Friday, February 28, 2014

Indianapolis is 6th Most Dangerous City According to CQ Press

The CQ Press has some good news for Indianapolis. We’re not the most dangerous city in the United States, but the bad news is…well…we’re not far off.

Indianapolis placed sixth behind such bastions of safety Detroit, Baltimore, Memphis, Milwaukee, and Philadelphia in the CQ Press’ rankings of the most dangerous cities as quoted in the Huffington Post. According to CQ Press, Indianapolis is more dangerous than Chicago, Los Angeles, New York, or even Washington, D.C. 

This list won’t make anyone proud, and we really need to do something about it. Unfortunately, Mayor Greg Ballard's message is too often that it’s criminals shooting criminals, and he’s right. These lists, however, don’t take into account those things. Whenever a human life is lost, it’s a tragedy…no matter who is lost. That was a person with the potential to do great things.

We have too much evil in this world, and it pains me to see my hometown on a list like this. Perhaps someday soon we’ll see a Mayor and an administration that will treat these problems with the remedies they deserve.

On an unrelated yet sort of related note, the Indiana General Assembly passed funding for a downtown soccer stadium for the Indy Eleven even though the team has not played a game.  How much could $87 million have solved when it comes to public safety issues?  If we don't make Indy safer, people won't want to go downtown to watch a soccer game for fear of being mugged, carjacked, or worse on the way.

Thursday, February 27, 2014

Indiana Politicians Called for Military Service

Mayor Pete Buttigieg (D-South Bend)
Senator Jim Banks (R-Columbia City)

People rarely understand how difficult it is for a teacher to plan to miss a day of work.

You have to make sure the plans are just right. They can’t be too complex or you risk the chance that the substitute teacher will not execute them. They can’t be too easy or you risk the chance that the students won’t take them seriously. You have to find exactly the right balance to move your classroom forward one day without you.

I can’t imagine what it would be like for a Mayor to have to plan to be gone for seven months on deployment to Afghanistan or a State Senator to be gone for a couple weeks for mandatory training. Here in Indiana, both are realities.

Mayor Pete Buttigieg, a South Bend Democrat, heads off to Afghanistan on Friday as part of his job with the United State Naval Reserve. Republican Senator Jim Banks will also be leaving soon for two weeks of mandatory naval training. He will miss the final week of the General Assembly session.

These kinds of things certainly are not unprecedented. A few years ago, Republican U.S. Rep. and champion lettuce smoker, Steve Buyer, was called up as a reservist, but he never was sent back overseas due to his position as the 4th District U.S. Congressman. 

 It just seems odd to have two politicians called up at the same time from the same state.

Indy Democrat wishes Senator Banks and Mayor Buttigieg the best as they head to service of their country. I know your constituents are proud of you and your service to keep them free.  Both of you come home to Indiana safely.

For their parts, Senator Banks and Mayor Buttigieg exchanged these extremely classy tweets on Twitter:


 

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Pence Should Veto Alcohol at State Fair Bill

The Indiana House passed a bill yesterday that will allow the sale of alcohol at the Indiana State Fair.  Having already passed the Senate, Senate Bill 339 now is sitting on Mike Pence's desk waiting for his signature.

If I were the Governor, I would veto the bill.  Here's why.

Indiana has a burgeoning brewery and winery industry.  This legislation should have been tailored to help those industries and make sure the beer and wine sold at our Indiana State Fair was Hoosier brewed and produced.

It would simply take a majority of the votes in the House and Senate to overturn my veto as Governor, so it's
not like I'm killing the bill.  It would just show that I stand with our local brewers and winery owners.

I doubt Governor Pence will veto the bill.  Indiana is one of only two state fairs that currently do not allow alcohol, and I can see why it makes sense to allow the sales.  I just think it would be a cool thing for our state to recognize this rapidly growing industry within our state.

I wonder if the state is ready now to spend extra money on State Fair security because you know idiots, beer, and hot weather mix so well.  The State Fair used to just draw a handful of idiots in hot weather...add in beer, and here we go!  I can't wait to walk that Midway late at night with a few thousand drunks at the fair.  Now that's family entertainment, right?


Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Council Approves 11th Member for ROC Investigation Committee

Amid the snarkiness and ceremony of last night's City-County Council meetings, something good got done for the taxpayers...in theory.

The Regional Operations Center Investigating Committee got an eleventh member.  

As reported on this blog yesterday, it seems that there might have been some orchestration of a strategy by Republicans to keep the Investigating Committee from getting the documents to do its job effectively.  With an 11th-member of the Committee (presumably a Democrat), ties would not be possible and that would make it easier to get the necessary subpoenas for documents the Committee would like to see.

It's a shame to have to do things this way, but it appears that the Ballard Administration along with the Council minority has no interest in the taxpayers finding out what has happened to the money in this apparent boondoggle of a project that has cost more than it should of when the building has not even been safe to occupy.

I'm sure there's more to come on this story in the coming weeks and months.  

Monday, February 24, 2014

In Politics, Be Careful To Whom Your Texts Are Addressed

What are the Republicans hiding?
Other bloggers in town have done a tremendous job with the GOP's apparent attempt to block an investigation into what happened with money and really everything else at Indy's abandoned Regional Operations Center.

While I haven't covered it at all until now, bloggers Paul Ogden and Gary Welsh have been all over the story.

