Saturday, May 31, 2014

Sandborn Senasation: John Gregg Back for 2016 Fight?

Well, he's back.  Or at least he's close to being back.

Looking tan and fitter than a Sandborn fiddle, John Gregg stepped back into the limelight at the Indiana Democratic Party Convention.

Former campaign staffers passed out stickers early on indicating that something might have been up.  At the 7th District caucus, Gregg said that he would talk about his future later this year.  He also said that he wanted to make it clear that his dialing back from politics was only temporary so that he could deal with some "family issues."

Seems like he was going full speed on Saturday.  Gregg appeared on stage to nominate his longtime friend Mike Claytor for Auditor of State.  He came out carrying a blue suitcase covered with a ton of stickers from various places around the world.  The sticker's tag orange tag said it belonged to Mike Pence.

Gregg said that a guy had walked up to him on the street saying that he found the suitcase and that he had tried all over the area to find Pence.  He said the guy, "tried the Governor's Mansion, and this Governor lives there, but he wasn't there."  He plopped it down beside the podium and said that the Governor's been everywhere lately and Hoosier taxpayers have seemingly been paying for it.  Standing ovation.  John Gregg's back.  Need more of a clue?

Later, Gregg said he's looking forward to working with the 2014 statewide ticket of Boland, White, and Claytor now and in the future (adding a huge wink).

I'd have to say John Gregg is actively looking at running for Governor again, and if you go back and read his Facebook post where he seemingly pulled out of the running for the office in 2016...he left himself some wiggle room.  His statement at that time included this, "Despite the overwhelming support and encouragement to make another run, I am announcing that, at this time, I am no longer actively seeking the Indiana Democratic Party’s nomination for Governor in 2016."

I'd have to say he's close to actively seeking it again, and with his wit and wisdom and the education of a statewide run behind him, the sequel might be even better than the original in this case.  John Gregg...and his mustache...seem back and ready to go.

Democrats Wrap Convention Unified

The Indiana Democratic Party Convention wrapped today in Indianapolis.

Besides the business of nominating a state ticket and adopting the platform, the convention provided a great chance for a "Big Dem Weekend" and celebration in Indianapolis.  That was the theme and the atmosphere.

Unlike the Republicans who have a bitterly-contested battle for Treasurer of State, a battle over a platform plank, and rankling over whether the delegates can carry guns in the Grand Wayne Convention Center, the Indiana Democratic Party Convention was notable for its feeling of unity.

The Democrats have nominated a "professional ticket" as someone (I think Mike Claytor) put it.  For Treasurer, the party nominated Mike Boland, a man with a great understanding of how state government works after spending years as a part of it in neighboring Illinois.  The party made Mike Claytor, a CPA, its nominee for Auditor of State.  Beth White is the nominee for Secretary of State, and she clearly understands that job having been Marion County Clerk for the last seven years.

These aren't political appointees.  If given the opportunity to serve, they all have agendas and all have the ability to hit the ground running with those agendas.  It's a ticket Hoosiers can be sure will use Hoosier common sense.

Beyond the ticket, Democrats adopted a party platform that is as progressive as it possibly could be.  It includes full support for marriage equality among other things.  Not one person at the Central Committee or in the convention hall spoke up against it.  It passed unanimously.

Now, the Republicans have their turn.  I won't be in Fort Wayne, but I can imagine it won't be like the Indiana Democratic Party State Convention.  As everyone knows, there ain't no party like a Democrat Party!

Delegates, Welcome to Indianapolis!

To the delegates of the Indiana Democratic Party Convention:

Welcome to my hometown, Indianapolis.

While we have important business to discuss today when we convene, at least we are celebrating what looks like a great and qualified statewide ticket.  We need to send them off to victory.

That's what today is.  It is a celebration.  I think we, as Democrats, are poised for a comeback.  The Republicans, while formidable, are in clear disarray.  They have a contentious race for Indiana Treasurer of State that is really more for the soul of the party than anything else.  They have a Governor that's running for President who still can't push his own agenda through a General Assembly with supermajorities.  They have a Senator who's little more than a Tea Party puppet and TWO...count 'em TWO Congressmen that have had to fight alleged tax problems.

As Democrats, we have our problems, but we also have our opportunities.  Picking up seats in the Indiana House and Senate is possible this election season.  We have two great, progressive members of Congress up for reelection, and I think everyone can be proud of the measured and common sense leadership that Joe Donnelly has shown as a Senator, even if you don't always agree with him.  Things look greener on our side of the fence than they do on theirs.

Let's get together and celebrate all we have going for us.  Let's be glad that this is the party that is talking the issues and standing up for equality of all types.  You get the feeling that the wind is blowing at our backs, and that this state is poised to become a little more purple (adding blue to the red) in the next few elections.

Let's also hope that when we convene in 2016 here in this city (if we decide to come back) that it's a Democratic Mayor that welcomes you instead of this Democratic blogger.  We'll need all of your help to unseat a Mayor that so brazenly has put a failed cricket tournament ahead of public safety.

Thank you again for coming, and welcome to my hometown.  To quote the First Lady, "Let's Move!"

Friday, May 30, 2014

Ballard's Five-Year Dream of Cricket Tournament in Indianapolis Done

As early as 2009, Mayor Greg Ballard was on the record as having communication with the USA Cricket Association.

The Mayor met with the organization then and they seemed to know more about the World Sports Park than anyone in city-county government beyond the Indy Parks Dept. at that time.  The World Sports Park was a long dormant plan that Ballard decided to push aggressively.

He found the money to do the park in the Rebuild Indy funds that were more meant for sidewalk and street repairs than building a World Sports Park on Post Road...even far away from the concentration of folks that might actually use it.

When public support started to fade, the Mayor and his minions pointed out that Indy would be feeling the great economic impact of the U.S. Cricket Championships.  When it was revealed earlier this week that the USACA had reached more financial problems than you could shake a stick at, the response from the Mayors Office was that hotel rooms had been booked and the show would go on!  In other words...

Well, console the Mayor if you see him tonight.  His dreams of hosting the US Cricket Championships have ended.  The CITY not the USACA has canceled the contract to host the National Cricket Championships, but don't worry.  The (now listed as) $5.1 million sports park will be finished on time for absolutely nothing.

Here is the news release from the city:

City Cancels Contract for National Cricket Championship 
INDIANAPOLIS- Today the City of Indianapolis notified the United States of America Cricket Association (USACA) of its decision to terminate its agreement to host the US National Cricket Championships at the World Sports Park. The City is taking this step after months without adequate communication that was jeopardizing the success of the tournament scheduled to begin in August. 
“Indy greatly values its well-earned reputation of hosting outstanding national and international sporting events. The decision was made to cancel the tournament because factors outside of the city’s control were putting our ability to host a successful tournament at risk,” said Mayor Greg Ballard. “The City looks forward to helping grow cricket in the United States and also using the World Sports Park to showcase many other great sports such as soccer, rugby and lacrosse.” 
This decision will not impact development of the Indy World Sports Park located in a 40-acre section of the Post Road Community Park on Indy’s eastside. The $5.1 million park features multiple athletic fields with premiere turf designed to host a number of sports such as: soccer, rugby, hurling, cricket and lacrosse. Park improvements include multi-sport athletic fields, new parking, sidewalks and a walking path. Construction is expected to conclude in August. A copy of the letter to USACA from the City of Indianapolis can be found here.

