and community also comes to grips with the loss of a person who was just simply in the wrong place at the wrong time.

Anderson K-9 Officer Kilo was gunned down in the line of duty last night in Pendleton.  Also killed was, John Shull, an innocent bystander who, according to the Indianapolis Star, was simply driving by the scene of the shooting when he was struck by a bullet.  The Star reports that Officer Marty Dulworth, Kilo's partner, was shot in both legs and is now at St. Vincent Hospital.  The alleged shooter, Kenneth Bailey, was found dead from a self-inflicted gunshot wound, according to the Star.

My thoughts go out to the family and friends of John Shull, and I also send thoughts out to the Anderson Police Department and everyone in the law enforcement community over the loss of Officer Kilo. Get well soon Officer Dulworth.

The Tiff over TIFs

Mayor TIF Veto
Mayor Greg Ballard
The kumbaya atmosphere that the Indianapolis Star recently portrayed between the City-County Council and Mayor Greg Ballard a few weeks ago seems to have seen its campfire extinguished as partisan squabbling and legitimate concerns have taken over the campground.

Mayor Ballard has become Mayor Veto and has been killing Democratically-supported proposals to help support janitors and hotel workers as well as the legal redistricting plans the Democrats have passed with bipartisan support. Now some are taking some Democratic Councillors’ legitimate concerns over the expansion of TIF (Tax Increment Financing) districts as a retaliatory move.

My friend, Pat Andrews, has done extensive work exposing the problems with TIF Districts over on her blog, Had Enough Indy. Pat sometimes gets a bad rap from Republicans for being a partisan Democrat and from Democrats for bucking the slate and running for City-County Council At-Large in the 2011 Primary. The truth is that few people in Marion County really truly understand how TIFs work. Pat is a tireless advocate for neighborhoods.  You can see what she has to say on her blog, Had Enough Indy, linked here.

What I know is that while private business and developers tend to benefit from a TIF, local communities often suffer through the loss of tax revenue that could go back to things like schools, fire service, parks, and libraries. TIF districts take the property tax money collected within the TIF and turn that over for the development of a property. While it’s not strictly corporate welfare, it kind of is close, and, as Pat Andrews has pointed out, when no justification or data is generated for a particular TIF in a particular spot with a particular footprint, it does nothing to mollify concerns by the public.

There are other issues, too.  When the TIF collects more money than it needs, the money still does not go back to the local community. For example, the downtown TIF was raided last year by the Republican-led City-County Council and Mayor Ballard to prop up the budget.

Now Ballard has a point when he says that TIF districts have long been used to pay for the development of projects across Marion County and in the state. He’s absolutely right. As we have seen, though, the TIFs that are opened are rarely closed. Ways are found to continue to take that money away from the most local form of government and redistribute it elsewhere.

And, as we’ve seen in Decatur Township, when a development is found outside the TIF district that might actually help the tax base in a community, sometimes government agencies like the Airport Authority oppose them and try to bully private business out.

I’m willing to give Ballard the benefit of the doubt on more TIFs if he would at least examine the working conditions our janitors and hotel workers deal with on a daily basis. He also needs to give the Democratic Council a chance to do redistricting under the law. Until then, I’m going to assume that these new TIF districts are just more ways to help his campaign donors. After all, that’s probably what he thinks about things like the Freedom to Work proposal.

Thursday, July 26, 2012

Bauer Out

Rep. Linda Lawson
Indiana House Democrats have given the old heave ho to their leader, Representative Pat Bauer, and have replaced him with Hammond Democrat Linda Lawson, the House Democrats' Floor Leader.

Here is the release from the Indiana House Democrats:

Indiana House Democrats Elect New Leadership 
For immediate release: 
July 26, 2012 
INDIANAPOLIS - Members of the Indiana House Democratic Caucus met today in Lafayette to address leadership issues within the party. The caucus ended with a vote to appoint Linda Lawson (D-Hammond) as the new leader of the House Democrats, replacing B. Patrick Bauer (D-South Bend). Bauer has held the leadership position since 2002. 
“The majority of our members have spoken,” said Lawson, who has served as floor leader for the past two years. “We met, discussed, and decided to take steps to move our party forward, including making a change in our leadership. After serving Indiana House District 1 since 1998, I’m honored to be placed in this position at such a critical time for our party.”
Lawson is a 24-year veteran of the Hammond Police Department, becoming the first female captain to serve the department after working as a patrol officer and a member of the sex crimes and domestic violence divisions. The knowledge and experience she gained in those capacities has helped influence much of the legislation she has championed. Lawson currently serves on several committees of the Indiana House of Representatives, including: Statutory Committee on Ethics, Select Committee on Government Reduction, and Public Policy. 
Lawson attended Indiana University, and is very active in her hometown community of Hammond. She serves on numerous boards and committees in Lake County, including the Woman’s Bureau, the Humane Society, the Historical Society, and the Boys & Girls Club, to name a few. 
“Pat has done many positive things over the course of his leadership term, doing a great job of securing funding for schools and leading efforts to assist many of the underprivileged and underserved around the state,” said Lawson. “I don’t want to take anything away from his successes, but when the members of our caucus look for leadership, they have decided to go in a different, more positive direction.”

Pat Bauer also released a statement congratulating Lawson and praising her leadership abilities.   More from the Indianapolis Star, here.

It's Not Personal, Rep. Bauer

Rep. B. Patrick Bauer
Pat Bauer says that he's not stepping down continuing the real potential for a nasty civil war between Indiana House Democrats.

House Dems met yesterday in Lafayette to test the water for a leadership change.  It's unclear as to whether anything in Lafayette would be official or not.  That said, while the other Dems were in Lafayette, Bauer was singing like a canary.

Bauer went public with his side of the story yesterday, and, in an article by Mary Beth Schneider in yesterday's Indianapolis Star.  In the article, Schneider writes that Bauer believes that, in addition to his leadership of the party, that much of the reason he's lost control of his caucus is because he's too old or too short or doesn't have enough hair.  REALLY?

