Sunday, December 29, 2013

Carson Pens Heartfelt Statement on Loss of Andy Jacobs

Congressman Jacobs and Congressman Carson
Photo by Wilson Allen
Congressman André Carson called Andy Jacobs his "Obi-Wan Kenobi" more then one time.  Late yesterday, he released this statement about Jacobs' death in tribute to his friend and mentor.
Statement by Congressman André Carson on the Passing of Former Congressman Andrew Jacobs, Jr. 
INDIANAPOLIS, IN — I join countless Americans who today mourn the loss of Congressman Andy Jacobs, Jr. 
Congressman Jacobs was family. He served as an invaluable mentor and dear friend to my grandmother, Julia Carson, who he hired to work in his Indianapolis congressional office in 1965. It was Andy’s faith and encouragement that inspired my grandmother to run for state representative in 1972, and his support of her never wavered. 
At an early age, Andy also took an interest in me as well and imparted wisdom while serving as a role model. He continued as a valued mentor, even long after he left office. With Andy’s passing, our nation lost a man who was resolutely courageous, both in his service as a Marine in Korea, and in public life. 
While people will likely recall that he helped strengthen Social Security and was unrelentingly frugal with taxpayer dollars, his true legacy is that of a man who took the path less traveled, one of principle, no matter what advantages he sacrificed to do so. 
While in Congress, Andy never took a donation from a political action committee, he never attacked an opponent, and he never put his name on his office door in Washington, D.C., explaining that “the seat belonged to the people I serve, not to me.” He was a selfless public servant, who never cared about station or the trappings of office. 
Andy was a man of rapier wit. And though he used it often to hilarious effect in disarming the infrequent angry constituent or political foe, he was he never caustic or maligning. He upheld the dignity of all. This is undoubtedly why he forged enduring friendships with, and held the respect of, many across the aisle. 
For some time now, Andy has penned a weekly “Thought Bite” for Nuvo. On December 18, it read: “If there’s one thing I hate, it’s hate.” I cannot think of a better self-assessment for a man whose heart had unlimited capacity to see the goodness in everyone. 
In sum, Andy was a model of decency, compassion, servant-leadership, thoughtfulness, and civility. I pray that God rests his soul and gives peace and comfort to his wife, Kim, his sons Andy and Steven, and to the countless others for whom Andy is “family.”

Saturday, December 28, 2013

In Memoriam: Andrew Jacobs, Jr. (1932-2013)

Congressman Andrew Jacobs, Jr.
Although he tried to convince everyone that he wasn't, he was larger than life.

Former Congressman Andy Jacobs, Jr. passed away today at the age of 81.

Jacobs was elected to Congress in 1964, took office in 1965, and, with the exception of two years, served the City of Indianapolis with distinction until 1997.  His time in office saw the capital of the Hoosier State grow from India-No-Place to the bustling city we know today.

In a place where people can get lost in the office, Jacobs did it his own brilliantly intelligent way.  He was accessible and one of us.  He was a true "people's Congressman" who drew praise from those on both sides of the aisle.

He was a man who never took himself too seriously.  One time, he directed me to introduce him by saying, "He was born.  He has yet to pass."

As a Congressman, Jacobs was hard to affix a label to.  He was a liberal on some topics, but he was actually very conservative on others.  Before it was popular, Jacobs railed against pork spending in Congress, but he was very much a dove when it came to taking the country to war given his experiences as a combat veteran in Korea.  Most of all, Jacobs understood that he was a representative in government and was put there by the people he served.

Jacobs also saw talent in those he hired.  He encouraged Julia Carson to serve greater causes than just his Congressional Office.  At his urging, Carson ran and was elected to the General Assembly. She later replaced him in Congress.  Jacobs also was one of the first to join André Carson's campaign for Congress when Congresswoman Carson passed in 2007.

In his later years, Jacobs became a prolific author writing both fiction and non-fiction books to critical acclaim.  He also taught political science at IUPUI.  Congressman Jacobs was a father and a husband as well.  He leaves behind his wife, Kim Hood Jacobs, and two children.  He was the son of Congressman Andrew Jacobs.

I met him only a few times, but I will always remember the warmth that came from him.  Andrew Jacobs, Jr. was put on this Earth to serve, and he did so with class and excellence.

Tuesday, December 24, 2013

MERRY CHRISTMAS

Hard to believe, but it's Christmas Eve again.  From my family to yours, Merry Christmas.  I hope you find the warmth of family and friends over the next few days to celebrate a beautiful time of year.

Until then...Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas!

Monday, December 23, 2013

Not Ducking The Issue

A week ago, I didn't know Phil Robertson or anything about him.

I don't watch Duck Dynasty or anything on A&E for that matter.  I remember when the network used to be one devoted more to the arts than reality programs based on duck calls.

A network has to make money, however.  Duck Dynasty appears to have done that for A&E, and A&E has done that for the Robertson family, as well.

I've been careful not to weigh in too much on what Mr. Robertson said or didn't say because I don't care.  He has a right to free speech, and I will defend his right to say whatever the heck he wants to say.  As Americans, we are given that right.  We are also given the right to worship any God or practice any religion we choose without fear of retribution from the government.  For that matter, you are also free to not practice any religion or to even refrain from worshipping at all.

That, however, does not excuse what we say.  This freedom of speech that we have should not be practiced capriciously.

Speaking from personal experience, there are times that I agonize over nearly every important word of a blog post.  I know that if I write the wrong thing here that my entire life could be turned upside down.  That's why I don't follow the advice of some of the folks that wish I'd be more vicious here.  I'll be the first to admit that I've toned down and held back my rhetoric both politically and personally here.  I like my job, and I know my employers can read this blog.  It's in the public spectrum.

It appears that Mr. Robertson didn't take this into account when he made his comments, and, if he did, he did so without thinking them through.

Listen, Robertson's been lifted up and defended and pushed down and beaten up enough over this the last few days.  The last thing you want to hear from me is more piling on.  His statements stand for themselves, and I found them personally vulgar and ignorant.  I was not offended, but I was saddened about how much our society values the words of celebrities these days.

Let me finish with this, though.  For those who are standing up and defending Mr. Robertson and his views, you had better be ready to stand up and defend folks like Bill Maher and many others that have been demonized by the right wing media for what they have said.  As for me, I believe in a right to free speech, but I also believe that right comes with an unspoken contract to be responsible for what you say and the consequences that follow.

Sunday, December 8, 2013

Blog Update: Temporary End to Daily Updates 'Til 2014

For the next couple of weeks, the day job is going to be calling and needing my entire and undivided attention.  The holiday season is after that, so I'm putting the blog on semi-hiatus for the next few weeks.

I'll still be posting, and I'm not going anywhere.  I just cannot commit to daily updates.

Here's a rough schedule:
December 9-December 20-Sporadic updates
December 23-December 27-Breaking news only updates
December 30-January 3-Sporadic updates.
January 6-Daily updates resume.

Thanks for your understanding and readership.

Friday, December 6, 2013

In Memoriam: Nelson Mandela (1918-2013)

Yesterday, word came that one of the most remarkable lives on the planet had come to an end.

Nelson Mandela left this world at the age of 95.

As an activist against the policy of Apartheid, Mandela was arrested and charged with inciting workers strikes and leaving the country without permission.  Mandela spent 27 years in prison enduring physical and mental abuse.  He played an active part in overseeing the end of Apartheid policies.

In 1994, he was elected President of the country that threw him in jail, South Africa.  He was determined to heal a country damaged by years of the policies of Apartheid.  He wasn't interested in retribution but in bridging the racial chasm that tore apart South Africa.

I can't do the great man justice with a few words here.  I'm just certain that we will not see another Nelson Mandela.  He was a man of great significance for freedom in the world.  We mourn his loss with the understanding that he is no longer suffering from the health problems that have, frankly, ailed him since long before he was released from prison over 23 years ago.

Nelson Mandela is free.  He is at peace.  Thanks to him, so is South Africa.

