Monday, April 30, 2012

Friday, April 27, 2012

Lugar Will Lose

Lugar Ruining Legacy
I'm calling it now.  Richard Lugar is going to lose.  He may well actually win the Primary, but, in the end, he's going to lose.

At 80 years old, he doesn't have to do this.  He could be retired with his feet up in Virginia right now, but, instead, he's locked in the battle of his life with a man who is nowhere near him in accomplishment or stature.

That's just the thing, though.  Lugar is losing his identity in order to hold on to power.  It just doesn't seem like the Richard Lugar that many of us have grown to know and respect over the years.  Instead, Lugar and the PACs that back him are going down deep in the mud along with Richard Mourdock and the PACs that support him.  We are actually hearing direct attacks coming from Lugar's mouth about things that are pretty petty.  Point-counterpoint is one thing, but this is not the kind of counterpunch we're used to from a man that was once Indiana's favorite son.

Lugar is no longer seemingly invincible. A poll by Citizens United shows that Lugar is trailing Mourdock 44 to 39 percent.  It should be noted that Citizens United is backing Mourdock.  This is the second poll in the last few weeks to show Lugar lagging behind Mourdock.

I don't think people like seeing this kind of behavior from Senator Lugar.  He is failing at this contested campaign stuff, and it's pretty sad to see.   

Win or lose, Lugar has already lost.  Instead of the "above politics" statesman we're used to, we now see that he's just like any other desperate Senator that's willing to take a campaign into the mud to try to stay in the Senate.  That's why this campaign will turn out lose-lose for the Senator.

Thursday, April 26, 2012

Gregg Comes Out Swinging

The race is definitely on for Governor, and, so far, the one swinging is Democrat John Gregg.

Yesterday, Gregg got some more earned media for proposing the state wipe out its sales tax on gasoline which would provide a little relief at the pump.  According to media sources, Gregg would pay for the loss of revenue with efficiency and budget cuts inside state government.

On Tuesday, Gregg accused his Republican opponent Mike Pence of pushing a social agenda, according to the Evansville Courier-Press. It was the first salvo on that battlefield in this year's race for Governor.

In the Courier-Press, Gregg rightly points out that Pence's record in Congress is not that of a job creator.  He says that Pence's agenda in his six terms in Congress has been more about controversial social issues.

Pence's response was underwhelming, but, then again, he is the frontrunner right now.  Each swing of the Pence mustache, opens up the race a bit more against Pence.  If Pence gets caught flatfooted too many times, it's going to add up for him.

This early tough strategy by Gregg is this kind of earned media that can equalize a playing field, and Gregg is going to need that field to be leveled given Pence's outrageous in and out-of-state fundraising take.

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Young in Hot Water Over Campaign Tactics in SD 35

Indiana Senator
R. Michael Young
State Senator Mike Young hasn't gotten the endorsement of the Republican Party in Hendricks County, but that apparently didn't stop him from trumpeting their support on some of his campaign signs.

Abdul-Hakim Shabazz reports on his Indy Politics website that Hendricks County GOP Chair Mike O'Brien sent out an e-mail trying to remove confusion created by Young's signs.  The e-mail says essentially that the local party has endorsed neither Young nor Republican Daniel Kinnamon, his primary challenger.  Mark Waterfill is the only Democrat in the race.

Republican candidate
Daniel Kinnamon
According to Abdul, a complaint has been filed against Young with the Hendricks County Election Board, and, he writes, "the County Prosecutor may be getting involved as well."
Democratic candidate
Mark Waterfill

Abdul also notes, very astutely, that the boundaries have changed for District 35.  No longer are parts of extremely conservative Johnson and Morgan Counties part of the district.  Young has done this to himself, according to experts I've talked to.  He's apparently the guy that drew the districts.

Young's district now covers only parts of Marion and Hendricks Counties.  Young, who lives in Marion County, is the slated candidate in his home county.  Will this mess make a difference to the voters of Hendricks County?  Maybe not, but it can certainly create more troubles for the Senator.

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Interesting Opponents Try to Challenge Carson

Andre Carson
Congressman Andre Carson will win the Primary.  I know...I'm really stepping out there with that one.  The interesting thing is that the three other people in the race somehow apparently think they have a shot at winning at all.

In this race for Congress, you have two perennial candidates joined by a newcomer.  Let's begin with our two perennials.

Pierre Pullins
Obviously, to be a perennial candidate, Mr. Pullins is a past candidate for Congress.   A visit to Mr. Pullins' Facebook page shows a series of videos leveling a litany of charges at Congressman Carson, President Barack Obama, Governor Mitch Daniels and Judge David Shaheed related to a personal matter currently in the courts.  I'll let you take it from there.

Bob "Citizen" Kern
The second perennial is Bob Kern.  Kern, who is going by Bob "Citizen" Kern this time, is the same Bob Hidalgo Kern that successfully won the Primary race in 1998 to face Dan Burton in the November election.  In that race, he spent something like $11 on his campaign and defeated a slated candidate with a foreign-sounding name.  Kern is a convicted felon, and he has run for just about every federal office he can run for short of President of the United States.

