Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Magee Says Electing Muslim to Congress Would Be "Security Risk"...No Joke

Erin Kent Magee
Floridian for Congress, Erin Kent Magee, spoke with WISH-TV's Jim Shella about his run(s) for Congress in Indiana and Florida and his Senate campaign in Tennessee.

Speaking with Shella, Magee admitted that he had never been to the State of Indiana.  Because of that, I believe his chances of winning election are slim and none.

After you read his comments about a sitting Congressman, you may agree with me that Magee's chances may have gone to slimmer and none-er.

Magee's issues with Congressman Andre Carson, the incumbent in the 7th District, don't have anything to do with apparently what the Congressman has done in office.  Instead, Magee believes that sending Congressman Carson back for another term in Congress is detrimental to the United States.

"Ah, I think many Americans would object to electing a Muslim to a federal office,” he said. “It poses a grave security risk for them to hold federal office,” Shella quotes Magee as saying.  Of course, this is not Carson's first time at the rodeo.  He has faced Marvin Scott in the 2010 who made Carson's religion an issue in his campaign.  At least Scott tried to deny it.  Magee just went ahead and pushed the button.

In Congress since March 2008, Carson also was a law enforcement officer with the Department of Homeland Security prior to his career in Congress.  He and Congressman Keith Ellison of Minnesota are the only two Muslims in Congress.

Apparently realizing the inflammatory nature of his comments, Magee called Shella back to soften his comments a bit.

Too late.  Damage done.  I wish you the best in your other runs for federal office, Mr. Magee.  Your views are not welcome in Indiana.  Perhaps if you bothered to visit the state before you signed up to run here, you'd know it.

Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Mayoral Marathon Off and Running

We are approximately one year out from what might be a competitive primary election for Mayor, and how do conditions on the ground look?

The Mayor continues to ignore the mistakes of Mayors previous to him, and that gives the opposition hope that he can be toppled.

It won’t be an easy thing to topple Greg Ballard if he runs again, but he has left himself open for attack from a variety of sides. Indy taxpayers are getting squeezed to death by increased taxes, increased utility rates, and increased city fees. This has set the pot to boil. The other thing making the water heat up is the day-to-day headlines of someone being shot across the city and the perception that Ballard is ignoring the issue by saying mostly bad guys are shooting other bad guys in these situations.  IMPD's staffing issues will not be solved without asking for even more of our money.

Mayor Ballard wants to pay for road and street repairs by selling bonds that won’t be paid off until Indy has fixed the roads and streets again (and in some cases again). He also has foolishly spent money on things like a World Sports Park in hopes of drawing in new people to the city while spurning the overtures of major political party conventions.  He even spent money to bid again on a Super Bowl again.

Ballard is vulnerable to attack, but he’s a bit like Ronald Reagan. He’s wrapped in a bit of Teflon. Negative things don’t stick or don’t stick too long. There’s a perception of him that is different than the reality some have seen. Only a handful of people have seen the real Greg Ballard. The Greg Ballard that appears when he’s challenged toe-to-toe. That Mayor Ballard says things that are sometimes not stated in the best manner. He’s also been known to show a vindictive side. Just ask some of the City-County Council or those that dared to challenge him.

The Mayor’s opposition can’t be content to sit quietly and idly by and lob political jabs across the fence. He or she must have a defined plan of attack. Unlike previous campaigns, this one can’t be fought entirely negative. There will probably be a need for that at some point, but this one has to be fought in a positive manner. It might be a risk, but there’s a way to jab the Mayor in his political weak points but keep the discussion at a higher level.
There are four Democrats whose names have been mentioned, and there may be more out there. I just think it will be the Democrat that is not afraid to take the fight to the Mayor and keep the discussion moving at a high level that will be victorious in May and in November.

Whether that’s Ed Delaney, Maggie Lewis, Dan Parker, or Frank Short remains to be seen. Fact is, while Mayor Ballard is popular with a lot of people on both sides of the aisle, he’s not invincible and there’s a broad coalition of folks out there that want a change on the 25th Floor. It’s making that coalition broader that will define the next year of campaigning.

Monday, April 28, 2014

NRA Leaves Behind More Questions Than Answers

The NRA circus has left town, and all that's left is the clean up.

While I'm glad they came to town and dropped off their wads of cash, I have to tell you that I hope that it's a while before they come back.

