Saturday, August 30, 2014

Mourdock Leaves Office Reportedly to Save Cut to Own Pension

Mourdock
Richard Mourdock stepped down from his office as Treasurer of State on August 29, 2014.

If he had stayed past August 31, new retirement laws would have cut his pension, according to WISH.

That means that the geologist turned career politician who Hoosiers elected to two four-year terms as Treasurer decided to turn his back on those that elected him for apparently his own benefit.

What ever happened to serving out your term and handing your office keys over to your successor?  It seems as if some politicians of both parties have decided to say screw you to the voters that elected them and pursue their own interest.  Mourdock is just the latest.

Given the timing of his announcement on reportedly the LAST possible day that he could leave office without receiving cuts to his state pension, Mourdock's resignation seems even more of a slap in the face to Hoosiers.

I wonder if this is what God intended?

Of the current occupants of the offices of the Indiana Attorney General, the Secretary of State, the Treasurer of State, the Auditor of State, and the Superintendent of Public Instruction, three have been appointed without an election by the Governor.

Governor Mitch Daniels appointed Connie Lawson Secretary of State after Charlie White was forced from office.  Governor Mike Pence appointed Suzanne Crouch to take over from Dwayne Sawyer as Auditor.  Pence had appointed Sawyer Auditor after Tim Berry resigned to become Indiana GOP Chair.  Now Pence will appoint a new Treasurer to serve out the remaining months of Mourdock's term.

Friday, August 29, 2014

Donate to ALS or Parkinson's Research

One of my students challenged me to the Ice Bucket Challenge.  I've been too busy to get dunked, but I will do it.  I promise.

I did, however, make a donation to the ALS Association, and it made me think back to a very personal story.

My ALS story has to do with my mother.  For those of you that don't know, my mother suffers from a very advanced form of arthritis as well as Parkinson's Disease.  While her mental capacities are still with her, she struggles, the Parkinson's has advanced so far that she struggles to stand on her own, and she also has trouble eating, dressing herself, and other things we all take for granted.

When she was first experienced symptoms, the doctors weren't sure about her initial symptoms, and it took some tests to finally hone in on the diagnosis that was reached with Parkinson's.  It was a very scary period for all of us.  To hear that you might, at worst case scenario, have Parkinson's or ALS must have been more than disheartening.

As I've watched my mom's physical health deteriorate, I can empathize with those watching people suffer from ALS.  With ALS, the body is robbed of its muscles until eventually it robs you of your ability to breathe on your own.  The prognosis isn't good, and it is almost always fatal.  It's always debilitating.

So, as you do your Ice Bucket Challenges, give a little to ALS research.  Go to www.alsa.org/donate and give.  You can also give to Parkinson's research at www.pdf.org.  Take a pie for Parkinson's.

Enjoy your Labor Day Weekend!

 

Thursday, August 28, 2014

New Security Gates Planned At Governor's Residence Signal Exactly What?

For over 40 years, the Indiana Governor's Residence has stood at 4750 N. Meridian Street.  It's a beautiful English Tudor home, and it's been the source of controversy as well as pride over the years.

The house is much older than 41 years old, but it's only been the official home of the Governor since Otis Bowen took up residence there.  Since then, Governors Bowen, Orr, Bayh, O'Bannon, Kernan, Daniels, and Pence have used the mansion as a residence or a place for ceremonial activities.

The commission that oversees that residence nearly proposed moving the residence from the home on north Meridian to a new location, but they eventually settled on renovating the residence that was built in 1928.  Some accessibility issues were addressed and a few other security features were added during the O'Bannon Administration.  Renovations were undertaken in the early days of the Daniels Administration.

On the grounds is a beautiful gazebo placed by the late wife of Governor Robert Orr.  Governor Bayh installed a basketball goal.  Mitch Daniels time as Indiana's Chief Executive was notable for Daniels not living in the mansion full-time and using it for only occasional events, and Governor Pence has taken up beekeeping.

Over the years, security has also increased.  No longer can you enter the mansion's grounds off of Meridian.  As part of the renovations in the Daniels Administration, there is now a larger parking area off of 46th Street.  Perhaps a sign of the times we now live in is that the Governor's residence is now going to be the home of security gates.

The money, according to the Associated Press, will come from the Governor's Public Building Foundation, and it's not known the full scope or price tag of the project other than the gates will be wrought iron.

More security is certainly not something this Hoosier would ever deny Governor Pence or the future occupants of that home, but it makes you wonder why the Governor right now at this moment may need more security.  Is it his rising national profile?  Is this in anticipation of a future run for President?

Oh the speculation!

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

White Launches Indy Sentinel

White
Welcome to the blogosphere, Charlie White.

As if we weren’t enough of an unseemly bunch, Indiana’s former Secretary of State has joined our ranks as blogger with his new venture, the Indy Sentinel. White told the Indianapolis Star’s Tony Cook that he has nothing but time on his hands right now and a bunch of knowledge to drop.

I knew White had joined the blogosphere, it was just interesting to see the Indianapolis Star mention it.

Of course, you know the story of Charlie White by now. No need to drag him back through the mud again. This blog has probably done enough of that. No need to also discuss his ongoing legal wranglings and hassles. I maintain that much of what happened to Mr. White was brought on by Mr. White. 