The truly sad thing is that for just about four years there have been questions about how the USACA has been run.  A simple Google search by the Mayor's Office would have turned up more than enough information from inside sources and mainstream outlets to have at least raised an eyebrow about this organization.  It's the same kind of Google search that would have spared this Mayor's Office embarrassment over the Litebox deal.  What's that saying?  Fool me once, shame on you...Fool me twice, shame on me?

Indianapolis did not do its due diligence on this, and it cost the taxpayers money that Mayor Ballard wanted to have for a pet project for which almost no one saw the need.

Lack of Degree Doesn't Equal Lack of Intelligence

Indiana is 42nd Smartest State ranked the top 10 smartest and dumbest states in the United States based upon the metric of percentage of the population with a Bachelors Degree or higher.  Indiana ranked 8th...and not on the smart list.

I guess we can take heart that there are still other states that are in front of us on this list, and we aren't the so-called "dumbest" state in the United States.  That, according to the list, is West Virginia.  Our neighbor to the south, Kentucky, ranks fourth.  Arkansas, Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama, Nevada, Oklahoma and Tennessee round out the list.  All mostly "red states" mind you.

What this doesn't take into account is that you don't need a college degree to be smart.  My paternal grandmother was one of the smartest people I've ever known, and she didn't have a lick of college.  She grew up in the 1920's and the 1930's in Stringtown.  She married my grandfather, who worked at International Harvester as a tool designer, and they raised my aunt and my father.

Grandma Easter had many jobs, but she loved working in the cafeteria at School 67.  She was one of the diligent lunch ladies there when they made the food from scratch.  She retired in the early 70's, and that was before I was even born.  Later, she would go to work part time at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway until she finally gave up working in 1980ish (she always said 1982).

What she managed to do after my grandfather died was to become a world traveler.  She went to Europe, Hawaii (Ho-why-yuh...her pronunciation), the Caribbean Isles, and a variety of other places across the country on vacation or to see family.  She and I even took a trip to California when she was 83.

She was the trailblazer in education in our family.  After her, my and aunt ended up going into teaching.  My cousin went in as well, and my brother and other cousin even explored it.  Both my father and my aunt finished not only Bachelors Degrees but Masters Degrees as well.  My cousin has her doctorate, and I finished my Bachelors.  My other cousin is an attorney, and my brother works as a plant manager of a printing company in Chattanooga.  The focus on education in my family came not only from my parents, but from Grandma Easter.

Interspersed with her stories about long forgotten family members and travel, Grandma Easter always would say, "Jon, get a good education. No one can ever take away your education."  It's cliche, but it's true.  She knew that, and the majority of us followed her direction.  Even my brother, who didn't finish college, is in a skilled trade.

So, I take these kinds of articles with a grain of salt.  It's concerning, certainly.  We must do things in Indiana to open educational opportunities for people.  I think that's something that Governor Daniels and his administration did an admirable job with.  The Western Governors University plan is an excellent option for many.  I salute him for his efforts in that regard.

I'm also not going to settle for calling Hoosiers dumb.  What we have here in Indiana is Hoosier common sense, and you don't need to go to college for that.  While lacking a college degree no doubt hurts your ability to make a good living for the vast majority of people without one, it certainly has no bearing on how smart someone is.

Thursday, May 29, 2014

Cricket Organizing Body in Peril...May Jeopardize Cricket Competition Used to Gain Support For World Sports Park

One key selling point of the new World Sports Park on the Eastside of Indianapolis is that the city's millions in investment would be paid back by drawing in events like the U.S. Cricket Championships.  The Mayor even delivered a contract between the U.S.A. Cricket Association and the city.

Problem now is that he USACA seems to be going down and may be suspended by the International Cricket Council putting the organization in further peril financially.

Some have smelled something funny with this whole deal from the start.  The USACA has been headquartered in Florida and has had access to a 5,000 seat cricket stadium (instead of a cricket field with temporary seating).  It seemed strange that the USACA would move the championships here.

According to ESPN, the USACA hasn't held a national tournament since 2011, and that was poorly attended organized and attended.  As you can see below, ESPN casts doubt on the city's estimates of economic boon.

Various Indianapolis media outlets reported on Friday that some city officials expect thousands of spectators to attend from across the country for the USACA tournaments. City officials also reportedly are anticipating that USACA's domestic championships will generate revenue for both the city and USACA through ticket sales and broadcast rights fees. 
Such ambitious targets would be a giant leap forward from the overall lack of community support shown during the course of recent history in domestic and international tournaments involving the United States regional and national teams. USACA has no scheduled domestic tournaments for 2013 and has not held a 50-over national championship since 2010. 
The last domestic tournaments USACA held of any kind were in 2011. That year, the inaugural USACA Twenty20 national tournament was shifted from Dallas, Texas to Newark, New Jersey just weeks before the scheduled starting date. Despite Twenty20 routinely billed as a format perfectly suited to the American audience, only a handful of spectators attended. The tournament was infamous for its shoddy organization, treacherous field conditions and administrators who had to be separated outside the boundary after nearly coming to blows. 
Poor spectator turnout for domestic events has been a routine problem for tournaments staged in Lauderhill, Florida at the $70 million Central Broward Regional Park. After opening in 2008, USACA held their Men's 50-over National Championship at the 5000 seat stadium in Florida in 2009 and 2010, during which not more than a few dozen people attended. Roughly the same amount of spectators turned out this March for the 2013 ICC Americas Division One Twenty20 tournament, which USA won 8-0 to clinch a spot at the 2013 ICC World Twenty20 Qualifier. None of the matches were broadcast on TV or radio. 
"Not one of those events puts anybody in the stands," said Lauderhill Mayor Richard J Kaplan in an interview with ESPNcricinfo in April. "It doesn't sell one ticket. I don't need a multi-million dollar stadium with 5000 permanent seats to sit there with nobody using it."

Let me be clear.  The problem here is not cricket.  The sport itself is something that's extremely popular around the world.  There is a population of folks in town that play this sport.  We get that.  The question is that the Mayor knew he was going to do this as early as 2009, and he hardly told anyone.  Then, he waited until the city was in the grips of a public safety mess to spend $6 million on a World Sports Park only he asked for.

I'm not the first nor will I be the last to raise questions on this.  Councillor Christine Scales, Angela Mansfield, and a variety of other City-County Councillors as well as bloggers like Paul Ogden, Pat Andrews, and Gary Welsh have been all over this.  Why hasn't the Mayor?

For the record, the WIBC article says the city is not concerned.  They're taking a "nothing to see here" attitude, as you may expect them to do.  I hope that the event goes off well for the fans of the sport and for the city.  I just continue to have my doubts.  It's a shame that the Mayor and his administration was blinded by their own goals and didn't do their due diligence.

The US Cricket Championships are scheduled for August 21-24 at the World Sports Park.  The event is to be televised on ESPN3.

Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Dems Turn To Boland to Fill Out Ticket

Annnd…we have a prospective ticket.
Mike Boland

Democrats are expected to nominate former Illinois State Rep., Mike Boland, to run for Treasurer of State in Indiana when they convene at the Indiana Convention Center this Saturday. Boland, a retired educator, now hangs his hat in Fishers after serving in the Illinois legislature for 16 years.  Boland is a former candidate for Lieutenant Governor of Illinois.

Many expected the Democrats to tab an experienced candidate for the office. That’s exactly what they did when they tapped Boland on the shoulder. 

Boland was the last hole on the statewide ticket for the Dems. Attorney and CPA Mike "The Calculator" Claytor has been campaigning for months for Auditor, and Marion County Clerk Beth White has done the same in pursuit of the Secretary of State’s Office.

As far as the Republican ticket goes, barring some miracle, it will be settled on the convention floor at the Grand Wayne Convention Center in Fort Wayne on June 6.  While incumbents Suzanne Crouch and Connie Lawson will not be challenged for Audior and Secretary of State, Treasurer Richard Mourdock is forbidden by the Indiana Constitution from running for a third-consecutive term.  Three very different Republicans are running for Treasurer of State.  Marion Mayor Wayne Seybold is likely the favorite with Tea Partier Don Bates and Kelly Mitchell running as well.     

Seybold and Bates both have been pushing back against allegations threatening to disrupt their campaigns.  That makes Mitchell a potentially attractive choice for some and things very interesting at the Republican Convention.  That ship will sail in June.

Libertarian Karl Tatgenhorst is also running for Secretary of State having earned the nomination at the Libertarian Party Convention.

Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Township Trustee Asks Candidates to Pick Up Yard Signs

From Wayne Township Trustee Andy Harris, a Republican...

AMEN Trustee Harris!  AMEN!

2nd District Could Be Photo Finish Again

For years, Indiana’s 8th Congressional District was known as the Bloody 8th because it was always one of the toughest districts to predict and was usually hard on incumbents. With redistricting and time, things have kind of calmed down in the 8th, but the 2nd District has become one to watch year after year.

In 2012, then State Representative Jackie Walorski was expected to walk away with an easy victory over veteran Brendan Mullen. After all, she had nearly toppled veteran legislator Joe Donnelly in 2010. All she had to do was keep it together in this newly-drawn and seemingly less-competitive district.

A funny thing happened on the way to the voting booth, when the votes were counted, the favored Walorski could not pull away from Mullen. All night long, the vote totals remained close. Finally, Walorski prevailed by a thin margin of just 3,920 votes of the 273,475 cast. Either someone messed up drawing this district or Walorski isn’t that likable. I’ll leave it up to you.

In 2014, Walorski will have her hands full with Dr. Joe Bock. The Democrat has the benefit of having national money flowing into his race against the incumbent. He is professor at the University of Notre Dame and has many credentials Walorski doesn’t have.

Walorski starts from a position of advantage here. She is the incumbent and must be knocked off. The District starts off as a “Likely GOP” district from Real Clear Politics, but that’s exactly what the rating was when Mullen nearly pulled a huge upset. Bock can definitely chip away and make this election about the incumbent while painting a very different picture of what he would do in Congress.
I think this is an intriguing race to watch. My prediction: Walorski by less than five, but I will be watching closely.

Monday, May 26, 2014

Memorial Day: A Time to Reflect

Today is Memorial Day in the United States of America.

It's a day to reflect and remember those that we know and those we don't know who have served in our Armed Forces and continue to serve across the globe in war zones and otherwise.  It's also a day to remember those that have paid the ultimate price to secure freedom and liberty for us all.

In a truly perfect world, there would be no need for fighting.  There would be no need for billion dollar weapons systems and putting young men and young women in harm's way.  There would be no need for armies.  In a perfect world, we would all accept one another and our differences and live in harmony and peace.  Unfortunately, that world only exists in fantasy.  It's not a real world look at society.  We know that things today are much more ugly.  It's why we need Armed Forces and military.

As someone that enjoys expressing my opinion, I am doubly appreciative of our soldiers.  Without them, we might live in a country where this blog would get me thrown in jail or locked up.  I never take for granted the freedom they give to me.  It's the ultimate example of paying it forward for future generations.

That said, it's a shame how we treat our fighting men and women when they come home.  The recent VA scandal has thrown a veil of embarrassment and shame over our government.  It has touched off finger pointing and grandstanding on both sides of the political aisle.  It's unbecoming of a great nation that, at its highest levels, claims to honor those that serve and sacrifice. We owe it to these brave individuals to stop pointing fingers and fix the problems for this issue should have no political party, and our servicemen and women continue to do their jobs with distinction across the globe.

As I try to put myself in the position of a soldier, I know I could not do the job.  We ask them to do some pretty extraordinary things to preserve our union and our country.  When they come home, we should be treating them like the superheroes they are.  These are the modern day Spidermen and Wonder Women.  They deserve our respect and honor.

For my part, I write this post to thank all those people I know who serve and who have served.

When I was in high school, my parents and I took a trip to Washington, D.C.  We visited the Vietnam Veterans Memorial Wall.  My father had a student that he had taught in junior high that had died in Vietnam.  We searched the wall and found his name--David C. Kays.  Watching my dad reflect on all of that is a moment I will never forget.

Today, if you see a veteran, an active servicewoman or serviceman, or someone else that has served, tell them thank you.  Take a moment as well to remember those that went and never came back.  They knew that ultimate sacrifice could be the price of our freedom.

All gave some, and some gave all.

Friday, May 23, 2014

Fun With Math

The awesome Neil deGrasse Tyson uses math to show how rich Bill Gates is.

Breakdown of District 2 Congressional District to follow on Tuesday.  No new meaty posts planned this weekend unless something strikes my fancy.  Have a safe and Happy Memorial Day!

Thursday, May 22, 2014

Incumbents Looking Good for November in U.S. House Races

If you’re looking for interesting U.S. House races in Indiana, this may be your year to be disappointed.

Only one of the nine races for United States Representative offers any kind of intrigue or punch. The rest of the races should return the incumbent back to Congress.

Let’s get the easy ones out of the way first.

In U.S. House District 1, Democrat incumbent Pete Visclosky will face Republican Mark Leyva again. This will be the seventh time that two have fought it out before in the Fightin’ First, and Visclosky has cleaned Leyva’s clock each of the six previous times. In fact, since he was elected, no one has come remotely close to knocking off Visclosky. The closest race he faced, percentage wise, was a 12-percentage point win over John Larson in 1994, 56-44 percent. In 2010, Visclosky prevailed, 59-39 over Leyva. That was the last time the two battled. Look for a similar or wider margin in 2014. Prediction-Visclosky by 20-25 percent.

Up in Indiana HD 3, Marlin Stutzman looks safe. While the opportunistic Republican may be looking at a run for Senate or Governor in the future, he appears to be safely in this Congressional seat for the time being. Justin Kuhnle prevailed in a narrow win over Tommy Shrader on the Democratic side. Kuhnle ran in 2012, but he was unsuccessful in that race. He has a hill to climb in this heavily-red district. Prediction-Stutzman by 20-25 percent.