Gary Welsh has been excellent in his coverage.  I don't always say that about Gary, but he is has been a true watchdog here keeping his eye on this one for quite a while. Welsh's coverage has particularly excelled in this post and this post (and many others before).  My friend Paul Ogden has also been on it helping to amplify Gary's concerns as well as staking out new ground on his own.  You can read his posts at www.ogdenonpolitics.com.

While I'm "Johnny Come Lately" to the story, I'm not going to break any new news.  It appears that at some level there is a cover up going on in the administration if you read the posts and available information on the matter.  Anyone can see from the last two ROC Investigating Committee meetings that Republicans don't want this information out, and they have voted to block any attempts to get out any information that might shed some light on why the city continued spend thousands of dollars with politically-connected figures when it appeared there were serious problems with the ROC.  There appeared to be even more serious problems with the lease which were uncovered by Channel 13 and Welsh.

Councillor Pfisterer
One way or another, the ROC Investigating Committee has been trying to get to the bottom of the situation, and they have been stymied.  Republicans deny purposefully leaving the committee out to dry, but Indy Democrat has obtained a text message intended for another Republican Councillor from a Republican Councillor that was inadvertently sent to a Democrat on the Council.

The text reads, "Subpoena motion died in committee.  Will and Jack were 'on it'!  Next meeting on 3/10."  That text was sent by Councillor Marilyn Pfisterer and was apparently intended for Councillor Aaron Freeman.

Will and Jack are Will Gooden and Jack Sandlin who Paul Ogden notes in his blog post on the most recent meeting of the ROC Investigating Committee had specific complaints about the process that may or may not have held water.

I like Councillor Pfisterer, and I find her to be a good person and an effective City-County Councillor. Her text, however, would seem to at least give some credibility to those that are saying there's some effort to railroad the process of this investigation.  If Will and Jack weren't "on it" would we know more Councillor or what did you mean?

At worst, Indy taxpayers have sunk dollars over dollars into the ROC.  For the Council minority whip to be celebrating shutting down the process of finding out what happened to that those dollars seems a bit unbecoming.

If nothing else, she probably needs to be a bit more careful about who she sends her texts to.

Saturday, February 22, 2014

Arizona Legislature Pass Bills That Makes Discrimination Legal on Basis of Religious Beliefs

Unbelievably, I'm writing this blog post, but the Arizona House of Representatives on Thursday passed a bill granting the right to discriminate against pretty much anyone if your religion does not approve of them.

Yep.  That's where we are now in our society...at least in Arizona.  Similar laws were passed in Kansas and defeated in Tennessee over the past few days, but the Arizona bill is perilously close to becoming law.

The Arizona Senate passed an identical bill on Wednesday which means the Senate and House versions will now go to Governor Jan Brewer for her signature.  If she signs the bill, it becomes legal to deny services to people you disagree with on a religious basis.

Of course, this fine bill is just a few months from being overturned in Arizona.  It's like a sport this time of year in Arizona.

Until then, pending the Governor's signature, Arizona welcomes you back to 1950.  Yeah, but it's a DRY heat.

Friday, February 21, 2014

After 20 Years, Behning Still Doesn't Understand How General Assembly Works

Rep. Bob Behning
My friend Mary Hall sent me this response she received from Rep. Bob Behning about his vote on HJR-3.

So far, he has never bothered to respond to me, but I've seen the same form letter sent to other constituents in his district, and let's see if you can find out what's wrong with it (besides his position on the subject).
Dear Mary,
Thank you for contacting me in regards to House Joint Resolution (HJR) 3, which is the proposed constitutional amendment that would ban same sex marriages. I appreciate your input on this subject. 
The Indiana House of Representatives passed an amended version of HJR 3 on January 28th by a vote of 57 to 40. The resolution is now being considered by Governor Pence. I voted in favor of HJR 3, because I believe this issue is too important for a handful of legislators to decide. It is important for the citizens of Indiana to have a voice and determine the direction of the state in this matter. 
Thank you again for contacting me with your thoughts on same sex marriage in Indiana. Constituent contact is essential to the legislative process, and I look forward to hearing from you in the future. 
Sincerely,
Robert Behning
State Representative
RB:db
Did you find it?

Bob Behning apparently doesn't know how the constitutional amendment process works in Indiana.  After the House and Senate approve a resolution for a referendum to put an amendment into the Indiana Constitution, the Governor doesn't have to consider anything.  It goes directly to the next separately-elected General Assembly or directly to the voters once it passes both houses of two separately-elected General Assemblies in the same form both times.  Granted, it's a little confusing, but a 20-year legislator should understand that the Governor has NO SAY in HJR3.  None.

In this case, when the House passed HJR3 it went directly to the Indiana Senate for consideration.  So, Behning's blatantly misstated the truth in this note to his constituent or perhaps he just doesn't know the process.  Either way, he's been in the House 20 years, and it's time for him to go.

Patrick Lockhart will be such a big improvement. 

Thursday, February 20, 2014

Short Hopes for Long Shot Run at Mayor

Frank Short
A week or so ago, my good friend Christian Mosburg penned a post for Indy Vanguard about how time was starting to tick for someone to get into the 2015 race for Mayor of Indianapolis.

