Monday, December 29, 2014

Cherish Every Moment: In Memoriam: Marjorie Easter (1941-2014)

Marjorie Easter
My mother
On Christmas Night, my mother went to sleep, and she didn't wake up again.

She had been sick, but I did not expect to be writing this blog post when I visited her on Christmas Day.  Still, as I look back on that visit, there was a sense of finality to it, and I can't explain why.  I visited her at least once a week since she went into the nursing facility...sometimes twice.  I'd been there on Monday, Dec. 22, but this visit just three days later felt different from the start.

When I got there, she was uncomfortable, so I got the nurse.  They helped her take care of some business while I waited in the hallway.  When she was done with that, I went in and I sat down next to my mom, and I mostly watched her sleep.  It gave me a chance to reflect on my relationship with her over the past few months as her physical being deteriorated quickly before my eyes.  You could tell she was going, but I guess I didn't realize how fast.

Parkinson's Disease does that to you.  It robs you slowly at first of the ability to move and to voluntarily control your muscles.  In the end, it progresses much more quickly and the medicine, I'm told, only helps for so long.  My mother's tremors had rapidly gotten worse.  She also had a myriad of other health problems that forced her to take a regiment of medication daily just to maintain her condition.  It wasn't a fun existence, but Mom persevered like a champion even though she wanted to die at times more than anything just to be back with my father.  I heard her say it so many times.

She plugged on making people smile and laugh when she could.  She listened to the problems of the health care workers at the nursing facility where she was.  They liked my mom because they could talk to her, and she dispensed good advice.  She lived a good life, and you can read an obituary I wrote for her here.

Back to my final visit with Mom.  Once she was comfortable, she slept peacefully only waking up to open my gift to her (a Colts sweatshirt, a 12-pack of Diet Cokes, two packages of Oreos, and some Emeraude perfume) and to keep an eye on me.  At one point, she reached out and grabbed my right knee.  I asked her what was wrong, and she said, "Nothing. I just wanted to make sure you were still here."

I sat there while she slept, and I looked at the three or four pictures of my parents that surrounded her bed.  Above her dresser, she had a picture of herself as a young woman, a picture of my dad as a young man, and a picture of them as a couple.  My mom was such a beautiful lady even up until the end.  There were pictures of me and my brother.  There was a picture of my Grandma Easter, too.  I even asked my Grandma, if she was listening, to watch over her daughter-in-law.

When it came time for me to leave, I stood up and put on my jacket.  Mom lamented the fact that she didn't have a gift for me.  I chuckled and told her that it was ok.  She gave me the gift of life 39 years ago.  She didn't hear me, so I had to repeat it louder.  She kind of smiled.  Then, she said something I'll never forget.

"Jon, thanks for all you've done for me these past few years.  I don't know what I would do without you."

I told her that of course she would figure something out.  After all, this lady was battling Parkinson's and arthritis and had kicked breast cancer's ass a few years ago.  She had been through losing two children and also her soulmate.  Mom was a survivor, so I told her.  "Mom, you would do fine without me. You're a survivor."

"I don't know," she said, with a chuckle.

I bent down to give her a kiss on the forehead, and she stuck her lips out, so I obliged her with a kiss on the lips.  I got really close to her, and I smiled.  I said, "I love you, Mom." 

She said, "I love you too."

I told her I would bring her some pudding tomorrow, Friday, and be out to see her and make sure she was feeling better.  She said ok and repeated that she loved me.

"I love you, too, Mom.  See you tomorrow."

Those were the last words I said to my mother.  Somewhere about 11:00 p.m., nestled snug in her pajamas and under her blankets, my mother died.  She'd had enough of all that ailed her, and it can't touch her now.  She's in heaven, and she made it home for Christmas with Dad.  I got the call about 11:30 p.m.

Make sure that you make every visit with someone you love count.

Monday, December 22, 2014

Murder Aftermath of NYPD Officers Turns Sadly Political

I've been absorbing a lot of the things that are being said about the gunned down NYPD officers, and it's gotten so sadly political.

Let's first remember Wenijan Liu and Rafael Ramos who paid the ultimate price in the line of duty.

These two officers were gunned down in cold blood by a sick and twisted individual who decided to co-opt the very legitimate protests of the Eric Garner Grand Jury case decision for his own personal misguided and vicious vendetta against law enforcement. The two things are sadly related but in a very tangential way.

Every person with credibility has denounced the murder of these two officers. That includes Bill De Blasio, the Mayor of New York and President Barack Obama.  Any person with credibility has denounced the idea that police officers should be killed in revenge for what has happened in Ferguson or in New York or anywhere else for that matter.  They shouldn't.  The violence needs to stop.

De Blasio is the Mayor of New York City and not only the Mayor of the NYPD. It's not his job to support 100 percent of the police tactics officers use nor is it his job to defend or encourage them to go outside of their bounds of brutality. He did not take a combat stance and fill a squad car full of bullets. The insinuation that he did or that because he has questioned policing tactics in the past caused this idiot to kill these two officers is concerning.

The reality is that these two men were killed because they were police officers. They were gunned down and assassinated in cold blood. This was an act of a deranged man.

We don't blame Jodie Foster for the assassination attempt on Ronald Reagan. We don't blame Sarah Palin for the assassination attempt on Gabrielle Giffords. We don't blame Marilyn Manson for the Columbine shooting rampage.

We should be blaming the death of these two public servants on Ismaaiyl Brinsley, the apparently deranged young man with a gun who took two men from their families and two brave officers off the streets in a senseless act of violence.

Epilogue
It should also be noted that a third officer was shot and killed in Pinellas County, Florida just a few hours after the two officers were gunned down in New York City.  

Officer Charles Kondek of the Tarpon Springs Police Department was shot and killed and then run over by Marco Antonio Parilla, Jr.  It was a simple noise complaint.  

Officer Kondek's family will see Parilla get his day in court.  My thoughts go out to all public safety families grieving today.

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

No Merritt in This Campaign

Senator Jim Merritt
Senator Jim Merritt made it known today to anyone that would listen that he has no interest in running for Mayor of Indianapolis.  He becomes the latest high-profile Republican to take a pass on the office.

Merritt did tell Mary Milz of WTHR that he plans to run for Governor of Indiana someday in the future whenever the job is open.  It was a candid admission from a very keen politician.  We'll save that campaign talk for another day.

So, it's back to square one for Mr. Kyle Walker.  Milz said that she had talked to former City-County Councillor Scott Keller who said he could bring $4 million to the table for a run if he was guaranteed a clear path to the nomination.  I think that's more of a shot across Walker's bow than anything.  Keller was abandoned by the GOP years ago after he sided with the Democrats in the non-discrimination policy and police merger battles.  Without any party support to back Keller, Brian Mahern easily defeated him when he ran for reelection to the Council in 2007.  It remains to be seen what will happen there.

The best offer on the table for Walker would be to join up with Reverend Charles Harrison and try to make him the Republican nominee for Mayor.  Still a longshot, Harrison might be the best chance Republicans have to hold the office.  Harrison still has not declared a party.

The danger here is for Democratic frontrunner and election frontrunner Joe Hogsett to fight the air of inevitability.  If I know Joe, he'll continue to campaign like he's 20 points behind in the polls because it's something he truly loves to do.  He loves to talk to people, shake hands, listen to problems, and fight for votes.

We'll see, however, if Walker could pull a rabbit or two out of his rapidly shrinking hat of candidates.  The best choice may be Governor Mitch Daniels' sister and former U.S. Attorney Deborah Daniels.  No question she could raise money and having that last name provides her with plenty of name recognition as well.  She hasn't been bandied about as a candidate thus far, but it will be interesting to see if she might pop up at the last minute.

Thursday, December 11, 2014

Garrison's Show Shrinks In Favor of Katz

Greg Garrison
On his own show this morning, Greg Garrison announced that he would be dropping his show from three hours to two hours.  Tony Katz will be making up the difference, and he appeared on Garrison's show to make the mutual announcement.

