Friday, October 31, 2014

HAPPY HALLOWEEN!!


I want to wish everyone a very happy and very safe Halloween.  Bundle up and stay warm, kiddies!

Mrs. Virginia Vaughn, my elementary music teacher used to play this filmstrip for us on Halloween every year.  I still remember it.  Probably the first horror movie I ever saw.  Thanks Mrs. Vaughn, wherever you are.  

Enjoy Camille St. Saens and Danse Macabre to that 60's era filmstrip.  


Expanding Focus to Federal, Statewide, Local Races

This week, I've been looking at the various ballot races across Marion County.  Let's expand our focus out into the statewide races and the races for U.S. House across Indiana.

Let's get this out of the way first, I expect no changes in the U.S. House delegation from Indiana.  Democrats Andre Carson and Pete Visclosky along with Republicans Jackie Walorski, Marlin Stutzman, Todd Rokita, Susan Brooks, Luke Messer, Larry Bucshon, and Todd Young should all return to Congress.  Only Walorski's race will be close.  I'm cheering for Joe Bock, but I just don't get the feeling that this is the year for Walorski to come home.

Nationwide, I think Republicans will gain control of the U.S. Senate.  That's bad news for Democrats in the short term, but it should be great news for 2016.

At the statewide level, the Democrats have run fine campaigns.  Beth White, Mike Claytor, and Mike Boland have all done what they've needed to do.  The problem is that Indiana is a red state.  While we are known to assert our independence every once in a while, we typically elect Republicans in midterm elections to these offices.  That means that likely Connie Lawson, Suzanne Crouch, and Kelly Mitchell will be elected.  
It's hard for me to write that because I believe the three Democrats have the experience and the ideas to be great for Indiana.  I've known Beth White for years, and I consider her a good friend.  She's been devoted for eight years to her job as Marion County Clerk, and she would bring the same zest and zeal to the office of Secretary of State.  

I've become quite friendly with Mike Claytor as well.  His pledge to become the state's watchdog is not just a pledge.  He would be a great friend to taxpayers in Indiana.

Mike Boland, in the times we've met, seems to have the government experience, albeit in Illinois, to be a great Treasurer of State.  He, like Claytor and White, has the energy and ideas to do a great job.

Back in Marion County, a couple of races will be worthy of watching.  JD Ford vs. Mike Delph continues to draw attention.  I think it will be close in Senate District 29.  While few expect House District 91's race to be tight, I have seen a groundswell of support on social media for Democrat Patrick Lockhart as he takes on incumbent Republican Bob Behning.  I wouldn't be surprised if it's closer than people expect.

While this is not your normal midterm, it could still be a fun night to watch election returns!

Thursday, October 30, 2014

Bellwether Races Tell Tale of Ticket

Today, I'm continuing my look at the Marion County races on the ballot for Tuesday.  It's time to look at those races a little bit down the ballot that typically go with the way the straight ticket votes go.  These races tend to get less attention and less interest, but they are just as important as some of the up ballot races...especially in a county like Marion County.

These are the races for Marion County Assessor, Auditor, Clerk, Circuit Court Judge, and Recorder.  I am very excited about the team the Marion County Democratic Party has cobbled together for this 2014 run, and I obviously endorse all of their runs.

On the ticket are two incumbents.  Marion County Assessor Joe O'Connor is running for a second term in his job and Julie Voorhies, after serving eight years as Recorder, wants to move over to Auditor replacing the retiring Billie Breaux.  Both have proven to be excellent and responsive public servants in their time in office.  Both have worked hard to modernize and bring their respective offices up to standards with technology.  O'Connor is unopposed for Assessor, and Tracy McCarty is the Republican running against Voorhies.

Myla Eldridge might as well be an incumbent.  Eldridge has worked closely with current Marion County Clerk Beth White to run efficient and fair elections for the last several years.  She fought off an unfair slating attack from Marion County Coroner Dr. Frank Lloyd and has won the support of many who opposed her with her hard work and dedication in this campaign.  She has staunchly refused to be bitter but has shrugged off that Lloyd challenge and continued to work hard.  Eldridge faces Republican Christine Bischoff who has spent time on the Franklin Township Advisory Board.

There's a three-way race for Marion County Recorder.  Democrat Kate Sweeney Bell finds herself taking on Republican Terry Dove and Libertarian Chris Bowen.  I've known Sweeney Bell for years from our work within the party.  She also has been a strong supporter and ally with the LGBTQ community serving on the board of the Stonewall Democrats.  Kate will go in there and pick right up where Voorhies left off.  She has a bulldog's attitude, and you get the feeling that this is just the beginning for her.

Circuit Court Judge sometimes gets overlooked, but it's a critically important office with a six-year term.  Judge Lou Rosenberg opted to retire after one term on the job. If all goes well, he'll hand off to a very capable jurist, Sheryl Lynch.  As a Commissioner, Lynch has distinguished herself and has received high praise from judges and attorneys that have sat in front of her in court.  Therese Hanna is the Republican candidate for Circuit Court Judge.

These races have largely gone to the Democrats since 2004, and there's no reason to think they won't again in 2014.  The great news is that Marion County will be served well by this strong ticket.

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Tatgenhorst Shut Out of Indy Star Voter Guide? No, He Wasn't...See Update

Karl Tatgenhorst
The Indianapolis Star apparently has something against Libertarians?

