Thursday, August 29, 2013

It's Labor Day Weekend!



I'm taking this Labor Day Weekend off from blogging.  Enjoy your Labor Day everyone.  Unless some news breaks, I will not post anything until Tuesday, September 3.

In the meantime, have a safe and happy time with family and friends.

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Remembering the March on Washington

Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.
Fifty years ago, I was 12 years from being born.  That doesn't mean that I don't know the significance of what happened 50 years ago in Washington, D.C.

Hundreds of thousands of marchers descended on Washington to advocate for freedom and employment for African-Americans in the United States.  As we all know by now, Dr. Martin Luther King stood on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial and delivered his now-famous "I Have a Dream" speech.  It's one of the finest speeches ever written and delivered.

From the spark that started with the March on Washington, the United States moved forward on landmark legislation that would help set forth a period of progress that continues today.  We can debate how far that progress has come, but it's clear that we still have a long way to go.

The question for me is what will happen fifty years from now.  While we still have folks like Congressman John Lewis, who LIVED the story, we are rapidly losing members of that generation that fought so hard for so long.  The first hand voices are being silenced by time.  We must continue to tell the stories or the sacrifices those folks made will be forgotten.

That's why it's supremely important to stop and remember on days like today what happened 50 years ago.  We must remember for people like Dr. Martin Luther King who laid down his life in the name of civil rights.


Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Ex-Deputy Mayor To Head Chamber of Commerce

Michael Huber
Photo from Twitter
A few weeks ago, I wrote on this blog about how former Chamber of Commerce President Scott Miller joined the Metropolitan Development Commission as appointed by Mayor Greg Ballard.

Well, it looks like the road to the Indy Chamber Presidency is a two-way street.

Michael Huber was announced last week as the President and CEO of the Indy Chamber taking office, according to the Indianapolis Star, on September 9.  Huber served as Mayor Greg Ballard's Deputy Mayor of Economic Development from 2010 to 2012 and was Director of Enterprise for the Mayor from 2008 to 2010.  He joined the Indianapolis Airport Authority in 2012.

That means that a former President of the Indy Chamber is now on the MDC while a former Ballard Administration member is about to become the new President and CEO of the Indy Chamber.

My brain hurts.

Monday, August 26, 2013

Superior Court Panel Releases Newly-Drawn CCC Districts

Today, a panel of Marion County Superior Court Judges released a set of new City-County Council district boundaries designed not based on politics but based on nothing but compactness and population according to the Indianapolis Star.

The 25 City-County Council districts are vastly different to the proposed maps by either political party so far.  If they are allowed to stand by higher courts, the Star's Jon Murray reports that in 2015 six districts would feature head-to-head competition between incumbent Councillors and seven districts would be wide open with no incumbents.

It's not a particularly friendly set of maps to either of the two major political parties, but the three Democratic judges on the panel approved the plan while the two Republicans disagreed.  

You can review the proposed districts here.  The Indiana Supreme Court is likely to take up the case according to Murray and most people that I've talked to.  The case began when Republicans tried to jam through a set of maps they passed in 2011 but Mayor Greg Ballard signed into law in 2012.  Democrats took control of the Council in 2012 and the law requires that redistricting be done in 2012.  

Earlier, the court panel, in another 3-2 vote, said that the redrawing of the districts in 2011 did not comply with the law even though Ballard signed the districts into law in 2012.  

Libertarians Oddly Preempt Mahern Party Switch That Has Not Happened

Mahern
Brian Mahern has yet to announce when or if he will leave the Democratic Party, but the Libertarian Party wants him to know that he just won't fit in...in advance...just in case.

In one of the most odd Facebook posts I've seen by a political party in a while, the Libertarian Party of Marion County praised Brian Mahern (or Mayhern as they spell it) for standing on principle but then followed it with a backhand slap in the face.

Read below...
The Libertarian Party of Marion County respects Brian Mayhern's service to the community as a member of the City-County Council. We also share his disappointment with many of the paths that the current council and its leadership have chosen to follow. 
We find it important to note, though, that our shared disappointment with the Council should not be considered an endorsement of Councilor Mayhern or his agenda. Mr. Mayhern has not contacted the Libertarian Party of Marion County's leadership nor the leadership of the Libertarian Party of Indiana regarding switching to our party. 
The Libertarian Party is the Party of Principle. We are unwavering in our desire for smaller government and increased individual responsibility. We do not believe that Councilor Mayhern's history or ideals would make a suitable fit for our party, and we are not interested in discussing a potential party switch with him. 
For more information on the Libertarian Party, please visit LPIN.org.

This was quickly followed up a few hours later by...
We would like to apologize for the misspelling of Councilor Mahern's name in our previous post. 
We would like to blame auto-correct, but we are the Party of Principle, so we will accept accountability for our mistakes. 
The fact is, we just screwed up. No harm intended.

It is an odd political world, isn't it?  Makes you wonder why they would even go there.

Misconduct Charges Filed Against Superior Court Judge

Judge Kimberly Brown (D)
The Judicial Qualifications Commission has filed 45 counts of misconduct against Marion Superior Court Judge Kimberly Brown according to the Indianapolis Star.

As in all things, Judge Brown is innocent until proven guilty.  The charges will be heard by the Indiana Supreme Court, and there are some pretty serious sounding charges against Judge Brown.  The Indianapolis Star says Brown is accused of "dereliction of duty, delaying cases, failing to complete paperwork, creating a hostile environment for attorneys and court personnel, failing to train or supervise staff, and delaying the release of at least nine defendants."  The Star also says that Brown is accused of delaying holding bench trials if she did not believe they could be completed by 4:00 p.m.

It's unclear what Brown intends to do in the wake of this action or if the Marion County Democratic Party will continue to support her candidacy for reelection.  She is one of the six incumbent D's running on the 2014 ticket.  If she does decide to abandon her campaign, that would leave four openings on the bench for Democrats to fill.  It's a big IF because even if the Democrats abandon Brown, she has run against the party before.

Back in 2008, Brown did not go through the Marion County Democratic Party's slating process and did not even file her paperwork until almost the very last minute after slating had occurred.  She went on to be elected by Democrats at the polls in May of 2008 in that crazy primary election that saw Hillary Clinton just nip President Barack Obama in Indiana.  Obama, however, carried Marion County.  Warren Township Small Claims Court Judge Garland Graves was the member of the slate bucked by Brown in 2008.

Ballard Wants More of Your Money (Again)

SEA 621 gives Ballard unprecedented budget power
no Mayor of Indianapolis has ever had
So, last Monday, a funny thing happened.  Mayor Greg Ballard delivered his budget proposal to the City-County Council.