Frank Short must have been listening. The current Washington Township Trustee and former City-County Councillor announced on Tuesday he will seek the Democratic nomination for Mayor.

Short has strong connections to former Marion County Democratic Party Chairman Ed Treacy and owns his own public policy and business consulting firm. He has served on a myriad of public, private, and charity foundation boards. He also has been appointed to several political boards by people of both parties, including Mayor Greg Ballard.  He has a very good basic resume, but Short’s negatives are right up front.  Part of his business is being a lobbyist, and that’s not a particularly well-looked-upon profession these days. Republicans are already attacking him for it. Short also continues to run for reelection as Trustee even as he files for an exploratory committee for Mayor of Indianapolis.  I've always been a believer in one office at a time.

Democrats could do much worse than Frank Short. The problem is, as time ticks, the potential time to raise money and name recognition with Indy voters also lessens. With no field clearing candidate, I think we’re in for a long slating/primary season which will be expensive and allow Ballard a good head start.  Short now gets that same kind of kick by being the first in the pool.

Is it plausible that Short could beat Greg Ballard?  Sure.  Is it going to happen?  If I am being honest, I think he's a long shot at this point.

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Senator Richard Young Should Explain Vote on HJR-3

Senator Richard Young
Hoosier Democrats met in Fort Wayne in 2012 and added an historic plank to their party platform.  The party would now support same sex marriage in Indiana.  It may sound obvious, but it was a long and hard-fought battle by many people to get that plank in the party platform.

Consistently, the Democrats have come to the defense of same sex marriage advocates in the state.  It's been the Democratic Party with some key Republican allies that have successfully kicked the can of a same sex marriage constitutional ban down the road for at least another year and maybe two.  Thanks to organizations like Freedom Indiana, Indiana Equality, businesses, educational institutions, Chambers of Commerce, and tons of grassroots supporters, votes changed in both caucuses and HJR-3 survived...but in a diet version.

Gone is the second sentence that would have banned civil unions or anything else resembling marriage.  It's not a perfect amendment.  It still clearly states that only marriage in Indiana can between one man and one woman, but there's enough wiggle room now to see some light for advocates.  The marriage equality fight continues.

Back in 2011 when HJR-6 passed with its incredibly poorly worded second sentence, there were a handful of Democrats that supported it.  This time, there was one.  Senator Richard Young of Milltown is the only Democrat to support HJR-3 in the General Assembly.  Of the 31 Democrats in the House and the 13 Democrats in the Senate, Young was the only aye.

Now, that's a step forward in itself, but Young's vote still remains symbolic.  In case you don't know Richard Young, the longtime Senator led the Democratic caucus from 1996-2008.  He carries the title Democratic Leader Emeritus.  Young ran for Governor briefly in 2008.

The Democratic Party is a big tent.  After all, we have room for Nancy Pelosi and Joe Donnelly.  Even Joe Donnelly realized that his position on same sex marriage had to change not only because of politics but because it was the right thing to do.  Senator Young has yet to provide any explanation for his vote.

I think those of us that might directly be effected by HJR3 should at least get some idea as to why the Democratic Leader Emeritus of the Indiana Senate didn't do what the other Democrats in the House and Senate did and vote NO on HJR-3.

Senator Young, we're waiting.

Ballard Targets Will & Kate For Cricket Tournament

Just when it seemed like the controversy over the World Sports Park was starting to go away, Greg Ballard opens his mouth and lets the ridiculousness flow.

WISH-TV reports that Mayor Greg Ballard actually made overtures to the Duke and Dutchess of Cambridge to get them to the opening matches.  Yeah, WISH-TV...not the Onion.  Prince William and Princess Catherine apparently had other things to do because they declined the Mayor's overtures.

Here's the full report from WISH-TV.



So, I guess now we know why the Mayor couldn't be bothered to clear the roads, he's been burning up the phone lines to London!  Homicide problem in the city?  Nope...after the Mayor get this cricket tournament lined up.

Keep trying that cricket thing, Mr. Mayor.  As WISH-TV notes in their report, the United States cricket sanctioning body is on a bit of unstable ground, and some cricket insiders even doubt that the sport can catch on.  Seems silly to dump all this money into something that isn't a sure thing, but that's just me.

My advice to Ballard...don't aim so high.  Maybe Harry is available, and he likes to PARTY!

Monday, February 17, 2014

House Approved Version of HJR-3 Passes Senate Keeping It Off Ballot Until 2016

HJR-3 passed the Indiana Senate, 32-17.  It passed as the version that went through the Indiana House.

The version that passed reads, "Only a marriage between one (1) man and one (1) woman shall be valid or recognized as a marriage in Indiana."

The same version of the resolution will have to pass both houses of the General Assembly in 2015 or 2016 to appear on the ballot at the next statewide election.  That will be 2016 when President, Governor, Congress, and Dan Coats' seat in the U.S. Senate all appear on the ballot along with many of the Senators and Representatives that voted either for or against the bill.  If the General Assembly approves the same resolution again in 2015 or 2016, and the voters give it a majority vote, then that discriminatory language is added to the Indiana Constitution.

