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

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...

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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
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.

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.

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Gregg Takes Mustache Back to Sandborn, Shaves Off Possibility of 2016 Run

Many of you have already heard this news, but John Gregg will not run for Governor in 2016.  The former Indiana House Speaker announced his decision this morning on his Facebook page.

I think it's pretty typical John Gregg--honest and open.

As many of you know, since the election I have not stopped working. While my primary focus has been on my family, law practice and some exciting business opportunities (stay tuned), I have spent countless evening hours and weekends on the campaign trail.

I have attended more than three dozen Jefferson-Jackson Day Dinners and thirty labor meetings, thanking all for their hard work and support during the 2012 election, while asking for their continued support going forward. I have met with scores of Democratic Party leaders, elected officials and everyday citizens around the state, kept the phone lines humming and had more than my fair share of Hoosier cuisine. My intent had been to be our Party’s candidate for the office of Governor in 2016. After all, we ran the closest governor’s election in over fifty years, coming within two and a half percent, while being outspent two-and-a-half times. I believe that we would be victorious in 2016. 
However, as I have been reminded many times over the years, sometimes life events curb one’s focus. I have always been about more than ‘politics’ and over ten years ago I stepped back from the political world and its demands to focus on my family.

It was a great choice – and one I am making again today.

Despite the overwhelming support and encouragement to make another run, I am announcing that, at this time, I am no longer actively seeking the Indiana Democratic Party’s nomination for Governor in 2016.

And while, I may not be a candidate I plan to stay involved. I still care deeply about the issues we talked about in 2012: Jobs that pay a living wage; working to develop our potential as a state with job growth in advanced manufacturing, medical devices, life sciences, energy and agriculture; and taking politics out of our public education system.

However, I as I have known for years and was reminded of that daily during the last campaign, you can affect change without being on a ballot or holding public office. In 2012 I met so many people who made a difference every day who were not officeholders. I intend join their ranks and, as I have for the last thirty years, continue to work to make Indiana a place that we’re proud to call home.

I hope you accept my decision and will support it. As you know, faith is very important to me and I am confident in knowing that whereas I may not know what the future holds for me, I know ‘Who’ holds the future. 
Thank you again for everything you have done for me and my family.

John Gregg
Sandborn, Indiana
Gregg nearly toppled the well-financed and heavily-favored Mike Pence in 2012.  He closed the gap from nearly a 20-point deficit in the polls at one point to just three percentage points on Election Day.  In the three-way race, Gregg and Libertarian Rupert Boneham kept Pence from receiving a majority of the votes.

I briefly exchanged text messages with Gregg this morning, and I won't tell you what he said exactly.  I just know that he seems content.  John Gregg is a good and decent man, and I'm glad that he is staying in the game in some manner.  His voice is needed.

This clears the board for 2016.  What will happen now is anyone's guess.  I'll mull it over tonight and have my opinion here on the blog tomorrow.

Indiana Still Needs Elected Superintendent of Public Instruction

Glenda Ritz
Glenda Ritz made news again yesterday when her office announced that the Superintendent of Public Instruction had filed suit against the State Board of Education over the alleged violation of Indiana's Open Door Law.  You can find more on the lawsuit here.

That's just the latest battle between Ritz and the Pence Administration, and I'm behind her 100 percent because I think is the kind of thing that Glenda Ritz was elected to do.  She was elected to look out for students in Indiana public schools.  She was also given an oath to uphold state law.  She arrived in office with a tremendous mandate because she not only beat the more well-financed incumbent superintendent, Tony Bennett, but she also received more votes than Mike Pence.

What's emerging, however, from Ritz detractors is a replay of the 2004 Superintendent of Public Instruction race.  That year, Joe Kernan (and I believe Mitch Daniels, too) ran on a platform that the SPI position should be appointed and not elected.  Democratic candidate Susan Williams ran on the wacky platform that she would resign immediately upon her election to the office and allow whoever was the Governor to appoint the new SPI.

