Monday, September 30, 2013

President Obama's Statement on Potential Government Shutdown

Pyle's Memory, Name Deserve Continued Honor at Indiana University

Pyle At Work
"Are you all right?"

In his last moments, Ernie Pyle poked his head up in an area full of Japanese machine gun fire to see if two army servicemen were unhurt by the bullets he was ducking to avoid.  In just a moment, he would be struck in the temple by a machine gun round, and, a few moments later, the legendary travel and war correspondent was gone.  Those four words above would be his last words on this Earth.

When you read Ernie Pyle's dispatches from the war zone, you come to the realization that he loved his job.  He may have loved to hate it some days, but he loved journalism.  He loved telling stories, and he used that love to tell the story from the perspective of the soldier.  He took his readers and put them on the front lines and wrote about what was occurring because he lived it too.  For all intents and purposes, he was a soldier, and the men he wrote about treated him as such.

Struck down by a sniper, Pyle was initially buried on the battlefield with other soldiers on the island of Ie Shima where he fell.  His remains would be moved to Okinawa, and he remains interred there.  This column was found unfinished in his pocket. That's the end of Pyle's story, but you have to know the story of his life.

Born near the small town of Dana, Indiana, Pyle worked on his family farm.  A PBS documentary on his life said that Pyle hated the idea of looking at "the south end of a horse" while plowing fields for the rest of his life, so he decided to enroll at Indiana University.  He did not finish his education but accepted a job in Northern Indiana.  Before long, Pyle was in Washington, D.C. and, by his early 30's, he was an editor.

Several years before that, Pyle made a great American road trip writing about his experiences along the way.  He wrote many travel pieces and slices of life bringing home to other Americans life in the late 1920's and 1930's.  He became famous.  When the war broke out, the World War I veteran resisted becoming a part of it.

When he did reluctantly start writing war pieces, he took that same style that made him famous and developed a new style of putting the war on the pages of newspapers across the country.  He wrote about the constant bombardment of targets in the UK.  He wrote about the perils of the foot soldier in the ground wars and trenches of Europe.  In 1943, Pyle won the Pulitzer Prize for his writing.

All the while, he was suffering the same effects that the soldiers he was covering were suffering.  According to reports, he was deeply depressed and clearly changed by the war he saw.  His wife was not well, and he was struggling. He returned home in July 1944 and spent time trying to recover telling his readers that his mental state needed a break from covering the war.

Pyle returned to war and was covering the Pacific Theater and the buildup for a possible invasion of Japan when he was struck down on April 18, 1945.  He was survived by his wife and his parents.  At the time of his death, Pyle was among the most famous journalists of his time.

You know, time passes.  We're in 2013, and the days of the newspaper are sadly not what they once were.  I'm part of the problem.  I haven't subscribed to the written version of the Indianapolis Star in years.  With journalism changing and expanding, Indiana University now is in the process of deciding what the future of its journalism school will be.

I graduated from Indiana University in 1997 with a degree in secondary education.  I have concentrations in English and journalism.  I'm here to tell you, I loved my time in the Indiana University School of Journalism.  Where the School of Education was impersonal and cold, the School of Journalism was warm and inviting.  While I mostly had associate instructors in the School of Education, I mostly had professors in the School of Journalism.  A full professor, in fact, served as my journalism academic adviser, and I had THE DEAN OF THE SCHOOL as a teacher in an intro-level class.  It was a great experience.

That School of Journalism is actually the Ernie Pyle School of Journalism housed in Ernie Pyle Hall on the Bloomington campus.

In the entryway of Ernie Pyle Hall, there is a display of a typewriter used by Pyle to pound out some of his columns.  Most people likely just walk past that typewriter, but I can remember looking at it one day and thinking about the legacy of the man who used it.

As times change, IU wants to change, too.  Indiana University wants to combine the Ernie Pyle School of Journalism with two other departments and create a new school that is more modern in its intent.  To do so, it wants to gut Ernie Pyle's memory and his name from gracing that school.  While addressing this new media landscape, why not make Ernie Pyle the center of it?  The Ernie Pyle School of Journalism and Media has a nice ring to it.  Indiana University's proposal is not to go that direction.  Instead, it wants to place this school within the College of Arts and Sciences where it will become just another department.

We cannot lose the legacy of Ernie Pyle on the campus of Indiana University.  Ernie Pyle was a storyteller.  The storytellers of the future need to be trained under Ernie Pyle's name and not some department that lacks identity.