White’s problem will likely be that of credibility. He has tons of axes to grind, and, with his background, some might say they “wouldn’t believe him if his tongue came notarized.” Judge Marilyn Milian uses that quote on the People’s Court when some of the litigants have given her a reason to doubt their credibility.
Still, White’s personal life was laid bare for public consumption, and his professional life is in shambles. It’s hard to watch. I have to say I admire the guy for getting back up and dusting himself off and trying to move forward. This is a good way to do it.

I would say that his entry into the blogosphere has probably gotten the attention of the Republican power brokers. I’d have to say that White likely knows where they’ve buried the secrets over the years. Best of all, as editor and chief of his own blog, he can write it the way it needs to be written.  There must be some collective quaking in the boots among the Indiana GOP.  After all, White has nothing to lose at this point.

White's choice of names harkens back to the old Indianapolis Sentinel newspaper.  It was one of the dailies in Indianapolis until it was bought up by the Indianapolis Star back in the early 20th Century.

Again, I give a hearty welcome to the blogosphere to Charlie White. May your stay be long and prosperous.

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Bayh Says He's Still Unlikely to Run for Governor...Again

Evan Bayh
Leslie Weidenbener, a reporter from the Indianapolis Star penned an article saying former Indiana Governor Evan Bayh is unlikely to make 2016 like 1988 all over again and try to win the Governor's Office back for the Democrats.  He made his comments on John Krull's no limits radio talk show on WFYI, according to the Star writer.

No surprise.

The former Governor and U.S. Senator has said a run was "less likely than more likely" from the beginning.  He still is holding out until after Labor Day for a final decision.  My question is...why?  Why does Bayh need a little more time to keep potential gubernatorial candidates at bey?  Again, like I've said before, just make a decision, Mr. Bayh.

I admire candidates like John Gregg who continue to keep the foot mashed to the floor on a possible 2016 run.  He hasn't let up on his attacks on Mike Pence.  It's clear that Gregg isn't letting Bayh's indecision stop him from trying to win the office he nearly won in 2012.

What's also clear is that some part of him wants to get back in the game.  Unlike Elizabeth Warren, who keeps avoiding talk of a 2016 run like the plague, Bayh has entertained questions and has remained ambivalent enough to keep the attention of possible 2016 office seekers.  He has millions of dollars in his campaign account, and, if he's going to do it, this is the time as he approaches the age of 60.  For some politicians, they are just now beginning their careers.  Bayh has already had his.

Bayh may have a place in Indiana politics.  He may even have a place nationally in the future.  Many speculate that Hillary Clinton might select him as a running mate should she win the nomination in 2016 for President.

We'll see how long this goes after Labor Day
.

Monday, August 25, 2014

It's All About Love

This week will be a big one in the battle for marriage equality in Indiana.

On Tuesday in Chicago, the 7th Circuit Court of Appeals will hear the case from Indiana on whether or not same sex marriage should be legal in Indiana.  For a brief period in June, it was legal until the 7th Circuit issued a stay.  Today, those unions that were joined in June as well as ones that might be joined in the future hang in the balance.

Last night, however, I had the honor to be invited to a send-off dinner by Karen Celestino Horseman for her clients, a group of first responders, fighting just to have their unions recognized by the state they serve.  It was a gathering of about 20 people including myself, and I was privileged to be a fly on the wall.

The group filled that room at English Ivy's with laughter and joy and smiles.  It was a rowdy bunch.  There we were...all gathered for a cause.  Straight, gay, whatever...it didn't matter...all were represented.  We were all gathered there to celebrate what could be an historic case for Indiana residents like me.

In June, I found out the same group, albeit smaller, gathered when Judge Richard Young overturned Indiana's prohibition on same-sex marriage.  Hopefully, we'll be gathering at English Ivy's again in a few weeks to celebrate another victory.  One way or another, it's just a matter of time.  It's all about love.  Love is on our side, and even the law will see that one day very soon.

I want to wish Karen Celestino Horseman, the plaintiffs she represents, and the legal team that includes Bill Groth (who also was there with his wife at English Ivy's last night) the best as they head to Chicago to fight for the civil rights of so many.

When history looks back on these days, it will record the findings of what happened, but I got to spend an evening with the trailblazers.

Friday, August 22, 2014

Charter School Closing Especially Messy for Students

Another charter school disaster is taking place in Indianapolis, and it's a true mess.  It's even messier for students.

Over allegations of academic dishonesty and cheating, Flanner House School is closing in less than one month leaving the children to make the painful transition mid-year to another school.

I just can't imagine this is what is best for students.  In fact, I know it's not.  Elementary school-age children need stability and compassion.  They don't need to be caught in the middle of a cheating scandal.

If you ever had to move schools in the middle of a year, it was devastating.  I never did, but I remember some of the friends I had in school that did have to make the move.  Leaving behind friends and trusted teachers was brutal.

Mayor Greg Ballard's Office was in charge of Flanner House School's charter.  It was the Mayor who was in charge of oversight, and it was his office that investigated the school along with the State of Indiana.  From what I read, both of those entities allowed the school to open this year even as an ongoing investigation continued.

There should be a state law that states that a school that's caught in a scandal like this cannot simply shut down in the middle of the school year.  If that's not possible, then a school caught with testing irregularities or serious questions surrounding its academics should not be allowed to open to students unless the questions are answered.  As for now, parents and students are left searching for other educational options.

It should be noticed that Flanner House School and Flanner House, Inc. are two separate entities.