Interestingly, during the interview, Garrison didn't even seem to know the details of the move erroneously saying that Katz would be doing 6 a.m. to 10 a.m. rather than seeing his slot expand from 5 a.m. to 10 a.m.

I guess one less hour of Garrison is progress.

It's being spun as a mutual decision by Garrison and company to have Indy radio's codger write more for WIBC and expand Katz's show, but it's pretty clear that WIBC wants to get younger.  With ratings on the upswing right now (up to a 6.2 from a 5.1 this August. station-wide) Garrison stands out as the sore thumb among the new whipper snappers.

Tony Katz
Katz, the Chicks on the Right, and Abdul all seem like babies compared to Garrison, a gifted attorney but a horrid radio host.  The station has also taken pains to get younger by adding Dana Loesch's radio program a few years back to its airwaves.  They showed longtime anchor Steve Simpson the door a few months ago in favor of Katz.  Simpson has since landed on his feet in Minneapolis.

I assume Garrison's audience is still unique and special enough that WIBC wants to keep them around, but let's face it, his show is old fashioned.  It's the same stuff every week.  He has the same guests and the same interviews.  In a world of new and different, Garrison's show is the wood-paneled office of yesterday.  He's a relic of talk radio from two decades past.  He's never changed his show, and he's never had to do it.  Now, he's getting replaced by the new model.

Garrison has been an institution for almost 20 years on the Indy airwaves, and his show remains WIBC's last long-running local weekday program.  For now, he'll stay on the air, but it's anyone's guess how long.

Rush...they're coming for you next!

Sunday, December 7, 2014

Remembering Pearl Harbor Attack 73 Years Later

This particularly poignant piece documents some USS Arizona survivors that still are telling their stories today.  Remember Pearl Harbor!

In Memoriam: Mary Berry (1931-2014)

Mary Berry
Photo from
ObituariesExpressionsTributes.com
Southside Democrats and Democrats across Marion County are feeling the loss of Mary Berry.

Berry was one of my favorite people in politics, and she was the driving force behind a group of Democrats that would meet on Mondays at the Gaslight Inn on the Southside.  If you wanted her support, you knew that you needed to show up for lunch, and the candidates did.

Mostly, though, it was Mary's friends, and I got to know her through these gatherings.  She was a wonderful lady who, as her obituary pointed out, "never met a stranger", loved the Chicago Cubs and the Notre Dame Fighting Irish, and Democratic politics.  She was also a proud person of Irish descent.  Mary bled green.

Unfortunately, time caught up with this bright light.  She passed away at the age of 83 on Friday, and she will be missed by so many.  My thoughts are with her family and her extended family of friends across Indianapolis.

Daily Posting Becomes Sporadic Posting Starting Today Through Start of 2015

It's come to that time that the daily posting schedule takes a short vacation.

I'm not going away, and I'm sure there will be a few posts this month. Basically, I'll post when I durn well please instead of doing it daily. It's just a very busy time of year as the school year winds down, the after school schedule spikes, and the family schedule becomes extremely important.

So, here is the schedule for the rest of the year:
December 8-December 12-Sporadic updates
December 15-December 19-Sporadic updates
December 22-December 26-Breaking news only updates
December 29-January 2-Sporadic updates
January 5-Daily updates resume

Please make a note of it and have a happy holiday season!  Thanks so much for your readership.  You don't know what it means to me.

Friday, December 5, 2014

Pence Closes Down CECI, Releases Anti-Public Education Legislative Agenda

Indiana Statehouse
Since its creation, educators and small government advocates have railed against Governor Mike Pence's Center for Education and Career Innovation.  Critics called it a shadow Department of Education and part of the Governor's effort to undercut Superintendent of Public Instruction, Glenda Ritz.

Yesterday, the Governor reversed course and dissolved the CECI.  It's gone, but Governor Pence had a parting shot.  He released his 2015 legislative agenda, and it's not good for traditional public education.

Pence's legislative agenda calls for the Indiana General Assembly to keep the Superintendent of Public Instruction as part of the State Board of Education but to have that body elect its own chair.  It's a continued move to put the SBOE at the center of the state's education policy and away from the control of the Superintendent of Public Instruction.

The agenda also calls for more funding for charter schools and more freedom for districts to use performance-based pay for teachers and remove the cap on the education voucher program.

So, let me get this straight. The Governor got rid of the CECI, but he wants to continue to beef up charter schools, performance-based pay, and expand the voucher program?

Sounds like it's going to be a long legislative session for educators more than in just time alone.

Thursday, December 4, 2014

Local Businessman Bill Mays is gone at 69

Bill Mays
Photo from IndianapolisRecorder.com
There's word tonight that one of the most influential African-Americans in the history of Indiana has passed away.

Bill Mays, the founder of Mays Chemical and the owner of the Indianapolis Recorder newspaper, died today.

A legendary figure, Mays had a brain for business and found his success in several industries.  He branched out from his chemical company to become a local media and telecommunications powerhouse.  Along with partner Bill Shirk, Mays sold his electronic media interests a few years back to Radio One for a cool $40 million.

That would only tell part of the story about the Evansville native.  He believed in giving back to his community serving on countless boards and civic organizations.  The community will keenly feel his loss.

Bill Mays is gone at 69 years old.

DeLaney Leaves Mayor's Race...Harrison Files Exploratory Committee

Rep. Ed DeLaney
Ed DeLaney dropped out of the Mayor's race today, and that's great news.

It means that the longtime legislator will remain in the Indiana General Assembly where his strong and clear voice is sorely needed at this time when few Democrats prowl the halls.

What's curious is how DeLaney termed his exit.  In a news release, the DeLaney campaign talks about Ed's appointment to the powerful Ways and Means Committee.  He talks passionately about the area's he's looking forward to helping such as pre-K education.

What he didn't do was endorse Joe Hogsett, and that, to me, is disappointing.  This was an opportunity for DeLaney to show some unity with even one sentence, but he didn't do it.  He only talked about ending his run for mayor with "reluctance because of my deep commitment to this city."

So much for sticking the dismount.

Joe Hogsett issued a statement on DeLaney's departure from the race.
“I want to thank my friend Ed DeLaney for his tireless work elevating the important issues that are so critical to the future of our city. His leadership at the Statehouse is invaluable, and I look forward to partnering with him to make Indianapolis a safer, more prosperous city.”
On the same day DeLaney dropped out, Charles Harrison stepped in.  The head of the Ten Point Coalition has yet to declare a party, but he now has a Twitter handle and a website.  So far, it's just an exploratory run.  We'll see how Harrison puts together a possible campaign.

The Republicans still don't have a candidate.

Bennett Implicated in IG Report

Tony Bennett
On Tuesday, Tom LoBianco of the Associated Press lowered the boom on what remained of former Superintendent of Public Instruction Tony Bennett's career.

The reporter wrote a scathing piece published by the AP on the Indiana Inspector General, David Thomas's, February 2014 report on Bennett's 2012 reelection campaign.  The report recommended prosecuting Bennett for alleged actions he took during that unsuccessful campaign uncovered in the Inspector General's investigation.  The IG report, according to Lobianco, alleges 100 possible violations of federal wire fraud law by Bennett or his staff among other incidences of wrongdoing.

Despite the report, Bennett has yet to be prosecuted by Marion County Prosecutor, Terry Curry, or federal prosecutors through the U.S. Attorney's Office.

For his part, Curry told the Indianapolis Star that he never saw the second 85-page report.  He says he only saw the eight-page report that resulted in Bennett paying a $5,000 fine for ethics violations.  The U.S. Attorney's Office and former U.S. Attorney Joe Hogsett have declined to comment.  Curry told the Star he's requested a copy of the IG's report for review.

Time will tell where this story goes.