Now, you may be thinking, what was so funny about that?  Nothing.  Nothing was funny.  Perhaps peculiar would be the better term.  You see, the man who ran for office in 2007 saying he wouldn't ask for any more of your money...asked for more of your money again.  It isn't the first time, either.

Mayor Ballard's budget will bring more hefty cuts for other elected officials like the Prosecutor and the Sheriff.  It also would raise the property taxes of the vast majority of Marion County residents and reduce the amount of money public schools will receive by eliminating the homestead tax credit.  Yep, it's official.  The Greg Ballard that ran for Mayor in 2007 would definitely ask if we've had enough of Mayor Greg Ballard.

With the turmoil now on the City-County Council, it will be interesting to see where the debate goes.  Luckily, there are some Republicans who seem to be paying attention and who aren't afraid to buck their Mayor when his policies would hurt the residents of Marion County.

Then, on top of everything, you have brand new Senate Enrolled Act 621 which pretty much gives the Mayor unilateral power over the budget because no matter how it is set up by the Council, the Mayor and his unelected Controller are in charge of allocating budget funds.

Lots of reasons for residents of Marion County to be engaged in this process.  When it comes to analyzing the budget, there's no one that does it better than my friend Pat Andrews over at the Had Enough Indy Blog.  I urge you to make her blog a regular reading stop as the budget starts to unfold.

Keep your eyes and ears open for the next few months!

Sunday, August 25, 2013

Monday's BIG JohnnyStir Show on IndianaTalks.com

I'm extremely excited about my radio show on Monday Night.  I have two great causes that you can help with.

First of all, Allyson Shaw joins me from the Vietnam Veterans Memorial Fund.  The VVMF has been trying to gather 58,286 pictures of the veterans enshrined on the Vietnam Veterans Memorial Wall in Washington, D.C.  Once I heard about this project, it made me think of a young man that would become a soldier that my father had in class when he was a middle school teacher.  That young man, David C. Kays, was killed in Vietnam in 1970.  I will never forget being with my father about 20 years ago at the Wall.  You can find out more about the project at www.vvmf.org.

The second segment of the show will deal with something not entirely different.  A group of Muncie-based filmmakers are going on a journey soon, and they need your help.  Their effort is called Project Manifest Destiny: A Search for U.S.  Turner Fair, the filmmaker, will join me.  Below is a trailer they have made for Kickstarter.



Then, to close the show out, we'll bring in my closer...Matt Stone of the Indy Student Blog.  We'll talk about all the craziness that has been this past week on the Indy City-County Council.

Make sure you tune in at 9:00 p.m. on IndianaTalks.com.

Saturday, August 24, 2013

Miller Explains PC Changes in Wake of Mahern Charges

Joel Miller
On Thursday, Louis Mahern, a former candidate for Mayor of Indianapolis and the father of Brian Mahern, announced on his Facebook page, "It is confirmed. Every appointed Democratic Precinct Committee person in Marion County with the last name of Mahern has been removed from the Committee list by Democratic County Democratic Chairman, Joel Miller."

The news spread quickly as it does sometimes on social media.

On Saturday, I spoke with Miller (I made the initial contact).  He said that he removed 11 precinct committeepeople connected with the Maherns.  Of those, Miller said that seven had been appointed after the 2012 General Election.  He said that five of them did not attend the reorganization meeting of the party in March.  He said that four did not fill their own precinct boards in 2012.

"Honestly, this had to happen," said Miller. "Now, I'm ready to move on to the budget debate and cops not cricket."

Miller said that other Maherns continue to serve in positions that he has appointment power over.  Mary Jane Mahern, for example, is still 7th District Vice Chair.

Friday, August 23, 2013

Democrats Owe Mahern Nothing...Let Alone Niceties

Mahern
Everyone is saying that Democrats should be careful around Brian Mahern for fear that he bolts the party and becomes a Republican leaving the R's in a majority, 15-14.  That's not going to happen, and Abdul seems to agree with me if you believe his cryptic "Cheat Sheet" headline.

I don't know what the cheat sheet says, but it doesn't make any sense for Mahern to become a Republican.  His family would likely disown him.  Mahern will likely become an independent and that would cause council chaos of its own.

Let's look at the facts.  The Council is, for all intents and purposes, 14-14-1 right now.  There are 14 Republicans, 14 Democrats, and one Brian Mahern.  I think that's what will happen if Mahern decides to bolt the party and become his own voice on the Council.

At this point, things are irreconcilable with Mahern.  Even if he stays a Democrat, he's not going anywhere but off the Council.  He's played his last card.

Some of my friends and readers of the blog have rushed to defend Mahern for speaking out against some of the practices of the current Council leadership.  I would say that his action last Monday would have been a lot more heroic and believable if he didn't spend most of the Council meetings on his microphone.  Mahern has been running his own agenda for a long time...even dating back to when he was Vice President of the Council.

Even if you don't believe that, Mahern's alleged actions in recent weeks would seem to signal that he was ready to help Republicans try to topple the Council's power structure.  In response to Mahern's recent appearance on the Afternoons with Amos Show, City-County Councillor Pam Hickman leveled new allegations on her Facebook page that Mahern went to Republican Minority Leader Michael McQuillen "a couple meetings ago" and said he was ready to help the R's take out Council President Maggie Lewis loudly enough so he could be heard.  Of course, he tried on Monday, but he didn't have the votes thanks to four Republicans that refused to take part in the revolution.

As far as sharing his beefs with the Democratic leadership, Hickman said that Mahern has not attended caucus meetings in months.  In short, if you believe Hickman, it sounds like Mahern went rogue long ago.

By doing that, Mahern pretty much declared his independence.  He can put any letter next to his name that he wants, but he's screwed the Democrats and has empowered the Mayor of Indianapolis, Greg Ballard.  If that's what he wanted to accomplish in this little tiff, then he has done it.  If he wanted to destroy the power base of Democrats in the City of Indianapolis, then he likely will do it.

It seems like Mahern finally holds the power, but it has come with a tremendous political cost.  He has become a lonely man.

The bottom line: Democrats owe Mahern nothing. Don't expect any niceties.

Thursday, August 22, 2013

Freedom Indiana Kicks Off Campaign

Freedom Indiana began its campaign to defeat HJR-6 on Wednesday at the Artsgarden in Indianapolis.

I was not able to attend, but I saw the coverage on several of the news outlets.  It appears to be quite an eclectic group of individuals from all walks of life.