Two candidates say that when the local newspaper of record published its 2014 Voters Guide that they were conspicuously left out, and one of them would seem to have the e-mail to prove it.

Libertarian candidate for Secretary of State, Karl Tatgenhorst published a post on Facebook with a screenshot of a thank you from the Indy Star for participating in its 2014 Voters Guide, but when you go to that guide, it says he did not participate.

To be fair, Tatgenhorst says that he can't remember filling out the survey but that he's filled out several of them.  He also had that thank you from the Indy Star for filling out the survey in his e-mail archive.

Fellow candidate, Chris Mayo, who is running for the U.S. Congress in the 7th District said on Facebook that he had to call the Star and remind them that he did participate as they had initially given him the cold shoulder in the Voters Guide.

I guess that begs the question, "What does the Star have against Libertarians, anyway?"

This is the Indy Democrat Blog, and you know where I stand on most things.  This is wrong no matter what party's candidate is victimized.  The Star should immediately find Mr. Tatgenhorst's responses or send him a new survey, print the results, and apologize.

UPDATED

See what happens when you try to be nice and tri-partisan?

Just kidding Libertarians!!

Apparently, there was some snafu, and Karl Tatgenhorst did not submit responses to the Indianapolis Star for its voter guide as we erroneously reported earlier.

Thus, I owe the Indianapolis Star an apology and should have fallen back on my journalistic training to always check first before publishing a blog post.  My apologies to the Indianapolis Star.

So, the egg's on my face.  It doesn't happen a lot, but it did in this case.  Mistakes happen, and I shouldn't write blog posts while watching World Series Games.  No excuses.  I own it and move on.

Curry's Earned Four More Years

Marion County Prosecutor
Terry Curry
Four years ago, it was becoming apparent at this time that the Mark Massa campaign was getting desperate in its battle to keep the Prosecutor's seat for Republicans.

The now-Indiana Supreme Court jurist was lobbing ads at Terry Curry questioning his integrity.  Curry fired back a simple ad, and the race was over, but it was probably long over before then.  Curry's campaign in 2010 got elected because of a great ground game that knocked doors and worked very hard.  It was only a precursor as to what we would get from Prosecutor Terry Curry.

During the campaign in 2010, Curry promised to return a sense of dignity and character to the Prosecutor's Office.  He kept his promise.  In fact, he's kept most of his promises from 2010.  It's a fact he's played up in his ads running on TV screens across Indianapolis.

He's gone after white collar criminals.  He's prosecuted high-profile cases aggressively and fairly.  He's been tough when he's had to be, and he's taken risks like refiling charges his predecessor Carl Brizzi dropped against Officer David Bisard.

Some have attempted to criticize Curry on being too soft on some criminals, but the incumbent has earned the endorsement of the Fraternal Order of Police.  They believe he's the right man for the job.  He's also earned the endorsement of the Indianapolis Star.

Duane Merchant
Duane Merchant has the background to be Prosecutor, but his campaign has been laughable.  Some of the IPS School Board candidates have outraised Merchant in a single large contribution report.  I understand that he likely has not gotten as much support as he'd like from the Marion County GOP, but he really doesn't seem to have made much of an effort to raise money at all.  That would have been something he needed to do to put on a credible campaign against Curry.

Even a robust campaign by Merchant likely would not have made a difference in this race.  Terry Curry has earned his second term in office through hard work and strong leadership.

Finally, if you don't believe Curry has had an effect on the office he was elected to, just ask someone that has worked there.  He has definitely restored the integrity to the office and has made it much more responsive to the community.  The Community Prosecutor Program continues to work.  Curry has also made it a point to use his office to educate the community on everything from fraud perpetrated against seniors to the effects of bullying.  I've seen him talk to teenagers about their problems, and he sincerely wants the best for this community.  He's never stopped coming to party functions and events (as sometimes busy officials do outside of their election cycles).  He is approachable and easy to get to know.

Terry Curry has earned a second term to further transform the Marion County Prosecutor's Office.  I hope you'll join me in supporting him.

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Layton's Accomplishments, 40 Years of Experience Should Earn Him Second Term

Marion County Sheriff
John Layton
Once upon a time, the Marion County Jail was inhumane and so overcrowded that Judge Sarah Evans Barker imposed a cap on the number of inmates that could be in the lockup at one time.

Then, Sheriff Frank Anderson was elected.  That change made a big difference in the direction of the jail.  Pretty soon, the court order was lifted.  The comparisons between jails in Tijuana stopped.  The treatment of prisoners improved, and the jail was on the road to accreditation.  A key member of Anderson's team was Colonel John Layton.

In 2010, John Layton was elected Sheriff of Marion County.  In four years, he's put his own spin on the Sheriff's Office despite challenges none of his predecessors ever faced.  Sheriff Layton has continued improvements at the jail and his team has earned the prestigious American Correctional Association accreditation for the Marion County Jail.  

Under Layton, the Marion County Sheriff's Office has also earned other accreditations. The innovative Hope Hall program has made a difference for a number of female inmates.  Layton also was voted Sheriff of the Year just this year by his peers in the State of Indiana.  He's continued to hold the line against sex offenders and those that would do harm to our youth by conducting warrant sweeps and assigning each deputy (including himself) a group of offenders to personally monitor.

