Monday, November 30, 2015

Council Should End Talk of Raising Own, Mayor's Pay

Council President
Maggie Lewis
Indy Politics is reporting that the City-County Council is going to propose a pay raise for the Mayor of Indianapolis from $95,000 to $125,000 per year and for the Council from $12,500 to $16,000 per year.

Council President Maggie Lewis and others are expected to bring the proposal forward at tonight's meeting of the City-County Council.  I caution them on how to proceed.

I am against this measure. Indianapolis has tons of other issues to deal with before we even begin to consider raising the pay of its Mayor and City-County Council.  With murders, shootings, robberies, and crime dotting our headlines and streets and sidewalks crumbling, the optics of a pay raise just do not look right at this time.

Not one person that will be sworn in on January 1 was lured by the salary of the job. I knew that the Council made $12,500 when I decided to run, but the promise of the extra cash wouldn't have done a diddly darn thing to change my decision.

To be honest, I have less of a problem with the Council raising its pay.  City-County Councillors meet once or twice a month, but they meet over the calendar year.  In addition to probably working a job (a handful of Councillors are retired, I know), Councillors go to committee meetings and, if they're worth a vote, do work within their district almost constantly by answering constituent complaints and concerns, attending community functions, and supporting local causes.  Jumping from $12,500 to $16,000 is really justifiable.  I think the timing is still off and the message isn't quite right.  I think proposing a Council pay raise should be done over time and should be justified by showing exactly what a hard-working member does.  

The raise for the Mayor is something completely different.

Is the Mayor of Indianapolis is a horribly underpaid job?  Yes.  There are Mayors around Indiana that make more than the Mayor of Indianapolis.  The money paid does not necessarily match the work expected.  Still, Joe Hogsett knew that when he decided to run for the office. It's not like this is a big secret. I guarantee he would have still run for Mayor no matter what the salary was because when you decide to enter public service, you do it to serve and not to get paid what you're worth.

Being Mayor of Indianapolis has its perks, but it's a tough, stressful job that requires nearly 100 percent of your waking hours.  Knowing Joe, it will consume what he does for at least the next four years.  He will throw himself into the work and earn every penny.  That's why even he has to know this is a bad idea.

Looking at this from the other side of the shore, is there really a good time to raise the Council and the Mayor's pay?  Probably not.  I still think you have to be mindful of timing and avoid the idea and optics that this is being rammed through a lame duck Council and past a lame duck Mayor.

Don't know where this one is going, but I hope the Council decides to put off this proposal until the timing is better and the pay raises can be better justified to the public.  If I were Mayor Ballard, I'd veto this one if it passes the full Council.

Thursday, November 26, 2015

Obama Pardons TOTUS...HAPPY THANKSGIVING!

Happy Thanksgiving to everyone!

For your entertainment, here's the annual pardoning of the TOTUS.  "Turkey of the United States"

Indy Democrat is confirming that after seeing this, Donald Trump, Ben Carson, Ted Cruz, and the rest of the Republican candidates have pledged to get tough on turkeys and never pardon another one.  Mike Huckabee even said he will kill the turkey and eat it in front of the press if he's elected President.

Or maybe not...anyway, HAPPY THANKSGIVING!

Tuesday, November 24, 2015

Pence Sued, Defied on Same Day Over Refugee Refusal

Governor Mike Pence
It was a bad Monday for Governor Mike Pence.

First of all Exodus International announced that it would continue to settle refugees from all over the world in Indiana...including Syria.  Then, later in the day, the ACLU announced that it was filing suit against Governor Pence in federal court for attempting to block Syrian refugees at the state's border.

Pence had no official comment, but you can't think for a minute that he's happy with either challenge of his authoritah especially after he thought he had put it to bed with his poorly-received op-ed.

I stand with the ACLU and Exodus on this case.  These Syrian refugees are running from the people we fear and should not be feared by us.  They go through an exhaustive process and deserve better from a Governor who's more interested in politics than actually helping the refugees. I'm glad someone is holding him accountable.

As we've also seen, neither the Indiana Democratic Party nor John Gregg, the presumed nominee for Governor on the Democratic side, seem too interested in holding Governor Pence's feet to the fire on this issue or, most-importantly, standing up for the immigrants who deserve better all around.