This time around, after all his bluster, Mike Delph couldn't restore the second sentence of the proposed amendment which would have outlawed civil unions and maybe domestic partnerships.  He grandstanded at a press conference earlier today only to announce he would vote no if the second sentence was not restored.   It wasn't, and he was one of five Republicans (Ron Alting, Vaneta Becker, Phil Boots, Delph, and Pete Miller) voting no on the resolution.  Senator Richard Young was the only Democrat to vote for the resolution.  The ailing Sue Landske was excused from voting.

So, the battle begins again.  HJR-3 must be defeated, buried, and done for once and for all next year or when it comes up again.  This is only a temporary victory, and those that fought hard for this temporary win should be heartily congratulated.  

This only momentarily kicks the can down the road.  The battle for civil rights in Indiana for same sex couples continues. 

It's sure to get nastier next time.

Happy Presidents Day!

Presidents Day doesn't technically exist.  Today's federal holiday is called Washington's Birthday.  We'll celebrate the wider context of things and add in the other men that have served as Presidents of the United States.

Enjoy...

Delph's "Big Announcement" Scheduled for Today

Delph
Today, we'll find out what Mike Delph's big announcement is.  Some believe it's going to be him leaving the GOP, and others believe he will try to challenge the current senior leadership for their jobs.  Of the two, I'll take the second option on that one.  With Delph, it might even be something like he's running for Congress.  Who knows?

One way or another, Mike Delph is now the most visible Republican in the Indiana Senate, and I'm not so sure his leaders want it that way.  Senator Delph has found that place that few politicians want to find.  He's gone so far right that those on one side of the aisle have made him into a punchline, and the leaders on his own side of the aisle seem to want him to just shut up and go away.  That's not Mike Delph.

Delph, for me, is one of the most interesting people in the Indiana General Assembly.  Someone who is capable of great kindness in his advocacy for battered women but is so far to the right that the middle ground is even harder to find.  While I can't find much common ground and I find some of his views untenable, he is honest and engaging.  Mike Delph is exactly what he is.  He's the same guy that campaigned for Rick Santorum in 2012.  None of his views should surprise us these days.

While his views shouldn't surprise us, neither should his actions.  It should be interesting to see what he has to say today.

Friday, February 14, 2014

Niezgodski, Daughter Injured in Horrifying Accident

Rep. Niezgodski
State Representative David Niezgodski and his daughter Rachael were injured in a car accident near the Statehouse tonight.  Niezgodski and his daughter were apparently broadsided by another car.

Intitially, their conditions were reported as critical, but WISH-TV reports that they are now listed as stable at Eskenazi Hospital.

My thoughts and prayers go out to the South Bend Democrat and his family.

Bardon Would Make Strong Candidate for Mayor in 2015

Bardon in 2010
Jeb Bardon could have made the Primary Election of 2012 very messy.

After the census of 2010, his Indiana House District was swallowed up in redistricting and his home was drawn into the same district as that of his friend, Vanessa Summers.  In deference to his good friend Summers, a more veteran legislator, Bardon stepped aside allowing his family friend a clear and unobstructed  road back to the Democratic nomination.  It's the kind of person that Jeb Bardon is.  He's a class act.

These are the kinds of things you hear again and again about Jeb.  It's the way he conducted himself as a legislator when he was in the House, and it's the way he conducts himself as a father and a small business owner.  It's also something sorely missing from politics at some level today.

I suggested a few weeks ago on my Facebook page that Jeb would be a great candidate for Mayor of Indianapolis because he listens to constituents and likes to work with people to build consensus.  He's a smart guy and has been a success because, in my view, he puts his priorities right in order.

That family man that he is might be what prevents him from taking another job in politics.  I've never had a one-on-one discussion with him about it, but I wouldn't begrudge him if that were the case.  He seems to love his family deeply, and I get that.

As people look at candidates to run for Mayor of Indianapolis, it seems like Bardon makes sense for a lot of reasons.  He provides a smart, pragmatic, and solid foil for Mayor Ballard.  When he wants to be, Bardon can be a big thinker, and he will seek out ideas and thought from not only advisers but constituents, as well.

All of this said, from my converations with Jeb online, I don't think he has any interest in running for Mayor, but I think we'd all be remiss if we didn't recognize him for being an excellent candidate if he did.

Thursday, February 13, 2014

Delph's Bizarre Twitter Rant on Constitution/Religion/Gay Marriage/Etc. Attracts Attention

Mike Delph...up for election in 2014...in his own weird Twitter world tonight.


















































End rant.  Later he posted these gems:




And even as I type this, he continues to roll them out.  Local sports announcer Jake Query gave him some really good advice.




To which Delph replied:



SOMEBODY TACKLE THIS GUY!

Local Dallas TV Sportscaster Slams Michael Sam Critics

Dallas sportscaster Dale Hansen deserves a beer from me.  This is excellent.  Whatever happened to local tv news editorials anyway?

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Kirchoffer's Bill to Steal Fire Departments from Townships is SEA 621 All Over Again

Last year, Senate Enrolled Act 621 took a ton of power from the City-County Council and handed it to Mayor Greg Ballard without a referendum or without even the Mayor of Indianapolis asking for the power.  Another bill moving through the legislature wants to take assets from township government and hand them to the Indianapolis Fire Department without a referendum or even the approval of the township.  Yep.  It's happening again.

Rep. Cindy Kirchoffer of Beech Grove filed a bill that passed the Indiana House which will take the fire departments in Wayne, Decatur, and Pike Townships and hand them to IFD with a simple majority vote of the City-County Council and the signature of the Mayor of Indianapolis.