Wednesday, December 3, 2014

Council Passes Pre-K Plan

On Monday Night, the City-County Council invested in the future of our city by passing a Pre-K proposal that will fund educational opportunities for 1,000 young citizens of our city.  It was no doubt a great night for our city, but it also came with eight no votes.

The Indianapolis Business Journal did some poking around and found out that the no votes came from Councillors opposed to the education plan because they believe that public safety needs to be addressed first or that the state should be funding the program rather than the city.

Personally, I believe very much in early childhood education.  It's fundamental to the learning process of our children as they get older, and there are studies that show that it makes a difference in crime.  I also believe that we have needs now that need to be addressed when it comes to infrastructure and public safety.  I just see the overwhelming benefits that this $40 million public/private investment comes with.

I do take issue with the IBJ on one thing.  This really is not Mayor Greg Ballard's plan at all.  While the Mayor did talk about early education as one of his goals in his crime fighting plan, he did not specifically make a proposal.  Instead, he asked the Council to simply hand over the homestead tax credit revenue without any strings attached to early education.

The Council wisely said no, and it's taken its lumps.  The work behind the scenes began almost immediately, and the result was a deal hammered out by the Mayor's Office and Deputy Mayor Jason Kloth and the City-County Council.  It was passed by a wide bi-partisan margin.  They got something done for the better of the city here.

Tuesday, December 2, 2014

Former Broad Ripple Coach, Center Township Trustee Smith Passes

Smith during his BRHS days
The Broad Ripple High School community is in mourning on the news of the death of legendary coach, teacher, and mentor William Smith.

Smith had been recovering from surgery over the past few weeks at his home in Memphis, and his death was reported as unexpected on Facebook.

Smith coached at Ripple over two different stints and led the Rockets to the 1980 Boys Basketball State Championship.  Until last year, the '80 Rockets remained the last IPS-based team to win a State Championship up until Arsenal Tech won last year's tournament.

Besides his longtime position as a teacher and coach in IPS, Smith also spent a term as Center Township Trustee serving from 1987-1991.  He returned to Ripple in 1994 and coached for nine more seasons.  Recently, he had served on the staff of the New York Knicks as an adviser to former coach Mike Woodson.  Woodson, an IU basketball legend, played for Smith at Ripple.

While his foray into politics was brief, I'll remember "Smitty" as my dad and many of his friends knew him as a gregarious and larger than life figure.  His players always talked about how he commanded respect, and he was known to have a fiery disposition on the sidelines.  Away from the court, players often recounted the softer side of the big and intimidating-looking Smith.  Kyle Neddenreip of the Indianapolis Star captures those memories in this piece.

My father actually coached against Smitty in the City Championship middle school game one time and both teams were undefeated.  My dad's team actually beat Smitty's team, and he called my dad "Coach" for years after that even when my father was an administrator.  My dad was there at Ripple when Smith's team won that State Championship, and he appears in the pictures.

One thing is clear.  Bill Smith was larger than life, and his death leaves a huge hole.  Hopefully, the folks at the Indiana Basketball Hall of Fame will someday recognize him for his accomplishments and contributions to Indiana High School Basketball.  I'll just always remember Smitty as a great person and someone who touched a lot of lives along the way.  Coach Smith is survived by his wife and family and extended family of the players in whose lives he made a difference.

Rest easy, coach.  Bill Smith was 72 years old.

Monday, December 1, 2014

Indy Star Explores Possible Harrison for Mayor Run

Rev. Charles Harrison
Photo via Facebook
The Indy Star's Tim Swarens floated the possibility of running for Mayor by Rev. Charles Harrison, and the Ten Point Coalition's point man said it's 50/50 but expects to open an exploratory committee.

Personally, I don't know Harrison.  I've only interacted with him via social media, and I do admire his work tremendously with the Ten Point Coalition.  When no one was paying much attention in the Mayor's Office to the murders and violence going on in our city, Harrison was calling attention to it.  Some would even argue that he's one of the few that got Greg Ballard to listen.

Getting the Mayor's attention on an important issue is one thing.  Running for Mayor is another animal, and there's much more to it.

While Harrison has had a laser-like focus on violence in this city.  He also has a good handle on those that live in poverty in our city.  That said, I wonder how he would tackle a major snow storm or a budget battle with the City-County Council.  What if a tornado cuts a swath through our city or if a major employer wants to come here to our city?  These are the kinds of things that a Mayor deals with.  The known isn't necessarily as dangerous as the unknown.  If Harrison is to be a serious candidate, he will have to broaden his appeal past the issue of violence and of poverty in our city as I suspect Hogsett and DeLaney will.

He can certainly do that, but I don't know if he can muster the kind of support as a candidate to swing an election.  He seems to have put a lot of thought into it, though.  As the Swarens piece notes, he understands the financial reality of a run against a party-backed candidate.  

I would advise Hogsett and DeLaney to reach out to Harrison.  This may be the Reverend's way of getting the attention of the candidates to talk about very important issues facing our city and to figure out what they might do about them.  

Sometimes the best way of grabbing the attention of the candidates is to threaten to run against them.

I believe that Reverend Harrison is serious about running, and I wish him the best as he decides.  I've been in his shoes before deciding to run or not to run, and he's the only one that knows what's best for him, his congregation, the Ten Point Coalition, and his family.

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Tew Elected by Caucus-goers to Council

Kip Tew
Photo courtesy of KriegDeVault.com
Attorney, author and political pundit Kip Tew was elected by special caucus voters to finish out Zach Adamson's At-Large term on the City-County Council just a few minutes ago.

Tew, a former Democratic Party Chair and State Chair for the Barack Obama campaign in 2008, was sworn in by Judge Jim Osborn and is now a Councillor.  Recently, Tew had been one of the political analysts on WRTV's programming alongside Lara Beck and Abdul-Hakim Shabazz. Tew chronicled the historic 2008 Obama campaign in Indiana in his book, Journey to Blue.

The vacancy on the Council was created as Adamson took over the vacant district seat opened by Brian Mahern's resignation last month.

It's widely believed that Tew may run for City-County Council in District 2 in 2015.  I guess that makes it Tew for Two!  City-County Councillor Will Gooden also currently resides in that district.

Monday, November 24, 2014

It's Thanksgiving Week!

Unless something breaks, I'll be taking Thanksgiving Week off.  I hope you all have a happy, healthy, and safe Thanksgiving, and I am thankful for your readership.

For those of you frying a turkey, heed this cautionary tale.

Sunday, November 23, 2014

SNL Takes On Executive Orders

This pretty much describes how Executive Orders work, and it's pretty funny no matter what side of the aisle you come from.

Saturday, November 22, 2014

Star Missing Larger Point in Cartoon Controversy?

When Gary Varvel drew and the Indianapolis Star posted a cartoon criticizing President Barack Obama's immigration executive order, it was less than surprising.

The content of the cartoon, however, was.

Varvel's cartoon shows an apparently multigenerational family gathered around a Thanksgiving table. In the window, a girl or young woman is crawling in as well as a man (originally with a mustache...then without one in later iterations). In the background, another woman is peeking into the window. In the bubble, the man standing at the table holding the turkey says, "Thanks to the President's immigration order, we'll be having some extra guests this Thanksgiving."

Many have called the cartoon racist, and it's hard to argue against it.  The family seemingly-gleefully coming through the window does appear to be depicted as different than the family sitting around the table.

At its worst, it's a racist cartoon.  At best, it's in poor taste and extremely shortsighted.  I'll let you make up your own mind.

The Star has since pulled the cartoon down and admitted that it "erred" in publishing the cartoon.  It did not, however, apologize to those offended by the cartoon.

Varvel attempted, by his cartoon, to reduce the very complicated issue of immigration in this country to simple fearmongering, in my opinion.  The problem is much different than depicted.

