Thursday, April 13, 2017

Democrats Can't Afford to Lose Donnelly in 2018

Joe Donnelly
Senator Luke Messer.

Senator Curtis Hill.

Senator Todd Rokita.

Chill down your spine, yet, Democrats?

I don't understand why some people on my side of the political aisle can't see why a conservative Democrat is better for Indiana than a conservative Republican. Furthermore, I can't see why some on my side of the aisle are ready to turn the table over just because they don't like the way Joe Donnelly sometimes sets out the place settings.

Much of the latest ire from some folks in my party against Donnelly comes from the decision to vote to confirm Neil Gorsuch as a Supreme Court Justice.  I'm almost certain that once Chuck Shumer had his 41 votes to force Mitch McConnell into the nuclear option on Gorsuch that Democrats like Donnelly in tough reelection fights for 2018 were free to vote up on Gorsuch.  It takes a line of attack off the table.

You can be mad because you think Donnelly isn't liberal enough, and I have shared my frustrations about him here before.  The strategy of not voting for Donnelly or leaving your ballot blank simply is a full or half vote for one of the three Republicans I mentioned at the start of the post.  Granted, there could be someone else other than those candidates that break out on the Republican side, but I think that those three seem to be the most likely candidates.

Messer reportedly is placing himself in a better position for a run.  While Messer seems at first glance to have a good legislative head on his shoulders, he was "excited" for Donald Trump's agenda, and he was considered for a spot in the Trump cabinet.  Rokita allegedly wants to move down the hall to the Senate so he can take his great ideas like eliminating union representation and grievances for federal employees and taking food out of the bellies of some of our school children to the upper legislative body.  Curtis Hill is putting himself in front of every camera he can find even if he has to dress up like Elvis to do it.  He's raising his profile as Attorney General for some reason.

Any of the three would take Donnelly's Senate seat, Richard Lugar's old Senate seat, in an entirely different direction.

Here's my inconvenient truth.  In Donnelly's position, I would have done the exact same thing on Neil Gorsuch, but I get why some others wouldn't.  I'm just not ready to let a Republican from Indiana vote on another Supreme Court nominee...especially one that might replace a more liberal vote on the high court.

If you don't like Joe Donnelly, that's fine. Seek him out and talk to him.  He's plenty accessible. Also, realize that the most important vote he'll cast in the Senate for you is that vote for majority leader.  If he's not there and it's Rokita or Hill or Messer, will they have hardly ANY of your positions in mind when they vote to keep Mitch McConnell as majority leader?  

Dems can't mess around and lose Joe Donnelly's seat in 2018. We just can't afford to do it.  Hopefully, Democrats across the state will figure that out and solidfy that base vote.

Wednesday, April 12, 2017

Holcomb Should Halt General Assembly Assault on Government Transparency

Governor Eric Holcomb
Governor Eric Holcomb has a chance to send a statement to the Indiana General Assembly on behalf of the Hoosier people, and, if they listen, he just might save them from themselves.

If you've been following this legislative session, the state's alcoholic beverage laws and how to pay for infrastructure repairs have dominated much of the talk, but, as the bills start to hit Governor Holcomb's desk, there's one piece of legislation that isn't worth the paper it's printed on.

The Indiana House and Senate passed House Bill 1523. The bill would give Indiana's many layers of government the freedom to charge taxpayers, the media, or anyone wanting public records up to $20 an hour if the search requires more than two hours of research.  That can get quite expensive, and it can create a chilling effect especially for those who can't afford it.

Reporter Kaitlin Lange of the Evansville Courier-Press reports that Holcomb has several options.  Like his predecessor, Mike Pence, he can veto the measure.  Pence vetoed a similar bill when he was Governor.  He can sign the bill, or he can allow the bill to pass into law without his signature.

The last option would be a cowardly way out, but it would give the Governor an out by saying that he didn't agree with the legislation and wouldn't sign it. By signing the bill, he would put himself in a position that could give Democrats an attack position in 2020 when and if he decides to run for reelection.

His best option would be to do what Pence did and veto the bill.  The General Assembly would need just a bare majority to overturn his veto, but Holcomb would be on the record as standing with the Hoosier people against this ridiculous bill that would be a strike against government transparency.

He certainly hasn't done everything I've wished him to do, but Holcomb has been a much-needed advocate for Hoosier common sense so far in the Governor's Office.  This bill seems like another opportunity for Holcomb to stand up and be counted and show his independence from the legislative branch.

Perhaps by telling the General Assembly to take a hike on this price hike, he'll wake them up a little.

Thursday, April 6, 2017

In Memoriam: Don Rickles (1926-2017)

Don Rickles
Growing up, I was a weird kid.

It's true.  I was just strange.

As I look back, I can't explain why I did some of the things I did as I grew up.  I just did them.

One thing I still have problems with is sleeping.  For my entire life, I've been a night owl.  I would often stay up until one or two a.m. watching television.  Late night television was my constant companion.

My parents allowed me to watch TV or listen to the radio because when they tried to make me stop, I would invent ways to bother them.  The kicker came one night when I claimed to have "thrown up" in bed.  Mom said she went in to my room, and there was a simple puddle of spit in the bed.  Eventually, we made a deal.  If I didn't bother them at night, they would let me watch TV silently in my room.

So, Johnny Carson became my best friend at night.  When I'd watch Johnny, I'd get through a couple of guests and find myself dozing off.  Before you knew it, the TV would still be on, and I'd be sound asleep.

Today, I lost another great friend.

Mr. Warmth, Don Rickles, passed at the age of 90.  I can remember being exposed to Rickles and his unique brand of humor through his many appearances on the Tonight Show. He and Carson had a rapport that few have been able to match in show business.  They knew each other so well that any appearance on the Tonight Show became a sort of dance of comedy between two kings of it.

Rickles, of course, had along career on his own spanning over 60 years in the business.  He outlived almost every one of his contemporaries in comedy and was a link between the past and the present in comedy.

He had a challenging brand of humor.  He claimed to never write jokes but would often play off the audience or the situation.  He was great at improvising and you can go back and watch some of his mastery of that stream of consciousness kind of humor on YouTube.  I've spent hours laughing at Don and his Tonight Show appearances as well as other appearances on other talk shows.

If you watch Rickles enough, you get a deep sense of the man he was.  A man with a sharp wit and cutting tongue, but a soft heart and bright smile.  Rickles almost always would thank the audience or the host from his heart at some point...before sticking in the knife with a good and winking one liner.  Rickles could be making fun of you, but he laughed with you and not at you.

I feel like I've lost a friend.  Goodbye Mr. Warmth, and thanks for the laughs.