Thursday, December 5, 2013

Delph Wants to Spoil Ballot on Straight-Ticket Voting

Sen. Delph
Senator Mike Delph wants you to think before you vote.

The Carmel-based Republican is filing legislation to do away with straight-ticket voting.  He tells Abdul-Hakim Shabazz that it's so people have to actually look at the ballot they vote instead of simply marking a straight ticket oval or pushing the appropriate button and walking away.

As someone that has voted straight ticket in the past, I like having the option, but I understand where Delph is coming from.  I just didn't know that this was such a big problem that there was this groundswell to do away with the straight ticket option.  Other than a few libertarians, I have never really heard anyone rail against it.

I think before I vote.  I don't simply mark a straight-ticket oval without first examining all the candidates.  Of course, I'm in the odd position that I will know many of the candidates on the ballot.  Others are not in my position, and this won't change that.  Now folks will have to agonize over what candidates they want for township advisory board.  I wonder if they will just walk away and leave that portion of the ballot blank.

Most people that take the time to show up at the polls on Election Day have made up their minds.  This will simply slow down the process.  I doubt if Delph's legislation will go anywhere, but I guess we'll see.

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Daley Now Role Model in Different Way

Tom Daley
On Monday, an international celebrity made a big splash with a video announcement.

Britsh gold medalist Tom Daley, a diver, revealed to the world in an announcement on YouTube that even though he still is into women that he is dating a man.  

Daley says his relationship with the unidentified man (rumors say the guy is Hollywood screenwriter Dustin Lance Black) has made him feel like he never has before.  "It did take me by surprise a little bit," said Daley in his YouTube announcement. "It was always in the back of my head that something like that could happen, but it wasn't until spring this year that something just clicked.  It felt right...my whole world just changed right there and then."

Now, why am I here writing on a political blog about a 19-year-old British diver announcing that he's dating a guy?  It's simple.  I want to commend Daley for taking this step in his life and deciding to live it in such a public manner.  "People are going to have their own opinions, and I think people are going to make a big deal of this.  Is it a big deal?  Well, I don't think so."

That's right.  It's not a big deal, Tom.  The more people that say that, the better.  Life is too darn short to worry about who other people can love.  

By the same token, it IS a big deal.  Tom Daley, an athlete and a celebrity, is yet another high-profile person choosing to come out and live their life in the open.  That speaks so much to those who live in fear each day of what people might think about them if only their true selves were known.  For that, Daley also has a message, "I'm still Tom.  I still want to win an Olympic gold medal in Rio2016 for Great Britain.  I'm still motivated as ever to do that."

I think Tom will find plenty of support out there, and I hope his example brings strength to those still living in fear.  It really does get better out here.

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Claytor Discusses Commitment to Serve

Mike Claytor
The Democratic candidate for Indiana Auditor of State wants everyone to know that he is in it for the long haul in the wake of the resignation of Auditor Dwayne Sawyer.

Sawyer suddenly and somewhat shockingly announced his resignation last week, effective December 15.  Sawyer's decision to resign creates another opening in the Auditor's Office that Governor Mike Pence will have to fill.

Democratic candidate for Auditor, Mike Claytor, however, is using the opportunity to tell Indiana voters that he won't quit should he be elected Auditor.

Claytor sent an e-mail note, paid for by the Indiana Democratic Party, with the subject line, "I will not quit" to his supporters.  It detailed his commitment to the office and asked for some financial help.

You might have heard that the Indiana State Auditor, Dwayne Sawyer, suddenly resigned last week. This comes four months after Auditor Tim Berry resigned last July. 
Why is this time frame significant? This week is also the two-year anniversary of the state losing $320 million, which was followed by the state losing $206 million more four months later.
Let me state this plainly: in the span of just four months, the Pence administration lost two auditors. In that same amount of time, the Daniels administration lost more than half a billion dollars. 
We need more stability and accountability in Indiana state government. 
I do not think a political appointee should hold the office of your Chief Financial Officer, which is why I need your help spreading the word about why we need a CPA in the Auditor’s office.
I made a commitment to fight every day, week, and month from now through the end of the election (and beyond) to share information about the Auditor’s office and about how your taxpayer dollars are being spent. Now I’m asking for a commitment from you. 
Will you join one of my monthly clubs? I need supporters who will be with me every day, every month, until we take back the Indiana Statehouse in November of 2014. 
The Bean Counters Club – Join the Bean Counters Club for $10 per month and receive a membership card, advance notice of important issues that will be covered in the campaign, an exclusive invitation to a club member function in October 2014, and the benefit of being on a winning team on November 4, 2014. 
The Add Claytor Club – Help us "Add Claytor" to the Indiana Statehouse with a monthly contribution of $25. Receive all of the benefits above, plus a custom calculator so that you can help add balance to every discussion. 
The Balance the Books Club – Join the Balance the Books Club for $50 per month, receive all of the benefits above, plus an invitation to a monthly conference call update where I will personally outline what is going on in the campaign and cover other issues of the day. 
The CFO Club – Join the CFO Club for $100 per month, receive all of the benefits above, plus an invitation for two to a private members reception election night prior to the traditional IDP election night reception. 
Together, we can balance the books and balance the power. 
Mike Claytor

Smart move by Claytor to make sure Indiana voters know his commitment to not only win the election and stay in office but use the office to guard Hoosier taxpayer dollars.  For more information, visit www.claytor4auditor.com/

Monday, December 2, 2013

World AIDS Day Provides Opportunity to Reflect

The Names Project AIDS Memorial Quilt on display
at the National Mall
Yesterday was World AIDS day.  It was a day to reflect and remember those that have passed, to raise awareness about the disease and how it continues to spread in areas across the world and a day to hope that some day we will live in a world without HIV and AIDS.

When I was an undergraduate at Indiana University, I attended a viewing of the Names Project AIDS Memorial Quilt held at the Indiana Memorial Union.  The display then was just one small portion of the quilt, but I was shocked by how large it was and how personal each individual panel was.  The love that went in to the tributes I saw made an indelible impression.  For me, it's an experience I'll never forget, and I highly recommend that anyone that gets the opportunity to see the quilt takes it.

HIV remains a killer in this world.  Despite the efforts of governments, scientists, and individuals around the world to end the pandemic of AIDS, statistics from 2009 tell us that 30 million have died.  In 2011, 34 million people around the world had HIV.  Areas of Sub-Saharan Africa and other parts of the developing world have been especially hit hard by the HIV virus.

Strides are being made, and progress is, too. People are learning to live with HIV and medical science is preventing it from developing into full-blown AIDS.  It's amazing to think back to where we were 30 years ago and where we are now when it comes to HIV.  While we've come a long way, there's still a long way to go.

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Happy Thanksgiving!

Thanksgiving is tomorrow, and it's time for me to send thanks to all of you for your support and love this past year. Enjoy your time with family and friends.

I'll be back on Monday.

Until then, be careful out there.  If you're planning on frying a turkey, please be extra cautious!

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Indy Politics Reports Sawyer to Resign

Sawyer
Indiana Auditor Dwayne Sawyer will resign this week just four months after taking the job.  That's according to Abdul-Hakim Shabazz's Indy Politics website.

According to Shabazz, "It is unclear exactly what compelled Sawyer to tender his resignation, but it is believed to be personal in nature."  Shabazz said there's no word on any possible replacement by Governor Pence.

Sawyer was expected to run for the office next year.  Mike Claytor is the Democrat in the race.

When we know more, we'll pass it along.

Judy O'Bannon to Remarry

Willsey and O'Bannon Celebrate
After Getting Their Marriage License
Photo by Zach Adamson from Facebook
In case you missed the Indianapolis Star article from last week, former Indiana First Lady Judy O'Bannon will remarry on November 29.  The ageless widow to the late Frank O'Bannon will marry 84-year-old attorney Donald Willsey in Harrison County.

O'Bannon, who lost her husband to a stroke in 2003 after 48 years of marriage, remains incredibly popular across the political spectrum.  Willsey lost his wife of 53 years a few years back to cancer.