Thursday, August 21, 2014

MCDP Releases Scathing Response to Ballard Budget Proposal

The Marion County Democratic Party responded to Mayor Greg Ballard's budget proposal in an e-mail to supporters.  They were not real supportive, and I don't blame them.

Here's the e-mail.
Mayor Ballard’s budget proposal is irresponsible and politically motivated. 
Our city is in the grips of an unprecedented wave of homicides. At a time when we all agree that public safety should be job one, Greg Ballard is playing politics. 
Ballard’s budget includes a $639,625 reduction in funds to the Prosecutor’s office, the very office responsible for putting the criminals in our community behind bars. This proposal is dangerous because it handcuffs the very man who the mayor should be supporting whole-heartedly, regardless of political party. 
Greg Ballard would rather stir up a partisan political brawl than solve the crime problem in the city of Indianapolis! 
The absurdities continue. The Mayor insists on raising taxes with a plan that nets very few additional police officers over time, while simultaneously paying more than $12 million dollars to PR and lobbying firms to sell us on a criminal justice complex that isn’t even built yet! That’s your money! Greg Ballard spends it as if you aren’t watching! 
If you are feeling some ‘cricket stadium’ or even ‘ROC’ de-ja-vu, you are not alone. This mayor has a knack for bad contracts, misplaced priorities, and wasteful spending. By slashing the Prosecutor’s budget, he is adding partisan gamesmanship to his arsenal. 
Mayor Ballard’s budget plan is an attack on the criminal justice system. This mayor is insulated from reality and ineffective in his actions. Now he is playing politics with public safety and the safety of our families. Don’t let Republicans get away with wasting your money! Register voters! Donate! Make your voice heard!

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Clinton Tries House of Cards Parody

Bill Clinton turned 68 on Tuesday.

To celebrate, the Clinton Foundation put together this video to get folks to sign his birthday card.  It's a parody of House of Cards...sort of.  The acting isn't that spectacular from Hillary, but Kevin Spacey is at his Frank Underwood best.

And don't watch this unless you've watched both seasons of House of Cards.  It contains a spoiler.

Enjoy...

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Councillors Had Right to Protest

Bill of Rights
Monday night while Mayor Greg Ballard presented his budget for 2014, a budget that should have raised questions and warning bells with the media, the actions of five City-County Councillors have reached the spotlight.

Five members of the Democratic caucus chose to display signs taped next to their nameplates on Monday night.  Exercising their First Amendment rights to free speech in solidarity with peaceful protesters in Ferguson, Missouri were Councillor Vop Osili, Councillor Leroy Robinson, Councillor Monroe Gray, Councillor Joe Simpson, and Councillor Brian Mahern.

The problem with the signs, and I don't know if any of the five Councillors noticed this, was that they were posted on the 10th anniversary of the death of IPD Officer Jake Laird.  The officer was gunned down in the line of duty on August 18, 2003.  The signs posted had a stick figure drawn with its hands up and used the slogan "Hands up, Don't Shoot" which has become a mantra among the protesters in Ferguson, Missouri.

Abdul-Hakim Shabazz noticed.

I have no problem with the Councillors expressing their First Amendment rights.  Just because you become an elected official, it doesn't mean you have some obligation to remain quiet.  In fact, it's just the opposite.  Our community leaders should speak out on issues of the day, and what's going on in Ferguson is a major issue right now.

That said, I think the timing was definitely off, and this might not have been the venue for this type of protest.  I can understand why some might have been put off or offended by the actions of the five Councillors.

That, however, is the nature of the First Amendment.  It's that same piece of our Constitution that protects the rights of peaceable assembly, of petitioning the government, of the free press, and the exercise of or the lack of exercise of a religion.

The First Amendment is not always nice, and its protected language can sometimes be in your face.  You nor I have to like what someone is saying, but we should all defend the basic right to express diverging views from our own.

While I wouldn't have put a sign like that up in front of me on the City-County Council, Councillors Simpson, Gray, Mahern, Osili, and Robinson thought the message needed to get out there.  It did.

So, can we go back to discussing the budget now?

Indiana's 2nd Congressional District Race Worth Watching

Rep. Jackie Walorski
Congressional races across Indiana in 2014 have all the excitement of watching the corn grow in Hoosier fields.

There certainly isn't much out there to indicate there will be major changes in Indiana's delegation come January 2015.  That comes with one exception.

In Indiana's District 2, Congresswoman Jackie Walorski, the Republican incumbent, is under serious attack from Notre Dame official, Joe Bock, her Democratic challenger.  Bock is raising money, and it's clear that both Republicans and Democrats know how important the seat is.

Joe Bock
For Democrats, they have to have the seat in order to win back the House.  Republicans know that they have to hold the seat to keep the House.  With very few of the seats in question this time around...or frankly any time, Indiana's 2nd remains one to watch.

It's also gotten the attention of comedian, Bill Maher.  During his "Flip a District" segment on Real Time, Maher has mentioned Walorski's Northern Indiana district calling her a "gerrymandering queen" and pointing out that she only won after the district was redrawn to be more favorable to Republicans.  Walorski made it to the final 16 of Maher's list.

Fact is that Walorski was expected to win more handily last time than she did over Brendan Mullen.  Mullen, however, kept it close.  Walorski ended up nipping Mullen despite a district that rates +6 Republican.