Have things been perfect? No. There have been, at times, concerning problems, and Sheriff Layton is the first to take responsibility for those issues. Layton has been up front, honest, and transparent when dealing with those issues.  When a member of his team has done something to betray the public trust, he has acted swiftly.  When problems have occurred, he has had a plan to fix it.  With the volume of people that the Marion County Sheriff's Office processes on a yearly basis, it's amazing there aren't more errors.  Changing the sheriff won't solve those problems.

Emmitt Carney
Emmitt Carney is a good man who has strong credentials and a long history of community involvement as a youth baseball coach.  His law enforcement experience in Kentucky and with the ATF would really look strong if the Marion County Sheriff's Office was pre-merger.  For the Marion County Sheriff's Office of 2014, John Layton is the best choice.

Carney's experience would also look great if he wasn't running against John Layton who has 40 years of experience...all within the Marion County Sheriff's Office.  He's served in almost every capacity possible within the MCSO.  Carney can't match the depth of knowledge or quality of experience that Layton has.  

Finally, I've watched John Layton build one of the most diverse and welcoming government agencies that I've ever seen.  When I have attended campaign functions for Layton, you see people of all sorts and families of all different makeups there.  John Layton understands that a diverse MCSO reflects the community it serves.  I'm proud to have supported Sheriff Layton four years ago, and I look forward to casting my vote for him again.

Layton deserves another four years in office, and I hope you'll join me in voting to give him a second term.

Monday, October 27, 2014

Independent House District 92 Candidate Arrested

Sometimes you have to reset the "I've seen enough to know I've seen it all" boundaries.  In politics, that happens on a near daily basis.

Here's the latest one.

In House District 92, Representative Karlee Macer, a Democrat, is working hard to defend her seat over Republican challenger Bradford Moulton.  A third name had entered the race in the spring as an independent candidate. 

That candidate, John Couch, has now been arrested. Accused of stalking Macer, Couch has also been charged with three other crimes.  Here is the report from WISH-TV, Channel 8's Jim Shella.  As Shella notes, Couch denies stalking Macer.



UPDATE:
The Indianapolis Star report provides a bit more detail.

On a personal note, I want to wish my friend Representative Macer and her family the best and encourage her to keep up the fight for those she is serving on the Westside and in the State of Indiana.

Hogsett Shows Formidable Energy in Early-Going of Mayor's Race

Joe Hogsett Campaigns in Speedway
Photo from Facebook
Ladies and gentlemen, as I reclined on my couch Saturday, I came to a realization.  In the time that I had reclined, Joe Hogsett had made three campaign stops.

That's why it's going to be tough to beat Joe in 2015.  He's out now and running all across the city for Mayor.  The thing is...he's hitting Republican areas.  Hogsett released the picture I've included in this piece on Facebook as he sat down for a late breakfast or early lunch at Charlie Brown's Pancake House...a SPEEDWAY landmark.

Unless the candidate's name is Ballard and is able to outspend Hogsett, it's starting to look like a very daunting task for the GOP to even foster a token effort.  They might be wise, as some have stated, to punt on the Mayor's race and try to make a play for the 13 seats they'll need to control the Council.  That's even going to be tough.

Joe Hogsett will get the working class vote of Indianapolis that has scratched for Greg Ballard in the last two elections.  Mark this tape.  He may even grow some coattails.  This race is different for a number of reasons.  A Mayor's campaign is the ultimate test of the old "Who do you want to have a beer with?"

Ballard has won that race twice.  He's not going to beat Hogsett in that regard, and he knows it.  Instead of a big Congressional District or a statewide campaign.  Hogsett only has to worry about contacting as many voters as he can in Marion County and Indianapolis, and he's already working it.

Friday, October 24, 2014

Most Bloggers Missing Context in Ford "Non-troversy"

Paul Ogden
As controversies go, this one is really a stretch.

Curt Smith, noted for his leadership of the Indiana Family Institute, wrote a piece for Indiana Forefront that took, out of context, a response to a candidate forum question by State Senate candidate JD Ford and is trying to blow it up into a campaign four-alarm fire.  You can follow the link above and see the whole kerfuffle.

Hmm...I wonder why Smith wouldn't want Ford to serve in the Indiana Senate?  Oh yeah, that's right.  Curt Smith is one of the leaders of the Indiana Family Institute, an organization that strongly supported HJR-3 and  has pushed other anti-gay legislation in Indiana.

Only Abdul-Hakim Shabazz has stated the truth.  In his IndyPolitics.org post on the issue, Abdul says, "The Indiana Family Institute is going after Democratic State Senate candidate JD Ford, accusing him of saying businesses that discriminate based on sexual-orientation should not receive public safety services."

He gets it right. The IFI and Ford's opponent, Senator Mike Delph have a long mutual admiration society thing going.  You see, the Indiana Family Institute, under the leadership of President Curt Smith, presented one Mike Delph with its "legislator of the year" award just last year.  Just last year, Smith and Delph held a joint press conference on HJR-3.

Unfortunately, other bloggers in town have decided to portray this whole episode in quite disappointing fashion. My friend, Paul Ogden, called this Ford's "Todd Akin moment" on the campaign trail.  Are you kidding me?  Let's revisit what Mr. Akin said.