I know firsthand how lonely it can be for someone that has lost a spouse.  I have watched my mother struggle through the loss of my father, and I watched my grandmother struggle too for years after my grandfather passed.  It's brutal.  Hopefully, Willsey and O'Bannon's decision to marry will serve as a role model for other couples that think you can't do it after a certain age.

I'm happy that both of these great people have found love again.  I highly recommend the Star article if you get a chance to read it.

I would like to wish O'Bannon and Willsey the best!

Monday, November 25, 2013

Republicans Seem Set to Undermine Ritz

Superintendent Glenda Ritz
Last November, voters went to the polls and voted in overwhelming numbers for Glenda Ritz for Superintendent of Public Instruction.

The voters, who overwhelmingly gave Mitt Romney Indiana's electoral votes, sent Republican incumbent Superintendent of Public Instruction, Tony Bennett, packing.  Unfortunately, for Ritz, the voters also installed an Indiana House supermajority to go along with the supermajority already present in the Indiana Senate.  The voters also, in a closer-than-expected race elected Mike Pence as Governor of Indiana.

It was an electoral coup and an indictment of the policies of Superintendent Bennett, but it did not go far enough.  It did not remove enough Republican power that the GOP could not still control education policy in the state.  The Indiana Constitution makes Indiana's General Assembly so strong.

For all its greatness, the Indiana Constitution says little about the job of Superintendent of Public Instruction.  It just states that there must be one.  The Indiana General Assembly has control of the duties of the office as well as the manner in which the occupant of that office is selected.

Glenda Ritz lives on a blue island in a sea of red at the Statehouse.  She is surrounded by Republicans, and she even finds the folks who are from her own party who are on the State Board of Education appointed, not by her, but by the Governor.  

It's like being the head coach of the Dallas Cowboys.  Your name is on the door, but someone else is running the team.

The Republicans at the Statehouse are determined pretty much to move forward with the status quo and ignore what happened in November of 2012.  They write Ritz off as being the anti-Bennett.  They refuse to realize that what happened to Bennett could happen to just about any one of them.

Ritz has nothing to lose, but the Republicans do.  They have a supermajority to protect, and Mike Pence has higher aspirations.  As many have pointed out, Governor Pence's response to the election of Ritz was to create his own shadow Department of Education.  Yep, the small government conservative with an aversion for spending has created his own state agency likely because he can't control the Department of Education. 

So, when Glenda Ritz gets vilified for walking out of a meeting, realize that she's not really in control.  The rules of the game have changed since January.  She's no longer given the same leeway that her predecessor was, and it's all political.  

Voters voted for a change of course, but the Republicans are going to great lengths to keep the status quo.  The upcoming 2014 session of the General Assembly bears watching.  Superintendent Ritz deserves the same respect that her predecessor got.  Instead, she's likely going to end up a figurehead because the Republican Party won't work with her.

If that happens, let's hope that 2014 gives Ritz some friends at the Statehouse.

Sunday, November 24, 2013

May Back With City of Indianapolis

Mayor Ballard and Carlos May
Photo from Facebook
It is a bit of old news now, but a hearty congratulations is in order for Carlos May.

The two-time candidate for Congress in the 7th Congressional District has rejoined the Mayor's Office as Greg Ballard's Senior Executive Policy Adviser.  

By my count, this is May's third stint with the Ballard Administration.  He was originally a highly-effective Mayor's Neighborhood Liaison.  That's where I got to know him.  He left that job to run for Congress in 2010, but he was defeated in May of that year by Marvin Scott. 

The Mayor hired him back again to serve as Director of Latino Affairs.  He left that job to run full-time for Congress in May 2012.  Congressman Andre Carson won reelection in November.  May joined the Indy Eleven professional soccer club in July as Director of International Media.  He left that job in September and rejoined the Ballard Administration in his new role.

I really like Carlos.  He's a solid guy, and it's no wonder why the Ballard Administration would think so highly of him that it would hire him three times.  

Friday, November 22, 2013

Fifty Years Ago in Dallas...

Minutes before he was shot, John F. Kennedy beams his trademark
smile at supporters and onlookers.
Fifty years ago in Dallas, shots rang out that changed the course of history.

On the afternoon of November 22, 1963, President John F. Kennedy was assassinated as he rode through the streets of Dallas in an open-top limousine.

I wasn't even alive then, but I know it was a shock to everyone.  I have talked to my older family members about that terrible day.  They tell me what they were doing when they found out.  They still can recall details and feelings from that day that might shock you.  One family member can tell you exactly what they were eating when they found out.

Other folks I know remember hearing about Kennedy's death at school.  As they were young, they talk about not knowing fully what everything meant.  They just knew something terrible had happened.

Something terrible did happen.

John F. Kennedy was not your normal President, and none before or since really can compare.  Elected at 43, Kennedy was not only the youngest man to be elected to the office, but he was the President who died at the youngest age (46).  His beautiful wife, Jacqueline, was beloved at just 34 years old.  They had two young children and had lost a child as well.  Unlike many Presidents and despite their enormous wealth, the Kennedys were people that folks could relate to.

We now know about President Kennedy's various dalliances and escapades.  We know that he wasn't perfect, but he was a fine President who was just starting to see his popularity numbers tick upward.  With the Cuban Missile Crisis and the Bay of Pigs behind him, Kennedy was finally starting to get some things done and was hoping to get his stalled civil rights bill through Congress.  His reelection campaign was just starting.

Unfortunately, so many of my generation know of President Kennedy only in what we've read in the history books and seen in clips and videos.  For many of my age, we know him more for his death than his life.  That's a shame.  I would have loved to know what would have been different in this country had, for the sake of argument, Kennedy had survived the assassination attempt.

Kennedy's death was one of the first in a number of high-profile and violent deaths of the 60's in the United States.  Medgar Evers had been shot dead in Mississippi a few months prior to Kennedy's assassination in Dallas.  Malcolm X would be gunned down in 1965 and within a month of each other, Martin Luther King, Jr., and Robert F. Kennedy both were murdered by assassins in 1968.  It was a loss of innocence.

The 1960's came in with the hope of Camelot, and they ended with the despair of Vietnam. Would John F. Kennedy, had he survived, changed things?  Only the alternate historians can debate.

What we do know is that John F. Kennedy was taken from us on November 22, 1963.  That was 50 years ago, today.

Thursday, November 21, 2013

Donnelly Donates Shutdown Pay to Put Food on Hoosier Tables

Joe Donnelly has exceeded my expectations by any measure as a U.S. Senator so far.  I am more proud today of the vote I cast in 2012 for him than I was on the day I cast it.  You can't always say that with politicians.

All it takes is a look into the other U.S. Senator from Indiana's Office to see what a divisive and rudderless leader looks like but back to Donnelly.

We are getting close to the Thanksgiving Holiday.  Senator Donnelly has found a way to make the government shutdown work for 10 food banks across Indiana.  He donated the $5000 he would have earned during the government shutdown to the food banks across Indiana.  They each received checks for $500 from the Senator.

Did I mention how proud I am of my Senator?

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Why Do We Care About Liz Cheney's Views on Anything?

Liz Cheney
(Photo from Campaign Website)
Wyoming U.S. Senate candidate Liz Cheney doesn't support same-sex marriage, but she's way behind Republican incumbent Senator Mike Enzi in the latest polling.  Why do we care what Liz Cheney thinks?

That's right.  Her last name is Cheney, and Dick Cheney moves the dial still in politics.  There are few more people as polarizing as Daddy Cheney.  One thing he has always been clear on, however, is this issue.  He's been someone supportive of his other daughter, Mary, who is gay and who is married.

The war of the words is sad, but I think it says more about Liz than Mary or even Dick.  Liz Cheney is a nasty person, but, again, why does any of this surprise us now?  We've known that Liz is a nasty person for years.  The fact that she would possibly throw her own sister under the bus to get a few votes isn't at all shocking.  It might also be the reason that the same poll finding her well behind Enzi shows how unpopular she's becoming.