I saw several of my friends there, but I also saw a few folks that were complete surprises.  One of those surprises is the person running the campaign, Megan Robertson.

Robertson is almost the textbook definition of a Republican insider.  She is the former campaign manager for Tony Bennett's 2008 run for Superintendent of Public Instruction.  She also ran Greg Ballard's 2011 reelection campaign and Luke Messer's Congressional campaign in 2012.  Messer was an author of HJR-6.  Up until July 2013, Robertson's LinkedIn profile says she was his communications director.

Because of her background, Robertson will be able to talk to Republican leaders and try to shoot down HJR-6 before it is passed.  With the business support of Cummins and Eli Lilly, you would figure that Robertson might have a chance at another successful campaign.

Whatever happens, the message is clear.  Same sex marriage is illegal in Indiana currently, and an amendment to the Indiana Constitution is not necessary.  We are still along way from marriage equality here in the Hoosier State, but I look forward to the date that it happens here, too.  It's coming...but that's not what the fight agains HJR-6 is about.

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

The Curious Case of Brian Mahern

Brian Mahern
Brian Mahern’s once bright political light didn't just dim...it short circuited on Monday night.

Mahern tried to unseat Maggie Lewis as President of the City-County Council at Monday's Council meeting.  He failed.  Spectacularly.  Didn't he count votes or something?

Mahern fell short of the necessary votes to toss out Lewis.  Four Republicans (Jose Evans, Christine Scales, Will Gooden, and Jeff Miller) joined with the 13 Democrats present to punt Mahern's poorly conceived proposal out of consideration, 17-11.  

While Mahern was the turncoat Democrat, the 10 Republicans that supported his ploy should be ashamed of themselves as well.  It does underline the fact that if Mike McQuillen was any kind of minority leader, he would have ousted Lewis by using Mahern.  Who was using who?

I am not privy to all the inside baseball that went into this, but I am pretty certain that things aren't going to get pretty for Mahern from here on out.

It's been a topsy-turvy year for him.  At the end of the last Council year, Mahern stepped down from his position as Vice President of the Council, and it was widely rumored to be over two reasons.  First of all, some sources said he had disagreements with the direction of the Council Leadership, and secondly, it seemed he was going to run for Mayor of Indianapolis.  

Today, I think Benedict Arnold might win an election over Mahern.

What surprises me is that Mahern's plot to overthrow his own Council leader was so poorly conceived.  One thing a Mahern, of all people, should know is when you're trying to take out the City-County Council President that you should make sure you have the votes.  Now, he's finished.  His ability to push any agenda is through.  Now, he is a party of one.  Where he goes from here is anyone's guess.

While I have disagreed with the Democratic caucus and President Lewis at times, I have always found her to be a competent leader who does a fine job running a Council meeting.  It's not the easiest thing to do, by the way.  Lewis did not deserve to be ousted, and I'm glad she wasn't.

As for Brian Mahern, it will be a lonely two years on the Council.  What a sharp contrast to the way he was trending.  

Monday, August 19, 2013

The System...is Down

Hate doing this on such a big day after the Mayor released his budget, but due to a computer network internet issue and my Tuesday schedule, the blog will return on Thursday morning with new content.

Thanks.

United Democrats Picnic Brings Out Huge Crowd

Ain't No Party Like a Democrat Party
Yesterday, I attended the United Democrats Picnic at Garfield Park, and I was reminded what a gem the park is in Indianapolis.  It's truly a beautiful place

Beyond being reminded of the beauty of the park, I was struck by the number of Democrats at the picnic in an off year and the diversity of those Democrats.  That in itself was a sight to see.

Democrats are quite a group.  We don't always agree, but we do know what unites us all.  That's good food and great conversation.

I had a bunch of those great conversations with a variety of folks.  Mostly it wasn't even about political things.  We talked about our families and our lives.  I spent a while talking high school, college, and NFL football, and I answered a number of questions about how I looked different in a cap.  Multiple people told me I was tall, and I could barely get out of the picnic table seat where I was plopped because of the crowd around me.

It was packed out.

When the conversation did turn to politics, typically it was local issues that we discussed.  You can imagine Greg Ballard's cricket over cops plan came up.  I heard a couple of mentions of the Ballard Power Grab, and I met a lot of candidates for a variety of offices.

All-in-all, it was a good day to forget about the perils of life for an afternoon and just enjoy being around people that share the same core values that I do even if they came from vastly different backgrounds than me.  After all, that's what being a Democrat is about.  We value diversity.  It's who we are.

Friday, August 16, 2013

Childhood Obesity Dropping Per CDC Report

Michelle Obama
Each First Lady traditionally picks an "issue" for them to advocate for when they are in office.  It's become a tradition.

Lady Bird Johnson famously wanted to "Keep America Beautiful" and slow down littering.  Nancy Reagan had the "Just Say No" program.  Betty Ford campaigned for the Equal Rights Amendment, breast cancer prevention, and against substance abuse.  Rosalynn Carter worked for refugees around the world as an advocate, and Hillary Clinton told us that "It takes a village" to raise a child.  Both Barbara Bush and Laura Bush pushed literacy.

In short, it's not unfamiliar for a First Lady to choose an issue...even a controversial one...to work on while they are First Lady and often after they are out of office.

Since she became First Lady, Michelle Obama has been working to combat childhood obesity in the United States.

The move sent the far right into a tizzy.  They accused the First Lady of trying to usurp parental authority and force healthy food on America's families.  Rush Limbaugh, Glenn Beck, and others roundly criticized Obama and others even derided her efforts.  

A funny thing happened, though.  Legislation to improve school lunch offerings did follow.  An initiative called "Just Move" was founded.  Other groups like the NFL played up its "Play 60" initiative.  Suddenly, the War on Childhood Obesity appears to be a war the United States is winning.

The Huffington Post reports that Childhood Obesity is starting to decline in the United States.  A report from the Centers for Disease Control that the HuffPo cited in its article says that we are far from solving the issue, but this generation of parents, kids, and families are making a dent in the issue.

It's great that we are making a dent in the obesity problem this nation faces.  Not only is it a public health issue, but it's an economic issue, too.  Let's hope the positive momentum continues.

Finally, it's time for the right to just shut up on this issue.  Just shut up.  When keeping kids healthy becomes a campaign issue, it's really time to zip it.  Give Michelle Obama her due credit on this one.

Thursday, August 15, 2013

Respecting Christine Scales

Scales
My blog post yesterday raised some questions among readers about my treatment of City-County Councillor Christine Scales, and I want to clear the air.