“If it’s legitimate rape, the female body has ways to try to shut the whole thing down,” said Akin during the 2012 race.  Really?  We think what JD Ford said in that clipped 30 second video was the same thing?  Come on Paul, you're smarter than that.

I've already spent more time on this than should have been.  I have other things to accomplish today, and this insignificant non-troversy is not one of them.

And before you go saying, "Jon...you want to see JD Ford win that race in Senate District 29."  

Yeah, I do.  No bones about it.  I also care about  being fair and letting people make their own decisions.  Just know you're reading this on the Indy Democrat blog and take what I say for what it's worth.

58th Mayor's Night Out Produces Small Crowd

Mayor Greg Ballard
I attended the 58th Mayor's Night Out in Decatur Township yesterday night.

I've been critical before of Mayor Greg Ballard and these road shows before, but I found last night's event much different.  It was interesting and informative.

First of all, I thought the Mayor seemed rested and on point more than I had seen him in the previous events I have attended. He sometimes will stumble around and not finish a point, but I thought there was less of that last night.  By and large, he answered the questions himself last night, and did a pretty good job.

Secondly, there was some pretty interesting information.  The Mayor used the opportunity to introduce the new Safetown Indy website.  I went in and found some of the data pretty interesting as well as the website design itself.

The problem was there just weren't very many people there.  I would say out of the entire audience maybe 10 or so people were not connected directly with the school system or the city in one way or another.  There were three City-County Councillors in attendance and a whole host of deputy mayors and department heads.  Even if the program isn't all that useful, it's still a great way to get in touch with your city.

I'm not admonishing the good folks of Decatur. It is tough to get away for an hour or so for many people especially this time of year. Also, I believe Decatur Township is still on Fall Break and some folks may be out of town.

We all care about our neighborhoods, and we all care about our city. These types of events are excellent ways to get in touch and involved.  Maybe by pooh-poohing them in the past I've been part of the problem.  I hope not.  I've said before that I like the idea.  If the Mayor handled them all like he did tonight, I'd even be much more of a fan of these events.

Thursday, October 23, 2014

Hogsett Grabbing Key Endorsements in Race for Mayor

Joe Hogsett on the campaign trail
Photo from Facebook
He may not be an announced candidate yet, but Joe Hogsett is racking up the endorsements. In fact, he added two more just yesterday.

Former State Representative Bill Crawford and Marion County Auditor Billie Breaux have endorsed Hogsett's run for Mayor. Those endorsements now stand beside those of a growing number of local politicians and labor and trade groups.

In the news release provided by the Hogsett campaign, both Breaux and Crawford stressed Hogsett's ability to unite people as a reason for their endorsement.

Said Breaux: “Both as a private citizen and public servant, Joe Hogsett has always been someone who could unite people from all walks of life to bring about change. That quality is rare and needed now more than ever. I am proud to endorse Joe’s campaign.”

And Crawford: “Last month’s U.S. Census Bureau statistics showed that there is a growing divide in our city. We need leadership that can bring people together to heal the wounds of poverty and economic insecurity, as well as the scars left behind by crime in our neighborhoods. That is why I support Joe Hogsett – he is the kind of leader who is always there with the people, listening and learning about their concerns.”

The news release makes reference to the 2013 American Community Survey released in September that showed over one in five Indianapolis residents and nearly one in three children live below the poverty line.  

So far, Hogsett has gained the support of Washington Township Trustee Frank Short, Marion County Prosecutor Terry Curry, United Steelworkers Local 1999, Teamsters Local 135 and United Food and Commercial Workers Local 700.

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Prediction: Pence Will Run for President

Governor Mike Pence
Photo from Facebook
If recent indicators are any guide, you can bank on something for 2016 right now.  Mike Pence is running for President.

Pence's recent decisions to take a harder line on food stamp recipients and to stand up to that horrible federal government and spurn the feds hand on Pre-K funding clinched it for me.  Pence's stunt on the tarmac at the Evansville airport was another clue, and his constant trotting out of his conservative credentials also are excellent indicators.

Using his position as one of the leaders of the Republican Governor's Association, Pence is campaigning in New Hampshire on behalf of the GOP's lost cause candidate there.  Pence has also been to Iowa as well as recently as last month.

He's running for President.  I don't know if he'll survive the long Primary season, but it's really time for the Democrats to get their act together for 2016 on who will be the challenger.  Now would be the time to drive home some points about Pence abandoning Indiana and looking for higher office opportunities.

The sad reality is that Indiana is just a pawn in Pence's larger political puzzle now. We don't have a Governor anymore. We have a Governor that's running for President. Let the crazy begin!

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Former Sheriff, Republican Leader Cottey Passes at 75

Sheriff Jack Cottey
Word comes tonight that Marion County has lost one of its most famous officials and public servants.

Former Sheriff Jack Cottey passed away after a battle with cancer at the age of 75.  Cottey was Sheriff of Marion County from 1995 to 2002 and was the last Republican to date to serve in that office.

Cottey graduated from Southport High School and, according to an old informational piece I found online about him, immediately joined the Marine Corps upon graduation.  When he left the Corps, he joined IPD working his way from an officer all the way up to Deputy Chief before he retired in 1986.  At that point, he joined Sheriff Joe McAtee's team in the Marion County Sheriff's Department.  He would remain in some capacity even during the terms of his successors Frank Anderson and John Layton.  Cottey also served in the Indiana House of Representatives.