Bock, who is very conservative, can win this, but it's still a bit of an uphill climb for a Democrat even with Walorski's seeming unpopularity.  I would not be surprised if this race ends up tight in November.  Howey Politics Indiana's Jack Colwell reports that Walorski has been running ads all summer long.

Monday, August 18, 2014

Rokita Ponders Repeal of Endangered Species Act

"I was once endangered, Todd."
I try to give Representative Todd Rokita the benefit of the doubt, but sometimes, and I don't say this lightly, I just wonder if he's all there.

On his Facebook page, Rokita tells the story of the Tippecanoe River and Lake Freeman up in Carroll County.

Apparently, there had been some complaints about a low water flow and level up there, so the Congressman looked into the issue.  Good responsive work there Todd.

In his investigation, he got a solution for the Tippecanoe River, but he didn't get a solution to the Lake Freeman issue because there are apparently six endangered mussels that would find themselves in a world of hurt if the low flow water problem were solved.

Rokita's solution: suggest the repeal of the 41-year-old Endangered Species Act.  Yep...let that sink in.  He actually put that up as an option.  

Conceived by President Nixon, the Endangered Species Act was passed nearly unanimously through Congress in 1973.  Only a few House members, including one in Indiana, voted against the act.  I guess that meant it was popular.

Now, listen, I'm no rabid environmentalist, but I don't know what gives us, as humans, a right to dictate to those voiceless and defenseless mussels what's best for them.  Do we wipe those little guys off the planet just so Jebby can ride his wave runner?  I say, heck no.

The Endangered Species Act is responsible for the preservation of countless species.  Two of our nation's most revered animal symbols, the bald eagle and the buffalo were once on the list.  Thanks to conservation efforts, they were spared extinction.

Makes you wonder if a bald eagle habitat were holding up progress on Lake Freeman if Rokita would be so blase about preserving them.

Click here and tell Representative Rokita exactly what you think about the Endangered Species Act.

Ballard Proposes Cuts to Prosecutor's Budget Despite Own Rhetoric

Mayor Greg Ballard
As I write this, the City-County Council is still meeting.  It's been a long night.

Mayor Greg Ballard made an appearance to present his $1 billion budget.  In the budget is more money for police and fire, but less money for the Marion County Prosecutor.

Seems funny that's the direction of the priorities that the Mayor took here.  After all, he spends much of his time these days railing against the courts, the Marion County Sheriff, and the Marion County Prosecutor for not being tough enough and keeping criminals in jail or charged.  He often talks about arresting the same people over and over again.

Yet, when it comes to putting his priorities down on paper in his proposed budget, he throws more money to the police side of public safety...where he's previously said it wouldn't help...and reduces the funding for the Marion County Prosecutor's Office some $640,000 (according to John Tuohy's Indy Star article).

Ballard also left out the cost of his crime plan from the proposed budget.

Remarkable how priorities work, isn't it?

Shocking IPL Decision Signals Victory for Grassroots Organizing

Friday's big news was IPL's decision to stop burning coal at the Harding Street Station plant by 2016.

The news was as big as it was shocking.

There's an old Ethiopian proverb that I've always liked.  It says, "When spider webs unite, they can tie up a lion."  It's the idea of something very small taking down something big and powerful.

The Sierra Club and other more local environmental groups should be applauded for this move to improve our city's air and ground water quality.  A big hand should also be given to those City-County Councillors who bravely sided with the IPL opponents even before any poll data came out.  This was a victory for the grassroots efforts of many.

I must personally admit that I did a double take even though I got the news release in my inbox.  I didn't quite believe it.  Given the tone of IPL at the hearing over the City-County Council proposed resolution, I didn't think we would get here.  It was quite a remarkable turn of events.

Congratulations to all those that advocated for a new alternative to bring us power in a more clean and environmentally-safe manner. Thanks for making Indianapolis a little better.

Friday, August 15, 2014

Fallon's Hilarious House of Cards Parody More Than Spot On

Like many political types, I'm addicted to the Netflix original series, House of Cards.  Jimmy Fallon came up with this amazing parody of the series on the Tonight Show.  It's excellent right down to the final twist.

PART I



PART II

Thursday, August 14, 2014

Party of No Strikes Again in Marion County

Republicans continue to be the “Party of No” across the country and even still in our own backyard.

The Marion County Election Board again took up the question of more than one early voting site for the state’s most populous county. Again, the only Republican member of the Election Board, Vincent Perez, voted no.

That means that there’s no soup for us.  If soup meant satellite early voting centers, that is.

In 2008, 2009, and 2010, the Marion County Clerk operated successful and popular early voting sites away from the City-County Building. In 2011, the Republicans started saying no to other early voting sites, and they’ve continued to hold firm. Due to state law, it just takes one of the three Commissioners on the Election Board to veto any proposal on early voting sites. This just serves as one more example of how Democrats want to make it easier to vote while Republicans throw up a roadblock.  Perez was the roadblock.

What is the Mayor and the Marion County Republican Party afraid of? Simple…it's turnout.

Studies have shown that the more people that turnout in an election, the better it is for Democrats in Marion County. Indianapolis and Marion County have become more Democratic than the former days when Republicans ruled the roost. With the exception of the Mayor’s Office, D’s own every Marion County executive office and have a majority on the City-County Council. The Marion County Republican Party knows this, and they clearly don’t care if you vote or not.