First of all, immigrants of all types are in this country undocumented.  They are from all corners of the globe and not just from across the Rio Grande.  In fact, one of the most vocal undocumented immigrant activists, Juan Antonio Vargas, is undocumented himself, and he's from the Philippines.

Secondly, these immigrants don't want to climb into our homes on Thanksgiving dinner.  They want the same things that our families want.  They want a safe, secure place to raise a family.  They want to be able to send their kids to good schools and off to college.  They want to work in safe environments and pay taxes (as much as we all do).  They want their own turkey dinner!  They don't want yours.  They want to live in this country just like their American counterparts and come out of the shadows.

Unfortunately, many people are not able to grasp that idea because they can't get past the initial fear or hatred they hold in their hearts for people who are different than they are.  It's the kind of hatred I've seen on Facebook and on other social media platforms as I've tried to make a reasonable argument about why I support President Obama's action. Unfortunately, the Indianapolis Star cannot correct the damage they did by feeding those fears and that hatred.  By and large, there's no longer a curiosity to understand the plights of others from many in our society.

It's why we can't have a reasonable discussion about immigration, health care, or any number of other hot button issues.  

That was the error the Star made in publishing the cartoon, and I don't know if they still get it.

Friday, November 21, 2014

News That I Missed: It Will Be Republican, Democrat, Libertarian for Four More Years

In case you missed it, like I did, Republicans, Democrats...you'll have the Libertarians to blame for at least four more years.

Punk Rock Libertarians reports that the Libertarian Party of Indiana has retained ballot access yet again and will remain a third choice for voters at the polls.  

Karl Tatgenhorst, who ran a very strong campaign for Secretary of State against Republican Connie Lawson and Democrat Beth White, earned 3.4 percent of the vote on Election Day.  Under Indiana Code, that's enough of a piece of the vote to stay on the ballot automatically without having to go through the extremely cumbersome process to get on the ballot in Indiana.

Back to the lede of this story, I don't believe those words for one second, but it seems like Libertarians often get blamed by partisans of both major parties for being the difference in close elections in Indiana.  This sells Libertarian candidates and their voters short.  They earn their votes just like Republicans and Democrats do, and, as they have since 1994, the L's will remain on Hoosier ballots.

I am late on reporting this.  Congratulations to my friends in the Libertarian Party.

Thursday, November 20, 2014

Buttigieg To Seek Reelection

Mayor Pete Buttigieg
In 2006, I decided to go to the IDEA Convention in French Lick with my friend Christopher Jackson.

As we drove into French Lick, we noticed several homemade signs along the road which all said the same thing, "Meet Pete".  We chuckled and didn't think much more about it.

The viral campaign didn't end there.  Once we got to the French Lick Springs Hotel, the signs were everywhere.  "Meet Pete"..."Meet Pete"  So, Chris and I got the idea that we should find out who this Pete guy was.

It was Pete Buttigieg, and the campaign was perfect.  We met Pete, and we were instantly impressed.  His campaign for Treasurer of State that year didn't end up going well, but I am pleased that I have struck up a friendship with Pete because of it.

Four years ago, that young guy I met at French Lick with the homemade signs was in the middle of deciding to run for Mayor of South Bend.  He would, and he would be elected.  On Tuesday, I received word that Mayor Pete Buttigieg was going to run for reelection.

When Buttigieg was hired by the voters to run the City of South Bend, the city was in trouble.  Since then, the Mayor has added jobs, reduced unemployment, tackled vacant housing problems, and modernized the city's technology and the way residents relate to it.  He's done a great job as I knew he would.

The future is very bright in South Bend and for the Mayor.  He's just 32 and is likely to win reelection.  Inevitably, the question will someday be asked what's next.  I expect that he'll make that choice very carefully, and I think the voters will listen when he decides.

Right now, he's decided that his future is in South Bend city government, and that's good news for the great city on the St. Joseph's River.

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Clark Out of Mayoral Race

Murray Clark
photo from faegrebd.com
Mark off Murray Clark.

Republican insider and former state lawmaker Murray Clark will not be a candidate for Mayor of Indianapolis in 2015. Clark told the Indianapolis Star that he was just not ready to return to public life. 

Clark was seen by many as a very reasonable choice to take on Joe Hogsett or Ed DeLaney in November of 2015. He’s more moderate politically than some Republicans, and that’s a big key to winning in Marion County and the City of Indianapolis. A far right candidate has not won a countywide election for anything in Marion County in at least 10 years.

Current Indy Mayor Greg Ballard won the first time around by portraying himself as an anti-tax crusader. He’s governed quite differently as some of his former supporters will attest. 

Marion County Republican Chair Kyle Walker told the Indianapolis Star that his party is talking with five individuals about running. It’s not clear who those people are or how they might go about taking on the Democrats.

I think much speculation will now center around State Senator James Merritt. Other names bandied about include Public Safety Director Troy Riggs, IMPD Chief Rick Hite, former City-County Councillor Ike Randolph, current City-County Councillors Mike McQuillen, Benjamin Hunter, and Jose Evans.

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Mitchell Takes Office Early as Treasurer

Kelly Mitchell
Indiana has a new Treasurer.

Kelly Mitchell, the Treasurer-Elect, took office today after taking the oath of office. Richard Mourdock resigned back in August. Mitchell defeated Democrat Mike Boland in the November General Election.

Mourdock resigned on the final day possible to receive his full retirement benefits from the state turning his back on his constituents. It was the final middle finger to the voters and the constituents that elected him by the controversial Mourdock.

Mitchell ran an excellent campaign to get the Republican nomination at the GOP’s convention this past summer allowing Marion Mayor Wayne Seybold and businessman Don Bates, Jr. to take each other out as she slid in as a reasonable alternative. She starts her own official term as auditor in January but will now serve out the rest of Mourdock’s unexpired term after being officially appointed by Governor Mike Pence.

She also starts with a clean slate and makes a clean break from those before her. It will be interesting to see where she takes the office and her public service from here.

Actual Fight to Undercut Ritz Begins

Glenda Ritz
Get ready education advocates in Indiana. There's a new fight about to come down the pike.

The Indiana Chamber of Commerce has made it a priority to overturn the 2012 General Election results by legislation and push to make the Superintendent of Public Instruction seat appointed rather than elected.  It's going to happen, and I predicted it back a year ago in 2013.  

Indiana voters put Tony Bennett out with yesterday's leftovers in 2012 because he was taking education in a direction they didn't want to go.  Glenda Ritz got more votes than Governor Mike Pence.  Now, for some reason, state lawmakers, including Brian Bosma, are issuing ultimatums to Ritz to fall in line or else.  

The or else is to do what the Indiana Chamber wants, and it's quite easy to do.  Funds can be easily moved from Ritz's Department of Education to the Center for Education and Career Innovation.  That guts Ritz's ability to do her job.  It's sad, and the news of it is coming as Indiana schools promote anti-bullying this week.  Turns out the true bullies are at the Statehouse.

Some will say I'm being partisan...quite the contrary.  When it comes to the idea of an appointed Superintendent of Public Instruction goes, I cannot support that no matter who is in office.  As I explained in my October 2013 blog post, I thought Joe Kernan and the Democrats were wrong when they tried to do this in 2004.  I voted for Suellen Reed then, and I will always vote to maintain an independent voice for our students in this state.  

Ironically, it's the elected Superintendent of Public Instruction that keeps the politics out of the office.  What's good for the Governor is not always good for the students of Indiana, and I would hate to see the SPI office become just another place some political crony campaign donor can buy via appointment.  Our students and our schools are too important for that.

I think the State Board of Education should also be elected just like the Superintendent of Public Instruction is.  

With one clear voice, people that care about education in Indiana must yell that this won't stand.  Tell Brian Bosma to get in line behind Glenda Ritz and those that truly care about our students more than ALEC does.