The Marion County Sheriff's Office, as it is now referred to, released this statement via Twitter tonight.




I want to wish Sheriff Cottey's family and friends the best as they deal with this loss.  It's clear that Cottey dedicated his life to the service of others.

Two Mike Delphs Add Up to Vote for JD Ford

Senator Mike Delph
photo from mikedelph.com
I got to see the two Mike Delphs first hand at last week's candidate's forum sponsored by the West Side Chamber of Commerce at the Chapel Hill 7th & 8th Grade Center.

There was a meet and greet before the forum, and I was mingling around with Rep. Karlee Macer, my friend Patrick Lockhart (who is running for House District 91), Marion County Clerk candidate Myla Eldridge, and Prosecutor Terry Curry.  I reached a moment where I was not talking to anyone, and, from behind I hear, "Jon Easter?"  I turned to see it was Senator Mike Delph.

I'd seen him out of the corner of my eye, and Delph had been talking with others.  Like me, he had reached a moment where he didn't have anyone in front of him.  I asked him how the campaign had been going, and he said that it was going well.  We chatted for a while about things.  He introduced me to his family, and I noticed his youngest daughter was literally hanging off her dad's arm as we talked.  It was a very positive and friendly conversation that ended with, "Jon, I know you and I have our differences politically, but if there's anything I can help you with, let me know."

I shook his hand, thanked him for the conversation and I went and mingled with his Democratic opponent, JD Ford.

Just a few minutes later Mike Delph stood in front of that auditorium full of people and lambasted the court system for "judicial tyranny" saying it had ruined Indiana's sovereignty.  Delph listed less two-parent households and a move away from "Judeo-Christian" values as a reason crime was higher.  He called mass transit a boondoggle and said that the founders of our city didn't design Indianapolis with mass transit in mind.  He called out the moderator, David Shank, for asking a "liberal" question.  He was anything but the same cordial man I had met in the hall.

JD Ford
Photo from Facebook
I guess there are two Mike Delphs, and I don't know which one you can expect at any time. The one that I met in the hallway before the forum or the one I saw breathing fire at the podium or on one of his Twitter rants.

That's a good reason to vote for one JD Ford. Delph strives hard to be a Christian legislator. Ford will strive hard to be a good legislator in the Senate. His mind is open, and his heart is compassionate. He's the best choice for Senate District 29, and a vote for Ford isn't just a vote against Delph. Ford is a candidate that matches substance with intelligence. You're not just getting some left wing liberal that's going to govern from that side. As I previously stated, JD is no ideologue. He's much more pragmatic and much more in tune with his own district than Senator Delph is. Ford is a Democrat, but he's not going to shut you out if you aren't.

Forward with Ford isn't just a slogan. It's the truth.

Curry's Ad Plays It Straight Forward

I'm sure you've probably seen it by now, but Marion County Prosecutor Terry Curry is up and on television with this ad.



No bells and whistles in this ad, it's just a straight up the middle ad by a campaign that's clearly pounding it's opposition.  Curry highlights the accomplishments of his first term and leaves the door open for more work to do in his second term.

Since Terry plays golf, I'd say this is a 280-yard drive right down the middle of the fairway.  Promises made and promises kept.  It's a good theme from a Marion County Prosecutor that's done a solid job and deserves a second term.

Monday, October 20, 2014

Mahern Resigns from City-County Council

Councillor Brian Mahern
Brian Mahern has resigned from the City-County Council. That's what sources are telling Indy Democrat That's what the IBJ is reporting.

The City-County Councillor apparently announced last week on his Facebook page his resignation and formally submitted a letter. I'm told that became official today.

No definitive word on who will replace Mahern, but a caucus of precinct committeepersons will convene soon. I'm told a "long time Eastside activist" is a favorite to replace him.

Mahern was once seen as a rising star in the party. First elected in 2007, Mahern turned the district seat blue again by defeating Scott Keller.  Keller won the seat by just a few votes in 2003.  Keller had fallen out of favor of the Republican Party after supporting the IMPD/Marion County Sheriff's Department merger and the Council's non-discrimination ordinance.

Mahern won reelection by a wide margin in 2011.  Before a meltdown with his own caucus which saw him vacate the Vice President's chair and attempt to overthrow Council President Maggie Lewis, Mahern was thought of as a challenger for Mayor of Indianapolis in the upcoming 2015 elections.  His political future had been mired in some uncertainty since his withdrawal from the Democratic caucus.  Recently, Mahern had been reportedly attempting to mend fences with other Democrats on the Council.

At his best, Councillor Mahern was a thoughtful voice and champion of many important issues on the Council.  That Brian Mahern will be missed as he steps away from his Council duties.  My sincere best to him.

My Take: IPS School Board Race

I have yet to weigh in on the IPS School Board race here, and I think it's important to explain why.  If this post is considered a cop out, I'm sorry in advance.

While my father spent almost 40 years in the district, I have had little direct contact with what's going on in IPS from anyone on the inside since he retired in 1997. I feel that I am out of touch, and I can't definitively tell you which candidate would be best able to rub balm on the aches and pains of the district.

