Friday, May 31, 2013

Beth White Clearly Strongly Considering Statewide Run

Beth White, John Gregg, and
Henry County Sheriff Candidate
Stacey Guffey
(from Gregg for Governor Facebook Page)
While I was doing research for yesterday's blog post on John Gregg, I came across a couple of photos on Gregg's Facebook page that may hint something a little more strongly than we may have considered before.

In a few of the photos (like the one published here), Marion County Clerk Beth White is pictured making the rounds at parades and Jefferson-Jackson Day Dinners across the state.   In this particular picture, she's in Henry County participating in the Memorial Day Parade.

As we've previously reported, White cannot run for Marion County Clerk again, and she has reportedly been considering a run for the Secretary of State's Office.  I'd say that the pictures on Gregg's page show that she's more than just considering that office.  I won't insult your intelligence as you can do the math that I did.  It's becoming a really badly-kept secret.  I think Beth White is running for Secretary of State.

Smartly, White is clearly trying to raise her profile and be seen by Democrats and others.  It won't be a Primary Election race, however. Each party's Secretary of State candidate is selected at their respective party conventions sometime in the summer of 2014.

For the Democrats, the last time the SOS was on the ballot, there was a hotly-contested battle between two Central Indiana candidates.  Tom McKenna and Vop Osili battled it out all summer across the state.  Osili ended up winning the nomination by a surprisingly wide margin at the convention.  Of course, folks know pretty much what happened after that.  Does Charlie White ring a bell?

On the Republican side, Connie Lawson is expected to run for a term of her own.  Why not?  She's been an extremely under the radar Secretary of State which is a complete change from either of her two elected predecessors, Todd Rokita and Charlie White.

Beth White will provide an excellent and worthy opponent for Lawson should both be nominated or renominated at their respective party conventions.

Thursday, May 30, 2013

Gregg's Robust Campaign Schedule Sparks Speculation

John Gregg
Former Indiana House Speaker John Gregg continues to work the political back roads of Indiana, and people are talking.

Last week, WISH-TV's Jim Shella wrote a short piece on his blog talking about how the mustachioed one is continuing to visit Jefferson-Jackson Day Dinners across the state (Shella says 17) and has kept his Facebookhttps://www.facebook.com/GreggForGovernor?fref=ts page up and running as well.  He's clearly thinking about something.

Congress?  Maybe.  Gregg would be a great candidate in the 8th Congressional District.  He's incredibly popular in his own area, and he knows the home area very well.  With Larry Bucshon potentially under attack from forces within his own party, Gregg could sweep in and possibly either push the incumbent or the person that upsets him.  It would seem to make sense, but Gregg isn't really concentrating his efforts in the 8th.

Instead, Gregg has been seen across the state in parades and other events.  He appeared in a Memorial Day parade in New Castle.  He was over in Fayette County.  He was in Rising Sun.  He's been in Indy.  He's been all over the state hitting the 3rd District JJ in Northeast Indiana, too.  That tells me he's running for something statewide.

It could be Governor again, but it could also be U.S. Senate.  Dan Coats' U.S. Senate seat will be up in 2016.  Coats will be in his 70's when the election rolls around.  He seems to be in good health, and he certainly could run again.  Gregg would be a worthy adversary.  If Coats decides he doesn't want to run, then it's an open seat.

Does John Gregg really seem like a U.S. Senate kind of guy?  No.  To me, the Senate might be too stuffy for the small town lawyer and raconteur with a down home style.  John Gregg was born and raised in Sandborn, and that's where he still lives today.

I think Shella's implied conclusion is likely correct.  John Gregg's likely running for Governor again to try to make it a rematch between himself and Mike Pence.  It's always good to start early.  John ran a great race last time around coming extremely close to pulling a major upset after trailing big in the polls.  2016 would give him a second bite at the apple.

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Ballard Represents Republican Best Chance at Keeping Mayor's Office

Ballard
In his column which touted Joe Hogsett as a potential candidate for Indianapolis Mayor in last week’s Indianapolis Star, columnist Matt Tully hit many of the right notes about why Hogsett makes an attractive candidate to lead the city.

Tully also says, in the column, that Mayor Greg Ballard has no reason to run for a third term and should essentially move on. I don’t think that will happen.

While Ballard may not have incentive to run for a third term, he represents the best chance that Republicans have of holding on to the seat. Unless someone else of stature moves in (and I don’t know who that would be) Ballard can raise the most money of any candidate because he starts with the biggest bank account.

We know Hogsett can raise a lot of money. As I’ve said many times, Hogsett’s political rolodex is one that is deep and impressive. Hogsett can and likely would bring in some heavy hitters in national politics to campaign with him and to help him raise a lot of money.

The question will come to whether Ballard feels like putting his undefeated record on the line or not. Since the Marion County Republican Party didn’t back him so much in 2007, it’s questionable whether he would feel loyalty to the GOP in 2011. With his entire record on display, it might be tough for Ballard to walk away without defending it, and Ballard advisor Jen Hallowell hinted a few weeks back that hizzoner is all but sure to run again. I do think this becomes a Democratic seat in 2015 if Ballard decides to sit on the sidelines pending some amazing move-in candidate.

Hogsett is not the only Democrat that can win or that is rumored to be considering a run for Mayor. Ed Delaney said on the floor of the Statehouse that the seat is attractive. Maggie Lewis has been rumored to be at least thinking about it as has Vop Osili. Brian Mahern seemed to start out like fast moving forest fire, but he has since seemed to cool his jets.

2015 is two years off, and there is a lot of time to figure out what Hogsett, Ballard, and others will do. This might be a gross understatement, but I guarantee that this won’t be the last blog post here about this race.

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Brown Won't Seek Reelection

Trustee Russell Brown
Lawrence Township Trustee Russell Brown will not seek reelection as Township Trustee in 2014.

In a statement received by Indy Democrat, Brown says that he's takes pride in his four plus years in office, but it's time to move on.

From the statement:
“I have been grateful for the opportunity to serve the people of Lawrence Township and I’m proud of what we've accomplished during that time...but I feel it is time for another individual to have the chance to continue the progress we have made.”
The Democrat, who is also an attorney, took office in 2009 to finish out the term of the previous trustee. Brown was elected to his own term in 2010.  Previously, he had run against the always tough to beat Jim Merritt for the Senate seat in that area in 2006.

I doubt if we've heard the last of Russell Brown.  It's not like he's reached retirement age, and he's done a great job in Lawrence Township.  Besides starting a very user friendly website, Brown has brought his office into the social media age as well with a Facebook page.  It's important for township government to do these things and let people know what's going on.  Brown also shepherded his fire department into a merger agreement with IFD.  Unlike most elected officials, Brown voluntarily gave up part of his own salary as Trustee to help balance the books.

That's next level thinking by a township government official.

As far as 2014 goes, Chris Bowen appears to be a Libertarian candidate for the office according to his Facebook page.  Bowen ran for Mayor of Indianapolis in 2011.

Monday, May 27, 2013

Memorial Day

As we celebrate this Memorial Day holiday with family and friends.  Never forget the sacrifice of those that have given their lives so that we can live on in freedom.  Also, remember the sacrifice of the people who are currently in uniform serving with distinction across the world.  Thank you.

Friday, May 24, 2013

Why is Kyle Walker so Angry?

Kyle Walker is mad.

The Marion County GOP Chairman is mad at the Indy Star’s Matthew Tully over a column that criticized Mayor Greg Ballard for being absent from the scene when U.S. Attorney Joe Hogsett announced charges against two city employees for allegedly mishandling the city's land bank program.

The Twitter spat began sometime yesterday with the Chair giving it to Tully over an interview that Tully did, but I did not see on WTHR. 


