Thursday, July 31, 2014

Mayor Ballard Contradicts Candidate Ballard on Crime Plan

Indianapolis Mayor Greg Ballard released his plan to fight crime in Indianapolis.  In the plan, Ballard wants to increase the number of police on the street, provide more educational opportunities, increase funding for the Prosecutor's Office and the courts, and raise our taxes to do it.

The Mayor's plan is pretty remarkable...especially when you consider that he's been, at one time or another, against almost every plank in it.

Ballard has had ample opportunities, without raising our taxes, to spend our money more wisely in this city.  Instead of recklessly putting city dollars out for Super Bowl bids and a World Sports Park, we could have been hiring more police and addressing some of the other issues.

The Mayor's plan seems comprehensive, and I can imagine that the City-County Council will go over it in its entirety.  Usually, there's some sort of plan crafted by the Council and then there will be a compromised plan that meets in the middle.  Ballard's plan warrants some scrutiny given his wanton spending for superfluous items in the past.  I'd like to know, for example, if we couldn't get more bang for our buck utilizing current programs in Marion County schools to prevent suspensions and expulsions.

What is clear that Mayor Ballard of 2014 would disagree with candidate Greg Ballard of 2007 who said that he could solve our crime issues, add 750 officers, and do it all without asking for more of our money.

Ballard's supporters launched this ad supporting his 2007 Mayoral run.  Makes you wonder what they would think of him some seven years later.

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Monetizing the Blog

Just wanted to let you know, I joined Google Ad Sense, and you may see some ads on the blog in the near future.  I will have minimal control over the ads, so I just wanted to let you know if you saw them.

If they are a nuisance, I will be the first one to throw them out.  Just seems silly to turn down a little ad revenue.

Thanks for your understanding.

This Man Looks and Sounds Like Mayor Ballard...

They say politics changes a man.  My good friend Paul Ogden found this video clip and used it on his blog today in talking about Mayor Greg Ballard's change of tune on public safety.

Watch this clip of candidate Greg Ballard in 2007 and see if it even sounds like the same guy today.  Particularly pay attention to the part of the video where he talks about the Mayor's accountability for crime and putting more police on the street.  That all starts about 4:55 into the video.  The internet is a heck of a thing.

The Ballard Administration has scrubbed YouTube of his old TV ads, but I'm hoping Democrats clip these video pieces for use in the future as 2015 unfolds.

Vernon Brown to Resign Effective Friday

Vernon Brown
The City-County Council will lose a member on Friday to resignation.

Vernon Brown will resign his position effective Friday, according to the Indianapolis Star.  Precinct leaders residing in the district will now come together and determine who will take over the seat on the Council.  By law, I believe that has to happen within 30 days after the Marion County Clerk receives word of the vacancy.

Brown is an 11-year veteran of the Council first elected with the Democratic wave of 2003.  In the past, he served as majority leader.  Due to his position on the Indianapolis Fire Department, Brown cannot seek re-election to his Council seat.  He is, however, favored to be Warren Township's next Trustee.  Current Warren Township Trustee Jeff Bennett elected to not pursue another term in that role.

My friend Pat Andrews wrote a very nice tribute to Brown highlighting his time on the Council on her Had Enough Indy blog.

Recently, Brown had served as the Chair of the Public Works Committee.  Zach Adamson will succeed him in that role.  Brown also served as majority leader at one point before turning that role over to former Council President Monroe Gray.

I join Andrews in wishing Councillor Brown the best.

Brown's resignation marks just the third change in the Council lineup since this particular group took office back in early 2012.  Ryan Vaughn resigned his seat to become Mayor Ballard's Chief of Staff, and Jeff Cardwell resigned his seat to join the Mike Pence Administration.  Seems like the last Council lineup saw much more change.

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Happy Trails...The JohnnyStir Show on

Well, that's that.

Last night, I ended my run as a talk show host on  The Johnnystir Show on Indiana Talks has aired its last program.  So, that's it.  After close to 75 shows, many guests, and some great fun, it's amazing to say that it's all over.

Obviously, I have to hand out some big thank yous.  I want to thank the man behind the curtain, Gary Snyder, for allowing me to do the show.  I also want to thank my most frequent guests/partners in crime, Chris Jackson, Matt Stone, and Steve Terrell.  All of them have helped me out tremendously with their views and opinions and have made things extremely interesting.

I also want to thank Patora Fine Jewelers at 6010 W. 86th Street for their support of the show.  Patora has been a partner since nearly the beginning, and their financial backing of the program kept us on the air.

You know, I never had done a long form talk radio show based on news and information.  Everything I had done in radio prior had been either the normal radio DJ shift-type radio, play-by-play of sporting events, or sports talk.  This experience expanded my horizons and showed me that I could do more than just spin tunes or call a game.

I have so many amazing memories from the short time the show was on the air.  It's hard for me to underline just one show that stands out.  I have many favorites.  I think we, as a show team, were able to bring a lot of issues to the internet airwaves and I hope that we made a difference.

Finally, I'd be remiss if I didn't thank all the fans of the program.  I know there were a lot of folks that would listen to the show or tune in on the podcast.  I appreciate everything.  Without you, there would not have been an audience to talk to, so I appreciate inviting me into your homes or onto your tablets or your ear buds.

The blog isn't going anywhere.  I'll still be plugging away here.  Thanks for your continued support!

Monday, July 28, 2014

Palin Launches Own TV Channel...No Joke

"Preparing Turkeys" with Sarah Palin...
only on The Sarah Palin Channel.
As if there wasn't enough crap on the internet, there's one more outlet.  Hockey moms rejoice.