As I sifted through the media coverage of the events, I don't think I've ever heard a more confused lot than some of the folks at this convention.  That, of course, starts with some of the speakers.

Sarah Palin's rant against President Obama's foreign policy among other things included a line about using waterboarding as a way to "baptize terrorists".  Way to mix religion with one of the most heinous forms of torture, Sarah.  I still don't understand what the drawing power is with her.  She quit and walked out on her state of Alaska after she found fame.  Now, she makes her money outside of government by ripping it.

Many of the folks interviewed of course talked about how the President, the federal government, or someone wants to rip their guns away and put limits on the Second Amendment.  Yeah, that is not happening.  Not at all.  Even after several mass shooting incidents, we haven't seen any limits on anything.  We can't even get agreement on things that are agreed on.

It's all a function of the NRA that uses its millions to continue to whip up fear.  Fear that people want to get their guns and take away the ability of folks to bear arms.

I don't want your guns.  As far as I'm concerned, you can keep them.  I am not opposed to anyone keeping and having and using guns for sport or to defend oneself.  In fact, if you have a gun and you are able to shoot a home invader then good for you.  That said, I would like to see it harder for bad people to get hold of good guns.  If there's a way to stop that, then it should be our priority.

We're not going to solve anything as long as we go off into our isolated corners.  We need to find common ground.  Spewing the kinds of rhetoric I heard from many at the NRA convention, I'm just not so sure it's possible.  Will it ever be?

Friday, April 25, 2014

Rate, Tax Hikes Squeezing Indy Residents

Studies have shown that the wages of Hoosiers are far less than the national average, and the disparity between income and cost of living is getting even bigger.

That’s what makes the one-two-three punch of utility rate hikes even harder to swallow for local residents.

Citizens announced last month that water rates would be hiked nine percent. That was just the first shoe to drop. On Wednesday, IPL announced that it would be hiking rates to help pay for the new car share and car charge spots in downtown Indy. Thursday, Citizens announced that sewer rates are going up over one quarter, 26 percent, for customers. This trifecta of bad news comes as Hoosiers dig deeper in their pockets for everything from gasoline to groceries.  Then there’s the added cost that the city has to pay to convert some of its meters to charging stations due to the parking deal from a few years back. Add in the extra taxes and fees you’ll be paying in Indy plus on top of that a possible tax rate hike to deal with public safety issues and much more…Indianapolis residents have to feel like a squeezed orange. It’s not a particularly pleasing recipe.

Oh wait…we forgot the extra subsidies for the Pacers and the development of the Market East area.

Wow, Mayor “not going to ask for more of your money” Ballard seems to be doing a pretty good job of it, doesn’t he?  Had enough?

Thursday, April 24, 2014

Spurning DNC May Cost City Dearly

The Democratic National Committee invited a number of U.S. cities to submit bids to host the 2016 Democratic National Convention. After taking a look at the calendar of upcoming events, Indy’s response was thanks but no thanks.

The Ballard Administration said that the number of conventions and major events such as the upcoming 2015 NCAA Final Four, the Women’s Final Four in 2016, and other events would preclude Indy from having enough private funds and space to host the Democratic or the GOP soirees in 2016.

The Marion County Democratic Party attacked Mayor Ballard for playing politics calling his move purely political. Chairman Joel Miller said in a news release:

“(Tuesday’s) move by Mayor Ballard is shameful, disrespectful and blatantly political. Indianapolis was specifically invited by the Democratic National Committee to submit a bid to host a political convention that reaps financial rewards for the city and global exposure in a Presidential Election year. Next month, our city is holding one of the largest single-day sporting events in the world. We have hosted the Super Bowl and are in the running for another. We have hosted Final Four tournaments and major stock car races. The excuse that we don’t have enough hotel space and private funding to attract a political convention is simply ludicrous. 
Mayor Ballard was willing to ask ‘Kate and William’ – the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge – to a cricket tournament at his boondoogle of a cricket stadium on the eastside. He is willing to host the NRA’s convention later this week in Indianapolis. But, he is not willing to host Democrats, including the current President of the United States, in our city.”
Listen.  I don't know if the move was blatantly political nor do I know what is in the Mayor's heart.  I'm inclined to agree more with the Chair than disagree with him on this one, but what I do know is that Greg Ballard is turning his back on an incredible opportunity to infuse our city's economy with a lot of big money.

