Sunday, December 18, 2016

In Memoriam: Bill Hudnut, 1932-2016

Mayor Bill Hudnut
1932-2016
What do you say about a man like Bill Hudnut? I could write all day and still probably come up short.  When you measure the impact of all of this city's post Unigov mayors, one stands above the rest.  
In fact, it could be argued that his impact stands above all Indianapolis mayors.

Bill Hudnut is now gone.

It's so very fitting that the statue of Hudnut that sits in Hudnut Commons on the park bench at the corner of Capitol and Maryland Streets is larger-than-life because that's the kind of figure Hudnut was here in this city for his time as Mayor of Indianapolis.  He transcended party and politics.  Almost everybody loved Mayor Bill.

After sweeping in to office in Congress in 1972 by defeating iconic Andrew Jacobs, Jr., two years later, partially because of the Watergate backlash, Hudnut was home again after being defeated by Jacobs for reelection.  He ran for Mayor in 1975, and he was elected.  He succeeded Richard Lugar.

In his first term, Hudnut was tested and forever bonded with his city because of his leadership through the destructive Blizzard of 1978.  Hudnut actually climbed aboard heavy machinery and helped remove the snow.  It was an image I was too young to remember, but my parents would never forget.

Beyond leading this city through that crisis, Hudnut turned his attention towards the future.  His vision built the Hoosier Dome and attracted the Colts to town.  His vision expanded the convention center.  His vision turned urban blight eventually into the Circle Centre Mall.

Hudnut transformed the Circle City's image from "India-no-place" to a world-class amateur sports city that was in the world eye for more than just one day.  He brought the National Sports Festival here in 1982.  Hudnut successfully steered the Pam-Am Games to Indianapolis in 1987.

In 1990, Hudnut decided to try to run for Indiana Secretary of State.  Hudnut entered the campaign as the heavy favorite, but he lost to Joe Hogsett.  Hogsett, of course, would later become Mayor of Indianapolis in his own right.  By the time 1991 rolled around, Hudnut decided to eschew a fifth-term run.

When Hudnut finally turned the keys of the city over to Stephen Goldsmith in 1992, Indianapolis was moving forward having successfully navigated the urban decay and fate of many Midwestern cities in the 1970's and 1980's.  The work since Hudnut has been done by others, but his fingerprints and his vision remain right at the center.  Indianapolis is always the undersized city punching up.

While Hudnut the Mayor was larger than life, Hudnut the man couldn't have been more different.  A humble man of God and minister by trade, Hudnut took joy in his family and friendships.  Hudnut had a human touch and will be remembered for that as well.

Hudnut penned a final web post posted on the Caring Bridge website.  In death, as in life, Bill Hudnut always shared his vision and demonstrated great class.
My Valediction Forbidding Mourning
William H. Hudnut III


One cannot choose how one finishes the race, only how one runs it. I would not have chosen a long, slow slide into complete heart failure, but I tried to cope with it with “gaiety, courage and a quiet mind,” to borrow from my mother who in turn was quoting Robert Louis Stevenson. 
It has often been remarked that life is a journey, not a destination. About the destination, “I believe, Lord, help thou mine unbelief.” I leave this earthly life at peace, with faith and trust in a future that will carry me beyond the bourne of space and time, but also with wariness of plotting the furniture of heaven or the temperature of hell. There is much I cannot fathom about the afterlife. Will there be recognition? What part of me, if any, survives? Forever, or just until I am forgotten? A little reverent agnosticism seems to be in order, because “now we see through a glass darkly.” More positively, “we walk by faith and not by sight.” 
About the journey, it’s been a wonderful trip. As I have said many times, I hope my epitaph will read: “He built well and he cared about people.” 
I have tried to lead a useful life. Of course, I’ve made mistakes. I’ve displayed some real shortcomings and caused some hurts along the way. I’m sorry. But overall, I look back with gratitude. I have been blessed in so many ways—by my loving wife Beverly for more than a quarter century; by my chances to move from a one-room schoolhouse in the cornfields of Illinois to graduate school in New York City; by living in America, and spending most of my professional career in Indianapolis; by having a beautiful cottage in the serenity of the Adirondack mountains; by manifold opportunities to lead a life of service and usefulness, as mayor, congressman, Presbyterian clergyman, academic, think tank fellow; and by the people in my life like doctors, staff, academics, co-workers, (certain!) media types, political allies (and adversaries!), church members, fellow citizens who have worked with me and wished me well across the years. There’s no such thing as a self-made man or woman. We’re all indebted to others, a point I always tried to make whenever some thoughtful recognition like Hudnut Commons would come my way. 
In my last years, I have become deeply aware of the love from family and friends and well-wishers with which I have been surrounded. Starting with my wife Beverly, I think about my children, grandchildren and great grandchildren. Also, I think about my cousins (ranging from 90 down to infancy), my parents and siblings and other relatives in our family circle. I cherish the affection and support of friends too numerous to count. I have appreciated the posts on the CaringBridge website expressing appreciation, encouragement, and loving concern. I can’t be sure, but it seems as though great love must endure. I depart this life believing with St. Paul (I Cor. 13): “Love can outlast anything; it still stands when all else has fallen.” 
As Cardinal John Henry Newman wrote, “O Lord, support us all the day long, till the shadows lengthen, and the evening comes, and the busy world is hushed, and the fever of life is over, and our work is done, and then in Thy great mercy, grant us a safe lodging, a holy rest, and peace at the last. Amen.”
Safe travels, Mr. Mayor.  Thank you for everything.

William H. Hudnut III leaves us at 84.

Tuesday, December 13, 2016

I'd Vote No on Council Pay Raise

In 2011, I explored running for City-County Council, and, in 2015, I actually took the plunge and ran a respectable campaign to become the first Democrat elected from my area in years.

I fell short, but I ran above the baseline.  Most of all, I got a chance to push some unaddressed community issues that had been bothering me for years.  In the end, Jason Holliday won, but he didn't get a free pass to waltz back on to the Council without a fight.

As a full-time school teacher, I knew that my service on the Council should I win the election would change my life. I knew that I would have to change and rearrange things around my Council responsibilities and the ones that pay the bills.  It was going to be a challenge, but, if the voters had put their trust in me, I would have figured out how to balance things out.

Along the way, you can imagine I took a pretty deep look at the job of a City-County Councillor from many different angles.  After talking with current and former Councillors, I came to the realization that there's much more than meets the eye to the job.

For starters, Councillors, though perhaps classified as such, are not just part-time legislators.  The Council meets all year and every month, but Councillors also have committee meetings.  Beyond that, what takes up the most time for every Councillor is working on constituent issues.  There are a ton.  It may be something small like pointing someone to the right agency in the city or making sure someone's trash gets picked up.  It takes time firing off letters or e-mails or phone calls.  On top of that, most are people with real jobs and real lives.  Now, I will gladly admit there are some that are just collecting a check, and we know who those Councillors are.  No need to call them out here.

The need for a raise for the vast majority of this Council is noted.  Pay for the City-County Council is mere pittance when compared to what even nearby cities with similar governmental structures pay their legislators.  Louisville, for example, pays $35K.  It doesn't measure up.  How much that raise should be and when is the appropriate time to ask for it are questions for another person.

I don't believe raising the pay of this Council from $11,400 to $25,000 is at all exorbitant.  I don't believe it will break the bank of the city, and I believe this is a worthwhile conversation that we need to have over time.

So why would I vote no?

I take issue with this timetable.

Any raise, in my opinion, should be phased in over the term of the next Council (that is seated in 2020) and subject to the city's finances and budget.  The Council raise should not take effect until January 1, 2020.  That means that the 25 people sitting in those 25 seats after the 2019 election cycle will receive the raise.  I think it's really bad optics for a currently-seated Council to raise its own pay...no matter how well-deserved.