After Democratic PR specialist Jen Wagner pointed out that Tully is a columnist, Walker's attack continued on Tully.  


It seems that Walker doesn’t understand or care to understand that Tully is a columnist. Columnists get paid by newspapers to write their opinions. They are not beholden to the same journalistic rules as let’s say a reporter like John Tuohy, Mary Beth Schneider, or Jon Murray. It’s the job of the columnist to be the opinionated one, and it is up to the reader to agree or disagree.

Chairman Walker
By criticizing Tully’s body of work, Walker is throwing his own Mayor under the bus because Tully’s articles have sometimes been glowing in praise for Ballard. 

I clearly am biased, but I think that almost everyone outside the Ballard Administration could see that the announcement of alleged wrongdoing right under the Mayor’s nose is not a good thing politically. The fact that it took almost one full day for him to respond at an unrelated event was another embarrassment for the Mayor.

Tully just said that Mayor Ballard should have owned the scandal. Many times, it’s how you deal with those things in the first few hours that will determine how they ultimately are placed at your doorstep. The Mayor’s inaction and then less-than-stellar response when he was finally in front of the media was simply a black eye for the Ballard Administration.

On another level, I really can't believe that Walker would take to Twitter and try to start something with one of the city's biggest political voices.  Some criticize Tully, but he is one of the few political columnists of the city's largest newspaper.  You really don't want to tick these folks off.

It's clear that Tully ticked Walker off by telling the truth.  It must be the truth that makes Walker angry.

Thursday, May 23, 2013

Weiner's Back and Battle With Quinn Should Be a Good One

Christine Quinn
Anthony Weiner
Anthony Weiner is running for Mayor of New York, and he finds himself with an uphill climb ahead.

Weiner enters the race behind the Democratic Party front runner, City Council Speaker Christine Quinn, but should have the money for a more than credible run for the office. Quinn vs. Weiner will be a long and tough race.

Just a couple of years ago, Weiner was a fast-rising star in the Democratic Party both in New York and nationwide.  He was brash and outspoken and seemed ready to conquer the political world.  His downfall was swift and self-inflicted after tweeting naked pictures of himself to a woman.  The pictures ended up being released by political enemies, and Weiner's career seemed over as he resigned from Congress in disgrace.

Time fixes all things in politics, and Weiner is staging a comeback.

Here is the intro video to his campaign.


It's very well done.  The video concentrates on the themes of his campaign while trying to reestablish the idea of the Anthony Weiner New Yorkers and Democrats across the country came to know and love.  Will he win the nomination?  Time will certainly tell.  Quinn has many things working in her favor and, to me, seems to be the best candidate, but I'm sure she's sorry to see Weiner in the race.  She can't ignore him.

For the record, here's her campaign intro video.

It's a long way to the Primary in September.  I'm sure will see more about this one between now and then.

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Politics of Land Bank-gate Quite Obviously Don't Favor Ballard

Mayor Greg Ballard
Yesterday, the Ballard Administration was flat out caught flat footed and completely embarrassed by U.S. Attorney Joe Hogsett.  Hogsett announced a slew of federal charges against two city employees.  Five others outside of city government were also charged in the case.

I'm not going to parse the details of the case. The IBJ has the story here.  I always look at the politics of the case, and, anyway you slice it, the politics don't work well for the Mayor.

Indy Star columnist Matt Tully argues that when members of the Ballard Administration are being brought up on federal charges the Mayor needs to be visible at that time, and he wasn't.  Ballard's absence speaks loudly.

No one is accusing the Mayor himself or anyone in the highest level of the administration of anything illegal.  In fact, it's pretty clear that Ballard didn't know anything about the investigation before it hit.  I'm sure that sends a chill up the Mayor's spine, and it should also scare you.

The two city employees charged in this matter certainly do not seem to be some behind the scenes employees.  They were operating in the area of the city responsible for economic development, the Department of Metropolitan Development.  Reginald Walton is the director of Indy's Land Bank, and John Hawkins is a senior project member for the Department of Metropolitan Development and, according to the IBJ, a former special assistant to the Mayor.  It is important to note that both Walton and Hawkins as well as the others charged in this scheme are all innocent until proven guilty.

Just a couple of weeks ago, Governor Mike Pence signed Senate Bill 621 into law giving the Mayor of Indianapolis three two more appointments to the Metropolitan Development Commission and tons more control of economic development in the city.  As of July 1, the Mayor will gain that power.  I can't say I feel too good about that right now given how much Ballard seems to know about his administration which is not much apparently.  It shows a man who is be out of touch and letting others drive the ship, and Tully hits him on this in his column as well.

We'll see where this goes from here.  I wonder if Hogsett is done with Ballard's Administration?  What else doesn't Greg Ballard know about that's happening right under his nose?  If Hogsett is running for Mayor in 2015, he just scored a big one on the GOP.  He slipped it right past the goalie and into the net.

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

No Words...

No words can do justice to the amount of tragedy the folks in Moore, Oklahoma had barreling through their community yesterday afternoon.

Nothing.  That's why the blog goes silent today.

Today, please join me in remembering the fragility of life and how with one metaphorical finger Mother Nature can wipe us all out.  It's an awesome power to respect, but it's a terrible tragedy to mourn.

My thoughts go out to those affected by the monster tornado in Moore.  I send my best thoughts and wishes to you all.

To donate to disaster relief, visit RedCross.org.

Action News 5 - Memphis, Tennessee

Monday, May 20, 2013

Lewis Joins Me Tonight on JohnnyStir Show!

Lewis
Coming up tonight on the big show, I'm proud to have one of the big names in Marion County politics.

City-County Council President Maggie Lewis will join me at about 9:10 p.m. on the program to discuss the state of the City-County Council post SB 621 as well as the future of the city.  I'll ask her about how the Democratic caucus will move forward with Mayor Greg Ballard in this new reality with this new state law.  I'll also give her a chance to address any rumors that are flying out there.

After Councillor Lewis and I are finished, Chris Jackson will join me and we'll talk national politics.  After all the bluster and fluster, it appears that the Obama scandals and gleeful Presidential impeachment wishes of the Republican Party are falling apart.  We'll talk about that and much much more including my Indy 500 prediction, and it's not Helio or Dario!

Tune in at 9:00 p.m. tonight on www.indianatalks.com!

Friday, May 17, 2013

A Look Ahead at 2014

We are just under a year from the 2014 Primary Election, and I thought it might be beneficial to take a look at the various offices folks in Marion County will be going to the polls to cast votes for next year.

Leading the ballot will be the federal candidates. In 2014, it will just be U.S. House races on the ballot. The next U.S. Senate election is not until 2016 here in Indiana. I don’t really believe we’ll see too many surprises in the Primary. The current incumbents, if they elect to run again, should easily get through the primaries with one exception. That’s the 8th District. Larry Bucshon seems to attract primary opponents. The uncertainty of what Richard Mourdock might do has fueled the possibility of a match-up between Mourdock and Bucshon in the Primary.

At the state level, there will be three executive offices on the ballot, and these candidates will be officially nominated in the summer of 2014 at each party’s convention. Connie Lawson is expected to seek reelection as Secretary of State. Tim Berry and Mourdock are forbidden from running for reelection for Auditor and Treasurer, respectively. Berry could file again to run for Treasurer if he wishes. He has sat out the necessary time for him to run again for that office after having served as Indiana’s Treasurer from 1999 to 2007. Mourdock’s political future is up in the air. All 100 Indiana House of Representative seats will be up for grabs in 2014 as will half of the Indiana Senate seats including the local seats of Senators Mike Delph and Jim Merritt.