Angie's List Helping to Enable O'Reilly's Bad Behavior

Bill O'Reilly
If he worked for anyplace other than Fox News, Bill O'Reilly would be out of a job today.  That's my opinion.

In fact, "Bill O" as Keith Olbermann used to call him on his old show Countdown should have been gone long ago from the airwaves on the Fox News Channel, but it's a true "good ole boys" kind of place over there which marginalizes women newscasters and celebrates misogynistic behavior.  A smug, arrogant serial harrasser like O'Reilly appears to be must be seen as an asset by the folks at Fox.

Our "locker room talk" President has come out and defended O'Reilly, and that shouldn't surprise anybody.  Donald Trump's presidential campaign was knocked off track for about a month by his own crude comments toward women recorded by Access Hollywood microphones.  Trump is an enabler because he knows that people like O'Reilly buy him cover.

The fact of the matter is that Fox News should do what the parent company finally did to the old head of the network.  When it became clear that Roger Ailes harrassed multiple women in a sexual manner, he was forced out.  The same should happen to O'Reilly.

Of course, that would leave the Fox News Channel without one of its marquee stars.  The O'Reilly Factor is still a ratings juggernaut that brings in revenue and viewers for Fox News.  That said, the advertisers are starting to pull back from O'Reilly in recent weeks.  We've seen several companies say they don't want to be in the Bill O'Reilly business.

Indianapolis-based Angie's List is sticking beside O'Reilly.  That's sad, and it shows a lack of vision, in my opinion, by the company. It's these advertisers who are sticking in with O'Reilly that are helping to enable his bad behavior.  Apparently, Angie's List doesn't feel that supporting O'Reilly's show with money will have an effect on how the company, which has received taxpayer dollars over the years, is perceived.  Well, I hope the City-County Council, Mayor Joe Hogsett and others are paying attention the next time Angie's List comes for a tax-money handout.  I don't want my money to go to a company that supports a guy like Bill O'Reilly.  It should be noted that Eli Lilly pulled its ads from O'Reilly's show, according to the Indianapolis Star.

O'Reilly probably will survive this latest scandal.  Rush Limbaugh emerged from his scandal after he said awful things about Sandra Fluke.  His show was notably weaker out the other side, but Limbaugh just re-upped for a chunk of cash with his distributor.  O'Reilly may survive, but he'll come out the other side weakened.

I guess as long as Fox News feels like it can pay out settlements to excuse O'Reilly's serial harrassing behavior then they'll tolerate his antics.  Since Fox News seems unwilling to take the steps to remove and replace Bill O'Reilly, it's up to advertisers and viewers to ultimately decide whether they'll be so supportive.

Angie's List has pulled its ads from O'Reilly.

Monday, April 3, 2017

Donnelly Chooses to Confirm Gorsuch

Joe Donnelly
Senator Joe Donnelly announced on Sunday that he's supporting the confirmation of Neil Gorsuch to the Supreme Court. It touched off a firestorm of praise and criticism from Indiana politicos.

Let's begin with the decision.  Donnelly, as a moderate, is often looked to in the Senate as a swing vote.  Sometimes he sides with Republicans.  Many times he sides with compromise.  That draws the ire of the progressive wing of Indiana Democrats who wish that he would fall more in line with liberal leanings.

That's just not Joe Donnelly.  It never has been, and it never will.  Joe Donnelly is going to make you mad if you're a progressive, and he's going to surprise you, too. In this case, he's casting his vote with lots in mind.

First of all, there's 2018 to worry about.  It will be a midterm election, and Donnelly is seen as one of the most vulnerable Senators.  The vote to confirm Gorsuch takes an entire attack angle off the table for the Indiana Republican Party.  The GOP can't beat him over the head with this vote like the NRA is trying to do with his gun control votes even though he voted for not only the Democratic gun control measures, but the Republican-supported ones too.

Secondly, there's a good chance that even with Donnelly's vote that Mitch McConnell won't have the 60 votes necessary for cloture and thus the Democrats will successfully have filibustered Gorsuch's confirmation.  The only way to confirm him is for McConnell to overturn the filibuster and use the so-called "nuclear option" and take a simple majority for Gorsuch to be confirmed.  Either way, it looks bad for the Republicans and McConnell.

Finally, Donnelly is standing up for the old rules of the Senate.  Before we reached this hyperpartisan era in politics, things used to be more collegial.  The President would nominate someone to a position that he believes is qualified.  It's up to the Senate to advise and consent to that nomination.  If someone is not qualified, the Senate is fully justified to vote down the nomination.  If, however, like Gorsuch, someone is qualified for the job, then the Senate votes to consent to the nomination even if there are philosophical differences.  This is how a judge like Ruth Bader Ginsburg was confirmed, 96-3.

I know that many liberals get upset when I point out the alternative to Donnelly in 2018 likely will be a Republican who is diametrically opposed to many of the things liberals support.  That always must be remembered.  Donnelly's balancing precariously right now.  He's going to need every vote he can get.

That's the choice liberals will have to make: voting on principle vs. quite probably losing the Senate seat.  I'm just being real.

Saturday, April 1, 2017

Different Kind of Bathroom Bill Advances in General Assembly

Just when you thought things couldn't get any weirder at the Statehouse, you find another bill that somehow wiggled through the cracks.  This bathroom bill definitely will make you shake your head.

A deep reading of a bill moving through the Indiana General Assembly unbelievably contains a major provision that will make it the law as of July 1 that you must buy something at a Hoosier business first to be able to use that establishment's restroom facilities.

House Bill 1212 sponsored by Representative Perry Ellsroth (R-Stone Head) would make it a misdemeanor punishable by a $50 fine or six months in jail to use the bathroom at any Indiana business without buying something first.

"I don't forsee people calling the police over this, but business owners are tired of seeing customers have to wait while people use the facilities in their businesses without purchasing anything.  This is espescially true in communities situated along interstates," said Ellsroth.

Ellsroth said his bill does not establish a limit on how much you have to spend, but he expects the bill to help the state make more in sales tax even if the bill is just a few cents.  "Every little bit helps,"

Enforcement will be an issue, but Ellsroth says that any business that allows someone to use its bathroom for free needs only to post a sign on the door saying that the restrooms are free for public use, "We thought that was a simple fix for those businesses that did not want to participate."

In 2015, Ellsroth raised eyebrows when he sponsored a bill to change Indiana's bird from the cardinal to the American bald eagle.  That measure failed when people realized that there is no Perry Ellsroth from Stone Head in the Indiana General Assembly and then realized it was April Fool's Day.  As always, I remind you to be on guard when reading things on the internet today.

Thursday, March 30, 2017

Future Caucus Promotes Cooperation, Bi-Partisanship in State Government

A group of 14 Indiana lawmakers held a news conference yesterday in Indianapolis, and their message was extremely important.