Indiana’s Fourth Congressional District is Todd Rokita’s to lose. The incumbent Republican will face educator John Dale in the district once called “No Republican Left Behind” by Dr. David Sanders. The district isn’t as red now with Kokomo drawn into it, but it’s still plenty red to send Rokita back with a big victory. Dale will be a good candidate, but numbers are numbers. Look for Rokita to take a long and hard look at running for Governor if Mike Pence runs for President in 2016. Prediction-Rokita by 20-25 percent.
Incumbent Susan Brooks dusted her primary challengers, and she will face teacher Shawn Denney who defeated two other Democrats to face the one-term Republican. Denney’s challenge will be to try to turn some of the reddest areas of Indiana’s Fifth District blue come Election Day. He has a great shot to win the northern part of Marion County, but he’s likely to struggle in the Northern suburbs of the city where many elections are decided in May between Republicans. Prediction-Brooks by 15-20 percent.

The Sixth District covers the Southeast part of Indiana, and Republican Luke Messer looks to return with a similar margin that he produced in 2012 when he won the seat, 59-35 percent, over Democrat Bradley Bookout. Susan Hall Heitzman will be Messer’s Democratic opponent this time around. The bed-and-breakfast owner and former teacher is a good candidate, but the problem, once again, as it was for Bookout, is the way the district is drawn. It just covers a lot of Republican territory. Prediction-Messer by 15-20 percent.

The crafters of Indiana’s 7th Congressional District tried to move Andre Carson to the southern tier of Marion County to weaken him. So far, the veteran Democratic legislator has outpaced what supposedly is the baseline of the district. Carson takes nothing for granted, and he won’t take Republican Cat Ping lightly. That said; Election Day is not likely to be the “cat’s meow” for Ping. The closest anyone has come in a regular election to Carson is 21 percentage points. Marvin Scott was defeated 58-37 percent by Carson back in 2010 in the old 7th District boundaries. I look for Carson to exceed 60 percent of the vote and probably come closer to 65 percent on Election Day. Credit Ping, she promises to run a campaign on the issues. Prediction-Carson by 20-25 percent.

The old Bloody 8th has become a Republican stronghold despite the pockets of Democrats scattered throughout its boundaries. Larry Bucshon may not be as conservative as some Republicans like, but he’s proven durable. The good doctor scared away a potential primary challenger in the form of Richard Mourdock before it started and cruised to a Primary win. He will battle Democrat Tom Spangler, who ran unopposed in the Primary. This district can be won by the right Democrat. That may be Spangler, but Bucshon will be tough to beat. Prediction-Buschon by 10-15 percent.

The last incumbent-safe (or at least incumbent safer) district is the 9th. Todd Young is seen as a rising star in the Republican Party. Young must avoid embarrassing stories like CNN uncovered about his tax issues. The fact that the story has gotten little traction locally and was glossed over showed that people aren’t paying attention yet. He won’t have that luxury in a higher-profile race. Young has a higher-profile opponent than last time around when he defeated Shelli Yoder by 10 percentage points. Democrat Bill Bailey is a former State Representative and Mayor of Seymour. That means he’s well-known in the district. Bailey probably put the tax story in his back pocket to spring on Young at the right time. There’s potential that district’s rating may change, but I think Young probably wins on Election Day. We’ll see how the race goes. Prediction-Young by 8-13 percentage points (reserve the right to change the rating of this
I have left the best for last, District 2. Due to the length of this post, I’ll leave that one for tomorrow.

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

But It's Just Bad Guys Shooting Bad Guys...Right?

My good friend Abdul-Hakim Shabazz tweeted this out yesterday evening.

Or, in other words...

It seems like this is the prevailing attitude now in the Ballard Administration and among those that support it.  It's as if this serves as a way to excuse some of the crimes that seem to be a nightly occurrence in our city these days.  To me, this is the wrong attitude to have about crime in Indy, and we'll never solve the issue if we simply throw up our hands and say that it was just bad guys shooting bad guys.  When murders went down during Ballard's term, he took credit.  Now that murders are up again, he wants no part of it and those around him come up with excuses at every turn to explain things.  It's almost like they're trying to convince Indianapolis not to care.

At minimum, it still takes time, manpower, and effort by IMPD to investigate everything that happens.  It also takes time to round up those responsible and get them behind bars.  At worst, crime is happening in people's neighborhoods.  It's happening in their backyards or, like what happened to me on Tuesday morning, on my route to work.

Interstate 465 was closed between Sam Jones Expressway and Washington Street because of a police action shooting that happened in the middle of the interstate.  This caused me to detour from my normal route to work.

That was a minor inconvenience.  Other neighborhoods in this city are being gripped by crime, violent and otherwise, and the blase attitude towards it comes off to me as galling.

What also gets lost when we reduce crime to this almost impersonal level, I think we lose the idea that these alleged bad guys, even bad as they are, are someone's children.  Someone out there loved them, and I have sympathy for those folks too.

We can't simply stand by and try to shield our eyes from the bad things happening in our city.  We need solutions, and "Nothing to see here," isn't it.

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

New BlueIndy Program Deserves Praise

From the credit where credit is due file, Indy's new electric car sharing program is pretty awesome.

The BlueIndy program is now set to serve Indy citizens.  It was rolled out formally yesterday in a ceremony with Mayor Greg Ballard and the Bollore Group executives on hand.  

According to the Indianapolis Star, the Ballore Group's had success in international markets like Paris, but this is their first foray into the American market.  The cars will drive for a limited distance before needing to be recharged, but it would be enough to go to work or to the store.  Indy residents can now buy a membership and won't need to perhaps own a car or two.  Looks like most of the kiosks will be downtown, but there's one set to be at the Indianapolis International Airport.

Depending on cost, this could revolutionize the way people live and work downtown though I'm very interested to see how everything works with insurance and things.  I'm also interested to talk to people who use the cars.

There are some devils in the details.  We don't know how much rates will go up to pay for the new program nor do we know how it will be funded.  I guess we'll cross these bridges when we come to it.

Regardless, I have to give Mayor Ballard and the other city leaders a big thumbs up for this new and innovative program. 

Monday, May 19, 2014

Wash, Reince, Repeat...

RNC Chair Reince Priebus
Reince Priebus appeared on Meet the Press this weekend and, according to Newsweek, refused to distance himself from Karl Rove's suggestion that Hillary Clinton's health would be an issue if she runs in 2016.  He also added that her age was fair game.

This is certainly a failed strategy.  Americans aren't going to care about Hillary's health issues.  They are going to care about whatever issues are important to the campaign in 2016.  It will probably be those bread and butter issues that we know so well starting with good-paying jobs and a foreign policy that keeps our troops at peace.  It's not something Republicans are good at crafting, so it's no wonder why Reince is going back to that tried and true GOP playbook.

They tried to portray President Barack Obama as a man who made terrorists his pals in 2008.  Didn't work.  In 2012, they tried to show how reelecting him would take us down the path to socialism.  Uhh...nope.  Now they think Benghazi is going to bring down Hillary along with raising doubts about her health and her age.