Current state statute allows for the handoff to occur with the approval of each township's seven-member advisory board.  That has actually happened in the majority of townships in Marion County.  Franklin, Lawrence, Perry, Warren, and Washington Townships.  Only Decatur, Pike, and Wayne Townships have held out as independent fire departments, and come heck or high water, Kirchoffer wants that to stop.

Proponents of the bill say that the time has come to simply merge all the township fire departments with IFD and move on without the approval of the township level government.  Opponents of the bill say that the current statute works just fine and that if it made sense to consolidate they would.

That is a question you often get two answers to.  Decatur Township, for example, the smallest township fire department, had to borrow millions of dollars in emergency loans last year to stay afloat.  Privately, some firefighters will tell you about severe staffing problems and wonder out loud if they can make it through the year without furloughs.  The issues facing Decatur do not appear to be the reality in Pike and Wayne Townships, but the Firefighters Local 416 backs Kirchoffer's bill.

While I'm sympathetic to the firefighters cause, and I generally have been for consolidation since Mayor Bart Peterson pproposed it as part of his Indy Works plan, I do not believe that this is the way it should happen.  I actually believe the current statute is an excellent compromise.  It allows for the local folks to decide when it's time to merge and IF it's time to merge.  It doesn't simply yank the rug out from underneath folks with a draconian hand from the Statehouse.

I find myself standing on principle with the trustees in this case even if we disagree on consolidation.

Kirchoffer Gets Opponent
Speaking of Cindy Kirchoffer, she will be fighting a dogged fighter in this upcoming election cycle.

Marion County Surveyor Debbie Jenkins has filed to run against Kirchoffer.  The popular Beech Grove Democrat has served as Surveyor since 2009.  She will get strong organized labor support and should have the strongest chance of defeating Kirchoffer as anyone since John Barnes.  The former Representative in HD 89 lost in the Republican onslaught of 2010 to Kirchoffer by a little less than 600 votes.

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

In Memoriam: Shirley Temple Black (1928-2014)

One of Hollywood's most well-known actors passed away yesterday at the age of 85.

Shirley Temple, later known as Shirley Temple Black, was so much more than just an actor in Hollywood.  As a child star, she helped warm hearts hurt by the depression.  When she grew up, she became a diplomat and a politician once serving as the Chief of Protocol for the United States.

Shirley Temple Black's life of service began early at the ripe age of three.  She starred in her first film.  Over the next 19 years or so, she would charm her way into the hearts and minds of Americans before retiring in 1949 from the big screen.  Later, she would come back to television, but it was her perpetual youthful self that many young people, including myself, grew up with.  I can remember dancing and singing along with Shirley Temple as a youngster, and I'm glad my parents thought to show me those films.

Temple Black also proved that one can get beyond one's life as a child star and contribute at the highest levels of service to one's country.

So, for all you did for us, Shirley Temple Black, happy landing on a chocolate bar in the sky!  We'll miss you.

Diet HJR-3 Passes Indiana Senate Rules Committee

House Joint Resolution 3 passed out of the Indiana Senate Rules Committee to the full Senate unchanged from how it passed the House.

If amendments restoring the second sentence of HJR-3 can be avoided on the floor of the full Senate, the resolution will not appear on the ballot in 2014 or 2015.

Yesterday's decision came after a great deal of passionate testimony on both sides, three hours in total, which rehashed many of the same arguments for and against the resolution.

The big showdown on the resolution now gets pushed to Thursday where the big debate on the floor will be whether or not to put that second sentence back into the bill.  All it takes is for one of the 50 Senators to adopt it and 26 members of the Senate to support it.  The Senate is currently split at 37-13 with the Republicans holding the majority.  In 2011, HJR-3, then known as HJR-6, passed the Senate 40-10 gathering a few Democratic votes.

The Indianapolis Star says that the measure's entire future is up in the air in the Senate as several Republicans have said they will vote against the resolution.  I can't imagine that the Senate won't pass one version of the bill or another, but the Star writers are more attuned to the Senate than I am.

If I were a betting man, I bet the stripped down version of the resolution passes the Senate without the second sentence.  That would be at least a partial victory for opponents of HJR-3 because another separately-elected General Assembly would have to pass the resolution through both the House and Senate again in 2015 or 2016.  A statewide vote would not happen until 2016.

Monday, February 10, 2014

Senate Takes Up HJR-3 Monday

The other side of the wacky Indiana General Assembly will take up the zero job creating and major economy killer known as HJR-3 today in a hearing that will likely end up as a vote to pass the darn thing in the end.

I mean, we already know that the supporters of the ban will truck people in from out of state and tell the Senators about how the world as we know it will end if HJR-3 is struck down in Indiana.  We know that there will be passionate Hoosiers telling the legislators about their families and how this terribly discriminatory amendment will adversely affect them.

The biggest question is will the Indiana Senate pass a version of HJR-3 with the second sentence back in or will they pass the same wording the House did with the second sentence deleted?  If the resolution passes committee it goes to the full Senate.

There are only 13 Democrats in the 50 seat Indiana House.  I don't think that HJR-3 will be voted down.  If it goes to the full Senate and is voted through with that second sentence, then all the gains go up in the air.  As it stands now, the process must start all over again if the Senate passes the version the House passed.  There will be no vote in November.