I did a little research.  Mayor Ballard turned down an opportunity to infuse the local economy with nearly $164 million if you equal the economic impact to the Charlotte area in 2012.  Here's a great fact sheet about other things the Dems did in Charlotte.

Where the Ballard Administration's idea that Indy isn't ready to hold a major political convention begins to crack at the foundation is that we've hosted the Super Bowl, and the city is trying to get another one.  The NFL loves Indianapolis so much that it copied our idea of a Super Bowl Village at the two cities that have hosted Super Bowls since Indy did.  

The NFL turned Charlotte down for hosting a Super Bowl saying that the city didn't have enough hotel rooms nor the right facility to host the biggest American football game in the world.  Even though Charlotte was spurned by the NFL, by most accounts they hosted a great Democratic National Convention.

Timing is everything.  As Ballard's Administration says that Indy can't muster together enough space and hotel rooms to host an estimated 35,000 Republican or Democratic conventioneers, Indianapolis is hosting a convention by the National Rifle Association.  The NRA convention is bringing 70,000 convention goers to town this week.  Plus, Indy knows how to rock big events like the Indianapolis 500 EVERY YEAR where over 250,000 people jam pack the 600+ acres at 16th & Georgetown each year.  Another 75,000 will pile in to watch the Brickyard 400.  Perhaps 25-35,000 will watch the MotoGP race.  

As an event host, Indianapolis rises to each challenge that is put before it. The volunteer base here is unlike any other, and this city knows how to put on big, revenue generating events.  We do it better than anyone else in this country.  With a world-class convention center, a walkway-connected downtown, over 30,000 hotel rooms in the general area, and a tremendous planning acumen, I can't for the life of me understand why Mayor Ballard turned his back on this amazing opportunity.  Maybe it was pure politics.

With both parties reaching out and the Democrats asking Indy to put in a bid, who knows if the major parties will be calling on Indy again in the future?  To not even submit a bid is, as Miller put it, shameful and disrespectful.

A good friend with DNC connections reminded me today that the economic impact of the 2008 Democratic National Convention on Denver was $250 million.  Charlotte was only three days whereas Denver was four.  An open seat centrally-located Presidential national party convention could be expected to draw much more in economic impact than the 2012 renomination convention in Charlotte did.

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Maggie for Mayor?

Indy Star columnist Matt Tully “broke” the news on Tuesday that Maggie Lewis was mulling over a run for Mayor of Indianapolis, and that’s something that you’ve known for months if you read this blog.

The Lewis watch had seemed to cool over the past few months, but Tully has her on the record that she’ll be making a decision over the next few weeks.
Council President Maggie Lewis
photo courtesy
Tony Campbell, Photographer

As far as candidates for Mayor go, Lewis shatters the mold. We’ve never had a major party candidate win the nomination for Mayor like her, and she has the record to back it up.

Some might use her seat on the Capital Improvement Board against her, but she has done a good job as City-County Council President, overall. She’s been able to strike a few deals across the aisle and keep her caucus somewhat in line. That’s not always easy to do. I’ve heard former Marion County Democratic Party Chair Ed Treacy say that herding Democrats is like herding cats. He’s exactly correct. It’s not easy.  While Lewis is still young, she is currently serving as one of Mayor Greg Ballard’s most visible foils, but she has managed to disagree at times with the Mayor with a great deal of class and without appearing too disagreeable. 

Suddenly, the once empty field is getting crowded.  Frank Short is in the race, and Dan Parker is overdue to let us know his intentions. We know Ed Delaney may be deciding soon.  Lewis now adds her name to the shortlist.  Should she run, she will be a tough out for the others.  She combines experience, name recognition, and that something different many D's are looking for in their 2015 candidate. 

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Pence "Dixie Chicks" Obama Administration in Germany?

Last week, Governor Mike Pence had some tough words for the Obama Administration on foreign policy.  His comments came on foreign soil while he was traveling on his purported trade mission.

While in Germany, Pence accused the Obama Administration of not doing enough in Ukraine to stop Vladimir Putin's aggressiveness.  Said Pence, "History teaches us that weakness and appeasement invite aggression."  He continued, "With Russian aggression on the rise, it's clear that our policy of conciliatory diplomacy has failed."

Later Pence said that he believed the United States should "take immediate steps" by "deploying" missile defense in Poland and the Czech Republic."  If this sounds like an 80's remake of the Cold War, stop me.