I would vote no on this pay raise, and I would not accept it if it passes.

If all of this seems familiar, we kind of went down this road last year.  The raise was only about $5,000, and Mayor Greg Ballard vetoed it on his way out the door.  I'm interested to see what this Council and Mayor Joe Hogsett do.  The GOP caucus is opposing the raise, but I don't know if Mike McQuillen can keep his caucus together.  Same for the Democrats, who seem in favor.

I'm going to guess that the proposal will pass with a couple of vote defections either way, and it will be up to Mayor Hogsett to decide to sign or veto it.

Wednesday, December 7, 2016

Trump Meets Match in Chuck Jones?

Earlier tonight, Donald Trump went after United Steelworkers 1999 President, Chuck Jones, on Twitter.




Why did the President-Elect of the United States decide to say that a local union president is doing a bad job?  Because Jones had the courage to call out Trump's bad math buried deep in the Carrier deal saying that the PEOTUS "lied his ass off" about the deal.

Chuck Jones tells it like it is.  He doesn't filter his language.

Since Trump's tweet, Jones says he's been getting death threats aimed at him and his family.  Jones has also seen a throng of defenders tweet, Facebook and voice their support for him.




Trump should support guys like Chuck Jones.  Jones is a man who represents many of the working class folks that crossed over and voted for Trump in areas of the United States like Indiana.  Calling Jones out for being the cause of jobs leaving the United States is asinine, especially when the Governor of the State of Indiana is the guy you picked for Vice President!

Anyway, knowing Chuck Jones, he's no shrinking violet.  This will only make Chuck mad as hell, and that's not good for Trump, who had grudgingly drawn some praise from Jones on the initial announcement that 1,100 jobs were staying in Indiana.  As it turns out, that was a fool's gold number.  Only about 500 jobs are sticking around and the rest, including jobs in Huntington, Indiana, are moving out while Carrier's parent company collects a big check from the taxpayers of Indiana to further automate its operation.

Don't get me wrong, I'm happy Hoosiers will still be employed here, but I'm not going to rush out and install a Carrier product in my home.

As for Chuck Jones, he'll go back to helping those people whose jobs are heading out of town while continuing to negotiate for better wages, working conditions, and deals for working people.  As for Trump, he'll probably continue to bully regular people on social media like a high school sophomore.

Now we know why Judge Joseph Wapner (yeah, he's still around) will be Trump's first Supreme Court nominee.  He's been too busy to do the real work of the office because he's been attacking real people on Twitter.  "He needs to worry about getting his Cabinet filled and leave me alone," said Jones to the Washington Post.

Tuesday, November 29, 2016

Hated or Loved, Castro's Consequential Legacy Part of History

Fidel Castro
Fidel Castro died on Friday.

I am sure my reaction was much like the reactions of many.  I personally didn’t celebrate his obituary, but I wasn’t unhappy to read it. 
 
To me, Castro was a tyrant. He was a dictator. He held his country and his people back, and he had an unending hatred for what we would call democracy. To exiled Cuban refugees and their families, Castro was like Satan. 

To many others, Castro was a revolutionary.  When others capitulated at the threats of the United States government, Castro stood taller and got stronger.  To some, dare I say he was a hero.

Castro was a survivor.  He was a central figure in the Cuban Missile Crisis which brought the United States and the Soviet Union extremely close to nuclear war.

Yet, time after time, opponents including U.S. Presidents tried to take him out.  He survived.  He bedeviled Dwight Eisenhower, John F. Kennedy, Lyndon Johnson, Richard Nixon, Gerald Ford, Jimmy Carter, Ronald Reagan, George H.W. Bush, Bill Clinton, George W. Bush, and Barack Obama.

When his country's economy tanked, he found a way to work out of it, and he survived that way for some 60 years on the world stage as a permanent rock in the shoe of the United States just 90 miles a way.  A true reminder of the Cold War with, at various points, the means to do real harm to our way of life and our national interests.  He was that threat that could never be extinguished.  

He was a fiercely controversial man, a complex world leader and a fascinating personality.

In interviews, Castro had a sort of disarming charm. Barbara Walters has talked about her time with Castro as enjoyable. She talked about how he would allow a certain back and forth between the two even going as far to cook for the crew. Walters always said that the other Castro was never far from the surface. 
 
That Castro was the fiery revolutionary who could captivate or alienate an audience. That Fidel Castro seemed too mean to ever die.

In the end, Castro was largely relegated to a ceremonial role in his own government. His brother, Raul, now the leader, mended fences with Barack Obama, the current American President, and the old wounds between Cuba and the United States seemed to finally be healing. Fidel never seemed happy with that and even spoke out against his country’s course of action in his failing health.

He was shaking his fist at the United States until the very end.

One of the most consequential people of his time, Fidel Castro is gone at 90 years old.  In death, as in life, he leaves many with much to think about and many emotions to experience.

Sunday, November 27, 2016

Trump Back to Tweeting Idiocy

In case you hadn't noticed, I'm taking my annual post-election/holiday hiatus.  It's been a relaxing time even as uncertainty mounts as to what will happen in January when perhaps the most unstable man to ever be elected President takes the Oath of Office.

The latest from Trump is that he actually would have won not only the Electoral College (recounts pending) but also the popular vote if all the people who illegally voted were subtracted.  I'm not making it up.  Here's the Tweet.



According to The Hill, Trump's claim echos  a report by conspiracy theorist Alex Jones that three million undocumented people voted in the election.  Fact checkers were quick to point out that this claim is unproven.

The Boston Globe reported that there is nothing to back up Trump's later tweets about "serious voter fraud" in New Hampshire, Virginia or California nor did he offer anything in the way of proof.

Sounds like Trump's a little nervous about something to me.  I think Trump's mad he didn't win the popular vote.  Hillary Clinton's lead continues to grow.  A later tweet said he would have won the "so-called popular vote" had he really tried instead of trying to win the Electoral Vote.

Wednesday, November 16, 2016

Silver Linings from Nov. 8

Rep. Karlee Macer (D)
saw her vote percentage
grow by 9% over 2014.
Out of all the mess of last Tuesday’s election results, it’s clear that Marion County actually did pretty much what it could for Democrats in the state of Indiana and locally to deliver a blue wave.
 
Democrats swept the Marion County seats where Republicans shockingly didn’t even bother to field a Coroner candidate. Dr. Lee Sloan will take over that critical role. Debbie Jenkins won a third term as Marion County Surveyor. Claudia Fuentes won a second go-around as Marion County Treasurer.

For the first time, Democrats beat Susan Brooks in Marion County part of the 5th District. Of course, she did very well in Hamilton County. Congressman André Carson again beat the baseline of his district in defeating Cat Ping in the 7th District.

Hillary Clinton, Evan Bayh, John Gregg, Glenda Ritz, and Judge Lorenzo Arredondo took big margins out of the county with them.

In the Indiana General Assembly, Marion County held serve. Seats that were Democrat stayed Democrat with mostly larger victory margins. Seats that were Republican saw their margins mostly trimmed or had to rely on margins outside Marion County to provide the victory.

Statewide, Republicans lost a seat in the House, and Democrats lost a seat in the Senate.  

Monday, November 14, 2016

Just Sketching Direction for National Democrats

Rep. Keith Ellison
I don't have any solid answers for where Democrats should go next in 2018 or 2020, but I think I have a few pretty good ideas and can sketch out a road map of what might make the party more successful against Donald Trump.