What remains questionable is what if the Senate reinserts the language by amendment and passes the resolution.  That would force this to a conference committee.  If the second sentence is reinserted and the House passes it, November is back in question.

Oddly enough, I actually think November with the second sentence is the best way to put down this awful proposed Amendment for Hoosiers.  Let's hope the Senate keeps us all from what would be a stomach-turning fight.  Tomorrow, we'll see where the fight goes from here.

Friday, February 7, 2014

While I'm Endorsing...Marion County Superior Court Judge Candidate Edition

While the race for Marion County Clerk will have everyone paying attention to the results at slating, there are two other races on the Superior Court Judge ticket that bear watching. Today, I will endorse two candidates that, if I had a vote at slating, I would cast my vote for.

Three retirements and a judicial action have left a potential of four openings at slating. Incumbents David Dreyer, Barbara Cook Crawford, Jim Osborn, and Annie Christ Garcia are all worthy of your vote and are excellent judges by practice and reputation. Angela Davis and Marcel Pratt, not currently on the bench, are also unopposed at slating and will make great judges.

That leaves two contested spots on the slating ballot.
Celestino-Horseman

In one slot, Karen Celestino-Horseman is taking on Christina Klineman.  Klineman is a great person who would make a great judge, but I believe that Karen Celestino-Horseman is the kind of person we need on the bench in Marion County. In her career, she has been not only someone that has taken on a ton of impressive causes from the fight against voter ID to the battle to get Charlie White removed from office. She hasn’t always been victorious, but she’s usually been right. Celestino-Horseman stands as the voice for the voiceless many times as an attorney, and that experience will serve her well as a judge. Klineman is a very impressive candidate, but her breadth of experience just doesn’t compare to that of Celestino-Horseman. I believe in Karen so much that I joined her campaign committee.
Mark A. Jones

In the other contested slot, Judge Kim Brown is awaiting her fate by the Indiana Supreme Court after judicial misconduct allegations were leveled against her. It's very conceivable that she may be thrown off the bench. 

In her slating slot, two candidates are challenging her: Shatrese Flowers and Mark Jones. Either Flowers or Jones would make a great judge and would be a big improvement over Judge Brown. If I had a vote at slating, I would cast it for the experience of Mark Jones. His extensive background as an attorney and a commissioner for Judge Lou Rosenberg make him a tremendous choice.

I like all the candidates for judge.  Whatever eight emerge from slating should make the kinds of jurists that we can be proud of in Marion County.  With that said, I heartily endorse Mark Jones and Karen Celestino-Horseman.

Thursday, February 6, 2014

Beth White Endorses Myla Eldridge for Marion County Clerk

When Democrats go to their mailboxes, they will find the biggest endorsement of all in this 2014 Marion County Clerk’s race. That endorsement is that of Beth White, the current Marion County Clerk, and she is endorsing Myla Eldridge for Clerk.

Eldridge
White
White’s letter to PC’s comes in the last few days after Marion County Coroner has trotted out the endorsements of former Marion Democratic Party Chair Ed Treacy, former State Representative Bill Crawford, Marion County Auditor Billie Breaux, former City-County Councillor Joanne Sanders, and Marion County Sheriff John Layton. Layton even went so far to invoke Beth White’s name in his endorsement of Lloyd saying that he will carry on the legacy of White the best.

I think White would disagree if you read her letter.  I can't post the whole thing here, but I can tell you that the endorsement of Eldridge by White was complete and talked of Eldridge's service to not only the voters of Marion County but the Democrats as well.  "I encourage you to cast your vote for Myla Eldridge to be our slated candidate for Marion County Clerk.  Here's why.  For seven years, Myla has served our community, its voting citizens, and our Party -- first as Deputy Director of Elections then Director of Elections.  Her tireless work to make sure our elections run smoothly and securely should earn her our undying gratitude."

I couldn't agree more with my friend Beth White.  It’s been quite an odd run for Eldridge. Initially there was some speculation that City-County Councillor Leroy Robinson would enter the race for Clerk. He elected not to run. Lloyd entered the race in November.

Eldridge remains the most qualified candidate in the race for Marion County Clerk.

Aiken for Congress

American Idol runner-up Clay Aiken is running for Congress in North Carolina.

The crooner posted an introductory campaign video online yesterday, and it does a good job documenting his poor single-parent upbringing which was affected by his father's alcoholism and some domestic violence against his mother.

Aiken used the opportunity to go after Renee Ellmers, the two-term incumbent who won her seat in Congress in a recount victory over former Rep. Bob Etheridge back in 2010.  She was reelected in 2012 with a 56-41 margin.

Here's the video:



Aiken will likely face three other well-funded Democrats in the race, but he will be one to watch.  He clearly shows the ability to connect with an audience in this campaign ad.  It will be interesting to see if he can do it on the campaign trail.

Wednesday, February 5, 2014

Vlog Brothers Take on Minimum Wage

The Vlog Brothers have a way of making difficult to understand or completely misunderstood topics very easy to understand.  Today, John Green, the Indianapolis resident, takes on the minimum wage.

By the way, Hank, to whom he refers in the video, is his brother.




Tuesday, February 4, 2014

Now This Might Get Awkward...