First of all, Governor Pence, when you are in a foreign land, when did it become okay to criticize your President?  Isn't that what some Republicans might call, inappropriate or, at worst, unpatriotic.  I mean, look at what your buddies did to the Dixie Chicks back in the early 2000's when they spoke out against President Bush's warmongering policies in Iraq.  Lead singer Natalie Maines said, "Just so you know, we're on the good side with y'all. We do not want this war, this violence, and we're ashamed that the President of the United States is from Texas."

With his words, Mike Pence shows exactly the kind of President he might be: brash and undisciplined.  His comments in a foreign country showed a lack of judgement, and his plan was next to laughable and showed a certain nostalgia for the 80's when we stood at a constant threat of war with the U.S.S.R.  Ratcheting up missile defense would just probably escalate the situation.

Pence had better just stick to being a Governor and a former Congressman with a less-than-distinguished record and leave the real foreign policy to those in the arena.

Monday, April 21, 2014

Pence Can't Master Photo Opportunity

Mike Pence’s potential run for President has taken a higher flight this past week as the Governor traipsed off to Germany on a "targeted" trade mission.
During the trip, Pence settled in for a Pacers game, and his wife, Karen Pence tweeted something that proved yet again what everyone knows. Mike Pence is bad at the photo op...and he'd better get better.

The Indiana First Lady tweeted out a picture purporting to have the Governor watching the Indiana Pacers game. The problem is that the game is coming through on a laptop, and everyone with the exception of Pence (who is watching from an awkward side angle) and the First Lady look horribly uncomfortable.

The picture says, "Hi everyone...we're all awkwardly watching this Pacers game from the same side of the table.  Yeah...that's the ticket!"

It’s like when Pence tried to show how he was mowing his lawn…that didn’t need mowing…in dress shoes.
I don’t know who is giving Governor Pence his marching orders or his advice, but he clearly needs to be in the incubator for another few years before he runs for President. His less-than-distinguished record as a do-little Congressional representative and gubernatorial record built upon another Governor’s successes will indeed be scrutinized. 

In the end, they’ll find a politician who can’t do photo ops and has little substance. They’ll find a guy that can’t debate well and won’t stand the scrutiny of a full blown Presidential race.

Pence is being portrayed as a sign of hope for the GOP in 2016. If that’s the guy the GOP is hoping for, Democrats have little to be worried about.  He can't even master the easy photo op!

7th District Congressional Race Includes One Out-of-State Candidate

Erin Kent Magee
On May 6, there will be a Primary to see who the two candidates will be for Congressional District 7 in Indianapolis.  

In the end, I predict the Democrats will send Andre Carson to a resounding victory over his opponents Pierre Quincy Pullins, Rev. Mmoja Ajabu, and Curtis Godfrey.  I know, I'm really stepping out on a limb there.  I predict the Republicans will elect either Cat Ping or Gordon Smith to face Carson in the fall with the possibility of J.D. Miniear coming in first as well.

The most intriguing candidate in the race just might be a man named Erin Kent Magee.  

Magee doesn't even live in Indianapolis.  He lives in Florida.  Therefore, if by some miracle, he is elected, he can't even legally serve.  He told Amos Brown that if he wins election in the primary that he'll move to Indiana.  That would satisfy the legal requirement of the Constitution for him to be an inhabitant.

Another interesting tidbit about candidate Magee is that he is coming off a 2012 run for President of the United States on the Republican ticket.  It also appears that he has a backup plan if he doesn't win the 2014 Primary.  Project Vote Smart lists him as a candidate for Florida Congressional District 17.  I suppose it could be a mistake, but...

There's not much to Magee's campaign website.  It appears that he's a birther.  He also has a YouTube video where he explains his run for President and why he believes he got no traction.  On that channel, there are other videos.  Some really make sense...others...well...they're out there.

I don't know where this post is going.  I guess it just goes to show you that it takes all kinds of folks to make the world go around, especially in politics.  I wish Mr. Magee well.

Friday, April 18, 2014

Beth White Outraises Incumbent Connie Lawson Nearly 2 to 1

Beth White
Beth White is in it to win it.

Some of my Republican friends told me not to be surprised to see Beth White not only outraise their candidate, Connie Lawson, but they expected her to outwork her, too. If the early numbers are any indication, we could be heading for just that.
Connie Lawson
White trails Lawson in total cash on hand, but she raised $76,000 this past quarter. Lawson only raised $41,000. That’s nearly a two-to-one advantage, and it’s quite surprising given that Lawson is an incumbent.