First of all, as the Democratic National Committee, I would name a Chair who gets it.  Donna Brazille is a great operative, and she has performed about as well as she could after being undercut by the Wikileaks scandal.  There are two choices I would support.

The first candidate is Howard Dean.  Dean burst on the scene in 2004 and showed everyone what a powerful organizing and fundraising tool the
internet could be.  His star burned out before the primary season warmed up, but he went on to become the soul of the party in some ways.  Dean became DNC Chair in 2005.  He engineered the party's comeback seeing the Democrats take control of both the House and the Senate in 2006.  His "50-state strategy" caught fire in 2008 when it met the Obama campaign.

Howard Dean
Barack Obama became a transformational candidate by expanding the electoral map for Democrats and pushing through some reforms some had only dreamed about.  Briefly, Democrats held 60 seats in the Senate, caucus-wise.  Dean left in 2009.  Much of the progress reached during his tenure has now been turned back with Republicans controlling both Houses of Congress and the Presidency.

If Dean could get lightning to strike twice, he might be able to put Congress back in Democratic hands if Trump remains an unpopular executive.  2018 is that first opportunity to send a message.

Keith Ellison could also be a great DNC Chair.  First of all, the Congressman is endorsed by Bernie Sanders.  Ellison would likely take the party in probably a more progressive direction than Dean.  As both an African-American and a Muslim-American, Ellison would continue to show the Democratic Party's commitment to diversity and our idea of one big tent.  He would provide a new voice and a new direction, and he's picked up the endorsement of outgoing Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid.

After the direction of the party is settled with a new chair, I wouldn't have Democratic candidates beginning their campaigns in Iowa or New Hampshire.  There will be time for that.  Democrats need to go to West Virginia or Ohio or Wisconsin or Pennsylvania and find out why Trump was so successful with the so-called Reagan Democrats.  As a party, we have to bring working-class people back into the Democratic Party.  Our values more closely match their values than Donald Trump's do.

At the same time, Democrats must continue to defend women and minorities and others from those that would tear them down.  We can never forget the big picture.

At the end of he day, we need to look, I believe, towards the center of the party to candidates that can do well in the rust belt and in rural areas before we can ever seriously get this train back on track. Either that or get candidate that all Democrats and even more than a few Republicans can rally around.

Democrats, your voices are needed now more than ever.  Keep on talking! The race for 2018 and 2020 will begin before you even know it.

Friday, November 11, 2016

It's Veterans Day, Thank You

It's November 11.  Veterans Day.

Thank you to all that have put on the uniform for your sacrifice and for protecting the rights and freedoms we share as Americans.  We don't honor you enough, but I hope you know that I thank you and appreciate you.

For those that will one day soon be veterans that are fighting on the front lines or supporting our country's efforts elsewhere, thank you too.

Thursday, November 10, 2016

Thank You HIllary!

I'm Still With Her
As the smoke clears from the historic election on November 8, I want to send a special thank you out to one person who deserves it so much.

Hillary Clinton.

November 8 might have brought to a close a truly remarkable political career of a girl that grew up near Chicago and rose, as a woman, to the highest levels of our government. In the meantime, she made pit stops in the White House as First Lady and in the United States Senate as a Senator. She ran for President twice and, arguably, got more votes than her opponent both times but never got to sit behind the Resolute Desk.

Hillary Clinton is one of the toughest political figures to ever walk into the arena. She's a fighter among fighters. She can shake off the haters better than most, and, despite her entire personal and professional life being laid bare to her opponents, she continued to put herself out there because she had a desire to serve.

In 2008, I found myself on the other side of Hillary Clinton. I supported President Barack Obama's run from the start, and I got to see what a tough customer she was. When she lost, she put her arm around the nominee because that's what she had to do. She reunited the Democratic Party that was cracked down the middle.

There was no doubt in my mind that if Clinton ran in 2016 that I would be with her. I was. I am proud. While her campaign was flawed in some ways, outside forces, in my view, conspired against her. Still, she won the popular vote. Again, even though she got more votes, she's done nothing but ask for unity for a man who's done nothing to deserve it. She did that because she had to. It's that love of country that has always motivated her.

Now, in 2020 or 2024 or 2048 or whenever it happens, a woman will step up on the steps of the Capitol Building and raise her right hand. She'll recite the Oath of Office. It could still be Hillary if she runs again, but, if her fight is over, no one has done more to inspire little girls that they too can be President of the United States. Hillary Clinton took up the fight of the suffragette and those like Shirley Chisholm and Geraldine Ferraro and others but she's advanced the conversation to the very edge of the line. There will be a woman elected President one day, and Hillary will have had a lot to do with it.

If this is the end of the very long and wonderful public career of Hillary Clinton, I want to personally thank her for inspiring me. I am still with her.

Wednesday, November 9, 2016

Taking A Few Days...

I'm going to take a few days away from the blog.  Unlike last time, this is just a few days...not any longer.

I'm not going anywhere.  On the contrary, there's so much that I want to say, but every time I start to say it...I stop.  I want to lash out and rant out, but that solves nothing.  I just keep trying to remember that this is a great country with resilient people.  We will get through this.

"It is what it is, so make it what it will be."
--Pat Summit

Donald Trump is going to be President of the United States on January 20, 2017.  On that day, at noon, he'll raise his right and and take the Oath of Office.

It's going to take a few days to process that for me.  So, for the haters, please feel free to gloat.  For my fellow Democrats, please feel free to soul search.  For all of the candidates, thank you for running and putting yourself out there.

I shall return shortly.

Indy Democrat...OUT.

Republicans Close Door on Democrat Challenge

Well, what can I say...

It's going to take a while for me to dig through all of these results and all of this information.

My initial reaction is that I'm extremely disappointed.  Indiana had a real chance to make some change this election, and I'm afraid that we just doubled down on every thing that has got us into these certain but uncertain times.

We just handed the keys of the Governor's Office over to Eric Holcomb, a man we know truthfully little about.  He has no voting record.  He has no particular public pedigree.  All we know is the way he's conducted his campaigns and the way he's led the Republican Party in Indiana.  We know that Holcomb's GOP created the mess in our education system.  We know that his GOP is anti-LGBT.  We know Holcomb is anti-Sunday alcohol sales and anti-medical marijuana.

Hoosiers handed their U.S. Senate seat to Todd Young. A man who essentially offered nothing but being a former Marine and being anti-Washington to voters.  By the way, did you know he's a Marine?

Congratulations to all the winners.  Republicans now hold all of Indiana Government again.

It's late/early...I'm tired...I'm out.

Tuesday, November 8, 2016

It's Election Day!

It's Election Day. The polls are open from 6:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m.

We'll have plenty to talk about later tonight and over the next few days, and we'll be here to cover it all. For now, it's up to you.

Get out and go vote...NOW! Visit www.indianavoters.com to check your registration and find out your polling site.

So get out there and vote, for better or worse...

Monday, November 7, 2016

Tuesday Only Starts Critical Decision Time for Americans

This is the last post before the votes get counted, and I actually want to take time forward.

On January 20, 2017, we will swear in the 45th President of the United States.  That person will be Hillary Rodham Clinton or Donald J. Trump.  There are scenarios where it could be someone else, but I just don't foresee them happening.

It's either Clinton or Trump.  

Whoever wins, I want to offer this: A Clean Slate.

Now, I don't want this clean slate to be mistaken for "forgive and forget".  On the contrary, no matter how much we can try, you can't go back and correct the wrongs  My hope is for a clean slate of rights.  I will respect the new President because he or she will be the President of the United States.  I have always tried to respect that office even if I didn't like the occupant's policies.  

Donald Trump or Hillary Clinton will have my respect as incumbent Presidents until they do something to lose it.  At that point, the clean slate goes out the window.