This is a Cheney family drama, and I understand why it's a story.  It sells newspapers and probably makes some liberals cackle with joy saying these types of things that Dick Cheney's behavior has brought on himself courtesy of karma.

Maybe it is.  Maybe it isn't.

I honestly can't feel too bad for the Cheneys.  It's their personal family issue.  I just wonder if Liz Cheney's name was something else and that she wasn't related to Dick Cheney if we'd even be talking about a Wyoming U.S. Senate candidate that's trailing an incumbent U.S. Senator by such a wide margin.

Probably not.

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Gettysburg Address Turns 150


"Four score and seven years ago our fathers brought forth on this continent a new nation, conceived in liberty, and dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal.

Now we are engaged in a great civil war, testing whether that nation, or any nation so conceived and so dedicated, can long endure. We are met on a great battlefield of that war. We have come to dedicate a portion of that field, as a final resting place for those who here gave their lives that that nation might live. It is altogether fitting and proper that we should do this.

But, in a larger sense, we can not dedicate, we can not consecrate, we can not hallow this ground. The brave men, living and dead, who struggled here, have consecrated it, far above our poor power to add or detract. The world will little note, nor long remember what we say here, but it can never forget what they did here. It is for us the living, rather, to be dedicated here to the unfinished work which they who fought here have thus far so nobly advanced. It is rather for us to be here dedicated to the great task remaining before us—that from these honored dead we take increased devotion to that cause for which they gave the last full measure of devotion—that we here highly resolve that these dead shall not have died in vain—that this nation, under God, shall have a new birth of freedom—and that government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth."

--Abraham Lincoln, November 19, 1863, Gettysburg, Pennsylvania

Monday, November 18, 2013

November Severe Weather Outbreak Drops Tornadoes Across Indiana

I caught this double rainbow as the
storms moved out.
Except for some strong winds, a few trees, and a unfortunate building collapse, Indianapolis was pretty much spared nature's fury in yesterday's tornado outbreak.

Much of Indiana was not, and the pictures are hard to look at.

The forecast that the meteorologists told us about pretty much came true, and it appears that several tornadoes touched down north and south of the circle city.  Some of my friends even felt nature's wrath experiencing damage and destruction to their homes.

I want to send my best wishes to all of those that were adversely affected by the tornadoes on Sunday.  I wish you the best as you try to put back together the things that were destroyed.

It's also important to express appreciation to the unsung heroes that work at the National Weather Service and the National Severe Storms Prediction Center.  Also to the other weather forecasters out there in the media and online who worked so hard to warn Hoosiers and keep them safe.  It was quite a day of weather.

Friday, November 15, 2013

Thursday, November 14, 2013

SBOE/Ritz Battle Continues with More Drama

Dysfunction at its finest.  I think that's a phrase that could be used to describe the current relationship between Indiana Superintendent of Public Instruction, Glenda Ritz, and the Indiana State Board of Education.

If you haven't heard yet, the meeting of the SBOE came to a screeching halt when Ritz adjourned the meeting, according to the Indy Star.

On Tuesday, Ritz had accused Governor Mike Pence of trying to take over education in this state by developing his own Department of Education known as the Center for Education and Career Innovation.  The Star said the meeting stopped on a dime when the SBOE proposed that the Center for Education and Career Innovation help "develop advice" on math and language arts standards.

Ritz had heard enough and stopped the meeting saying that she need an advisory opinion from Attorney General Greg Zoeller, according to the Star.  Later, she would release this statement.

The entire State Board of Education was appointed by Republicans...including the Democrats, and it's clear now more than ever that these GOP-appointed members want nothing to do with the elected official the voters overwhelmingly put in the position of Superintendent of Public Instruction.  It's a board of unelected education and business experts.  They want to detour her on education policy and delegate things, it seems, to the new Pence-created entity.

That does not seem right.  As I've mentioned before on this blog, over 1.3 million Hoosiers voted  to have Ritz handle the SBOE's policy requests.  What remains to be seen is how this all might shake out at the ballot box in 2014.

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Hawaii To Become 16th State to Recognize Same-Sex Marriages

Hawaii's legislature passed legislation that would make it the 16th state to recognize same-sex marriages.  Just last week, Illinois did the same thing to become the 15th state.  In September, a court case was decided to make New Jersey the 13th state.  
If things seem to be moving fast, they are.  Since January 1, eight states (and the federal government) have been added to the list of government entities now recognizing same-sex marriages.  It's been a remarkable time to be alive and to be a member of the LGBTQ community.

If you go back 10 years, no states recognized same-sex marriage.  Massachusetts was the first in May of 2004.  California, Connecticut, Iowa, Vermont, New Hampshire, the District of Columbia, New York, Washington, and Maine were to follow.  This year, Maryland, Rhode Island, Delaware, Minnesota, New Jersey, Illinois, and Hawaii are the seven states that have been added.  There's still time for more, and there seems to be a new battleground opening.  New Mexico neither recognizes nor bans same sex unions in the Land of Enchantment.  

A few other states like Oregon, Nevada, Wisconsin, and Colorado allow relationships similar to marriage for those who are in same-sex relationships.  You would figure that perhaps someday not in the too distant future that these states might convert over to pure marriage equality.

Eventually some case is likely to bubble up to the U.S. Supreme Court as well, and that might just bring equality more quickly than we think when it comes to same-sex marriage.  One way or another, it's just fun to be here right now and watch as our society becomes more open and more accepting and more tolerant.

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

City-County Council Passes Resolution Urging Defeat of HJR-6 by Indiana General Assembly

The City-County Council passed a resolution urging the Indiana General Assembly to defeat House Joint Resolution 6, 22-6 at last night's City-County Council meeting.

All the Democrats and the majority of the Republican caucus backed the resolution.  Only six Republicans voted against the resolution.  Ginny Cain, Aaron Freeman, Jason Holliday, Marilyn Pfisterer, Jack Sandlin, and Christine Scales were the no votes.  Mayor Ballard has already said he is backing the fight against House Joint Resolution 6.

I'm not going to beat up the six people that voted against the resolution.  I know Marilyn Pfisterer and Jason Holliday personally.  Holliday is my Councillor.  I also know...at least through e-mail and social media...Christine Scales.  I'm sure that Aaron Freeman and Jack Sandlin also had their reasons for voting against the resolution, and Ginny Cain's position should surprise no one.

Still, it's amazing how fast things turn around in this political world we all enjoy.  Just a few years ago, Indy could barely pass a human rights ordinance even with a Democratic majority.  It pretty much cost Republican Scott Keller his place on the Council because he crossed the partisan divide and voted with the Democrats providing the one vote margin of victory for the human rights ordinance.

Monday, a majority of the Republican caucus and all the Democrats said that they agreed that HJR-6 is bad for Indiana.  We've come a long way!

Monday, November 11, 2013

It's Veterans Day

Today, we honor those who have served this country in the cause of freedom, liberty, and the preservation of our rights. Thank you to all that have served and to those that have sacrificed all to make it possible for me to write this blog as a free American citizen.

I know I post this video often here on days like this, but there are men and women that live this song every day. Freedom truly isn't free. So, to all of the men and women that fight and have fought for me...THANK YOU!

Friday, November 8, 2013

Lloyd Enters Race for Clerk

Marion County Coroner
Dr. Frank Lloyd, Jr.
Your Marion County Coroner wants to be your Marion County Clerk when Beth White moves to the Statehouse as Secretary of State in 2015.

Marion County Coroner, Dr. Frank Lloyd, announced on Wednesday that he would be pursuing election as Marion County Clerk of the Circuit Court in 2014. Dr. Lloyd was first elected to his current office in 2008. He was reelected just last year. He has largely been absent from the political scene and associated events for that time.

That figures to change. Lloyd, who served as President of the of the Center for Surgical Science and Trauma at Methodist Hospital for seven years, will now have to campaign hard for the Clerk's position. He's actually starting his run long after an established candidate, Myla Eldridge, has been in the race. Eldridge is the former Director of Elections for the Marion County Election Board and has also served in other positions for the Election Board and in the Clerk's Office.