For me, this has nothing to do with personal things like that. For me, it comes down to leadership, and Bauer is leading Democrats in the wrong direction in this state. His vote for House Joint Resolution 6 which would write marriage discrimination into the Indiana Constitution is just one example. While his much-publicized and applauded walkouts succeeded in holding up bad legislation, in the end, the Republicans got exactly what they wanted. Then, Democrats got shafted in the redistricting process. Under Bauer, the Democrats have gone from in control to out of control and now way out of control.

Rather than learning from his mistakes or changing his tactics, Bauer's relying on his hard line playbook and is doing everything he can do to try to stay in power. Bauer's not too old or too short, but he's too out of touch.

Some out there in D land are saying to let sleeping dogs lie on this one and don't worry about replacing Bauer until after the election, but, I say it's best to do it whenever it can be done because it will hasten the healing process.

Timing for this change is not perfect, but, with all due respect Rep. Bauer, as I said last week, it's time to step down as the leader of the Democrats in the House and let someone else have a chance.

Pat Bauer has been deposed.  Linda Lawson takes over as caucus leader until January.  See post.

Sunday, July 22, 2012

In Memoriam: Remembering the Colorado Shooting Victims

Photo from Denver's KUSA, 9News

So many times I have sat in a movie theater and looked at the exit doors up front, but I never thought of a crazed gunman busting through one.  Now, because of what happened in Colorado early Friday morning, I will.

I hope I never see what those people in Theater 9 of the Century Cinema 16 in Aurora, Colorado saw coming through that door.  You never can tell.  Nothing is ever certain in this life.  That's the long term cost of this horrible event for me.  Thinking about what if for a while now every time I'm in a movie theater.

For the survivors of the shooting, it will be far different.  My horror is their reality.  They saw someone come busting through that door and gun down friends and strangers.  They will never be the same.  For them, life changed in a few moments.

For the victims and their families and friends, it may sound like an understatement, but so much has been taken.  The 12 people that lost their lives had a variety of careers and experiences.  On July 20, 2012, their many different life threads brought them together to be entertained.  Their life threads would be cut short.  Every one of them.  The families now will live with the losses.  Knowing how senseless these killings were, it can't make it any easier.

Still, we hear stories of human sacrifice.  People diving in front of each other and taking bullets for their friends or family members.  We hear how people went back into the theater after the shooting stopped to help.  We are reminded that in the face of terror and horror that people come together to show how good we can be.

Today, I want to take a moment and express my deepest condolences to all the victims, their families and friends, and to the entire Denver community.  I also want to send a special get well thought to all the survivors.  I want to praise the first responders.  They were on the scene in 90 seconds, according to news reports and quickly apprehended the alleged shooter.

In honor of the victims, this blog will go dark until Thursday.  No posting until then.  Please take the time you normally take reading this blog to think about the victims, the survivors, and all those affected by this horrible tragedy.  Don't take one moment for granted.

Friday, July 20, 2012

Michelle Obama's Event in Indy Canceled

In light of the horrible events in Colorado early this morning, the Obama Campaign has canceled First Lady Michelle Obama's campaign visit in Indianapolis on Sunday.  We hear that it will be rescheduled.

Live Out the String!

Live out the String!  This song has so much meaning today as we come to grips with another senseless tragedy.  Songs like this are a little ray of hope in this mean world.  Incidentally, Marc Cohn wrote this song after his own brush with death.  Wonderful song from one underrated singer.

Thanks to Steve Terrell for sharing this song with me, initially.

Tragedy in Colorado Makes Us Ask: Why?

The Dark Night Rises premiered in theaters across the country last night, but, in one Colorado theater, something dark happened with, so far, no explanation.

An armed gunman dressed in riot gear allegedly broke into an Aurora movie theater and dropped a gas canister.  Then, the gunman allegedly began methodically shooting moviegoers.  At press time 12 people are dead and several more are injured and wounded.

As always in these situations, the first question that must be answered is, "Why?

The alleged gunman, 24-year-old James Holmes, is in custody.  Hopefully, we will find out why.  Victims in the case were as young as three months old.

My thoughts and prayers are with the victims and those wounded as well as all the families and all the people that were in that movie theater.

Friday Hodge Podge: First Lady Visits; Obama Counterattacks; Mayfield's Ad

First Lady Michelle Obama

On Sunday, the First Lady, Michelle Obama, will be in Indianapolis to raise some money at a reception.  Guests are asked to show up at 4:00 p.m.  You must register as well through the campaign's website.  The event is at Lucas Oil Stadium.

This visit shows that the Obama campaign is still keeping Indiana on the radar screen.  President Obama has been to Indiana a handful of times since he became President, and Joe Biden has, too.  If the President can force Romney to spend some cash in Indiana, that is less cash he has to spend elsewhere.

We'll see what happens.

Obama Counterattack

Meanwhile, President Barack Obama has counterattacked the Mitt Romney campaign's distortion of his comments in Virginia last weekend on small businesses.  This is just a web ad, but I think it's spot on.

Are we sure she's a Republican?

State Representative candidate Peggy Mayfield already has ads up for her state representative race in House District 60.  She's running against longtime incumbent, Democrat Peggy Welch.  The new 60th District runs all the way from Lake Monroe up to Mooresville only clipping the Eastside of Bloomington and including the entire city of Martinsville.

The old House District 60 just essentially horseshoed around Bloomington. The new district will be incredibly tough to hold.

You can see how the district has changed by looking at Mayfield's ad. You can literally check off the GOP/Tea Party talking points.

Thursday, July 19, 2012

Ballard Dumps Freedom to Work, Redistricting Proposals

The City-County Council passed the Freedom to Work proposal on Monday by a party-line vote, but they passed a redistricting funding plan by a bi-partisan vote.

It didn't matter.  Greg Ballard just overwrote the will of the people again with his veto of both proposals.

Ballard is becoming quite adept at using his mayoral veto, which is within his powers under Indiana Code.  It's unlikely that the Democrats on the Council will be able to overturn the veto...which takes 20 of the 29 votes.