Monday, November 23, 2015

JohnnyStir Show Returns to IndianaTalks.com

If you follow me or Indiana Talks on social media, you know this already, but I'm returning to the internet airwaves on December 7 with a brand new iteration of the JohnnyStir Show on IndianaTalks.com.

My first run of the show aired from February 18, 2013 through July 28, 2014 on Monday Nights from 9-10 on Indiana Talks.  I decided to end the show on back in July of 2014 to concentrate on my candidacy for City-County Council here in Indianapolis.  I didn't think I could do my job as a teacher, run a political campaign, plan a talk show, and continue to blog effectively.  Something would have suffered.

Gary Snyder, the founder of Indiana Talks, told me when I left the show that it was just a hiatus, and that I would have a spot on his network in the future if I wanted one.  I told him that I appreciated that, but I really didn't expect to take him up on it.

Over the past few weeks and with the campaign over, I got to thinking about what I could do to make a difference.  This blog is one thing.  As I've said many times to people, when I started blogging, it was to simply scratch an itch as a writer.  I never intended this blog to have a readership of thousands and millions over time.  It was simply a way for me to write what I wanted to write about.

There have been times that I've lost my "mojo" here on the blog, and I've always come back fired up and more ready to bring the best political commentary, opinion, and analysis from left of center to my readers.  Sometimes, I've been able to bring my personal life into this blog, and you've welcomed it.  I appreciate that.

I want to bring the same thing you see and read here back to Indiana Talks, but I also want to add some journalism and radio.  You see, those things are a part of me, too.  With the 2016 Presidential Election coming up, I have a feeling it's going to be a great year.

So, without making this post much longer, I'm back.  I'm hoping I'm back for good.  I don't know what might stop me unless Gary tells me to go fly a kite or I get another jones to run for office again.

I hope you'll give us a listen when we come back on Mondays from 8-9 p.m. on the Indiana Talks network.  For a full programming schedule, visit the website at www.indianatalks.com.

Sunday, November 22, 2015

Hilarious Saturday Night Skit Takes on Politics at Thanksgiving Dinner

This past weekend, Matthew McConaughey was the host of Saturday Night Live, and the musical guest was Adele.

Most of the episode was disappointing with the exception of Adele's performances, but a hilarious skit involving Adele's hit single "Hello" and political discussion over the Thanksgiving dinner table made it one of the most memorable episodes in years.

In the skit, a family is having Thanksgiving Dinner.  As often happens at Thanksgiving, the conversation turns to politics, religion, and controversy and things degenerate.  The little girl in the skit runs to the radio and starts Adele's CD.  The rest...well, you just need to see.

Enjoy.

Happy Thanksgiving.

Wednesday, November 18, 2015

Hollande Opens French Borders to Refugees, Why Doesn't Indiana?

French President
Francois Hollande
French President Francois Hollande announced that his country would continue to take refugees from the Middle East even after the awful terrorist attacks last Friday in Paris.

Hollande's announcement came as France, Belgium, and other authorities across Europe continue to investigate the attacks and track down those responsible for planning them.

In short, things have barely calmed down, but Hollande still had a moment to announce his country would continue to do the right thing and accept those who have lost so much.

On this side of the pond, governors from several U.S. states as well as House Speaker Paul Ryan, and other mostly Republican leaders called for a moratorium on accepting refugees for fear that some of them might be radical Islamists bent on attacking our country.  This despite the exhaustive vetting process that the refugees must go through to be accepted and placed in the U.S.  Mike Pence, Joe Donnelly, Dan Coats, Jackie Walorski, and other Hoosier movers and shakers subscribed to this fearful response rather than to open our arms in hospitality to those that have already lost so much.

Even Hollande, whose country has barely rested since Friday, would seem to find this response quizzical.  As quoted by the Guardian, Hollande said, "Some people have tried to draw a connection between the movement of refugees from the Middle East and the terrorist threat. This link exists because people from Iraq and Syria live in areas controlled by Islamic State and are killed by those who attack us."

Governor Pence, please call your office.