Bi-partisanship, reaching across the aisle, and working together is something that should happen in government and that should start asap.  Indiana's "Future Caucus" is a group of 14 milennial Indiana lawmakers (seven from each party) dedicated to trying to find common ground and work together.

The news conference on the Statehouse lawn yesterday included ideological opposites Democrat Dan Forestal and Republican Timothy Wesco as well as other lawmakers.  If Wesco and Forestal can find common ground, there is hope for us all.

As representatives of the caucus and the Millenial Action Project said at the news conference, it's critical to show millenials that even opposites agree on many things.  It's also important to reach out and involve young people in the political process.

I know from talking to young people on a near daily basis that many want to be involved, but they have no idea what the "on ramp" is to get involved or don't understand why there is so much rancor an gridlock in politics.  Frankly, I have trouble sometimes with that.  I certainly wish things were much more collegial on both sides of the aisle.

I wish he future caucus the best as it hopefully grows from 14 to maybe 150 someday in Indiana.

Wednesday, March 29, 2017

Indiana Congressional Caucus Splits on Internet Privacy, Trump Tax Return Issues

All of the Republican members of the Indiana U.S. House delegation voted to rollback Obama-era privacy rules and to allow your internet service provider to sell your web search data to advertisers.

Democrats André Carson and Pete Visclosky voted to protect your privacy.  The Republican delegation of Jackie Walorski, Jim Banks, Todd Rokita, Susan Brooks, Luke Messer, Larry Bucschon, and Trey Hollingsworth voted in favor of violating your privacy and selling that data without your consent.

Sickening isn't it?

This came on a day when many of these same representatives (all but Messer who didn't vote) voted to keep President Trump's tax returns private even as questions about his ties to overseas governments continue to mount.  Carson and Visclosky voted to have the Trump tax returns released to Congress.

So, as you surf the net, you can thank your Republicans in the U.S. House for less privacy and for allowing your ISP to sell your data.

Monday, March 20, 2017

Brewer Takes Chance on Reality TV

Former Mayor Candidate
Chuck Brewer
I was perusing my Facebook wall this morning when I saw local activist Evan McMahon's post on a new CNBC Show.

"I was watching previews for The Partner, on CNBC, and thinking 'man that guy looks familiar'. Well he should, it's former Indy Mayoral candidate and owner of both Soupremacy and Potbelly, Chuck Brewer," wrote McMahon.

Inspired to do a Google search, I found the show's web page.  Sure enough.  There's the first contestant, Chuck Brewer.

In his contestant video, Brewer highlights his military service and his success in business.  He talks about selling off his Potbelly franchise and continuing to work with his own concept, Soupremacy.  Again, it doesn't tap into his personal life too much other than he's a father.  It also doesn't mention anything about him running unsuccessfully for Mayor of Indianapolis.

Nevertheless, Chuck Brewer impressed many with his run in 2015, and I wish him the best on the reality show.

Monday, March 13, 2017

What's Up With the Blog?

I've been pretty sporadic about posting lately, and I apologize.

I need to get back on the blogging horse, but it's not probably going to happen over the next couple of weeks.  I have some busy times ahead followed by a two-week vacation and a good friend coming into town.

Thus, I'll post whenever something gets my dander flying, as my grandmother used to say, so stay tuned.  As always, I appreciate your patience when I go on these "sabbaticals".

Wednesday, March 8, 2017

Hogsett Building Strong Relationships Across Aisle

Mayor Hogsett and Governor Holcomb share
a laugh at a jobs announcement
Photo courtesy of Twitter
As President, Barack Obama was widely known as “No Drama Obama”. The circus took over on January 20, and the poo hasn’t stopped being flung.  In Washington, we could use a little less drama these days. 

Thankfully, here in Indianapolis, we have our own version of “No Drama Obama” and that’s Joe Hogsett. 

 His smoothly sailing ship has yet to hit an iceberg in this city, and he’s just done it by going about his business and doing the work.

Hogsett has barely hit a speed bump with most of the City-County Council. Sure, there’s a renegade few on the body, but they are largely hidden by a strong relationship that Hogsett has built with the Republican side of the aisle. 

The Republicans like Hogsett…even when they have to criticize him. If you don’t believe me, pull aside one of the Republicans and ask them. The Mayor has reached out across the aisle and has listened to their concerns.
Republicans feel more listened to than they did under Greg Ballard. Again, if you don’t believe me, ask them in a private moment.  Sure, you'll get the pushback from time to time that politics requires, but it's half-hearted pushback at best.  You won't see Joe Hogsett yelling down a Republican member of the Council.
When you think about it, the drama that existed between the Council and the Mayor’s Office is largely gone. Part of that is partisan, sure. It doesn’t go unnoticed that Hogsett is a Democrat with a 14-11 majority on the City-County Council, but one only has to look back about 10 years to see the dysfunction between Democrats that led to a Republican snap back as they took back the Mayor’s Office and the Council in 2007. 

Maggie Lewis is a very capable Council President, and she’s more comfortable ever in that position. With Zach Adamson in the Vice President’s role and Mike McQuillen leading the opposition, the Council seems to have found a sweet spot where it’s getting things done for the city and putting good proposals on the Mayor’s desk for his signature.

As we reach halftime of this Mayor’s first term, it’s hard to see a snapback coming. Jim Merritt was a good choice for the Republicans to lead their sinking ship in Marion County. If anyone can plug their holes, he can. Kate Sweeney Bell is also a great choice for Democrats moving forward. She will be a strong chair, and, as Hogsett’s choice to succeed Joel Miller, ensures there will be tranquility in the party, as much as there can be for Democrats, anyway.

There are lots of problems for the City of Indianapolis to solve, and the Republicans and Democrats in city government are going to have to continue to be a model for other governmental agencies to continue to get things fixed here in our city.

Even though it’s bad for my blog, I love the “No Drama” philosophy.

Tuesday, March 7, 2017

Haltime at the Statehouse

We've reached halftime of the Indiana General Assembly session.

I believe John Mellencamp accompanied by Billy Joel is the halftime show.  Sit back and relax and watch...

In all seriousness, the Indianapolis Business Journal or "IBJ" published this excellent list of the bills still wandering the halls of the House and Senate Chambers.  The piece also discusses some of the implications of these bills.

Everything from an abortion bill that could conceivably give rights to perpetrators of incest to a bill that would explicitly allow student-led school prayer are still living as the House takes up the Senate's bills and vice versa.

Hat tip to Indy Politics and their daily e-mail for drawing our attention to the excellent work by the IBJ.