I'm sorry for the folks that worked so hard to get that Freedom to Work Proposal passed.  Thanks to Mayor Ballard, economic opportunities for hotel workers to pick up jobs at other hotels will be curtailed.

I'm also sorry for the public, who had little input into the redistricting proposal rushed through in the Republican majority's lame duck time on the City-County Council last year.

Just another day in the life of Mayor Veto.

City-County Council President, Maggie Lewis, doesn't sound pleased.  I think the campfires and kumbaya atmosphere touted by the Indianapolis Star a few weeks ago is over.  Here is her statement.

To say that we are disappointed in the Mayors decision to veto Proposal 179 and Proposal 273 which directly impact the well-being of Indianapolis residents is an understatement.

Proposal 179 clears the path for hotel workers in our community to earn a livable wage by eliminating obstacles placed before them while seeking dual employment within their chosen industry. To veto this proposal is reprehensible and communicates an intent of keeping this segment of our community at a lowered income level. This failure to allow individuals the opportunity to provide for their families by earning a livable income in today's economy is an embarrassment.

Deeply as disturbing is the decision to veto Proposal 273. This Proposal included money owed to the Council for redistricting. We are obligated by law to execute a redistricting plan. His actions communicate that the Mayor will stop at nothing to derail the efforts of the Council to pursue a bi-partisan working environment. But I will continue to fight for those who do not have a voice.

Eat More Crow

Chick-fil-A President Dan Cathy decided to shoot off his mouth about his company's opposition gay marriage the other day to a Baptist news outlet, and a firestorm of controversy erupted.

That led the company to release this statement on its Facebook page today:

The Chick-fil-A culture and service tradition in our restaurants is to treat every person with honor, dignity and respect – regardless of their belief, race, creed, sexual orientation or gender. We will continue this tradition in the over 1,600 Restaurants run by independent Owner/Operators. Going forward, our intent is to leave the policy debate over same-sex marriage to the government and political arena. 
Chick-fil-A is a family-owned and family-led company serving the communities in which it operates. From the day Truett Cathy started the company, he began applying biblically-based principles to managing his business. For example, we believe that closing on Sundays, operating debt-free and devoting a percentage of our profits back to our communities are what make us a stronger company and Chick-fil-A family. 
Our mission is simple: to serve great food, provide genuine hospitality and have a positive influence on all who come in contact with Chick-fil-A.
I suppose this is as close to an apology as gay families are going to get from this "biblically-based" company. I wouldn't expect a lot of LGBT business nor the business of people that support marriage equality. If you want a "positive influence" on those that come "in contact" with your company, cut the crap and stop hiding behind the Bible and support marriage equality.

Chick-fil-A does return profits back to the community. I won't knock them there, but this company is in it to make a profit. They pay themselves first. In that regard, the company is no better than KFC, Church's, Popeye's, or any other fast food joint. Those companies give back to the community in many ways I'm sure and don't ask for credit. Wrapping a fast food restaurant in the pages of the good book just brings in those evangelical dollars and makes Chick-fil-A a martyr of sorts being unfairly attacked from the left.

And, finally, for those of you trying to link this controversy to the non-troversy from a couple of weeks ago involving Congressman Andre Carson's statements on teaching methods in madrassas, don't. The two situations aren't even remotely the same. Congressman Carson was not actively promoting intolerance and discrimination. Cathy was.

Super Again?

Yesterday, Mayor Greg Ballard announced that Indianapolis will be bidding again for one of the signature sporting events in the world, the Super Bowl.  While the chatter around the city and on some of the sports talk shows was pretty gung ho on the idea, I must admit that I'm a little concerned.

We are coming off one of the best Super Bowl's in history from an organizational standpoint, and it happened right here.  Indianapolis did a fabulous job hosting the Super Bowl, and it would be extraordinary for us to get another one just six years after the first one.  It would do great things for this city's prestige and its position on the world stage.  I am absolutely not opposed to it.  I would just hope that along the way we would make sure our financial house is in order.

When I first heard about the prospect of another bid, my initial reaction was strongly against it.  My friends on Facebook from both sides of the aisle talked me down from the ledge by telling me that oftentimes cities lose money in order to gain money on the back end and in the future.  I'm not sure I agree with that mentality, but it is hard for me to say another Super Bowl would be all bad for Indy.  I can't jump to that extreme.

I just find it a big hard to swallow when I know we have a budget deficit coming up, and, thanks to the state's incredibly tight wallet, it doesn't look like we can expect any of the cuts to local government funding to come flowing back in.  If we don't find a way to change things at the city level, our deficits are going to get bigger and bigger.  Can we really afford an expensive bid?

I guess the big question will be: What's in the bid?  After all, Indianapolis now knows how to run a successful Super Bowl.  The city is probably more adept than most at running events of that size and scope than many other cities in the United States, and there should not be a whole lot of extra expenditures needed in building up infrastructure as we've seen the city spend tons of cash doing that for the 2012 event.  

On the other hand, you can't just photocopy the bid for the 2012 Super Bowl and send it through again.  Something will have to be changed and different.  I get that, and it only makes sense.

I guess, as I get to my point, all I'm saying is that we just need to make sure Indy's priorities are met first.  It's kind of like paying all your bills first and putting money away in the savings account before you go out to Fogo de Chao for that expensive dinner.  Sure, the dinner's going to be delicious, but it's going to cost you.

Indy must make sure that public safety is, as Mayor Ballard has said, truly job one. We need to make sure that our libraries and parks are funded. We need to make sure that our budget is in order. While bidding for this next Super Bowl, we need to make sure that Indianapolis doesn't end up like some of those other municipalities out there that are finding themselves deep in the hole.

It's going to be a different landscape for Mayor Ballard this time around.  He can't count on 14 votes (plus Ed Coleman) on the City-County Council.  He now has Maggie Lewis and the Democrats in charge there...even if he won't meet with them or hardly acknowledge their existence at times.  He's going to need a little more acumen and finesse this time around.  I believe my concerns here will likely be met in this process.