Of course, Lawson hasn’t stood for election before as Secretary of State. She was appointed by Governor Mitch Daniels to take over the Office of the Secretary of State when Charlie White was booted from the Statehouse. Lawson is a former member of the Indiana General Assembly and also at one time held Hendricks County Office.

White is the sitting Marion County Clerk, and she had to fight to get that job. She lost a tight race in 2002 to Doris Anne Sadler. In 2006, she was elected to the office and was sent back to the City-County Building for a second term in 2010. She is constitutionally barred from running for a third term as clerk and has been traversing the state now for months in pursuit of the Secretary of State's job.  It seems to be working.

Lawson would be well-advised not to take a well-funded Beth White lightly if she wants to remain Secretary of State. If she wants to keep her job, she's probably going to have to push herself further than most incumbent Secretary of States have ever pushed themselves in a reelection fight.  White is making a clear impact, and another quarter like this will mean that Lawson could be in real trouble financially.

Lawson and White will be officially nominated at their respective state conventions later this spring/summer.

Thursday, April 17, 2014

Market East Coming to Indy

In a coordinated announcement with Indy Downtown and others, Mayor Ballard rolled out the newest name for Indy’s newest commercial district.

Market East, which encompasses the City-County Building, the City Market, the soon-to-be-built Market Tower, and the upcoming Cummins facility plus the surrounding area, brings an identity to an area of town that sorely needs it especially since July 1999 when Market Square Arena became a pile of twisted metal and rubble.

The Mayor also announced a contest to revision the City-County Building’s plaza and the footprint of the long forgotten Marion County Courthouse that used to sit on it. The city rolled everything out on a nice website, It’s really something to look at.

Wouldn’t it be nice if Mayor Ballard put the same kind of effort into ending the rash of violence in the city? I give him credit for trying, but Market East won’t be anything spectacular without a safe city around us.

Perhaps I’m being unfair, but it seems like we have misplaced our priorities sometimes.

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Wednesday Humor: SNL Spoofs CNN

Even as hope dims, CNN has kept with the Malaysian Air Flight 370 story.  It was only a matter of time before Saturday Night Live spoofed their devotion to the story which has had little new news to report since it broke but also cable news in general.  What a pleasant surprise SNL has been this year.

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

2014 Primary Season Eerily Quiet

Here we are, it’s just a few weeks out from the 2014 Primary Election, and there’s really not much to talk about.

I’ve been sitting here wracking my brain for interesting stories to put here on the blog for days, and there's just not much interesting on the ballot for Primary '14.

This is not 2008 when a hotly-contested Presidential race brought folks out. It’s not 2010 or 2012 when there were serious primary challenges for U.S. Senate and U.S. House. This is gentle 2014, and there’s just not much to talk about.

This time, you have judicial candidates fighting for their jobs on the bench.  House District 91 has been interesting. The band of candidates that have come out of the woodwork to challenge Congressman Carson could provide some wacky copy. If the Treasurer of State race were something Primary voters voted in , I could see the three-way race between Wayne Seybold, Don Bates, Jr., and Kelly Mitchell on the Republican side as a knockdown drag out. That will be fought at the Republican Convention in Fort Wayne.

So, why even have a primary? Why not let the parties choose their candidates…as the Libertarians do at a convention...and save taxpayers a few dollars? Thankfully, not every year is like this.

As a Democratic Party voter, I like to have a say in who represents my party. Maybe that’s the best answer. Primaries do, from time to time, produce upsets. In some communities across Indiana, the primary is the only election, and it’s the general that’s a snoozer.

I think 2014 is just an anomaly, and we'll be back to hotly contested primaries next year. I just wouldn’t expect a ton of voters to turn out on Election Day. Call my cynical, but I’m struggling to find reasons to go to the polls that day myself, but I'll be there. It's my civic duty.  I have friends on the ballot, and it's good to support all those people that gave up a day of their lives to work the polls.

It is all the more reason to think the status quo will prevail on May 6. Party loyalists will go to the polls and likely select the same candidates they have always selected, and we’ll go to the General Election when the real fun starts. 

Monday, April 14, 2014

Scott Needs GOTV Effort, Help from Teachers to Beat Behning

Michael Scott
Teachers will have not one, but two chances to vote against Bob Behning this election season.  Behning must be just a little concerned.