In a past e-mail to me, he said that I did not understand his case from 1989 and that just because he was found guilty in the case that doesn't actually mean that he was guilty.  Whatever the case, it still doesn't change the fact that he is technically now a felon and has that conviction in his past.  In his comments to the Star, Kern went out of his way to say that he is not a Muslim.  As you probably well know, Carson is.

Woodrow Wilcox
The last Democrat in the race is newcomer Woodrow Wilcox.  The insurance industry employee thinks he can go to Congress and solve the problems with Medicare.  He also, on his webpage, calls Congressman Carson, "Andre 'Angry' Carson".  He cites his political experience as winning elections for Democratic PC and for State Convention Delegate.  He is pro-life and against the President's health care plan.  He aligns himself with the Tea Party.

The Democratic Party really is under a big tent, isn't it?

Congressman Carson is by far and a way the best choice to represent the 7th Congressional District, and none of these three candidates will stop him from doing that.

Monday, April 23, 2012

Layton Takes Responsibility, Makes Change

Sheriff John Layton
When John Layton was elected Sheriff, I knew Marion County getting a good lawman.

Even the most dyed-in-the-wool Republican law enforcement insiders that I talked to would tell me that John Layton was a good man and would be a good Sheriff.  Now, we have tacit proof.

The Indianapolis Star published a report last week that there were tons of errors in the Sex Offender Registry that is maintained by the Sheriff's Department.  The registry showed a cornucopia of erroneous information and, frankly, was a mess in some parts.  Many of those errors had to predate his own administration.

The Star had another report on Sunday.  Acting on that report from last Sunday, Layton ordered that many of the errors be corrected.  He even ordered that the registry be updated past what the state requires to make it more accurate than other counties.  To that, I say another, "Bravo!"

How did the registry get this way?  To be fair, Layton promised to put a deputy on every sex offender on the registry.  I posed a question about this program and how it's going, and I received a response from Kevin Murray, General Counsel for Sheriff Layton.  He sent me a Letter to the Editor penned by Sheriff Layton.

In the letter, Layton says that every deputy with a vehicle is required to visit four to five offenders every 30 to 90 days.  The letter also states that, while the Marion County Sheriff's Department is responsible for maintaining the list by state law, that the General Assembly has provided no funding to the department for the purpose of doing that.  He says that the Indiana Sheriff's Association will continue to work with the General Assembly on that regard.

Layton also states that while the Sheriff's Department is required to make sure the registrations are correct that it's actually IMPD that takes the registrations from the offenders.  Layton says that he's working together with Public Safety Director Frank Straub on that issue.

In short, there's lots of opportunity for error, but it sounds like Layton and his department is working hard to fix the issues.

One way or another, you have to commend Sheriff Layton for being willing to stand up, admit the problem, and take action to correct it.  Don't you wish every public servant had the same attitude?

Friday, April 20, 2012

Judicial Candidates Rated by Indianapolis Bar Association Survey

The Indianapolis Bar Association released its judicial candidate peer evaluation results in a press release today.

According to a news release from the IndyBar, Indianapolis Bar Association members, attorneys in the Marion County Prosecutor's Office, the Marion County Public Defender's Office, as well as all attorneys appearing in Marion County Courtrooms in the last three years.

The survey asked respondents to rate candidates based on:

Sufficient legal experience to be an effective judge, efficiency as an office administrator, conduct appropriate for a judge, knowledge of rules of evidence, procedure and substantive law, and, finally, the ability to be unbiased, independent, and impartial.

The results are below, and the numbers indicate the percentage of evaluators that returned the survey that recommend the candidate to be a Marion County Superior Court Judge.

Judge Mark Stoner, 95.7%
Judge Heather Welch, 95.6%
Judge Jose Salinas, 79%
John Chavis, 78.8%
Judge Grant Hawkins, 78.8%
Judge Linda Brown, 69.9%
Judge Steve Eichholtz, 68.8%
Judge Tom Carroll, 68.5%
Judge John Hanley, 67%
Mark King, 53.4%
Greg Bowes, 52.7%
Judge Becky Pierson-Treacy, 30.7%

Judge Robert Altice, 96.7%
Judge Michael Keele, 95.4%
Judge Sheila Carlisle, 94.2%
Helen Marchal, 86.3%
Judge William Nelson, 84.9%
Amy Jones, 84.8%
Judge Clark Rogers, 84.0%
Judge Carol Orbison, 72.6%
Judge Lisa Borges, 69.8%
James Joven, 68.1%
Clayton Graham, 60%
Paul Ogden, 18.1%

Comical Response from McIntosh

If David McIntosh loses on May 8, he may have a great career as a comedian.

Former U.S. Rep.
David McIntosh
Yesterday, the Indiana Secretary of State's Office announced that it will investigate David McIntosh's residency and voter records.  This is in response to complaints by a voter named Greg Wright, an apparent Tea Party activist a certified fraud investigator (see comments) that also challenged Richard Lugar's residency and voter registration.  None of McIntosh's opponents nor possible Democratic opponent Scott Reske have done more than comment on the issue.  They are not a party to the complaint against McIntosh.

What was funny in this whole mess was McIntosh's response to the announcement.  Through a campaign release, McIntosh was quoted by the Indianapolis Star as follows:  "Once again our opponents are resorting to unoriginal attacks to cover up their liberal views and to try to prevent a real conservative, David McIntosh, from representing voters in Indiana's 5th congressional district.  The last thing they want to talk about is their support of bailouts, taxpayer funding for Planned Parenthood, and terrible records on the 2nd Amendment.  They refuse to talk about the issues, because they know the voters won't like what they see."