Dr. Suellen Reed
I remember thinking at the time, why run for something if you're just going to give it up?  I also thought that there should be a somewhat more independent voice for education in Indiana.  I voted for Suellen Reed that year, and I'd do it again.  Dr. Reed won the election and served another four years in office with a sometimes less than warm relationship with Governor Mitch Daniels.

In 2008, Daniels and the GOP plucked a Southern Indiana superintendent out of obscurity and made him the Republican candidate for Superintendent of Public Instruction.  That, of course, was the guy we know now as Tony Bennett.  The "so-called" rock star of the education reform movement that barely beat Dr. Richard Wood and then lost to Glenda Ritz.

All of this is past history.  We still have an elected Superintendent of Public Instruction in Indiana because the Indiana General Assembly has made it so.  Because of state law, they can take that vote away from us at any time.  If that happens, there will be no chance for the voters to speak on education and the direction of education reform in the state.  Instead, it will get lost in the larger race for Governor of Indiana every four years.

Dr. Tony Bennett
Many supporters of the movement to appoint the Superintendent of Public Instruction say that it would take politics out of education.  I disagree.  You are never ever going to get politics out of education under our current system.  It's just not going to happen.  Appointing the Superintendent of Public Instruction won't change the fact that it's going to be a political appointment.  Appointed just makes no sense to me.

It's likely that this upcoming General Assembly session that the power to elect our Superintendent of Public Instruction will be taken away from us come 2016.  I just feel it.  This would be another mistake by the Indiana General Assembly.  Hoosiers had substantive concerns about education in 2012.  Those concerns were so big that they sent the Republican incumbent for Superintendent of Public Instruction packing.

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Indy Chamber Announces Throws Support to Opposition of HJR-6

The Greater Indianapolis Chamber of Commerce, better known as the Indy Chamber, has announced that it will oppose efforts to pass House Joint Resolution 6 in the upcoming General Assembly session and support efforts by Freedom Indiana and others to defeat the legislation.

HJR-6, if passed, would put marriage equality on the ballot in 2014.  If the voters approved the language of HJR-6, it would be placed in the Indiana Constitution banning legal recognition of marriage of people of the same sex or people in "a legal status identical or substantially similar to that of marriage."

Besides being bad for attracting talented individuals to our state and region, the Indy Chamber points out that no one knows what the effects of HJR-6 would be on existing state and local laws and employer policies.  Opponents estimate this simple amendment to the Indiana Constitution would change hundreds of laws on the books, and they say it would effectively write discrimination into the Indiana Constitution.

It appears all of this was taken into consideration when the Indy Chamber made its decision.  The Indy Chamber's Chair of the Board of Directors, John Thompson, said in the Indy Chamber's news release announcing the position, “The proposed marriage amendment does nothing to help show the nation that Indiana is a place that welcomes all, not just some, and we must be mindful of how actions such as this will impact our competitiveness on a national and global level.”

The statewide Indiana Chamber of Commerce has said it will not take a position on HJR-6.  Wonder if the Indy Chamber's backing of the opposition might help change the minds of the statewide chamber?

You can read the Indy Chamber's press release here.

Rokita's Pro-Default Votes More Insidious Than ACA

Rep. Todd Rokita
Todd Rokita is back at it.

Last night on his Facebook page, Todd Rokita posted this article by the Cato Institute's Daniel J. Mitchell which was crossposted on the apparently conservative right website, The Commentator.  Rokita (or his staff) added as a part of the update, "One of the reasons ObamaCare is #insidious."

The headline of the article reads, "The perverse economics of Obamacare: Earn less, get more," and blog post really doesn't disappoint extolling the benefits of earning less money to get more from the government.  It's stunning work.

With no disrespect, using The Commentator as a source is like someone using my blog as a source for anything.  I'm not a primary source.  While I do journalism here, many times, I push an agenda.  That's the nature of opinion writing and commentating.  I'm just honest about it.  Others aren't.  My opinion is from the left of center, and it colors my view of the world.  Take it or leave it. That's who I am, and it's what I write.