Monday, March 6, 2017

Pence Hypocritical on E-mail Mess

Mike Pence would have you believe his e-mail flap is no big deal and that it doesn't compare to Hillary Clinton's e-mail scandal.

Truth of the matter, like Hillary Clinton, Pence was trying to conduct business in a busy world.  Clinton set up her private server at home so she could do the work of Secretary of State from there, and there's no question that Mike Pence was doing the same thing.

Sitll, it's hypocritical for Pence to have criticized Clinton for her use of a private e-mail to conduct work business while he was doing the same thing.  People are right to call him out for this duplicity on this issue.

The fact that some ID thief was able to stumble in and hack the Governor's America Online account without really even knowing what he or she did makes it kind of funny. There's no evidence Hillary Clinton's private server was hacked.

The Star's Tony Cook's expose from last week hit hard at the Vice President, but it still didn't shine the excrement that was Donald Trump's incredibly bad and horrible week.  Pence's e-mail scandal is minute compared to the continuing Trump Administration's mess with Russia.  That's an onion that keeps unpeeling.

Pence was hacked, and he used a private e-mail account to conduct state business.  Knowing these two things, he continued to criticize Hillary Clinton.  That makes him a hypocrite...with a capital H.

Tuesday, February 28, 2017

Mass Transit Tax Passes

At last night's City-County Council meeting, the mass transit tax was approved by a 17-8 vote.

Both sides of the vote can claim a bi-partisan flavor.

I have made no bones about being against this mass transit plan.  I think it shortchanges major parts of Indianapolis including much of the Southside.  The individual votes of the councillors kind of covered where the mass transit plan would or would make improvements.  All four southern-tier Councillors voted no joined by Stephen Clay, Christine Scales, and Susie Cordi.  The eighth vote came from Jeff Coats on the city's northeast corner.

Now that the tax has passed, I'll gladly pass over the dollars to the city (like I have a choice...I'm not leaving).  I know that this plan will make a difference for many.  I just wish that instead of the top sirloin that we could have explored the filet mignon.

My biggest beef (no pun intended) has always been that this plan doesn't take into account the mass transit situation in the southern tier of townships.  Decatur and Franklin are hardly touched by the plan yet residents in those communities (like me) will pass over our tax dollars for nothing in service.

I'm done complaining.  I'll just hope that someday I can use safe, efficient mass transit here in Decatur Township without taking extraordinary measures to do it.  I'm not going to hold my breath.

Friday, February 24, 2017

Thank YOU Joel Miller

Chairman Joel Miller
Photo Courtesy of Facebook
Joel Miller and I have been friends for a long time. That's why it's a funny feeling writing this.  For, this isn't a political obituary.  This is just a thank you for all he's done.

As reported here and elsewhere, the big fella, the grand poobah of the Marion County Democratic Party, our Chairman, is stepping aside, and we'll get a new head coach as of March 4.  If all goes as planned, that new Chair will be Kate Sweeney Bell who I've known for just about as long as Joel.

I believe I first met Joel when he was the Executive Director of the Marion County Democatic Party.  He was a guy about my age, and we hit it off from the start.  Joel is funny, and he has some great stories.  My journalist side was immediately drawn to those great stories.

Over time, our friendship has remained rock solid.  When I thought about running for State Senate, I made a few phone calls, and Joel was one of them.  He advised me to run and "Kick Mike Young's ass."  I probably should have, but I wasn't ready for primetime then.

Eventually, Joel became the Chairman of the Marion County Democratic Party, and I was, for a while, the only left-leaning blogger in town writing about politics.  Never once has Joel told me what to write here.  Now, I know he reads it because I've gotten phone calls on rare occasions he has disagreed with me.  That's only happened maybe two times in four years.  Joel's been extremely good with me, and always has made himself available for a comment when I've needed it.  I appreciate that access to the Party Chair.

Finally, I'll never forget this.  I have run for office twice here in Decatur Township and on the Southwest side.  I didn't worry my opponent either time.  In fact, it was quite clear that I wasn't going to even be competitive from the early returns.  Still, Joel made it a point to come to me after my City-County Council race looked discouraging and tell me how proud he was that I got over 38 percent of the vote and had exceeded my baseline vote.  It was a moment I will remember to hear my friend and my party chairman say, "I'm proud of you, brother. Good run."

So, thanks Joel. Thanks for being a great Marion County Democratic Party Chairman.  In just four years, you've managed to accomplish much.  Through your leadership and hard work, Marion County continues to lead the way for the Indiana Democratic Party.  You've left things in great shape.  Take a couple of hours off and then get right back to work.  We need you in this fight, and I will look forward to covering whatever you decide to do next.

Thursday, February 23, 2017

Hold Legislators Responsible on Town Hall Question Regardless of Party

It's easy for me to sit here and say that every member of Congress should be holding town hall meetings in every constituency in the United States.

That's an easy argument to make.  It's so easy, and it's so true.

We elect our representatives and our senators to go to Washington and represent us.  They are acting on our behalf there.  It's only fair that they should be getting their marching orders from those they represent, regardless of party.

This is not the same as being accessible, and, if there are security concerns, then measures should be taken to do what it takes to make sure that both the constituents and the public officials are safe.  Take that concern off the table.  I'm not asking for an informal "Congress on Your Corner" in this contentious time.  The bottom line is that frankly, this is the time that our elected officials need to hear most from their constituents.  There's so much crosstalk out there that it's important to get the messages from the working men, women and young people that send our elected officials to office.

If your elected official is not holding one of these events, continue to demand that they do. Republican or Democrat, it doesn't matter the party.  If we don't continue to hold our elected officials responsible for the work they do in office, we get the government we deserve.

Wednesday, February 22, 2017

MCDP to Reorganize on March 4; Sweeney Bell Expected to Lead Marion County Democrats

Kate Sweeney Bell phone banks.
Photo courtesy of OFA Flickr Page
The Marion County Democratic Party will meet on March 4 for its reorganization meeting at the UAW Union Hall on South Tibbs Ave.  The doors will open at 9:00 am with credentialing being cut off at 10:00 am.

Precinct Committeepersons and Vice Precinct Committeepersons will meet to elect a new Chair, Vice Chair, Treasurer and Secretary of the local party.  

Current Chair Joel Miller will not be seeking a second term as Chair, and Marion County Recorder Kate Sweeney Bell has been working to solidify support for several months for a run at Chair.  She has the support of Mayor Joe Hogsett and and Congressman André Carson.  She's been longtime friends and allies with both party heavyweights.

Besides Sweeney Bell for Chair, recommended candidates supported by the Mayor and the Congressman, according to the Mayor himself, are Stuart Mora for Vice Chair, LaDonna Freeman for Secretary, and Mark "Tony" Duncan for Treasurer. Nominations will be taken from the floor.