What I can tell you is that there is obviously a lot of money at work in a non-partisan and supposedly non-political race.  I've never been a big advocate of the Mayor of Indianapolis appointing the IPS School Board or the Superintendent because I believe it does keep a certain bit of politics out of the race.  With that said, it's hard not to see the potential influence that an influx of cash and endorsements quite possibly could have on the individual Commissioners.  

This is not an indictment of one candidate over another.  I have not dug deep enough into the platforms of each candidate to give you some idea of what I believe is the best course of action forward.  I will just urge voters to be informed and to be cautious going forward.  The balance on that board is precarious as it is: this much I know.  An addition or a subtraction from the board might change the philosophy of IPS considerably.

The most important thing you can do is that when you vote, make sure you turn over the ballot and be informed as you cast your ballot for IPS Board of School Commissioners.  

Sunday, October 19, 2014

Advance Indiana: Ballard To Drop Out of Mayor's Race

Mayor Greg Ballard
Will he or won't he?  That's the question about Mayor Greg Ballard and a potential run for a third term as Mayor of Indianapolis.

According to Advance Indiana blogger Gary Welsh, Ballard will not run for a third term, and an announcement will come as soon as this week.  I'll wait to hear from the Mayor, but it will throw the Republican nomination wide open if Welsh is right.

Former State Senator and Indiana GOP Chair Murray Clark is rumored to be interested in the job. State Senator Jim Merritt has been making noise as well. There are also several other possible candidates that have been bandied around in discussion.

City-County Council Minority Leader Mike McQuillen, City-County Councillor Ben Hunter, City-County Councillor Christine Scales, former City-County Councillor Ike Randolph, Public Safety Director Troy Riggs and IMPD Police Chief Rick Hite have all been rumored at one point or another to be interested. Former Ballard Chief of Staff and Council President Ryan Vaughn seems like an unlikely candidate since he, by his own admission, has stepped away from politics. It also remains to be seen if good candidates like Robert Vane might be interested in a run.

Ballard bowing out would seemingly make Democratic front-runner Joe Hogsett the front-runner in the race. The only Democrat officially in the race right now, Ed DeLaney, alienated several potential supporters last week by taking a swipe on Facebook at an historic decision by the City-County Council to dedicate more money to Animal Care and Control for the care of the animals in their facility.

DeLaney used the decision to increase ACS funding in what I would consider a fallacious argument that the Council was putting "stray dogs" ahead of children by not funding the Mayor's Pre-K plan.  Of course, the Mayor doesn't have a Pre-K plan in front of the Council, and the body did in fact set aside cash for a Pre-K plan.  DeLaney tried to back away from the comment, but it seems the damage was done.

To be honest, I'm surprised the Mayor is making this announcement this week if he does. I expected he would wait until after the November 4 elections as to not be a distraction. That's what Hogsett hinted he's doing by not announcing his run.

We'll have to see how all this shakes out as we approach the 2015 election season.

Friday, October 17, 2014

West Side Candidates Forum Fireworks Fly Between Some Candidates

I attended a candidates forum put on by the West Side Chamber of Commerce last night at the Chapel Hill 7th and 8th Grade Center in Wayne Township.

Candidates for office from Wayne, Pike, and Decatur Townships participated.  Countywide candidates for Prosecutor and Sheriff were also invited.

Most of the night was pretty tame.  Bradford Moulton, the Republican opponent of Karlee Macer, raised eyebrows when he head-scratchingly attacked Macer on veterans issues and community involvement.  Macer is the ranking member on the Veterans Affairs and Public Safety Committee, and she's made the plight of veterans in Indiana a central issue in her legislative agenda since she joined the General Assembly in 2013.  Macer also is well-known in the community.  She's everywhere on the Westside.  Moulton's attacks were laughable.

Macer got in a few zingers.  Upon taking the podium after absorbing Moulton's attacks, Macer said, "I'm Karlee Macer. I know many of you know me. I didn't just show up recently and become involved."  She also took her last moments on stage to thank her family and supporters for allowing her to follow her dreams.

The other fireworks came from Senator Mike Delph, the GOP incumbent in District 29, vs. his Democratic opponent, J.D. Ford.  Ford spoke first giving a calm and reasoned layout of his platform.  He fielded a question on mass transit saying that despite the cost, it would be worth it to have a world class city and to attract young people.

Delph, with whom I had a very good conversation with prior to the meeting, launched into quite another zone when he took the podium.  Delph called mass transit a boondoggle and pointed out that Indy's designers had not designed the city for mass transit in the 1830's.  "We liked our mass transit so much that we paved over the tracks," Delph said.

Delph also said that a couple of the answers to reducing crime would be to return to "Judeo-Christian values" and two-parent families.  He said he wouldn't apologize for his views nor for speaking out against his own caucus.  He also railed against the courts saying, "Judicial tyranny is overrunning our state's sovereignty."  Clearly, he's still confused about the court's role in government.

The entire forum can be seen at this link.  They did have some problems with the technology.  It's also playing on WCTY.

Thursday, October 16, 2014

Few Hoosier Political Ads on TV So Far in 2014

I've been on vacation this week, so it's given me a chance to catch up on some television viewing.

One thing I've noticed is the dearth of political ads.  It's almost scary.  We are just a little under three weeks from Election Day, and there's really only two ads up and running consistently.