Tuesday, November 17, 2015

One Must Infer Gregg Agrees with Pence Policy on Syrian Immigrants

John Gregg
John Gregg couldn’t even be bothered to comment on Mike Pence’s decision to build a metaphorical fence around Indiana for Syrian refugees.

Gregg instead left it to his own campaign to comment via a statement. As reported by the Indianapolis Star, the Gregg statement reads:

“Like everyone else, John Gregg was outraged by the barbaric events in Paris over the weekend and he feels strongly that every Hoosier should feel safe in their homes, at work and at school. We trust that Mike Pence made this decision based on information he’s received as governor from both state and federal intelligence sources and didn’t do this as a knee jerk reaction motivated by politics.”

It’s political gobbledygook.

The right answer is Syrian immigrants are vetted in an intensive process, and there is absolutely no reason to stop the program. A phone call could have cleared that up. Pence doesn't care about that. He cares about politics and rather than educate the public on the truth, he took the easy way out. John Gregg let him, and one must infer...agrees with him.

Unfortunately, it doesn’t appear anyone running for Indiana Governor wants to take the right side on this political hot potato, incumbent or challenger.

How disappointing.

Monday, November 16, 2015

Pence Policy on Syrian Refugees Defies Hoosier Values

Syrian Refugees
Photo Courtesy of pittstate.edu
Imagine for a second everything you know had been taken away.  Your home is gone.  Your job is gone.  You are lucky to still have your family around you, but even some of them have been killed in violence.  You have to move out of your home land because things are so bad there. 

Your feet are tired from moving from refugee camp to refugee camp.  Your back hurts from carrying your children and your belongings.  You pray every night for a peace that just doesn't seem to come.  You've been running for your life for so long that you don't even know what that means anymore.

Word comes that you have been accepted as a refugee into the United States.  You will be going to a place called Indiana far away from the reach of Bashar Assad and the horrors of ISIS.  It's a new life, and you can make a new start.  Then, the Governor of that U.S. state slams the door in your face in fear and tells you that because of the terror attacks in Paris that you are not welcome.  You are confused, bewildered, hurt, and angry.

Mike Pence did just that to Syrian refugees by slamming the door and suspending the resettling program here until the feds can vouch for the safety of Hoosiers.  

Thing is, Indiana is already the home of thousands of refugees from all over the world.  These individuals have come in seeking a new start from horrible situations across the globe, and Hoosiers have opened their arms to these people with warmth and hospitality.  

Governor Pence's decision to close shop shows a severe lack of understanding and empathy and just is not up to the kinds of Hoosier values I've always been taught.  It embarrasses me, frankly.

I understand I may be in the minority here, but I believe in the greater good in people.  I also believe in giving people the benefit of the doubt especially when these Syrians are fleeing that endless civil war there between the forces of Assad and ISIS.  It's a lose-lose no matter who wins that one.  On one hand, you have a brutal dictator with a cult of personality built around him, and, on the other hand, you have radicalized Islamists that persecute other Muslims for their differing beliefs.  

I put my faith in the organizations that are resettling these people as well as the variety of intelligence agencies we have at work every day in the United States.  When they do their jobs, we are safe.  

Governor Pence, please reverse your policy.  It's a symbolic one anyway.  Be a Hoosier and let's show these people the love they need to resettle and restart a life.  Let's show them how Americans act out of love and not out of fear.

Last Week's Terrorist Attacks Leave Questions in Wake

Since the news broke on Friday night, I have been struggling to deal with all of the news out of Paris, and I don't even have a direct connection to it.

At first, I was worried about a friend who had been in Paris last week.  Turns out, he had left the City of Lights the evening before the attacks and was safely back home.  Once I found that out, it gave me a great sense of relief.

For the many families of the victims and the victims of the Beirut attack the day before the Paris attack, there is no relief coming...only grief.  They have questions, and there are few answers. When it comes to losing someone in a terrorist attack, there just is no sense to it.

My mother passed away on Christmas in her bed at the age of 73.  She was warm and snug under her blanket, and she looked so peaceful.  My father died at the age of 69 surrounded by his family.  He took his last breath in our presence.