I have no concerns about Sweeney Bell's ability to run a party, but I do have concerns about having her, as an elected official, being in charge day-to-day.  Miller worked as a full-time Chair, and he was in the office almost every time I visited the headquarters.  Sweeney Bell will have to make sure that the people she puts in charge around her will carry out her agenda.  When I raised my concerns, Sweeney Bell pointed out that Mike McQuillen is an elected official and Chairs the Marion County Republican Central Committee.  That's true, but I believe a legislative post is much different than an executive office.  

If anyone can pull it off, though, Kate can.  As I learned a long time ago, if you want to get things done, go see a busy person to help you.  She's going to be incredibly busy.  I've known her for years, and I have the utmost confidence in her and respect for her to move the party forward.  

Joel Miller deserves a heaping helping of praise as well.  It's hard to replace a legend, and he did so magnficiently taking over for Ed Treacy and carrying the ball forward.  There is now not a Marion County Executive Office that is not in the hands of the Marion County Democratic Party.  Joel has been a friend of mine for years as well, and I can't thank him enough for the work he's done. Joel is still very young, and you can bet you haven't seen the last of him. Life, however, moves on, and it's an exciting time for Democrats. 

Tuesday, February 21, 2017

Buttigieg Still in Thick of DNC Race

Mayor Pete Buttigieg
This weekend, Democratic National Committee members will vote to see what man or woman will lead the DNC forward into the future.  Last night, on MSNBC's Hardball, another major Democrat declared at least some support for South Bend Mayor Pete Buttigieg.

In the closing moments of the show, former DNC Chair and Vermont Governor Howard Dean brought up Buttigieg while discussing the upcoming election for DNC Chair saying that there was an outside chance for he party to elect him chair.  Chris Matthews asked him point blank if he supported Buttigieg, and Dean said, "I kinda am."

As Dean noted, it's still an outside chance for Buttigieg.  The frontrunners are still Congressman Keith Ellison and former Labor Secretary Tom Perez, but they could cancel each other out leaving Buttigieg as a very viable candidate.

If you measure endorsements of muckety mucks, even with Dean's sort of endorsement, it's going to have to be the rank and file members that push Buttigieg over the top.  On his side, Buttigieg has former Maryland Governor and possible future Presidential candidate Martin O'Malley and former Pennsylvania Governor and DNC Chairman Ed Rendell.  Senator Joe Donnelly is backing Buttigieg as are many mayors across the country.

Congressman André Carson is backing Ellison.

What a run it's been for Mayor Buttigieg, win or lose.  When he started this thing, he was largely a young guy with a strange name from the city where Notre Dame is located.  Now, the political class has been introduced to Buttigieg, and it bodes well for both the future of the Indiana Democratic Party and the party in general.  If he wins, he'll be a great Chair.

Friday, February 17, 2017

Odds Favor Third Term Pursuit for Curry

Marion County Prosecutor
Terry Curry
Pursuit of a third term seems likely for one Marion County Democrat.

Terry Curry, the Marion County Prosecutor, has yet to make a formal statement that he's running for a third term, but a recent fundraising e-mail asks supporters to stand with him as he runs.  

If he runs, Curry is almost sure to win the race in a county that is trending more and more Democrat.  Plus, Curry has done a very good job since taking control of the office in 2011 in restoring confidence and order in the office.  Lord knows, he had his work cut out for him when his predecessor, Carl Brizzi, left office. 

Curry knocked off a strong primary field in 2010 and saw his toughest general election battle with now Indiana Supreme Court Justice Mark Massa, a well-funded and strongly-backed candidate.  In 2014, Curry easily won reelection with relatively little opposition from Duane Merchant.

That seems like eons ago.

Curry's fundraising e-mail touted several of his successes as Marion County Prosecutor as well as some of the successful cases and contributions to the community his office has worked on since 2011. 

While there have been a number of successes, there are legitimate criticisms of Curry's record, and he seems to acknowledge that there's still work to do in the future, "Not only do we see the challenges, we are ready to take them on through our community outreach, crime prevention training, and the vigorous prosecution of those who victimize others in our community," Curry said.

If successful in running and serving his third term, Curry would equal Stephen Goldsmith, who served 12 years as Marion County Prosecutor.  He did not run for reelction in 1990 instead deciding to run for Mayor of Indianapolis in 1991. Jeff Modisett won the race for Marion County Prosecutor in 1990 and would become the last Democrat to serve in the office prior to Curry's tenure.  

With county prosecutor as a statutory office created by the General Assembly, there are no term limits for this office in the Indiana Constitution.  Like Curry, Marion County Assessor Joe O'Connor can run for a third term. Pursuing second terms will likely be Marion County Clerk Myla Eldridge and Marion County Recorder Kate Sweeney Bell.  Marion County Auditor Julie Voorhies can also run for a second term as Auditor.  

Only Sheriff John Layton will have to step aside in 2018 due to being term limited. Former U.S. Marshall and former Chief Deputy Kerry Forestal is the likely candidate to emerge as Layton's heir apparent.

Thursday, February 16, 2017

Wednesday, February 15, 2017

Impeachment Seems Eventual Possibility for Trump

I am getting so tired of writing about national issues on this blog.  After all, I'm not the "United States Democrat Blog" here.  That said, it's the day-to-day drama of the White House that just keeps giving, and this is Indiana.  We all know how often the General Assembly has done something silly, and I don't mean Bruce Borders dressing up as Elvis.

Before we go further, this blog is full of blatant innuendo and rumor.  I don't have any facts to back this up.  I just have inklings, feelings, and intuitions.  Call it the hairs on the back of my neck.

I never thought I would say this about a sitting United States President, but I believe that Donald Trump has sunk himself already as the Chief Executive.  His Administration is not savvy enough to save him or itself.  This thing is going down, and it's going to be more than Michael Flynn whose career is sunk.

We are less than three weeks into this new regime and aboard this new ship at the White House, and it is listing...badly.

It's just shocking.

Today, the New York Times reported that the Trump campaign had repeated contact over time with the Russians.  Yesterday, the Washington Post reported that Flynn had discussed sanctions with Russian authorities before Trump was sworn in and then pretty much lied about it to his superiors.  Now, further reports say that Mike Pence was cut out of the loop here.

Investigations have begun.  There will be hearings.  People are asking questions. The famous question, "What did the President know, and when did the President know it?" is being asked.

Personally, I think the road to impeachment has begun, and the quicker it happens, the quicker we can start to mend up this country's wounds.  You can say what you want about Mike Pence or Paul Ryan or wherever the wheel will stop, but they are not Donald Trump.  We have to protect what our country is and the very bedrock it has been built upon.