One is for Democratic candidate for Secretary of State, Beth White.  


White's ad is TOTALLY Beth White.  It's cheery and light, but it has some substance buried within it.  It's catchy and memorable, and it's been running a lot.  Makes you wonder where the incumbent's ads have been.  Connie Lawson, an appointed officeholder running for her first solo term, has yet to run an ad that I've seen.  It's almost as if she thinks she's got this thing in the bag.  

The other ad I've seen is for Suzanne Crouch, Republican for Indiana Auditor.


To be honest, it's another strong, positive ad.  The red glasses theme carries throughout well, and it gives a personality to an otherwise personality-free office.  Some of the accomplishments of Crouch seem overstated given her short time on the job.  It could also be termed critical of her predecessors, Dwayne Sawyer and Tim Berry.  The ad feels like a spot that's for someone seeking the office instead of an incumbent in some ways, and I think that's smart.  It's not as good as White's ad, but it's solid.

I've heard that Mike Claytor will be up with an ad for Auditor of State soon from the Democratic side of things.  I also wonder if we'll see any ads for some of the Indiana House and Senate races.  

We've certainly come a long way from the 2010 election season with no competitive U.S. House races in the Indy market and no Senate seat being fought over. In 2010, Terry Curry and John Layton were both up and on television with ads by this point in their races.  Layton's original ad for Sheriff is still one of my all time favorite spots.


I guess this is all just a symptom of a 2014 campaign season that just hasn't been all that exciting to this point at least here in Indiana.  Don't tell that to the candidates, though!

UPDATE:
My friend, Abdul-Hakim Shabazz of WIBC and IndyPolitics.org tells me that Lawson has an ad up and running on cable TV and will be up everywhere next week.  I did a YouTube search and found this spot.  It's pretty good, but it's a little cliched.  Again, I haven't seen some of the things she touts as accomplishments, but it's a strong, hard-edged ad.



AND...

This ad just went up on Mike Claytor's YouTube page.  The tone is more negative, but it gets its message across well.  No one is minding the store.  It doesn't attack Suzanne Crouch but more the entire problem of state government corruption.

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Despite Checkered Track Record, Angie's List Gets More from City

Mayor Greg Ballard announced a plan to give local company Angie's List $25 million in public assistance in order for them to expand their operations on the city's Eastside and provide 1000 new jobs.

Angie's List, according to the plan as outlined in the IBJ, will spend $40 million of their own in the plan, but local bloggers and others have serious questions about the health of Angie's List and recent layoffs by the company.

Just this past August, the company laid off 97 workers in its sales department.  The IBJ also points out that despite being in business for 19 years, the company hasn't turned a profit yet.

Advance Indiana blogger Gary Welsh, a Republican, hits a home run with this blog post on the deal calling the deal "crony capitalism."  He points out that Angie's List CEO Bill Oesterle has given to both the campaigns of Mayor Greg Ballard and Governor Mike Pence.  Coincidentally, those are two of the people who stood up at the news conference yesterday with Oesterle and company founder Angie Hicks.

While you could term Welsh's reaction as that of a single blogger, the pushback on the Mayor's official Facebook page is also there.  See below.

Screenshot from Facebook
It appears that this deal has come under more great scrutiny than normal deals.  Hope it works out for the Eastside, but, with the history of Angie's List, who knows?  Kind of a big bet with $25 million of our dollars!

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Hogsett Speaks in Decatur Township

Joe Hogsett Speaks to the Decatur Democrats
Photo from Facebook
Former U.S. Attorney Joe Hogsett spoke to the Decatur Township Democratic Club, and he brought a simple message.  If Greg Ballard is going to be the Republican candidate for Mayor...he'd better have his running shoes on.

Hogsett arrived in the room early and worked it to the hilt.  Hugs, kisses, handshakes, and old stories were exchanged.  It was like five years that he had been out of the political game had not occurred.  The distinct feeling was "Joe was back" and he was with his people.

His prepared remarks talked at length about how important it is to support the 2014 candidates.  He said that anyone that has volunteered for his campaign at this early stage is being encouraged to make calls for the Democratic slate of candidates this year.

Later, when pressed, Hogsett hinted that an official announcement about his campaign would follow the November 4 election.  "We'll have a whole year to talk about the issues," Hogsett said.

Hogsett promised a vigorous campaign spending a lot of time on the Southside of Indianapolis which he said he feels has been neglected by the Mayor.  He also said that he will be spending a lot of time talking about crime and criticized the Mayor for taking this long to come up with a crime plan.

Closing his visit in Decatur, Hogsett had a chance to drive home what seemed like might make a good theme for a Mayoral campaign.  He said that there are some beautiful neighborhoods and areas in Indianapolis.  He called them "gilded in gold" areas.  Hogsett said that if you go sometimes just a few blocks down the road that you'll find some of the toughest neighborhoods in town.  He said that in these areas that the residents have "lost hope."  Hogsett said, "Well, I think that it's our job...as Democrats...to provide them again with hope."

Monday, October 13, 2014

Ballard's Plan to Fight Crime Overdue, Borrows from Predecessor

Mayor Greg Ballard
Why did it take you seven years, Mr. Mayor?

The Mayor of Indianapolis finally appears to be paying attention to crime-ridden neighborhoods in our city, but his tactics are part old school and new school.