Second of all, if you look up the word insidious in the dictionary, it will tell you that it means something that was intended to trap people somehow.  Insidious is something that will spread and be harmful.  I still fail to see how the Affordable Care Act, most of which hasn't even rolled out yet, will be insidious.  Maybe Congressman Rokita just learned a new word and thinks he needs to use it.  Words are important.  Calling a law insidious is quite a commentary.

What's insidious is the view Congressman Rokita has of the American people who keep him in Congress.  Rokita, like the blogger he uses as source material, believes that Americans are apparently a country of takers.  That we will sit back and say gimme gimme gimme.  That's a sad and cynical view of Americans and America.  It's also nothing new from Rokita.

Perhaps I've misjudged the Congressman.  He probably knows what insidious means.  After all, Todd Rokita has proven with his votes that he's more than willing to tank the economy and allow our country to default by opposing the increase of the debt ceiling.  With all due respect, these actions are far more insidious to our country than any government program that has yet to roll out.

Monday, October 21, 2013

Animal World Rebelling Due to Obama Mind Control

Now that I have your attention from my Alex Jones-like headline, enjoy this odd news story.

As we speculated on Monday's JohnnyStir Show, the folks on the far right will find some way to blame Obama for this one.

Saturday, October 19, 2013

Friday, October 18, 2013

Mosburg, Adamson to Wed Saturday in D.C.

Mosburg, Adamson, and some tall dude in the middle
This weekend, in Washington, D.C., two of my most dear friends are going to get hitched and a third one of my friends is officiating.

As most of you know by now, Christian Mosburg and Zach Adamson will be married this weekend.  My friend, Karen Celestino Horseman will preside in the wedding.  I couldn't be happier for Christian and for Zach.

I can't remember exactly when I met Zach and Christian, but I think it was probably in late 2007 or so.  It may have been earlier.  Certainly other people have known them longer than I have.  I would say that in this relatively short time, I've gotten to know them quite well.  Even as both of them have gotten more "famous", they have remained the same people...still devoted to service and to each other.

On October 26, I will be a part of the ceremony back here in Indianapolis to celebrate their union.  I am honored that I was asked, and I could not accept fast enough.  I even went out and bought a new suit for the occasion.

I only hope that someday I'll be able to ask Zach, Christian, and Karen to be a part of my ceremony.  Maybe by the time I'm ready, I won't have to go outside of Indiana to make it official.  That's another blog post for another day.

For now, all I can say is congratulations to Christian and Zach.  Words can't express accurately how happy I am and excited I am for you both.

Thursday, October 17, 2013

Government Shutdown Ends; Booker Elected

Well, the government shutdown is history...for now.  The can has been kicked, and the Republicans have been exposed.

In the end, they, as many people have pointed out, got exactly nothing.  There was no real change to the Affordable Care Act, and the country's debt ceiling got raised.  The government also reopened.

That means that for all the huffing and puffing and all the terrible side effects of the government closing, nothing changed.  We are almost in the same position we were when the whole thing happened...with a higher debt ceiling.

So, I can't analyze this.  It was stupid, unnecessary, and everyone behind it should apologize to the American people.  Hopefully, the bums that brought this upon America will be going home in January of 2015.

With gerrymandering, I have my doubts.
In other news, Cory Booker won the special election to the U.S. Senate in New Jersey.

The election polls showed the gap more narrow as voters began to tune in to the race, but Booker won by a wide enough margin to take the seat easily.  Booker's opponent, Steve Lonegan, had been backed by Tea Party warriors like Sarah Palin and Rand Paul.

It will be interesting to see how Booker does in Washington, D.C.  The Senator-Elect was, of course, Mayor of Newark, New Jersey and has had a national profile for many years now.  I'm interested to see how he continues to interact with his constituents.  If he runs his Senate office in the same manner that he has run the Mayor's Office in Newark, it should be a change for the sometimes stuffy Senate.