It could be a win for the city if it's played the right way.  Let's hope that we can find a good way to take care of both our city's priorities and bidding for the next big event.

I received an e-mail from someone saying that I was being a little tough on Ed Coleman and his time on the Council.  They pointed out a number of votes where Coleman actually stood out against the Mayor.  Thus, I cross that line out and say, if he's reading...SORRY ED.  

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

It's Time for a Change

Rep. Pat Bauer
(D-South Bend)
There's been a lot of political speculation over the future of B. Patrick Bauer's tenure as the leader of the Indiana House Democratic Caucus this past week.  It's been the subject of blog posts and news reports.  For now, he remains, but it's clear that his grasp on the leadership role is loosening.

Bauer is an old school politician for sure.  He can give a fiery stump speech and hurl political attacks with the best of them.  We've also seen he can vote to put discrimination into the Indiana Constitution.  I know he's a hero to many union members, but, after that vote, I can't support him as the leader of our caucus.

It's time for a change and for some new ideas. The question is: where do you go from here? The Indiana Democratic Party is in such a weakened condition statewide that the Indiana House and the Indiana Senate are both getting out of reach. The failure to maintain the majority in 2010 and the expansion of that majority in 2012 has given the Republicans 60 seats. Old school political tactics aren't going to take them back. Democrats need new leadership from within the caucus.

That caucus will look different from an experience perspective in January. Longtime Representatives like Bill Crawford and John Day, who have served with distinction, will be on the sidelines. Big thinkers like Mary Ann Sullivan will hopefully be in the Senate. Then there's Scott Reske trying to work his way into Congress. Those changes are just in and around Marion County. With even more changes around the state, it only makes sense to change the leadership role.

Pat Bauer has run his course. He needs to step aside or be moved aside for someone else. Bauer has served his caucus and Indiana pretty well, but now it's time for someone else to lead and start to build the party again. It's going to be tough, but new tactics will be a welcome sign of change.

Stewart Levels Romney on Business Experience

If anyone was watching The Daily Show with Jon Stewart on Monday night, they got an absolute classic expose from the host on Mitt Romney and Bain Capital.  Sit back, relax, and enjoy.  The Obama campaign couldn't have asked for a more easily accessible argument.

Man, Mitt Romney can flip flop!

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Ajabu Appears Out of Gas

Rev. Mmoja Ajabu
Reverend Mmoja Ajabu has been ruled out of the race for 7th District Congress by Marion County Voter Registration, according to WTLC's Amos Brown.

Brown says that Ajabu failed to get the number of signatures needed to appear on the ballot.

On Facebook, Ajabu has a different tone.  He insists that he's still in the race and that he has enough signatures.  After a long Facebook exchange over this report and many other topics, I said that it sounded like his car had blown its engine and was missing a tire in the race for Congress.

This is his response:
"Wrong analysis. Sounds like the Marion County Voters Registration is trying to make the car look broken. The car is good. And it will run in the race and win!! YOU READY?? Stay tuned. The best is yet to come!!...Buckle up!! It is going to be a rough ride. We are going to win with the truth the whole truth and nothing but the truth. If you can't stand the truth then get out the way!"
He also accused Brown, former City-County Council candidate Annette Johnson and me of being apologists.  For what???  I don't know.  It appears he thinks that there's some corruption in government keeping him out of the race.

Even if he were in the race against Andre Carson and Carlos May, I would say that his chances of winning are the same chances as a snowball's chance of surviving in Hell, but I think the snowball might actually have a better opportunity.

City-County Council Passes Two Important Proposals

Two major City-County Council proposals were passed at last night's meeting that will have a major impact on workers and voters in Marion County.

As I reported last night, the Freedom to Work proposal passed the full Council on a 16-12 party-line vote.  Councillor Marilyn Pfisterer was out of town last night and was not present at the meeting.  The debate on the proposal happened in front of a jam-packed Council chambers that featured several hundred supporters of the Freedom to Work Proposal and a much smaller contingent in opposition to the proposal.

In the end, despite a lecture on the technicalities of the ordinance from Republican Ben Hunter and a reasoned opposition statement from Republican Jeff Miller, the proposal passed.  Councillor Duke Oliver spoke in strong support of the ordinance comparing the actions of the hotels to the actions of plantation holders at the end of reconstruction.

Also passing last night was a proposal to allow more public input into the redistricting process.  As you may remember, Council Republicans jammed through a no-bid contract redistricting plan at the end of 2011.  Democrats say that plan did not get fully vetted by the public.  Since the Mayor shot down the Democrats' plan earlier this summer and an override of the veto could not be obtained, Councillor Brian Mahern is trying again to get public input through the Common Cause website.  That proposal passed, 18-10.

Unfortunately, the Mayor is likely to veto both proposals.  He has become Mayor Veto lately.  Speaking of vetoes, the Mayor's veto of the Council Resolution supporting janitors stood by a party-line 16-12 vote. To override the veto, four more votes were necessary.

Monday, July 16, 2012


Tonight, on a party-line vote, the City-County Council stood up for hotel workers and voted to pass the Freedom to Work Proposal that is the big first step towards ending blacklisting of hotel workers and opening up other avenues of employment for them within the industry.

As I drove home, I watched this amazing cloud form.  By the time I was home, it was unmistakable to me.  It's the POWER TO THE PEOPLE cloud.

The Mayor, like this cloud, will certainly disappear on the proposal.  He will likely veto it as he's become Mayor Veto these days.  That said, for one night, the power of the people reigned over Indianapolis.  Let's hope the Mayor does not bow to the hotel industry and sides with the workers.

Time to Fold in New Narrative for Obama

President Barack Obama
President Barack Obama has spent a lot of money and effort trying to paint his opponent, Mitt Romney, as an outsourcer and someone that you can't trust.  The result has been, at best, mixed.  That's why I think it's time to fold in some new narratives.