The Republican Chair of the House Education Committee is facing Republican Michael Scott in the May Primary.  Scott has some TV commercials running.  Like spring dandelions, the florist's yard signs have popped up all around Decatur Township including some of the huge variety.  Some of the biggest signs are along the road on the Richard Lugar Farm on Mann Road.

Bob Behning
I have yet to see a Scott sign, but we still have a couple of weeks.  Scott is a Lunch Pail Republican who ran against Behning in 2012 after the Decatur Township Republican voted for the virulently anti-union right-to-work legislation.  That year, he didn't fare too well against the veteran legislator.  Now, he's reaching out to teachers, too.

It's a smart ploy.  I had a chance to speak with House 91's Democratic nominee, Patrick Lockhart.  Lockhart says that he's been speaking with lots of teachers, and they seem united against Behning.  Lockhart says teachers have had enough of Behning and are ready to brush him aside in 2014.

Patrick Lockhart
As Tony Bennett found don't mess with teachers.  If Scott can bottle the angst that Ritz did against his opponent, then he might have a good chance.

In many ways, a house district race is tougher than a statewide race.  It shouldn't be, but it is.  People know less about local races than state races, and those voters that would be needed to buck Behning's loyal primary-goers stay at home until the fall or until a Presidential year.  Scott has to motivate these folks to get out.  I'm not sure a few weeks of walking right before the primary will help.  That's why it's going to take the same kind of phone calls to people in HD91 to beat Behning that teachers made to help beat Bennett.

Certainly, I wish Scott the best.  If Behning loses, it's a good thing for education across the state.  Of course, I'm in the tank for Patrick Lockhart.  I think he's awesome and will make a tremendous House District 91 State Rep.  Since Lockhart is unopposed now, I'll be working hard against whatever Republican wins the May Primary.

Friday, April 11, 2014

Teachers Again Targeted by Reformers

Indiana Rep. Bob Behning thinks that the teacher evaluation numbers were unrealistic.

State Board of Education Member Gordon Hendry believes that the teacher evaluation system failed.

A florist and a businessman walk into a bar…

That may be unfair, but I would ask the florist (Behning) and the businessman (Hendry) what percentage of teachers they believe should have failed their evaluation? 

As it stands, just under three percent of Indiana teachers rates as “needs improvement” or “ineffective”. Eighty-seven percent of those teachers evaluated rated in the top two categories of the four category teacher evaluation system which looks an awful lot like model legislation pushed by the American Legislative Exchange Council or ALEC.

To me, that would be cause to celebrate. Instead, Behning wants to use the data to further push his reforms, and Hendry is talking failure.  Both seem to be pushing for drastic measures.

Behning in particular is the scariest one.  He's talking things like removing local control from parts of the evaluation process and expecting more of a bell curve of results.

I’m willing to say that the system needs some tweaks, but I’d like to see what they want to tweak and why they want to tweak it. If the tweak is made so that more teachers fail their evaluations unfairly, then I would think that there will be a great amount of push back during the next General Assembly session.

All I know is that I have a lot more confidence in an educator like Glenda Ritz to make reforms than a businessman like Hendry or a florist like Behning. Ritz at least knows what it’s like to be on the inside of a public school classroom. I will also agree that what needs to be done is what's best for the students that walk through the door into our classrooms.

What they will find is that most teachers are effective and that successful schools require more than just an highly-effective teacher and administration.  The school can do everything right but still fail if all stakeholders are not on board.  I know that's not what the florist or the businessman want to hear, but that's the truth as I see it.

Thursday, April 10, 2014

In Memoriam: Mickey Rooney (1920-1914)

Mickey Rooney
Photo courtesy

Earlier this week, Mickey Rooney passed away at the ripe old age of 93.  

He was a tremendous actor who once did an Indianapolis Motor Speedway-themed movie called The Big Wheel back in 1949.  His career extended over 70 years from his days of child stardom to more recent times.  

Rooney's personal life was also up and down, but his indomitable spirit kept him moving forward through all the personal tragedy and strife.  He made us laugh and smile.

Even in death, Mickey Rooney still found a way to keep us smiling.  Jimmy Kimmel compiled several news clips together for this one.

Mickey himself (and maybe even Andy) would probably have laughed at that montage.  I'll just wish him the best.  Mickey, I didn't forget you.  Thanks for the laughs.  Rest in Peace.