Nevermind the fact that Mitt Romney is actually a year older than she is, and he's being talked about as a candidate.  If her health is a factor, can we ask questions about how an obese man like Chris Christie will survive four years in the White House?  What about Rick Perry whose noted sleep difficulties clearly affected him when he ran.  Is it fair game to talk about Bobby Jindal's participation in an exorcism?  What about Marco Rubio's apparent chronic dry mouth when he makes a national speech?  Are all of these things fair game, too?

Listen, we knew health care would be an issue, but we didn't know that it was going to be about the candidates.

Age will become an issue in these campaigns only when the candidate selects their running mate.  If, for example, you are a 72-year-old cancer survivor, you might not want to pluck the unknown Governor of Alaska who clearly was not ready for the moment out of obscurity to be your Vice Presidential nominee.  John McCain showed lack of judgement when he selected Sarah Palin.

Still, it's not as much of a lack of judgement as Reince Priebus showed in basically opening up the 2016 campaign to things that really don't belong in it as campaign issues.  Be careful what you wish for, Reince.

Saturday, May 17, 2014

Why "The Kiss" is Signficant

I've had a busy week, and I haven't had a chance to react to the big pop culture news of the week.  We'll call it..."the Kiss".

"The Kiss"
Michael Sam and Vito Cammisano
Michael Sam was drafted by the St. Louis Rams last week in the very last round of the NFL Draft.  After a poor combine performance, some questioned whether the star college player would even be drafted at all by an NFL team, but the Rams decided to take a chance on him.

When I say take a chance on him, I mean take a chance on Sam as a football player.  It's incredibly hard to make a 53-man NFL roster, and Sam will have to show he's worthy of a spot to pull on that Rams helmet in an official NFL game.

What makes Michael Sam's selection more significant is that Sam, as you probably know, is openly gay.  When he got the call from the Rams, ESPN was there to capture the moment, and what a sweet moment it was.

Sam and his boyfriend, Vito Cammisano, kissed and embraced as his family cheered loudly.  It's a scene that's played out in living rooms across the country on draft day with one exception.  In the past, if a player had a girlfriend or a wife, it was her they embraced.  It was an amazing cultural moment preserved for posterity by ESPN.

I watched it on YouTube only to write this piece, and I have to say that it's pretty tame.  It's just an excited football player sharing a moment with the person he loves most in the world and those around him.

Some have made it out to be much more than that.  Others have put it in the proper context.

The argument that seems to be emerging from many on the right is two-fold.  First, that ESPN should not have aired the kiss live because parents didn't have a chance to shield their children from the horrible sight of two men kissing.  The other is that Michael Sam is getting a lot of attention for being gay, and Tim Tebow got a lot of grief for being Christian.

I'll take the second part first.  Comparing Michael Sam to Tim Tebow is ridiculous on a number of levels.  Tebow was a first round draft pick by the Denver Broncos, and he was seen as someone taken too high in the draft for his skillset.  Sam, on the other hand, was taken right about where he should have been taken as a player.

What happened to Tim Tebow is not the fault of Michael Sam, and he should not be given grief over it.  People reacted to Tebow in a cult hero kind of fashion at first, but his brand tired quickly as his play on the field suffered.  By the time he was shipped out and picked up by the Jets, he had become a punchline, not necessarily because of his faith but because he stunk as a quarterback.  The proportional amount of attention he got vs. his skill level was askew.  He wasn't very good, but ESPN was constantly pushing him.  It's not his fault.  As a pitchman or a broadcaster, Tebow's shown some acumen.  As a quarterback, his style fit the college game, and that's where it ended.

Tim Tebow was not the first Christian to play openly in the NFL and even express his faith openly.  Reggie White, an NFL superstar of another era, was famously a preacher.  It's not uncommon to hear a player thank God for the opportunity during postgame interviews after a good performance.  Prayer circles are common, and so are pregame prayers before taking the field.  It's not a big deal to be a Christian in the NFL or in sports at large.

It is, however, a big deal to be gay.

Michael Sam is not the first gay man to step on the NFL field.  Wade Davis, Kwame Harris, David Kopay, Ray McDonald, Roy Simmons, Jerry Smith, and Ezra Tuaolo all played and later either were outed or came out as gay.  Sam is the first to do it before his career started.  His cards are out there on the table.  He's not hiding.

Part of that is being gay in the open.  I have news for you out there in your 50's mentality.  There's a lot of change happening under your noses, and your children are being exposed to messages you have no control over every day on street corners, park benches, social media, mass media, and tons of other places.  Trying to shelter your children from the diverse world we are all community members of will not solve anything.  While you may not understand why two men or women kissing is the same as an opposite sex couple kissing, your kids haven't built that prejudice and filter yet.  Do the world a favor and back off.  Don 't pass that down.  Let the child make up his or her own mind.

Now, you are entitled to your opinions.  I am entitled to disagree with you, and that is one of the many things great about the society we live in.  Sometimes, our opinions carry consequences.  Those opinions outside the norm or the mainstream are often mocked and ridiculed.  In 2014, the attitude that gay people are fine as long as they can't be seen in public is going away.  It's being replaced with the reality that our society is diverse and free and open.  Michael Sam's kissing of his boyfriend is just an example.

When I came out, it was easy.  I didn't have to do it in public.  I got up the gumption to tell my RA at Indiana University that I was gay.  I first admitted it to myself in the mirror, and that was the toughest thing about the whole experience.  Since then, I can tell you that without a doubt my life is better outside of the closet than it ever was inside of it.

Robbing human beings of the ability to be who they are is way outside the legacy of our founding documents.  As Thomas Jefferson so eloquently wrote in the Declaration of Independence, "We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness."

If seeing Michael kiss Vito turns your stomach, I'm sorry.  You're going to feel sick a lot in the coming years.  This scene will be repeated and repeated and repeated because men like Sam had the guts to come out and show the world that gay people have the same hopes and dreams as straight people.  That includes the ability to one day love without persecution.

Friday, May 16, 2014

Parker Sounds Like Candidate Though Not Official Yet

Dan Parker
Potential candidate for Mayor of Indianapolis, Dan Parker, spoke on Monday to the Decatur Township Democratic Club, and he sounded like a candidate ready to throw his hat in the ring.

“I want to do this the right way,” said Parker later that night on the Johnnystir Show on (my show). “If I run, I want to build a coalition.”

Monday’s talk with the Decatur Democrats was the first local talk Parker had given on the potential of taking on Mayor Greg Ballard in 2015. Of course, Ballard himself has yet to announce if he’s running for a third term, and Parker said that taking him on will take some tact and some initiative.

“You have to realize that Mayor Ballard has built a certain brand,” said Parker. “He never says the word Republican. When you ask people about him, they’ll tell you Mayor Ballard is a nice guy. They’ll tell you that the Mayor has done a good job…just a good job, but they often can’t specifically tell you why.”

“I don’t like his brand, but you have to respect that brand that he’s built, and we aren’t going to win by tearing down his brand and simply saying he’s a bad person,” said Parker.

Instead Parker said it’s going to take a plan to beat Ballard in 2015. He said that he’s not worried about getting people to move back to Indianapolis from Carmel. He wants to make sure that there are good jobs here in Indianapolis for young people graduating from college so they don’t leave in the first place.  He also wants to improve our schools so that young families don't depart for surrounding districts.