The last day to register to vote for the 2014 General Election is October 6. Early voting begins on October 7 from 8 a.m.-5 p.m.
Early voting in the Clerk's Office as reported by WTHR:
Tuesday, October 7 to Friday, October 10, 8AM to 5PM
Monday, October 13 to Friday, October 17, 8AM to 5PM
Monday, October 20 to Friday, October 24, 8AM to 5PM
Saturday, October 25 & Sunday, October 26, 10AM to 5PM
Monday, October 27 to Friday, October 31, 8AM to 8PM
Saturday, November 1 & Sunday, November 2 - 10AM to 5PM
Last day! Monday, November 3 - 8AM to 12PM (noon)

Last day to request an absentee-by-mail ballot: Monday, October 27

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Reports: Todd to Replace Gregory on MTP

Amid all the bad news in the world, a small tidbit of information crossed my Twitter timeline late yesterday that I noted.

It appears very possible that Chuck Todd will be the new moderator of Meet the Press replacing David Gregory whose tenure on the program has been marked by falling ratings and heavy criticism.

Todd is a protege of the late Tim Russert, and he has an excellent grasp of politics.  He, however, is not Tim Russert.  No one is, and it would be unfair for me or anyone to place those hefty shoes on Todd's feet.  If Todd does, in fact, replace Gregory, it will be an improvement.

Gregory's future is more cloudy.  Insiders expect him to stay aboard at NBC.  He could, of course, take his talents elsewhere.

I know for me that Meet the Press used to be required Sunday morning programming.  Since Russert's death in June of 2008, it has been a very difficult transition from Russert to Tom Brokaw to Gregory.  We'll see how it goes from Gregory to Todd.

Here's Todd grilling Indiana's Luke Messer.



Maybe we can see a glint of Russert in Todd.  Some of Russert's best work is here.

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Curry Not Banking on Easy Win Over Merchant Despite Strong Position for Reelection

Marion County Prosecutor
Terry Curry
I'd like to write about the Marion County Prosecutor's race for 2014, but, there's not much to write about.

Democratic incumbent Terry Curry is in the drivers seat, and his Republican opponent, Duane Merchant, is barely in the rear view mirror.

It's been a far cry from the contentious 2010 campaign that saw Curry take back the office from the hands of the Republicans by defeating the Mitch Daniels-backed Mark Massa.  Since then, Curry has been working to restore a sense of dignity to the office after that was obliterated by Republican Carl Brizzi.  The 2010 race was an expensive affair that involved nasty campaign ads.

So far, it's been pretty civil this time around.  Merchant has struggled to raise campaign money.  He trails Curry in that category by a bundle, but Merchant's struggles haven't made the incumbent complacent.

Curry sent out a cautionary e-mail last week to supporters with a direct plea, "To be honest, fundraising has been a challenge this year. Ironically, it appears that we are a victim of our own success, as our supporters believe that we will prevail based upon the good will which we have developed by 'governing well' in our first three and one-half years as Prosecutor."

He added, "We clearly cannot afford complacency at this late date. I would sincerely appreciate your financial assistance now to help us close strong in this campaign."

Just 84 days remain until Election Day.

Monday, August 11, 2014

In Memoriam: Robin Williams, 1951-2014

The laughter has stopped, and it has been replaced by tears of pain.

Robin Williams apparently took his own life today at the age of 63.

Who knows what great things he would have accomplished in his golden years.  What I know is that I will personally miss him, and my heart breaks for his family.

Depression is a terrible disease that some scoff at.  As someone who has suffered depression in the past, it can take you to a very dark place in a very big hurry without any warning.  It's not the melancholy we feel sometimes, but a deep ache in your soul that makes you feel that there's no way out.  Williams had been suffering for years with well-published bouts of depression.  It led to substance abuse, alcohol abuse, and other health problems.  In the end, it may have taken him away from us.

What he leaves behind is a wonderful career of award-winning work from stage to television to the big screen.  He was a truly gifted performer who excelled in everything he did.  He's one of the rare performers to have won an Emmy, a Grammy, a Golden Globe, and an Oscar...some of them multiple times.

I'll remember him for how hard he made me laugh, but I will also remember him for that melancholy smile and that twinkle he always had in his eye.

That twinkle is gone tonight, and I am sad.  The world is sad.

CBS to Move to WTTV Jan. 1

The local media world was turned upside down today with the news that WISH-TV, the CBS affiliate in town for over 60 years, had lost its affiliation to WTTV.  CBS divided its channel number in half...from 8 to 4.

That means that in just four months, WTTV will have to assemble, from scratch, an entire news operation and WISH will be scrambling to fill hours of now network programming as well as cope with the loss of most Indianapolis Colts games.

To say today's news was a shock is an understatement.  It came out of nowhere.  

The Indianapolis Business Journal wrote this excellent piece on the transition that will take place on January 1.  It's a real bum deal for the current folks at WISH-TV.  They can't simply jump ship to channel 4.  They likely have contracts and non-compete clauses that will keep them locked to channel 8 and then off the air for months.  

It's good news for folks like Chris Wright who was unceremoniously shown the door at WTHR months ago.  He can now reemerge with his popularity and become the face perhaps of a new WTTV news team.  

Local news makes big bucks for affiliates.  It's hard to imagine what everyone at channel 8 must be feeling right now.  LIN-TV, the owner of channel 8, will certainly have to put something in place between now and the end of the year to figure out just what they will do.