Donald Trump is clearly not fit to be President, and he's surrounded himself by some very dangerous but careless people.

Tuesday, February 14, 2017

Flynn Out

The Washington Post and a variety of other news organizations are reporting that General Michael Flynn, one of Donald Trump's closest and most loyal advisers, has resigned as National Security Advisor.

Facts are still flying in at press time, but this is a huge story and one that will not be open and shut.  That's why I'm going to leave this one there until morning and until I can more fully-grasp this story.

Once again, the Trump Administration, which hasn't even filled all its cabinet posts yet, has seen its National Security Advisor, General Michael Flynn, resign three weeks into his service.

Monday, February 13, 2017

Supreme Court Seat Vacant Now for One Year

Judge Neil Gorsuch
A week or two ago, Donald Trump made his first Supreme Court nominee.

Judge Neil Gorsuch is a qualified jurist, and I think the Supreme Court nomination process will ferret out where he is strong and deficient. For the most part, it appears this is a good selection for a Republican President trying to replace the late Associate Justice Antonin Scalia.

What's bizarre is the effort to get him confirmed.  I've never seen interest groups purchase ads to try to get people behind a Supreme Court nominee because the United States people don't get to vote on them.

From what I've read on Judge Gorsuch, he and I have different philosophies on government.  That said, if I were a Senator, and I'm obviously not, I would not hold Judge Gorsuch off the court because we differ on philosophy. Given Donald Trump's performance as President so far, I think it’s pretty clear that Judge Gorsuch is a selection that could have been worse in a number of ways, and it's not like we could not have seen it coming.  After all, this was one of the key things that Hillary Clinton said over and over on the campaign trail. It's the President of the United States that makes the decision on who to nominate to the court, and, if they are qualified, they are confirmed by the U.S. Senate.  That's the time honored tradition we have.  A sitting President gets his nominee.

Anyway, that’s what should happen.
Judge Merrick Garland
But, let’s back this whole thing up a little.

Judge Antonin Scalia Scalia went to bed and died peacefully in his sleep one year ago today: February 13, 2016.

A one year vacancy? That would be preposterous, right?  That means that the Supreme Court should already be full. It should include a ninth jurist who, by his public record, should have received an easy confirmation. Scalia’s old seat should have been filled by a man who is imminently qualified with many years of experience and unquestioned respect from people on both sides of the aisle.

The Supreme Court right now should include Chief Justice John Roberts, Associate Justice Sam Alito, Associate Justice Steven Breyer, Associate Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Associate Justice Elena Kagan, Associate Justice Anthony Kennedy, Associate Justice Sonia Sotomayor, Associate Justice Clarence Thomas and, the new kid on the block, Associate Justice Merrick Garland.

In my mind the Supreme Court should be full and there should be no question about who is on it. President Barack Obama did his job, and he nominated a qualified individual to the Supreme Court. Obama should have gotten his nominee.

Mitch McConnell stole the seat. That’s why I not only encourage, but I expect Democrats to lay things on the line and filibuster this nomination of Judge Gorsuch and slow the entire process down to a halt until Judge Merrick Garland is given his fair hearing and vote in front of the U.S. Senate. 

That would be fair.  

Friday, February 10, 2017

Holcomb Spends Thursday Righting Some Wrongs

Governor Eric Holcomb
Eric Holcomb just had his finest day as Governor.  He did something long overdue, and he cleaned up some of Mike Pence's mess, too.

First, Holcomb issued a pardon for Keith Cooper for an armed robbery he in all likelihood did not commit.  In the midst of evidence that clearly was becoming more and more suspect, he was offered a deal and released from prison in 2006, but the stain of the felony remained on his record leaving him, as many convicted felons do, finding it difficult to resume his life.  Eventually, even the deputy prosecutor that prosecuted the case against Cooper was calling for a pardon.

After reviewing the case, Holcomb came to the same conclusion and issued the pardon.  Holcomb did not pardon Cooper on a battery conviction which stemmed from an incident with another inmate.

You can read more on Cooper's case, specifically the shoddy way Mike Pence dealt with it, here.

Also on Thursday, Governor Holcomb finally declared a neighborhood built over an old lead-contaminated site in East Chicago as a disaster area allowing the residents there emergency state funds to finally seek other living arrangements and opening up the possibility of federal assistance to the city to demolish the West Calumet neighborhood and decontaminate the site.

Shortly before he left office, Governor Mike Pence had turned down the request of East Chicago to name the old USS Lead site as a disaster area citing the state's response to the disaster.

For the last 12 years, we've had Mitch Daniels and Mike Pence at the helm of Indiana's executive branch.  It's been a long time since we've had a Governor have a day like Eric Holcomb did on Thursday.  Holcomb used his power in exactly the right way in two very high profile cases, and you get the feeling that he did it without regard to politics or how his base would perceive him.

Holcomb looked at the facts and came down on the side of compassion.  My dad always used the quote, "Compassion is not a sign of weakness."  This is an example.

As a member of Governor Holcomb's loyal opposition, I can only ask that he not forget that he governs all Hoosiers.  We ask him for fairness and judiciousness.  I'm sure that we will disagree on much in the future, but his actions on Thursday should give all Hoosiers hope that there is a Governor in place that will finally listen to all sides and make decisions based on what is right.

Thursday, February 9, 2017

Buttigieg Picks Up Major Endorsement for DNC Chair

O'Malley and Buttigieg
(Photo courtesy Twitter)
It may seem like it's a long way off, but soon the men and women who will try to defeat Donald Trump on both sides of the aisle will start to make their way to New Hampshire and to Iowa and the other early states to begin the 2020 Presidential Race.

Some Democrats are hoping that Bernie Sanders may have another run or that Elizabeth Warren uses some of her political capital and intelligence to give it a go.  Caroline Kennedy, Kirsten Gillibrand, Amy Klobuchar, Cory Booker, and a number of others might enter the race.

One man not being talked so much about is the guy that finished third this past election for the Democratic nomination.  That's Martin O'Malley.

O'Malley, a popular governor, ran a strong campaign that just didn't have the fire or resources of that of Bernie Sanders or Hillary Clinton in 2016.  Nevertheless, he impressed many and, at 54 years old, is someone to watch in the future of the party.

In the race for DNC Chair, O'Malley has thrown his support behind South Bend Mayor Pete Buttigieg.  O'Malley says that Buttigieg will bring the party the "fresh start" and "new leadership" that it needs.

While this is not the same as having Bernie Sanders's endorsement or Hillary Clinton's, this is a major political figure recognizing and endorsing a small city Mayor from Indiana to run the Democratic Party.

Pete just might win this thing yet!