Former Alaska Governor Sarah Palin is launching her own internet television station, according to the Associated Press.  

According to the report, Palin will oversee the network content and will also aim directly for her own supporters by contributing her own personal political commentary.  You know...avoiding the filter of the "mainstream media" and going directly to her supporters on her channel.

The former Alaska Governor and Vice Presidential candidate will remain as an analyst with Fox News Channel, according to the AP.  

I won't be subscribing to the channel that will set you back about $10 a month.  I guess that means I must wonder if all the programming will stop halfway through it's scheduled airtime. 

Saturday, July 26, 2014

An Open Letter to Evan Bayh

Evan Bayh
Dear Evan Bayh,
Hope all is well with you, Susan, and the boys.

I'm writing you in this open letter to ask you a couple of things and to provide you with some advice...not that you need it, but I think it's important someone say it.  I hope you don't mind that our friends here that read this blog see what I am about to say.

First of all, I'm glad you haven't ruled out a run for Governor.  Obviously, if you've read this blog before, you know that I have my problems with your politics.  On the whole, I think you're a good person, and, while I think your record as a U.S. Senator was far more conservative than I would have liked, you were a great Governor.  I think that your record as Governor is far better than that of anyone that's succeeded you in the office, and I think you would be perfect for the job again.  You have shown the ability to raise money and win elections more than perhaps any other Democrat in the history of Indiana politics.

All of that said, I was disappointed when you walked away from the Senate seat.  It wasn't so much that you retired, but it was how you did it.  You did not give Democrats a chance to shop around and find the right candidate.  We may well have settled on Brad Ellsworth, but your timetable in walking away really set him up to fail.  I don't believe he was a perfect candidate for that office, but I ended up voting for him.  I think we would have had a different Senator had he won that race than Dan Coats has been.

That's why I'm writing you now.  If you truly love Indiana, please decide soon what your future in this state's politics will be.  If you want to pass on running for Governor, that's fine.  Please announce you will not be running now and allow those that are interested in the job to come out of the woodwork and for the political process to take its course.  If you want to run for Governor, please give us more than just a, "I haven't ruled it out."  Let us know what you're thinking.  We don't want to hear, "It's less likely than more likely."  These kinds of comments keep good candidates from stepping on your very powerful toes if they are interested in running.

Should you run, you can count on my support.  What the Republican Party has done to education in this state is enough to provide you with thousands of votes from teachers across this state.  With Right to Work and other issues out there, you should not have any trouble with your base.  With Republicans like my mother crossing over to vote for you again, it will be a landslide.

Should you not run, you can also count on my support.  While I disagree with your decision to become a lobbyist and (see update) a Fox News contributor, I can still get behind whatever you choose to do in the future.  If Hillary Clinton should choose you for a cabinet position or even to be her Vice Presidential candidate should she run in 2016, I will support you 100 percent.

What I will not support is this continued flirting with Indiana politics.  It's time to make a definitive decision on your future or to give some sort of more definite signal of what you might do.  If you keep your toe in the pool too long, it will further separate you from a political base that should love you.  It will tarnish whatever legacy you wish to leave here.  Please, don't wait too long.  You can only get stood up at the altar so many times.  Don't do that to Indiana Democrats again, please.

Again, thanks for your longtime service to the Hoosier State, and I hope that we'll all hear your future plans soon.

Best of luck,
Jon E. Easter

A political insider familiar with Bayh sent me an e-mail today (7/31/14) telling me that Bayh is not a lobbyist nor has he registered as one.  I regret the error, and I have made the correction.

Friday, July 25, 2014

Let's Get Real, Indiana GOP

Evan Bayh
The Indiana Republican Party put together an amusing web video that asked random folks on Monument Circle downtown to identify a couple of Democrats.

The intern from the Indiana GOP was armed with a microphone, a camera operator, and two pictures.  One was of Joe Hogsett, and the other was of Evan Bayh.

Predictably, the people shown in the video were either not interested in talking about politics or could not identify Hogsett or Bayh.  That, frankly, does not shock me.  Most Hoosiers are in the middle of their summer right now, and they aren't thinking of politics.  The 2014 election cycle isn't even on their agenda right now, and 2015 and 2016 are still way in the future.

As I said.  The video is amusing, but the execution isn't particularly great, and you get the feeling that if this is the best the GOP can do, Evan and Joe are going to be fine if they decide to pursue office again.  See...let's get real here, Indiana Republicans.

There are some things a throwaway web video can't change about Evan Bayh.  When he was Governor of Indiana, Evan Bayh was a very successful leader.  He has a record of cutting taxes, funding education, pushing reforms, and leaving the state in good shape when he left office.  He also has over $9 million to get this record to the masses, should he decide to run for Governor.

Joe Hogsett
Here are some things a chuckle-worthy video can't change about Joe Hogsett.  Hogsett, if he does decide to run for Mayor of Indianapolis, will be running against a man likely running for his third term in office in Greg Ballard.  It's become a daily drumbeat of bad news when it comes to crime in this city.  Just yesterday, there was more violence.  Ballard has had seven years to fix a lot of problems in public safety which, by his own representation, was job one for him.  Combined with other vulnerabilities, a skillful politician such as Hogsett can make this a more than competitive race in a county and city that runs more and more blue.  Like Bayh, Hogsett can raise a bunch of campaign cash and use that to define Ballard's record in office. 