To put it plainly, I think Christine Scales is a needed and necessary voice on the City-County Council. While she maintains Republican Party core values, Councillor Scales first loyalty is not to the letter beside her name indicating party affiliation but to the constituents and the city that she serves. We don't always agree, but we do agree on how a City-County Councillor should go about his or her job.

My point yesterday was just to say that it's not the majority party's duty to meddle in the minority party's business. The blog post went into the removal of Republican Councillor Marilyn Pfisterer from the Public Safety Committee and the appointment of Scales to that committee by the Democrats. The custom on the Council has always been to allow the out-of-power party to take care of its own committee business. That did not happen, and I took a position of opposition against my own party on the issue.

I want to be clear that even though I stand by my original point and I don't believe the Democrats should have made messed with Republican City-County Council Committee appointments, I do believe that Scales will be an excellent addition to the Public Safety Committee now that she's back on that committee. We need a person like her that doesn't look at party affiliation and loyalty first at the table to solve our deep public safety issues.

I think my respect for Councillor Scales and other Republicans that often will consider working with Democrats such as Bob Lutz and Jeff Miller got lost in the discussion of my larger point. I should have been more clear, and I regret that I was not. Sometimes you shouldn't write blog posts on complicated issues while tired.

The true stars of the Council are those public servants that wear their party affiliations loosely in the name of their constituents and the good of the city. We have a few of those on the Democratic side like my good friend Zach Adamson. The Republicans have Councillors like Christine Scales, and I believe that all citizens of Indianapolis should be glad for these voices of reason.

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Massa Stays on Rockport Case Despite Controversial Connections

Mark Massa
Mark Massa had no judicial experience before he was tapped to become Indiana Supreme Court Justice Mark Massa by Governor Mitch Daniels.

Then-Governor Daniels passed over hundreds of qualified judges across the state and picked his personal friend and his former Chief Counsel to be a Supreme Court appointment.  Many people thought it was a personal payback for Massa's candidacy for Marion County Prosecutor in 2010.  Even some Republicans whispered to me that Massa's heart was never really in that campaign and was only running to help cover the then-Governor's behind as the Marion County Prosecutor's position has the ability to investigate state government.

Fast forward a few years.  The Rockport gasification plant case is coming before the Indiana Supreme Court.  I won't dig too deep into the case.  Eric Bradner of the Courier-Press does a nice job here.  As Bradner describes it, the key question is how gas rates are set in the state.  Lots of money stands to be made by the developers of the plant.  However, concerned Hoosier lawmakers passed regulation that would pretty much override the agreement.

On the side of the developer is the director of the plant project, Mark Lubbers.  Lubbers is a former Daniels Administration member and, according to the Indianapolis Star, the man responsible for Massa's foray into politics some 30 years ago when both worked for Governor Robert Orr.  Also at issue, according to the Star, is Massa's position as Daniels' Chief Counsel when legislation initially related to the green lighting of the plant was passed.  Given these apparent red flags, the Sierra Club, Citizens Action Coalition, Spencer County Citizens for Quality of Life and Valley Watch filed a petition asking for Massa to recuse himself.

The Star reports this evening that Massa has refused to step aside.

When you go to the polls in a couple of years, and you have that question on retaining Mark Massa as a Supreme Court Justice, remember this case.  Massa had a chance to step aside in the best interest of this case and let it be decided by judges who are less personally connected to it.  He did not do that.

Now, don't get me wrong, I'm not saying that Massa is incapable of judging fairly in this case.  He certainly is.  Even if he writes the perfect opinion well grounded in law, how much confidence will you have if Massa sides with the developers of the plant and his opinion perchance decides the case?

If you ask me that question, I can tell you that I will have little to none.

Shella Reports Dwayne Sawyer to Be Next Auditor

Dwayne Sawyer
Photo from Facebook
WISH-TV's Jim Shella reports that Brownsburg Town Council President Dwayne Sawyer will be named Indiana Auditor by Governor Mike Pence tomorrow morning at 9:15 a.m.

It's the second time in a row that an opening for a state executive office has been filled by a Hendricks County Republican.  Governor Mitch Daniels appointed former State Representative Connie Lawson to the Secretary of State's job in early 2012.  Sawyer was chosen after Pence took his old sweet time finding a replacement for Tim Berry, who will resign to become the Chairman of the Indiana Republican Party.

Sawyer's campaign page for Brownsburg Town Council says that the 43-year-old is a software engineer with a company called Positron.  He is a Purdue graduate and is married with three children.

It's unknown whether or not Sawyer will seek the office on his own in 2014.  I guess we'll find that out tomorrow if Jim Shella is correct and Sawyer is indeed going to become the Auditor of State.

If he does become the Auditor, Sawyer will be the first state-level African-American executive officeholder since Karen Freeman-Wilson, now the Mayor of Gary, was the state's Attorney General.

UPDATE:
Tim Berry resigned today.  Kirke Willing is now Interim Auditor.  Why didn't Berry just resign a few weeks ago?  WEIRD!

Democratic Majority Moves Enrage City-County Council Republicans

The City-County Council Democrats got the attention of the Republicans (and one Democrat) last week by shuffling some committee assignments and shaking up things a bit.

Abdul-Hakim Shabazz was the first that I saw to report the changes on Indy Politics, and the Indy Star penned a Sunday article that briefly described what happened.

Among the changes, Democrat Brian Mahern, the former Vice President of the City-County Council, was taken off the Rules and Public Policy Committee. Republican Marilyn Pfisterer was removed from the Public Safety Committee and was replaced with fellow Republican Christine Scales. Democrats also refused to appoint former Democrat Jose Evans to the Metropolitan Development and Economic Committee as had been recommended by City-County Council Republican leader, Mike McQuillen.

Unlike what Abdul insinuates on Indy Politics, no rules were changed by the Democrats.  The changes are fine under the Council’s rules though deference is usually given to the individual parties on who serves on what committee. The Democrats' move enraged the Republicans.

McQuillen was fit to be tied telling the Star, “To tell me who I have to have on committees is ridiculous.”

City-County Council President Maggie Lewis responded to the Star saying, “Obviously, Councillor McQuillen is angry and upset, and I get it. (But) you can’t just expect us to constantly sit back and allow you to attack and attack, and we never respond.”

This seems to be a whole game of inside baseball, but it’s critically important to the Council. Committees determine what proposals make it to the floor of the full Council for a vote. By controlling who sits on the committees, the Democrats have a tremendous advantage.

There definitely is a lot of so-called "inside baseball" at work here.  The question is should the majority caucus get to dictate to the out-of-power party who sits on its committees? I don’t think so. I don't believe it has been the custom of the Indianapolis City-County Council to operate this way.  