Several Marion County offices will be up for election in 2014. The offices of Assessor, Auditor, Clerk, Prosecutor, Recorder, and Sheriff will be on the ballot. With Assessor Joe O’Connor, Prosecutor Terry Curry, and Sheriff John Layton seeing reelection, the offices of Auditor, Clerk, and Recorder will be open seats. Current Recorder Julie Voorhies will try to move from the Recorder’s Office to the Auditor’s Office because she cannot run again for the Recorder’s seat due to term limits. Current Clerk Beth White is rumored to be considering a run for Secretary of State, and the Election Board’s Director of Elections, Myla Eldridge is filed to run for the Clerk’s job. Current Auditor, Billie Breaux, is expected to retire. Marion County Circuit Court Judge Lou Rosenberg’s seat will be on the ballot. Rosenberg is retiring. There will also be 18 Marion Superior Court Judges on the ballot (nine from each party unless a third party runs). Democratic Judges Pat McCarty and Gerald Zore are retiring.

Finally, at the township level, the nine township Trustees, Constables, and Small Claims Court seats will be on the ballot. There’s always lots of room for drama in these down ballot races.

That’s pretty much what to look forward to next year. Lots of races, and lots of moving parts for a political wonk like me to watch!  Watch what referendums could end up on the ballot as well!

Thursday, May 16, 2013

Dana Loesch Hates Me...She Really Hates Me

Dana (or her people) blocked me, and no, I'm not going to follow you
Michelle Malkin
Conservative talk show host Dana Loesch has now blocked me on Twitter, and I don't know why.

I have to say that I don't really care.  I frankly had not even noticed that her normal drivel had not been showing up in my Twitter feed.  I followed her more for entertainment and to see what the other side was saying.

Frankly, I don't know what I did to get blocked.  I was never nasty to her.  I never called her a name or never said anything I would consider out of bounds.  I just have to gather that she was tired of dealing with someone that brought facts to their challenges of her opinions.

If you can stomach the Dana Show, Loesch often takes time to yell down guests with opposing viewpoints and talks inexperienced phone callers into shouting matches.  She's known to throw names and barbs at people she disagrees with.  Often, she will tweet and retweet the worst of folks that disagree with her as examples of what all liberals believe and think.

I didn't give her reason to retweet me, but, for five seconds one day, she must have thought, I'm tired of this Jon Easter fellow.  In fact, I'm going to block him.  I won't do the same to her.  

I have blocked people on Facebook and Twitter.  I won't lie.  I'm not guiltless in this.  Usually to get blocked, you have earned it from me.  It's not just because we disagree philosophically, and it's certainly not because you used facts and rational thought to back up your claims.  

It's clear that Dana is not a fan of those things.  Just think of that next time she portrays herself as a conservative warrior fighting the good fight.  She won't even bother with little people like me that respectfully disagree with her.

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Panhandling Ordinance Bad Idea Like SB621

Mayor Greg Ballard, depending on who you talk to, was a driving or a passive force behind the debacle that became Senate Bill 621. Now, he must face the music.

Monday night, Ballard’s proposal to sweep panhandling under the rug by hiding it out of sight in the mile square during prime hours was introduced by the normally awesome Republican Councillor Jeff Miller at the City-County Council meeting. It landed with a thud. No Democrats seemed interested in crossing the aisle or even supporting the proposal. That, my friends, is the new reality on the City-County Council.  No Democrats, no love for the Mayor.  It's going to be like this a lot until 2015.

It’s not just the Mayor, either. It’s Council vs. Council. District Councillors Janice McHenry and Will Gooden took the opportunity to stick the metaphorical knife in their At-Large colleagues during the sausage-making process of 621 at the Statehouse. Gooden, who has never gotten one constituent vote in an election, and McHenry clearly had little conception of what their comments about “meddlesome” colleagues would do in the long run.

Let’s step back to Ballard’s panhandling proposal. It’s a dumb idea anyway. In August of 2009, the city passed what was then thought to be the answer to stop the panhandling along downtown streets. It didn’t happen. The current ordinance has not been enforced and has gotten little more than headlines at the time for the Mayor. In the midst of all that’s going on in this city crime-wise, this new ordinance would create an enforcement nightmare for IMPD, which is already short staffed as it is. It would be like, “Drop what you’re doing and take care of this guy that’s shaking a cup at Maryland and Illinois.” Besides, who is someone shaking a cup really harming?

The problem is Mayor Ballard nor the others in his administration want to really tackle the hard issues surrounding panhandling. Issues like the lack of jobs or the lack of strong support services. From the 25th floor’s perspective, it’s just easier to violate the First Amendment and sweep these undesirables under the rug.

The panhandling ordinance is a bad idea just like Senate Bill 621 was a bad idea. Thanks to the Mayor’s power grab, the city’s future and the future of bipartisanship is now in question.

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Woodmansee Running for Superior Court Slot

Todd Woodmansee
While other races begin to heat up in 2014, there's another race that is just starting to hit its stride.  That's the battle for two of Marion County's Superior Court Judge seats.

This election is essentially over at the primary level thanks to a state law that sets the number of Republican and Democrats at an equal level.  Technically, a third party could join the fight, but that's extremely difficult in a race for judge.

While most of the sitting judges are expected to run for reelection, the Class of 2014 will have two vacancies.  Longtime Judge Gerald Zore is retiring as is Judge Patrick McCarty.  That means there will be two open slots on the Democratic ticket.  The race for these spots at slating is typically brutal.

There is one hat in the ring.  Local attorney Todd Woodmansee is running for Superior Court Judge.  He filed on May 7.  Woodmansee is a former Deputy Attorney General and Deputy Prosecutor.  He has been in private practice for the last 10 years.  Woodmansee just recently moved to Pike Township from Warren Township, where he still owns his old home in Irvington.  Woodmansee is just the first candidate in a race that is expected to draw several.

Monday, May 13, 2013

Rumors Flying in Marion County Clerk's Race

Beth White cannot run again for Marion County Clerk because the Indiana Constitution prohibits it.  That means it's an open seat for a high-profile office.  One candidate has announced, and another is rumored to be considering a run.

Eldridge
Marion County Director of Elections Myla Eldridge is already running for the office.  Eldridge has has been Director or Deputy Director of Elections since 2007, a time that has seen more elections than any other time in the County's history.  That includes the 2007 elections, three elections in 2008, a special referendum in 2009, and the normal  2010, 2011, and 2012 races.

Robinson
Multiple sources are telling me that At-Large City-County Councillor Leroy Robinson is considering a run at county office, specifically the Clerk's office.  Until recently, Robinson had been a school administrator in Pike Township before recently taking an outreach position in Superintendent of Public Instruction Glenda Ritz's office.

The Marion County Clerk has such a wide and varied job.  So many different responsibilities thrown under one office.  Both Eldridge and Robinson would have their positives.  Eldridge has the advantage of being the announced candidate and having done a major aspect of the job several times before.  Robinson has the advantage of name recognition and having won a countywide election.

This would make an interesting slating battle if it holds and then who knows what might happen if one continues to the Primary.  As I often say, it bears watching.

UPDATE:
My apologies to both Myla and Leroy.  I actually wanted this post to run on Tuesday, but I apparently incorrectly scheduled it with the Blogger interface (sometimes I write things ahead of time).  That means that it ran on Monday instead.  Neither candidate had a chance to respond to an inquiry by my own deadline of Monday evening.  Again, my sincere apologies to both Myla and Leroy.  I will gladly post any response to my inquiry to both candidates if they elect to respond.

Again, my apologies.

Marion County Soon To Enter Post SB621 Period

City-County Building
Democrats have spent most of the last couple of days regrouping after hearing Saturday's news that Mike Pence signed Senate Bill 621 into law.  The legislation modifies Marion County's government structure making the Mayor of Indianapolis much stronger relative to other executive offices in the county and the legislative City-County Council.