Constituents have also become used to a visible and active Clerk of the Circuit Court. White has raised the visibility of the office greatly. Her hard work has been noticed by individuals of all political parties and persuasions. Lloyd or Eldridge will both be judged upon the work White has done as Marion County Clerk.

I honestly don't know how to handicap this race right now. Lloyd's entry to the race would normally be a pretty big wild card, but he is the son of a well-known Indy civil rights and civic leader, Dr. Frank Lloyd, Sr. Lloyd, Jr. seems to be acknowledging his father's legacy in his campaign announcement. Dr. Lloyd said, "I have spent most of my career practicing medicine here in Indianapolis, the last 6 years has given me the rewarding opportunity to serve the public. I look forward to continuing that service particularly as we are witnessing roadblocks to our most precious right, the right to vote. My family has a very proud heritage in this community in guaranteeing equal rights for all."

Eldridge has already been out and about speaking to organizations, political and otherwise, in her professional capacity as well as in the role of a candidate for office.

I look for the Marion County Democratic Party to stay out of this one and let it play out from here.  The rest of the county ticket is taking shape.  Julie Voorhies will run for Auditor.  Kate Sweeney Bell is running for Recorder.  John Layton will seek reelection as Sheriff as will Assessor Joe O'Connor and Prosecutor Terry Curry.  Mark Brown, a past candidate for Sheriff, also announced he will be running again in the 2014 primary against Layton.

Thursday, November 7, 2013

Township Trustee Bounced from Office

A Republican Township Trustee in Morgan County has been removed from office after she admitted to stealing $270,000 in taxpayer money.

The Indianapolis Star reports that Sandra Norman, who became Ashland Township Trustee in 2011 after her mother resigned, took the money and then spent it on herself and her friends.  She is supposed to pay back the money she took.  She will be scheduled for sentencing on November 25.

Township government has come under attack for its lack of transparency.  In Marion County, for example, a court battle is waging on because Decatur Township allegedly did not follow the correct procedure in replacing a Township Advisory Board member who passed away.  The Marion County Democratic Party seated a new board member under the existing state law that allows the Marion County Commissioners to fill open positions if the parties do not, but the Republicans claimed they had filled the opening.

I'm not equating the two cases at all, but it does underscore the need for constituents to stay vigilant even at the most often-ignored layers of government.

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Christie Storms Back to Trenton

Governor Chris Christie
New Jersey Governor Chris Christie easily fought off his Democratic Challenger, State Senator Barbara Buono, by about 20 points assuring him a second term and ramping up the speculation about his political future.

Some Republicans are so excited over Christie's win they are hoping that he can turn his performance among minority voters and women into a run for President in 2016.  To quote former Indiana University football coach, Lee Corso, "Not so fast my friends."

CNN reported last night that exit polls said that only 50 percent of Garden Staters believe that the Governor they just overwhelmingly sent back to Trenton would make a good President.  In addition, 49 percent said they would vote for Hillary Clinton in a head-to-head race with Christie.  The good Governor would only get 43 percent, and that's in a General Election race.

Before Christie gets to the General, he must survive the Primary, and, as most of you know, Republican races in the Primary Election season run far more conservative than Mr. Christie is politically.  It would be a very hard for a man with some of the highest taxes in the country to become a small government conservative.  Christie would have to move right to pick up some of the Republican base in order to win.  Ted Cruz, Rand Paul, Sarah Palin, and others all are over there on the right already.  That makes Christie the strange moderate at the table.  He's 2016's version of Jon Huntsman who was pushed aside like a bunch of single ladies trying to catch the bridal bouquet.

Let's face the facts.  Christie beat an unpopular Democrat, Jon Corzine, in 2010, and he did it will less than 50 percent of the vote.  Because of the job he's done in New Jersey, he proved to New Jersey voters that he deserved a second term yesterday.

Over the past year, we have learned a lot about Chris Christie.  He's toned down his act, and he's been able to work across the aisle.  The way he managed the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy showed the way he might manage a crisis when in office.  These are all positive things that make him a very strong General Election candidate.

Back to that pesky Primary thing.  Many voters on the right don't really see bipartisanship as a good thing.  These are, after all, the same folks that gave us Cruz, Paul, Palin, and Richard Mourdock.  Plus, New Jersey is not the rest of the country, and the voters of New Jersey are not the voters of the rest of the country.  .

What Christie did in New Jersey won't matter so much in a Primary.  It will be how far he can go to the right.  When you're a moderate Republican, it's hard to turn right enough to stand the test of the GOP's far right.

McAuliffe Wins Virginia Governorship

Terry McAuliffe
Virginia voters went to the polls and elected a Democrat yesterday to be their new Governor in January.

Terry McAuliffe, who is as insider as insider can get when it comes to the Democrats, defeated Virginia Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli, a Tea Party darling,  I'm glad I didn't have to vote in the Commonwealth yesterday.  Robert Sarvis, the Libertarian, was also a player in this one.

Let's review.  McAuliffe was the Chair of the Democratic National Committee from 2000 to 2005, a very dark period in national politics for Democrats.  He's whiz at raising money and organizing, but he's always been a behind the scenes guy.  Party chairs will tell you that sometimes you break a few eggs to make an omelette.  McAuliffe's tactics have been, by and large, on the negative and nasty side.

There were plenty of negatives to point out with Cuccinelli, one of the Tea Partiest candidates the Tea Party could offer up.  No sense kicking the man while he's down.  It will be interesting now to see how McAuliffe makes the transition between Clinton family friend and party boss to Governor of Virginia.  I wonder how easy the pivot will be.

Finally, some have said that Sarvis' campaign won this for McAuliffe.  I don't know if that's true.  You had two major party candidates here in this race that didn't ignite much passion, and Sarvis.  Perhaps the people that voted for Sarvis knew what they were doing and everyone else stayed home.  Just a thought.

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Wabash, DePauw Ring Monon Bell for Equality

The rivalry between Wabash and DePauw is bitter and longstanding.  If the two schools come together in opposition of something, you know the cause must be just.

Freedom Indiana announced on Monday that Wabash and DePauw have joined the fight against HJR-6 in the name of equality.

The Presidents of the schools, Brian Casey of DePauw and Greg Hess of Wabash said, in a news release from Freedom Indiana,

“The rivalry between Wabash and DePauw is longstanding and hard-fought, but today we stand together to join this coalition and lend our voice to support this campaign."
“Our students come from around the country and around the world, and our fundamental goal is to educate them to think critically, exercise responsible leadership, communicate effectively, and tackle complex problems. This depends on attracting talented faculty and staff, a task that is made more difficult by the passage of this amendment. We are also engaged in the enterprise of fostering ideas and innovation, a mission which inherently depends on an environment of openness and inclusion that would be compromised should this amendment be enacted.”
Wabash and DePauw join Indiana University and major Indiana employers like Eli Lilly and Cummins in support of Freedom Indiana and against HJR-6.  The Indy Chamber also announced it would support the fight last week.

Monday, November 4, 2013

White Makes SOS Bid Official

Beth White
As expected, Democrat Beth White is a candidate for Secretary of State.

The Marion County Clerk made her announcement at the Statehouse today in Indianapolis.