I don't spend a lot of time talking about national politics on this blog, so this post is probably a little longer than most.  You may or not agree with me, and I get that.  Please don't get me wrong.  I have been on the Barack Bandwagon from the beginning.  When he gave the famous speech at the 2004 Democratic National Convention, I really began to pay attention to him.  When he announced he was running for President in early 2007, I began attending the meetings for his campaign locally.  It was fun to feel a part of a movement, and, for the most part, I am proud of the man I voted for.  He promised hope and change in 2008, and I think we've seen a lot of change.

His accomplishments are numerous, and he has continued to operate in the Oval Office in a different manner than many of his predecessors.  Despite this fact, we all must come to grips with the fact that a reelection campaign is a referendum on the incumbent.

In that regard, Mitt Romney has an easy job.  He must simply prove that the incumbent needs to be voted out.  It's not so much about him; it's about Obama.  Romney has done a fairly decent job of this so far.  His message on many things has been, "Obama did A.  I'll do B and more with C."   For example, his message on the Affordable Care Act has been that Obama passed it, so he will repeal it.  After he repeals it, he will replace it.

Obama's job is tougher.  He must defend his record, but he must create a narrative that Romney is not right to replace him.  It's a two front battlefield.  You have to protect your flank, though.  That flank is the record. Right now, I see Obama as leaving his flank exposed.  Romney has not been so aggressive yet, so it's time to fortify the flank.

I think it's time to fold in a new narrative, and the President already has the tools available.  President Obama is very good with the public in one-on-one situations.  On his YouTube channel, there are many personal interaction videos showing the President sitting down with ordinary Americans and talking policy.  The latest was from a campaign stop in Iowa where President Obama sat down at a family kitchen table over a cup of coffee.  These are the kinds of ads and videos we need to start seeing.  They will bolster his record and show that the attacks there are unwarranted.  Excellent videos like this one can be edited down into 30 second or one minute ads.

Also, no one should underestimate the power of Joe Biden as a campaigner.  This is someone who has spent his entire Senate career as one of the most poor legislators in Washington.  Biden is a guy who literally took the train back to Delaware every week.  He knows how to power the people.  Joe Biden must be turned loose on Romney and to defend this administration's record.  Here's another excellent video from Obama's YouTube page.

In all of this, the President cannot forget that the true villain in all of this is the Congress.  Some may say he's blaming others for his own ability to not get things done.  In reality, the Republicans called their shots from nearly day one when the leadership got together and agreed to make life difficult for Obama.  Republicans in both houses made it their personal pledge to derail President Obama from day one.  This narrative needs to get out.  Mitch McConnell's quotes about making the President a one-termer need to be heard by everyone.  It will become more clear and apparent what's going on here.  Bipartisanship is on life support.  That is sad, and it's a message that will resonate.

Obama has an easy job in making Mitt Romney look bad.  Romney does a good job of it himself, and I think the President and his surrogates need to keep that story going.  It's time to broaden the battlefield and take this fight to Romney and his Republican friends that SETTLED for him.

Saturday, July 14, 2012

Nothing to See Here...

Per the Associated Press, the Lafayette Journal & Courier did a report on the Purdue Trustees and their business holdings campaign contributions.

Should we be surprised that the search committee and the trustees donated several thousands of dollars to Mitch Daniels in his campaign for Governor?  After all, eight of the 10 trustees were appointed by Daniels himself, according to the Journal & Courier report.

Purdue officials continue to say that none of this had anything to do with his appointment.  I guess there's nothing to see here...

Friday, July 13, 2012

Thinking Out Loud

Yesterday, over a lunch at Bru Burger Bar downtown on Mass Ave., I did some thinking about the blog and the direction it's headed.

Putting together something for nearly every day of the year is not always easy. Some blog posts write themselves, and, others, well...it's like pulling teeth through my nostrils. I just try to keep things consistent and true to my own values and true to what I think you might want to read. I try to keep my posts short, sweet, and to the point. I try to throw in a little humor where I can, and I try not to tie up too much time. If I can't do something succinctly, I'm not going to do it at all here. I don't have the time to write it, and you don't have the time to read it. Many times, I'll start banging out a blog post and realize it's going nowhere. Those posts end up on the editing room floor, so to speak. You never see them.

Why I'm having this introspective streak? Well, I honestly don't know where this blog is going from here, and that is ok. I feel as if we have accomplished a lot together, but I honestly wonder what more could we do? What is the next step? Frankly, I wonder sometimes why anyone cares what I have to say or what makes people stop by over breakfast, a cup of coffee, or whenever you read me.

What's funny is that every time I feel that way, I get a comment or an e-mail or I meet someone that keeps me going. Before I went to Bru yesterday, I met someone that told me they read my posts everyday. It honestly humbles me each time I hear those comments from someone I've met or, in yesterday's case, someone I've never met before. That's like a rush of hot air into my balloon, and I rise on that energy.

Anyway, enough blog soul searching. I just want you all to know how much I appreciate your readership no matter where you come from, how you found me, or whether or not we know each other. The fact that you take a part of your day to read my ramblings here is extremely appreciated.

I'm not going anywhere for a while, and I don't know what's next. This blog will always be an integral part of what I do as a political commentator. As long as you keep reading, I'll keep writing.

In the words of Tom Bodett, "We'll leave the light on for you."

Thursday, July 12, 2012

Donnelly's Latest Ad Spotlights "That Guy"

Freedom to Work Proposal Could Level Playing Field

Beurt SerVaas Public Assembly Room
at the City-County Building
On Monday, the City-County Council has a chance to strike a blow for freedom and equality in our city with the passage of the "Freedom to Work" proposal.

If you don't know what the proposal is about, indulge me for a few moments.

Imagine. You work for a company that has a contract to provide office or teaching or whatever services to several large companies in a given downtown area. You work long, hard hours perhaps even working through your lunch hour.  Your check is coming up a few hours short as well, but you're afraid to say anything because you know you have a job and are afraid of retaliation from your boss.  It's not so easy for you to just drop everything and try to find another job.  You feel trapped.