As far as job growth goes, Parker said that the high-paying jobs are going to other communities around the city rather than to Indianapolis despite the Mayor’s many trade missions. Parker said he wants to get those companies to settle in Marion County.  He also said that when considering new development that the Mayor needs to realize that Indianapolis is more than just downtown. “We are a city of 400 square miles. I’m not opposed to downtown development, but we need to remember that there’s more to our city than just the mile square downtown,” Parker said.

Stressing the need for unity, Parker said that we, as Indy residents, all need to feel connected. He said that as he goes around and talks to people that some feel more connected to their local neighborhood than Indy as a whole, an idea of “one city” rather than a bunch of communities.

Parker’s talk was more vision than details of how to reach the vision, but it was clear that he’s put a great deal of thought into what a campaign might look like. He also has to know how Republicans are going to come at him since he was a former Indiana Democratic Party Chairman.

As Parker spoke, he many times made reference to Frank Short in a cordial manner. The Washington Township Trustee is already running for Mayor having officially formed an exploratory committee. He was seated just a few feet from Parker.

Thursday, May 15, 2014

One Last Thing on Redistricting...THE LINE MUST BE DRAWN HERE!

Let's remember some things before I put the City-County Council districts to rest for a while on this blog.

The districts we now have and will have for the next few years were drawn with very little public input.  After a dog and pony show of a couple of poorly attended and poorly advertised meetings, the districts passed through the council like an eleventh-hour deal.

The Republicans had done it.  They had succeeded in getting off a torpedo before their majority sank into history.   Democrats and democracy advocates called foul.  They knew what the GOP was trying to do, but there was no shame in the Republican game.

As soon as the calendar switched from December 2011 to January 2012, Mayor Ballard signed the districts into law cementing the new districts during the second year following a federal census (2010).  Democrats, now in the majority and acting under authority from Indiana Code, drew their own districts in 2012 which were vetoed by Mayor Ballard.  The legal battle began.

A five-member commission of Marion County Superior Court Justices voted 3-2 that the Republican-drawn districts were not properly drawn during the second year following a federal census, and they drew their own districts.  The panel's districts were as close to square as possible and tried to keep near the population target of 36,000.

On appeal, the Indiana Supremes finally reversed that lower court decision based upon the fact that Mayor Ballard had signed the districts into law on January 1, 2012.  The districts were legal.  Game over.

This entire dog and pony show over nearly the last three years showed desperation by a desperate party to hold on to power they didn't win.  The GOP knows that it can't stay in power in Marion County forever, so this was its final shot.  Draw new districts and then get rid of the At-Large seats (via Senate Enrolled Act 621).  Mission accomplished.

This inside baseball kind of argument won't probably win an election in 2015, but it would be good to remind folks what has happened.  The shadiness of how the new districts came about and how they were drawn.  You know, how a longtime Republican wonk from Hamilton County was handed $225,000 in taxpayer dollars to do something someone with time and some computer software could have done for free.  That Hamilton County resident was David Brooks, the husband of Congresswoman Susan Brooks whose Congressional district's southern boundary was drawn partially on the basis of the precincts her husband drew.  So, it all gets lost in the these districts were made.  It's political wonks like me yelling and screaming in an echo chamber.

So, why does it matter?  Republicans say Democrats would have done the same thing.  Honestly, I can't argue with that.  I would say that Democrats likely would not have rushed everything through and tried to get off one final shot so quickly.  I would hope that our side would have treated the public in better manner and tried to get them to care about how the City-County Council districts were drawn and why it matters.  I think we wouldn't have simply handed taxpayer cash out to a political figure with a vested interest in where precinct lines were drawn.  I just hope that we, as a party, would be bigger than the other side.

"The line must be drawn here!  This far, no further."
Screenshot from Star Trek: First Contact
Now, the ball sits squarely in our court.  It is all up to us as a party to win a majority on the Council.  The right candidates have to be recruited in the right areas, and the GOP's last chance to win a majority must be stopped.  As Captain Picard says in Star Trek: First Contact, "We've made too many compromises already, too many retreats. They invade our space, and we fall back...Not again. The line must be drawn here! This far, no further!"

He was talking about the Borg.  The Republicans aren't the Borg.  While they are organized and speak from a collective it seems, we have the right issues, and the numbers are turning our way.  Marion County is turning blue.  The political wind will soon be even more in our favor.  This attempt to create a Council majority must be thrown right back at the GOP.  No more games with democracy.  It's time to do some heavy lifting.

Democrats, here we are.  It's 2014.  Time to draw the line and fight back.

Wednesday, May 14, 2014

New Districts Provide Opportunities for Democrats

According to the information used to draw the new City-County Council districts, 15 of the 25 City-County Council Districts have a Republican majority.  We'll see how that changes in 2015.

A quick cursory look and a nod to the fact that Marion County continues to grow more blue by the day makes me believe that the Republican effort to draw districts favorable to them will be thwarted...but only by a few seats.

The new calculus on the Council is that only 13 seats are needed for a majority.  As I see it, 10 seats are safe for Democrats.  This means that only three seats are needed to be picked up by the D's beyond what should be safe.  That will be harder than it seems, but it's clearly possible for the Dems.

If the election were to be held today, Republicans would hold 12.5 of the slots, and I think they would hold the two open seats.  That leaves D's with just 10.5 seats.  I split new District 1 because Angela Mansfield and Jose Evans currently are seated there.  That means it's 14.5 to 10.5 giving the R's the two open slots.  Here's how the Dems gain the three seats.

First of all, you can take Jose Evans off the board.  Evans is toast.  His district is a strongly Democratic district, and Angela Mansfield would be his opponent.  Mansfield would win a head-to-head battle in that district against Evans.  That puts the Republicans now at 14 seats to the Democrats 11.

District 2 is a nearly 50/50 district by 2010 standards.  The area is represented in the Indiana House by Ed Delaney and by Christina Hale...both Democrats.  Will Gooden, who would be slotted into this spot, has never had to face the voters.  A strong Democratic candidate here could retake District 2 for the D's.  That makes it 13 to 12 in favor of Republicans.

Here's where it gets hard.  In order to take the control of the Council, two strong Republican City-County Councillors stand in the way of the Democrats.  One is Christine Scales.  Scales survived a strong challenge from Kostas Poulakidas in 2011.  Her district probably has trended more D since 2010.  She now has the At-Large candidate of Pam Hickman in her district who could provide an opponent for her.  Again, Scales' district is largely represented by Democrats in the Indiana House, and the Republicans won't be eager to help fact...they might even "primary" her.  Scales works hard and will be a tough opponent for Pam Hickman, but it's a seat that is quickly again rating as a toss-up.  The fact that some of old District 5 is now more in this district helps the Republican.  District 3 will be a battleground.

The other district is the newly drawn District 15.  Current representative there is Marilyn Pfisterer.  Pfisterer's district used to include parts of Wayne Township and Speedway.  The new map takes her district from those comfortable confines all the way out to the Marion County line on the western border.  This is new terrain for Pfisterer and is also terrain represented by either Vanessa Summers or Karlee Macer, both Democrats, in the Indiana House.  District 15 will be a battleground.