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Ritz Forecasts Rough Road Ahead at Statehouse

Glenda Ritz sees bad things coming.The Indiana Superintendent of Public Instruction told WTHR that she believes that state government will continue to try to undermine her authority as schools chief.

Governor Mike Pence in August created an entirely new state agency that some have described as a shadow Department of Education.  Ritz's recent battles with the GOP nominees to the State Board of Education have been extremely public.

Need teachers and their supporters remind Governor Pence what happened in 2012?  Glenda Ritz, with little campaign cash and name recognition, somehow took down the well-financed and heavily-favored Tony Bennett.  In the process, she got more votes than Governor Pence did in his race against John Gregg and Rupert Boneham.

I guess that whole election was way too long ago for them to actually remember.  I guarantee that Ritz's supporters haven't forgotten and are ready to send more government officials packing, if necessary.

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Council, Mayor Reach Budget Deal

And we have a deal!

The City-County Council reached a budget deal with Mayor Greg Ballard that does lots of things, but it mostly shows that Democrats and Republicans CAN work together and put partisan issues aside for the greater good.

Councillor Zach Adamson appeared exclusively on the JohnnyStir Show last night on and said that both sides came out the "best they possibly could come out" given the budget situation and the needs of the city.  Adamson expressed concern over the CIB budget that he voted against and the "continuing subsidies" going to the Pacers and the Colts while the city is not addressing other needs.

All parties, however, should be credited for doing what our federal government cannot do, and that's agree to negotiate both ways.  Both sides had to give to get something done, and it's not like we were negotiating over the non-negotiable.  That's the problem in D.C.  Republicans want to negotiate a duly passed law that was signed by the President and adjudicated by the Supreme Court.  There's no starting point for negotiation there. When I negotiated the price of my house, I paid more than I wanted, but the previous homeowners took less than they wanted.

Indy can show those D.C. folks a thing or two.  Sincere congratulations to Council President Maggie Lewis, Council Minority Leader Michael McQuillen, and to Mayor Ballard for making our local government look ten times better than the federal government right now.

Monday, October 14, 2013

Markle Might Be Republican to Watch for Future Despite Long Odds Against Summers

Andy Markle
As Republicans go, Andy Markle already appears to be a different kind of Republican.

Markle is openly gay, pro-choice, against HJR-6, and is not afraid to take on the establishment.  You may remember Markle was among those behind Pencership when Mike Pence and his staff attempted to censor the Governor's official social media pages.  It was Markle and friends that cataloged it all on the website,

In 2014, Markle will take his social media skills and marketing expertise and apply them to a run for State Representative.  He will need all his skills because the road ahead appears to be a steep uphill climb.  His run in District 99 will put him up against one of the most powerful Democrats in the Indiana House, Vanessa Summers.

Rep. Vanessa Summers
Back in 1991, Summers replaced her father in the House.  Since then, she's made a name for herself as a vocal advocate for her constituents.  This past session, Summers was among the loudest voices in opposition
to what would become Senate Enrolled Act 621, the Greg Ballard Power Grab.  She has a strong reputation for knowing her constituents and being a very responsive member of the Indiana House.  She has also worked her way into a leadership position as the Chair of the House Democratic Caucus.  She is tough, and, in elections, she is very tough to beat.

Back in 2012, Summers was reelected by a wide margin taking in 83 percent of the vote.  Her Republican opponent, David Blank, only mustered 17 percent.  In 2010, a bad year for Democrats, Summers still received over 67 percent in her old district.  She's been reelected by wide margins in every election.  A funeral director by trade, she has definitely laid to rest her opposition's campaigns with ease for years.

It's hard to fight the numbers and a great incumbent, and I'm sure Markle knows that.  Heck, with other Republicans out there that still may enter the race against Summers, we don't even know if Markle will directly face Summers in 2014. Still, it's hard not to recognize Markle's efforts as a pro-gay, pro-womens' reproductive rights, pro-bi-partisanship Republican.  He, like other moderate Republicans, are the future of the GOP.  They just have to get people to pay attention.