Republicans want to remind folks that Hogsett has run before for office.  Ok.  We can talk about those runs and those races if you want.  Hogsett has never been the favorite in any race he's taken on.  His last run for Attorney General was particularly against the political current of 2004 Indiana.  Before that, he ran against incumbent Republican Senator Dan Coats in 1992.  In 1994, not many Democrats did well including Indy's own Andy Jacobs who survived a challenge for reelection from Marvin Scott, 53 percent to 47 percent.  The very popular Lee Hamilton only prevalied 52 percent to 48 percent in his race.  Conservative David McIntosh beat Hogsett by 10 percentage points.  In his 1990 race for Secretary of State, Hogsett, who had been appointed to replace Bayh as Secretary of State, was not the favorite, either.  Powerful Indianapolis Mayor Bill Hudnut was expected to wipe the floor with the young whipper snapper.  He lost.  My friend Paul Ogden does a really nice job in this blog piece analyzing what happened to Hogsett in all of those races.

Personally, I'd like to see the results of a similar survey if Democrats did a video.  We could take a picture of the GOP power brokers out there and see if anyone knows them.  I'm sure everyone will know Brian Bosma, David Long, and Dan Coats.  It would be cool to see if they knew who the real power folks were behind Ballard, too.  That's kind of a nastiness I don't normally get into.

Here's the GOP's video if you wish to see it.

Thursday, July 24, 2014

Group of Remaining USS Indianapolis Sailors in Indy to Commemorate 69 Years of Survival

USS Indianapolis (CA-35)
Indianapolis is the home of many conventions and reunions in the summer, but there is one happening starting today at the Hyatt Regency that is just that much more remarkable.

Most of you know the story of the USS Indianapolis by now.  The ship carrying our city's name delivered the final components of the atomic bomb "Little Boy" and then was on its way home.  A Japanese submarine delivered two torpedoes into the ship's hull tossing those that were not killed in the sinking into the shark-infested Pacific Ocean.  That day was July 30, 1945.

Of the approximately 900 survivors that ended up in the ocean without lifeboats, 317 ended up being picked out of the ocean four days later.  Nearly 69 years later, only 36 survivors are still alive and only 15 will be in town. The Indianapolis Star's Will Higgins penned this article about the reunion, which is due to run through Sunday.  If you want to help out these veterans continue their reunions, here is a link to their website.

The USS Indianapolis Memorial on the Canal
Sadly, the obituary pages are filled these days with the stories of World War II veterans.  We are losing these veterans at the rate of 555 per day.  By this time next week, there will be almost 3,900 fewer veterans of World War II than there are today.  By the end of this year, we will go under 1,000,000 surviving veterans of WWII.  I don't tell you this to depress you or to make you do anything other than think.  We are losing our living person at a time.  If you're a World War II veteran and you're reading this, thank you.

Back to the Indianapolis.  Those men that did survive on that awful July day back in 1945 survived somehow against the odds because of who they were.  They beat the heat and the sharks and the fear.  In our city, 15 of them will gather to commemorate their own survival and their lives in the 69 years since.  To all these veterans and those survivors that could not make it to the reunion, I say I'm glad you're still here to tell the story that none of us should ever forget.  Many of you survived to have families and to contribute in your own ways to our our great nation.  It hasn't been easy.  It's probably been harder than I can ever imagine.  I salute you all.

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Resolution to Stop Coal Burning at Harding Street Station Moves On

IPL's Harding Street Station
The City-County Council's Community Affairs Committee heard the proposal for a resolution that would urge IPL to stop burning coal by 2020.

In front of a packed house, the committee heard from residents and interest groups across Marion County.  IPL also had a chance to speak about its efforts to clean up pollution in the community.

Last Monday, a bi-partisan group of City-County Councillors announced efforts to bring the use of coal to an end at the IPL plant. Republican Jefferson Shreve, who sits on the Community Affairs Committee, voted no last night as the four at-large Democrats (Zach Adamson, John Barth, Pam Hickman, Leroy Robinson) voted yes passing the resolution on to the full Council by a 4-1 vote.The proposal for the resolution will now be debated in front of the full City-County Council.

Environmental activist group, the Sierra Club, released the results of a poll that was conducted in Marion County of voters.  Sixty-nine percent of those polled support the end the use of coal and improvement of the air and water quality in Indianapolis.  Even 51 percent of Republicans are on board, according to the poll of 400 registered voters.

Shreve voted against the proposal saying that it had no teeth and he did not believe it was feasible for IPL to phase out coal in the timetable given in the resolution.  Adamson rebutted Shreve's justification for voting against passing the resolution out of committee.  Councillor Jeff Miller had a prior commitment and couldn't attend the committee meeting. and fellow Republican Christine Scales was absent as well leaving the vote on party lines.

It should be noted that this is just a resolution.  IPL is not compelled to do anything, and they pretty much said they weren't in the hearing last night.  Fred Mills of IPL said, "If this Council wants to pass a resolution asking IPL to stop burning coal by 2020, that is YOUR prerogative."  He added emphasis on YOUR as if to say, come at us...if you dare.

Off to the full Council for this one!

Please the comments section for an update from Councillor Scales on her removal from the Community Affairs Committee.  The City-County Council's website is incorrect on the membership of the committee.  I regret the error.

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Adamson Elevated to Chair of Public Works Committee

Councillor Zach Adamson
Photo from
City-County Councillor Zach Adamson announced on his Facebook page this morning that he had been offered and had accepted the Chair of the Public Works Committee of the City-County Council.

On a personal note, as someone that sat on Adamson’s campaign committee and has seen his political career move from neighborhood activist to City-County Councillor, I could not be more thrilled. Zach has worked hard for this position, and it’s a big moment for him and for many in the community.