On Friday in Paris, ISIS radicals conducted coordinated attacks against civilians.  The people that died on Friday are dead because they went out to eat.  They are dead because they went to a concert or a soccer match or happened to be nearby a suicide bomber. It makes no sense.

It's also scary because there's no way to bomb our way out of this, either.  We can't go bomb a country and call it a day.  The terrorists don't put death in the same context that we do.  Living and dying don't mean the same things to a radical.  When that radical is a religious radical, it just makes the entire situation that much more perplexing and frightening.

We have to redouble our efforts in intelligence to keep us safe.  We have to target the ability of terrorists to coordinate these attacks and continue to prevent attacks where we can.  As a society, we have to continue to fight hate with love.  It's cliche, sure, but it's the only thing we know that can keep us.  We must drive out evil in the world with force when necessary.  We certainly must be there to support our friends and allies as well.

France is on its way to recovery, and I have no doubt that Paris will be back...stronger and better than before.

Wednesday, November 11, 2015

Thank You Veterans

Today is Veterans Day, and it's a day to reflect on the sacrifices that so many have made and continue to make to protect our country and our way of life.

Thank you so much for all you do to our veterans.  I cannot express fully how I feel that someone I don't even know would lay or did lay his or her life down for me so that I can continue to be free.

Thank YOU

It's been a week since Election Day, and I've had time to reflect.

First of all, while I learned a lot as a candidate, I'm very content to be back to blogging.  Political analysis is my thing.  I'm glad to be back to doing it again.

My election loss to Jason Holliday hurt, but I'm proud of my run.  I know I exceeded both my expectations and those of the Marion County Democratic Party, so I feel very appreciative of all the voters that gave me a look and voted my way.  We received 1,760 votes and 38.24 percent of the vote.  I'm extremely pleased with that showing.

I also appreciate all of those that volunteered for the campaign, made phone calls on my behalf, gave me great advice, passed out literature, knocked doors, donated, or supported my candidacy.  You have no idea what that means to me.

On a personal note, I enjoyed the role as a candidate because it gave me a chance to talk to people about their neighborhoods and their needs.  I learned a ton about my community, and I know that will make me a better advocate for this city and its citizens.  I'm not stopping my involvement in politics, and, given the right conditions, I might run again for office.  It won't be in 2016 though.

So, congratulations to all my friends that won.  I'm proud of all my friends that didn't win but gave a good fight.  Thank you for putting your name on the ballot.  It was a pleasure to have my name alongside of all of yours.

I'm of course very proud of my friend Joe Hogsett.  Here's to a great four years for our city and our community with you as the leader, Joe.  I know you'll be the best Mayor we've had, and the bar has been set high

I am going to take a few days off from the blog.  I'll be back in a few days or as news breaks.

Monday, November 9, 2015

Seven New Councillors to Join City-County Council on January 1

Come January 1, this will be the status of the City-County Council when it comes to seniority along with who was (or will be) Mayor when they took office.

Democrats
Monroe Gray 11/23/1992 (Goldsmith)
Duke Oliver 1/1/2004 (Peterson)
Maggie Lewis 12/2/2008 (Ballard)
Zach Adamson 1/1/2012 (Ballard)
Frank Mascari1/1/2012 (Ballard)
Vop Osili1/1/2012 (Ballard)
Leroy Robinson 1/1/2012 (Ballard)
Joe Simpson 1/1/2012 (Ballard)
LaKeisha Jackson 8/21/2014 (Ballard)
Stephen Clay 11/15/2014* (Ballard)
Jared Evans 1/1/2016 (Hogsett)
Blake Johnson 1/1/2016 (Hogsett)
David Ray 1/1/2016 (Hogsett)
*-Estimated Date

Republicans 
Marilyn Pfisterer 1/1/2004 (Peterson)
Janice McHenry 1/1/2008 (Ballard)
Mike McQuillen 1/1/2008 (Ballard)
Christine Scales 1/1/2008 (Ballard)
Aaron Freeman 3/23/2010 (Ballard)
Jack Sandlin 11/19/2010 (Ballard)
Jason Holliday 1/1/2012 (Ballard)
Jeff Miller 1/1/2012 (Ballard)
Jeff Coats 1/1/2016 (Hogsett)
Susie Cordi 1/1/2016 (Hogsett)
Colleen Fanning 1/1/2016 (Hogsett)
Scott Kreider 1/1/2016 (Hogsett)

Of the 25 Councillors, 15 became Councillors under Mayor Ballard, two under Mayor Peterson, and one under Mayor Goldsmith. Seven will join the Council on the same day Joe Hogsett becomes Indy's new Mayor.