I'd rate Vanessa Summers seat as safe, no matter the opponent, because she has served House District 99 with distinction and deserves to continue in that role.  Given his interesting biography and stances on issues, I'm also going to put Andy Markle in the back of my head as a Republican to watch for the future.

Thursday, October 10, 2013

Saturday Night Live Parodies Government Shutdown

If you haven't seen it by now, SNL took on the government shutdown on Saturday, and I think they nailed it!  Who know Michele Bachmann and John Boehner could sing?

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

Polling Shows Dems Competitive in 2014 Race for U.S. House Control

Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi
Public Policy Polling says the GOP might be in trouble in 2014 and that might lead to Republicans' worst nightmare: Speaker Nancy Pelosi.

The Huffington Post reported yesterday on PPP's poll that states that Democrats have a chance at regaining the U.S. House, and that can't be good news for John Boehner and his caucus in the House.

Listen, it's way too far out to give any solid predictions about what might happen in 2014, but it's clear that this whole government shutdown mess is going to take a lot of damage control by the Republicans after this is over.

At this point, President Barack Obama is only battling what history will say about his presidency.  He doesn't have to run for anything anymore.  The Republicans, however, have many things to worry about in 2014.  Holding the House is paramount to avoid a lame duck President with a Democratically-controlled House and Senate.

The wind is blowing at the backs of the Democrats at the moment, but it's important to point out that there is no joy in this.  Everyone in Washington bears some responsibility for what happens, and, in this 24 hour news cycle dominated by social media, the wind is just one instant away from turning back against you.

Still, Speaker Nancy Pelosi would have a good ring to it again.  At least I think so.

Monday, October 7, 2013

A Tale of Two Tweets's a heck of a thing.

Today, Mayor Greg Ballard's spokesperson, Mark Lotter, tweeted the following nugget of news.

If you followed Lotter's link to IMPD's official Twitter account, you would have found this tweet.

Granted, we don't know all the details or where the investigation of this case above might lead the investigators, but early details show that the victims were shot. It just seemed like a tale of two tweets telling two different stories.  The data may say one thing, but it sure doesn't feel like violent crime is down in this city.  Does it?

JohnnyStir Show Preview and More on Rokita

Later tonight on the JohnnyStir Show, I'll have a big time lineup of guests.  Besides my regulars, Matt Stone and Chris Jackson in the Monday Agenda, I'll be joined by two legislators.

Congressman AndrĂ© Carson will call-in about 9:00 p.m. from Washington, and I'm sure we'll get around to talking about the latest efforts to get through this government shutdown.  Following that, I'll talk to State Representative Karlee Macer about how Hoosiers are being affected by the shutdown in Washington.

Feel free to join in at 9:00 p.m. on or just see the link in the
sidebar of the blog.

More on Rokita:
When I wrote my blog post on Todd Rokita for Friday, I was unaware of the exchange that happened between him and Carol Costello of CNN.  I'm sure you've seen the video by now.  If not, see below...

Rokita and other Republicans don't like to be questioned by someone taking the opposite position.  Sometimes that's what journalists do.  They take the opposite side in order to question someone's position on an issue.  Tim Russert made a career out of it, and few questioned him.

As far as the finish to the interview where he unleashed the "beautiful" wasn't Rokita's finest moment.  It's never appropriate to do that to a journalist.  I doubt if he would have told Anderson Cooper he was handsome.

Friday, October 4, 2013

Rokita Rehashing Obamacare Fight

Todd Rokita tweeted the other night as he voted to essentially shut down government that he was doing things he could to keep it open.

What a joke.

Fact of the matter is that Rokita is one of the ones rehashing a three-year old bill that is going into effect shutdown or not.  He's even rehashing it with old and tired talking points.  You know...the government is going to make your healthcare decisions one.  That your healthcare costs will rise.  That it costs too much and adds to the deficit.  That employers are cutting workers because of the bill's effects (when the bill hasn't even come into effect).