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Clinton Drops Huge Hint about 2016

Hillary Clinton
Hillary Clinton told a group of tech conventioneers yesterday that she is "thinking about" running for President in 2016.  It was, as many political observers point out, Clinton's biggest hint so far that she might be running for President of the United States.

The fact that she's thinking about running doesn't really surprise anyone.  It's just now that she's openly admitting it.  She's moved from the, "I don't know what opportunities may come my way in the future or I'm taking time to see how I might serve the country the best way" to the, "I'm thinking about running" stage.  Next is the forming an exploratory committee stage followed by the all out run for the office.

Clinton is the odds on favorite to win the Democratic nomination should she run.  She also leads most of the major Republicans in the early polling when it comes to possible General Election matchups.  I think she represents the Democrats' best chance to hold on to the White House.

The Republicans will have a different task.  While Clinton would likely have clear sailing, there will be lots of bloodletting again on the Republican side.  The GOP would be wise to rally behind an electable candidate.

There's still a long way to go until 2016, but Clinton's announcement signaled yesterday that she just may run again for the White House eight years after her first attempt.

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Political Potholes?

Mayor Greg Ballard has been playing politics with Rebuild Indy money.  That's the allegation by some Democrats on the City-County Council.

They say that since 2010, Ballard has spent, on average $6,000,000 more in Rebuild Indy repairs in Republican City-County Council districts over those districts with a Democratic City-County Councillor.

The Democrats say that Ballard's newest round of projects will make things even worse shutting out District 2, District 10, District 18, and District 20 from receiving any funding at all.  Each of those districts is represented by a Democrat.  According to the release from Councillor Maggie Lewis, District 10 has over $2 million worth of emergency repairs.  Ballard's plan doesn't address any of these repairs with one dollar.

From the news release:

The priorities for road and sidewalk improvement should not be based on the choices residents make when they are in the voting booth. 
“Unlike the Mayor, the Council will not make decisions about city services based on how residents vote - we will continue to work with this administration to identify resources for much needed repairs. However, as we proceed the Mayor must check his partisanship at the door,” said Councilor Zach Adamson. “Potholes are not Republican or Democrat."
The Council’s Public Works Committee will continue to review Proposal 90 and will address these inequities prior to passage to ensure all the people of Marion County benefit from this spending.
Just when you think Mayor Ballard can't go lower, he resets the bar.  I'm interested to see how he tries to squirm away from this one.  These are the kinds of things that voters need to be reminded of as 2015 continues to approach.

Monday, April 7, 2014

Parker for Mayor?

Dan Parker
While I was out, another potential candidate for Mayor of Indianapolis has stepped into the limelight.

Former Indiana Democratic Party Chair Dan Parker says he's interested in running for the office, and he's going to make a decision by Easter on his future.

First of all, I salute Parker for stepping up and thinking about running.  I think that with his connections and the names in his Rolodex that he should be able to raise enough money to give a credible challenge to Greg Ballard.

With that said, can he win?

Behind the scenes, some political insiders have been citing an independent poll that was done in the last month.  The poll allegedly shows Ballard with a high approval rating.  If you believe the numbers, any Democrat would have an uphill climb in 2015.

To me, it shouldn't daunt anyone that wishes to run.  Remember 2007?  At this point in 2006, everyone thought Mayor Bart Peterson was a shoo-in to get reelected.  Greg Ballard had not even been heard about.  Lots changed in 2007 that put Peterson's political future on the chopping block and that ultimately gave us Mayor Greg Ballard.  Many of those same tea leaves are in place heading into 2015.

Dan Parker's problem is different.  He's a former party boss, and he, himself, one time told me that being a party chair disqualifies one from running for office.  Being in that boat as a former party boss will make his job more difficult.  He has to mend some bridges and smooth over some wrinkles.  That starts with some in  the Marion County Democratic Party structure itself.

On the positive side, Parker knows how to run campaigns and, as I said earlier, can raise lots of cash.  Looking at the last two races for Mayor, they were actually very close.  Ballard received just over 50 percent of the vote in 2007 and slightly over 51 percent in 2011.  If enough doubt can sway a few thousand votes, Democrats could retake the 25th floor.  Is it really that hard to imagine in a blue county?  No.

If you ask me, Parker has a shot at becoming Mayor, but he has to take the first step.  He has to run.

Friday, April 4, 2014

Dan Coats Shows Up at Wrong Hearing

Indiana's Senior Senator, Dan Coats, provided a moment of levity on Capitol Hill yesterday.  We'll call it a mix up and not a senior moment.