First of all, this renewed interest in these communities is coming leading into an election year.  While I don't doubt his sincerity, I do think it's interesting that he hasn't done anything he's willing to squawk about the six neighborhoods his administration has identified as high crime areas in the first seven years of his term.  After all, none of these neighborhoods are experiencing crime waves for the first time.  It's been this way for years.

Secondly, his idea of blitzing these areas with more resources is nothing new.  In fact, Ballard's predecessor, Bart Peterson, kind of used this principle to attempt to reduce crime in the Meadows area.  The results were, admittedly mixed.

Data-driven decision making is a great idea, and I salute the Mayor for trying it.  I sincerely hope that his plan works.  That said, he's several years late to the party and most of his plan is anything but groundbreaking.

By the way, borrowing from his predecessor, Peterson, or his 2007 opponent, Melina Kennedy, seems to be something Ballard is doing a lot of lately.

Monday, October 6, 2014

Marriage Equality Comes to Indiana


I don't even know where to begin.

Apparently, this morning a huge rainbow appeared over Central Indiana.  Even Mike Delph, the State Senator who has doggedly fought marriage equality for years, noticed it.


God's rainbow perhaps was the sign of another promise as well: equality.

For all the money, time, effort, and talent spent on this issue, the fight for marriage equality in Indiana sort of ended with a whimper.  There was no dramatic hearing in front of the nine most-powerful jurists in the country or dramatic wait for the verdict outside the pillared-court building.  Nope.  The United States Supreme Court simply said that it didn't want to hear the case bumped up to them by the appeal of the 7th Circuit Court of Appeals decision a few weeks ago.  The Supreme Court has allowed the decision to stand.

Marriage equality is a reality in Indiana.

I can't tell you how I feel right now.  I don't think it has sunk in.  I finally have the right to marry the man I love...whoever that man may one day turn out to be.  It's remarkable, and I'm sure that I'll be able to express my feelings more clearly at another time.

Here's the real impact.  The children born today in Indiana will have the right to marry the person they wish to marry.  Love will be the determining factor, and it will have been that way from the time they were born.  They will have never known a state that discriminated against people on the basis of the sexual orientation when it comes to marriage.

There's still work left to do.  For example, you can still be fired simply because you're gay in Indiana.  This, however, is a start.

Thank you to everyone that made this historic day a reality.  You have no idea how much your efforts mean to me.

Sunday, October 5, 2014

Blog on Hiatus through 10/14

I'm taking a few days off to deal with the day job.  It's going to be a busy week.  I'll pop in if anything groundbreaking happens.  Otherwise, see you October 14.


Friday, October 3, 2014

Giffords Fighting Hard to Regain Life

Earlier this week, USA Today pens this emotional piece about how former Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords continues to fight back from injuries sustained in a January 2011 shooting.

It's a remarkable piece you can read here.

Thursday, October 2, 2014

Beth White Releases First Ad

Democratic nominee for Secretary of State, Beth White, has released her first ad for Secretary of State.  Here it is...

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Ballard Holds Cards for 2015 Race

Mayor Greg Ballard
Will he or won’t he? That’s been the subject of political speculation at this point in Indianapolis politics over the last few months.  

The momentum picked up last Friday as the news media caught up with what those of us in the blogosphere have been discussing.  Now, the political world is waiting on Mayor Greg Ballard to make a decision about a run for a third term. It’s a complicated decision that is much more layered than anyone may think, and it’s completely within the Mayor’s rights to make it carefully.

Professionally, the Mayor has a record to run on, but he also has an ever-growing list of negatives. Personally, Ballard has always been someone that seems to genuinely love his family. When you run for office, your family runs with you. I imagine it’s very difficult for them to go through the political process with Ballard. Bloggers like me certainly don’t make it easy when we’re out here criticizing the person they call husband or father. 

Then there’s the question of a possible opponent. Whether it’s Joe Hogsett or Ed Delaney on the Democratic side, it’s going to be an ever-more-difficult proposition for a Republican to win reelection in Indianapolis. Besides the fact that Joe and Ed will work their tails off, Ballard’s seeing the city grow more and more blue. You can tell that he sees it by the political decisions he’s making. That pulls him further from his base of support and leaves him vulnerable to political attack from the left and right. Ballard is going to have to work harder than ever just to win again.

Giving more fuel to the speculation is what the Mayor is saying. In the interviews I’ve heard with local media, Ballard sounds more than a little bit weary of running again. To me, if you have to ask yourself the question at this point, it probably means that it’s time to step aside. It also appears that Ballard will have other opportunities after he leaves office. 

A few months ago, I didn’t think there was any way that the Republican Party would allow Ballard to just drop the mic and walk away. Then again, Ballard doesn’t owe the local GOP anything, really. They didn’t help him much to win the office. I remember the first time I met Ballard. He was being escorted around the Ben Davis Lions Club Pancake and Sausage Breakfast by then-Rep. Phil Hinkle. I thought he was a nice guy, but he lacked the polish I thought necessary to beat a mayor like Bart Peterson.
Boy, was I wrong.

In the end, the ultimate decision lies with one man and one man only. Greg Ballard will decide how this race plays out. Whether he tries to stay on or rides his horse into the sunset is anyone’s guess.