Monday, November 17, 2014

In Memoriam: Abdul-Rahman "Peter" Kassig

Abdul-Rahman Kassig
Photo from SERAmedic.org
"Only the good die young."

It's an old saying we hear often, and it's a saying that Billy Joel made into a popular song.  In the case of Abdul-Rahman "Peter" Kassig, it's very true.

I'm sure that the Indianapolis native that was murdered by ISIS was not perfect...no one can be, but it's hard to have anything but appreciation for the way he lived his life.

In doing research for this piece, I found story after story about this young man that painted a picture of a good-hearted and caring individual that was very dedicated to making a difference in the world he lived.

Unlike so many that try to make that difference, Kassig was more hands on.  He took risks and ran towards the dangers to help those in most need around the world through an organization he founded called SERA.  If you go to SERA's website, it talks about the organization and there are pictures of Kassig there in action like the one above.

It still doesn't tell his full story, and I'll never be able to do that here.  I do know this.  That no matter where you are born, you can rise up to make a difference in this world, and the sum of your works can greatly exceed your chronological age.  As Kassig's mother, Paula, put it in their press conference earlier today, "In 26 years, he has witnessed and experienced firsthand more of the harsh realities of life than most of us can imagine, but rather than letting the darkness overwhelm him, he has chosen to believe in the good in himself and in others."

So, as a city, we put our arms around the Kassig family and try to help them continue to make sense of the senseless.  As a community, that's what we do.  It's what Abdul-Rahman would expect out of his hometown. 

Make a difference.

Polk Wisdom for 2016 Presidential Candidates

James K. Polk
11th President of the United States
I tend to get along with people of all political persuasions, and I even have friends that aren't political in the least.  Somehow they all put up with me, but that often means that my Facebook feed is a cacophony of political ideas and things.

One major topic is often the performance of the current Commander-in-Chief, Barack H. Obama.

Any objective review of the six years of Barack Obama will find much to be celebrated.  Sure, it hasn't been perfect, and there are some legitimate disappointments, but I think many Americans would say they're better off now than they were four years ago.

The votes on Election Day didn't bear that out, and it was a Republican wave at the ballot box.  Obama continues to take a lot of criticism and little praise.  He also saw his own party, in many cases, run away from him during that campaign instead of embracing the many successes of the past six years.  Finally, and arguably, this President and his family continues to be disrespected by more people than many of his predecessors.

I guess I'm guilty as much as the next person.  I haven't been touting the job President Obama has done since taking office in 2009, but I got to thinking yesterday about why anyone would still want to be President?

It's a thankless job, and you're expected to work each and every moment of each and every day to make lives better for Americans.  Successes are rarely noted, and failures are magnified.  Yet, a group of power hungry politicians line up every four years to be the next President of the United States.

James Knox Polk is a President many people don't remember unless you are a scholar of politics.  Elected in 1844, Polk was actually one of the most successful Presidents of the United States.  He pledged to serve only one term, and he did that (1845-1849).  His policies and military campaigns (including a successful war with Mexico) annexed Texas and expanded the borders of United States-controlled territory from the Atlantic to the Pacific Oceans.  It was the realization of the Manifest Destiny.

Polk was a very consequential figure in American history, and he would need the American Express card today because no one knows him.  During his time in office, Polk worked almost all the time.  The rigors of his time in the office weakened him, and he came down with cholera in June of 1849.  He died on June 15 at the age of 53.  No other former president has died so young, and he had the shortest post-presidency of any U.S. President to survive his term.  That's what makes this quote so cautionary for those that would seek the office.

"With me it is exceptionally true that the Presidency is no bed of roses." 
--James Knox Polk

To the 2016 candidates, be careful that you know exactly what you seek when you decide to seek it.

Friday, November 14, 2014

Walker Ripped for Attack on Hogsett by Tully, Blogosphere

Kyle Walker's Glamour Shot
Republicans are scared of Joe Hogsett.

All you have to do is look at the response from Kyle Walker, the Marion County Republican Party's Chair, unleashed a rip on Joe's electoral history.

"Joe Hogsett has been rejected by voters three times and next year will be the fourth; either in May or November. Hogsett's unwillingness to support pre-k for low-income families is one of the many reasons he is wrong for Indianapolis."

The Indy Star's Matt Tully called the attempt at a zinger, "silly partisanship" and Republican bloggers Paul Ogden and Gary Welsh both ripped Mr. Walker for his ridiculous statement.

This signals how the 2015 race will go.  It's going negative, and the Republicans don't even have a candidate yet.  Just remember who lobbed the first volley.

As far as Mr. Walker's claim goes, I've never heard Joe speak out one way or another on the Mayor's Pre-K plan.  I did hear a lot from him last night on improving our schools and the quality of life in Marion County.  I guess that Walker didn't hear that part of the speech.

On Hogsett's electoral record, Joe Hogsett lost to Dan Coats in 1992, Dave McIntosh in a Congressional race in the 1994, the year of the Republican revolution, and to Steve Carter in the 2004 election when he filled the Attorney General spot on the ballot to help complete the statewide ticket.  Carter was running for reelection.

He's running as a popular Democrat in a city that is approaching a 60 percent Democratic baseline.  This is like no race Joe Hogsett has run before.

Walker also leaves out that Hogsett defeated Bill Hudnut in 1990 for Secretary of State.  He overcame a 30-point polling deficit to defeat the wildly popular Mayor of Indianapolis.

As Welsh and others have said, if this is all Walker's got, say hello to Mayor Joe Hogsett.

Thursday, November 13, 2014

Republicans Have Big 2015 Questions

It's going to be hard to top the start the Joe Hogsett campaign officially got off to on Wednesday night in the Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Memorial Park, but the Republican Party will no doubt try once they figure out who might be a good candidate for Mayor.

The climb may be steeply uphill.

Hogsett has never played the role of a frontrunner in his electoral life, and he's not going to play the role of frontrunner now.  He's going to run this race like he's 10 points behind because that's what it's going to take to be successful.  It's going to be hard for any Republican to match his energy and enthusiasm in campaigning for the job.

Another issue is going to be fundraising.  I saw a few key Republicans at Hogsett's campaign launch.  These aren't your typical rank-and-file Republicans, either.  One R that I saw ran for office in a major race in 2012.  If Hogsett is going to pick off support from Republicans, that's going to make the climb even harder for a GOP candidate.

You see, the GOP candidate, whoever it will be, is going to have to keep everyone on board.  That's difficult.  If you're Murray Clark or Jim Merritt, for example, how are you going to answer the bell to the far right while trying to play more toward the middle where Mayor Greg Ballard drew lots of support.  If you're Rick Hite or Troy Riggs, how are you going to expand your horizons beyond public safety and show you're a credible candidate standing next to Hogsett?  For the City-County Councillors thinking about a run from the GOP side, it's all about name recognition and how to raise it.  Hard one to fight from the beginning.

In a way, Ballard's decision to walk away and not seek a third term opens up the Ballard moderates for...ready for this...Joe Hogsett.  Because he was a member of the Bayh Administration, Hogsett can show exactly how he was frugal with money when he was in office.  He also has the proof that he cut his budget every year when he was U.S. Attorney.  That plays well to the moderate crowd.

It's going to be tough to find a strategy for the Republicans that can work.  After all, we've already seen Hogsett praise Mayor Ballard publicly.  Certainly, he's going to find places that he disagrees, but he can also look at the Ballard record for aspects of agreement.

If a Republican is going to beat Joe Hogsett, it's going to have to be one that is well-financed and is politically savvy.  Maybe the GOP can cobble together the funds to give it a go, but it's going to take a surgical, disciplined, and likely very negative campaign to wound Hogsett's chances of becoming the next Mayor.

The GOP can't concede the Mayor's race, either.  They need their voters to come out and help their candidates for City-County Council.

Right now, the 2015 election in Marion County seems to be setting up for the Democrats like the 2014 election set up for Republicans nationally and statewide.