Even with that, I still hope that our country can come together and wish our new President success because doing so would wish failure upon on country.  Presidents succeed and fail on their own, and they don't need us to wish that for them.  I want President 45 to be a success so our country can move forward.

I also want a political atmosphere where we can discuss issues, agree or disagree, and not hate one another or be hated.  This is going to take a concerted effort from both sides.

If we can't fix this, I'm really not sure where we go as a country.  I just know I want to hand off a political system to my grand nieces and nephews that I can be proud of instead of this current one that is an embarrassment to us all.

Now, don't mistake what I'm saying.  I'm not advocating going into hiding if Trump wins for Democrats or for Republicans to retreat to their survival bunkers if Clinton wins.  What I'm saying is that we have a big decision to make on Tuesday but a bigger decision about what kind of country we want to be afterwards.

Democracy needs your voice at the polls on Tuesday.  Please make plans to get out and vote.  It is a consequential election and there will be some very tight races on the ballot.  

Friday, November 4, 2016

My Election Forecast


Click the map to create your own at 270toWin.com


Above you'll see my final forecast for the 2016 Election.  I think it will be tight all night, and that it's very likely we won't know for sure who wins for a couple of days.

With that said, I'm calling this race for Hillary Clinton, 283-255.  Fingers are crossed.

I think Trump has done a tremendous job closing this race and has made tremendous hay in New Hampshire, Ohio, Florida, and Nevada.  I don't think he's done enough to win Virginia or North Carolina.

You can go to 270towin.com and make your own forecasts.

Other Calls:
Indiana Governor: John Gregg (D) 51, Eric Holcomb (R) 46, Rex Bell (L) 3
SPI: Glenda Ritz (D)
Atty. Gen: Curtis Hill (R)
U.S. Senate, Indiana: Evan Bayh (D) 49, Todd Young (R) 47, Lucy Brenton (L) 4
U.S. House District 2: Walorski (R) 53, Coleman (D) 45, Cenkush (L) 2
U.S. House District 3: Banks 60 (R), Snyder 23 (L), Schrader (D) 17
U.S. House District 9: Yoder (D) 49, Hollingsworth (R) 48, Brooksbank (L) 2
Other District winners; 1-Visclosky, 4-Rokita, 5-Brooks, 6-Messer, 7-Carson, 8-Bucshon
General Assembly: 68 R, 42 D (House) (+3 D) 38 R, 12 D (Senate) (+3 D)
US Senate: 51 D, 49 R (+5 D)
US House: 234 R, 201 D (+13 D)
Mass Transit Referendum: Yes 60, No 40

Thursday, November 3, 2016

Bell Wisely Calls for Help At Right Moment

Your health comes first, and I'm glad that Libertarian nominee for Governor, Rex Bell, was
somewhere where he could get help fast.

Rex Bell
According to media reports, Bell was being interviewed by media in Richmond when he asked them to call for help.  I can't say that I would have done the same thing or maybe even noticed that I needed help, so it's a tribute to Bell that he recognized he was in trouble and needed help.

As it turns out, the Bell Campaign says that Rex suffered a mild stroke and is expected to recover completely.  That's the best news out of the situation.

For now, Bell is in Methodist Hospital where he remains under observation, according to his campaign.  They said he's in good spirits and that he is expected to be released soon.

Again, I'm so glad for Rex that this was not more serious, and I truly wish him the best.  He seems like a tremendous man, and I've enjoyed his contributions to the conversation this election cycle.  He's been a credit to his party.

Tuesday Will Be A Long NIght

Get ready for a late night on Tuesday.

As hard as it is to believe, this may be a 50-50 election on Tuesday night with Donald Trump nipping at Hillary Clinton's heels in the Real Clear Politics polling average.

I just don't get it, but it seems clear that what should have been a non-troversy with the latest e-mail issues has caused people to take a second look at Donald Trump.

With just one weekend to go, there's still time for Trump to implode again, but I just don't know what to think at this point.  I'm starting to entertain the possibility of GULP a Donald Trump presidency.  I sure hope that I'm wrong, but we need to see a great turnout on Tuesday to turn back Trump.

Even Libertarian Vice Presidential candidate Bill Weld seems to be feeling the urgency by coming out and defending Clinton against Trump.

It's going to be a long night.

Tuesday, November 1, 2016

Blame Mike Young for Bad Bill That May Delay Election Results

I voted early.
Mike Yonng

My ballot is in, and I just want to make sure it gets counted now. I’m 100 percent positive that the Marion County Election Board is up to the task of running an efficient and fair election, and I know my vote will matter. You should have the same confidence.

Marion County Clerk Myla Eldridge is sounding the alarm bell early. State laws have changed since the 2012 election, and it will be a rather slow process to count absentee ballots and get those results tabulated and reported. Clerk Eldridge and the Election Board have ten days to get everything done and certified, but we’ve become so used to everything being done on the night of the election. In lower turnout elections, that’s easy. Thanks to those law changes, Marion County and Lake County must count absentee ballots at a central location rather than the old way of couriering out the ballots to the individual precincts and having the ballots counted in each precinct. Now, it takes many pollworkers many hours to county the record number of absentee and early voting ballots.

All of these new rules were buried in the details of the omnibus Senate Enrolled Act 621 (2013) championed by Senator R. Michael Young. That’s the gem of legislation that removed the City-County Council’s four at-large seats, reduced the influence of the City-County Council, and gave the Mayor of Indianapolis unprecedented power over aspects of the budget and key appointments. Young’s version of the bill passed over the strenuous objection of neighborhood groups, political experts, and even Governor Mike Pence who signed the bill despite his own reservations about what was in it.

So, when the hand-wringing begins in a tight race statewide, and the results are not yet in from Marion County because the Election Board’s workers are working their butts off to get the absentee ballots counted, don’t blame Myla Eldridge or the Election Board.
Blame Mike Young.

In fact, just go ahead and replace him with Phil Webster. A teacher and coach in Decatur Township for over 40 years, Webster gets what representative government means. In fact, he could teach Young a thing or two about it. Mike Young doesn’t listen to his constituents, and Senate Enrolled Act 621 (2013) is just one example where he voted for his party loyalties over those in his Senate district.

Monday, October 31, 2016

Happy Halloween!

Happy Halloween!  Safe trick or treating for the little ones.  For the big ones, be safe.

Comey's Questioned Announcement Throws Electorate for Another Loop

FBI Director James Comey
There's just eight days left in this election season, and it's been an interesting few days.

On Friday, news dropped that the FBI is not done looking into Hillary Clinton's e-mails after all.  Looks like this time the e-mails in question live on a computer shared by Huma Abedin, a Clinton aide and former Department of State staffer, and her estranged husband, Anthony Weiner.  They were apparently discovered during an investigation into Weiner's sexting habits.

Questions have been raised by many individuals about the timing of the announcement by FBI Director James Comey.  This is a huge matzo ball now hanging over the election on November 8, and it does appear to be having a small effect on the polls nationally and in the individual states.

The thing is no one, including Comey and the FBI, seem to know exactly what's in the e-mails and only obtained a warrant to begin looking into them this weekend.  This is most certainly going to drag out until after the election with most experts saying that there's likely nothing new to add to the inquiry the FBI closed without filing charges against Hillary Clinton earlier this year.

I'm writing this based upon my understanding of the case, and what I've heard from experts.  The polls were trending Donald Trump's way ever so slightly.  As October surprises go, this one seems to be fairly weak on the surface, but it's not your normal election.

Should be interesting to see if Trump can make hay out of this or if something from his past or present will come back to haunt him.  Also, as Nate Silver from Five-Thirty-Eight pointed out, there are tons of early votes already in the bag.  