I'm going to let that simmer for just a moment.

Now, let's all take a laugh break.

Still laughing???

I am.

Oh sides are hurting.

Wow...gotta catch my breath.

So, David McIntosh is accusing his opponents of pushing this claim.  He's accusing a Tea Partier fellow conservatives of being liberal, and he doesn't mention anything about creating jobs in his laundry list of wedge issues.  I guess that means his six Republicans opponents are all liberals.  I bet that's news to them.

Sometimes, just when you've think you've seen it all...something tells you that you haven't seen anything.  

Go home David.  Wherever that is.  

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Ballard Signs Smoking Ban

Just a few minutes ago, Mayor Greg Ballard signed into law a tougher smoking ban that will end smoking in many bars around the city.

Poll Shows Mourdock Pulling Ahead of Lugar

Mourdock Surges Ahead in One Poll
A McLaughlin & Associates poll released yesterday shows that Indiana Treasurer Richard Mourdock has pulled ahead 42 percent to 41 percent over Senator Richard Lugar in the primary competition for GOP nomination for U.S. Senate.

The same polling company had Lugar up 48 percent to 36 percent in January.  The one point lead for Mourdock was within the poll's five point margin for error and clearly underlines that this race could be a photo finish come May 8.  The poll was conducted on April 16 and April 17 and surveyed 400 likely Republican primary election voters by telephone.

Buried deeper in the polling is even more bad news for Lugar.  His favorability is slipping.  When McLaughlin & Associates did their poll in January, Lugar was seen favorably by 57 percent of voters.  That has now slipped to 47 percent.  Silver lining is that while Mourdock's favorability numbers are improving (up 11 points since January), Lugar still is seen more favorably than the Indiana State Treasurer by one percentage point, 47 to 46 percent.  Again, that's within the margin for error of the poll.

Zero percent of the respondents said that they had "never heard of" Lugar.  That's also not good news for the Senator.  The poll respondents know him, and this race is trending Mourdock anyway and trending his way fast.  At this point, Lugar needs some major help from somewhere.

I'm sure Lugar's camp will say that this is just one poll and that it means little, but the tone and tenor of this campaign has completely changed.  That's a signal.  Lugar's gone really negative, and he's putting his name on it.  That's just not Richard Lugar.  It doesn't sound like the man we've all come to know over the years.

Two things we know about this race from all the details.  It's tight, and Lugar's in severe trouble.

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

In Memoriam: Dick Clark (1929-2012)

"For now, I'm Dick Clark.  So long."

America's oldest teenager is gone.

Dick Clark, a hero of mine in the radio/tv industry, died this morning at the age of 82.

Growing up, Clark was a constant friend on the television for me.  He was the host of one of my favorite weekend shows, American Bandstand.  He also hosted one of my favorite game shows, the $100,000 Pyramid.  If you knew me as a little kid, you know that I loved music, radio, and television.  I was a little entertainment junkie who spent parts of my weekends listening to Dick Clark's Rock, Roll & Remember.

People will long remember Clark for his brave post-stroke appearances on the New Year's Rockin' Eve show that he created in 1972.  Clark suffered a debilitating stroke in December of 2004 and missed the New Year's program that year. He worked his way back to the anchor chair in the next year, and he was back every year after that.  In recent years, TV and radio personality Ryan Seacrest had taken on a more active role in helping Clark host the program.

Clark had a long career beginning his career as a disc jockey in the days of radio.  He began hosting Bandstand in 1956.  He also built a media empire with Dick Clark Productions owning everything from syndicated television shows to the American Music Awards.  He also was a successful restauranteur opening Dick Clark's American Bandstand Grill locations across the country.

All this time, Clark maintained a youthful appearance that belied his age.  It was only after his stroke that Clark finally started aging.

I'll miss you Mr. Clark.  Rest in Peace.  So long!

Public Safety and Criminal Justice Committee Postpones Straub Vote...AGAIN

The City-County Council Committee on Public Safety and Criminal Justice has just postponed a vote on Frank Straub's future again until next month.

After hearing public comment, Councillor Vernon Brown made the motion to postpone the vote to allow Dr. Straub to deal with the current IMPD crisis.  Sounded like a unanimous vote.

Straub Must Go

As I write this, Frank Straub's support from the City-County Council may be in jeopardy.  After this latest bombshell, I now think he needs to go.

When Paul Ciesielski resigned his position yesterday, Frank Straub was quick to name Rick Hite as the Acting Chief of Police.  Hite had been a personal hire of Straub's brought in from Baltimore.

Turns out, that Straub's guy isn't apparently certified to be Acting Police Chief until he gets Indiana certification, according to WRTV.  That's despite all of his experience in police work from Maryland.

This seals it for me.  Straub no longer knows what he's doing and needs to go regardless of what the Council does tonight.  How the Public Safety Director can miss that is beyond me.  If public safety is job one as Mayor Ballard says it is, he needs to immediately ask for and accept Dr. Straub's resignation, or, if the Public Safety Director will not step aside, he should fire him.