Wednesday, February 8, 2017

McConnell's Attack on Warren Might Backfire

Elizabeth Warren
When the vote happens, Jeff Sessions will be confirmed as Donald Trump's Attorney General.

The so-called "nuclear option" put into place, Sessions will need a bare majority to be confirmed as Attorney General.  This will come despite a wide range of questions over his background, his history as an attorney and judge, and his votes in the Senate.

Unfortunately, a full debate about Sessions's record is not possible in the U.S. Senate, the body of government charged with confirming cabinet appointments, because Sessions is a member of the Senate.  Current Senators are forbidden from criticizing other sitting Senators while debating on the floor.

Senator Elizabeth Warren was no doubt wary of this fact when she read from a letter where Coretta Scott King, the civil rights leader and late widow of Dr. Martin Luther King, criticized Sessions when he was up for a judgeship in 1986.

In the letter, King says Sessions disenfranchised African-American voters by using his position as a federal prosecutor to "chill the free exercise of the vote."

After Warren read the passage in debate over Sessions's nomination for Attorney General, McConnell stood up in the Senate and invoked the Senate rules to silence Warren.  Over her appeal, they asked her to "take her seat."  In one short-sighted swoop, McConnell managed to alienate the words of Coretta Scott King, one of our greatest African-American civil rights leaders.  He also managed to alienate the supporters of one of the most-admired Democratic Senators by shutting down Warren's speech on Sessions without, as some have noted, any concern over the content of the claims in her speech.

That's a move that can have lasting effects as Warren has a way of firing up the liberal base.  By declaring war on Warren, McConnell risks making her profile even bigger over something he probably has already won: The nomination of Sessions as AG.  Longtime Senator Orrin Hatch pointed out that he votes are likely there to confirm Sessions.

With that being the case, McConnell's use of this Senate rule to shut down Warren who was quoting King on Sessions looks even worse.  By the way, you can bet your bottom dollar that this won't stop Warren from speaking out, either.

Below, by the way, is the full text of the letter that got Senator Warren in difficulty last night.  It deserves to be seen so that every one knows what one great American thought about Sessions.  Quite ironic that it was addressed to the then-chairman of the Judiciary Committee, Strom Thurmond.

Tuesday, February 7, 2017

DeVos Not Qualified for Education Post

Trump and DeVos
As I write this, Democratic Senators are holding the floor of the U.S. Senate and speaking out against Donald Trump's nominee for Secretary of Education, Betsy DeVos.

Right now, as I write this, New Jersey Senator Cory Booker has the floor and is giving his passionate concerns about the future actions of DeVos.

Booker is just one of the Democrats pledged to vote against DeVos, a billionaire charter school advocate with zero experience in traditional public schools.  DeVos had trouble answering simple questions that go to the very heart of what she would do as Secretary of Education.  She, for example, could give no opinion on key debates such as growth vs. proficiency.  DeVos seemed to indicate that they were the same thing.  They aren't.  Because of awful exchanges such as this with Senators, DeVos widely was seen to have failed horribly in her confirmation hearings.

DeVos's background shows no interaction with public schools.  She never served in one.  She never taught in one.  She never attended one.  She never enrolled her kids in one.  She's worked against traditional public schools as well.

Still, she is right on the line of being confirmed if you believe the early vote polling.  Once the vote
occurs, it could come down to the vote of Mike Pence to break the tie. He has clearly showed his disdain for public education as Governor of Indiana.  We know how he will vote.

Booker just finished his speech about the role of the federal government in education.  He invoked Norman Rockwell's famous "The Problem We All Live With" painting.  In the painting, a young black girl, Ruby Bridges, is being escorted by white men into school.  The "N" word is scrawled on the wall in the background and a hurled tomato is there, too.  His point was that without the federal government to stand beside Bridges that desgregation of our schools might never have happened.

He also talked about how DeVos refused to say how she would defend the rights of LGBTQ students in schools and if she would even continue to work with individual agencies to defend those students.  

Betsy DeVos may be qualified for another cabinet post, but it's not Secretary of Education.  Her background shows someone who's more interested in dismantling our schools than lifting them up.  Let's hope more Republicans come to their senses and vote this nomination down.  This is not partisan.

Monday, February 6, 2017

Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Lombardi...

The Super Bowl was quite a contest, and the New England Patriots found a way to exploit the Atlanta Falcons' mistakes and come back from the dead to take a victory.

Something interesting happened on the way to the Lombardi Trophy presentation, though, and I think it actually shows how much progress we have made.

Stephanie Germanotta, better known by her stage name of Lady Gaga, took to the Super Bowl halftime stage and killed it.  She sang and danced and got as many positive reviews as I can remember one artist of her ilk receiving from folks young and old and in between.  She even bridged the liberal to conservative gap with many on both sides calling her performance stunning.

Conservatives, who, prior to her performance, begged Gaga to keep her performance politics-free, praised her for just singing her songs and resisting the urge to protest Donald Trump or anything else.  It's interesting though that her set list included some interesting songs.

First of all, Gaga, while atop NRG Stadium, sang "God Bless America", "This Land is Your Land" and recited the Pledge of Allegiance.  Once she descended from the rafters, she sang a chorus of "Bad Romance" and then launched in to the song "Born This Way" which, if you know the song, is all about being born fabulous and not ever forgetting it.

Some of the lyrics...
"There's nothing wrong with loving who you are"
She said, "'Cause he made you perfect, babe"
"So hold your head up girl and you'll go far,
Listen to me when I say"
I'm beautiful in my way
'Cause God makes no mistakes
I'm on the right track, baby I was born this way 
Don't hide yourself in regret
Just love yourself and you're set
I'm on the right track, baby
I was born this way (Born this way)
Oh there ain't no other way
Baby I was born this way
Baby I was born this way
In the religion of the insecure
I must be myself, respect my youth ,,,
A different lover is not a sin
Believe capital H-I-M (hey hey hey)
Don't be a drag, just be a queen
Whether you're broke or evergreen
You're black, white, beige, chola descent
You're Lebanese, you're Orient
Whether life's disabilities
Left you outcast, bullied, or teased
Rejoice and love yourself today
'Cause baby you were born this way 
No matter gay, straight, or bi
Lesbian, transgendered life
I'm on the right track baby
I was born to survive
No matter black, white or beige
Chola or orient made
I'm on the right track baby
I was born to be brave
So, apparently, this is no longer considered a protest song or a song for conservatives to rail against.  There is apparently no political content in this song.  It's just a song...a truth.  God made me gay.

I was born this way.

I'm glad so many conservatives finally agree.

Friday, February 3, 2017

Bennett Returns Then Embarrassingly Quits

Tony Bennett
From the whoops file, the political comeback of one of the most divisive politicians of this millenium appears to be over before it could really begin.