This was certainly something I didn't think I'd be blogging on this week.

Lundergan Grimes Pushing McConnell to Brink in Kentucky

Kentucky Sec. of State
Alison Lundergan Grimes
Indiana's neighbor to the south may be the race to watch to see if Democrats can keep control of the U.S. Senate.  It's a neck-and-neck nasty battle so far.

Senator Mitch McConnell is trying to hold on to his seat by fighting off a strong challenge by Kentucky Secretary of State Alison Lundergan Grimes.

Sen. Mitch McConnell
Despite being outspent, Lundergan Grimes is within the margin of error in most recent polls behind by just a couple of percentage points.  Bill Clinton even jumped in the campaign stumping for Lundergan Grimes.  The Kentucky Secretary of State also drew a lot of attention from her speech at the Kentucky Fancy Farm Picnic last weekend.  It's a Commonwealth tradition where the candidates meet face-to-face along with their supporters to trade barbs.  She pulled no punches in aggressively attacking McConnell.  McConnell, on the other hand, tried to paint Lundergan Grimes as a zombie vote for an Obama Administration.

McConnell is ignoring Lundergan Grimes for the most part in his campaign.  Instead, he's apparently trying to link her to President Barack Obama.  Obama is not real popular in Kentucky, and McConnell is hoping to link Lundergan Grimes to him.

To me, it's the wrong strategy.  McConnell is clearly in a world of hurt in this red state.  President Obama is not his opponent...Alison Lundergan Grimes is.  He should be working harder to battle her than battle someone who's not even on the ballot in 2014.  McConnell seems reluctant to take her challenge seriously.

This is going to be a race that comes down to the wire.  I think Lundergan Grimes has an excellent chance of winning in this race.

We'll see what happens as the race continues to develop towards November.  Continued gridlock in Congress cannot be good for McConnell who is as responsible...if not more responsible for the lack of action in Washington than any Democrat.

Saturday, August 9, 2014

40 Years Ago Today...

This happened.

While You See A Chance, Take It: Good Dems Need to Step Up in Tennessee

John Zody is working hard to change the fortunes of Indiana Democrats across the state, but it's been a tough few election cycles by-and-large for the Indiana Democratic Party.

The wins have been significant.  Barack Obama in 2008 taking Indiana over John McCain was the first time Indiana turned blue since LBJ won the state in 1964's landslide.  In 2012, both Joe Donnelly and Glenda Ritz broke through and won a seat in the U.S. Senate and the Superintendent of Public Instruction's Office, respectively.  2010 and 2012 were not kind to Indiana Democrats in the General Assembly.  Right now, the Democrats aren't even needed to conduct business in the legislative body of Indiana.

As bad as things have been for Democrats, we keep bringing forth good candidates.  The same can't be said for Democrats in Tennessee.  In 2012, anti-gay activist Mark Clayton won a statewide primary for U.S. Senate to take on Bob Corker.  In 2014, Charlie Brown, a man who raised no money and who wants to put Governor Bill Haslam in the electric chair, is the Democratic nominee for Governor.

The state party that gave us Al Gore and Al Gore, Jr...the state party whose most famous Democrat, Andrew Jackson, is now in the name of fundraising dinners for state and countywide Democratic organizations nationwide gives us an embarrassment as a nominee for Governor.  Unacceptable.

This is what happens when hope leaves and good Democrats pass on running for office.  It's also why we must step up and seize the opportunities even when the odds are stacked against us.  You never know what might happen.

As Joe Donnelly started the 2012 race for U.S. Senate many pundits thought he should just stay in Congress.  After all, who could actually think Richard Lugar would be defeated in the Republican Primary by Richard Mourdock?  Joe knew better.

Joe ran, and Joe won.  He took the chance and put himself in the Senate.

Glenda Ritz looked at Tony Bennett's mountain of money and went to work.  Through social media, her campaign targeted those upset with Bennett's reforms and teachers across the state.  She even targeted teachers-to-be.  Glenda Ritz knew that she could win.  She took a chance...and she won.

Tony Bennett never saw it coming.

So Democrats, don't do what I've done in the past.  That's right.  I've passed on running for something because I didn't believe I could win.  2015 is different.  I don't know if I can win, but I'm going to try my hardest.  I'm going to advocate for issues, and I'm going to make people feel that a vote for me isn't a protest vote or a wasted one.

To quote Steve Winwood, "While you see a chance, take it."  Otherwise you end up with what's happening in Tennessee.

Friday, August 8, 2014

Ballard Focusing Negative Attacks on Hogsett

Mayor Ballard
Now that Joe Hogsett is in the race for Mayor of Indianapolis it appears that he has the attention of one Greg Ballard.

So far, those surrounding the Mayor are trying to smear Hogsett's record and portray him as a career politician just looking for his next opportunity.  It's a pretty light case against Hogsett, and it really doesn't hold much water.  It will be easy for a skilled politician with a strong campaign team to simply pivot the political attacks right back at the Mayor.  

Joe Hogsett
To me, it seems odd to be expending this much effort this early in the coordination of negative talking points against someone simply exploring a run for Mayor especially when there's so much governing left to do in Indianapolis.  

The Republicans seem to be running concerned.  There has been no magnanimous statements of welcome for Hogsett.  Nope, the GOP has gone negative on Joe Hogsett at the outset.  It's an aggressive strategy that won't work.    