And, to be fair, I'm not discounting Ed DeLaney.  I know he's still in the race and is pursuing the nomination for Mayor of Indianapolis.  I think Ed as the nominee still spells a win for Democrats.  I, again, just think Ed is needed in the General Assembly, and I hope his path leads him to that same decision.

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Fired Up and Ready for Joe!

Earlier tonight, with several hundred other residents of my home city, I stood outside in 30 degree weather to hear Joe Hogsett officially announce he was running for Mayor of Indianapolis.  

Of course, this news did not shock anyone.  We've known since August that Hogsett was likely going to run for Mayor, and he had said that he was going to announce shortly after the 2014 General Election.  I attended because I wanted to hear what Hogsett said.

In the shadow of one of our city's most beautiful monuments, Hogsett paid tribute to the men the Landmark for Peace Memorial commemorates.  Of course, the night of April 4, 1968 would forever link Robert F. Kennedy and Dr. Martin Luther King and the park now known as Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial Park.  

It was on that day that King was assassinated on the balcony of the Lorraine Motel in Memphis by James Earl Ray.  It was on that night that Kennedy was campaigning in Indianapolis for the Presidency, and he was given the task of telling the crowd that Dr. King was killed.

Kennedy asked, "Do they know about Martin Luther King?"  When he was told by the organizers of the event that "they", the gathered crowd of supporters, did not.  Kennedy approached the microphone and gave what some consider to be the best speech ever delivered by a politician.  He did it off the cuff and without notes.  It was a speech that was soaring in its appeal to our better angels.

“What we need in the United States is not division, what we need in the United States is not hatred, what we need in the United States is not violence or lawlessness but love and wisdom and compassion towards one another, and a feeling of justice toward those who still suffer within our country, whether they be white or they be black," said Kennedy.

Unlike other major cities, Indianapolis did not riot.  It was a peaceful mourning that evening here.  Kennedy's speech got much of the credit.

Hogsett made reference to the two giants cast in bronze behind him.  It is their legacy that hangs over us all, and it's my sincere hope that under a Hogsett Administration that Indianapolis can make a move to end those things that divide us and bring that handshake that is depicted in the Landmark for Peace Memorial closer together in spirit.

As Hogsett noted, Kennedy's speech united this city on that horrible evening.  It shouldn't take a tragedy to unite us to bring us back to the idea that we are one city.  That was another theme in Hogsett's speech.

"We will do better by embracing that spirit that spread from this very spot to every corner in our city in April of 1968. Because for that one night, Indianapolis could not be divided. It was one city. It was our city. So tonight, I ask you to join me in rekindling that spirit once again as I formally announce my candidacy for mayor of the city of Indianapolis," Hogsett said.

We can really do better for this city, and we will under Joe Hogsett as Mayor.  Consider this my endorsement.  Ed DeLaney is a good man, but he's far too valuable as a legislator.  We need him fighting hard in the Indiana General Assembly.  

I took one cue tonight from Joe's message that many may have missed.  For years, the community of Mars Hill has been forgotten.  It often has sat divided between two or three different legislative districts and a couple of Council districts.  Since Troy Avenue runs right through the heart, it's ripped between two school districts as well.  Tonight, Hogsett mentioned Mars Hill in his speech.  It was a small gesture, but it hopefully underlines this idea that the entire city is in this together.

I'm fired up and ready for Joe!

Hogsett to Announce Mayoral Bid Today in Famous Location

Joe Hogsett is expected to announce he’s running for Mayor of Indianapolis this evening at Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Park in Indianapolis. It’s a more than symbolic way of launching a campaign.

It was at this park on the night that Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. was assassinated in Memphis that Robert F. Kennedy eloquently and compassionately broke the news to a predominantly minority audience that had come to watch him campaign.  The two great Americans are forever linked by that moment.  They are also memorialized int he park with the beautiful bronze Landmark for Peace Memorial in which King and Kennedy are depicted as reaching out for each other's hands.  It's a poignant reminder that even though both lives were cut short in violence, the dream of racial equality continues as long as we keep reaching for it.

I don't know what Joe plans to highlight this evening at 5:45 p.m. in his announcement, but I am glad he's taking the step.  

So far on the campaign trail, Joe has been a consistent force pounding the pavement and getting to know folks all around the city. He’s also been quietly shoring up support, and it appears that no matter what Ed DeLaney does, Hogsett has an impressive list of supporters and endorsements that no one on this side of the aisle can match.

Hogsett finds himself in a new role politically. Perhaps for the first time in any campaign, he starts from in front. He’s the favorite, and the Rushville native isn’t taking anything for granted so far.

He can't take anything for granted.  While the Republicans are left without a candidate, he can leave no doubt about what the best way forward for Indianapolis is.  While Ed DeLaney remains in the race, Joe has cobbled together an impressive list of supporters and endorsements.  He's been working on those since he resigned from the U.S. Attorney's job.

The run to 2015 has begun.

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

It's Veterans Day

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

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

Monday, November 10, 2014

Democrats Must Find Core Values Again to Revive Party

We're Still Kickin'
Tuesday night was, by any measure, a blow-out here in the Hoosier State outside of a handful of counties.

Marion County is one of those counties.  Despite the sea of red surrounding it, Marion County got a little more blue on Election Day.  The nation got a lot more red on Tuesday with the Republicans grabbing more Governor's jobs and control of the United States Senate.

That's why it's easy to feel a little uneasy these days.  Republicans are now in charge of 71 seats in the Indiana House and 40 seats in the Indiana Senate.  The Grand Old Party now has 244 House seats (and leads in four undecided ones) to the Democrats 184 (with leads in three undecided seats).

Still, I have confidence that all is not lost.  I think there's a great chance Democrats will retake the Senate and maintain the White House in 2016.  Here in Indiana, Republicans have to work together with themselves to get things done.  Brian Bosma and David Long have done nice jobs keeping their respective caucuses on task, but how long can they do it?

All of these political nuggets will have a bearing on a busy 2016 election season.  Indiana figures to be in the center of it again depending on who runs for Senate.  Dan Coats, all the North Carolina jokes aside, will be hard to beat if he runs again.  The man knows how to morph from a moderate to a conservative.  Still, his fortunes in 2016 depend on the actions of the Republicans, the mood of the electorate, and who runs for the Democrats.  Let's face it, Coats doesn't ignite the electorate, but he doesn't send it fleeing either.  He's not a wacko nutjob.  He's a career politician.

For Governor, it will be interesting who shakes out.  There are many fine candidates that are mayors around the state.  Also, don't forget John Gregg still is out there and actively campaigning.  If I were the Indiana Democratic Party, I'd concentrate on finding the right guy or gal for the job.  It's crucial to win that office especially if Mike Pence decides to run for the hills and run for President.

Glenda Ritz announced last week that she would like to run for reelection in 2016, and she won't have to work too hard to get her party's nod at the Indiana Democratic State Convention.  An effort to put together a strong ticket with an Attorney General to go with Ritz is critical.

Then there's the question of the General Assembly.  I can't imagine the Republicans can squeeze out too many more seats.  These things will have to start snapping back at some point, but I've been surprised before.  I didn't think they could top 70, and they did.

The national ticket will take care of itself.  If Bernie Sanders runs, I might have to give him a long look.  Yes, I know he likely couldn't win a national election.  He's too far left, but the issues that he advocates for are right at the core of the Democratic Party.  Bernie may not be our nominee, but he deserves a place at the table.  He has a backbone, and he's not afraid to show it.

Speaking of backbone, it's time to turn the party back over to Howard Dean.  Debbie Wasserman Schultz has been a disaster as a party leader.  Dean is the man that can bring Democrats back to power.

Well, 2016 seems like a long way away, but we'll be talking polling, primaries, and caucuses before you know it.

Friday, November 7, 2014

Enjoy Some Humor...