Most with some sort of gray matter between their ears understand that this was a piece of legislation conceived and dedicated to the proposition of making the Republican Party more powerful in Marion County for the next two years or so.  It's legislation by the General Assembly for the Republican Party.

Despite assurances to the contrary, it's hard to believe that the legislation won't be watered down in a couple of years if Democrats take the Mayor's Office back.  It also makes that election in 2015 that much more important and interesting.

Paul Ogden over on his Ogden on Politics Blog, says he doesn't believe Mayor Greg Ballard will run for a third term.  He does a tremendous analysis of the politics of Senate Bill 621 as well.  I highly recommend his take on the legislation.  He does a nice job, so go read it for yourself.

I disagree with Ogden in one key place.  Unlike Paul, I believe that Greg Ballard will run for a third term.  He simply gives the Republicans their best chance of holding on to the office because he's the two-time defending champion.  Given that the Democrats will be pulling out all the stops in 2015, the GOP needs a guy like Ballard to at least give them a shot at maintaining their newly-minted iron-fisted control of Marion County Government.  

Ballard is the only man for the GOP nomination.  If they try to move someone in and have that person run, the right Democrat can play this Republican up to be a carpetbagger, and that would stick.  Of course, one of the lesser-known and least-discussed parts of 621 allows a person to live in Indianapolis just one year before running for mayor.  It certainly would look bad if Ballard walks away and someone suddenly shows up.

In his analysis of the City-County Council races in 2015, Ogden again is right on target.  In his analysis, Ogden walks his reader through the baseline 2010 and 2012 numbers in looking at each district, politically.  He states that he believes that the Supreme Court of Indiana will likely end up drawing new districts without regard to politics.  He says that he believes that there's a slim chance that the David Brooks-drawn districts adopted in 2011 by the Council will stand.

I would not be so sure that it's only a slim chance that Republican-drawn districts that were slipped through would be upheld by the Indiana Supreme Court.  I think there's actually a GOOD chance these districts are upheld.  After all, this is not the same Supreme Court that ordered a redraw of the districts last time around.  It's a much more political court now with new appointees on board. Appointments made by Republican Mitch Daniels including party loyalists like Mark Massa.  I just don't have the confidence that Ogden does.

Whatever happens with the districts, Democrats can't just bank on 621 resonating with the voters in 2015.    Each time that a Republican plays a political game with a power granted them under 621, it must be highlighted and repeated.

We've entered a different landscape now.  The Republicans essentially dropped the political equivalent of a nuclear bomb on the Democrats.  It's going to be all out war now between the Mayor and the Democrats on the City-County Council.  It's also now going to be all out war between the parties on the City-County Council.  There's little spirit of cooperation thanks to the actions of some Councillors in sticking the political knife in others.  I'm not sure that the Republicans understand what they've stepped into.

The Democrats need to avoid shutting down altogether.  Senate Bill 621 doesn't guarantee anyone anything politically right now.  If the D's fold their arms and pout, then that can certainly be something that's not attractive to the voters.  If I were the Democrats, I'd ramp up the aggressiveness.  Take SB621 like a rather large speed bump in the road rather than a brick wall.  Let's go ahead and get the Mayor in some uncomfortable political positions.  The shenanigan level is at an all time high if it's done correctly.

Yep, it's going to get pretty interesting around here pretty soon.

Sunday, May 12, 2013

Happy Mother's Day

Today is the day we celebrate Moms.  Here is a picture of me and my brother Gary with our lovely mom, Marjorie Easter.


I didn't come from a long line of Democrats or liberals, so, if you're conservative, don't blame my mom!  She tried to raise a conservative Republican.  It didn't take, but she tried.  As a result, we can't really talk politics.

That said, it's a great tribute to moms across the country.  Sometimes your sons don't turn out exactly like your mom wants you to, but she loves you anyway.

For me, I was a big surprise.  Mom tells me all the time that she loves me and is proud of me.  It's that unconditional love and support that has helped me become a successful person.

For your mom, here's a great piece from Soul Pancake.  It's another Kid President video.  Enjoy, and Happy Mother's Day!!

Saturday, May 11, 2013

Destructive Senate Bill 621 Now Law

With a stroke of a pen today, Governor Mike Pence violated his own principles of government with little overreach by higher forms of government.

Emperor Gregory I
Today, Governor Mike Pence signed Senate Bill 621.  The Mayor of Indianapolis is now the second most powerful person in Indiana politics. 

In signing the bill, Pence showed he didn't understand what he signed by bringing up only the fiscal aspects of the bill.  He said nothing about forcing Marion County alone to do a central count of absentee ballots.  He said nothing about how the bill would eliminate the At-Large Councillors and seats on the Township Advisory Boards.  He said nothing about how the bill removed appointments to the MDC from the County Commissioners.  

I guess I shouldn't have had much confidence in the old show horse.

As they walked around the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, went to the grocery store, celebrated Mother's Day Weekend, or whatever activity they are taking part in today, Marion County residents just lost representation without any major consultation.  It was a revolution by legislation.

Of course, those like Abdul-Hakim Shabazz were more than willing to gloat for their political victory today.  That's because they aren't capable of seeing anything but politics.  They don't care about how the politics will actually effect real folks. 

I'm proud of the stance I've taken on this bill, and I will continue to take the same stance.  I feel this bill was bad legislation for Marion County.  

City-County Council President Maggie Lewis released this statement:
On November 8, 2011 the people of Indianapolis voted for divided government – a Republican Mayor and a Democrat-majority City/County Council. The message from voters to the newly elected officials was clear – work together.

Today, SB 621 became law. SB 621 is a radical revision of UniGov and eliminates theCouncils at-large members. It also allows the Mayor to lead without bipartisan compromise and with no input from the community.

I am deeply disappointed in this decision but it is my goal to continue to do the work of the people and lead in a fashion that focuses on achieving results for the city of Indianapolis.
It's law now.  No sense in crying over spilled legislation.

Friday, May 10, 2013

Parking Facility Can Finally Move Forward in Decatur Township

Councillor Zach Adamson
The Indianapolis Airport Authority is, according to the Indy Star's Jon Murray, dropping its legal fight against a private business developer trying to develop an innovative parking facility near the Indianapolis International Airport.

If you haven't been following this story, Chavez Properties and Parking out of Cincinnati won the approval of the Metropolitan Development Commission to build a parking facility on land along AmeriPlex Parkway just to the south of I-70 and very close to the airport.  The airport, by essentially its own admission, filed suit to try to block the development to protect itself from the competition the new lot would provide.

That's right, a public entity blocking private business.

For the last few months, the legal fight has continued.  Local community activists like fellow blogger Pat Andrews, Chip Pierson, and other folks involved with the Decatur Township Civic Council had enough and started looking for assistance.  Because of their work, the City-County Council has been engaged throughout the process with Councillors Zach Adamson, Bob Lutz, and Jason Holliday all three speaking out strongly against the airport's tactics.  Adamson just authored a proposal that would have opposed the airport's tactics that was to face the full Council on Monday night.  It had 13 sponsors split nearly down the middle by party.

Amazingly, the airport decided to suddenly drop its case just three days before that proposal was to come before the Council.  As Councillor Adamson suggested on Facebook, "Its not ironic at all that they announce this the day after my proposal to condemn their actions is introduced.. I'm sure they did it just to save the mayor the embarrassment of defending his indefensible position."

You see, Mayor Ballard had backed the Airport Authority in the case.  As late as February, his Administration was telling me that the parking facility could hurt the entire county by hurting the Indianapolis International Airport's ability to raise revenue.  