I think it's clear we're in for a long Election Night.  I think this one will be a nailbiter.

Friday, October 28, 2016

Do Research on IPS School Board Race; Don't Vote Blindly

I don't have a dog in the IPS fight other than I'm a concerned citizen who lives in this city and wants good schools for our students.

I have found myself at odds on social media, in person, at events and at other times with some of the current IPS Commissioners up for reelection.  Yet, in two cases, I consider them my friends even though I feel that some of their views on education reform are just plain wrong.

There are some things you just never will convince me about this reform movement, and I don't like the power and influence that the money that creeps into these races brings with it. Still, I think by and large the current incumbents on the IPS Board of School Commissioners are good people that think they are doing right by the students and community they serve even if we disagree.

I'm not going to endorse anyone here on my blog because it's really up to the voters in IPS to select the best candidates for them.  I will say that I do believe there are individual candidates on the ballot that should not under any circumstances be elected to this board.  Please don't read more into that statement than there is.

Rather than mention names, I'm going to allow you to make your own decisions.  It's worth a few minutes.  I encourage you to Google your candidates and research them fully.  I don't encourage you to vote this one without doing research.  Believe me, it won't take long to determine which candidates can be trusted on this board and which should not be near it.

To all of you in IPS, I wish you the best as you make your decision.  The true fate of public education in this city is in your hands.

Wednesday, October 26, 2016

Trump/Pence Insult Hardworking Poll Workers with Rigged Election Rhetoric

My first foray into politics was working the polls.
Donald Trump

My first position was a poll sheriff. That position was eventually done away with in each polling site, and I moved to judge. I also worked some elections as a clerk. I would do the job again.

It’s an enjoyable way to pass a day, you get paid, and you get the satisfaction of knowing you helped in the important process of electing our leaders. I worked every election from 2000 up through 2004. After that, I made the step from working inside the polls to be a Precinct Committeeperson and then a Ward Chair.

I stepped out for a few years, but I recently reassumed a Ward Chairmanship in Decatur Township. It’s a different way to serve, but you’re still involved in the process of helping to recruit poll workers and make sure they know what they are doing.

I never have served as an inspector in the polling site, but I know the job isn’t easy. It takes a person that can follow step-by-step instructions and who can keep organized. When I did serve inside the polling place, I took my job seriously. While there were times you could grab a bowl of chili and maybe even read a book, your job is to make sure that everyone who appears and is legally able to do so at your precinct has an easy experience casting their ballot.

Most poll workers meet the night before to set up the polling site, and there is a structured way to do it. There are set policies and procedures that are not optional. They are to be adhered to at all times, and, while it might be easy to cut corners, that’s the quickest way to making a critical mistake. 

When my alarm would go off at 4:30 a.m. on Election Day, I had to be ready to go when I worked the polls. A quick hop in the shower, a bowl of cereal, and a car ride later you are there in the pitch black ready to open the polls at 6:00 a.m.

That’s when the inspector unlocks the door and yells, per regulation, “The polls are now open!”
There’s usually a rush early on. The people waiting outside for you to open at 6:00 a.m. are usually not so patient. The day typically progresses from there.

When I did work the polls, I can tell you that I never disenfranchised anyone. If someone was not on our poll book, we did the best job that we could to find out why from the Election Board. Usually, the problem was the voter’s problem. He had not voted in four years and didn’t know his precinct moved. She didn’t update her voter information after she moved from Michigan. People misread a map. 
 
If we ever touched a ballot more than we were supposed to under the regulations, we were supposed to fill out a form about assisting a voter. Once we handed the ballot to the voter, it’s officially his or her ballot now. There are contingencies for everything. Ballots where people make mistakes or that are defective are called “Spoiled ballots”, and there are specific ways inspectors have to deal with them to make sure that ballot can never be run through a machine.

Before one poll worker can leave, the ballots must balance with the number distributed originally. There are all sorts of official seals that require the signature of all those working. These are safeguards. Tons of documents are signed. Everything…including the official pens must be counted.
Extraordinary care is taken to make sure EVERY vote counts and every ballot…voted and unvoted…is catalogued and accounted for. In Marion County, the Republican judge accompanies the inspector to one of the drop off sites for all the election materials. They wait in line and cannot leave until everything balances.

My point is that Donald Trump and Mike Pence calling our election system rigged is so ridiculous it doesn’t even really deserve merit. Calling the system rigged is calling out all those hardworking poll workers and Election day workers who work hard for low pay. It’s a slap in the face.

Truth be told, rigging an election in Marion County would mean rigging over 600 polling precincts and more than 3,000 election workers.

So, when you go to the polls on November 8, rest easy. Your vote will count and be counted.

Tuesday, October 25, 2016

Please Send My Friend André Back to Congress

André Carson
It’s hard to believe, but André Carson has been in Congress since March of 2008.

Carson won a Special Election and then fought off a wild primary field that year before winning an easy victory for his first full term in Congress. It’s been a journey for the man who once rapped under the stage name of Juggernaut. I’m actually, full disclosure, honored that I have been able to call the big guy my friend for eight years.

I met André shortly before the nominating caucus that made him the Democratic Party candidate for the special election. I admit, as I have before, I was skeptical to turn the 7th District Congressional seat over to a man with so little experience at the time. 

I talked with Carson over the phone, and I immediately connected with him. Instead of discussing his position on trade or what I thought he needed to do to improve the economy, we talked about music and what toys we played with when we were younger. It was a good conversation, but I felt as if I knew David Orentlicher just a little better. 

When it came time to vote at the caucus, David Orentlicher was my choice. David O. had been a state representative for years, and I knew him well. I knew his position on a myriad of issues, and I also knew he had a great deal of experience. He was and remains a brilliant candidate for Congress, and he just gave it another go in the Primary in 2016. The votes were counted, and David Orentlicher didn’t win. In fact, André smoked everyone on the first ballot.

To congratulate him, I was going to leave him a voice mail. I dialed his number, and I was shocked when I heard that big booming voice on the other end, “Jon Easter…what can I do for you man?”
I had made it known that I was an Orentlicher guy, so I told André congratulations, and, “I’m with you now. Whatever you need from me, you let me know.”

Carson said, “Great. Let’s go!”

Ever since that day, that’s been my relationship with the Congressman. He’s been there for me whenever I’ve called, texted or sent a social media message. He’s been on my radio show. He’s asked me for advice. I’ve asked him for advice. He’s helped me with issues with my mother’s care. Carson has been the kind of friend to me that transcends the political side of things.

To me, he’s André and, to him, I’m “Big East”. Reminds me of the relationship I had with his grandmother who called me her “Decatur Boy”. That’s an entirely different story. Needless to say, it’s really hard for me to objective when it comes to my friend André.

I have been. There are times we’ve disagreed. I’ve even called him out on the blog. Whenever we see each other next, he always thanks me for what I wrote and treats me just like always. Congressman Carson is a good man.

So, I can’t lie. I’m proud of my Congressman. I’m proud of my friend. I’m proud of the way he’s helped lead the fight to improve veterans’ healthcare when they come home from war. I’m proud of the millions of dollars he’s been able to redirect back to our city for road and street repairs. I’m proud of the funds he’s been able to secure for homeland security. I’m proud of the work he does for working people in trying to save our jobs and making the 7th District a place companies want to come to and build. 

I’m also proud to have watched him start as one of 435 and grow to become a leader in not only the Congressional Black Caucus but the Democratic Caucus at large. I’m proud my friend stands up for me as a member of the Congressional LGBT Caucus even though he’s not gay. He’s one of the best allies our community has.