Here's the official announcement:

Standing before the state’s capitol, Marion County Clerk Beth White today announced that she is seeking the Democratic nomination for Indiana Secretary of State in 2014. 
“Our state’s history is steeped in values like working hard, telling the truth and doing right by our friends, family and neighbors – values I like to call Hoosier common sense,” White said. “These are the values I want to bring to Indianapolis as your next Secretary of State.” 
Now serving her second term as Marion County Clerk, White is the chief election official for the nation’s 13th largest city and has championed voters’ rights by expanding early voting, testifying before the legislature to remove barriers to voting and visiting local schools to help young students engage in the voting process. As clerk, she also is the chief fiscal agent and record keeper for the county’s Superior and Circuit Courts. 
In today’s announcement, White noted a 2011 University of Pennsylvania study that found only 38% of US adults could name the three branches of government; an alarming 33% could not name one. This movement away from civics in the classroom has lead to apathy on Election Day, and Indiana finds itself 48th in voter turnout according to the Indiana State Bar Association’s 2011 Civic Health Index. 
“We started yVote! during the 2008 election to capture the enthusiasm to invigorate political interest in our young people,” White said. “Since then more than 2,500 students have registered to vote through this program, and I’m hopeful that bringing the Constitution back to the classroom will lead to a more engaged electorate.” 
Before being sworn into office in 2007, White was a top aide to Indianapolis Mayor Bart Peterson and was a member of the Gov. Frank O’Bannon administration, serving as Chief Legal Counsel and Director of Job Training for the Indiana Department of Workforce Development. As a college student, she interned for Congressman Lee Hamilton and State Senator Vi Simpson. 
“I’ve had the opportunity to work with public servants who understood the value of inclusiveness. They worked hard to make sure everyone had a seat at the table,” added White. “As Indiana’s next Secretary of State, I hope to follow in their footsteps and leave our state a better place for the next generation of Hoosiers.” 
A native of Bloomington, Clerk White is a Phi Beta Kappa graduate of Indiana University at Bloomington and earned her law degree from Georgetown University in Washington. She resides in Irvington on the eastside of Indianapolis with her husband, Neil Marcus, and their young son, Nathaniel. For more information about White’s campaign, visit www.bethwhite.org.

White Likely to Announce Candidacy for Indiana Secretary of State This Afternoon

Marion County Clerk Beth White
At 1:00 p.m. today at the Statehouse, it appears one of the worst-kept secrets in Indiana politics will be revealed.

Marion County Clerk Beth White is expected to announce that she is running for Secretary of State.  If selected as the nominee at the Indiana Democratic Party State Convention in 2014, she will likely face incumbent Connie Lawson and possibly Libertarian Karl Tatgenhorst in the General Election.

White served in a number of roles and positions within local and state government prior to her election as Marion County Clerk in 2006.  A lawyer by trade, she has served as everything from a Deputy Prosecutor to Director of Constituent Services for Mayor Bart Peterson.  White's full bio is available online on the city's website.

It's no surprise that White is expected to announce she is running for SOS.  She has been making the rounds at various functions across the state for weeks.  At last month's Decatur Township Democratic Club meeting, Indiana Auditor of State candidate Mike Claytor said that White would make a tremendous Secretary of State and indicated strongly that she would run for the office.

The Republican snark machine is ramping up against White all ready, but her best calling card is her record.  After a rough beginning, White has done a spectacular job running secure and fair elections in Marion County along with the non-partisan Election Board.  While this is the most visible job of the Marion County Clerk, it's not the only job.  Among other things, the Clerk is responsible for court filings, election filings, collecting child support, marriage licenses, and probably a lot of other things I'm forgetting.  It's not an easy job at all.  White has modernized and streamlined the office.

Secretary of State
Connie Lawson
The race for Secretary of State should be an interesting one.  While Lawson seems like a nice person, she has not been very visible since she was appointed by Governor Mitch Daniels.  She will be starting at almost zero when it comes to name recognition, and I've been told that Lawson, a former State Senator, is not the strongest campaigner in the world.  She does have the power of incumbency and the advantage of having an electorate that has, with one exception, elected Republicans to statewide office with regularity for the past several years.

Karl Tatgenhorst
Raising money and campaigning are two things that Beth White excels at, and I would expect she will make this a competitive race.

Libertarian Karl Tatgenhorst has also announced he will seek his party's nomination for the race.  In 2010, Libertarian Mike Wherry received 5.9 percent of the vote.

Democrats now need to find a candidate for Indiana Treasurer of State to round out their statewide ticket.

At the Marion County Clerk level, Myla Eldridge is expected to be the lone candidate for the Democratic nomination.  After early speculation, it appears other candidates have decided against running.  That said, it's a long way to May.

Friday, November 1, 2013

Fail Fail Old Purdue

Purdue President
Mitch Daniels
On Tuesday, Purdue University opted out of the fight to stop House Joint Resolution 6.

The university said that it would stay out of the matter citing its long history of steering clear of political issues. Indiana University announced on Monday that it supported efforts to stop HJR-6.

While it's just another reason to prefer IU over Purdue, it's a shame that Purdue's own leader doesn't shy away from politics.

Purdue President Mitch Daniels apologized last month after accepting compensation to speak to a conservative group in Minnesota.  Daniels claims his comments were non-partisan in nature, but it really makes Purdue seem a bit hypocritical.

While HJR-6 is indeed playing out in a political manner, its wide-ranging effects on people, including those employees and students of Purdue University who are in same-sex relationships or other relationships similar to that of marriage are anything but political.  They are real, and Purdue is missing an opportunity to do so much good for those individuals who could use its advocacy.  Instead of beating the World's Largest Drum against inequality, Purdue has decided to sit quietly on the sidelines.

At least those downstate get it.  That's another reason why I'm glad my diploma came from Bloomington and not West Lafayette.

Thursday, October 31, 2013

Happy Halloween!


Hope you all have a great and safe Halloween.  Given the weather forecast, be careful out there.

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Halloween Brings Memories of Tragedy 50 Years Ago

Solemn Scene as the dead are identified following the Coliseum Explosion 50 years ago on Thursday
Photo by Joseph B. Young III, Indianapolis Star
Tomorrow, as the city revels in Halloween Night, I hope you'll pause for just a moment and remember one of the greatest tragedies in the history of Indianapolis that happened 50 years ago.

On October 31, 1963, an explosion at the Indiana State Fair Coliseum killed 74 people (some sources say 81) and injured around 400.

Over 4,000 spectators were in the Coliseum to watch Holiday on Ice.  A propane gas leak sparked by the heat from a popcorn popper exploded hurling concrete, debris, and people onto the ice and across the building.  People were crushed.  Some rushing to the scene to help were burned by a fireball that came from the resulting crater.

The pictures are harrowing.  Covered dead bodies lying on the ice at the Coliseum which served as a temporary morgue.  Families were broken.  The city was shaken.

Indy responded as it always does.  News reports tell how the City of Indianapolis came together and supported the victims.  The Coliseum was pieced back together, too, and it stands as a monument today to those that perished.

I've been in that building so many times, but there's not one time that I entered in that old configuration that my eyes didn't wander to the southeast corner of the building.  I always thought about the stories I was told and the pictures I had seen.

When I worked at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, I worked with a tour bus driver named Bob Groover.  Bob, I believe, is still alive today.  He has to be pushing 100.

Bob, when I knew him, was a fun-loving hulk of a man.  He knew ways to cure headaches by massaging your temples, and he always had a joke or two.  Through others, I found out that Bob and his wife, Lois, were there the night of the explosion.  When the explosion happened, Bob, who had survived a wound in World War II by being carried from the field by another soldier, was thrown from his seat.  Bob went to a hospital where he recovered, but his wife was killed.

The loss was personal and tragic for so many.  As you celebrate Halloween with your families, remember those families torn apart by tragedy 50 years ago on Thursday.

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

GOP Says NO Again to Speeding Up Vote Count

Senate Enrolled Act 621 was passed last legislative session and signed into law by Governor Mike Pence.  Those of you that have been reading this blog for any length of time know my opinion on the law that has informally been called the Mayor Greg Ballard Power Grab Law.

One thing buried deep in the law is that in Marion County only that there must be a central count of all absentee ballots that are voted.  The Ballard Power Grab Law does provide an out.  If the Marion County Election Board voted unanimously to allow a different counting procedure other than a central count, then that aspect of the law could be avoided.

Back on October 16. the Election Board voted down a plan that would have restored the old way of counting absentee ballots and a central count is now going to have to happen in the upcoming May Primary.

This means that $600,000 more will be spent on elections, according to Beth White, Marion County Clerk.  White says she'll need 100 more election workers and the Election Service Center will need some updating to accommodate the count and the storage of ballots, according to the Indianapolis Star.