The majority party, the Democrats in this case, should be concerned about its own caucus and defer to the minority party on committee appointments.  I believe Democrats would expect this sort of treatment if the shoe was on the other foot.  It's doubtful that they will get this same courtesy if the shoe does somehow change feet in the future.

This was not an extreme circumstance where the Republicans refused to discipline or remove a criminal from his or her committee assignments. Councillor Pfisterer is committed to her constituents and does a strong job for them on the Council (even if I believe she is far too partisan at times).  There was no need to remove her from the committee she was on.  

Scales, who replaced Pfisterer, is anything but far too partisan.  She has become one of the more independent-minded Councillors in the body.  While her own caucus has spurned her, it should be that caucus' right to do so.  After all, Democrats are, in a way, doing the same thing to Mahern.  I think this kind of caucus action is perfectly fine and is, frankly, to be expected.  Each party should stay out of the other party's way on these matters.

While President Lewis has a point when she talks about Democrats not being doormats to Republican tricks and maneuvers, there are other ways to effect change. In my outsiders view, fiddling around with the inner gears of the City-County Council's customs is not the way to do it.

While I disagree with the Democrats on this matter, I honestly find it hard to feel too much sympathy for the Republicans.  They are hardly a powerless minority on this Council.  They have upheld their Mayor's vetoes whenever he has needed them to do so, and this group of Republican Councillors is awfully good at howling and crying bloody murder at the smallest outrage. 

Don't forget that it was the Republicans that tried to ram through redistricting in the last days of the 2011 Council year knowing full and well that the process had to be done legally in 2012. That single decision has cost the taxpayers money and continues to do so.  The Republicans also had no problem undercutting their Democratic colleagues while testifying about Senate Bill 621, the Ballard Power Grab, last Indiana General Assembly Session.  

In politics, no one is guiltless.

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Curry Writes Ballard Strongly-Worded Letter on Public Safety Funding.

Terry Curry
Marion County Prosecutor Terry Curry fired a strongly-worded letter at Mayor Greg Ballard regarding the funding of public safety.  

It's a letter at times that is a brutal assessment of where we stand.  Here is the letter:

Re: Funding of Public Safety
Dear Mayor Ballard:
I will be direct and to the point: if we are to continue to flourish as a world-class city, we must find the means to adequately fund public safety. It is imperative that our community have a serious conversation about the future of crime prevention and public safety in Marion County. 
For the past several months when meeting with neighborhood associations, faith groups, and other organizations, I have become a broken record with two messages: our public safety agencies are woefully underfunded and, as a community, we must undertake a substantive discussion about how we address this crisis. 
I am certainly not alone in decrying the understaffing of our police and fire departments. It has been widely reported that our police department is critically understaffed. We are nearly 700 officers short of the force we need to be on par with comparable cities. With normal attrition, it is conservatively estimated we will lose 100 additional officers by the end of 2014. With the suggestion that there will not be a recruit class until the end of 2014 at the earliest, that means that there will not be any new IMPD officers until at least mid-2015. 
The ripple effects of these staffing deficiencies are as ominous as the direct impact. When officers are stretched thin, it creates additional challenges for our staff, which in turn increases the burden on our judicial system. We rely each day on officers for evidence and testimony in criminal cases. Those officers need time to adequately prepare for court, where convictions of dangerous offenders hang in the balance. 
At the Marion County Prosecutor’s Office, we already are experiencing the troubling consequences of this trend. At the scene of a recent homicide, our deputy prosecutor was required to supervise the processing of the crime scene because homicide detectives were spread so thin that no one was available to respond immediately to that scene. In the area of traffic policing alone, we have witnessed a significant decrease in traffic enforcement because our police department simply does not have the manpower to make it a priority. Within the last 30 days, I had a ride-along with officers on the far Northeast side. When officers on the near Eastside were required at the scene of a shooting, the far Northeast officers were dispatched to cover other runs in that near Eastside zone, thus traveling over 12 miles to respond. Patrol officers are literally leap-frogging over each other to simply cover daily dispatch runs throughout the county.

Additional police officers on our streets will not alone alleviate crime in Marion County. On the other hand, the converse is undoubtedly true-- the unabated dwindling of our police force will assuredly diminish the ability to investigate and successfully prosecute such crime.
We must discuss short-term and long-term solutions, and time is of the essence. Can we engage other police agencies, such as the Marion County Sheriff’s Office, Speedway, Lawrence, Cumberland, Beech Grove, and other police departments, in a more collaborative approach to public safety? Should we enlist the Greater Indianapolis Progress Committee, the Indianapolis Urban League, and other community organizations in a public discussion regarding public safety? 
At the end of the day, the unfortunate reality is that the city and county must find the means to generate sufficient revenue to support fundamental governmental services. Cities and towns across Indiana have been hit hard by the constitutional property tax caps that reduced revenue for municipal services. Our office, like all other city and county agencies, continues to seek efficiencies that will save taxpayer dollars. However, the suggestion that government agencies must continue to construct their annual budgets by cutting expenses and reducing services to match constantly reduced revenue is a shell game which will lead to unacceptable consequences, as is readily apparent with the staffing crisis of our public safety agencies.

Political sniping from both sides of the aisle merely avoids the critical question at hand, and we need to hit the rhetorical reset button. A bipartisan conversation needs to include yourself, members of the City-County Council, myself, and other elected officials, as well as non-elected leaders who work each day in the public safety system. The Marion County Prosecutor’s Office is prepared to participate in any such conversation. 
I acknowledge that there are no easy answers and readily recognize that public debate on any issue is frequently subject to differing opinions. However, we are at a crisis point. Inaction is simply unacceptable.

Sincerely,

Terry R. Curry
cc: Maggie Lewis
I'd say that just about says it all, and Curry's assessment is right on.

Monday, August 12, 2013

Understaffed IMPD Crackdown on Panhandling Coincides With First Colts Game

IMPD finally decided to enforce the panhandling ordinance...on the same date of the first preseason Colts game.

Yes, IMPD spent time and manpower today looking for "aggressive panhandlers" downtown, according to Fox 59.  This action comes after the Ballard Administration took a ton of criticism for not enforcing the current panhandling ordinance that is on the books while asking for a new, more restrictive ordinance.  That more restrictive ordinance failed much to the consternation of Mayor Greg Ballard.