Dr. Frank Lloyd is trying to muscle his way to the Marion County Clerk's Office by bringing in some heavy hitters on his YouTube page.  He clearly has preferred to campaign this way rather than to do a lot of the traditional things a campaign for slating requires...visits to Democratic functions as well as phone calls, etc.

The "Coroner for Clerk" now has this ad out on his YouTube channel featuring Sheriff John Layton.



Of course, John Layton is currently on the ballot in this election cycle.  Should Myla Eldridge win at slating on Saturday, you would assume that she and Sheriff Layton would be campaigning on the same team.  Well, this could get awkward.

Marion County GOP Putting Everything On Sheriff's Race

It appears that the Marion County Republican Party is putting its collective energy towards winning one Marion County office this year.
Sheriff Layton

I'm not sure how they do it, but it is something they've done before.  In 2010, Republicans sunk their heels in and tried to hold on to the Marion County Prosecutor's Office.  Governor Mitch Daniels' own general counsel was tapped with the job of keeping the office in the hands of the Republican Party.  Mark Massa became the Republican nominee, and Terry Curry prevailed in a crowded field of well-known Democrats finally finishing off Greg Bowes in the 2010 May Primary.  Massa started out as the favorite in the General Election campaign, but Curry ended up winning the race with a slow, steady campaign that concentrated on the ground game.  Massa's air war turned negative and backfired.  It was over.

In 2011, Republicans tried to defend its City-County Council majority as well as the Mayor's Office.  We all know what happened.  Mayor Ballard won back his office on the 25th floor, but the Democrats took over the Council.

It appears the all eggs in one basket strategy might be back again for the Republicans.  This time, they are targeting Marion County Sheriff.  The problem is that the man in that office, John Layton, already pulls broad and wide-ranging appeal from both sides of the aisle.  Layton has a coalition, and he has been aggressively working to continue to build that coalition as Sheriff.

Emmitt Carney
The Republicans are trying to beat Layton with Emmitt Carney, a former federal ATF agent and Kentucky State Trooper.  Back in October, he told Amos Brown and Abdul-Hakim Shabazz that he would make sure the Sheriff's Department did its constitutional job before outlining any changes.  Carney is a far better candidate than Dennis Fishburn was, but he still can't match Layton's resume.

John Layton was BORN to be Marion County Sheriff.  On February 3, he celebrated 40 years with the Department by filing for reelection.  As Sheriff, Layton has been excellent in his position and extremely responsive to crises and moments of need.  He's not been afraid to investigate within in order to root out corruption, and he has taken action to continue clean up the Marion County Sheriff's Department.  His motto of "Ask Any Deputy" stands for itself.

Emmitt Carney seems like a great person, but he doesn't know anything about being Marion County Sheriff.  That's why John Layton starts as the frontrunner for reelection and will likely remain there throughout the campaign.  I was impressed back a month or so ago when he was on my Indiana Talks Radio Show.  Layton talks with a passion for his Department like a guy that's been on the job for 40 years.

I have no reason to doubt he will be there four more.

As he did in 2010, Mark Brown has said he is running for the Democratic nomination for Sheriff although he has yet to file for the office through the close of business yesterday.

Monday, February 3, 2014

In Memoriam: Dr. Beurt SerVaas (1919-2014)

You could try for 100 years, but you likely will never find another Dr. Beurt SerVaas.

The man who wielded power from behind a pair of usually dark-rimmed glasses is gone at the age of 94.

I knew Dr. SerVaas as a City-County Councillor, but others knew him for many other activities.  He was a prolific businessman who seemed successful in nearly every endeavor, but he was also a World War II veteran and intelligence officer for the U.S. Navy.  He also spent time in the CIA, but he made his real mark in Indy.

He was elected to the City-County Council before it was even called that.  Along with Mayor Richard Lugar and others, SerVaas was one of the driving forces behind UniGov...the consolidated City-County government now present in Indianapolis.  In 1975, he took over as President of the City-County Council, and he presided for the next 27 years before handing the gavel to Philip Borst.

Indianapolis grew and changed as a city. Hard to believe we've lost Andy Jacobs and Beurt SerVaas within two months of each other, but the longtime civic icons are gone.  

Thanks to Dr. SerVaas for his years service to Indianapolis.  He was a powerful man who mostly used his power wisely.

Easter 2015!

Easter 2015?
I was actually in the shower the other morning, and I started thinking what I would do and what kind of campaign I would like to run if I ran for Mayor of Indianapolis.

Now, I have no interest in the job.  I absolutely love teaching, and I absolutely love what I do as a blogger here and a host of my radio show.  Nonetheless, I jotted down a few things in the back of my head, and I thought I'd share them here.  I won't share the contents of the speech I gave while I was in the shower.  In fact, just purge the image out of your brains now.

My first pledge would be to always be honest.  It sounds so simple, but I would make a pledge that I would always be honest and that I would always level with the people of the city.  Each week I'm in office, I would try to post a weekly question and answer session via Twitter or YouTube.  I would pledge to use these methods to connect with constituents.

My second pledge is that I would not get lost on the 25th floor of the City-County Building.  If you trust me to run your city, you will have access to me.  Whenever possible, I'm going to be someone who is eating lunch or dinner at local establishments.