If Ernie were to ask me today, "Are you all right?"  I'd have to say that I am not.  I am ashamed that Indiana University would even consider gutting the identity of the finest school on the campus.  Yes, it's small and it's probably outdated in some ways, but its reputation is the same.  The professors care, and they are some of the finest teachers anywhere on that least they were when I was there.

The Ernie Pyle School of Journalism DESERVES to live on in some fashion because once we kill it...that's just another part of the legacy of the brave men that fought World War II that dies.   We don't have to be prisoners to the past, but we should at least honor it.  I urge Indiana University to take this into consideration in the future discussions about how to modernize media education in Bloomington.

Friday, September 27, 2013

Indy Shows Outpouring of Support for Fallen Hero

Officer Rod Bradway was honored yesterday, and Indianapolis responded.

By the thousands, Hoosiers, public safety officials, and colleagues of Bradway's from all over the United States gathered and honored a man who deserved every honor.

Indianapolis again showed its heart.  If Officer Bradway could see his own funeral procession, he saw a city that was full of love, honor, and respect for a fallen hero.  Citizens of the city lined the streets and gave him a send off fitting of his sacrifice.

Governor Mike Pence said it best, "Words fail when heroes fall."

They do.

This city always rises up and shows its best when the worst happens.  Indianapolis showed up for one the best we had to offer yesterday.  

Officer Rod Bradway is now 10-42.  As the end of duty call said, "He has gone home for the final time."

He rests in peace.

Sunday, September 22, 2013

Officer Rod Bradway Will Be Laid to Rest This Week

IMPD Officer Rod Bradway
Officer Rod Bradway will be laid to rest on Thursday morning at 11:00 a.m. at Crown Hill Cemetery.  Public visitation will be held on Wednesday from 2:00 to 8:00 p.m.  

Our first responders and law enforcement officials face dangers every day in the line of duty and in the name of public safety.  Officer Bradway's sacrifice is the ultimate example of the dangers they face in their daily line of work.  While there is always a danger that any of us can wake up and not come home at night, police officers, firefighters, and other first responders face these dangers more than we realize and in ways we can't comprehend.  It is life on the edge.  They acknowledge it, and they accept it.  Their families do too.   

My thoughts and prayers continue to be with the family and friends of Officer Bradway.  

Out of respect for the memory of Officer Bradway, there will be no blog updates here unless there is some sort of breaking news requiring some sort of reaction until Friday.  The title bar of the blog will also be dimmed in honor of Officer Bradway.

Friday, September 20, 2013

IMPD Officer Killed in Line of Duty

Terrible news this morning.

IMPD Officer Rod Bradway was apparently gunned down in the line of duty earlier this morning.

According to news reports, Bradway reported to a domestic dispute call early this morning around 2:00 a.m.  He allegedly heard screams inside and entered an apartment.

Bradway exchanged gunfire with an unidentified suspect.  apparently killing the suspect. Bradway was shot in the head and chest.

About two and a half hours later, Bradway died at Wishard Hospital of his wounds.

More details are forthcoming, visit local media sites for updates.

My thoughts and prayers go out to Officer Bradway's family as well as everyone in his extended public safety family.  Rest in peace Officer Bradway.

Tully's Latest Pro-Ballard Piece Leaves Out Truth

Matt Tully is a great writer, and I enjoy his columns even when I disagree with him.

Matt Tully
In yesterday's Indianapolis Star, Tully wrote a complimentary piece on Mayor Greg Ballard that dogged out Democrats on the City-County Council for essentially standing up in opposition to several planks of the Ballard Administration's plan for Indianapolis.  

There's no question; his piece yesterday seemed to land some reasonable rhetorical punches on the Democratic opposition, but he left out some very key points critical to the general public's understanding of the issues.  Perhaps Mayor Ballard's Agenda isn't necessarily all it's described to be by Tully.

When you write opinion pieces, it's sometimes convenient to leave out facts that don't necessarily help your case.  It's part of the way you make a compelling argument.  That's the way lawyers win cases, and there's no question that writers will do the same.  Heck, I've probably even done it here a few times.    

In his column, Tully completely ignores that Democrats aren't the only ones pushing back against the Ballard Agenda.  In fact, Mayor Ballard has seen enough opposition from his own caucus to warrant the removal of one of its members.  That's why some say City-County Councillor Christine Scales is no longer welcome in caucus meetings.  She was just too independent.  That's not playing politics?