When I considered running for Senate District 35 in 2012, I was on the fence. My mother, who was still living at the time, told me not to do it. Other friends were pushing me to go for it. I was stuck. I called Congressman Carson and asked for 15 minutes of his time. He was busy, but he told me he’d call back. About 40 minutes later, there was André’s number popping up on my phone, and he gave me the best advice possible. He said that the only person that knew if I should run for sure was me. He also suggested that if I even had to ask the question then maybe there was my answer. I thanked him, hung up the phone, and I decided to follow my mother’s advice.

Now, that doesn’t mean that Congressman Carson doesn’t rib me now every time he sees me about running for office again, “When are we going to see you on the ballot again, Big East?”

I guess I get to see a different side of my Congressman than most do. To me, he’s my friend André, and I hope you’ll give him another two-year term in Congress. He works hard for you, and he cares.

Monday, October 24, 2016

Strong Bayh Ad Underscores Evan's Hoosier Roots

In this time of awful political advertising, it's really refreshing to see an ad that stands out for its positivity, memorability and effectiveness.

I think the Evan Bayh campaign, whose ads these past few weeks have been very strong, has struck gold with this one.



The ad features a woman named "Sue" who babysat Evan when he was a boy.  She drives home Evan's Hoosier roots, family story and reminds us that even though his jobs may have taken Evan away from Indiana that a person is "once a Hoosier, always a Hoosier".

If you disagree, are you going to argue with Sue?  I think she looks like she probably would make you go pick your switch.

Awesome ad by the Bayh campaign.  It's the best I've seen this cycle not run by Hillary Clinton or Bernie Sanders.

Saturday, October 22, 2016

Bayh Can Help Fix Broken Senate

Evan Bayh
Evan Bayh is not perfect.

Not by a long shot, and I've been critical at times of him here on this blog.  Sometimes, it's important to step back and take the long view of things though.

Bayh was a successful Secretary of State and then two-term Governor of Indiana.  Bayh won election to that office in a tight fight over Republican Lieutenant Governor John Mutz.  He was the first Democrat in two decades to serve in the office.

Serve he did.  Probably his lasting gift to the state besides lower taxes and a state surplus was the 21st Century Scholars Program.  Years later, that program still continues to help students that deserve to go to college be able to do so.

Evan Bayh then went to the United States Senate, and, I'll be honest, many Democrats found his service there less palatable than his Governorship.  But, in a testament to his leadership, for the next 16 years, red Indiana had a purple tint.  Bayh Democrats, those middle-of-the-road, careful D's populated the Statehouse.

So, as I looked at my ballot in the voting booth the other day, I didn't even hesitate to mark my ballot for Evan Bayh.  After all, John McCain has said that if Republicans control the Senate you can expect them to hold the United States hostage until they get nominees for the U.S. Supreme Court that meet their demands, Constitution be damned, he expects Republicans to block President Hillary Clinton's nominees, should she win the Race for the White House.

You see, Todd Young is a Republican, and I'm not sure what he's done in Congress nor has he given us much idea.  He's been one of 435...indistinguishable from the rest.  He has no programs with his name on it.  All Todd Young will do in the Senate is toe the party line.  He will serve the Republican Party and not the state of Indiana.

We know Evan Bayh won't do that.  Bayh's bucked his party and even trended more conservative at times than Richard Lugar on some issues when they were both in the Senate.  Bayh won't be the gridlock in the Senate.  Like Indiana's current junior Senator, I think Bayh is part of the solution to fixing a broken Senate.

You see, what makes Bayh not liked by many Democrats is actually one of his best qualities.  Bayh reaches across the aisle.  Sometime, he votes like a Republican.

I just can't see Todd Young doing that.  Make sure you send Evan Bayh to the Senate.  Heck, Joe Donnelly's seat may even depend on it in 2018.  It will be a lot easier for Joe to stay in the Senate with a partner like Evan Bayh on his side.

Don't look for perfection. Look for the guy that will get things done.  That's Evan Bayh.

Friday, October 21, 2016

I Voted No on Mass Transit Referendum

One of Chicago's "L" Trains
I voted no on the mass transit referendum.

Believe me, I'm sympathetic to all the reasons to vote yes, and I may even agree with some of them.  However, this plan is a bandage on a gaping wound and will do little to solve the mass transit problems with IndyGo in certain parts of the city.

One of those parts is where I live.  I live in Decatur Township, and this plan does little to nothing for this area of town.  The problems facing residents down here with access to mass transit will continue, so I don't feel that I should have to pay for it.  Call me selfish, short-sighted, a hypocrite...whatever, but I just don't feel that this is something I can support.

I \don't buy that there is any long term plan to solve this issue in this area.  If I did, I would think differently about this plan.  Kentucky Avenue and/or the railroad tracks along Kentucky Avenue would be a perfect corridor for plan expansion, but it won't come.  I've already been told by a City-County Councillor, a Democrat, that we don't have any destinations down here and that we don't have enough residents to support expansion.

To me, that tells me that there's no plan for the city to ever help us down here build up what we have.  They are content with Decatur Township taking the trash from he rest of the city and putting it in the landfill down here.  They are content with the IPL Harding Street plant powering the city from extreme Northeast Decatur, but they aren't serious about helping us bring restaurants, shopping centers, and other amenities that would attract higher-level housing down here.  Nope.  We're supposed to fund the rest of the county north of Troy Avenue but get nothing this way.

I am pro-mass transit, and I would support a tax increase to get it done. I voted for the Eskenazi Hospital referendum, and I voted yes on the Decatur Township schools referendum.  I just can't support this halfway done plan that won't address the myriad of needs in my neck of the woods.

I say to the powers that be that if you want my tax dollars, I just ask that you give me a plan worth raising my taxes for before I will vote to raise them.

Thursday, October 20, 2016

Two Supremely Qualified Candidates Battling to Replace Zoeller

Judge Lorenzo Arredondo
There's a key race on the ballot that few people are talking about.

It's the race for Indiana Attorney General, and either one of the candidates running for this job hope to make history on Election Night.

On the Democratic side, Judge Lorenzo Arredondo was the Lake County Circuit Court Judge from 1976 to 2010.  Arredondo has taught judges to be judges and is also a former classroom teacher.  He's a brilliant legal scholar, and he would be an excellent Attorney General.  If elected, the Democrat would be the first former judge to serve as Indiana Attorney General and the first Latino elected to a statewide executive office.

Curtis Hill
Elkhart County Prosecutor Curtis Hill, Jr. is the Republican
nominee for the office.  If elected, Hill would be the first African-American man elected to a statewide executive office (Dwayne Sawyer was appointed, and Pamela Carter was the first African-American and female African-American elected to statewide office).  Hill is now in his 13th-year as Elkhart County Prosecutor.  Before that, he was a deputy prosecutor and was a private practicing attorney.

Qualifications are not a question.  These two are supremely qualified to be Attorney General.  It comes down to a question of philosophy.  If elected, what will the Attorney General do?  Zoeller has often used his position to take the state to court over political fights.  When he has done this as he has in cases against immigration, Obamacare, gay marriage, and the auto bailout, he has usually lost spending millions of dollars in taxpayer money on appealing or pushing cases over a political agenda.

Judging from Curtis Hill's website, it sounds as if he has a very similar philosophy as Zoeller.  From his website:

As your Attorney General, I will not hesitate to fight back against executive orders, agency rules, or legislation that seeks to invade our lives in violation of the Constitution. I will establish a federalism unit to fight for and restore the proper balance between our federal government, our state, and the people of Indiana. You should expect your Attorney General to lead with courage and as your Attorney General, you can count on me to stand my ground for Indiana and protect the rights of Hoosiers!