Visit Indy told Fox 59 "that nearly a dozen conventions have bypassed Indianapolis in the last year, in part, to excessive panhandling on downtown streets."  Nearly a dozen?  Is that 10, 11, or 8?  Not being able to put a specific number on it bothers me.  Furthermore, I'd have to think the city's high taxes on hotel rooms and high taxes on rental cars can't really help.  Of course, we have Republicans and Democrats to thank for that one.

I still remain convinced that IMPD should have better things to do than trying to corral panhandlers.  Perhaps if we spent money and attacked the causes of panhandling that we might have more success instead of spending money on law enforcement to fight it while it's happening.  IMPD's staffing numbers are too low to worry about petty crime like panhandling.

Saturday, August 10, 2013

Ballard Contradicts Ballard Administration on Tax Increase

Mayor Greg Ballard
Last weekend, the blogs in the city went crazy over an IBJ article in which Ryan Vaughn, Greg Ballard's Chief of Staff, was on record saying a tax increase was on the table to help with the city's budget for public safety needs.

Someone forgot to tell Greg Ballard.

In his monthly sit down interview with his friend, Abdul-Hakim Shabazz, Greg Ballard denied knowing or even hearing about the tax increase.  Story dead, right?  Well...not yet.  The Associated Press published an article today reiterating the claims Ballard shot down on August 5 in his Abdul interview.

If you're confused, you're probably not the only one.  Perhaps it is a programming error on the Ballard 2.0.  Maybe it's the paradigm he inherited or something.  It just appears that the only person in the Ballard Administration who is saying that a tax increase isn't on the table is its namesake.  That could be a problem.

Hat tip to Matt Stone of the Indy Student Blog for pointing this inconsistency out to me.  I had honestly glossed right over it.

Hoosier Lottery Releases Tribute to Firefighters

This is a great video from the Hoosier Lottery about some of our biggest heroes.  Firefighters.

Friday, August 9, 2013

2016 POTUS Picture Still Cloudy

Likely Not the 2016 Transition Picture
It's still a couple of election cycles away, but that hasn't stopped political pundits from speculating about 2016 and the next Presidential race.

Many Democrats are hoping that Hillary Clinton gives it another try.  If you take her at her word, she actually says that she doesn't see herself running for President.  That could make things pretty interesting on the Democratic side.  I don't think the final chapter has been written on Hillary 2016.

Another big name that hasn't ruled out a run is 2004 candidate Howard Dean.  Dean's meteoric rise came crashing down long before the "Dean Scream" speech in Iowa after he placed third in the caucuses.  Since 2004, Dean has built himself a record of strength as the former Chair of the DNC and one of the minds behind the 50-state strategy that carried Barack Obama to victory in 2008.

Then, of course, there's Vice President Joe Biden.  Joe is a wild card in all of this.  He would be one of the oldest candidates ever for the office, but he certainly is one you simply can't count out.  Biden's experience in the legislative and executive branches would be unmatched.

If these three don't run, be sure that Democrats will find a candidate.  Martin O'Malley, Andrew Cuomo, Elizabeth Warren, and Kirsten Gillibrand are just a few of the names that I've pulled up in Google searches.  Any of them would be compelling candidates.

The view on the Republican side is a bit more murky.

As the Week points out in an online piece by Peter Webber, Republicans have a habit of nominating the runner-up from last time around. If that’s so, that means that Rick Santorum will be their nominee in 2016. While Santorum appeals to conservative Christians and the pro-life movement, he won’t find much support from moderate Republicans or moderate Democrats. Santorum appears interested in running again. If the GOP wants to nominate him, the Democrats would love that scenario.I’m not sure that the Republicans want to nominate him. Santorum will likely be in the race, and it could also include some of the other 2012 alumni.

So, who will run?  A recent poll by Rasmussen gives New Jersey Governor Chris Christie the early advantage. Republicans on the far right believe Christie is a RINO, but that could be just the moderate shot in the arm the national GOP needs.  While he has a lot of bluster, Christie's positions on key national issues are not really tested, and it remains to be seen if he has the temperament to be POTUS.  Other Governors could give it a run.  Bobby Jindal and Nikki Haley are just two of the state executives rumored to be interested.

Senators Rand Paul, Marco Rubio, and Ted Cruz are all interesting.  Paul is the darling of Libertarians and libertarian-leaning Republicans, but I believe some of that is just leftover from the coalition Paul's father has built all these years.  Rubio has shown he can work across the aisle with immigration, but his brief moment on the national stage drew ridicule.  Ted Cruz has been getting attention, but it's mostly because he's been saying some goofy things. 

It's also easy to gloss right over Paul Ryan.  Mitt Romney, who is not likely to run again, selected Ryan as his VEEP nominee in 2012, of course.  That national campaign experience and name recognition could help Ryan should he decide to pursue a 2016 run.

All of this means that it's just far too early to make any definitive statements about 2016.  It's going to take some time for these speculations to become reality.

Thursday, August 8, 2013

Lugar Announced as Presidential Medal of Freedom Honoree

Lugar
The White House announced today that former Indiana Senator and Indianapolis Mayor Richard Lugar will be awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom by President Barack Obama.

According to the White House, it's been 50 years since President John F. Kennedy awarded the
first Presidential Medals of Freedom.

Lugar joins an extremely impressive list of 2013 award winners from all walks of life.  President Bill Clinton, Oprah Winfrey, baseball great Ernie Banks, newsman Ben Bradlee, former Senator Daniel Inouye, singer Loretta Lynn, astronaut Sally Ride, civil rights leaders Bayard Rustin, C.T. Vivian and Gloria Steinem, coach Dean Smith, jazzman Arturo Sandoval, Judge Patricia Wald, scientist Mario Molina, and psychologist Daniel Kahneman will all receive Presidential Medals of Freedom as well this year.  It's the highest civilian honor one can receive from the President.  It's well-deserved for Lugar.

It's also an honor that likely will never be bestowed upon the man that defeated Lugar in the 2012 Primary Election, Richard Mourdock.  While Lugar is accepting his award, Mourdock is desperately trying to find his next job after being forced to leave office at the end of his term as Indiana Treasurer of State due to term limits.  Honestly, it makes Mourdock's landslide victory over Lugar even more hard to believe and hard to fathom.

What is true is that both men are out of office as a result of things they did to themselves.  Mourdock's unfortunate comments about rape in the final 2012 Senatorial Debate cemented the momentum Joe Donnelly was feeling at the end of the campaign and made a close race a big win.  Lugar's inability to connect with the Hoosier State that once loved him so much made a shoo-in eighth term in the Senate nothing but a dream.