Saturday, November 7, 2015

Amos Brown...Gone

Amos Brown
Photo Courtesy of Amos Brown, AM 1310 The Light

Life doesn't even give you a chance to say goodbye.

Just last night before bed, I saw a tweet on Amos Brown's Twitter feed about the new protected bike lanes.  I chuckled to myself that Amos doesn't miss a beat.

Now, I'm sitting here on my couch with my mouth agape and misty eyes after hearing that Amos Brown has died.  According to family sources, he collapsed while in Chicago while visiting family and has passed away.

This loss is felt for me on three levels.  When my mother died, Amos sent his condolences to me via Twitter.  I honestly didn't even know that Amos read this blog or knew I existed, so it was honestly shocking for me that he took time to remember my mother and of course very appreciated.  Amos was a force of nature.  He was an icon.

I feel his loss as a journalist.  Amos came with a point-of-view, but his point-of-view was always clear.  You knew where he stood, and he was always curious and searching for the truth.  Every question he asked.  Every article he scoured.  Every source he checked.  Every conversation he had.  It was all a tool to get to the truth of something.  More often than not, he'd find it.

Finally, his loss is the end of a career of advocacy.  Anyone that was anyone or wanted to be anyone passed through Amos' studio chairs and had to face his questions.  If you ducked him, he would tell everyone.  If you disrespected him, he'd tell everyone.  Conversely, if he liked you, he'd tell everyone.  What Amos said mattered.

I don't really know what to say other than my condolences to all of his many friends and to his family.  It was less than a month ago that I was on his show, and he was at his best that day.  That's how I'll always remember him.

There will never be another...

Amos Brown is gone, and I can't believe it.

Thursday, November 5, 2015

Republicans Bank on Council Majority, Find One Seat Minority

Tuesday was a great night for Democrats in Marion County, but it was a horrible night for Republicans...especially on the City-County Council.  The GOP was banking on a majority.  It got a one-seat minority.  Eight of nine townships will have at least one Democrat representing them on the Council...including Decatur.

While the GOP and Colleen Fanning did pick up District 2 on the Council, Republicans ended up losing two seats they could not lose and two veteran Councillors were defeated.  

Ben Hunter seemed to be on the road to a leadership position.  Some even thought he might take over as Minority Leader or even Council President if Republicans took the majority.  Instead, he's going home as Democrat David Ray outworked him and won.  Hunter blamed David Brooks' new lines for his loss.  The new district was part of it, but, behind the scenes, many Democrats on the Council were happy to see Hunter's loss. 

Another stunning defeat was GOP Councillor Bob Lutz.  I have had a front row seat to watch this upset.  Jared Evans worked this district amazingly hard.  He knocked doors in places where people haven't knocked doors in ages.  He took the fight into flooded neighborhoods and listened to people tell him their problems.  He shook hands, gave hugs, and he made people understand he cared.  You can't fool the folks of District 22.  Jared cares, and that's why he won.  I'm not saying that Bob Lutz doesn't care.  He does.

Other incumbents proved pretty popular with their district people.  Christine Scales, Janice McHenry, Jeff Miller, and Frank Mascari all turned away strong challenges from well-financed and hard-working challengers.  

Sadly, my friends Kip Tew and Pam Hickman failed to win reelection to the Council as they both lost tough races.  With Tew, Hickman, Hunter and Lutz, Jose Evans, John Barth, Angela Mansfield, Will Gooden, Ginny Cain, and Jefferson Shreve will not be returning to the Council in January.  That means there will be several new City-County Councillors.

I predict that Maggie Lewis will be reelected as Council President.  I also think you'll see some new faces step forward in both parties as leaders in the Council.

The transition period has begun.

Wednesday, November 4, 2015

Democrats Take Control of Indianapolis Government

Indianapolis is back in the hands of the Democrats.