The parking facility would be on the tax rolls in Decatur Township bringing much needed relief to property tax payers.  Much of the area around the airport is either non-taxable airport land or within a Tax Increment Financing zone.  The parking facility is seen as a catalyst to spur development in the area which has largely seen stagnant development over the last two or three years after two hotels, the Purdue Research Park, and a Subway Restaurant quickly popped up.

This is another example of where Senate Bill 621 would have hurt Decatur Township.  Without Councillor Adamson's dogged determination to help Decatur taxpayers, other Councillors might have lost interest and the airport would have continued its destructive lawsuit utilizing taxpayer money.

Voorhies Running for Marion County Auditor

Marion County Recorder
Julie Voorhies
Marion County Recorder Julie Voorhies announced at the Southside Democrat Club on Tuesday night that she is running for Marion County Auditor in 2014.

Elected Recorder in 2006, Voorhies is banned by the Indiana Constitution from seeking a third-consecutive term in the office. She may run for other countywide offices, and it appears that she is going to do exactly that.

As Recorder, Voorhies spent a great deal of her terms modernizing the office and making the office much more customer-friendly. In 2010, as she was battling for reelection, Voorhies tragically lost her husband, longtime labor leader Bob Voorhies, to cancer.

Voorhies also served as a mentor to Marion County Surveyor Debbie Jenkins. Jenkins was Voorhies’ office manager prior to the time she took office as Surveyor in early 2009.

Current Auditor Billie Breaux retired from the Indiana Senate in 2006 to run for Auditor. She has served two terms in the office and is expected to retire after a long career of service as an elected official and, before that, a highly-regarded educator.

Thursday, May 9, 2013

Do Hogsett's Prayer Breakfast Comments Signal Anything At All?

U.S. Attorney Joe Hogsett
As 2015 draws closer, Democrats continue to wonder what candidate will carry their party’s standard against Mayor Greg Ballard in the election fight for Mayor of Indianapolis.

Democrats are hoping to get it right this time around in matching the right candidate with the right tactics. They need to find someone who can raise cash, carry a message, and yet is not afraid to mix it up in attacking the Ballard Administration's many shortcomings.

The Democratic candidate must adopt the mantra that everything is on the table in 2015, and Indianapolis cannot afford another four years of the Ballard Administration.

So far, a few Democratic candidates like Brian Mahern and Ed Delaney have said they are considering the race, but it's clear that one name could still carry a big punch should he enter the race.  That's U.S. Attorney Joe Hogsett.

A Rushville, Indiana native, Hogsett presents many positives as a candidate. As I previously have stated on this blog, his political rolodex is deep and diverse. He can raise a lot of money in a short amount of time and can deliver a stump speech like few others.  He would have substance and style signaling the perfect match for a candidate in 2015 to run against Mayor Ballard.

So, sign him up, right?  Well, it's not that easy.

Ballard is not going to go quietly.  He's going to raise a ton of cash and the Republicans will do whatever they can to keep him in office.  That gives Hogsett has a lot to think about. He could be U.S. Attorney until 2017 for sure and on into a potential Hillary Clinton Administration given his close relationship to the Clinton family. That means he could be the U.S. Attorney until at least 2025 if he wants to be and he continues to be asked to serve. It’s a big decision for him.

What’s Joe thinking?

Perhaps we got a clue from a speech he gave on May 2 to a Prayer Breakfast in Lawrence. In front of a crowd of the who’s who in Lawrence and Marion County politics, Hogsett drew a standing and loud ovation for a moving speech.

Indy Democrat has obtained a copy of the remarks from a local campaign volunteer and activist. Here is the speech:
Remarks of U.S. Attorney Joe Hogsett
City of Lawrence Prayer Breakfast
May 2, 2013

Let us pray:
For food, in a world where many still walk in hunger.
For faith and community, in a world where many still walk in fear.
For friends, in a world where many still walk alone.
Gracious and Loving God, we give you thanks. 
As was noted in that generous introduction, I have now served as the United States Attorney for nearly three years. In this position, I’ve had the pleasure of working with Mayor Jessup and other mayors across Indiana as we strive to make our communities safer.
This is, quite simply, the best job I’ve ever had. 
But it isn’t all fun. Before I was able to work with Mayor Jessup and Police Chief Walton, I first had to face a group of leaders who are a bit more challenging to deal with — the United States Senate. Thankfully, my confirmation process was relatively brief and mercifully uninteresting. 
I will share with you with some measure of pride that my nomination was confirmed unanimously by the U.S. Senate. Whether the fact that it occurred at 2:17am in the morning on that October day in 2010 was cause for this unusual bipartisan support is a question that remains unanswered. And I have prompted no further inquiry. 
Once I was confirmed, though, there were two things that happened. The first was that I was blessed to receive ample congratulations from friends and family – although I will say that it was pretty apparent that many of my congratulators didn’t have the foggiest what it was they were congratulating me for. 
In fact, I think I see a couple of faces here today who at the time may have congratulated me on my new position as a federal judge. 
The second thing that happened is that I was administered the oath of office that all members of the Executive Branch take when they are sworn in. You swear to uphold the Constitution, to defend the United States from all enemies, foreign and domestic, and then you conclude with those four words that have guided our nation’s leaders across two and a half centuries: so help me God. 
When I took that oath, I couldn’t help but think of President Bill Clinton. In settings such as these, President Clinton often recounted his experience being sworn in as President on the National Mall in 1993. 
As he tells it, he had rehearsed the lines over and over again, and the part he most looked forward to – the part he rehearsed the most – were those final four words. He says he had hoped to deliver them with power. With authority. To feel the weight of history as he echoed the call that had been spoken for centuries by our country’s great leaders. 
Instead, as he stood there on that cold morning in 1993, as he reached the crescendo of the Oath, President Clinton says things didn’t go as planned. 
What came out was more like this: “So…help me, God.” 
And so we gather here today to do the same. To ask, “so…help me, God.” To gain strength through the fellowship that comes when we all pause from our hectic lives to bow our heads and lift up our voices, acknowledging that we, too, need help. 
But in the time I have been given to speak to you, I’d like to caution all of us to not view our collective “amens” today as the end of prayer – rather, we must recognize it as the beginning of our work to have our prayers answered. 
And there is much work to be done. 
A few weeks ago, I was asked to offer remarks at the King-Kennedy Park on the anniversary of Dr. King’s untimely passing. That night I mentioned what Dr. King always referred to as the “unarmed truth.” 
A truth unvarnished. A truth hard to say because it is unpopular. A truth hard to accept because it may leave us with heavy hearts. 
And that truth is that in Indianapolis, as in too many of our state’s urban areas, we have not one city, but two.