Adamson has drawn bi-partisan praise for his work on the Council. He certainly has a point of view, but he also has been one of the most dogged advocates for neighborhood issues along with a handful of other Councillors. In short, it’s not just me that has seen what an awesome Councillor he has been.

From a political standpoint, this is not good news for Mayor Greg Ballard. Vernon Brown was the previous Chair of the committee. Brown, a former majority leader on the Council, is the favorite to be elected Warren Township Trustee in November. Brown did an admirable job as the Chair of this committee, but Adamson’s knowledge of Marion County as an At-Large Councillor and his advocacy for neighborhoods not only on the Near Eastside but all around Indy will be welcome in the position.

It’s an especially critical position as the Council continues to debate Mayor Ballard’s infrastructure plan vs. the infrastructure plan the Democrats on the Council have proposed. With a couple of swing votes on the Council in Brian Mahern and Christine Scales, the work that the Public Works Committee does will certainly be critical.

I wish the best of luck to Adamson as he takes on this new challenge. He’s going to need it!

Merchant's Attack Falls Flat Quickly

GOP candidate Duane Merchant came out of hiding for an attack on Prosecutor Terry Curry's ethics, according to Jim Shella of WISH-TV.

Curry calmly sidestepped the attack and went about his business.  See below.

If it doesn't load, go here.

Yeah, I'd say that one is to bed, and Shella kind of took the wind out of Merchant's sails with his commentary at the end regarding Carl Brizzi's tenure as Prosecutor.  Nothing to see here.  Please disperse.

Monday, July 21, 2014

Dungy's Galling Comments Send Wrong Message

Tony Dungy
Picture from Facebook
Tony Dungy has succeeded on his own terms over the years becoming the first African-American coach to win a Super Bowl. Long before his team won the Super Bowl, Dungy waited for a long time and was passed over many times for coaching positions despite the fact that he was one of the best assistants in the league. 

Eventually, he got his chance with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and turned that franchise around. He picked up where Jim Mora left off in Indy, and the Colts became one of the most successful franchises in history.

Dungy knows about being a trailblazer.

Through all of this, Dungy has advocated for men to be responsible fathers. He has never been afraid to speak out, and I commend him for that. He’s also been very up front about his faith, and I also have no problem with that.

On the negative side, Dungy has headlined fundraisers for organizations that actually work against equality for LGBT Americans. He was a very public backer of Indiana’s amendment banning same sex marriage.

The Tampa Tribune published an article about changes the NFL is making in the expected conduct of players, and Dungy was a prominent individual interviewed in the piece. Dungy made it clear that he would not have taken openly-gay player Michael Sam as the St. Louis Rams did, in his words, “…Not because I don’t believe Michael Sam should have a chance to play, but I wouldn’t want to deal with all of it.”
“It’s not going to be totally smooth … things will happen.”

I’d be happy to take Coach Dungy at his word. He’s an honest man, but I can’t help but wonder if some of that desire to not deal with an openly-gay player in his locker room is informed by his understanding or lack of understanding about what it means to be gay. The Tribune writer, Ira Kaufmann, leaves it like this. Even in a news conference-type atmosphere, I certainly would have nailed him with a follow-up had I been writing that story to clarify what “thing” might happen to Sam.

What is particularly galling about Dungy's views is that he's one of the individuals that staunchly defended Michael Vick's return to the league.  He even mentored Vick as the convicted felon was brought back into the NFL.  To be honest, I didn't have a problem with Vick getting a second chance.  In fact, I think most everyone deserves a second chance.  What Vick did was awful, but he served his time in prison.  While Dungy advocated for him, he's going to turn his back on Sam because of perceived "things" that might happen?  That's just hard for me to take.

Dungy’s comments were disappointing. It is refreshing to hear that he believes Sam deserves a chance to play and excel in the NFL, but it’s a bit disheartening to hear the rest of his opinion on the subject.  It sends the wrong message about LGBT people and their acceptance into the workplace...even a workplace like the NFL locker room.

It sounds as if Sam landed with the right coach and the right team in St. Louis. Coach Jeff Fisher said in the article that any coach that isn’t going into the locker room these days is not going to be a coach in the league for long.

Didn't More Eyes, Police on Streets Help Keep Indy Safe on Saturday?

The Ballard Administration and its defenders keep telling folks in Indianapolis that the answer to less crime and safer streets is not more police officers on the streets.  Their actions, on the other hand, say something different.

Take this past weekend for example, Indiana Black Expo's second Saturday again went off without a hitch downtown, and that's honestly a tribute to the entire public safety community and, yes, even Greg Ballard's Administration.  

There was a police officer, make that officers, on practically every block downtown.  Downtown was blanketed with police officers, and they were ready to respond to anything that might develop to prevent what happened in 2010 from happening again.  Downtown was safe because the peacekeepers, excellent organizations like the Ten Point Coalition and others kept it that way.  The good people of this city should be commended as well.  It was a team effort, but I would say more eyeballs on the streets of downtown and good police work help keep the city safe.

Now, we can't blanket every inch of this city with a police officer.  That's true.  Good police work will never prevent every crime from happening.  If there are more eyes on the street...if there are more people working on prevention...more police out there walking the beat...doesn't it stand to reason that crime might go down?  Isn't it a major part of the equation?  Just wondering.  

What do you think, Mr. Mayor? 

Friday, July 18, 2014

My View: Ballard Will Run for Third Term

Mayor Greg Ballard
I'll say it here.  I disagree with my good friend Paul Ogden.  Paul thinks that if Joe Hogsett enter's the Mayor's race that Ballard won't run for reelection.  As for me, I believe there's absolutely no way Greg Ballard doesn't run for Mayor in 2015.