Tully fails to also call the Mayor to task on the number of times he's played politics with his veto pen on good public policy passed by Democrats.  In the same piece where he praises Ballard, he criticizes him for his cricket debacle.  If memory serves me, Democrats attempted to take that world sports park money and spend it on hiring police officers.  They get no credit for that attempt.

The columnist also greatly overstates the awesomeness of Ballard's ideas.  According to Tully, it's apparently ok to take millions away from the township schools with the killing of the homestead tax credit.  He also believes that it's perfectly fine to give this Mayor more money to spend on infrastructure repairs and projects that will be needing improvement before the bonds that made the repairs and projects possible are paid off.  

Ignored in the column altogether is Ballard's advocacy of Senate Bill 621.  Tully railed loudly against that bill in the pages of the Indianapolis Star.  All must be forgotten in that regard.

I don't need to tell Matt Tully how to write a column.  He's an award-winning writer, but it would have been nice had he at least addressed these arguments while making his pro-Ballard rah rah pep rally speech. 

Thursday, September 19, 2013

IMPD Understaffing Problem Not New

As the budget debate continues at the City-County Council level, one thing remains the same.  The Indianapolis Metropolitan Police Department did not become understaffed overnight, and Mayor Greg Ballard has known that the issue has existed since he took office.

In fact, it was Ballard that said he could add officers to the streets back in 2007 without asking for more of our money.  I don't remember for certain what the number of officers that he wanted to add was, but it was significant.

Of course, Ballard has spent a lot of time recently telling us that more officers aren't the answer and that it's better policing.  He undermined his own argument back in July by releasing a plan to put more officers on the streets of Indianapolis.  That plan has now come with dollars attached as part of the $432 million public safety budget.  Troy Riggs is good at his job, but he will have to be David Copperfield to solve the woes facing the department.

The goal, according to media reports like this one from WISH, is to put 100 new officers on the street within a year while shifting appropriate duties to civilian employees and combining those reassignments with new recruits.

I'm sure this will be presented by the Ballard Administration as a take-it-or-leave-it approach that won't have any wiggle room from their end for negotiation.  I'm sure that the Ballard Administration will use all the tactics to portray anyone that asks questions as against public safety when he had the opportunity to ease overcrowding by simply choosing cops over cricket.

That's not though.  Some say Mayor Ballard has neglected other possible ways to solve the understaffing issue.  The Fraternal Order of Police has penned a letter saying that Ballard has ignored monetary savings and some of their ideas to help fill the massive staffing gap in.

None of this changes the fact I mentioned at the start of this piece.  IMPD has been understaffed for years...since it merged, in fact.  Mayor Greg Ballard knew that when he was candidate Greg Ballard, and he has done nothing until now.  Remind him of that when he's calling you anti-public safety for asking questions.

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Vlog Brothers Valuable Views Help Explain Vexing Problems

If Americans only followed the Vlog Brothers, we'd all be better for it.  Two excellent videos here.

Hank Green explains Syria

And on Health Care...John Green holds court

Yes, I know it's been nothing but videos today, but these were too good not to share.

Kid President's Student and Teacher Pep Talk

Robby Novak, the ever-inspiring youngster, is back with another great video with a great message for students and for teachers.  Enjoy.

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Maybe Ballard Should Just Live Within His Means

Mayor Greg Ballard
This is twice in one week that I've mentioned Abdul-Hakim Shabazz on this blog, but you know he loves the smell of his own cigars.  He'll enjoy it.

Abdul penned a column for Nuvo that essentially said that since the City-County Council won't give Indy Mayor Greg Ballard more money for his infrastructure projects that he should take that money from infrastructure projects in the districts of Democrats that opposed him.  He calls it the "nuclear option" in his column that you can read here.

Abdul-Hakim Shabazz
You know, this kind of reminds me of a time when the Mayor cut the Sheriff's budget, increased the Sheriff's health care costs, and then watched him run out of money.  When Sheriff Layton came back to ask for more money, he was told no.  Layton didn't cry to the media or dress down a City-County Councillor.  Instead, Abdul and those on the right raked Layton across the coals.  They called his spending out of control and told him to live within his means.

Mayor Greg Ballard has done anything but live within his means.  He blew through the Rebuild Indy money with things like gaelic football, cricket, and hurling fields.  When the City-County Council defeated his plan to spend $150 million more in long term bonds for short term infrastructure repairs, the Mayor didn't like it so much.