Each living almost oblivious of the other, touching only on those occasions when the poverty and violence of one spills into the tranquility of the other. 
In one city, we find success. A city filled with spirit and opportunity. A city where streets are safe. 
But indeed, there is another city. 
A city that has neighborhoods where it is easier for a child to become a convicted felon than a college graduate. A city where young people are immersed in a culture where it is easier to get a gun than a high school diploma. 
Those committing these crimes did not come into the world this way. They are a product of our shared but divided cities, where citizens are bound by a common dwelling, but divided by race, class and fear. They are the victims of the great struggles we face. 
The challenge of reforming and expanding the educational opportunities in our most troubled neighborhoods. The need for access to more and better jobs. The fight to make it more difficult for children to illegally obtain a gun while giving those who have erred a chance to rebuild their lives and rejoin society. 
You are blessed to have leaders here today who understand these things. Mayor Jessup knows that. Police Chief Walton knows that. Other city leaders here in the room today know that. 
And so today, on their behalf, we pray for all who seek to lead and support the effort to heal these chasms that divide our communities. 
But more importantly, I ask for your help. 
Scripture doesn’t say, blessed are the peace-lovers, does it? Who doesn’t love peace? 
No, scripture acknowledges that God’s full mercies are bestowed on the peace-makers. 
That sentiment is echoed in the Book of James, where we are told to “be the doers of the word, and not merely the hearers.” 
As civic leaders, as public servants, as community activists, that is our charge. And I suggest that it is a challenge shared by all of us who call ourselves citizens of this community. 
For that reason, I ask that you pray today not just for others to find solutions to the problems we face in our neighborhoods, but rather that you pray to find within yourself the strength of purpose and the courage of conviction to truly live those precepts that are fundamental to the Gospel message. 
To live by those commands that bind every set of personal beliefs around the world – from Christianity to Islam, from Judaism to Hinduism, from Sikhism to the writings of the ancient Greeks. 
We are radically commanded to love neighbor as self. And we don’t select who “neighbor” is, do we? No, that has been selected for us. To treat others as you would have them treat you. 
I ask that we pray to cast off the false comfort and luxury that plagues those who become conscientious objectors in the war against poverty and hardship. That we not be content to just recognize adversity, but rather heed adversity as a call to action. 
As the Reverend Phillips Brooks said: “Do not pray for easy lives. Pray to be stronger men and women. Do not pray for tasks equal to your powers. Pray for powers equal to your tasks.” 
Let us make it more difficult for our children to obtain guns. 
Let us take up the challenge of healing the wounds that divide our neighborhoods. 
Let us banish that mindless menace of violence from our streets. 
And at the last, let us work together toward this cause, not as whites or as blacks or as Latinos, or as rural or urban, or as rich or poor, but as citizens of a common community in a common dwelling, with a common desire. 
As my former law partner, Claude Spilman, Jr., used to admonish me, (and yes, he, too, was from Rushville): “Don’t give me justice, because that is what I deserve. Give me love and mercy, because that is what I really need.” 
I thank you.

Read what you want into all of that, but it appears that Joe Hogsett very eloquently still has the City of Indianapolis front and center in his mind.

Wednesday, May 8, 2013

Sanford Going Back to Congress With All That Baggage

Congressman-Elect Mark Sanford
The voters in South Carolina’s 1st Congressional District spoke on Tuesday.

They elected former Congressman and former Governor Mark Sanford to Congress completing an unlikely political comeback.

When he was Governor of South Carolina, Sanford had been seen as a rising star in the Republican Party. It was thought that eventually he might be a Presidential candidate. Those plans took a detour when the Governor disappeared without explanation. His aides tried to cover saying that Sanford was hiking on the Appalachian Trail. Turns out that the Governor had hopped on a plane and was visiting a mistress (now his fiancee) in Argentina. It led to a divorce from his wife and a political career that seemed to be over.

This is America, and we believe in second chances. Before you could say Anthony Weiner, Sanford was a candidate again for Congress. He defeated the candidates in a competitive primary to advance to the general election fight against Elizabeth Colbert Busch, this sister of Stephen Colbert.

Even in this election cycle, Sanford has shown that all may not be right under that perfectly coiffed head of hair. Before he ran, he practically begged his ex-wife to run his campaign. She turned him down. Jenny Sanford then found her ex-husband trespassing on her property in violation of their divorce decree in February and filed a lawsuit against him.

None of that seemed to matter to the voters that elected Sanford. In a special election, he was a known name, and, in an especially conservative district, a Republican. Colbert Bush clearly had little chance.

Sanford now has his second chance, and he can make what he wants out of it. For the voters in the 1st District of South Carolina, you know exactly who you elected to office. Now you have to live with the consequences. If Mark Sanford does something stupid, you knew he had the propensity to do it.

We did that in Indiana in 2010. The Hoosier State elected the walking circus that is Charlie White as Secretary of State. Convicted of voter fraud and other felonies, White was tossed from office and was replaced by Connie Lawson. His opponent in that campaign, Vop Osili, serves with distinction on the Indianapolis City-County Council.

I hope Sanford has cleaned up his life. I wish him the best as he's sworn in next week, but I won’t be surprised in the least if his antics lead to something crazy happening. It is Congress, after all.

Township Board Toils in Anonymity

The Decatur Township Advisory Board met last night to consider expenditures to keep the Decatur Township Fire Department solvent for the rest of 2013.

At issue was borrowing a reported $3.5 million to keep the township's fire department afloat the rest of the year.  In just seven minutes, my sources tell me that the deal was done.  The board voted to borrow the money.

This is not an unusual move for township government...at least in Decatur Township.  If one examines the records of the township board, you can see where these kinds of loans have been made year after year.  A new bill waiting for Governor Pence's signature would only allow township governments to borrow money three out of every five years.  It's going to be tough if Pence signs the bill for these independent townships to support their own fire departments without borrowing money annually.  I'm told there will be layoffs and there will be service issues.

Decatur Township is served by an excellent and professional fire department.

That is just one issue facing the Decatur Township Advisory Board.

They say that the government closest to you should be the government you know the best.  The Township Board Offices are, I believe, a necessary part of government.  The fact of the matter is that people don't know that these board members exist.

Decatur Township's Board, like all the others, currently has seven seats.  Only six seats are currently filled in Decatur Township and one member of the board, Larry Kugelman, has not been able to fulfill his duties for months due to a fall.  The unfilled seat belonged to a great man by the name of Bob Frye.  He passed away on April 12.  Bob was a proud U.S. Army Veteran and would often sit out on Election Day wearing his veteran hat.  I enjoyed being around him.

It will take a caucus to replace Frye, and I have not heard any plans to replace him yet.  I spoke a source familiar with the Decatur Township Board, and this individual tells me that he doesn't believe anyone has officially informed GOP Chair Kyle Walker that there is a vacancy on the board.  The question I've encountered is...does anyone have to inform Walker or would the obituary serve as notice?

I sincerely hope my good friend Larry Kugelman recovers and is able to retake his position on the board.  Like Bob Frye, Larry has led a life of service to his family and his community.  He deserves the time to recover and return when healthy enough to resume his duties.

I'll let you know what I hear.

Full Disclosure:  I am a member of the Decatur Township Civilian Fire Merit Commission.  I was elected to the Commission by the firefighters of the Decatur Township Fire Deparment.

Tuesday, May 7, 2013

Public Works Board to Vote Wednesday on Using Rebuild Indy Funds for Ballard Cricket Park

At some point tomorrow (Maybe 1 p.m. in the Public Assembly Room), the Board of Public Works is going to get together and vote on awarding over $2.4 million to a company called Renascent as part of the World Sports Park initiative on Indianapolis' Eastside.

Gary Welsh over at Advance Indiana was first to report it, but I also was sent the agenda as well.

You may remember that mayor Greg Ballard told us at the time of the transfer of the water and sewer utilities to Citizens Energy Group that this money from the deal would be used to address neglected infrastructure needs.  Months later, people are beginning to wonder just when some of that help is going to come as those needs continue to pile up.