Straub Faces Music Tonight

Dr. Frank Straub
In my post yesterday, I believe I said that Public Safety Director, Dr. Frank Straub, would face a vote from the City-County Council next week.  Well, it turns out I was off.

Straub will face the Public Safety Committee tonight, and it really couldn't come at a worse time for him.  Yesterday, he was again embarrassed when he found out that his self-proclaimed battle to clean up IMPD took another unpredictable turn.  By now you know that Chief Paul Ciesielski resigned over the handling of a second vial of Officer David Bisard's blood.

Many people I heard from last night said they thought that Ciesielski was just being a good employee.  That sort of included Carl Brizzi who last night on WTHR said that Ciesielski was a "sacrificial lamb" in this case.

Again, there are many good men and women in IMPD.  They work hard and do everything they can to protect the public they serve.  Straub was hired to clean up the rest of the department, and there have been a lot of setbacks along the way.  That doesn't even take into account his often sometimes abrasive and volatile relationship with the FOP and people in the department.

At some point, you have to look at the results you are getting and wonder if someone else can't do better.  That's what the Public Safety Committee will do tonight.  Of course, under state law, Straub appears to be free to serve as long as Greg Ballard wants him to serve.  The next few days may determine how willing the Mayor is to spend political capital to defend his hire.

There is no middle ground on Straub.  People either like him and think he's doing his best, or they think he's running IMPD as the Public Safety Director and running it into the ground for that matter.  We'll see if the Public Safety Committee wants to run him out of a job tonight.

VEEP-stakes Start for Romney

Romney Has a Big Decision Ahead
Mitt Romney confirmed yesterday that he has begun considering who will be his running mate in 2012, and he has named longtime aide Beth Myers to help him.

They say if you count on a Vice Presidential candidate to deliver a state or to help you too tremendously you will be disappointed.  That said, a Vice Presidential candidate can hurt you a lot if you choose unwisely.

You don't believe me? Ask John McCain!  McCain's campaign didn't vet Governor Sarah Palin well enough, and she turned out to be a disaster in many ways for the former GOP standard bearer's hopes to win the White House.  First of all, she overshadowed him and, by many accounts, decided at some point to go off script and start to do her own thing.  Secondly, she proved time and time again that she was not up to the job of being President had she needed to be.

You want more examples?  Go ask George H.W. Bush.  Bush 41 passed over some of the best possible people he could have chosen to select Senator Dan Quayle from Indiana.  Quayle had been in the Senate at the time for a while and in the House before that, but his propensity for verbal gaffes and seeming lack of intelligence hurt his boss on many occasions.

Romney has many ways he can go from here.  He can try to balance out the ticket by picking someone to his right or he can try to geographically balance the ticket by going south or west with his choice.  My advice to him would be to pick someone that voters can see in the job if necessary...just to pick the best possible person.

I don't know Republican politics well enough to tell you who that person might be, but I wouldn't necessarily make a choice to pander to the right.

The politics of a Presidential Election Year are absolutely intriguing for political geeks like me.  That's why I will love to watch how this VEEP-stakes plays out for Mitt.

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Bombshell: Ciesielski Resigns Over Most Recent IMPD Gaffe

The Indianapolis Metropolitan Police Department has some of the best officers in the uniform anywhere.  I know because I know many of them.  They are good people and good police officers, but, unfortunately, they all get a black eye when their colleagues let them down.

Today, Mayor Greg Ballard and Public Safety Director Frank Straub announced that IMPD Chief Paul Ciesielski had resigned over the botched handling of a second vial of Officer David Bisard's blood.  Rick Hite has been sworn in as the Acting Chief of Police

You may remember, Bisard plowed his patrol vehicle into a group of motorcycles in August of 2010.  Eric Wells was killed, and Mary Mills and Kurt Weekly suffered serious, debilitating injuries.  Initially, a blood draw showed that Bisard was drunk on the job, but that blood was not drawn by a technician that was certified to do it, violating state law.  Prosecutor Carl Brizzi dropped all drunk driving charges at the time due to the revelation, and it wasn't until January of 2011 that new Prosecutor Terry Curry refiled the charges.  Judge Grant Hawkins again threw out the drunk driving charges because of the way the first vial of blood was obtained.  At the time of the blood draw, a second vial of blood had been drawn, and Hawkins gave the o.k. to test that blood just last week.

That will not happen.  Bisard's blood was, according to the Indianapolis Star, moved from a refrigerated storage space to an un-refrigerated space along with several other blood samples.  Deputy Chief Valerie Cunningham, Lieutenant Paula Irwin, and a civilian employee were put on administrative leave.  Now, we may never know the truth of David Bisard's sobriety on that day.

Chief Ciesielski, from all accounts, fell on his sword here and took ultimate responsibility for the errors inside his department.  He will remain on the force as a Captain, but I can't feel anything but bad for him.  Ciesielski has, by many accounts, had his hands tied by Straub on running this department.

If that's the case, it should be Straub going out the door, too.  He won't get away so easily.  This is certain to weigh also on Straub whose job is up for review next week in front of a City-County Council committee.  If the Council refuses to reapprove Straub's reappointment by the Mayor, he can continue to serve until he is replaced by Ballard.

The most unfortunate aspect of this whole fiasco is that justice may not be done for Wells, Mills, and Weekly.  Incompetence at best...corruption at worst, and it's in our front yard again.  Embarrassing.