Throughout the legislative process, Republican State Representatives like David Frizzell and Bob Behning stood up and extolled the benefits of central counts.  Kyle Walker, the Marion County Republican Chair, pledged more ballot security and a cheaper cost.  Never could they present a strong argument as to why this change was necessary.  Marion County has not had a problem with ballot security.  No one was disenfranchised or had their votes compromised.

Beth White, on the other hand, has broken down the cost, according to the Star's Jon Murray.  She's not getting any more money from the Mayor's Controller to do anything.  So, she'll make do.  The Election Board will do a great job running an election, but your vote counts may not come out as quickly.  Thanks to the Republican Party, we may not know who won close races on election night any more.

The only thing standing between a central count and the very efficient old way of doing things is one vote.  That vote is the vote of the only Republican on the Election Board, Vincent Perez.  Two votes from Democrats Beth White and Frank Mark Sullivan to Perez's one.  The "Party of No" strikes again.  

Every time we ask a critical question to make it easier to count votes or to make it easier to vote, Republicans become the "Party of NO" in Marion County.  They say NO to satellite voting.  They say NO to delivering the absentee ballots to the precincts where they can be counted.  They say YES to voter ID even though there's no evidence of voter fraud.  They say YES to making it harder to register to vote.

Makes you wonder whose side are they on?  They want to make it harder for you to register to vote, cast your vote, and have your vote counted.  They want to make it more expensive to run elections, but they don't want to provide more money to help run them.  They will pass laws to effect ONE county...a county whose voting population becomes more and more Democratic with each passing year.  

It's really sad.  The Ballard Power Grab's tentacles are starting to spread.  We're feeling the ill effects of that the-wrong-kind-of-history-making legislation.  Thanks GOP.

Monday, October 28, 2013

Two Legendary Indianapolis Reporters Retire Leaving Gaping Holes to Fill

The Indianapolis Star's Mary Beth Schneider retired last week, and WRTV's Norman Cox will retire this week.  With them, about 71 years of covering government will go by the way and replacing that experience and the quality of their reporting will be impossible.

Mary Beth Schneider
She pretty much calls herself a Twitter addict, so Mary Beth Schneider tweeted out her goodbyes last week.  I'll let her write her own story.




---

Norman Cox
After nearly 37 years, WRTV Channel 6's Norman Cox will retire on Friday from his longtime position as Statehouse reporter. 

According to his official bio on WRTV's website, Cox started at channel six in December of 1976.  It was a newsroom that was vastly different than the social media-dominated newsroom we know today.  Cox told WIBC's Terry Stacy on her First Day program that when he first arrived they were shooting stories on film.  Today, there's no physical film or tape in news cameras.  They shoot everything on memory cards these days.

In a larger sense, as the newsroom has changed, Cox has stayed the same.  That's ok.  His solid style and fair reporting of the issues has never become old or tired.  He told Stacy that he loves politics, and it shows. 

So, for all their work, hats off to Mary Beth Schneider and to Norman Cox.  Two great reporters in every sense of the word.  I wish them the best in retirement!

Sunday, October 27, 2013

It's All the Same Love

Photo Courtesy of @indycouncildems
on Twitter
On Saturday afternoon, friends and family gathered to celebrate the union of City-County Councillor Zach Adamson and Christian Mosburg.

I was one of those folks, and I was privileged to be a part of the wedding party.  As one of the so-called besties, I was in charge of one of Zach and Christian's dogs, a boxer named Zed.  Up until the ceremony, Zed had been more calm than the grooms.  That all changed when he wandered into a room full of 300 people or so.  Thankfully, Karen Celestino Horseman, the other bestie, had the idea to bring the dogs together to calm the younger dog down.  So, I joined her on the other side of the stage, and Zed calmed down once he was with his brother, Ziggy.

Needless to say, I didn't get much of a chance to look around once the service began.  I knew the sanctuary was full, but I was focused on Zach and Christian as well as my job as doggie attendant.

Afterwards, as people filed out and then at the reception later, I was struck by fact that there was nearly a bi-partisan quorum of City-County Councillors there including the President of the Council, Maggie Lewis.  On the front row, Mayor Greg Ballard and his wife, Winnie, sat maybe 10 feet from the stage.  There were also other elected officials of all kinds there.  Statewide, countywide, and township officials were also gathered witnesses.

Beyond these individuals and politicians there were many others, and it was a very diverse group of people.  Hundreds of people of different sexual orientations, gender identities, ethnic and racial backgrounds, and of all ages from baby to senior were there.

I'm sure a good chunk of the assembled mass had never seen a same-sex wedding ceremony before.  It was a very diverse, beautiful, and unique ceremony that included readings from variety of religious leaders and a chant from a Buddhist monk.

As they left, so many people commented to me that the ceremony was one of the most beautiful that they had ever been to or witnessed.  Hundreds of people gathered on a Saturday afternoon to watch a ceremony where a man and a man made a commitment of marriage before God.

Think about that.  In Indianapolis.  The city that can't decide if it wants sweet tea or unsweet tea.  The city that was thought of for years as a conservative stronghold.

Twenty years ago, would you have dreamed that?  I mean, would that have seemed possible?  The REPUBLICAN MAYOR of the City of Indianapolis sat in the front row of a ceremony celebrating a same sex union?

Believe it.  It's 2013, and times have changed.  Yesterday's ceremony was a powerful signal because it's no longer about oppression or repression here.  It's about love, and we were all there because we love Zach and Christian.

Now why can't others get that?  Why is this still an issue?  Why did Zach and Christian have to fly to Washington, D.C. to get married?  Why couldn't they have done everything right here in Indianapolis?  Why?

"There are those who look at things the way they are, and ask why... I dream of things that never were, and ask why not?" --Robert F. Kennedy

Yesterday's ceremony was a big step towards asking, "Why not?"

When you reframe the discussion so it's about love and family.  It's hard to ask why anymore.  Why do we keep same sex couples apart because of some fear that the institution of marriage or the family will suffer?  At the heart of the family is love, and it's the same love I saw yesterday.

So, I came home.  I took off my suit and put on my PJ's.  I turned all the lights off, and I sat down on my couch.  I started going through Facebook and Twitter and Instagram messages about the wedding.  The pictures...the messages...the Facebook likes...the Twitter favorites...there was no hate.  Not a hint.  No one cared that Zach and Christian are gay.  They just cared that they are Zach and Christian, and that's the way it should be.

So I finish this on a personal note.

At the reception, I watched two of the best friends I'll ever have dance to Same Love by Macklemore, and it made me really understand the lyrics in a new way.  As they danced, I realized that the love Zach and Christian share is sacred and amazing.  It's personal, and it deserved to be celebrated.  And when the crowd cheered for this verse, it was their love that gave me hope.

"We press play, don't press pause
Progress, march on
With the veil over our eyes
We turn our back on the cause
Till the day that my uncles can be united by law
When kids are walking 'round the hallway plagued by pain in their heart
A world so hateful some would rather die than be who they are
And a certificate on paper isn't gonna solve it all
But it's a damn good place to start
No law is gonna change us
We have to change us
Whatever God you believe in
We come from the same one
Strip away the fear
Underneath it's all the same love
About time that we raised up" --Macklemore and Ryan Lewis
Couldn't have said it better myself.

Thank you for the wonderful honor of sharing your day, Zach and Christian.  Thank you.  Much love.

Friday, October 25, 2013

Ritz's Office Needed Better Media Strategy

Ritz
I'm going to let the specifics of Glenda Ritz's lawsuit over open door law concerns play out in court or in Greg Zoeller's Office.

I'd be remiss, however, if I didn't comment on the way I believe her office has handled the media interest over the lawsuit because that's kind of what I do here.  Sometimes, I feel like an umpire.  I just have to call balls and strikes.  On this particular topic, I have to call a wild pitch.