Arredondo has said straight up that he would not use the office as a political one to push his own philosophy of government.  Arredondo talks on his website about using the office for much more of its other functions.  Judge Arredondo says he wishes to be a consumer advocate for Hoosiers as well as a good steward of taxpayer dollars.  On his website, he says he will be tough on crime and push for better policies on curing Indiana's opiate problem and keeping criminals behind bars.

Let me state this.  I think either candidate will do a fine job as Indiana's Attorney General, but I feel that Lorenzo Arredondo is the best choice.  His depth of experience and his ideas for the office will serve Hoosiers well.

It's a critical choice for Hoosiers.

Wednesday, October 19, 2016

Trump Finishes Trump in Third Debate

Donald Trump sunk himself.  He took himself down.

Regardless of what was said in the debate, Donald Trump, a major party nominee, said before a vote was counted that he would essentially not accept the results of he election.  "I'll keep you in suspense," said Trump.

Game. Set. Match.  Hillary Clinton was the winner on points, on temperament, and on style.

Clinton also got so under Trump's skin that later he called her, "a nasty woman."

Trump would be wise to read this letter left in the Oval Office by George H.W. Bush for his successor Bill Clinton.  The words are beautiful.


Bayh Defeats Young in Only Debate of 2016 U.S. Senate Race

Evan Bayh
Last night's debate between Todd Young, Evan Bayh, and Lucy Brenton turned out to be a rout after all.  The winner was Evan Bayh.

Bayh was on his best game all evening long and showed absolutely no rust as he expertly took every political attack Young could throw at him.  Bayh was even successful at diverting several of the attacks right back at Young.  For example, Young attacked Bayh for walking away from the Senate as things started to heat up again in the War on Terror.  Bayh easily sidestepped the brunt of the attack by explaining his national security credentials and deftly used the opportunity to attack Young's record on veteran's affairs.  Young found himself on the attack all night, but he left himself wide open for Bayh to knock him around a bit.

Young repeatedly tried to make Bayh out to be an out-of-touch lobbyist who cares more about his bottom line than Hoosiers, but that's a tough case to make on Bayh.  For his part, on several issues, Bayh said he disagreed with Hillary Clinton most notably cap and trade and general trade policy.  Bayh pledged, as he has for years, to work across the aisle.

Repeatedly, Young touted his Hoosierism and the fact that he's a former Marine.  There is certainly
Todd Young
nothing wrong with his service, and I thank him for it.  It just seems that this is the basis of his entire campaign instead of accomplishments he might be able to point to over six years in Congress.  In fact, it was like Young wanted people to believe that Bayh was coming at this race as the incumbent.  Bayh one time pointed out that it was Young and not him that was actually in Congress currently.

Lucy Brenton
Lucy Brenton was entertaining.  While she definitely made her Libertarian friends happy with her campaign rhetoric all night, she provided more of a sideshow at times to the main event
between Young and Bayh.  Brenton notably was the only candidate to talk extensively about being a parent (mother of 10 children).

It was not a good night for Todd Young.  The few remaining undecideds in the race did get to see a stark contrast between the Congressman and the former Senator.  Bayh was very smooth all night and rarely found himself in trouble.  Young was the aggressor showing that he believes the polling that he is behind in the race.

This one will be close on Election Day, but I didn't see anything that Bayh did to lose the election. He had an excellent debate.  This one will largely come down to what the voters think in this and which candidate they trust with their vote.

Tuesday, October 18, 2016

Glenda Ritz Deserves Four More Years to Reform Education with Governor John Gregg

Superintendent Ritz
Of all the races on the ballot, because of my day job, Superintendent of Public Instruction means a lot to me.

For those of you that don't know, I've been a public educator since 1997.  I teach at the Area 31 Career Center in Wayne Township where I've been since 1999.  I write this endorsement not in my capacity in any way, shape or form as anything but a voter and someone who is very concerned about education in the state.  As always, this is just my opinion.

As I began to approach my decision on who to place my trust in to help lead the state's education policy, I tried to get past the party description of both candidates as well as how they've been characterized by their opposition.

I started with a web search to see what I could learn about the candidate I had no opinion about, Jennifer McCormick.  Through that search, I was able to find that Dr. McCormick is a capable and respected education leader in the state.  She has articulated some very strong opinions with which I agree.  For example, she believes that the entire performance pay system isn't working.  She believes that paying teachers matters, and she also believes that a single letter grade doesn't represent he performance of a school.  On the other hand, I'm a bit concerned that she wants to take a top down approach when it comes to evaluating teachers as opposed to the current way of setting guidelines and allowing school districts to meet those guidelines on evaluating their teachers as they see fit.  That's a huge concern to me.

Dr. Jennifer McCormick
Many of her proposals have little detail attached to them, and she did not really perform that well under direct questioning at Monday's Superintendent of Public Instruction Debate.  What I did learn is that the Democratic attempt to tie her to Tony Bennett's failed leadership of the Department of Education is unfair and completely inaccurate.  In fact, McCormick not only takes issue with how Ritz has done business but also is willing to attack the political climate of the DOE under Bennett.

Turning to Superintendent Ritz, my main concern has been has she been up to the task of leading the Department of Education.  Let's begin with this: it's been a very difficult climate for a Democrat at the Statehouse these four years.

It seems that nearly everyone in that building with any power or authority has been out to get Ritz.  She has been ridiculed as essentially "just a librarian" by David Long.  She has been undercut by Governor Mike Pence who tried to create a shadow Department of Education.  She has been railroaded by his appointments on the Indiana Board of Education, and the General Assembly, for the first time in the history of Indiana, passed legislation removing the elected Superintendent of Public Instruction as Chair of the Indiana Board of Education.

In short, any plans Ritz has had to change education in this state have been met with the scrutiny of an entire Indiana government structure that has been against her.  It's almost impossible to do anything in that climate.

Ritz has gotten things done.  She has held her head high, and she hasn't let being the target of every Republican's frustration at Democrats in state government stop her.  This is among her best attributes.  With a true partner in the Governor's Office, it will be interesting to see what the next four years of education might be like.  John Gregg has the right ideas.

I like McCormick, but I have concerns about her platform and her ability to stand up to the Republican Party that will almost certainly still be in control of the Indiana General Assembly.  I like Ritz even though her first term in office has been largely frustrated by partisan fights and disappointing political machinations.

In 2016, I've decided to endorse Glenda Ritz for another four-year term in office.  I think that with Governor John Gregg, Ritz will have a different climate to work from and will successfully help to improve education in the state.  As a teacher, I think she is the right person to recruit others to teach.  She's tough and has been tested against almost everything the Republicans can throw at her.

I will be voting for Glenda Ritz.

Bayh, Brenton, Young to Debate Tonight

Tonight is the first and only debate between Todd Young, Evan Bayh, and Lucy Brenton, candidates for Indiana's junior U.S. Senate seat.

I wish I could tell you what to expect.  I just don't know.  The tone of the race through ads for both major party candidates has been increasingly nasty for weeks.  Now, hardly anything positive is coming out of the Bayh or Young campaign.

After a poor start, I think the Bayh campaign has finally gotten its act together and has begun to hit Todd Young as hard as he's hit Bayh.  I still think it was a mistake for Bayh's camp to allow Young's campaign to define the veteran Indiana political figure.  After 30 years in public life, there should be no question in anyone's mind who Evan Bayh is or what he stands for.

I'm interested to see how Bayh answers questions about his post-U.S. Senate employment.  Conversely, I'm interested to see how Young responds to direct questioning over his record when it comes to his positions on entitlements and student loan debt.  

Brenton winning this race is unlikely, but she could prove herself more than just a spoiler if she can have a strong showing in probably her first major exposure of the campaign.