Good news, though. One of the companies that your company contracts with has a position that opens up. You are a well-qualified person for the job, and it offers benefits that you don’t have right now. You know that the job is a better one than you may have now, so you anxiously apply. 

Unfortunately, you are told you cannot apply for that job because you work for the contracted company. You must wait one year after leaving the contracted company before you can apply for the job.  Seem unfair?  Well, this is what’s happening in our own community to hotel workers. 

Proposal 179 is hoping to change all of that.  If passed into law, the ordinance would make it impossible for a hotel to obtain a license if they enter a contract and continue to allow the practices of these contracted service companies to continue.

Here is the exact wording in the critical portion of the proposal.
(c) As a condition of procuring an annual license and maintaining it after it is procured, the licensee or license applicant shall not be party to any agreement that prevents the licensee or license applicant from hiring employees of any contracting service at the hotel. Upon request, the licensee or license applicant shall present any agreement for contracting service at the hotel to the office of corporation counsel to ensure compliance with this section.

Council Republicans say that this dictates to a private business how they can operate. I honestly don't think that holds water for me. The way I see it, the proposal doesn’t dictate who the hotels can or cannot hire. It only levels the playing field for certain applicants that can really use it. Council Vice President Brian Mahern is the sponsor of the proposal, and the Democratic caucus is in favor. Mayor Ballard, however, could veto the proposal.

Supporters of the proposal are asking for people to attend the Council meeting on Monday in support and solidarity with the hotel workers in this city.  They ask that people attending who are backing the proposal to  wear red in support.  Meeting time is 7:00 p.m. at the Beurt SerVaas Public Assembly Room on the second floor of the City-County Building.

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Garrison Continues Unfair Carson Attacks

Congressman Andre Carson
The Right Wing Extreme Express otherwise known as the Garrison Program on WIBC continues. Today’s stop…Congressman AndrĂ© Carson.

This morning, Greg Garrison spent about a half an hour tying Congressman Carson to the Muslim Brotherhood and Sharia Law with some presumably far right wing think tank person whose name I can't recall at this juncture. Of course, this was all based on a 90 second quote on education that most in the mainstream media (not on Fox News) have reported was lifted completely out of context by Breitbart.com. The Congressman is the latest Democrat to get “Breitbarted”.

I sure am glad that I’m not judged on 90 seconds of what I say.

Here’s what I don’t get. If Congressman Carson is such a supporter of Sharia Law, then where is he on the record touting his support of it? Surely there must be some audio somewhere (there isn't).

Secondly, if Congressman Carson supports Sharia Law, then why is he my friend? Why is he a member of the LGBT Equality Caucus? If he supported Sharia Law, that wouldn't be possible.  Sharia Law views homosexuality as a sin and a crime under Islamic Law.

Finally, last time I checked, Congressman Carson has a strong wife behind him with her own career and her own opinions. Congressman Carson has a good relationship with the Jewish community here in Indianapolis, and he even visited Israel and had an audience with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.  We all know how Sharia Law followers feel about Jewish folks and how the deplorable way they treat women.

I challenge Mr. Garrison to look deeper and to stop spreading these vicious lies about Congressman Carson. There is simply no evidence anywhere that the Congressman supports or ever has supported the Muslim Brotherhood or Sharia Law. I have asked the Congressman directly in the past if he supports Sharia Law, and I think his response was an incredulous, “Come on Easter!”

Unfortunately, it seems beyond Garrison’s ability to understand that someone can be a Muslim and not allow that faith to control every last bit of his or her life. It appears that Garrison also can’t separate out that not all Muslims believe in Sharia or identify with the more radical side of the religion. Christians are able to do that. I mean, there are radical Christians, and I’m starting to believe Mr. Garrison might be one. Everything seems to be a holy war sometimes on his mis and dis-information hour.

Yeah, Greg Garrison is all about God and country on his show. I wonder if he believes and adheres to everything that is in the Bible? That Old Testament is pretty brutal. I know one thing that Garrison apparently doesn’t abide by that’s in the Good Book, “Judge not lest ye be judged.”

Ballard Speaks Loudly with Refusal to Sign Resolution

Mayor Greg Ballard
A few weeks ago, the City-County Council voted 15-12 to pass an official resolution that simply "encourages the rights of janitors to a livable wage, health insurance, job security, safe working conditions, and a union contract.” Well, the time for action has passed, and Greg Ballard refused to sign the resolution.

As Jon Murray reported in his Monday Deep Fried Politics blog entry, this may or may not constitute a veto of the resolution. Ballard's camp did not provide any reason for a veto of the resolution, and that's something Murray called "unusual." The effect, as Ballard's Office, pointed out is the same as a veto.

The difference here is striking. The Democrats on the City-County Council have chosen to stand with janitors. The Mayor has chosen to stand in opposition. I guess that doesn't surprise me.

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Disturbing Package Sent to May Fundraiser

Carlos May
Last week, Andre Carson was the victim of some stupidity over some extreme-ly not controversial comments on education.  This week, it looks like his opponent, Carlos May, is the recipient in a different way.

Some sophomoric jerk, at best, apparently thought it would be funny to send Carlos a bouquet of dead flowers to one of his recent fundraisers.  At worst, it could be something more sinister.  Gary Welsh over at Advance Indiana has the story.  It's easy to make the claim, as Welsh did, that someone is "trying to send" May some sort of message. It appears now that IMPD is on the case.

Actions such as these are just not tolerable in my view. People need to have some perspective here. You have two individuals who have decided to put their lives on hold for a few months to campaign and compete to represent us in Congress. That action deserves our respect. It's things like this that keep people (like me) from running for office.

Gregg On Message As He Enters Campaign Primetime

Democratic Nominee John Gregg
Talks to Decatur Township Democrats
John Gregg was back in Marion County on Monday night talking strategy with the Decatur Township Democratic Club as he tries to find a way to win in November.

Fresh off a press conference where he took the Daniels Administration to task over cuts to the Department of Childhood Services budget, Gregg was in a positive mood talking to a full room of supporters about his chances.  "We are going to win," said Gregg.