It's been a tough week.  Enjoy this Buzzfeed video of British people eating American snacks.

Thursday, November 6, 2014

Ballard Won't Seek Third Term

Mayor Greg Ballard
Yesterday evening, Mayor Greg Ballard confirmed what some have been speculating for months.  He's not running for reelection.

While it's not shocking now, I was at one time convinced that the Marion County Republican Party would convince Ballard to follow their plan instead of his, but, in the end, Ballard decided that his heart just was not in this run.  I can understand and respect that.

Listen, I've been brutal at times to the Mayor here, and I know you all know that.  I can't reverse what I've written here.  Ballard has been the most commonly-tagged individual here on this blog.  You can click on his name to the side and find out everything I've tagged his name on that has been published here.  I'll save you some time; I've thrown far more criticism his way than praise.  I can't change it, and I don't regret it.  Mayor Ballard and I simply don't agree on a lot of things.

However, I still remember the first time I met Greg Ballard.  Then State Representative Phil Hinkle was escorting Ballard around the Ben Davis Lions Club Pancake Breakfast.  At that time, Hinkle represented the area as he had for years, and the incident that would ultimately end his political career was beyond anyone's conception.  Hinkle was the one folks thought might run for Mayor at one point.

Here Hinkle was, dragging around this guy who said he was interested in being Mayor of Indianapolis, and I couldn't have been less impressed.  He was nice enough, but he was extremely timid as I recall.  Even after he secured the nomination to challenge Bart Peterson, Ballard would often walk into a room full of people and sit down.  By contrast, you watch a guy like Joe Hogsett work a room, and you know he's there.  He's a whirling dervish of handshakes, hugs, and kisses.  When Ballard worked a room, it was likely people coming to him back in those days.  He's definitely grown into the job, and I think he enjoys that aspect of being Mayor.

It's still remarkable that Greg Ballard defeated one of the most powerful Democrats in the history of Marion County, Bart Peterson.  He took him down, and then he earned a second term by defeating Melina Kennedy.  Even his own party didn't believe in him in 2007.  In January of 2016, he'll leave office having been one of the few Republicans to run a city of Indy's size in the 21st Century.  Whatever I think about his record...his successes and failures...that deserves and commands my respect.

I have no idea if Greg Ballard knows who I am or not, but he's always been cordial and nothing but nice in the times I've met him.  I've found him to be better in smaller groups than larger ones, and I clearly think he thinks that he has Indianapolis' best interests at heart.

So, Mr. Mayor, cheers to you.  For the sake of our city, I wish you the best for the rest of your term.  Do good things for good people, and we both know there are plenty of them in this city.  Thanks for your service.

Greg Ballard is a good man who is by all indications a good husband and father to his kids.  That means whatever I've written here about him is all secondary.

Wednesday, November 5, 2014

Republicans Sweep to Victory; Democrats Must Stay Strong

"Where do we go from here? 
This isn't where we intended to be."

Those are the first two lines from the Andrew Lloyd Webber classic, "Don't Cry for Me Argentina" from the musical Evita.

Tonight, it could be said about the Democratic Party.  Outside of Marion County, it was a horrible night to be a Democrat, and, at press time, the hits just keep on coming.

Nationally, Republicans picked up the U.S. Senate, retained the U.S. House, and appear to have a stranglehold on the legislative branch.

Here in Indiana, it's just as bleak of a landscape.  Republicans swept the statewide races and appear to have gained seats in the Indiana General Assembly.

There will be a daytime.  There will be other elections.  Democrats will be in power again, and we must, at the grassroots, take the lead of this fight.  This is no time to give up.  It's time to redouble the efforts and find out what went wrong and how we can fix it.

Republicans deserve a ton of credit for their wins tonight, but this is not over.  The campaign for 2015 starts now, and 2016 isn't far behind.

Don't Cry for the Democratic Party.  We'll be back.

Tuesday, November 4, 2014

AP Reports Mike Delph Reelected

The Associated Press is reporting that Senator Mike Delph has defeated JD Ford to hold on to his Senate seat in District 29.  Delph pulled in 54 percent of the vote to Ford's 46 percent with 99 percent of the vote counted.

Early returns showed Ford with a sizable lead, but Hamilton County apparently had a voting machine problem and was late in reporting its votes.

Ugh.

All Congresscritters Return to Congress in Indiana

Indiana voters reelected their entire Congressional delegation tonight.
Pete Visclosky, Jackie Walorski, Marlin Stutzman, Todd Rokita, Susan Brooks, Luke Messer, Andre Carson, Larry Bucschon and Todd Young will all represent the Hoosier State for two more years.  Take a picture because I believe there might be some changes come 2016.

Depending on Mike Pence's decision to run for President, you could see one or more of these Republicans run for Governor.  If Dan Coats decides to forego another term in 2016, you could also see some of these candidates in the mix for Senate.  

For now, the delegation is not going to change.  Congratulations to all nine of Indiana's incumbents and best of luck representing Hoosiers again for the next term.

By the way, my friend Wilson Allen has called members of Congress, "Congresscritters" before.  I thought it would make an interesting headline.

Dems Sweep Marion County Races; GOP Holds Some Township Offices, Dems Pick Up Small Claims Court Seats

Indy Democrat is projecting that the Marion County Democratic Party will remain in control of the following offices: Prosecutor, Sheriff, Auditor, Assessor, Clerk, Recorder, and Circuit Court Judge.

In the race for Sheriff, it appears Mayor Greg Ballard's endorsement of Emmitt Carney had the opposite effect that Mr. Carney may have wanted.  John Layton was reelected by a wide margin proving that the Marion County GOP's tactics at the last few moments of the race were more than flawed.

Marion County Prosecutor Terry Curry was easily reelected by defeating GOP attorney Duane Merchant.  Curry crossed the 60 percent mark in this race.

Julie Voorhies will just switch offices as she moves from the Recorder's Office to the Auditor's Office.  Voorhies defeated Republican Tracy McCarty.

Replacing Voorhies in the Recorder's Office come January 1, 2015, is my good friend Kate Sweeney Bell.  Sweeney Bell had two opponents, Republican Terry Dove and Libertarian Christopher Bowen.

In the race for Marion County Clerk, Christine Bischoff gave it a good run, but Myla Eldridge's determination has paid off.  The Democrat prevailed over Bischoff in a tighter-than expected race but still by a wide margin.

Eldridge's official title will be Marion County Clerk of the Circuit Court, and the Judge in that court will be Democrat Sheryl Lynch as of January 1.  Lynch defeated Therese Hanna, her Republican challenger.

Joe O'Connor had an easy night.  The Marion County GOP did not find him an opponent.

Indy Democrat can also project that the Republican Party will hold the Trustee's Offices in Decatur, Franklin, and Perry Townships.  The GOP will also hold the Constable and Small Claims Court Judge slots in those townships.

Democrats will control the Trustee's Offices in Pike, Washington, Lawrence, Center, and Warren Townships.  Wayne is too close for us to call at this time where Republican Andy Harris, the incumbent leads challenger Renee Pack by a few hundred votes.  Democrats have also held all three township offices in Pike, Washington, Center, and Warren Townships.  The Dems also will hold the Constable's Office in Wayne.

Democrats pick up an office in the Wayne Township Small Claims Court as Indy Democrat is projecting Gerald Coleman defeating incumbent Republican Danny Vaughn.  Dems also pick up the Lawrence Township Small Claims Court with Kim Bacon defeating GOP incumbent Clark Rehme.

More to come...

Incumbent Andy Harris did hold on to his seat by just a few hundred votes over Renee Pack in the race for Wayne Township Trustee.

It's Election Day!!!

It's Election Day.  The polls are open from 6:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m.

We'll have plenty to talk about later tonight, but, if you still need a little incentive to get out and vote, watch this video.  Young folks, this one's for you!