Joe Hogsett dusted Chuck Brewer, and Democrats used two unexpected upsets to claim an apparent 13-12 majority on the City-County Council.

In the races thought to be close, only one truly was.  Colleen Fanning prevailed over Kip Tew in a tight battle.

In the other so-called swing districts, it was a different story as they really weren't close.  In District 3, Christine Scales won reelection over Pam Hickman.  Jeff Miller turned back a challenge from Emily Shrock in District 16, and Frank Mascari trounced Anthony Davidson in District 21.

It was David Ray's stunning upset of Ben Hunter and Bob Lutz's huge loss to Jared Evans that provided the Council with its 13-12 Democratic majority.  Councillor Maggie Lewis apparently will stay Madame President.

The Council line-up will be as follows:
District 1-Leroy Robinson (D) (pickup)
District 2-Colleen Fanning (R) (new, sorta new seat, pickup)
District 3-Christine Scales (R) (hold)
District 4-Mike McQuillen (R) (hold)
District 5-Jeff Coats (R) (new, hold)
District 6-Janice McHenry (R) (hold)
District 7-Joe Simpson (D) (hold)
District 8-Monroe Gray (D) (hold)
District 9-Duke Oliver (D) (hold)
District 10-Maggie Lewis (D) (hold)
District 11-Vop Osili (D) (hold)
District 12-Blake Johnson (D) (new, hold)
District 13-Stephen Clay (D) (hold)
District 14-LaKeishia Jackson (D) (hold)
District 15-Marilyn Pfisterer (R) (hold)
District 16-Jeff Miller (R) (hold)
District 17-Zach Adamson (D) (hold)
District 18-Susie Cordi (R) (new, new seat)
District 19-David Ray (D) (new, pickup)
District 20-Jason Holliday (R) (hold)
District 21-Frankie Mascari (D) (hold)
District 22-Jared Evans (D) (new, pickup)
District 23-Scott Kreider (R) (new,hold)
District 24-Jack Sandlin (R) (hold)
District 25-Aaron Freeman (R) (hold)

More to come on this election on Thursday.

Monday, November 2, 2015

Election Day is November 3...Get Out and Vote!

It's Election Eve, and I'm going to be on hiatus for a couple of days.  Please get out and vote on Tuesday.  Please exercise your franchise.  Let's make the pundits wrong and get a respectable turnout.

If you need information about where to vote or what's on your ballot, you can go to www.indianavoters.com or maps.indy.gov/VIP.

It's almost over for another year.

See you Wednesday (or Thursday).

Sunday, November 1, 2015

In Memoriam: Mel Daniels (1944-2015)

Mel Daniels
Photo courtesy of the NBA

Friday afternoon, one of Indiana's basketball legends died.

Mel Daniels, perhaps the greatest Indiana Pacer of all time, passed away of an apparent heart issue.

Daniels was a constant figure in professional basketball in Indianapolis since the late 1960's and early 1970's when he helped lead the Indiana Pacers to three ABA Championships.  Daniels involvement with the club didn't just stop with the end of his playing time in Indiana (he played for two other teams after the Pacers).  After assisting in college at Indiana State, he rejoined the Pacers as Director of Player Personnel.  He was a respected and valued member of the community and organization.  He retired in 2009, but he continued to attend games and advise players and management alike.  In fact, he was apparently at the stadium just Thursday night.

I was too young to remember seeing Daniels play, but, when you grow up in Indiana as a basketball fan, you honor those legends of the past and you hear their stories.  When I was a young Pacers fan, the past stories were much better than those of the present.  Of course, that changed when I went to college and the Pacers started seeing real NBA success.

Mel Daniels saw it all and everything in between.  He saw all the highs and all the lows.  He even served as interim coach for two games in 1988 after Jack Ramsay suddenly resigned.

Mel Daniels is gone at the age of 71.


In Memoriam: Fred Thompson (1942-2015)

News came on Sunday of the death of Fred Thompson.

Many people will remember Thompson for his roles in Days of Thunder, Die Hard 2, and the Law & Order franchise.  Politicos remember Thompson as a U.S. Senator and attorney with a key role in the Watergate Hearings.