We'll find out from 7-8 pm tonight.  The debate will air locally on WFYI or WTHR.  It will also stream at www.indianadebatecommission.com. You can submit questions there for the debate.

Monday, October 17, 2016

Holcomb Subliminally Bringing Up LGBT Civil Rights Issue?

The race for Indiana Governor is either neck and neck or firmly within John Gregg's mustache depending on what poll you believe.

A couple of polls show Gregg and Holcomb within the margin of error of each other, but a Monmouth University poll that came out last week shows Gregg up 12 points.  

The ads have become a little more negative in the race, but they have not reached the depths of some of the other races on the ballot, and the first two debates between Gregg, Holcomb, and Libertarian Rex Bell drew praise for their substance and civility.

That's why something that's in an Eric Holcomb ad is raising the eyebrows of moderate Republicans and Democrats across the state.

For a moment in one of Holcomb's recent ads, John Gregg is shown in front of the Metro, and Indianapolis bar that caters to the LGBT community.  

Gregg has been outspoken this time around from day one of his campaign on the issue of civil rights for the LGBT community.  He has gone as far as to, according to the most staunch activists, apologize for his former positions and promise to make this his top priority if elected.  He says that no matter what happens in the General Assembly that Gregg will sign an executive order dedicated to preventing discrimination against LGBT Hoosiers.

Holcomb has refused to take a position other than to say there is no consensus in the legislature and that he has essentially no stomach to fight for what's right despite widespread polling supporting the addition of LGBT Hoosiers as a protected class under the state's non-discrimination law.  Moderate Republicans also generally support the idea.  It's Holcomb's hardcore right wing base that opposes it.

When I heard about the Holcomb ad, I scoured the internet for any sign of it. It's not on Holcomb's YouTube channel.  This morning, one of my Facebook friends, Jeff Lilly, posted a screenshot of the ad.  With permission, I post it here.  

Screenshot courtesy of Jeff Lilly on Facebook


To me, it seems pretty cut and dry, and it's pretty sad and stupid.  As some Republicans have pointed out, for this to work negatively against Gregg, people across the state would need to know what the Metro is, and any Republican that knows the Metro would probably be turned off by the tactic.  

Anyway, that old tired adage, "It is what it is," applies here.  You don't need me to tell you what to believe.  Make your own judgement on this one.  I will say that I think this is rather low.  Stay strong John.  You're on the right side of history.

Friday, October 14, 2016

Election Musings on a Friday Morning

Sorry for the lapse in posting this week.  It's been a vacation week for me, and, frankly, I have been enjoying myself.

It's that weird time of the political season that, for a blogger, you think you've written just about everything you can write about the election, but, in reality, people are just now starting to pay close attention to the election season.

What's remarkable to me is that election season just seems to get longer and longer, but it seems to get more and more tedious for the voting public.  Now, the voting has started, and the ballots are coming in.  The excitement continues to mount for what might happen on November 8 across Indiana and the United States.

I'm starting to get a more clear picture of what I think might happen on Election Day, and I do think there will be some upsets and razor thin margins in some major races.

With Donald Trump continuing to tank, I think it's quite possible that Indiana may be closer than anyone might believe on Election Night.  I don't think we've found the bottom of the Trump scandal yet as new allegations continue to come out daily.  If Trump is caught on tape or on video with anything similar to what we've already heard in the Access Hollywood tapes, I'm not sure he will have much more support than his most hardcore supporters.  Granted, those are enough to get him some votes, but the moderate Republicans that tend to swing elections in Indiana are likely NOT among those folks.

The best thing for Hillary Clinton to do at this point is just keep on keeping on.  In just about two weeks, this entire election has turned on a dime.  The wind is now at her back, and she just needs to keep sailing.  Michelle Obama hit a home run for Hillary on the campaign trail yesterday.  The President has not been more popular since the first few months of his campaign.  If I were Hillary, I'd keep leaning on them.  As much as possible, I'd keep going high while Trump goes way low.

Here in Indiana, I think Eric Holcomb has probably gained and made a bit of a comeback in this race, but John Gregg continues to run a very good campaign.  I don't particularly care for his latest negative ad, but I think that shows that this race is getting close.  Gregg has a great chance to win on November 8.

Evan Bayh's chances are slipping away, I think.  Bayh has run a horrible campaign and has allowed Todd Young and his minions to define him.  There's only one person to blame for that.  After all, Evan Bayh has been a figure in Indiana politics for 30 years.  The Bayh brand goes back even further.  It's unconscionable that a man so politically savvy could be outflanked by Todd Young.  Election Day cannot come soon enough for Bayh.  I think he can still win, but Hoosiers need to see and hear from their former Governor and Senator in the next few days.  I actually have much more to say about this race, and I'll do so here next week.

Indiana's U.S. House races are also a topic of interest.  Districts 1, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7 and 8 would seem to be safe and settled in favor of the incumbent or the incumbent party.  That leaves us with District 2 and District 9.

In District 2, Jackie Walorski is trying to hold off Lynn Coleman.  Initially, it looked like Walorski would be safe, but we've seen the national folks start to take a look at this race.  The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee is throwing some help in there for Coleman, and the former South Bend Police Department officer's campaign continues to get stronger.  I don't know if it will be enough to knock off Walorski, but it's enough to bear watching.

In District 9, it's anyone's guess as to who is ahead.  What's clear is Trey Hollingsworth will do anything to get elected.  Hollingsworth has attacked Shelli Yoder in ads by just making things up out of whole cloth about her.  For her part, Yoder has gone high and has attacked Hollingsworth for more documented issues...his carpetbagging and attempt to buy the 9th District seat.  This is a Republican seat, but Yoder's strong run and Hollingsworth's weak candidacy has given Democrats an opportunity.

There's still a lot more to discuss.  I guess that's why I shouldn't take days off at this time in the campaign cycle, right?  That's enough for now, though.

Monday, October 10, 2016

Trump Devolves into SNL Caricature in Second Debate

Well, where do we begin with last night's Presidential debate between Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump?

Let's begin with one of the two candidates isn't Presidential.  That's Donald Trump.

Yes, Trump comported himself again like he was a ring leader of a circus of crazy.  He was calling out all of his side show acts early on.  At one point, I was convinced he was reaching into his pocket and that Hillary had something to worry about.

Trump was clearly off his meds again last night, and he provided Alec Baldwin with enough fodder for another 10 or 11 Saturday Night Live sketches.  In short, he tried to throw everyone off the stench of his own putrid conduct in a lifetime of putrid conduct.  Problem is that he's neither skilled enough to do so nor had the opponent to allow him to do so.  In fact, at times watching Trump lurch across stage aimlessly wandering, it was like watching Baldwin's spot-on impression of Trump.  That's scary.

Somehow, Hillary Clinton kept it all together last night.  She just let Donald go on at times babbling like a drunk best man clearing out his cache of imagined and debunked attacks against her.  While Trump wandered, she sat.  While Trump yelled, she was calm.  When he threatened to throw her in jail, she merely smiled. When he went low, she went high.

A vocal minority of Trump supporters will yell and cheer and scream and tell you that their man won the debate.  When they do, politely nod and just think about the day that Hillary Clinton raises her hand and takes the Oath of Office.

Trump did nothing to get himself back in this race, and Hillary has done nothing to lose it.  In fact, by just letting Donald be Donald, Clinton is practicing one of her best attributes: patience.

The winner of debate number two is Hillary Clinton.

Wednesday, October 5, 2016

Taking a Few Days Off...Back on Monday

Day job has me too busy to blog.  Back on Monday.  Should be live tweeting the debate Sunday night, so follow me @johnnystir on Twitter.