Abdul and Mayor Ballard seem to forget that City-County government (for now) has more than one branch in it.  I'm sure that Ballard's folks are trying to find a way to power grab more for themselves in the upcoming General Assembly session, but, for now, the Mayor will just have to put up with the Council, use that nuclear option to his peril, or learn to live within his means.

Monday, September 16, 2013

Latest Bennett Revelation Just Another Mark Against His Legacy

I have to be careful what I write lest my comments on Tony Bennett be mischaracterized by Abdul-Hakim Shabazz (as they were in his recent Nuvo column).

That said, the former state schools chief's unraveling has been as disturbing as it has been fascinating to watch.  It's providing us with a look inside an organization that was as ill-prepared to lead reform efforts as it was ill-prepared for the possibility of losing an election to Glenda Ritz.

In this week's edition of public records requests 101, the Associated Press' Tom LoBianco has obtained the GOP's high-powered and high dollar fundraising list.  Bennett staffers carelessly left it on state computers for anyone to discover after leaving office.  That makes it, as the AP calls it, "a public document--free to anyone."

Needless to say, Tim Berry has to be blowing a main engine seal over this one.  These donor lists are not supposed to be circulated to every Republican, let alone any one of us little folk that might want it.  These are guarded by the parties like state secrets and only handed out to the highest level candidates.  Looks like those that trusted Tony Bennett and his staff chose unwisely.

It seems to be another example of the Bennett Administration's arrogance.  This list got left on the state computers because of carelessness.  It was stupid to upload it to the state servers in the first place, and it was likely uploaded because they thought they'd never get caught.  Well, they got caught.

In reality, this list should have been the first thing that was removed from the state's computers once it was discovered on them.  Someone should have been the adult and said, "YOU CAN'T DO THIS!"  That should have been Bennett or someone close to him.

No one said anything, and no one removed the file.  Now, you or I can see it.

Let me be clear, Abdul.  I'm not saying that Bennett violated any laws or knowingly did anything wrong.  The Inspector General or court system will speak on that.  Even the most staunch Bennett defender will have to admit that this is just another black eye and mark against his legacy.

Friday, September 13, 2013

Hob Knob Incident Peels Back Onion on Ballard

A couple of days ago on this blog, I described an incident as told to me by a trusted source that occurred at the Hob Knob last week.  

It was Mayor Greg Ballard confronting Councillor Zach Adamson over the Council's decision to let Mayor Ballard's latest infrastructure plan die on the committee vine.  

Several Councillors, including Adamson, had concerns about the way the Mayor's infrastructure plan was to be funded.  It would have floated long term bonds for street and sidewalk repairs and projects that likely would not have lasted the entire term of the bonds that paid for them.  It's a perfectly reasonable reason to send the Mayor back to the drawing board.

In his tirade against Adamson, Ballard allegedly promised to use the defeated proposal against Democrats like Adamson, and that's certainly his political right.  It's also the right of the Democrats to use Ballard's record, this incident, and his liberal use of his veto pen against him.

In Senate Enrolled Act 621, Mayor Ballard grabbed powers from the City-County Council.  He also was able to write four City-County Council seats out of existence while wresting more control of critical city commissions for himself.  He also was successful in gaining more control over the city/county budget away from his elected counterparts on the Council and in Marion County Government.

It seems clear that Ballard has little respect for the legislative body of this city and county.  He believes that he holds all the power.  Certainly, he holds a bunch of it, but the genius of any representative government is that one particular branch of government does not hold all the power.  Post-SEA 621 Ballard seems to see this as a pesky detail in the whole scheme of things.  

This latest boil over or whatever it was at the Hob Knob changes things a bit.  As the onion peels back, the City of Indianapolis is getting a better glimpse of the man they elected to be a different kind of Mayor in 2007.  It's not a particularly pretty image.

To be honest, I questioned whether or not I should publish that story of what happened at the Hob Knob because that's never been what this blog is about.  I was about to urge the source to take the story elsewhere when I asked a trusted friend for advice.  That friend told me that this was an important story to tell and that people needed to know about the incident.  I was concerned about seeming partisan, but my friend said that the details, as told by my source, would stand on their own.

I moved forward.  No looking back.