Ballard gives Republicans their last best chance to keep the office.  While he doesn't owe the Republican Party anything as they did not support him in 2007, I just can't imagine what's left of the Marion County Republican Party will let him walk away.  He's excellent as a fundraiser, and people like him.

That's why he keeps winning.  Despite his propensity to make some really bad ideas reality, Ballard is a bit like a teflon candidate.  Nothing sticks to him.

When his high dollar campaign contributors get contracts with the city, it doesn't stick.  When people in his administration get indicted, it doesn't stick.  When he recklessly spends city money on pet projects, it doesn't stick.  When he admits dodging the Council because he knows it will take some heavy lifting and some compromise to get his proposal done, it doesn't stick to him.  Bart Peterson and Melina Kennedy found out that running the wrong campaign against Greg Ballard sends you to defeat.  It's up to Frank Short, Ed Delaney, or Joe Hogsett (if he runs) to make it stick.

If Ballard decides to not run for reelection, he's leaving with the job undone.  He told us for seven years now that public safety is job one.  With our city in the midst of a crime wave, the last thing a Marine is known for is running away.  Since it's such a part of his brand, I don't think Ballard will do that.  I think he will try to make the case that he's the man to solve the problem.

I clearly disagree with that notion, but that's another blog post.  I see Ballard running for a third term, but, like Bart Peterson before him, third time won't be a charm.

Thursday, July 17, 2014

Study: Merger Creating IMPD Short on Savings

Former Mayor Bart Peterson
The merger that brought about the Indianapolis Metropolitan Police Department was back in the spotlight again today.

Fox 59's Russ McQuaid reported on a study commissioned by the City-County Council that showed no savings came from the merger of the Indianapolis Police Department and the Marion County Sheriff's Department Patrol Division.  It also showed that the merged department was about 100 employees short of its 2006 strength.

I supported the merger, and I took then-Mayor Bart Peterson and his administration at its word about what would happen in a merged department.  I thought the merger made sense from a logistical standpoint.  I guess I was wrong.

What also needs to be part of the story but was not reported by Fox 59 is that Mayor Peterson was in charge of merged IMPD for exactly zero days.  Under his version of the merger, IMPD was originally supposed to be under the responsibility of a three person panel (including the Mayor).  When that attracted criticism, the proposal was changed to put IMPD under the control of Sheriff Frank Anderson.

Sheriff Anderson had control of IMPD for about a year until Greg Ballard became Mayor.  Mayor Ballard, as one of his first acts in office, wrested control of IMPD back from Sheriff Anderson and put it back in his office under the control of the Public Safety Director.

Blame Bart if you wish, but Mayor Ballard has been in charge of IMPD since early 2008.  If you're going to blame Peterson for IMPD's shortcomings, then you have to blame Ballard.

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Will IPS Be Forced to Foot Someone Else's Bill?

A few years back, Arlington Community School was failing.  It still is.

Under reforms pushed by then-Governor Mitch Daniels and then-Superintendent of Public Instruction Tony Bennett, the school ended up being taken over by the state, and it was placed under the control of a charter school operator called Ed Power to be reorganized and improved.

Unfortunately, the charter school operator could not fix the school.  It is still listed as a failing school under the state's unfair and awful letter grade system.
Instead of sticking around to fix the problem.  Now, Ed Power says it doesn't have enough money to run the school and is looking to the State Board of Education for help.

Can you imagine if a large public school would have thrown up its hands and said, "I'm sorry.  We just don't have the money to educate the kids in our school.  We're going to have to close."

The state would laugh and say, "Do more with less."

Many educators thought this would be a problem when takeover academies were proposed by Tony Bennett.  They asked the questions, and, clearly, the state has no answers. What happens if the takeover doesn't work?  What happens to the school then?  Furthermore, after the takeover runs its course, what happens to the school?  Unfortunately, there are no answers.  There was really no prescription on what should happen if the school were to stay open, be improved, and returned to some sort of control on its own..

With school set to open in many districts in just a few weeks, parents who were going to send their children to Arlington will now be left with a choice if the building is forced to close its doors.  This is always my concern with the proliferation of charter schools.  We keep opening them without funding them.

IPS has a willingness to absorb the buildings back within the district, but the State Board of Education is unlikely to make it that easy on the district.  I say give Arlington back to IPS.  Dr. Lewis Ferebee seems to be charting a much different course for the district, and he isn't going to simply take it back and bail it out.

Will the State Board of Education and the Indiana General Assembly force IPS to fund the charter school's efforts to run Arlington?  This story will bear watching.

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Guest Post: Frank Short on Crime in Indy

From time-to-time, I open up my blog to guest posts.  This one is from Washington Township Trustee and candidate for Mayor of Indianapolis, Frank T. Short.  It was written on Friday of last week, and I received it yesterday.
My View
Frank T. Short
Washington Twp. Trustee

By Frank T. Short, July 11, 2014

It’s job one of any government, the first and foremost obligation of the social contract: keeping our citizens safe.

And it’s a job where our City is failing us.

This city’s latest spasm of violence last weekend that claimed the life of a police officer and put bullets into the bodies of seven more of our neighbors rightly shocks the conscience. Our hearts break for the victims and those who love them. But it’s only the latest evidence of a disturbing trend that’s running deeper – a city that’s not getting the job done on its most basic task. It’s costing us the lives too many of our citizens, and costing all of us the basic peace of mind we deserve.