Gregg said he believes his campaign will win in Marion and Lake Counties.  He also said that the campaign was targeting Southern Indiana Democrats.  "They are down from where I'm from.  I call them backslidin' Democrats," said Gregg.  He said that those are the kinds of Democrats that were Reagan Democrats in the 1980's.  The final group, Gregg called "Lugar Republicans".

He said that the numbers show that Lugar Republicans live largely in urban areas and do not subscribe to some of the more ideological rhetoric put out there by others.  He said that these folks believe in bipartisanship and getting things done.

Gregg's other message of the evening was about jobs.  He talked about putting Hoosiers to work making goods and services that can be used and consumed right here in the Hoosier State.  He talked about Indiana's manufacturing base and putting Hoosiers back to work with good paying jobs.  Gregg also mentioned farming and the life sciences as key.

Now, the next step for Gregg is filling in some details and getting that message to the airwaves.  I think he's the right candidate at the right time for this election, but the next step is going to be combatting Mike Pence on a number of battlefields where he won't be the best equipped candidate financially.  If Gregg can make up some ground there, he can do some damage in November with this strong message of "From Indiana. For Indiana".

Monday, July 9, 2012

Donnelly's Best Message: He's Not Mourdock

Congressman Joe Donnelly
As I read Matt Tully's seeming endorsement of Joe Donnelly in the Indianapolis Star, I was struck again by exactly what makes Donnelly a more appealing choice this November than the alternatives.

Tully says that Donnelly has a great message, but it's not that his message is so inspiring to me or anything.  The choice that I will make in the voter's booth in November comes down to the fact that Donnelly's the candidate that's not named Richard Mourdock with an actual chance to win.

Yeah, that's not a ringing endorsement, I know.  I was appalled by Donnelly's vote to find Attorney General Eric Holder in contempt of Congress.  However principled it might have been, I would have rather him stood up, like Andre Carson did, against this kangaroo court-type action by the Republicans in the House and walked out.  His other votes that I question include votes to redefine rape and to reaffirm DOMA.  Reluctantly, I can get over all that though because Richard Mourdock is more than just partisan.

Richard Mourdock an ideologue. His ideas extend far outside what the mainstream of the Republican Party is or once was. I think that's evident for a man that even has advocated, among a slew of other things, that we no longer directly elect Senators even though that has been in the Constitution since the beginning of the 20th Century. Those kinds of redefinitions of what is and isn't constitutional worry me.

Now, there are other choices in this race, that's true.  Libertarian Andy Horning is a nice man, but, despite his intelligence and knowledge, he has trouble convincing me that he can get enough votes to win as a Libertarian in Indiana.  It's never happened, and I fail to see how a guy that's run for Governor of Indiana and Mayor of Indianapolis as a Libertarian without pulling too many votes his way can win an expensive statewide election.  Horning is worthy of your vote, don't get me wrong.  I just want my vote to make a difference.  There's also some independent out there too, but, if he qualifies for the ballot, he has no shot.

That means that, even though I find many of his views troubling, I will cast my vote for Joe Donnelly.  I won't be enthusiastic about it, but I'm going to do it. Richard Mourdock is just too wrong for Indiana.

Friday, July 6, 2012

May Now Exploiting Carson Education Comment Non-Troversy

After pledging to me that he was a different kind of candidate than other Republican nominees in the 7th District in the past, Carlos May has released a statement that would seem to do prove the opposite.

It's a lesson in exploiting a non-troversy.  So, what does Carlos think is so controversial about Carson's remarks?  He never says, and it's nice to know he's still working on his education plan.

What didn't he understand about what Carson said?  I thought Andre was pretty clear that a strong curriculum and a variety of innovative, good teaching methods equals good results in schools.

Carlos is a good guy.  He should have let this one go by.  Here's the statement:

Anti-Carson Rhetoric Simply Hateful

The Honorable Congressman
Andre Carson
Someone I know retweeted a blog post from a website called "MoFo Politics" regarding Congressman Andre Carson's idea that United States public schools could benefit from secular and well-established teaching methods used in madrassas (and other public, religious, and private schools).

I clicked on the blog post, and I was horrified.  The post included a clip with the following introduction.

If America was still America, 5 guys in black with night vision goggles would make sure Andre Carson woke up in a cell in Guantanamo Bay next to his colleague Khalid Sheikh Mohammed…
Whenever I get hope about the future of our nation and our society, I read excrement like that statement, and it makes me wonder where we are and where we are going.  With rhetoric like this, I wonder if there's any hope to bridge the gaps between left and right.  If America was still America, one wouldn't right this crap on a blog.

Personally, I think it just highlights how difficult it is in America to say anything honest or to be a leader who happens to be Muslim.

I get that we have disagreements with each other, but it's one thing to disagree and completely another to say that a sitting member of Congress is a terrorist.

DFER Releases Scathing Response to ISTA Endorsement of Waltz

The Democrats for Education Reform released a pointed response to the Indiana State Teachers Association union endorsement of Republican Brent Waltz in the race for Senate District 36.  

You might remember, the ISTA shocked many people with its endorsement of Waltz over the Democrat, Mary Ann Sullivan, in the 2012 election.  Sullivan is not the ISTA's favorite Indiana House Member after she voted in favor of changing teacher evaluation methods in the state.  She also cast several votes which have benefited charter schools and other reforms.  She is, however, still staunchly against vouchers and stands staunchly against other harmful legislation that could further destroy our public education system as we know it.

The statement, released Tuesday, pretty much lays it all out there.  I thought about excerpting it, but I really don't know what I'd cut out so...here it is.