Martinsville Educator Wants to Take on Bennett

Superintendent of Public Instruction Candidate
Justin Oakley
Unlike many offices that will be decided in the May 8 Primary, the candidates for the Offices of Attorney General and Superintendent of Public Instruction are both selected by delegates to the Indiana Democratic Convention.  It's expected that Greg Zoeller and Tony Bennett are shoo-ins to be retained by the Republicans.

There is no clear candidate on the Democratic side for Attorney General, but one man is working hard to win support for the chance to take on Tony Bennett.  Martinsville educator Justin Oakley is crisscrossing Indiana because he wants to be Superintendent of Public Instruction.

His campaign website shows some of his travelogue, and it's impressive for the middle school teacher that wants to bring a classroom educator's sensibility to the office that has long been held by administrators.

I've had occasion to hear Oakley speak, and he gives a very compelling stump speech.  He knows where to attack Bennett often talking about how the singer Tony Bennett left his heart in San Francisco but how Indiana's Tony Bennett has sold his heart to for-profit business and how he's taking that model to our schools.  He talks about putting students and teachers ahead of politics, and he also is passionate about teaching our children how to think rather than how to succeed on a test, "I became a teacher to make a difference," writes Oakley on the website. "America depends on a strong Democracy and students who can think outside the box; not those who worry about filling in the bubbles.  I did not enter this profession to torture them with onerous testing!"

It will be interesting if he can take this early momentum, earn the support of the delegates, and take the fight to Bennett as we head to November.

Monday, April 16, 2012

Ballard Intimidation Doesn't Work; Smoking Ban Passes, Again

Is that a smoking jacket,
Mr. Mayor?
For the second time this Council year, the Indianapolis/Marion County City-County Council has passed an expansion of the smoking ordinance to include more places by a wide margin and in bipartisan manner.

This time, the ordinance got 20 votes which, in theory, should make it veto proof.  We all know that theory and practice are two different thing.  The proposal will now go to Mayor Ballard's desk for his signature.  He could veto it again forcing the Council to try to override his veto.

It sounds like the Mayor may be leaning towards veto with his staff.  Apparently, members of his staff texted some Republican members of the Council that Ballard had concerns about the language surrounding private clubs, per the Indianapolis Star.  Sounds like intimidation to me.

If Ballard does, yet again, veto this ordinance, will the Republicans on the Council decide that they've had enough of his obstruction?  Last time around, they refused to go against the Mayor.  All it will take is one Councillor to change his or her vote and Indianapolis will remain in the dark ages.

Here's hoping that Ballard signs the ordinance and takes Indy forward in a step for public health and wellness.

Turnout May Determine Close Senate Race

Senator Lugar
It's almost over.

Richard Lugar and Richard Mourdock look to be neck and neck coming down the final stretch in the race for the Republican nomination for Indiana's U.S. Senate seat.

The stakes are high for Lugar.  At stake is his political legacy.  Will he be able to go out of the Senate on his own terms, or will he be retired before he's ready? Mourdock hopes so, and he's running extremely hard to make it happen.  It's a referendum on Lugar, as political expert Brian Howey has said, and the longtime Senator is hoping to weather this political thunderstorm.

Treasurer Mourdock
For Republicans, change is trying to upset the status quo.  For Democrats, it's finally the chance to vanquish the Indiana icon as Representative Joe Donnelly waits in the wings to see the winner in November.  Andy Horning may also play a major part in this, too, as the Libertarian in the race.

Representative Donnelly
If Lugar dispatches Mourdock, Joe Donnelly is way behind in early polling in a possible race with Indiana's Senior Senator.  A Howey/Depauw poll showed that while Lugar leads Mourdock by seven points and only is at 42 percent, he's leading Donnelly 50-29.  If Mourdock wins, Donnelly and the State Treasurer are tied in that same poll.

Everything, however, will come out to turnout on Primary Tuesday.  If the party establishment shows its face and its votes at the polls, that could offset the Tea Party uprising that's backing Mourdock.  If that old guard stays home, Mourdock will be around in November.

Friday, April 13, 2012

80 Patients a Day?

Indiana Treasurer
Richard Mourdock
Richard Mourdock made a claim that stuck with me last night.

While railing against Obamacare, Mourdock said that in his health care system, doctors would be able to see 80 patients in a day.  Would you really want that system?

A doctor seeing 80 patients a day would be great for finding an appointment, but it would make the time with the doctor incredibly short.  I did some math, and 80 patients a day over an eight hour work day comes out to 10 patients per hour.  That's one patient every six minutes.

Let's say for the sake of argument that a doctor takes 30 minutes for lunch.  He or she also has travel time from room to room.  They need time for returning phone calls to patients as well as filing paperwork with the office...even if it's from a laptop computer.  By the time you figure all of that in, that 10 patients per hour is simply not possible unless the doctor is spending only a brief amount of time with his or her patients.

At the end of the day, isn't health care about quality for the patient?  It seems like Dick Mourdock is putting health care in the wrong direction.

For better or worse, President Obama's Healthcare Plan is designed for the patient.  Richard Mourdock's health care plan doesn't benefit anyone.  It overworks doctors and shortchanges patients.