After the work of a generation to reduce the high levels of crime that plagued our city and our nation, we see that progress beginning to slip away – and see the risk of a vicious cycle where people are fearful of going out or even sitting on their porches, increasingly leaving our shared public spaces empty, and in turn abdicating those spaces to criminals.

More crime leads to less public activity leads to more crime.

Simply put: we can’t be a great city if we can’t keep ourselves safe.

I've represented our men and women in blue as their advocate for years working with the Indiana Association of Chiefs of Police. I have worked tirelessly to make sure they have the resources to perform their duties and we have strengthened the laws to assist them as they protect us. I have also served as a member of the Board of Commissioners of the Indiana Law Enforcement Accreditation Commission. And I’ve worked with the Hundred Club, an organization that provides assistance for families of law enforcement officers killed in the line of duty.

Anyone who’s listened to the police could have seen these problems coming years in advance. We have a city government whose poor choices and wrong priorities have left us with too few cops on the beat, not enough resources for law enforcement to keep on top of the latest challenges, and too many excuses from this administration whose proposed solution is for all of us to adjust downward our basic expectations about public safety.

A City who leaves its police woefully outnumbered is a City who’s not taking crime seriously, no matter how many “serious” sounding press releases they may produce.

Also, cops themselves are the first to tell you that real efforts to promote public safety take place long before police get involved. Catching and punishing criminals after the fact is important work, but it’s preventing crime in the first place – preventing criminals in the first place – that really makes us safer.

Being serious about crime means being smart about crime prevention. The good news is that we know exactly what that entails: Real investments in summer jobs. Real partnerships between law enforcement and church and civic groups. A real effort to keep guns out of the hands of people like criminals and domestic abusers. Real opportunities for vulnerable populations to participate in the growth of our city.

In short, crime prevention works. Unless you shortchange it.

The bad news is this administration cut crime prevention grants to some of our most effective agencies, with cuts in some fiscal years running as high as 50%. A City who has always been able to find the cash to pay for special priorities and special deals – a certain cricket field comes to mind – somehow can’t find the money to cover the basics. And, of course, we have left in place a relationship with the state legislature that’s left us a net donor county to the rest of the state to the tune of $350 million dollars per year.

And the long term consequences are with us.

I don’t promise that an additional $350 million to fund key priorities like police officers and crime prevention programs would restore Indianapolis’ sense of public safety. But I’d sure like us to be able to find out.

If talking tough were enough to restore our city’s public safety, our current approach would be fine. But making our city safe again is a matter of making smarter choices – having better priorities and the commitment to implement them. Cops are as tired as the rest of us seeing these obvious needs going unmet.

The answers for making our city safer are in front of us. I will be a Mayor who’s committed to them.

You can contact Short at

Monday, July 14, 2014

Hogsett to Resign

Indiana Southern District U.S. Attorney Joe Hogsett will resign from his job at the end of this month according to an announcement from his office this morning.

Hogsett has been the subject of much speculation about a possible candidacy for Mayor against Greg Ballard.  At first, he denied that he would be a candidate, but, in recent weeks, the rumor mill has been working overtime about his future plans.

It's still unknown what Hogsett's plan is or what, if any, office he plans to seek, but it certainly gives us politicos a lot to talk about in the interim.

Unelected Board of Education Undermining Elected Ritz

Glenda Ritz
Superintendent of Public Instruction
There was an election in 2012.  The State Board of Education and Mike Pence might want to remember that.

I suppose I should remind them.  In 2012, voters went to the polls.  Despite millions of dollars and the benefits of incumbency, Glenda Ritz employed a disciplined strategy of engaging teachers, soon-to-be teachers and the people that care about them combined with those dissatisfied by Bennett's leadership into her own coalition.  She shocked the world.  Ritz ended up with more votes than Mike Pence.

Fast forward to to last Friday.  While the local media rightfully had its mind on other things, the State Board of Education flipped the script on Superintendent Ritz and took a big step towards bringing back the policies of Tony Bennett.   By a 7-3 vote, the SBOE voted to give itself the ability to overturn Ritz, the Chair of the Board, on procedural matters.  It sounds like a small deal, but, in practice, it changes the way the Board operates.  With Ritz marginalized, the unelected Board can move forward with its own agenda.

Add Mike Pence to the equation.  He appointed most of the Board.  He also created his own Department of Education under the disguised name of Center for Education and Career Innovation.  Pence made government bigger and more bulky to grab control of education policy.

You don't have to take my word for the actions of the board.  The Northwest Indiana Times' Dan Carden has an excellent piece here.

So, what can voters do about it?  You can go here and remind the State Board of Education that they were not elected to run education policy.  That job should be Ritz's.  You can also remind Governor Pence that we have one Department of Education, and the person elected to run it got more votes than he did. Finally, you can give Glenda Ritz more Democrats to help her at the state level in the House, the Senate, and in the other executive offices including, when it's time, Governor.  

Friday, July 11, 2014

Can Evan Bayh Make Nice with Democrats?

The Bayh Family
We found out something yesterday.  Evan Bayh can still make headlines.

The former Secretary of State, Governor and U.S. Senator opened up to Brian Howey about his future, and it may include a run for the state's highest executive office again.  Bayh told Howey that he hasn't ruled out another run, but he termed it as "less likely than more likely."

First, he has some fence mending to do.  Some Democrats still believe that Bayh cost the party a Senate seat when he retired from the Senate right before the primary election filing deadline in February of 2010.  It left no time for other Democrats to get enough signatures to appear on the ballot.  Therefore, it became the duty of the Indiana Democratic Party to nominate a candidate.