The image of Richard Lugar, the statesman, will carry the day.  It should.  Few Hoosiers have contributed so much to the country.  Lugar did us all proud in Washington, and he should be congratulated for his long service to Hoosiers and to the American people.  Congratulations Senator Lugar.

Ballard '07 Would Likely Have "Had Enough" of Ballard '13...Videos Prove It

With Mayor Greg Ballard considering another tax hike, I thought I would get in my time machine and head back to 2007 to see if I could find the Greg Ballard of 2007.

Unfortunately, I was not able to generate the 1.21 gigawatts necessary to get the Delorean to make the jump back in time.  


Thus, I had to settle for a YouTube search.  I came across this advertisement by Ballard which I believe from memory aired shortly before the 2007 General Election.  


Of course, there were several "homemade" Ballard ads that showed up on YouTube as well at the time.  They are still there.  Some seem very funny now.  Wonder how the folks that made this one feel about Greg Ballard 2013 now?


This interview is rather enlightening, too.


So, Greg Ballard of 2007 was railing against partisanship, government secrecy, high crime rates, an understaffed police force, and the raising of taxes and fees.  

It's clear that Greg Ballard of 2007 would have "had enough" of his current counterpart.

Wednesday, August 7, 2013

Ritz Welcomes Back Educators with Video Presentation

Indiana Superintendent of Public Instruction Glenda Ritz sat down and explained her department's mission and vision in a short "Welcome Back" video aimed at educators beginning the 2013/2014 school year.

Notable in this video is the completely different tone from Ritz's predecessor Tony Bennett.  Watch it below.  The video runs about five minutes.



Tuesday, August 6, 2013

Marion County Commissioners Put "D" in Decatur

Democrat Patty Rigsby was appointed late last month by the Marion County Commissioners and was sworn in to fill a vacancy on the Decatur Township Advisory Board left by the death of Republican Bob Frye.  How does that work out?

It's a bit complicated.

Republicans in Decatur Township missed the deadline to replace Frye, and it appears they had little or no intention on filling the vacancy until after word was circulated that Democrats were trying to fill the seat.

There's still some legal wrangling left, but it appears that the Democrats have stepped up to represent citizens in Decatur Township when Republicans left them behind.

In the midst of all of this, there's one thing on which everyone can agree.  The late Bob Frye was a good and decent man who dedicated his life to public service.  He was a proud Army veteran and worked the same job for 42 years, according to his obituary.  Besides this, he was very active in Decatur Township serving on various community and civic groups. His loss was and is still felt across this community.

Monday, August 5, 2013

Drawing Line on Tax Increases

The local blogosphere blew up this weekend (here, here, and here) with the reports published in the Indianapolis Business Journal that Greg Ballard is looking at raising the income taxes in the City of Indianapolis to help public safety.

Unlike the three other blogs that reported on this idea this last weekend, I can support raising the income taxes to put more police on the street, but I cannot support the initiative without Mayor Ballard doing everything possible to cut his own budget in his own office and with the continued emphasis on superfluous city projects, handouts, and council pet projects.

If we are going to raise the income taxes to help public safety, it must be done only for that purpose.  It cannot be done because we want to give professional sports more money.  It cannot be done because we want a world sports park.  It cannot be done because we want to bid on another Super Bowl.  We must prioritize public safety, day-to-day city operations, and infrastructure maintenance and improvements.

On top of this, the Mayor would have to demonstrate to me that this tax increase will not only help close the budget deficit but make the budget sustainable into the future.  I did not support the repeal of the Homestead Tax Credit because I could not see the benefit.  I will not support a tax increase for a tax increase's sake.

I think Mayor Ballard also should come clean that he's no longer the candidate in 2007 that told us he could do everything he wanted to do without asking for more of our money.  We now know that he can't back that up.  

If Mayor Ballard is serious about raising taxes, he should be serious about telling the truth to Marion County residents.  If this tax increase is necessary, then none of this should be hard.  It's time to roll back the raises Ballard gave his staff.  It's time to return that money to the Rebuild Indy fund that we're spending on a world sports park, and it's definitely time to forget about another Super Bowl for now.  

Until these things can be demonstrated, I won't support raising my taxes one penny.

Sunday, August 4, 2013

Berry Still on Books as Auditor after Presumed Resignation

Berry
If you pay taxes in Indiana, you're paying the Indiana Republican Party Chairman's salary...in a manner of speaking, that is.

It was thought that Indiana Auditor of State Tim Berry resigned a few weeks ago from his job to take over the chair position of the Indiana GOP.  That school of thought is not accurate, though.

The Fort Wayne Journal Gazette reported last week that he's still on the books as auditor and is also serving as a volunteer Chairman for the Indiana Republican Party.

Berry is waiting for Mike Pence to make a decision on who will replace him as auditor.  There is precedent in these resignation situations.

When Charlie White stepped down as Secretary of State, then-Governor Mitch Daniels appointed Jerold Bonnett on an interim basis.  Eventually, Daniels chose Connie Lawson as the Secretary of State.  I don't know why this arrangement was not followed for Berry.  Perhaps I just misunderstood the situation, but I thought Berry was going to resign to take the Indiana Republican Party Chairmanship job.  

As long as Berry is performing the full-time duties of the Auditor, I guess I don't have so much of a problem.  Berry is still prominently featured as the Indiana Auditor of State on the in.gov website.

I just feel as if Hoosiers were misled on this one.  Media sources reported that as soon as Berry was selected as the Chairman of the Indiana Republican Party he would resign as Indiana Auditor of State.  Looks like he'll still be Auditor as long as Pence drags his feet.

Prosecutor Curry's Bullying Forum Shines Light on Bullying Prevention

Marion County Prosecutor Terry Curry held the End Bullying Now Indy Forum on Saturday at Butler University.  The forum brought together about 100 parents, community members, school officials, politicians, and experts to try to get a handle on preventing bullying by young folks in our schools and communities.

With my day job, I deal with teenagers on a daily basis, and I know that many of you out there that are reading this blog post have children of all ages.  The bottom line is that bullying does have real impacts, and it's not something anyone should have to experience as a rite of passage or learn to cope with.  It's destructive, and it can drive people to awful ends just to get the bullying to stop.

Dr. Dennis Kinder, a mental health expert who counsels bullied young people, talked about a number of things.  His talk was compelling to me because of the statistics he cited.  Kinder said that 20 percent of those in high school and 28 percent of those in grades six to 12 report being bullied.  He also said that the Indiana Youth Institute reports that 90 percent of LGBT youths report being bullied and 50 percent of those young people report being physically bullied.

These are staggering statistics especially when you consider the lasting effects.