This is the crux of the argument.  If Obamacare is a bad bill, leave it alone.  It will fail.  What are the Republicans so afraid of?  Let it take effect and reap the political rewards later for saying you were against it.
Instead, the GOP and guys like Todd Rokita are pushing talking points that the Affordable Care Act is one of the most "insidious" pieces of legislation ever.  I'm sorry.  The United States has done far worse things than attempt to make sure its citizens have access to quality health care.  Just ask our Native Americans.

Anyway, Todd Rokita can keep on this talking point barrage all he wants.  He talks while the government stays shutdown.  His ilk asked for this fight, and it's on the Rokitas, the Todd Youngs, and the Marlin Stutzmans of the world.

Thursday, October 3, 2013

Claytor Pursuing Democratic Nomination for Auditor of State

Democrat Mike Claytor continues to wander Indiana drumming up support for his campaign for Auditor of State.

Claytor has produced a video introducing himself and briefly summarizing the issues of the campaign.

If chosen at the Democratic State Convention in summer 2014, Claytor will face likely Republican candidate Dwayne Sawyer.  Sawyer was just appointed Indiana Auditor of State by Governor Mike Pence after Tim Berry (finally) resigned to become the Chair of the Indiana GOP.

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

Bailey Throws Hat in Ring for Democratic Nomination in Indiana CD9

Bill Bailey
Today, Democrat Bill Bailey will officially announce his candidacy for Congress in Congressional District 9.  He'll do it in front of the Social Security Administration Building in Bloomington at 10:00 a.m. and again in New Albany in front of that city's Social Security Administration Building at 1:00 p.m.  The Southern Indiana Democrat is bidding to challenge incumbent Todd Young in November of 2014.

Bailey's campaign news release touts his experience as a past state legislator, former Mayor of Seymour, Chamber of Commerce President, and business owner as reasons why he's qualified to go to Congress in 2014.

In his news release, Bailey says he believes Congress is dysfunctional and needs new representation, "We need a representative in congress who believes in term limits and not congressional stepping stones and ladders to higher office. We need someone who knows what it is like not to have health insurance for his family. We need someone who believes that people deserve the same equal treatment as corporations. Like never before we need a congressional representative who isn’t owing to extremist factions and is willing to work across the political aisle to get things done – someone who will work for the futures of our children and grandchildren."

The 9th District was formerly represented by Democrats Lee Hamilton and Baron Hill, but the redistricting following the 2010 census was not particularly kind to Democrats.  Last time around, Shelli Yoder gave Congressman Young a good run but ended up losing to the ex-Marine, 55 to 45 percent.

More Democrats could potentially get into the race for the Democratic nomination against Bailey, but we'll see what happens over the coming months.

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

Bates Taking Early Steps to Build Campaign for Treasurer

Don Bates, Jr.
Looks like the race for Indiana Treasurer of State might be contested on the Republican side.

Financial Advisor Don Bates, Jr. of Richmond is beginning to take preliminary steps to enter the race for Treasurer of State, according to Abdul-Hakim Shabazz's Indy Politics website.  Bates was a past unsuccessful candidate for U.S. Senate in 2010 and U.S. Congress in 2012.  In 2014, looks like he wants to try to be Treasurer.

I'd say it figures to be an uphill climb for Bates.  Marion Mayor Wayne Seybold has already been in the race and has been picking up the endorsements of county chairs.  Seybold recently came up with the endorsement of Marion County Republican Chair Kyle Walker.

Republican insiders tell me that Bates is loading up on the same folks that ran Richard Mourdock's wreck of a Senate campaign in 2012.  I have also heard concerns that Bates' far right views could be something that hurt him in a general election race.  Mourdock, of course, is forbidden from running for another term by the Indiana Constitution.

As with the races for Auditor of State and Secretary of State, the nominee for Indiana Treasurer will be picked at the Republican State Convention in beautiful Fort Wayne during the summer of 2014.

No Democrats have thrown their hats in the ring just yet for the Treasurer's job.  South Bend Mayor Pete Buttigieg was the 2010 Democratic nominee.