Congressman Brad Ellsworth was named by the party as its candidate, but he had barely laid any groundwork and lost to Dan Coats in the fall, 55 to 40 percent.  Bayh also has turned to lobbying and consulting as well as being a Fox News pundit.  All those actions and decisions have garnered much criticism from the left.

Given the desire to beat Mike Pence or the next Republican in line for the office, you would figure that many Democrats will forgive Bayh for these things.  Some won't, but Bayh can definitely count on a good number of crossover votes.  If he's wanting to mend those fences, he had better start soon.    

Bayh starts out with a huge campaign account balance.  While he's come off some of the money, there's still over $9 million in there.  At this point, I would agree with Bayh.  It's probably unlikely that he runs, but he will carefully and calculatingly make a decision.  Judging from comments left on the Indy Star's page, he might start out being the frontrunner.  He has his record from his time as Governor to fall back on, and few Indiana Republicans can match his depth of experience.

John Gregg is also considering another run in 2016, but I doubt he will run if Bayh decides to enter the race.

Thursday, July 10, 2014

Hogsett Hubbub Returns

U.S. Attorney Joe Hogsett
For a man who isn't running for anything, everybody seems to be talking about one man in Democratic circles.

Joe Hogsett, the U.S. Attorney, continues to be the most talked-about candidate at any Democrat event, and, if you believe the blatant rumor and innuendo, he might not be done running for Mayor of Indianapolis like we thought he was.

A few months back, Hogsett said he would not be a candidate for the office.  Many Democrats were disappointed, but they understood that Hogsett has a great job right now that he might not want to give up.  His job is assured through at least the 2016 elections.  If Hillary Clinton were to win the Presidency, Hogsett could be set for another eight years.  Hogsett has a great relationship with the Clintons, and U.S. Attorneys all serve at the pleasure of the President with the advice and consent of the Senate.

Hogsett's initial pass came well before the current crisis of public safety in the city.  When Dan Parker stepped away from running for the Mayor's office, he said that he thought the next Mayor of Indianapolis should have a background in public safety.  Neither Frank Short nor Ed Delaney have that background.  Given that, past columns by Matt Tully, and the whispers at fundraisers or get togethers, the rumor mill has kicked in to overdrive.

I think there's a good chance that Hogsett is going to run for Greg Ballard's seat, but I also think there's a good chance that he won't.  Things are too important right now for Democrats to wait.  We have two viable candidates in the race who will challenge Mayor Ballard.  We will all know soon if Hogsett is running because in order to run, he will have to resign from his U.S. Attorney slot.  That means he holds all the cards, and we won't know for sure that he's running until we know for sure that he's changed his mind and he's running.

Therefore, I'm moving forward with the status quo until it's no longer the status quo.  There are two entries in the race for the Democratic nomination.

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

Democratic Field Coming Into Focus for Mayor's Race in 2015

Ed Delaney
Photo from
Much has happened with the race for Indy Mayor in the last few days.

One candidate jumped in the pool and another took his water wings and went home.

First thing's first, Ed Delaney confirmed to Brian Howey that he would run for Mayor in 2015 while running for reelection to his seat in the Indiana House in 2014.  Abdul teased it in on Indy Politics on Saturday, and it was confirmed by Monday.  It wasn't really that big of a secret, though.  Most knew that Ed was heavily considering a run.

Speculation about Delaney's future began during the debate over what would become Senate Enrolled Act 621.

Back on April 4, 2013, I wrote:
State Representative Ed Delaney said today during the debate on Senate Bill 621 that the bill is "a life-altering bill for me." 
He said that people keep telling him he should run for Mayor of Indianapolis, and that it is something he honestly didn't think about doing. Today, in public, he said he now is because the added power of the Mayor's Office that would be granted under Senate Bill 621 would make it a much more desirable position. 
Delaney spoke out strongly against the power-grabbing bill saying that he thinks he is about the only Democrat to help Mayor Greg Ballard on some things in the state legislature carrying through some of his agenda items. He also said that he likes the Mayor and often bicycles with him. He paused and then said this, "I AM DONE with the Mayor on this bill." 
Whether he was making a rhetorical point or not, we now add Delaney into the Mayoral Marathon for 2015.
When Delaney was on my radio show a few months back, I asked him about the potential for a run, and he said he was "capable" of running for Mayor, but he enjoyed being in the General Assembly and would be seeking advice regarding his future.  The calculus makes sense for him right now.

Delaney, who has no opponent for reelection to his House seat, can use the rest of this year to lay much of the groundwork he's going to need to lay for a credible run in 2015.  He will continue to serve his constituents while campaigning for both Mayor and House.  He won't need any more money for his House race, so he can raise all the cash he can for a Mayoral campaign now.  You'd figure he's going to need a lot of resources.  2015 will be a long session of the General Assembly, so that will be a haul for Delaney especially if he continues to have a primary opponent.

Dan Parker
Delaney is in.  Frank Short is in.  Dan Parker is out.

Parker, the former Indiana Democratic Party Chairman, said he considered a run, but he passed this time.  "I have a vision for our city to reach its post-Unigov potential, but I simply do not have a background in public safety," said Parker in a news release.  "I believe our next Mayor should have strong public safety experience in order to bring peace to the streets."  Parker said he might run for office in the future.

That leads us back to Joe Hogsett.  Not to alarm Delaney or Short, but Parker's comments on the next Mayor and public safety make you wonder if he's setting the table for the U.S. Attorney to sweep in.  Stranger things have happened, and we won't know anything until it happens because Hogsett can't say a thing about it until he is no longer U.S. Attorney due to the non-political nature of the office.