Coats had some fun at his own expense on Twitter.

It's ok, Senator.  Happens to the best of us!

Wednesday, April 2, 2014

Pacers Attendance Figures Show Cowherd Owes Indianapolis Residents An Apology

A year or so ago, ESPN Radio host Colin Cowherd accused Indianapolis of ignoring the Pacers because of race.

His argument back in February 2013 was that since the Pacers were pretty good (at that time) and that no one was going to the games that Indy chose to be...well...racist.  To buttress his argument, he went to WTHR's Facebook website and quoted a couple of fans to back up his argument.

He took a great deal of criticism locally and nationally for his rant against the Circle City because, despite the crazies on social media, what he said made very little sense.

Here you go...

Today, the Pacers attendance continues to soar.  They were middle of the pack in attendance, but Bankers Life Fieldhouse was over 95 percent full on average.  The trend is continuing to climb as Jordan Heck from the Indianapolis Star documents.

Colin Cowherd clearly doesn't understand anything about Indianapolis.  We're not racists.  We're frontrunners, and that has been proven over time.  If you want to criticize us, criticize us for that.  The Pacers hit rock bottom, and they were still in the process of digging out last year.  It's been a process of rebuilding trust between a city of skeptical basketball fans and its franchise.  Now that the Pacers have proven to be consistent winners again, the city is once again all about the blue and gold.

I'm sure that chagrins some of the G2 Zone and Area 55 fans who have been true blue Pacers fans throughout the entire swoon and back again.  I salute those folks because they are the true team fans.  They are thick and thin fans that will support the team always.  Indy, however, is not that way, and it never has been.

Had the Colts slipped after their 2-14 season, then you would likely have tons of empty seats on StubHub for sale for cheap.  As it stands, the Colts recovered quickly and Lucas Oil Stadium remains filled to capacity on home game Sundays.  Even so, the Colts needed help selling out in the playoffs, and that was economy-related.  Things aren't always as slam dunk as they seem, Mr. Cowherd.

Was Cowherd right about some Indy residents?  No question, yes.  To lump us all in one pot, however, did a huge disservice to our great city.  It also appears that Cowherd's thesis is rapidly collapsing.  If Indianapolis were a racist city, then attendance would not have risen.  Continued success and slick marketing would not be a part of the issue.

For these reasons, I hope Mr. Cowherd spends some time owning his ridiculous and outlandish statements from February 2013 today or at some point on his program.  Given the bombastic nature of his show, I doubt that he will.  If he doesn't address it, I would say he needs to change his name to Colin Coward.

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

Ballard Sells Meridian Street to Highest Bidder

The selling off of the city's assets has reached new heights.

Mayor Greg Ballard's Office has announced a plan to raise revenue in the city by selling naming rights to individual streets in the mile square.

Forrest Lucas jumped first, so Meridian Street between North and South Street will now be known as "Lucas Oil Avenue" as of April 1, 2015 for the duration of the deal.  The proposal, which still needs City-County Council approval, will be presented by Ballard Chief of Staff, Ryan Vaughn, at the next Council meeting.

Specifics were not named in the press release, but the Mayor says that the deal between Lucas Oil and the city is for 10 years and is in the millions.  "It's a major investment by their organization in our city.  We're proud to be associated with Lucas Oil," said Vaughn.

"This has the potential to redefine our city's budget for years to come.  We have so many streets downtown.  If we could get a sponsor for each one, that would be amazing," Ballard said.  He said many other organizations have come forward wishing to sponsor streets.

One innovative part of the plan, according to Ballard, is that the company that puts its name on a street will be responsible for the upkeep of their portion of it including filling potholes and removing snow.  This will save the city time, money and manpower.  Ballard said, "It's the true meaning of adopting a highway."

Of course, this will come at a cost to businesses who are located on the streets.  The amount of money they will have to spend changing over business cards, menus, and other marketing items will be quite high.

Reached for comment, Councillor Zach Adamson said he was concerned by the idea of the Mayor's proposal, which he had not seen.  "The Mayor wants to do away with panhandlers on our streets, but he's more than happy to put the city in that position when it comes to our assets and corporate interests.  Nothing surprises me anymore."  

My reaction to the plan is to wish each of you a Happy April Fool's Day.  Enjoy it and don't believe everything you read on the internet today.