Ritz's office seemed not to have a particular media strategy on how to deal with the very likely chance that political reporters and general assignment reporters would be interested in the story.  Her Press Secretary looked like he was caught off guard and seemed unprepared to deal with bulldogs like Mary Milz and Jim Shella.  It hurt Ritz's case in the public eye and came off as amateurish and ill-conceived.

I don't know at what level the ball was dropped, but I would have had a strategy before I announced the lawsuit.  These things are always easier in hindsight, but if I were in Ritz's shoes, I would have been the one to announce the lawsuit at a news conference.  I would have been the one talking to the press, and my comment would have been this, "At this time, this is a pending court case, and I have been advised by my counsel to not comment at this time.  Without speaking to the specifics of this case, I believe government should be open and accountable, and this was one of the key planks of my campaign when I ran in 2012.  I will stand up for our students and our teachers when I feel that those principles have been challenged."  The end.  End of story.  End of interview.  If anyone wanted one on one time with me, they would get a version of that sound byte to play.

I know some of the people in Ritz's office, and I know they are good people.  From the outside, it just looked bad.  When the Republicans are trying to get almost anything bad to stick to you, these are mistakes that this office just can't make.  That's my two cents.

I still have faith in Glenda Ritz, and I still strongly support her efforts.

We Are All Made of Stars?

It's Friday.  If you've had a long week, this awesome video will make you think about where we stand in the universe.

Neil deGrasse Tyson breaks it down...

Thursday, October 24, 2013

Dem Field Wide Open for Governor in 2016

2016 is still two election cycles away, but John Gregg's early exit from the race throws the race for the Democratic Gubernatorial nomination wide open.  It also gives us some time for some early handicapping of a wide open field.

The field could become closed tomorrow if one of the candidates I'm about to mention announces they are running, but I don't think you'll see anyone kick off a campaign until next year at the earliest.  For some of these candidates they will have to work harder than others.

Before you read any further, let me begin by saying that this is ONLY for entertainment purposes.  I have no inside information nor have I talked to any of the people about the campaign.  While my opinions may be informed, it's quite possible I left someone out.  It was not intentional.  Also, for the purpose of this exercise, we'll assume that Mike Pence is running for reelection.  Without further ado, a look at the possibilities...

Bayh
Evan Bayh
The former Indiana Governor and U.S. Senator is always in the conversation when any office opens.  Any discussion begins with Birch Evans.  That said, I think that Bayh missed his chance to run in 2012.  I believe Bayh would have beaten Mike Pence in 2012, but he elected to sit it out.  Bayh would likely be more popular among moderates and even Republicans than his Democratic base that likely would support him only because he isn't .  He would have to work hard to regain that loyalty.  Bayh maintains a huge campaign warchest, and he has not come off that money.  Bayh remains an interesting person to think about, but I don't think Dems will wait for him to make his no doubt very deliberate decision.

Simpson
Vi Simpson
The Lieutenant Governor candidate from 2012 for the Democrats would be an interesting and very contrasting candidate to Pence.  If there is a front runner or someone that I think it would be her.  Simpson will have no problem solidifying her base.  Democrats will back her.  Her problem will be bridging the gap between the moderates and those Republicans dissatisfied with Pence.  She is further left politically than most statewide Democrats this state is used to seeing run, but she's not nearly as far left as some on the right would have her.  Will the former Indiana Senate Democratic Leader run?  Should be one to watch.

Hogsett
Joe Hogsett 
Mr. Wild Card.  Joe Hogsett could run for Mayor in 2015.  He could run for Governor or U.S. Senate in 2016.  Hogsett also could choose to stay as U.S. Attorney because the front runner for the Democratic nomination for President of the United States is also a friend of his, Hillary Clinton.  If Hogsett runs for Governor, he will be a tough candidate.  There's probably not a back road he doesn't know or a small diner he hasn't shaken a hand or kissed a baby in.  He was a fine Secretary of State, a past candidate for Congress, Senate, and Attorney General.  Some of those were hopeless campaigns.  On top of it all, he's put together a darn good record as U.S. Attorney, and he has good name recognition and support statewide among the Democratic base.  I think it's much more likely that he will take on Greg Ballard for Mayor of Indy in 2015, but you never know.

Ritz
Glenda Ritz
The Superintendent of Public Instruction won a statewide race as a Democrat in 2012.  I don't think she will run for Governor in 2016, and I have no idea what her plans are.  Someone has created a @Ritz4Gov Twitter feed.  Is Ritz serious about running or does she even want to run for Governor of Indiana?  I have no clue.  You can bet that Republicans will continue to try to throw dirt and mud at her given her popular win over Tony Bennett in 2012.  It's a long way to 2016 for Ritz.  Maybe longer than any of these other candidates since she is currently in statewide office.  She won't struggle for name recognition or campaign funds next time, though.  At this point, I think a run for her feels unlikely, but, as I said for Hogsett, you never know.

Hill
Baron Hill
Baron Hill is a veteran politician with many years in Congress and many campaigns in his history.  He was last seen running for reelection in 2010, and he was defeated by Todd Young.  Since then, Hill has dropped off the map.  I have heard his name more than once as someone that might run in 2016, so I include him here.  I don't know what his intentions are.  Hill, as a candidate for Governor would be interesting.  It's not the first time he's likely thought about running if he is right now.  At one point, Hill was rumored to be interested in running for Governor in 2012, but that was before his defeat.

Buttigieg
Pete Buttigieg
The Mayor of South Bend made news recently by announcing that he would be deployed to Afghanistan on active duty in the Naval Reserve in early 2014.  When he returns, he will have to still face the voters of South Bend should he decide to run for reelection.  We should know any future plans from what he decides to do in 2015 and perhaps how the issues take shape in that race.  Buttigieg, while a great candidate for 2016, may also be a strong candidate in the future.  He's only 31.

Goodnight
Greg Goodnight
Goodnight is the Mayor of Kokomo, and he has been lauded as a more than effective leader in his years in office.  Like Buttigieg and McDermott, he will face reelection in 2015 which will be his third term should he win it.  Goodnight has shepherded Kokomo through a very difficult period, and the North Central Indiana city has not been hit nearly as hard as some of the other cities with heavy manufacturing bases.
McDermott

Tom McDermott
The current Mayor of Hammond is usually brought up in conversation for almost any statewide race these days.  He ran briefly for Senate in 2010.  There was some talk that he might run for Governor in 2012.  It only makes sense he might run in 2016.  His comments in the Northwest Indiana Times would seem to indicate he would entertain a run for Governor, but, if he was quoted correctly, he took some shots pretty big shots at Bayh in the piece.  McDermott's willingness to engage Bayh would seem to indicate to me he's thinking of a run.  Like Buttigieg, McDermott has plenty of time to consider a run if he doesn't want to run this year.  He's 44.

Brad Ellsworth
Ellsworth
The former Vanderburgh County Sheriff and 8th District Congressman put together a credible campaign against Dan Coats in just a few months, but, like many Democrats in 2010, Ellsworth lost in the Tea Party tide that swept many Republicans into office.  Ellsworth has been lobbying, and that could damage his run.  Still, I think he'd be a good candidate for public office again.  I seriously doubt he will be a candidate, but, like Hill, I've heard his name brought up as a possible candidate in 2016.
Henry

Tom Henry
Fort Wayne Mayor Tom Henry gets left out sometimes in discussions about statewide offices, and I don't know why.  First elected in 2007, Henry was given a second term in 2011.  Like the other Mayors I mentioned earlier, he will have a decision to make about running for Mayor again in 2015, but he has some strong accomplishments he can point to as Mayor of the state's second-largest city.  For one, his city has attracted both political conventions.  That's bipartisanship, right?

The field
There are other names out there that might run.  These include former mayors like Jonathan Weinzapfel.  Maybe a City Council member from somewhere across the state will decide to run.  Maybe Joe Donnelly will tire of the Washington gridlock and come home to try a campaign.  Also possible is any number of current and former State Representatives and Senators.  It's still three years off, too!  Much can change!

The race is wide open.