Delaney and Short move forward from here.  We've yet to hear official word on Ballard's 2015 plans, but all indications are that he's running.

Tuesday, July 8, 2014

Renn, Two Other Officers Lose Lives in Line of Duty Across Indiana

While Indianapolis is dealing with the loss of IMPD Officer Perry Renn, two other Indiana communities are also in mourning for law enforcement officials.

Last week, Deputy Jacob Calvin of the Tipton County Sheriff's Department was killed while on a police run.  He lost control of his cruiser and was involved in a single-car accident.  He was laid to rest yesterday.  He was 31 years old.

In Gary on Sunday morning, 19-year veteran of the Gary Police Department, Jeffery Westerfield, was killed as he sat in his patrol car on his 47th birthday.  He was the father of four daughters.  Officer Westerfield was due to be married on August 24.  Police have three suspects in custody.  They were apprehended just a few blocks from the scene.

Three officers.  Three tragic stories.  It's been a devastating couple of weeks for law enforcement across the Hoosier State.  My thoughts are with all those affected by the losses of these three public servants.

Monday, July 7, 2014

Crossroads of America At the Crossroads

Officer Perry Renn
Saturday night's events were a blow to us all, and it made me sit and take stock and get a little angry about what is happening here.  The Crossroads of America has reached a crossroads.

For the third time in a little over three years and the second time since last fall, an IMPD Officer has sacrificed his life in the line of duty.  On Saturday, it was Perry Renn, a 51-year-old veteran of 22 years on the force.  He and his wife should still be planning their 25th Anniversary today.  Instead, she's planning on burying her hero.

The facts are slowly pouring out, but it's clear that Officer Renn was senselessly gunned down.  The alleged gunman, Major Davis, Jr., lies in Eskenazi Hospital.  The emergency staff there may have saved his life, but, if he recovers, it's now going to be a life likely spent behind bars.  In the United States, you are innocent until proven guilty.  He will have his day in court.

So, we're still left with the whys.  Why is this the third time since January of 2011 that we have lost an officer?  Why is this the eighth time an officer has been shot in a year and a half?  Why have 22 officers been shot at in that time?  Why do we have this culture of violence towards those with a badge?  Why were seven people shot in Broad Ripple on Saturday morning?  Why do people pick up firearms and think they can solve their differences?

Reverend Charles Harrison tweeted out something very poignant last night.  The organizer of the Ten Point Coalition, a great faith-based group doing the kind of work we should praise them for, tweeted:

How you address this problem, I don't know.

This is just one part of the issue.  The problems beyond it are multifaceted, but we can't turn away from the conversation.  We have to keep talking through the pain and through the finger pointing.  There's nothing that we can't solve together.  This is not a Republican, Democrat, or Libertarian issue.  It's an Indianapolis issue.  The violence may not be happening in our neighborhoods, but it's in our city.  Enough is enough.

For now, though, let's get through another funeral of one of our public safety heroes.  Let's make sure that we lay Perry Renn to rest with the honor he deserves given his sacrifice.

Sunday, July 6, 2014

IMPD Officer Shot, Killed in Line of Duty

There are no words...only emotion.
Anger...confusion...helplessness...profound sadness.

WIBC is reporting Officer Perry Renn, a 22-year veteran, was killed in the line of duty tonight in the City of Indianapolis.  

Apparently, IMPD received a call of shots fired in the area of 34th and Forest Manor.  Two officers responded, and Officer Renn was gunned down in a shootout with the suspect.  The suspect, Major Davis, was also wounded and is now in critical condition.  More details are most certainly to come.

Obviously, my thoughts and prayers are with Officer Renn's family and friends.  

There really are no other words.

Friday, July 4, 2014

It's Independence Day

One of my favorite activities on Independence Day is to listen to as many patriotic songs as I can.

It's not because I'm some sentimental jerk or anything, but it reminds me of two things.  Over time...even back to the Revolutionary War days...that music expresses deep emotion and, secondly, one of those emotions is patriotism.  Patriotism is, to me, the love of one's country.

Patriotism is quite a random thing when you think about it.  I was born in the United States because one night my parents decided know.  Nine months later, I was a natural-born American.  I often think about how fortunate that I was that my parents lived here and were relatively well-off.  It gave me a few steps ahead from others in the world.

For example, I never wanted for food or water.  When I wanted a toy, I didn't always get it right away, but my parents usually eventually got those things I really really wanted.  I earned a great public education for free, and, when it came time for me to go off to college, I was able to go thanks to my parents picking up half the tab.  I'm still paying off the rest in student loans.  All-in-all, I've had it pretty good.

Others in this same country certainly can't say the same.  They've had to fight, claw, scratch, and bite for every last thing they've earned or will earn.  I honor and appreciate those sacrifices.  I also pledge to do my part to use everything in my power to help where I can.

What's amazing is that even if you are the richest of the rich or the poorest of the poor or somewhere in the middle like me, many of us come together on Independence Day and celebrate the birthday of this great land.  We may celebrate it with friends and family at a barbecue or alone over a peanut butter sandwich.  We may watch the fireworks fly or simply hear them on the next street over.

We all live in a country where we have been endowed with certain unalienable rights: life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.  What those rights mean to you is entirely different than probably what they mean to me, but that's the great thing about this imperfect union we are trying to make more perfect every day.

For all the gridlock, struggle, and strife, we are all Americans.  We all one nation.  While we are all independent of each other, we have that independence because of what happened back in 1776.  That's something.

Happy Birthday USA.