I don't know if Greg Ballard even knows who I am.  I have had some very kind and cordial conversations with the Mayor on more than one occasion.  I find him to be someone who is pretty good at politics because he's successful playing the, "I'm not a politician card."  In the one time that I've had a private audience with the Mayor, I found him to be totally different.  In a small group, gone is that bumbling character he plays on the microphone, and there is a focused and direct politician.  

I haven't seen that Greg Ballard much in public.  Every once in a while, you'll see the Mayor get agitated by a question of a reporter.  Greg Ballard doesn't like to be challenged.  He doesn't like his matter who wrote be challenged, either.  Most of all, he doesn't want to be told no.

It's sometimes the job of the City-County Council to tell him, "NO."  It's called checks and balances.  In the end, it's up to the voters to decide which side is right and which side is wrong.

Thursday, September 12, 2013

Get Ready for Massive Voter Registration Changes

Big changes are coming to voter registration in 2014.

At Monday's Decatur Township Democratic Club meeting, Angela Nussmeyer, the Director of Elections for the Marion County Election Board, gave a presentation highlighting the statewide changes that will go into effect on January 1, 2014.  Changes, of course, courtesy of the Indiana General Assembly and the GOP supermajorities in the House and Senate.

The biggest change is in the voter registration form and process itself.

Current voter registration forms will be obsolete as of December 31, 2013.  After that date, you can throw the old forms out, and, on January 1, 2014, you must use the new Indiana Voter Registration Form.

The new form looks almost the same, but there is a new box at the top right side of the form.  It is a spot for a "third party registrar" or the person that registers a voter to provide a receipt to the person whose registration was taken.  This is a brand new requirement, and it only

The receipt essentially states that you, as a third party registrar, are taking custody of the form after registering someone.  On the receipt, you must provide your name and the date you took the registration, but that's not all.  YOU ALSO MUST PROVIDE YOUR HOME ADDRESS!!!  

Chilling effect much??

If you are, let's say, a government teacher, would you want the 35 students in your government class to find your home by the receipt you hand them after registering them to vote?  What if your daughter or son is volunteering to register college students or going door-to-door?  Would you want him or her to provide the home address to your home to strangers?

This is only a part of the problem.

After taking a voter's registration form and giving them the attached receipt, you have by noon on the 10th day after taking the registration to get that form to the voter registration board at the county courthouse.  If you miss the deadline, it's a bit unclear as to what happens to the form and the registration of that voter, but it is clear that getting the form to the county voter registration board late is subjecting that civic-minded volunteer to being charged with a misdemeanor.

Again, this is only for voter registration drives using the paper form from the State of Indiana.  The federal voter registration form is not subject to the receipt and registering voters at also doesn't require a receipt.  If folks register at the BMV, the receipt does not apply, and simply handing an empty form to a voter to fill out and return on their own doesn't trigger the receipt requirement.

It gets better, though.

Let's say you've done EVERYTHING right. You drop off 25 voter registration forms at the voter registration board for 25 people you registered legally.  You provided each of those folks with a receipt as the law requires.  There is NO REQUIREMENT for the voter registration board to provide me with any receipt that you dropped it off.  It's still possible that, as a good and civic minded individual that you could end up being charged for a misdemeanor because a piece paper got shuffled incorrectly.

Gives you something to think about no matter what party you're from if you're registering voters!  Use the federal form or encourage voters to register online.

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

September 11

It’s 9/11.

It’s another year since America changed.

Twelve years ago, hijacked planes were deliberately crashed into buildings by extremists in New York City and Washington, and it’s believed the passengers of a third plane prevented more carnage by forcing a plane into the ground near Shanksville, Pennsylvania.

It was one of those “remember where you were when…” moments.

With the busy world we live in, it’s getting more and more distant of a memory, and a new generation is rising for which most of them the memories of 9/11 will be what’s read in textbooks and seen in retrospective news reports.

It’s an awful memory for me that I’d love to forget. I didn’t personally lose anyone that I knew in the 9/11 attacks, but I have friends that had friends that were counted among the 2,977 innocent people that died that day.

As we look back on that terrible scar on our American history, we must continue to tell the tale so that those who have no concept will remember it. As always, 9/11 is a day to remember so that we NEVER forget.

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Source Says Mayor May Have Attempted to Bully City-County Councillor at Hob Knob

An allegedly visibly angry Mayor Greg Ballard apparently
got into some sort of verbal altercation with City-County Councillor Zach Adamson at the recent Hob Knob event sponsored by the Indy Chamber.