Indiana (DFER-IN) today blasted the Indiana State Teachers Association’s endorsement of radical Republican State Senator Brent Waltz, saying the move calls into question the credibility of the organization that claims to stand up for teachers across the state. 
DFER-IN executive director Larry Grau pointed to Waltz’s record in the state legislature, where he made votes that range from cutting public education funding to striking down provisions that protect teacher safety in schools. 
“The fact that ISTA would support Brent Waltz, who has a record of opposing nearly every principle they claim to uphold, strikes at the heart of the organization’s credibility,” said Grau. 
“Waltz, vote after vote, has attacked public education in our state and pushed extreme positions that would harm teachers and their ability to succeed in the classroom.” 
Grau noted where Waltz’s record stands in contrast to that of traditional ISTA policy stances, including his:

Votes against full-day kindergarten;
Opposition to a bill that made possession of a knife on school property a misdemeanor crime;
Support for cutting public school funding, especially to the state’s most needy inner city schools;
Votes to increase public tax dollars going to support private schools; and
Opposition to scholarships for children of wounded military veterans.

“Looking at the Waltz portfolio, you have to come away with one of two conclusions: either ISTA has radically changed its policy positions or it acted out of short-sighted spite,” Grau said.
Grau believes the latter, saying the move was motivated by their disagreements with Waltz’s opponent Mary Ann Sullivan, who has gotten crossways with ISTA for supporting policies like increasing teacher accountability. But Grau pointed out that Sullivan has sided with the teacher’s union on all of the aforementioned issues, as well as opposing private school vouchers and supporting increases in public education funding throughout her legislative tenure. 
“This move by ISTA is spiteful, plain and simple” Grau said, comparing the endorsement to an angry high schooler enacting revenge on their ex-boyfriend or girlfriend by showing up in public with another date. 
“Like a scorned teen, ISTA has shown up at the dance on the arm of someone who can help them get revenge. It just so happens that their date also wants to dismantle public education as we know it – something I doubt their membership is in favor of.” 
Grau said, “Our state and nation are at a crossroads—especially when it comes to education. These are serious issues, with the future of our children hanging in the balance.” 
And, while he would have welcomed ISTA being supportive of education reform policies, Grau stated he believed this latest move smacks of something disingenuous. 
“Rather than joining in the discussions occurring on how to improve our schools, ISTA has chosen to endorse someone who has shown he is more prone to gut public education funding and attack inner-city schools than to improve the system” Grau said. “I don't believe you could find many teachers who would condone such radical efforts, which could greatly widen the achievement gap and hurt public education across Indiana. It begs the question: what teachers are being represented by ISTA with this endorsement of Waltz? 
“This is not an intellectually honest move by ISTA, and I think their membership will take notice,” Grau said.


Thursday, July 5, 2012

Far Right Blows Up Over Innocuous Carson Comment

Some on the right wing lit up earlier today over a video that was from the end of May which featured Congressman Andre Carson speaking to the INCA-MAS 2012 convention.

Here is the clip.

Carson spent about 90 seconds explaining that perhaps some of the teaching methods used in Muslim schools might be something to look into to improve American public schools, in general.  It's a Muslim speaking to a group of Muslims saying that his faith's schools do a good job reaching a variety of different learners. It would be the same thing as if a Christian member of Congress got up at a Christian convention and extolled the teaching methods that are in Christian schools. Of course, because Andre Carson is a Muslim and only one of two in Congress, the fearmongering fringe got its holier-than-thou knickers in a twist over the comment.

Listen, I believe religion has no place in public education.  Public education should not be pushing a religion over another and certainly should not be based on a religious text of any sort.  That said, Congressman Carson wasn't saying that.  

Congressman Andre Carson
Just to be sure, I contacted the Congressman's campaign office and asked for a clarification.  That arrived earlier this evening.  From Campaign Manager Scott Carr:

The way the clip is cropped seems to dilute some of the context. Congressman Carson's comments refer to a school model that is focused on addressing the different learning styles that enable success for our children, including the visual, auditory, and kinesthetic learners that often miss out in a one size fits all pedagogy. This model is being championed by many public magnet programs, charter schools, and a significant number of faith-based private schools throughout this country – Christian, Jewish, and others. The Congressman does believe that, like many other faiths, the American Muslim community is fortunate to have schools that follow a model that empowers these learning styles.

These remarks are not a proclamation that any faith should take precedence in our education system, but a call to look at what models of instruction are working in the classroom and replicate them.
So, here's the full context.  The full 19 minute speech.

Isn't it ironic that much of this speech is actually preaching against what just happened today.  That American society is enriched by the diversity Muslims provide.  It's truly sad that some in America on the far right find that threatening.

Rokita Uses "Official Funds" to Advertise Event on Radio

Congressman Todd Rokita
Todd Rokita, Indiana's 4th District U.S. Congressman, is one of the chief critics in the GOP Congressional Caucus of what he believes to be excessive spending.

In fact, he made news about a year ago for this quote on ABC News' program Frontline:
"I don't know anything more piggish, I don't know anything more un-American than saying, 'Oh, I'm worried about my own little handout, or my own little program, or my own little economy, and we'll kick this can down the road and let some future generation deal with it."

In other words, the Congressman doesn't like your "handouts" like social security and Medicare. He didn't say it, but he didn't have to. If you're taking those, his words not mine, "handouts" then he doesn't really think to highly of you.

Well, maybe it's time for some soul searching for Todd Rokita to evaluate his own practices.  Like many House of Representatives members, Rokita used official funds to buy advertising on at least one Indianapolis radio station to announce a July 4th Congress on Your Corner event in Brownsburg where there would also be a live reading of the Declaration of Independence. Did I mention this an election year?

Again, Rokita is not alone. I've heard Dan Burton advertise similar events as well, but it just struck me as odd that Rokita would utilize taxpayer dollars to advertise the Congress on Your Corner event. Rokita is a frequent guest on WIBC's Garrison program, and there is also any number of free media options for him to get his information to the public.

Now, don't get me wrong, I think at times it is perfectly appropriate to use "official funds" from a Congressional Office, perhaps even for advertising on the radio.  I'm not criticizing that action.  I'm criticizing a guy like Rokita who claims that he's trying to rein in spending, but who will spend money like this (in an election year).  Just doesn't seem to match up to me.

Hey...I'll at least give Rokita credit for showing his face in his district. That's more than his predecessor Steve Buyer did very often.