Mourdock's plan isn't "Chickens for Checkups" or anything close to it, but it's clear that he didn't think about how that math might work.  I think he just pulled the number out of his rear and is using it on the trail.

Thursday, April 12, 2012

Mourdock, Lugar Debate; Draw No Blood

U.S. Senator Richard Lugar R-IN
For a meandering hour, Richard Mourdock and Richard Lugar debated questions provided by the voters of Indiana, and it was an overwhelmingly civil discussion of the issues of the day.

The debate was moderated by former local news anchor Phil Bremen, now at Ball State University, and sponsored by the Indiana Debate Commission.  Bremen's performance was the lowlight of the event, but I'll give him the benefit of the doubt because I don't know if he was receiving stage directions in his ear or not.

Lugar fumbled his opening statement, and he clearly appeared uncomfortable in a one-on-one debate with Mourdock, but he found his stride when the debate turned to foreign policy.  Lugar made a few errors that were immediately pointed out by people on Twitter when it came to drawing attention to how long he had been in the Senate.  With that said, other than the bad start, he appeared to be himself.  Solid and in command of the issues he's worked on over the last 35 years in the Senate.

Indiana Treasurer
Richard Mourdock
Mourdock was also connected.  He appeared to be the most aggressive of the two candidates.  Raising his voice to get points across at times, Mourdock showed a good knowledge of mostly Tea Party policy positions.  Mourdock was honest when he didn't know the answers, and he deferred to the Senator on foreign policy by simply acknowledging that Lugar is more experienced in that realm.  Towards the end of the debate, Mourdock tried to make a comparison between the Titanic Disaster and the state of the United States today in his closing remarks.  It was a poor finish, and it failed to make the case as to why Hoosiers should elect him.

So, with Lugar fumbling the opening kickoff and Mourdock going cheesy on his closer, I think this debate was pretty even.  Lugar scored big points on foreign policy, and Mourdock seemed to have the conservative pulse on domestic issues.  Thus, I call this one a draw.

I don't think this debate likely helped Mourdock or hurt Lugar.  We should be back where we started before 7:00 p.m. last night.  This one is going to be a close race, and it will come down to turnout.

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Rep. Allen West Calls Andre Carson, Progressives Communist

A Florida Representative who is known for his wild rhetoric is at it again, and he's getting personal with Indiana's 7th District.
U.S Rep. Allen West, R-FL

In a town hall meeting, West said there were about 75 members of the Democratic Caucus in the U.S. House that were Communists.  Later, a spokesman said that West was talking about the Congressional Progressive Caucus.  That's a group that includes 7th District Congressman Andre Carson.  The Congressional Progressive Caucus also includes Civil Rights Icon John Lewis, who marched with Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

West can say what he wishes.  It's his right.  To call fellow members of his legislative body Communist without any shred of evidence is dangerous and unwise.  

Barney Frank, also a member of the caucus, said that "Not even Joe McCarthy would have said anything that stupid."

West also said President Obama is afraid to have a one-on-one discussion with West and his constituents because he was "too afraid."

Yeah, right.  It's amazing how West will throw this garbage out of his mouth when he accused Rep. Debbie Wasserman-Schultz of insulting him during a House Debate over Medicare last year.  He challenged the Congresswoman to a personal fight.

I think that qualifies him as a complete tool.

Gregg Seizes Moment on Daniels Administration's Mess-up

Former Indiana House Speaker
John Gregg
John Gregg is going to be a great Governor of Indiana.  Let's just put that out there.  When he's Governor, there won't be a dull moment, and I think you just got a taste of that in a News Conference he called outside the Statehouse on Friday.

For the second time in four months, the State of Indiana had misplaced some money only to have if found in an audit.  This time, it was over $200 million of local option income tax money.  That's the kind of money that can, let's say, save police officer and firefighter jobs.  It's not news that sat well in Marion County where city and county workers have been furloughed and we can't afford toilet paper for police stations.

Gregg, in a way only he could, stood in front of the Statehouse and offered Mitch Daniels and his administration some help from a group of accounting books:  Accounting Workbook for Dummies, Elements of Accounting, and other textbooks.  Gregg said he'd deliver the books to anyone in the Statehouse that wanted them, according to the Indianapolis Star.  Mike Pence, caught flatfooted, also found himself being called out by Gregg.  On the evening news, one station said that a Pence spokesman said the Congressman was, "not available for comment."

Pence finally released a statement later Friday that essentially called for government transparency.  There's a saying in Indiana that involves someone named Sherlock.

So, in one fell swoop, Gregg found a way to be funny.  He found a way to draw attention to a problem, and he found a way to call out his opponent.  Now, that's a man that's good at retail politics.  It was also a great way to get a lot of earned media from the local market stations.  Even some of my most staunch conservative friends could not help but point out how right Gregg was.

I know many out there think that this is a slam dunk race for Pence.  No question Gregg has an uphill climb.  I just don't think the hill is as steep as some think it is, and John clearly has his climbing shoes on and tied tight.

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Controversies Abound

Polling site locations and who gets access to the voter registration records have touched off simultaneous controversies that are heating up the election season as May 8 grows closer.