An anonymous source tells Indy Democrat that Adamson approached the Mayor to thank him for his open and public support of shooting down House Joint Resolution 6.  Mayor Ballard allegedly brushed aside Adamson's thank you to begin to verbally lay into the Councillor on another issue.

What had Ballard's goat on this night was the City-County Council's killing of Ballard's infrastructure plan that would have floated bonds to pay for more road and street repairs.

Several City-County Councillors, including Adamson, expressed reservation over this plan in that future generations will be paying back loans for repairs that won't last the entire term of the loan.  When Adamson shared his concerns at the Hob Knob event with Ballard after the Mayor began his tirade, the source tells me Ballard told Adamson, "That's Bull! You just don't want me to get re-elected. that's it. We're going to murder you guys on this. "

The source tells me that Ballard told Adamson again, "We're going to murder you guys on this.  You're dead,"  allegedly saying those words more than once while pointing his finger at Adamson and at times shaking his hands and gesturing wildly.  Ballard, of course, is a former Marine as he likes to tell everyone.  It's safe to say he got the full Marine training.  That might make him a pretty intimidating person to deal with.

Adamson told Ballard that he simply came over to thank him for his support of nixing HJR-6 and not to get into a "political fist fight."  My source says Ballard told Adamson, "Then do the right thing and pass this."

The source says that several people at the Hob Nob including members of the City-County Council witnessed the pretty-much one sided verbal joust in utter shock.  Several others standing around were beginning to stare when a Republican City-County Councillor swooped in and came between Adamson and Ballard before walking away with a stunned Adamson.

Lessons?  I guess maybe Mayor Ballard is running for reelection.  Also, if everything that is being said is true, Ballard's not really happy about not getting his way on everything any more.  This could, of course, be why the Republicans kicked Christine Scales out of their caucus in a cowardly and shameful fashion on Monday night.

Why would the Mayor act this way?  Ballard did go in for minor knee surgery on Friday.  Maybe his anxiety boiled over?  There is one thing the Mayor needs to realize.  He will have to live with this Democratic Council for the remainder of his term in office, and he's done little to move the dial with Democrats on the Council in his direction.

In a city and county trending more and more blue, he needs the Council worse than they need the Mayor.  They are accountable to only their constituents.  The Mayor might be well to remember that.

Indy Star: Ballard Continues to Mull Over Political Future

The Indianapolis Star reported on Saturday that Greg Ballard is still on the fence about running for a third term as Mayor of Indianapolis.

In its “Behind Closed Doors” column, the Star reported that Ballard is thinking about his political future, but that he isn’t revealing his plans. He likely won’t run for another office and repeated the “I will run if I still think there’s work left to do” nonsense he’s said before.

I don’t know how he can’t run. As the incumbent, Ballard gives his Republican Party its best chance at retaining an office that is becoming more and more difficult to hold on to. If he wants proof of that, he needs to only look around. Other than judges, there are no Republican countywide elected officeholders in Marion County any longer. He’s it. He has the fundraising advantage of incumbency and the advantage of the bully pulpit.

That could also be a disadvantage. Ballard clearly won’t be the same candidate in 2015 as he was in 2007 or even in 2011. He keeps asking for more and more of the taxpayers’ hard earned money. He said he wouldn’t do that in the past. The recent decision to not honor the raises of the police officers and firefighters he negotiated and the way public safety continues to be perceived as a problem for the Mayor hurts his case.

He also isn’t certain what Democrat he’ll be running against. While U.S. Attorney Joe Hogsett is a possibility and City-County Councillors like Vop Osili and Maggie Lewis may attempt a run, it’s hard for Ballard to even see where he might fit.

I actually think it’s wise to play it coy for a few more months. After all, we have two full years until the Mayor’s race will be on the front burner of most Indy residents. There’s still plenty of time for Ballard to announce his plans.

Personally, I bet he runs.

Monday, September 9, 2013

De Blasio Surges On Eve of NYC Mayoral Primary

Bill de Blasio
Photo from Facebook
While much of the talk of the New York City Mayoral Race has centered around the...uhh...candidacy of Anthony Weiner, NYC Public Advocate Bill de Blasio has surged forward to take a solid lead in the polls over City Council Speaker Chris Quinn and former Comptroller Bill Thompson.  The voters go to the polls on Tuesday.

De Blasio leads with 36 percent of the vote.  Quinn and Thompson are tied with 20 percent.  Weiner is a distant 21 points behind de Blasio and slightly ahead of current NYC Comptroller John Liu who has just five percent support in the Wall Street Journal-NBC 4 New York-Marist Poll.