Long time government insider Dennis Rosebrough serves on the Board of Public Works, and Councillor Zach Adamson wrote him an e-mail raising the concerns many have about using Rebuild Indy funds to build this new sports park.  Rosebrough responded with this response to Councillor Adamson, and he CC'd Marc Lotter, Mayor Ballard's Spokesman.
Good morning Councilor. Thanks for sharing your opinion. Improving parks infrastructure seems to be an appropriate use of the funds. At the end of the project, we end up with first class athletic fields that can be used for many activities including soccer, lacrosse and other games that require fields. The design does not preclude any use including cricket or Gaelic sports. In the worst case scenario, we end up with a beautiful, multi-functional recreational facility on the east side of the city that can be used by young and old. It could also become a regional center for emerging sports like cricket and draw thousands of people to our community in the future. 
There were those who thought a domed stadium addition to the Convention Center was foolish and that even involved a new tax. As a member of the PR group for the that project, we heard all of the arguments. With Mayor Hudnut’s and the City-Council’s bold vision, it was built - and as they say, “the rest is history.” Obviously, this project is not even in the same league (maybe $5 million cost and no tax impact vs. $50 million and a new tax), but it does represent a “vision” for our community. I will proudly continue to support this project. 
Dennis L. Rosebrough
Deputy Commissioner - External Affairs
Indiana Bureau of Motor Vehicles
Adamson responded forcefully:
You’re flowery words about this Complex are small consolation to the dozens of people who have been hit by cars and killed in our city because they lack sidewalks to connect them to needed resources, just in this last year alone. I’m sure the communities across our city who have been waiting for major repairs on their streets for decades will be equally unmoved by your embrace for this Complex at their expense. 
I am by no means opposed to the Complex itself and if we could afford it, I’d be excited to hear about it. However, you might not have heard, the city has both a multi million dollar budget shortfall and several hundred million dollars in backlogged infrastructure needs. Needs the RebuildIndy Funds were deliberately created for. This investment is not for repair or stabilization of an existing park. It is for a whole new repurposing of an existing park. One that is not in need of repair. 
I hope when you cast your shortsighted vote in support of this inappropriate use of the RBI funds, you’ll also include a message to all the folks who will not see the needed infrastructure repairs because these funds were diverted. Perhaps, the best thing for me to do at this time is to publish your email reply and include your email so my constituents will be able to send YOU their cries for needed infrastructure. I’m sure they’ll be thrilled to hear from you and I’m sure you’ll be able to pacify them with the grand vision of the new Cricket Stadium.

Since you took the liberty to include Mr Lotter in your reply to me, clearly so you could earn good graces with the mayor, I’m including the other councillors in this reply so they might know what to tell their constituents when they call or they read in the newspaper about yet another grandmother, cyclist or child is killed while trying to pass down a busy street with no sidewalk or shoulder. 
Again, my warmest regards.
Adamson's inclusion of the other Councillors spurred the following two e-mails in support of his opposition to the use of Rebuild Indy funds for this project.

From Councillor Angela Mansfield:
I concur with Councillor Adamson's statements. Using Rebuild Indy funds for this purpose is absolutely wasteful! These funds were raised on the backs of our rate payer constituents and the funds should go back to our neighborhoods. We need sidewalks for every day use for safe transportation to grocery stores, drug stores, jobs, schools, religious institutions, etc. The sidewalks would also provide an opportunity for many to exercise and create a connected community. 
Building a cricket field for just a few is not only shortsighted given our budget constraints, it is completely delusional.
And from Councillor Frank Mascari:

I also agree with councilor Adamson. We in Indianapolis have more issues at hand then a sports park. 
Frank Mascari
City Council District 20
It appears that passions are flying on the use of Rebuild Indy funds for Mayor Ballard's pet project, and that's what this really is.  It's Mayor Ballard and his administration that wants this.  Like Senate Bill 621, few others in the city support it.

Tea Leaves Point to Possible Veto of SB621 by Governor Pence

Pence to the Rescue?
Governor Mike Pence has a lot of people's collective attention right now after sending signals that he plans to veto some bills he has not yet signed.  Friday is the deadline where bills will simply pass into law without the Governor's signature.

The smart bet on the bills is centering on Senate Bill 621.  Pence said initially he had concerns about the bill that passed through the joint conference committee and then both Houses of the General Assembly.  The bill barely passed the House and sailed through the Senate.

This morning, Republicans across Marion County got an e-mail from Chairman Kyle Walker that urged them to call and support Senate Bill 621 over the bullying tactics of Marion County Democrats.  Totally a laughable thought, I know, but it shows exactly how concerned the Ballard Administration is right now.

Governor Pence is known far and wide for standing up to forces within his own party when it came to what he considered federal overreach into state and local matters.  He stood up in Congress to President George W. Bush.  Now, it appears he may be standing up for local government again and the idea of self-rule.

Walker and John violate "Man Law" at SB621
Conf. Committee Hearing as Frizzell testifies.
By stepping in, Pence is playing the grown up in the room.  He had to have heard the impassioned calls from people on all sides of the aisle for the General Assembly to kill this bill.  He had to hear how pithy and incomplete the defense of this bill was by those pushing it at the conference committee stage.  Perhaps he even saw Chairman Walker and previous Marion County GOP Chair Tom John sitting uncomfortably close over the shoulder of David Frizzell at the Conference Committee hearing.  He's no dummy.  He knows this is a politically-motivated bill designed to stick it to the Democrats.  By stepping in with his veto, he would be above the fray.

I'm sure the Governor is going to hear it from at least five or six people if he vetoes the bill.  I'm sure you'll see Abdul light the Gov. up on Indy Politics and maybe Greg Ballard can fit in a phone call between trade missions and cricket matches.  I'm sure that Mike Young's face will get really red, and Bob Behning's voice might actually be raised enough to actually hear more than his normal whisper.  David Frizzell will simply say that Pence is not a real Republican.

Pence figures that he can look out for himself here.  The support for SB621 is extremely small, but the opposition could bring the wrath of not only Democrats but local government advocates and...gasp...the Tea Party.

If Pence vetoes the bill, May 19 would be the next day to watch.  That's the day that the General Assembly could meet to override the vetoes of Governor Pence.  It just takes a simple majority, but, if Pence makes a forceful statement against political games and for local control, that could be something that causes those that might override a veto grief in November of 2014 or even before.

Mike Pence may be about to throw his political capital around, and we're about to see just exactly who might win the stare down.

Clerk's Race in 2014 Could Be One To Watch

Beth White
When 2015 rolls around, Marion County will lose its Clerk. Beth White will be unable to run for reelection in 2014 as she will hit her term limit in the Indiana Constitution.

Most pundits expect White to take a shot at the Indiana Secretary of State’s job in 2014. She has so far been non-committal, at least in public, on her future plans, but it makes sense that the SOS job is something she would want and would be extremely good at.

That leaves a hole on the Democratic ticket. Two Democrats are reported to have interest in the job. One is White’s Director of Elections, Myla Eldridge. The other candidate is surprisingly rumored to be City-County Councillor Leroy Robinson.

The Clerk’s job is one that is pretty much an omnibus position. I always like to joke with Clerk White that it seems like all the other Marion County Officeholders must have gotten together many years ago to divvy up responsibilities and the Clerk must not have been there. The Clerk’s Office is responsible for all the filings and records of the Marion County Courts. The Clerk collects child support, issues marriage licenses, and can perform marriages. As if that wasn’t enough, the Clerk is in charge of the elections process, sits on the election board, and takes all the filings related to local candidates, campaign committees, PACs, and campaign finance. It’s not an easy job.

If rumors are true, and I’m hearing these rumors from multiple reliable sources, Robinson would be leaving his job on the Council to take the Clerk’s position if elected. Since Eldridge is already familiar with a big portion of the job of the Clerk, you’d figure her learning curve would be much less.

This would figure to be another tough slating battle. I could see a candidate detouring the slating process however and taking his or her case to the voters in the May Primary. I don’t know how to call this one, but it’s pretty interesting if two candidates are in the race.

As far as the other Marion County offices go, Prosecutor Terry Curry and Sheriff John Layton are both expected to run for reelection. Joe O’Connor, the Marion County Assessor, will likely give it another go. Auditor Billie Breaux and Recorder Julie Voorhies have reached term limits.  Breaux and Voorhies could switch to other countywide jobs, but Breaux is expected to retire.