Mayor Greg Ballard's Office finally got around to naming polling sites in the 2012 Primary Election, and early reviews are not that good.  For example, in Decatur Township, some voters that used to live within walking distance of their polling site will now find themselves driving a mile or two in a car to get there.  This is not an isolated incident.  Amos Brown highlighted a similar situation on his Twitter account earlier today.  All across the county, many will be confused on Election Day in May and perhaps even worse in November if they took May off.

In short, if you vote in Marion County, you may wish to confirm that your voting site has not changed.  Call 327-VOTE for more information.

The other controversy is which judicial candidates have access to the all important information in the voter registration file.  

Apparently, unslated judicial candidates on both sides of the aisle are not able to get voter registration records because the Board of Voter Registration (one Democrat and One Republican) will not release the information.  The Election Board today voted 2-1 to withhold the information from unslated judicial candidates because it's still apparently reviewing the situation and trying to develop a policy.  Critics like Republican non-slated judicial candidate Paul Ogden say this is circumventing Indiana Law.  He also claims that the party bosses Ed Treacy and Kyle Walker are just trying to protect their slates by appointing people that will do their bidding to the Board of Voter Registration and the Election Board.

According to Ogden, the only publicly-elected official to weigh in on this is Beth White, the Marion County Clerk, and she sides with the people wishing that the list be released to any candidate running because that is precedent and good public policy. 

To me, the solution seems simple.  If it is a public record, then it should be available to the public.  That includes candidates that have the audacity to challenge the slate.

With all of that said, I believe the Marion County Democratic slate of judges deserve your vote, and I will be voting for all of them.  That's Judge Linda Brown, Judge Tom Carroll, John Chavis, Judge Steve Eichholtz, Judge John Hanley, Judge Grant Hawkins, Judge Becky Pierson-Treacy, Judge Jose Salinas, Judge Mark Stoner, and Judge Heather Welch

Monday, April 9, 2012

McIntosh Must Feel Like Lugar

Former Congressman
David McIntosh
Like Senator Richard Lugar, David McIntosh, is facing serious concerns about where he hangs his hat and whether or not that makes him fit to serve Hoosiers.

McIntosh, like Lugar, is actually registered to vote in Indiana from a place of residence and voted there in 2008 and 2010.  Lugar, of course, had been using the address where he resided 35 years ago for voter registration purposes.  Now he is using his family farm on Mann Road in Decatur Township to solve the issue.

Let's be honest here.  While facing residency questions, it's hard to really make it stick that Dick Lugar isn't a Hoosier and doesn't understand the state he's been serving with distinction for all this time.  He's guilty of being slow footed and not necessarily 100 percent in touch with the political scene in missing this mess.

McIntosh, on the other hand, has largely been missing from Indiana politics since his 2000 run for the Governor's Office where he lost in a landslide to Frank O'Bannon.  Word comes that McIntosh has actually for much of the past few years been living in Virginia instead where his children are in school and he holds a drivers license and not in Anderson, where he has voted from.

If McIntosh, who is picking up many endorsements from conservative groups like the Club for Growth and influential conservatives like Grover Nordquist, wins the Primary and heads to the General Election like this, it is certainly something a Democrat could use against him.  That said, it is a very tough Democratic district to win.  While what will soon be Dan Burton's former district includes more of the Northside of Indianapolis, it also includes many other heavily Republican areas not likely to swing the way of Scott Reske, the front-runner to win the Democratic seat.

The 5th is interesting enough.  Dr. John McGoff claims to be polling in a dead heat with McIntosh.  Former U.S. Attorney Susan Brooks is running hard, and Marion Mayor Wayne Seybold has hired Blair Englehart to do his advertising.  It's a seat these people (and others running) want, and, even though McIntosh has the experience of being in Congress before and is a well-known name, it may not mean much if this residency issue sticks.

McIntosh won't get away from this one as easy as Lugar might.  That's why it makes the 5th a race to watch in May and, if he wins, thereafter.

So...What Did I Miss?

This week on the blog, I'll be going through and commenting on things that I missed while I was on my self-imposed blogger vacation.  There certainly was a lot.

From more residency questions arising over David McIntosh's address to John Gregg's brilliant response to the state's misplacement of over $500 million in tax money to local City-County Council news.  It's been a long week.

So, this week we'll play catch up.  That begins with the first post addressing Mr. McIntosh.  Here we go!

Saturday, April 7, 2012

Indiana's Newest Senator

Per the Indianapolis Star, Peter Miller has been selected to fill the vacant Indiana Senate seat created when Connie Lawson became Indiana's Secretary of State.

The Star says that the Republican insider won on the seventh ballot in a caucus of eligible local Republicans.

That must have been an exhausting caucus.  I know that there were a ton of candidates.

A hearty congratulations to Indiana's newest Senator.  While he fills the seat of Lawson, there will be another caucus later, according to the Star, to put him on the November ballot.  Lawson's appointment to the Office of SOS was late to remove her from the Primary ballot.

Abdul Characterizes State Lapse in Accounting as Positive

Future Daniels Press Secretary?
Abdul-Hakim Shabazz
My good friend and the proprietor of the Indy Politics website, Abdul-Hakim Shabazz penned a blog post that actually tried to spin the state's recent accounting errors that shorted local governments as positive.

To be fair, his point is that local governments are surviving despite being shorted that cash.  The question I have for Abdul is: How well are they surviving?