Mayor Michael Bloomberg made headlines when he called de Blasio's campaign racist.  It was an odd charge.  De Blasio is married to an African-American woman, and his children are of mixed race.  De Blasio is running a "two New Yorks" campaign talking about the inequality of the high income earners of NYC and the low income earners.  He talks, on his campaign website, about the vanishing middle class in New York.

Some have called it class warfare, and that was the context for Bloomberg's strange comments.

Even de Blasio's competition rushed to his defense with most speaking out against the charges by the current Mayor.

While de Blasio is consolidating his support, Republican Joe Lhota has all but wrapped up the GOP nomination if you believe the polls.  Lhota has 48 percent support in the most recent Quinnipiac poll.

To avoid a runoff, de Blasio and Lhota need 40 percent in Tuesday's primary.

It's hard to believe, but Democrats have not held the New York Mayor's Office in 20 years.  David Dinkins, the last Democrat to be Mayor of New York, left office in 1993 after losing a reelection bid to Rudy Guiliani.  Guiliani served two terms, and, his successor, incumbent Mayor Michael Bloomberg, has served three.  A former Democrat, Bloomberg was elected as a Republican before becoming an independent.

Friday, September 6, 2013

Syria Situation is All Around Lose-Lose

Bashar al-Assad
As our elected officials in Washington continue to deliberate over bombing Syria, I find myself disturbed that we haven't learned anything from our past mistakes in this country.

I know that President Obama's plan is to strike Syria in retaliation for using chemical weapons against their own people.  So far, that plan does not include putting our troops on the ground in Syria, and the presumed military operation will target military installations and be, according to the President, limited in scope and in duration.

These things, I guess, are all well and good.  Bashar al-Assad is a bad man.  If the intelligence that has been shared with the American people is true, he has gassed his own people.  Children are among the victims.  It's hard to watch the footage and see the pictures.

The thing is that America has turned a blind eye to the carnage that has been going on in Syria for years.  On YouTube, there is horrifying video after horrifying video of the atrocities the Syrian Government has allegedly perpetrated on its own people.  The rebels aren't much better.  Allegedly, they have ties to Al-Qaeda.

Barack Obama
This is a classic lose-lose situation, and we are late to the party.  A limited in duration and scope operation against military targets won't do anything to stop the violence or end the carnage.  I believe that this will only whip up anti-American sentiment in the region.  It might also end in the collateral damage of dead civilians who get put in the wrong place at the wrong time.

One thing is for sure.  We cannot stand by and do nothing.  The United States and the world community should stand together against the atrocities that are being perpetrated by both sides in this Syrian Civil War.  After all, the radicalized rebel forces executed a 15-year-old boy for insulting Islam.  We are trading the dictator we know for the unknown.

I struggle to think about maybe the day we will truly know peace in this world.  People can be awful creatures to each other, and I cannot for the life of me understand why.  All I know is that attacking military targets in Syria in a limited way will not change lives.  We must stand with the good people of Syria because there are many and bolster them so that they can rise above the violence and the killing and create a new nation of freedom.

I must break with my President's view on this matter, and I must say that this is not the kind of action that I thought he would undertake or the kind of action I support.  There is no easy answer to this mess, and I certainly don't have it nor will I find it in one blog post.

What I think I do know is that failing to attack Syria is not a sign of weakness.  As the United States, we should stand for love, understanding, and peace.  If people truly want to test our capabilities as a military power, then they should do so at their own peril.  There is justification for the use of our forces, but a years-long civil war that is slogging along is not one of them.

Thursday, September 5, 2013

Is Super Bowl Bidding Best Use of City Thinkers Brainpower?

Last Friday, Mayor Greg Ballard announced that Indianapolis would be placing a bid for the 2018 Super Bowl on the heels of our successful and game-changing hosting job in 2012.

Let's dispense with this right away.  If Indianapolis does win its bid for 2018, the city will put on one of the best Super Bowls in history.  This is the standard of our city.  We pull together and do the best job possible from volunteers to actually carrying out the event.  Indianapolis knows how to party.

While I think it would be great for our city to host another one, I wonder if we're ready to host another Super Bowl?  I mean, we have a great deal of problems in this city, and I just don't know if we are ready to do it again.