GO VOTE...NOW!  Visit www.indianavoters.com to check your registration and find out your polling site.  You can also go online to the Marion County Election Board's Voter Information Portal by visiting maps.indy.gov/VIP/

Monday, November 3, 2014

Breaking News: Ballard Endorses Carney...Almost One Day Before Election, LOL

Almost a Selfie...
Mayor Greg Ballard and Emmitt Carney
Photo via Twitter
Well, Emmitt Carney has really made it now.  Mr. Public Safety is Job One, Mayor Greg Ballard, has placed his seal of approval on Carney's campaign for Sheriff...just a little over one day before the election.

I didn't check and see if there's a selfie to commemorate the moment on Carney's Facebook page.

Clearly Ballard wanted to make sure that Carney was the right man for the job.  He waited until he and Carney could make the most out of a court error that accidentally released a prisoner last week.  The prisoner, by the way, is back in jail at this hour...without incident.

I was curious, so I went ahead and did a Google search on the accidental release of prisoners.  Turns out, it happens quite often across the country and even in Canada.  Mistakes happen, to the tune of thousands of accidental prison releases happen in a year across the U.S.  It's not desired here, there, or anywhere, but when you deal with the volume of people that come in and out of the Marion County Jail, it's going to happen...and it has happened in the past regardless of who has been Sheriff of Marion County.

Then, add in that you're also dealing with multiple agencies.  In the case of the individual released this past week, it was an apparent code mistake on the order to the Sheriff's Office.  That doesn't excuse it, and I'm sure that Sheriff Layton had wished the court had not made the mistake, but it's not his office's responsibility to parse orders. 

The Sheriff's Office is duty-bound to follow the orders of the court.  Would Emmitt Carney violate court order if he were Sheriff?  What would he do?  Again, he has said he'll improve training and things, but what does that entail?  Would the improvement in training be to violate court orders?  What are the implications of violating a court order in error?  

Mr. Carney, again, is a good man, but he's got no clue how to run a jail.  He's not made an effective case, as I see it, to be elected to such an important office.  The fact that Ballard waited until the last minute to engage smacks of politics no matter how many times the Mayor tries to tell us he's no politician.  

I've said it before, and I'll say it yet again.  John Layton's 40 years of experience and the endorsement of the Fraternal Order of Police should say a lot.  John Layton's 2014 Indiana Sheriff of the Year Award should close the deal.  

Looking at Marion County's Township Races

Well, here we are, Election Eve.  It's the last full day for candidates to connect with voters.  Perhaps to persuade the last of the persuadables before shaking hands and kissing babies on Election Day.

I saved a group of races for last when it comes to discussing 2014, and that's the races in the townships.  While there will be some new faces in new places, I don't expect wholesale change in the townships as far as party structure, but I do want to highlight just a couple of races worth highlighting.

As the returns come in, I'll be watching the races in Wayne Township.  Historically, these have been very close, and you have a Republican in the Trustee's seat there.  Andy Harris has done a good job as Trustee and is well-liked in the community, but he's being challenged by an excellent candidate in Renee Pack.  Pack
has run a very strong campaign by concentrating more on the social services side of what the Trustee provides.  It's a good strategy, but Harris is very popular.  I think it's anyone's race between two people I'm proud to call my friends.

The other Wayne Township races feature Gerald Coleman, the Democratic challenger, against GOP incumbent Danny Vaughn for Small Claims Court Judge.  Constable Bill Newman, the lone Democrat to survive the 2010 election in Wayne Township gets a rematch with Republican Alan Driver.  Wayne always is interesting, so we'll see if it keeps the status quo or not.

In Perry Township, there's a full slate on both sides of the aisle, and Democrats should be proud to have some choices.  Jerry Melvin, Amanda Whipple, and Michael Dunigan have stepped forward to run for Trustee, Small Claims Court Judge, and Constable. Perry Township is notable because there is actually one Democrat on the Township Advisory Board.  Dems could not field full slates in the other two Southside townships.  The only other Democrat on a southern-tier township ballot is Raymond Kennedy, and he's challenging longtime GOP incumbent, Steve Rink, in Decatur Township.

Everyone, get out and vote tomorrow.  You may not feel like it's important or that this election season is like the others, but it is.  Remember, all politics is local.  If for nothing else, vote for those folks who will have the most say in what happens in your community.

To all candidates, Republican, Democratic, or Libertarian, thank you for stepping forward and putting yourself out there.

Sunday, November 2, 2014

Walker Out of Hibernation in Sheriff's Race

Marion County GOP Chair
Kyle Walker
Emboldened by some alleged poll that shows John Layton and Emmitt Carney statistically tied in the race for Sheriff, Kyle Walker decided to become active on Twitter last night.

The Indy Star's Matt Tully had posted a tweet about a negative ad that the Layton camp was running and said that is an indication the campaign must be concerned.  Former Democratic State Party Chair Dan Parker chimed in to Tully's tweet to say that Layton was responding to lies about him from the Carney camp.  That's when Walker got involved.

He started hitting on the early release numbers and the number of sexual assaults within the Marion County Jail.  I've said it before, and I'll say it again: while those things are clearly not desired, some measure of it will go on no matter what person is Sheriff.  There will still be accidental releases and deputies that choose to do bad things.  Switching from Layton to Carney won't make one bit of difference, and, if you think it will, wait until the first time something like this happens under a Carney administration.

I pointed these things out on Twitter to Chairman Walker.  He replied, "Boy, you sure are nervous."  I then reminded him that I'm just a "dumb blogger" and he's the Marion County GOP Chair.  I'm not nervous about Tuesday because, whatever happens, life goes on for me as a blogger.  Who should be nervous is the people of Marion County.

Sheriff John Layton
As I stated last week, there's no one else for this job other than John Layton.  For over 40 years, he's been on the job protecting Marion County in the Marion County Sheriff's Department/Office.  He has extensive experience running not only the jail but in every other aspect of the job.

Carney has experience on the law enforcement side.  Since the merger of IMPD and the MCSO, it makes Carney's 29 years of experience moot.  He's never run a jail or a 911 call center.  He's never led an entity as large as the MCSO.  When I pressed Walker for any of Carney's platform, he said I was nervous.  Nope.  Just curious.  Carney has provided little in the way of detail as to what he will do to combat the issues he's campaigning on.  He's refused to give his opinion on key questions about the future of the Marion County Sheriff's Office at forums, and he's said in interviews that he needs to get in the office before knowing what the problems are and how to fix them.
Emmitt Carney

And, as far as Walker goes, as my friend Paul Ogden has pointed out, the Marion County Republican Party has done little or nothing for Carney to this point.  It's only now that Walker sees an opportunity to dive in and provide some help.  Perhaps he thinks it's 2007 all over again and Republicans will sweep to victory.

Maybe they will.  I'm just telling you what I think is best for Marion County.  When you have an experienced, capable and talented Sheriff, then you don't vote him out of office for someone who is untested and not wholly forthcoming with his plans.  If you don't believe me, check out Emmitt Carney's website. There's nothing there, and his Facebook page is full of selfies.  If one wants to lead, then they had better be prepared to govern and keeping things this close to the vest is not someone I want to run my county's jail.

With the dearth of information, we have to go back to the last time a Republican was Sheriff to see how that party ran things.  The Marion County Republicans overcrowded the jail so badly that Ronald Reagan Appointee Sarah Evans Barker placed a court-mandated number of inmates on the lockup.  She promised to fine the county if the number of inmates jailed exceeded that number.

The Marion County Jail also became known as one of the most harsh and inhumane jails in the country.  Comparisons with third-world prisons were drawn between our county's jail and some of the most notorious places in the world.  Today, the jail has been cleaned up, and it actually has earned accreditation as one of the finest lockups in the U.S.

I believe John Layton will be reelected on Tuesday, and I'm not nervous.  The sun will come up on Wednesday and we'll all go about our business.