Across Indiana, local governments have been tightening their belts, relying on federal grants and loans to survive, and laying off public workers.  Here in Indianapolis, the Star's Matt Tully reports that the city/county government was shorted around $34 million.  That doesn't make you feel very good after we have recently heard that the Department of Public Safety is operating deeply in the red and everything from police cars to toilet paper are needs.

According to Abdul's numbers, local government was shorted $210 million in local option income tax money.  Think about that.  $210 million off the books at a time when this city and other localities across the state were making critical decisions about keeping or killing local government services.  Add in the millions the state lost from tax collections and "found" in December, then you've got yourself a full blown major issue.

Positive?  PUHLEEZE.  Abdul, welcome to the spin zone.  Matt Tully was right.  Governor Mitch Daniels is ultimately the one to blame on this one, and no amount of subject changing or spinning from the right can change it.

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Somebody Has to Close the Deal

Richard Lugar has had his good image besmirched here in the past few months.  At the start of 2010, he was Indiana's favorite son.  He was revered.  It seemed that, beyond a small fringe element in his own party, that Lugar was speeding towards a lifetime in the Senate.

U.S. Senator
Richard Lugar (R-IN)
That has all changed.  Recent revelations and machinations have put his future in the Senate in jeopardy.  In the last few weeks, the man who has spent almost his entire life in public service to the citizens of Indiana has seen himself be characterized as a Washington insider and out-of-touch liberal who needs to be retired.  The change has been swift, and it remains to be seen how the final chapter will be written.

The true sad thing is that if Lugar loses in a month to Richard Mourdock will be that he lost to Richard Mourdock, a man that Republicans don't really even seem to be enthusiastic for despite the fact that he's not Richard Lugar. 

Mourdock has the icon on the ropes, but he has yet to close the deal.  He hasn't provided anyone a reason why he would be a better Senator than Lugar.  If you go by his past record, it just isn't that exciting.

Indiana Treasurer
Richard Mourdock
There are some things in his record that Lugar can't use.  For example, Lugar can't use Mourdock's reckless use of state funds to sue the federal government over the Chrysler bailout.  Mourdock spent millions trying to bankrupt Chrysler and put Indiana's pension holders in financial ruin.  Lugar can't use that because he is already "Obama's favorite Republican" to many Tea Party voters.  

While presumptive Democratic nominee Joe Donnelly is out putting forward policy, Lugar and Mourdock are racing to the bottom to see who can out mudsling the other.  The Super PACs are busy besmirching the other candidate or attacking each other, but, in the end, there can just be one Republican nominee.

Richard Lugar still has time to close the deal.  He has something Mourdock doesn't.  Lugar has a history of integrity with Hoosiers.  He has name recognition, and he can play up the experience factor.  Mourdock can't compete with that.  He's an 11-time candidate that apparently keeps looking for the next opportunity to move up.  Lugar has to slap back this idea that he's not a Hoosier.  He has to remind people of his history of serving Hoosiers, and he has to find a way to explain his actions in respect to his residency issues.  I think that if Lugar looks Hoosiers in the eye and tells them his story, they will soon forget about Mourdock.

In these final four weeks, Lugar needs to reconnect with Hoosiers, and Mourdock needs to provide some sort of reason why he will be the best choice for Indiana.  Here we go.

Anthony Kennedy: The Most Interesting Man on the Supreme Court

Justice Anthony Kennedy
He doesn't always write for the Majority,
but, when he does, he's the most
interesting man on the Supreme Court
In 2008, President Barack Obama won his election by running partially against George W. Bush's record.  Well, in 2012, Bush may strike back.

Because of the people he nominated for the Supreme Court of the United States, Bush's band of loyal conservatives could be the group that invalidates President Obama's health care law.  That would be a huge blow to the President's first-term agenda, and it would set up a possible election where the President runs against the Supreme Court as much as running against Mitt Romney.

The stakes are, just like always, high in 2012.  Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg has not been in good health for a while and is 79.  Justice Antonin Scalia is 76.  Justice Anthony Kennedy is nearing 76, and Justice Stephen Breyer is 73.  While Scalia, Kennedy, and Breyer are in good health by all indications, it's conceivable that we might see a much different court in 2016 than we have right now.  The Court, as it stands now, is really the handiwork of Bush, however.

The biggest change came when Justice Sandra Day O'Connor, widely seen as a swing vote on the court, was replaced by the very conservative Justice Samuel Alito in 2006.  The court went from two "swing votes" to just one.  Since then, we've seen the four conservatives often vote in a block on things like Citizens United and the recent case that made strip searches for even the most petty of crimes (or anytime a person is arrested, guilty or not) a reality.  You have four conservatives and four liberals.  That leaves right-leaning Justice Kennedy as the fifth vote for either side.

Kennedy, himself, was nominated to the Court by Ronald Reagan.  By most accounts that I've heard, he is a thoughtful jurist that takes his job seriously.  His judicial nature seems to be tailor made for his role.  That role: he is arguably the most powerful man in the U.S. Government.

Who set the table for Kennedy's rise?  President Bush did.  By reducing the swing votes from two to one, he changed the Court.  That means that, in 2012, Bush might beat Obama if the health care bill is struck down.  Then again, many believe that a strike down of the health care bill might be the best thing that could happen to Obama.  I guess we'll see in June.