District 16 is another swing district.  Currently both Jeff Miller and Jefferson Shreve, both Republicans, are drawn into this district.  Miller is the current incumbent for most of this terrain, and Shreve is the current Councillor for District 23.  The border for this district moved south meaning that Shreve now will either have to move or face Miller in the Primary in 2015 to stay on the Council.  A good Democrat in this area might be a good competition for Miller or Shreve.  Miller, however, really works hard at his job and would be a tougher opponent than Shreve in District 16.  Shreve has also been somewhat moderate in his views, but he still votes with Greg Ballard too much.  District 16 will be a battleground.

If the Democrats can walk away with two of the three battlegrounds plus a couple of others, they will control the Council again in 2016 and beyond.

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

New District Look: Part I

I sat down this weekend to try to figure out what Councillor went where when it came to possible incumbents for the new City-County Council districts in 2015.  Here's what I came up with for the DISTRICT Councillors only.

A Couple of Caveats...

  • This does not take into account the At-Large Councillors who will be giving up their countywide seats thanks to Senate Enrolled 621 to possibly run for district seats.  
  • It also assumes that anyone that's ineligible under the new state laws regarding City-County Council eligibility decides to take steps necessary to run again.

District 1-Angela Mansfield (D) AND Jose Evans (R)
District 2-Will Gooden (R)
District 3-Christine Scales (R)
District 4-Ginny Cain (R)
District 5-Michael McQuillen (R)
District 6-Janice McHenry (R)
District 7-Joe Simpson (D)
District 8-Monroe Gray (D)
District 9-Duke Oliver (D)
District 10-Maggie Lewis (D)
District 11-Vop Osili (D)
District 12-Mary Moriarty Adams (D)
District 13-Steve Talley (D)
District 14-Vernon Brown (D)
District 15-Marilyn Pfisterer (R)
District 16-Jeff Miller (R) and Jefferson Shreve (R)
District 17-Brian Mahern (D)
District 18-OPEN SEAT
District 19-Ben Hunter (R)
District 20-Jason Holliday (R)
District 21-Frank Mascari (D)
District 22-Bob Lutz (R)
District 23-OPEN SEAT
District 24-Jack Sandlin (R)
District 25-Aaron Freeman (R)

I'll dig a little deeper and go into some depth tomorrow about these new districts and what they all could mean for City-County Council races in 2015.

Monday, May 12, 2014

Pence Not Ready for Long Haul in Presidential Crucible

GOP Looking For Pence to Ride In, Save Day
The Washington Post published an article on Friday saying that the Republican Party is working hard to recruit Indiana Governor Mike Pence to run for President. According to the Post, the Governor is listening to the overtures. 

The Post piece quotes Republican insiders like Dick Armey and Grover Nordquist and hits upon the Governor’s strengths and his weaknesses. All-in-all, it’s a pretty honest piece.

Governor Pence is an appealing candidate…for Vice President. The fact that they are pushing a man with a lightweight Congressional career and an Indiana Gubernatorial record that is fairly light by comparison to his predecessor is telling about where the Republican Party is today.

Pence showed in 2012 that he was a bad closer and an even worse debater. He squandered a double-digit lead over John Gregg into an election night win that some say could have swung differently had the challenger had just a few more weeks. At one point, Pence was up some 18 points over Gregg in one August poll, but, when the votes were counted in November, he only had 49 percent to Gregg’s 46.

When people started paying attention to Mike Pence, they moved to John Gregg and Libertarian Rupert Boneham. Pence had just enough left over to stick his chest out at the finish line for the much closer than expected victory.

Forgive some of us Hoosiers if we don’t see the hubbub over our Governor. I can’t imagine Pence staying around for the long haul in a Presidential race. His chances would be blown off the stage by stronger personalities and performers like Chris Christie, Jeb Bush, or even Mitt Romney (whose name is being bandied about by some again) and would stand little chance against the Democratic nominee if he were lucky enough to win the Republican nod.

Friday, May 9, 2014

Zoeller Wants to Change Senate Nomination Process

Greg Zoeller
Greg Zoeller is urging major changes to the way U.S. Senators are nominated by each state.

According to an Associated Press report published last week, the Indiana Attorney General backs a “soft repeal” of the 17th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution where the candidates for the U.S. Senate would not be voted on and nominated at the primary level by voters but nominated by the Indiana General Assembly. That would not change anything for the November election and the way Senators are elected.

At first blush, you think that perhaps Greg might have been hitting his cousin Fuzzy's vodka a bit too hard.  There may actually, however, be a method to his seeming madness.

Zoeller told the AP that this would make sure that Senators are working more for the state that sent them to Congress than working for the feds. Originally, prior to the 17th Amendment, the people elected the House, but the state legislature chose the Senators. Zoeller’s plan is radical, but it doesn’t go as far out there as some.  There are some members of the Tea Party that want to go back to pre-17th Amendment times. In fact, Richard Mourdock himself advocated for it. Zoeller’s plan would still be a radical change

It's fun to play what if with it.  Perhaps with this plan in place, we would not have seen Senator Richard Lugar be unceremoniously punted from office by Indiana Treasurer Richard Mourdock in May of 2012. That certainly could have also changed the November election results where, presumably, Joe Donnelly would have had a more difficult uphill climb against the well-liked Lugar. That’s if Donnelly were even nominated.  Perhaps this is the genesis of Zoeller's idea...the craziness that led to Mourdock's nomination in the first place.

In theory, Zoeller’s plan would combine the best of both worlds. The legislature gets to choose the person it feels best advocates Indiana’s agenda, but the voters get to ultimately elect which person at that will be. In practice, here in our state, it gives an already powerful Indiana General Assembly that much more power.

For this reason, the plan should be forgotten about quickly.  

Thursday, May 8, 2014

Brooks Districts Stand in Council Fight

King Greg I
Those running for City-County Council finally have something to go on.

On Wednesday, the Indiana Supremes reversed the decision of a panel of Marion County Superior Court Judges.

The decision by the state's highest court reinstated the City-County Council redistricting maps created by Hamilton County resident David Brooks and passed by Republicans in the 11th hour of their City-County Council majority back in 2011.

Greg Ballard signed those maps into law as soon as 2012 began, and that was apparently good enough for the Supreme Court.  This ends the dispute and gives some closure now to Democrats who find themselves suddenly fighting uphill for a Council majority.

While the new maps have not been in place as of yet, Democrats are currently at a 14-11 disadvantage in the districts.  Only the four At-Large seats, which will cease to exist in 2016 courtesy of Mayor Ballard's Power Grab, provide D's with a one-seat majority.

Reaction was swift.

City-County Council President Maggie Lewis tweeted the following:

You can see all the new districts and things here.



Wednesday, May 7, 2014

Local Races Produce Little Surprise in 2014 Primary; Three Incumbent Legislators Lose Statewide

Primary Election night in Marion County produced little in the way of surprises.  The favorites won nearly everything in a manner that was expected.

In the Indiana House District 91 race between Bob Behning and Michael Scott, it was close early, but Behning pulled away for a victory.  He will face Democrat Patrick Lockhart in November in a race Democrats know they have to have to begin to make a move in the Indiana House.  Registration in the district favors Behning, but an angry group of Scott supporters aren't likely going back over to Behning.