There is plenty in Greg Ballard's record for a potential Joe Hogsett campaign to exploit.  Ballard has raised taxes, raised fees, spent money recklessly, signed bad contracts and personnel deals, failed the test on keeping public safety job one, and that's just the start.  Ballard also has shown repeatedly that he has no desire to answer for his record and in recent days has grown more snippy with those questioning that record.  

We know now that the 2015 election cycle is going to be long, nasty, and expensive.  Ballard has left plenty of room in the race for an opposing candidate that can raise money, fight hard, and persevere.  I would argue that the difficult races Joe Hogsett has run in the past for Secretary of State, House, Senate, and Attorney General have prepared him for this moment.  

They say that everything happens for a reason.

Thursday, August 7, 2014

Buttigieg's Afghanistan

Mayor Pete Buttigieg
Lt. Pete Buttigieg
Photo from Facebook
Buttigieg in Afghanistan
Photo from Facebook
If you've been lucky enough to be a Facebook friend of one Indiana Mayor over the last few months, you've gotten a good look inside what's going on in Afghanistan and what it's like to serve in the U.S. Military there.

South Bend Mayor Pete Buttigieg has been posting some amazing pictures on his Facebook page from his deployment in Afghanistan.  The Mayor is over halfway through his deployment, and we continue to wish for his safe and sound return here.

Afghanistan
Photo from Buttigieg's Facebook
Buttigieg's pictures have been absolutely spectacular giving his friends, family and constituents back in the States a very unique perspective from the eyes of a soldier deployed overseas.  It's also been a chance to see a different side of the Mayor who is also a Lieutenant in the U.S. Naval Reserve.  His pictures are often humorous with funny descriptions.  They also are quite touching.  Buttigieg gave his camera to a few local youngsters who took some really amazing selfies.  Their eyes...big and broad...seem every bit as full of dreams as American counterparts that are their age.  I highly recommend following him if you do not already do so.

When Buttigieg returns, he will have to hit the ground running from a political perspective.  As Mayor, he will be picking up where he left off when he was deployed.  He will also be favored to win reelection in South Bend should he decide to give it a go in his second term in 2015.  The future is also bright for the Mayor should he decide to pursue other offices statewide in the future.  

Wednesday, August 6, 2014

Ballard Snaps At Another Local TV Anchor

Greg Ballard snapped on WTHR's John Stehr last night during a live interview on National Night Out.

The Mayor was clearly expecting a softball tossed underhand when Stehr tossed him a baseball overhand on the inside corner.  Still, the Mayor needed just to deflect the ball to foul territory for his at-bat to continue.  Instead, he whiffed badly and struck out.

The situation?  Stehr said that a candidate for Mayor (not even identifying Joe Hogsett) had criticized Ballard's record on crime and said that he wasn't doing enough.  Before extolling the aspects of his crime plan, Ballard responded to Stehr by saying something to the effect of, "I don't know who that (candidate) is, by the way.  I'm too busy trying to solve the problem."

It was another snappy and snarky answer from a Mayor who is becoming pretty much known for them when anyone attacks his record.  You'd figure that a man who perhaps will soon be embarking on a campaigning for a third-term in office would be able to deflect a question like Stehr's without being nasty.

The only explanation I have is that Greg Ballard is defensive and feels attacked from all sides.  Instead of deflecting criticism or simply sidestepping it, Ballard's defense mechanisms kick in.  It's not attractive.

It will be up to the Democratic nominee for Mayor to keep Ballard off balance during this 2015 campaign.

Update-
It happened again on Wednesday!  Amos Brown reports here.

Tuesday, August 5, 2014

Hogsett More Than Capable of Beating Ballard in 2015

Joe Hogsett dropped the biggest hint yet about his political future telling WTHR's Kevin Rader that he was "actively and vigorously" considering a run for Mayor of Indianapolis.

Here is Rader's piece from yesterday's 6:00 p.m. newscast.  If the embedded video doesn't work, follow this link to the story.

13 WTHR Indianapolis

Two things came to mind as I watched the report.

First of all, Hogsett has a good grasp of the issues facing the City of Indianapolis today, and you can tell a little bit about the strategy he might take to win the election.  Seems as if Hogsett will aggressively go after the Mayor on crime and in other areas where Ballard is vulnerable.

Secondly, Kyle Walker, the Marion County Republican Party Chair, had better find a better attack against Hogsett than he's a career politician.  After all, it would be Ballard who is running for a third-consecutive term should he pursue it in 2015.  His "politics just isn't my thing" line may have worked the first two times he ran.  By running a third time for an office, you're pretty much admitting that you like it.  Besides, Hogsett's political past, as portrayed by Walker doesn't really compare to the fight for Indianapolis' future.  Hogsett is plenty formidable as a candidate and knows very well the art of the campaign.  He is eloquent on the stump, and this is not the same uphill run as some of his past efforts at office.  Greg Ballard has barely won the first two times he ran for office.

I guess the campaign will take its shape from here.  Hogsett appears ready for the run to take over the Mayor's Office.  Is Greg Ballard ready to fight as hard as he can to keep it?

Monday, August 4, 2014

Rokita's Ebola Fearmongering Typical of Right

Rokita
As I drove home on Sunday night from dinner with some friends, I made the mistake of tuning into Bill Cunningham's Show.

The self-proclaimed "Great American" was fear mongering about the humanitarian issues at the United States border suggesting that these young refugees were spreading disease into the U.S.  It's a technique as old as immigration itself.