I never admired Thompson for his politics or his role hawking reverse mortgages, but I did enjoy following him on social media and watching him on the big and small screen.

Thompson was an imposing 6'5" and typically found himself placed in roles of authority.  He played those roles well and with the necessary authority.

After having three older children with his first wife, Thompson became a father again in 2003 and 2006 with his second wife.  He was a doting father.

Thompson had health problems over the years and was diagnosed with non-Hodgkins Lymphoma in 2004.  He eventually went into remission after successful treatment.  Reports say he recently experienced a recurrence of Lymphoma.

The big fella from Tennessee definitely lived an amazing and remarkable life.  Fred Thompson was 73.

What You Need to Know About Joe Hogsett

My friend Joe Hogsett and I at Mel's Drive-In
I couldn't believe he was there, but he was.

Joe Hogsett was at my mom's funeral home viewing.  He could have been anywhere on December 30, but he was walking into Conkle Funeral Home in Speedway.  I smiled.

I remember exactly when I met Joe Hogsett.  In 2004, Joe was about to be named the Indiana Democratic Party candidate to take on Steve Carter, the incumbent.  The odds would be long, but there was Joe Hogsett giving a ceiling tile rattling speech in the 7th District Caucus Meeting at my first state convention.  I was impressed.  I shook his hand, and he looked me dead in the eye with that look only Joe could give you, "Joe Hogsett, and I'm running for Secretary of State."

Our friendship grew over the next few years as I'd see Joe at events.  It became our thing that he'd grab my hand and say, "Joe Hogsett!"  It was as if he was introducing himself for the first time.

When he ran for Mayor briefly in the run up to 2011, I had already committed to Melina Kennedy before he jumped in because Melina was and is a good friend, too.  He completely understood and still bought my dinner at the IDEA Convention in French Lick.  Had Joe continued on, I would have honestly had a very difficult decision to make.

He suddenly dropped out of the race, and it became known that he was in line to become U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of Indiana.  Before his confirmation, at a political event, he told me, "I won't be able to even think about attending a political function like one of these while I am U.S. Attorney."

I only talked to him twice while he was in office in that capacity.  I invited him to be on my radio talk show on Indiana Talks.  He initially confirmed that he could come on.  A few days later, he called me back and said that he needed to decline my invitation because he didn't want it to appear that he was being any way political by coming on my show.  Of course, I respected his decision, and he was probably right.  The last thing I wanted to do was to be a problem for him.

When he resigned from his job as U.S. Attorney, everyone knew what was next.  The first time I saw him in four years was at the 2014 United Democrats Picnic at the Pagoda in Garfield Park.  "JOE HOGSETT!"  He said as he grabbed my hand with that smile.

Since then, I've been dedicated to helping Joe become Mayor of Indianapolis.  It's one of the reasons I decided to run for office in District 20.  Hopefully, I thought, I can bring Joe a few votes by motivating Democrats to come out to vote.  All that remains to be seen.

But, back to December.

Joe Hogsett never met my mother, but I had told him about her and her about him.  My mother always admired Joe despite the fact that she was a stanch Republican.  But here was Joe Hogsett at my mother's funeral viewing.

He came in and he spent time talking to my entire family.  He especially spent time talking to me and my brother about what it would be like for us now that both of our parents were gone.  He talked about how that moment forces us to face the fact that the older generation is gone or going and we are replacing them.  He also expressed his deep condolences and gave us some more too personal advice from his own life to share here.

After he was done talking to us, Joe went to my mother's casket and bowed his head.  I don't know what he said.  It was too quiet to hear.

He gave me a hug, and he left.

It had spent about a half an hour talking to me, my brother, and my family, but he made an impact on me and my brother.

I've seen that Joe a few times again on the campaign trail as he's listened to people's stories.  I saw it in Decatur a few months ago as he knelt down to hear from a Democrat Club member who had lost his wife to cancer.  Anyone that's seen that Joe knows that he's going to be a great Mayor because of his empathy for people.

I had not planned to write about this personal story, but I thought you all should know why I'm so passionate about my friend Joe Hogsett and why I'll be a proud resident of Indianapolis when he's my Mayor.