Dr. Brandie Oliver, a professor who trains future school counselors, said that she remembers being called an elephant as she was growing up.  She carries that with her still today.  Dr. Kinder said that bullying depresses a student's academic performance in school.  It increases stress and causes more youth health problems.

I was bullied in high school.  My last name got a lot of attention from bullies as well as my tall stature.  Dr. Kinder said that anything that makes someone different makes that individual a potential target of bullying.

The forum did not just concentrate on the victims of bullying.  It concentrated on why bullies bully and provided some resources to those that attended.  Dr. Kinder and Dr. Oliver both said that bullies often become bullies because of things that are going on in their own personal lives.  A bully may act out for a number of reasons and they are hard to pinpoint.

The important thing for teachers and school personnel is to be on the lookout for bullying.  David Woodward from the Indiana Department of Education is in charge of training school safety personnel.  He said that Indiana is pretty much a home rule state and that the local school boards are charged with ensuring that their school safety plans comply with Indiana Code.  He suggested a number of things schools can do to make bullying less likely.

Woodward said that schools need to directly survey their students about bullying.  Find out where in the building that it is more likely to occur.  He said that bullying is not something that can be dealt with in a "zero tolerance" manner.  According to Woodward, zero tolerance consequences create chilling effects and stop victims and witnesses of bullying from reporting the activity.  Instead, he suggest consequences that escalate, consistent and immediate intervention when bullying occurs, clear and consistent rules on bullying, and to define the problem clearly to establish policies and procedures.  He said that a website will go online on Monday with resources for schools because all schools must provide personnel that come into contact with students and young people with bullying prevention training by October 15.

Rep. Greg Porter, the author of House Bill 1423 that established that training requirement also spoke saying that while this training was essentially an unfunded mandate that it was critically important for the students in our schools that staff be trained to recognize bullying and stop it.  He cited the three recent suicides of young bullied Hoosiers as reasons why we must get a handle on preventing the scourge of bullying.

Another part of the forum focused on cyberbullying.  Deputy Prosecutors Kevonna Tyler and Austin Shadle presented Prosecutor Curry's Cyberbullying for Parents session.  Both Tyler and Shadle gave some stunning statistics about how young our children are when they are becoming exposed to social media and how important it is for parents and school officials to teach youngsters to be good digital citizens.  Cyberbullying isn't cute or funny.  Cyberbullying is a crime, and it can devastate the lives and families of not only a victim but the bully, too.  This IS going on right now.  An unbelievable 95 percent of young teenagers in one survey said they have witnessed an online incident of cyberbullying.

Themes that were common all throughout the forum included that it's important for parents and loved ones to keep reporting bullying to school officials.  Also, adults need to ASK students and young people questions about bullying if they believe something bad is going on.  Many times, young people won't offer up that information on their own.  It's also imperative that teachers LISTEN to their students and immediately intervene and report bullying incidents.  Don't assume one intervention will stop the problem.  Constant follow-up is necessary.

All-in-all, I learned a lot from this amazing forum.  I highly recommend you attend the next forum because it will take a team effort and community to prevent bullying!

Friday, August 2, 2013

Looking Back on Tony Bennett's Short, High-Profile Political Career

Tony Bennett
The headlines broke on Thursday morning.

Tony Bennett decided to step down from his position as Florida Education Commissioner just a day after getting a "heckuva job Brownie"-like vote of confidence from Florida Governor Rick Scott.  The former Indiana Superintendent of Public Instruction had gotten a huge raise and seemingly less accountability to the voters after losing his seat to Glenda Ritz in the 2012 General Election.

Who knew it would be his old job in Indiana that would finally bring about his undoing?  He still isn't really taking responsibility.  Just Wednesday, Bennett was appearing on talk shows and defending the actions of his DOE in changing the Christel House's A-F school grade from a C to an A after the Associated Press released a string of e-mails.

Bennett's fall was as fast as his rise.  We were introduced to Tony Bennett in 2008.  He became the GOP's nominee for Superintendent of Public Instruction.  With Mitch Daniels beside him, Bennett ran on a platform of bringing discipline back into the classroom.  His 2008 speech accepting the nomination did not signal much.  It certainly didn't signal the sound of the reformer he would become.



Of course, Indiana in 2008 was much different than the Indiana we know today.  While Mitch Daniels held the Governor's Office, Democrats held the majority of seats in the Indiana House.  Democrats would maintain their majority, but Bennett would narrowly defeat Richard Wood by only two percentage points, 51-49 percent.

Bennett took office in January of 2009.  I first blogged on him as Superintendent of Public Instruction in July of 2009.  The Indianapolis Star had cautioned Bennett to slow down on his education reform train, and I urged him to be less of a dictator and more of a consensus builder.  I wrote, "On reform...I think that rather than an edict from Mount Daniels, we need to work together on a plan that's best for Indiana students. It's about the students and not about how quickly we can move to reform schools."

He didn't take my advice.  He didn't work together with hardly anyone.  Dr. Bennett was going to do things his way which was also Mitch Daniels' way, and he did.  By the time he got majorities in the Indiana House and Senate sympathetic to his cause, Indiana was on a fast track to ALEC-led reformville.  The pace picked up.  Some even would argue that it was faster than his own department could handle.

His political support began to erode.  By the time we got to November, it was about to be
over for Bennett in Indiana.  He wasn't out of work for long.  He accepted the Florida appointment to the state's education chief fresh with a ton more cash and a supportive Governor.  Now, he's lost that job, too.

I don't revel in Bennett's resignation.  I really don't, but it is a case study in believing in your own brand too much.  I don't know where the story will go from here.  I just know that it's going to take years to clean up the mess that Bennett left here and in Florida.

Thursday, August 1, 2013

Indiana Chamber on Sidelines for HJR-6 Fight

The Indiana Chamber of Commerce has decided to roll over on the House Joint Resolution 6 battle which is getting set to warm up in the General Assembly in January.

The Associated Press reports that the Indiana Chamber will not take a position on the issue which does have critical economic ramifications across Indiana. Many large Indiana employers such as Lilly and Cummins have decided to oppose the ban on pretty much everything but marriage between a man and a woman because they realize the impact it would have on their employees.

It’s disappointing that the Chamber will not take a position. It’s in fact quite cowardly in my opinion. Why wouldn’t the Indiana Chamber want to promote a state that values everyone and families of all kinds, straight and gay. By remaining silent and not putting its considerable weight behind equality in Indiana, it simply allows inequality to continue.

I guess that’s hunky dory with the Indiana Chamber of Commerce.