In the 7th District for U.S. Congress, Congressman Andre Carson cruised to victory over his three challengers pulling in about 90 percent of the vote.  On the Republican side, Cat Ping outdistanced four other Republicans for the right to battle Carson in November.

In Marion County races, the eight Democratic party-backed candidates for Superior Court Judge easily carried out of the 11 candidates running.  Mark Brown lost for a second-consecutive time to Sheriff John Layton.  Franklin Township Board member Christine Bischoff downed perennial candidate Jocelyn T. Tandy Adande.

At the township level, former City-County Councillor Susie Day won the Republican nomination for Perry Township Trustee.  Incumbent Small Claims Court Judge Democrat Michelle Smith Scott lost to party-backed Brenda Roper.

Statewide, sitting House incumbents Rebecca Kubacki and Kathy Heuer were defeated by their Republican opposition Curt Nisly and Christopher Judy.  Also, Republican Senate incumbent John Waterman was defeated by challenger Eric Bassler in southwest Indiana.  Kubacki and Heuer both voted against HJR-3.

Tuesday, May 6, 2014

Primary Election Time!

Today is Primary Election Day!  The polls open at 6:00 a.m. and close at 6:00 p.m.

I don't predict any major surprises, but I will be watching what happens in House District 91's race where it's gotten awfully chippy in the last few days.  I've actually fielded calls on this race from people mad about Bob Behning's ads that he ran against Michael Scott.  The ad compared Scott to the Chicago-style politics of Barack Obama and criticized him for not taking a stand on the issue of a woman's right to choose.

I'm told that Scott took $3,500 from a union.  He is, after all, a lunchpail Republican and an electrician.  Behning, of course, didn't just pull that money to run those expensive TV ads out of his couch cushions.  The ALEC-aligned legislator has had plenty of benefactors with had plenty of support from the so-called "reformers" on the far right of the Tony Bennett ilk.

I also think the race for Congress in the 7th District will be an interesting one.  It could be close between the five Republicans running.  I give the edge to Cat Ping on name recognition, but Wayne Harmon, JD Miniear, Gordon Smith, or even the unlikely Erin Magee could advance to face Andre Carson.  The only question for me is how close to 90 percent will Carson's vote total be in his four-way race.

There's a referendum on the ballot in Decatur Township as well.  Decatur wants to increase property taxes to support capital projects and transportation.  There hasn't been much of an organized opposition so far, so I would expect the referendum will pass.  These things are always prickly though.

It will be the first time that Marion County has tried out a central count of absentee ballots now mandated by SEA 621 that reorganized Marion County and Indianapolis city government.  We shall see how much, if at all, that delays election results.

The important thing is to get out and vote.  In a depressed turnout, those of you that go to the polls have a greater voice in what happens in November.

Monday, May 5, 2014

Friday, May 2, 2014

On Slating...

Not sure why I picked Waldorf and Stadler for this,
but it seemed appropriate at the time so I left it.
Let me begin by saying that I have been a slated candidate for office before.

In the 2008 General Election, I was the slated Democrat in the race for Decatur Township Advisory Board in November.  The candidates for the office had struck a deal with the Marion County Democratic Party that we would not pay a slating fee unless we won.  The Democrats downtown were as eager as the local Democrats to fill the slate.  As a party, we went 0-6.  I lost big time, and I haven't run for office again.

I have, however, participated in slating conventions as one of the so-called "party bosses" and "insiders" that some have railed against.  I haven't always voted the way that the prevailing winds say I should have voted, but I've never been pressured or been coerced to vote one way or another by anyone in the Marion County Democratic Party leadership.  I have always voted for the people I felt were the best candidates.  Sometimes, my candidates have won.  Sometimes, they have lost.

I became disillusioned with the slating process in 2011.  We had a Decatur Township Democrat (Pat Andrews) running for City-County Council.  Before the deadline for submitting precinct committeepersons passed, our local organization in Decatur Township submitted a last few candidates.  They were submitted to fill slots and no litmus test was applied.

When those Democrats arrived at the slating convention, they were told they could not receive a credential.  The Marion County Democratic Party blamed it on a miscommunication and that the Chairman had been ill and unable to approve the last-minute appointments.  I was embarrassed, as a Ward Chair, that those people took time out of their days to go downtown, find parking, and vote as precinct committeepersons but were unable to do so.

I have never accused anyone of anything untoward, but I felt that it made me look like an idiot. Shortly after that, I was elected President of the Decatur Township Civic Council, a non-political position, so I resigned as Ward Chair.

These past experiences have given me mixed feelings about slating.  I believe that it does have some value, but I feel that the process needs to be reformed...I just don't know where to start to do the reform.

I think that we carry out heavy-handed campaigns sometimes to push the slate, and I don't think that makes anyone enjoy the process.  The voters ultimately have the decision in their hands on May 6.  If we, as a party, have played our cards right and truly have good slated candidates, then there should be no problem.  

On Tuesday, I think the slate carries for the Democrats.  I believe the slated Democrats ARE the best people for the job.  They are all competent and ready to serve.  If I didn't believe that, I would tell you.  I'm not beholden to anyone on this blog, and I don't get a dollar for it.

What I do believe is unfortunate is the way we characterize those running against the slate.  For stepping out and into the political realm, we should, at some level, praise everyone that runs for office and leaves his or her comfort zone.  At the end of the day, we're all Democrats.  We all share some of the same core values, and our party is better because we are all in it.

Unfortunately, that doesn't always happen.  I've probably been guilty of it in the past.  For that, I'm sorry.

Thursday, May 1, 2014

Sterling Meets Silver

The Donald Sterling era is for all intents and purposes over in the history of the Los Angeles Clippers. All that’s left now is the arbitration and litigation that’s sure to come and to move forward.

Over the past few days, we’ve learned what a despicable human being Donald Sterling is. Sterling’s racially-tinged and outright racist comments both alleged and on the record have dominated the news cycle for the past few days, and NBA Commissioner Adam Silver dealt with the situation yesterday afternoon.

Silver, who became the NBA’s top executive in February, fined Sterling $2.5 million and banned him indefinitely from “any NBA games or practices, be present at any Clippers office or facility, or participate in any business or player personnel decisions involving the team,” according to Yahoo Sports.

The 2.5 million isn’t likely to faze a man that’s worth a billion, but the lifetime ban will take Sterling away from the limelight he has craved as one of the worst owners in sports.

While the late Jerry Buss and the Lakers dominated the NBA, Sterling’s Clippers were the laughingstock on the other side of town. Placed on third base by the NBA by receiving Chris Paul in a controversial trade override, Sterling only recently has seen his fortunes change.

Perhaps that’s why he used to get away with harboring views more at home in 1954 than 2014. They are views certainly that have no place in any society let alone the National Basketball Association.

I’m sure this isn’t over. It’s not like the NBA didn’t know about his racist comments in the past. At the time, the league chose to ignore it, but Silver’s stance and his heavy hammer of what essentially seems like a lifetime ban sends notice to that the NBA won’t tolerate racism. The line has been drawn.