Monday, May 6, 2013

In Memoriam: Dr. Otis Bowen (1918-2013)

Governor Otis R. Bowen passed away on Saturday bringing to a close a remarkable 95-year life of service.

Bowen was born in 1918 near the town of Rochester, Indiana.  He graduated from Indiana University in 1939 and then got his MD from IU in 1942.  Doc Bowen was a World War II Army Medical Corps veteran and spent years in private practice.  He was a member of the Indiana House from 1956-1958 and 1960-1972 serving as Speaker of the House from 1967-1972.  He left the House when he was elected Governor of Indiana taking office in 1973..  He was reelected in 1976 and served through 1981.  After a brief retirement from politics and a stint of teaching at Indiana, Doc Bowen joined Ronald Reagan's cabinet from 1985-1989 as Secretary of Health and Human Services.  He was the first medical doctor to serve in that role.

After his political career ended, Bowen returned to Indiana and his small town roots in Bremen but continued to be involved in the community through the Bowen Institute on Public Participation at Ball State University.  His name is on so many other things in this state as well including the Bowen Research Center at IUPUI.

Twice a widower, Bowen is survived by his four children and his third wife, Carol.

I barely remember Bowen from his time as Governor, but I remember how my parents always admired him. He was a Hoosier born in a small town who never ever forgot his roots.  If you can copy the career of Doc Bowen, you've done pretty well for yourself.

Governor Mike Pence released this very heartfelt statement that I think describes Governor Bowen and his contributions to Indiana perfectly:
“Governor Otis R. Bowen’s contributions to the life of this state and nation are incalculable, and I mark his passing with a sense of personal loss. His story is as inspiring as it is uniquely Hoosier. 
From his early days in Fulton County where his dreams of practicing medicine were born, to his service in uniform in World War II, “Doc” Bowen’s life would be defined by caregiving and public service. Upon his return from military service, he started a private medical practice in Bremen and began a career in public life that carried him from local office to the General Assembly and on to one of the most consequential governorships of Indiana’s second century. 
As the first governor since 1851 to serve two consecutive terms in the office, our 44th governor led Indiana through a season of reform in taxes, healthcare, and government administration. Governor Bowen also advanced historic improvements to our state park and recreation system, helping to create five new state parks including the first urban park in Indiana. 
After leaving office, “Doc” Bowen returned to medicine as a professor at the Indiana University Medical Center, but in 1985, this extraordinary Hoosier would be called, once again, to public service when President Ronald Reagan nominated him to be the Secretary of Health and Human Services. Secretary Bowen would lead that government agency until January 20, 1989, when President Reagan left office. Coming full circle, “Doc” Bowen returned to Bremen, Indiana where it all began. 
Throughout his life, Governor Bowen’s career was characterized by integrity, devotion to family, and love for Indiana. The debt this state owes to Governor Otis R. Bowen can only be repaid by relentless imitation of his example. 
Karen and I send our deepest sympathies and prayers to his family, his wife Carol, and to his children and grandchildren during this difficult time. God bless you, Doc. Your caring work as a physician, your service, and your leadership left Indiana and our nation better for you having been here. You will be missed and your contributions to Indiana will be remembered always.”

Friday, May 3, 2013

What Would Todd Young Do?

Rep. Todd Young
Congressman Todd Young just changed his website name from toddyoungforcongress.com to toddyoung.org.  That has prompted one Washington publication to decide that something might be up.

Roll Call's Shira Toeplitz wrote an article about Young and what he might do in the not-so-distant future.  The choices for Young, according to Toeplitz, might be to run for Senate in 2016 or 2018 or for Governor in 2016 or 2020.  Some of the chess pieces would need to move around, but it makes sense, and I don't know why I didn't think about it.

I think the most likely of the scenarios is that Young runs for an open seat when Dan Coats retires in 2016.  Coats has not yet said if he will run for reelection, but he will be 73 years old just a few days after the primary.  While he remains in good shape, he may be ready to retire back to North Carolina.  If Coats decides to retire, Young would be well-positioned to vanquish what would likely be a crowded Primary field.  Less likely would be a run for Governor in 2016.  I think Pence will be back to run for reelection.

2018 would be tougher.  An expensive primary and then an incumbent opponent with a big war chest: that's what Young would be up against in a Senate run against Joe Donnelly.  2020 is just too far off at this point.

Young's spokesperson told Toeplitz that the move was simply to move to a shorter URL for the website.  I guess we'll have to keep watching.

Thursday, May 2, 2013

Facebook Post Puts Tennessee Lawmaker in Hot Water

Photo from USA Today
An article I read in USA Today yesterday chilled me to the bone.

It was about a Tennessee elected official that posted a picture on his Facebook of a man with one eye closed aiming a double-barreled shotgun at the camera. The camera is positioned so that you are looking right up the barrel of the gun at the cowboy-hatted man. The caption for the picture was, “How to wink at a Muslim.” And we have the nerve to wonder why they hate us?

Much of the area that became the United States was settled by Europeans fleeing Europe looking for religious freedom. We honor religious freedom so much that in the Constitution we made it part of the First Amendment of the Bill of Rights.

I’m not going to bash Christianity. I consider myself a Christian…although some like ESPN NBA analyst Chris Broussard might think otherwise. Look it up. 

 I believe in God and country like many of the far right claim to. The problem is that if you truly do love God and country, you don’t post things like this on Facebook pages.

That’s because the Bill of Rights simply isn’t something to play around with or wrap ourselves in when it’s convenient. The Bill of Rights stands for everyone. Whether or not many on the far right will admit that is another thing entirely.

What I do know is that aiming a shotgun at a Muslim who hasn’t harmed you or did anything to you would seem to be against the law and completely wrong. Muslims are free to practice their religion in the United States just like Catholics or Baptists or Presbyterians or Lutherans or Methodists or any other religions are. You are free to not practice a religion if you wish. It’s a fundamental part of our nation.

The thing is that in the same First Amendment where freedom of religion is guaranteed, the freedom of speech is also guaranteed. When Commissioner Barry West of Coffee County decided to post that picture, he had every right to do so as well.

I guess what I’m advocating here is that the First Amendment sets out the rights of the press, religion, peaceable assembly, and speech, it does not give an absolute power or guidance of how to use it. That’s up to us.

If we’re ever going to bridge the gap between Muslims and us, then we must think about the other side as our brothers and sisters. They may have a different path to religious truth than some of us do, but that’s ok. It’s why diversity is a good thing. Maybe then we can bridge the big gulf that divides us today.

Because of his stature as an elected official, Commissioner West should apologize immediately.

Wednesday, May 1, 2013

ISTEP Computer Failures Add to Test Anxiety

When it comes to high stakes testing, you want everything to be right.  Unfortunately, CTB/McGraw-Hill seems to be having trouble making it so.

For the second day in a row, ISTEP testing ground to a halt when computer glitches interrupted the process of young people taking these important tests.  Mind you, these tests are only important because we said they are.

The contract for the testing dates back to Superintendent of Public Instruction Glenda Ritz's predecessor, Tony Bennett.  Last year, the state experienced troubles as well with CTB.  Should we mention that McGraw-Hill gave Bennett $1,500 in political contributions between 2008 and 2012?

Glenda Ritz, for her part, rightly called the failure unacceptable, but she did so through a statement.  She has to get out in public in front of a microphone for this one.  The public deserves to hear from its SPI directly rather than hear about things through a public statement.

It appears the testing will resume today under new assurances that the system won't fail.  That does little to mollify the concerns of educators, parents and youngsters who will continue to worry and suffer anxiety.  Ritz's office has asked districts to reduce their testing load by 50 percent.

It's tough to justify high-stakes testing as the measure of educational process when you can't even get the testing process right.  Let's hope that all goes smoothly today.