My third pledge is that if I leave the city, you're going to know about it.  There's no reason for the Mayor to be out of the city for two or three months out of the year.  I won't do that.  While I will not pledge to never take a vacation, I plan to be up front about trade missions, who is paying for them, and what will be the results of my time away from the city.

Now that we have those two things out of the way, I think that it will be easier to talk to each other about the issues that are negatively affecting our city.  I think I have a handle on a few, but I would need your help, as residents of Indy, for the rest.  Whenever possible, I would hold town halls across the city where it's just me and you.  My staff may be on hand, but they won't be on stage.  I will take your unfiltered questions, and you can be sure that I'll find a way to take them all.

Though my duties as Mayor may require me to use a car or a driver, I plan to use public transportation as my schedule permits.  If that means I stand in line at bus stops, then so be it.  I'll stand with you.  You see, I'm not going to be above you.  I'm a Mayor of you.  Talking to people as I ride on the bus is going to be a priority for me, and there won't be any TV cameras.  It will just be a normal thing.  How am I going to understand how everyone in this city lives if I don't live in this city with them?

Now, I know we'll have tough times in this city.  We have some big problems that we need to solve.  We need to put aside politics to solve them.  We need to embrace the peacemakers like the Ten Point Coalition.  Beyond that, we need to get down in the trenches.  One of my first acts as Mayor will be to join the Mayors Against Illegal Guns Coalition.  We need to promote responsible gun ownership in this city, and if the State of Indiana fights me on it, I'll go to war with them.  We need to feel safe in our own city, and we need to level with each other that every homicide hurts our community...no matter who the victim is.  It's no longer going to be acceptable to write some homicides off simply because that victim had a criminal record.  When I'm Mayor, I'll put a full court blitz on crime.  I'll take my message to the schools, and I'll help other elected officials that have great programs that prevent crime not only get the credit they deserve but get the full support of the Mayor's Office.

On education, I will more greatly scrutinize charter schools.  I'll make sure that when we divert public education funds away from traditional public schools that we're not doing it blindly.  That these charter schools that I sponsor offer different and distinct choices for parents that reach all students.  I'll make sure that students with disabilities have an advocate and that no student will go to school in my city with a fear of being bullied because of who they are.

Economic development, of course, will be a concern.  I will make it a priority of my administration to expand the tax base across the city and avoid the old tricks such as tax increment financing and abatements.  Yes, these are valuable tools, but I believe we use them too easily and quickly.  I'll also use the city's website to promote transparency in government.  At a click of a mouse, you should be able to see the deal that the city has made with a developer.  That holds the city accountable as well as the developer accountable.  As a candidate, I would not knowingly accept contributions from anyone wishing to do business with the city.

I don't know if any of this makes sense.  It all made sense in the shower.  Maybe I'll write another one of these some day.  If you're running for Mayor, feel free to use any of these things.

Sunday, February 2, 2014

Lloyd or Eldridge? Battle for Clerk Remains Interesting Less Than One Week from Slating

I want to preface this blog post by saying that Marion County Democrats have two excellent, intelligent, and strong candidates for Marion County Clerk.

Myla Eldridge and Dr. Frank Lloyd both bring a variety of different experiences to the table.  There is just one thing.  As sometimes happens during a campaign, one candidate has been out campaigning for months for the job and another sweeps in at the end only to take the opportunity away.

Myla Eldridge
Eldridge has been a constant at countywide club meetings.  Eldridge has presented multiple voting presentations to multiple civic and political groups.  She has represented Beth White on more than one occasion.  Most importantly, Eldridge has been Deputy Director of Elections and Director of Elections for the Election Board.  Neither job is easy, but Eldridge has done them.

Frank Lloyd
Dr. Lloyd's family name is well-known in this area for his father was a longtime community leader who was strongly involved in guaranteeing the right to vote for all.  Lloyd also has extensive experience as a surgeon and a hospital administrator.  He has done a good job as Marion County Coroner.

This run, however, is for CLERK, and it's such a critical position.  You see, the Clerk has tons of jobs.  It's almost like anything and everything other county officials didn't want got saddled with the Clerk of the Circuit Court.  Besides court filings, the Marion County Clerk is responsible for things like collecting child support, granting marriage licenses, and much more.  Then, of course, there's the whole elections thing.  The Clerk sits as the Secretary of the Election Board and helps make sure that when you go to the polls on Election Day that there are enough staff, ballots, and machinery to support your franchise.

As far as the campaign goes, and that's key for me.  I know Myla.  I've seen the job she's done, and I know what she can do.  I've seen her competently and faithfully run good elections, and I know she is very good with the public.  Dr. Lloyd I know only as a coroner.  A good coroner, but that's really what I know beyond what I can find on the internet.  In recent days, perhaps to reach those he has yet to reach, Dr. Lloyd has created a YouTube account.  It's a good idea, but I don't know how effective it will be.  The chance to lay the groundwork was there, and he chose not to do so.  His first endorsement video was from Ed Treacy, former Marion County Democratic Party Chairman.

The question is, do you want a coroner or do you want a clerk?  I want a clerk.  That's why, if I had a vote at slating, I'd cast it for Myla Eldridge.

The Republicans, by the way, met on Saturday and slated Christine Bischoff for Marion County Clerk.  She's currently serving on the Franklin Township Advisory Board.