Apparently, Todd Rokita has gone a couple of steps further.  In an interview on Garrison, the Northwest Indiana Times reports that Rokita hinted that these refugees could have serious contagious diseases like Ebola...despite the fact that there's really no direct evidence that it's even close to being true.

I looked up a report on Breitbart that said 71 individuals from Ebola-affected countries had come across the border.  Zero of those individuals apparently has tested positive for the horrible disease, and no one in the Western Hemisphere has, so far, contracted the disease on this side of the Earth.

Now, that could change.  Relief workers are returning from the area, and it's, to me, much more possible that they could transmit the virus that, oh by the way, is really hard to transmit, outside of these countries.  This is not the flu.  The only way you can get this virus is to come in contact with the bodily fluids of an infected person or animal.

There are even serious doubts that this virus, while still deadly and awful, would even be that big of a widespread public health threat in the U.S.  Once identified, an infected person can be easily isolated in hospitals equipped to deal with this sort of disease, and our universal precautions training tells us to wear protective gear anytime we come into contact with anyone else's bodily fluids.

Therefore, Indiana's 4th District, your Representative has been completely, utterly, and willfully irresponsible.  We're used to this crap from Mr. Rokita.

In Memoriam, James Brady (1940-2014)

James Brady shakes hands with President Obama
Few people were more visible examples of how a gunshot can change a life than Jim Brady.

The former White House Press Secretary recovered from the head wound that he sustained when John Hinckley tried to assassinate President Ronald Reagan, but he was never really the same. 

While one moment of violence changed his life, Brady spent the rest of his life crusading for more gun control so that someone else didn’t end up like him...lying face down on the ground with blood gushing from his head and spending most of the rest of his life confined to a wheelchair. Brady didn’t let John Hinckley stop him. The conservative Republican also didn’t let his friends on the far right stop him.  He eventually won the support of and endorsement of President Reagan.

His advocacy for gun control got the Brady Bill through Congress in 1994 which instituted background checks for people attempting to purchase handguns.  Though there were loopholes, millions of background checks have been performed because of the law, and no doubt countless handguns were kept out of the hands of those that didn't qualify.  

Sarah survives him as well as two grown children. President Reagan and his administration paid Brady his full salary and allowed him to keep the title of Press Secretary after he was shot turning Brady's duties over to deputy secretaries.  It was the right thing to do. The Press Briefing Room at the White House carries Brady's name as well, and it should.  That's because James Brady used his name and his indomitable spirit not to represent Ronald Reagan but to bring change to the United States.

James Brady will be remembered as much as he will be missed. He was 73.

Cantor Walks Out on Constituents

Rep. Eric Cantor
Commitments...some people live up to them, and some don't.

GOP Majority Leader Eric Cantor decided to check out early on his constituents and his responsibilities in Congress and resign his seat.  The move leaves his Virginia district without representation until a replacement is named in a special election.

Granted, not much is going to happen in Congress over the next few months, but his constituents still could use a representative until he is replaced by the winner of the November election.  That would have happened in January.  Now it could happen in November.

Cantor's move is a gutless one.  He lost his primary run to Tea Party-backed David Brat back in June.  Since then, as the Christian Science Monitor's Gail Chaddock puts it, the Majority Leader has kept a very low profile.  He was no doubt shocked and disgraced by his loss.  That still doesn't excuse his early resignation.

When one is elected to Congress, he or she makes a commitment to serve that term no matter what happens politically.  Walking away from the seat now just months before he was to give it up anyway may not seem like a big deal to some, but it's another example of the new mindset some politicians have.

Chaddock points out in her piece that leaving August 18 will give Cantor a "head start" on the one-year period before he could take a lobbyist job.  Sadly, that's the most likely scenario for a former legislator like Cantor.

Still, can you imagine a President doing what Cantor just did?  Let's imagine President Obama just turning the keys of the country over to Joe Biden for the next two years because he's a lame duck.  Yeah...makes no sense.

Richard Lugar did it right.  He wrote a scathing farewell letter about the toxic political atmosphere in Washington (somewhat ironically created by Cantor) before serving out the rest of his term.  Lugar, however, is not from today's political stock.

Cantor is, and he should hang his head in shame for leaving his constituents without representation.  Way to tarnish a tarnished legacy, Eric.

Friday, August 1, 2014

Hogsett Joins Bose, McKinney & Evans

Joe Hogsett
Photo from WeNeedJoe.com
Joe Hogsett joins the Bose, McKinney & Evans law firm today in his first day post U.S. Attorney.  The clock also starts to see if and when he announces his run for whatever most people speculate he's running for.

I doubt it will be today.  Today is typically known in the political biz as a news dump day.  Today is the day you put out any news you don't really want to be picked up by the local media.  Hogsett will definitely want the undivided attention of the local press if and when he makes his decision known.

In the meantime, some Hogsett supporters have set up a We Need Joe Facebook page, Twitter handle, and a website.  For a few weeks, they've been putting out information on Hogsett's behalf.  A source tells Indy Democrat that it's unknown who registered the site because it's private.

From here on out, I think you can say 2015 is officially here.  We'll see what Hogsett and, for that matter, Greg Ballard decide to do and when they decide to do it.

President Barack Obama will now work on appointing a replacement for Hogsett in the U.S. Attorney position.  There are many excellent choices.