To me, I'd rather see the powers that be put their heads together and try to find some solutions to the city's growing list of issues before we attempt to lure the NFL back for a second time.  We do have a tremendous amount of unsolved problems from public safety to the budget deficit.

When Mayor Ballard is ready to raise our property taxes and pull money from our schools, it makes you wonder if the city's top-thinkers can be used to put a bid on our own problems.  What if we put the acumen this city shows when hosting sporting events to the other problems we have?  Am I thinking crazy thoughts here?

Probably.  It just would be nice for us to put together these kinds of task forces to try to do something real and substantive and lasting for Indianapolis.  Heck, I'll even offer my services.  I don't know what I can add, but you have to be willing to ride a horse to join the rodeo.

We lost money hosting the Super Bowl, but I do believe it was a great moment for the City of Indianapolis.  It will be a great moment again if we are awarded the 2018 game, but we could solve so many problems if we just look within.

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

Olbermann on Dr. King

If you haven't heard, Keith Olbermann is back on ESPN2 with his show Olbermann that airs at 11:00 p.m.

Last week, for the 50th anniversary of Dr. King's landmark "I Have A Dream" speech, the Golf Channel tweeted out an insensitive but well-intentioned tweet asking golfers to tweet them their golf dreams.  Obviously realizing how much it trivialized a great moment in American history, the Golf Channel rightly deleted the tweet and then apologized for sending it.

Piers Morgan, the CNN host, defended the Golf Channel by saying on Twitter.

Yeah, he went there.

Because he did, Olbermann named both Morgan and the Golf Channel the Worst Persons in the Sports World...the Golf Channel for their ridiculous tweet, and Morgan for not realizing that his assertion about Tiger Woods was the EXACT OPPOSITE of what Dr. King's dream was.  Dr. King's dream was, of course, for someone to be judged by their character and not the color of their skin.  Olbermann also pointed out that Dr. King's dream wasn't about sports, anyway.

Then, Olbermann did this.  It was one of his "moments" on television, a riveting tribute to another sometimes-forgotten sports hero and how Dr. King changed Olbermann's own father's viewpoints about race relations in America.  It's a wonderful and beautifully-told story.

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

In Memoriam: Butler Blue II

Blue II, the retired Butler live mascot, has passed away.

In just nine short years, the sweet bulldog brought lots of joy to countless individuals across the United States and even around the world as he cheered on his Butler Bulldogs in NCAA glory.

Blue II's death serves as a reminder that we think of our pets sometimes like we think of our family, and it hurts when we lose them.  Blue II's health had rapidly declined since he retired from full time mascot-ing.  It's at least a blessing that the dog is not suffering the effects of doggie old age any longer.

It doesn't make it any easier for the Butler fans and their friends who loved this wonderful dog.  Here's to Butler Blue II!  He will live on forever.

Break From Politics Apparently Short-Lived for Well-Known Libertarian

It appears Indiana Congressional District 8 has a Libertarian candidate for 2014.

With a simple announcement looking for campaign volunteers on his Facebook page, Andrew Horning is apparently throwing his well-weathered hat into the ring in CD8 which is currently represented by Republican Larry Bucshon.  

Horning has run for Congress before, as a Republican, in the 7th Congressional District against Democrat Julia Carson.  Back as a Libertarian, he ran for the U.S. Senate seat formerly held by Richard Lugar, and he did quite well in the race taking 5.7 percent of the votes.  Democrat Joe Donnelly, of course, won that election by some six percentage points over Republican Richard Mourdock.

While Andy says on his website that he is an eight-time candidate, the rhetoric of the campaign is usually raised when he's aboard.  He's incredibly intelligent and speaks more from principle than from popular positions.  I, for one, respect Horning's strict adherence to his principles as a Libertarian.  He is a Libertarian that is a credit to his party and to politics, in general.

In the 8th Congressional District, he could pull some votes from Bucshon.  With a popular Democrat in the race, who knows what might happen?  Bucshon seems to have built a coalition of his own getting between 53 and 57 percent of the vote.  If Horning could pull him under 50 percent with a popular Democrat in the race, who knows?

Horning would probably cuss me (if he cussed) for playing the "he would pull votes away from" game because he doesn't think about politics that way, so I'll just say this.  Andy Horning will be a force to be reckoned with in the 2014 Election Cycle in the 8th District.  If he can improve on the five percent that John Cunningham got in 2010 (and there's no reason to think he can't), he could make this a really interesting race in the "Bloody 8th".  

Stay tuned for more from the Freedom Farm!