Tony Bennett, the disgraced former Indiana Superintendent of Public Instruction and Florida School Commissioner, was named to the Clark County Council.  It was in a small way a comeback for Bennett.

Well, it appears that Bennett actually has had to step aside because he is not eligible to serve in that position yet.  In order to serve on the County Council, Bennett would have had to have lived in his district for one year.  He was short some time.

Sounds like Bennett is interested in serving again.  It will be very interesting to see what happens with Bennett to see how serious he is.

Thursday, February 2, 2017

Deputy Mayor's Social Media Comments Not Helpful

Deputy Mayor of Neighborhoods
Dr. David Hampton
Dr. David Hampton, Mayor Joe Hogsett's Deputy Mayor of Neighborhoods, has raised some eyebrows based upon some social media posts he made.  You can read all about that over on Abdul-Hakim Shabazz's Indy Politics.

We can also talk about Dr. Hampton's right to post such controversial language.  Let's get that out of the way first.  Yes, it's his right to post whatever he wants to post.  He is protected by the First Amendment of the Constitution.

Is it appropriate for a member of the Joe Hogsett inner circle to post such comments?  Let's be clear, I'm not calling for Joe Hogsett to fire Dr. Hampton.  Hampton serves at the pleasure of Hogsett, and it's up to the Mayor to deal with this however he wants.

All I can tell you is how I feel.

I am a former neighborhood group president.  In fact, I took about a year and a half off of politics to do neighborhood stuff.  While I continued to blog, I did not serve as a precinct committeeperson, ward chair or as an officer in any political clubs.  I wanted to get in touch with the issues that neighborhoods feel day-to-day.

Our neighborhoods on the Southwest side have a myriad of issues.  Much of them are related to access to quality streets and sidewalks.  We just don't have many sidewalks down here.  Young people walk in the street to school, and it's not uncommon to see people in motorized wheelchairs using the shoulder of the street just to get back and forth from the grocery.

Down here, we are constantly fighting with developers vs. the comprehensive plan.  Developers have one idea about how a plot of land should develop, but the plans say other things.  It gets people's dander up down here on this side of town when developers tell them things that they know aren't true because they've heard them all before.

Within a 10 minute drive from my house, I can be at the sewage treatment plant, the largest power plant in the city, or the landfill where your trash goes.  Under that landfill, there's a mining operation deep under ground that, when blasting, shakes nearby homes and businesses.

In Decatur Township, my food options include a burger place inside a hotel, two sit-down Mexican restaurants, several fast food joints, a Denny's, a couple of Chinese places, two or three pizza delivery places, and that's really about it.  There's no fine dining.  I would have difficulty finding a nice pair of shoes, a new outfit, or a variety of other retail items you can find anywhere else.  Economic development is a problem.

The new mass transit plan doesn't even address this area to any great effect.  Buses are done running down this way by 6:30 pm.  From my house, it's a 30 minute walk to the nearest bus stop on Kentucky Avenue.

I'm just scratching the surface.

So, what's the connection here?  Worrying about national issues won't solve these local ones.  In my view, Dr. David Hampton's post was inappropriate for the city's Deputy Mayor of Neighborhoods.

I'm not perfect.  No one is.  I just think that we have a better chance of dealing with each neighborhood's issues if we aren't divisive in how we speak no matter how we feel inside.  When you represent the Mayor, you just have to be careful.

Bad week for social media!

Dr. Hampton has released the following statement.

I humbly, and sincerely apologize for offending some in my recent comments, in which I used poor word choice. While I acknowledge that I am held to a higher standard in my roles as a religious leader and city official, I also acknowledge my human flaws.

In my frustration and desire to see more substantive dialogue between President Donald Trump and a select few African-American leaders, and more of a focus on issues of employment, healthcare, poverty, etc., I commented on a friend's social media thread. In my critique of what appeared to be a Black History dialogue between President Trump and African-American leaders, I casually, with no malicious intent, used a cutting term which is defined in the Urban Dictionary as: a black actor or actress, who takes roles that stereotypically portrays black people...and contributes to the perpetuation of degrading images; a sell out.

In the last 48 hours, another teen has been tragically shot, and as one of our city's leaders in the trenches, I care deeply about our city, and improving the issues that plague us. Like so many others, my passion to serve is manifested through my actions as well as through discourse – not rhetoric that distracts from the issues I am truly focused on. My personal comment was isolated, and does not reflect the Hogsett administration. I take full responsibility for my words, in poor taste.

Wednesday, February 1, 2017

Scales Makes Big Switch

Councillor Christine Scales
If you felt your city government shift a little more to the left, you aren't alone.

Well, to be fair, it was a soft shift to the left.

City-County Councillor Christine Scales has announced the intention to change her party affiliation from Republican to Democrat.  Scales, who often has felt the effects of standing up against her party's leadership, represents part of the Northside in District 3.  The move shifts the balance of power on the City-County Council to 14-11 from 13-12.

In a message on her Facebook page, Scales explained her decision further.  She also told her constituents what they could expect out of her now that she will be caucusing with the Democrats, "Though I am changing my political party affiliation, I want District 3 residents to be assured that I will remain the same person they voted into office. A change in political party will not change who I am. My level of service to constituents will remain the same. The independent thinking and bi-partisanship I bring to my Council role will continue. Those qualities are why I believe voters of all political stripes have elected me to three Council terms," Scales said.

Judging from comments to her page, the response has largely been positive.  There have been a few negative stragglers.  Council Vice President Zach Adamson also released a statement welcoming Scales to the caucus, "Over the years, I’ve been privileged to work on issues and found her to be genuine and caring, passionate about her constituents, and will fit in perfectly within our caucus. “ Welcome Aboard, Councilor!"

In her post on Facebook, Scales was highly complimentary of Mayor Joe Hogsett who she praised for keeping his campaign promises, "Mayor Hogsett is an honorable man who campaigned on the promise of working with Council in a spirit of bi-partisanship. After a year of working under his leadership, I have found that he has honored that promise. The Mayor has remained accessible to members of both parties, has proven that he is willing to listen and lends equal consideration to viewpoints outside of his own," Scales said.

The move by Scales is a blow to the Republican Party who tried to oust Scales from their ranks in 2015.  I fully believe Scales will continue to abide by her word and be the same official her district first elected in 2007.  She will wear her party affiliation very lightly and vote on the issues.  Still, with very moderate Republicans like Jeff Miller and Colleen Fanning on the Council, they can use every "R" they can get.

Tuesday, January 31, 2017

Sally Yates No Longer Anonymous

Sally Yates
It takes a lot of guts to stand up against the most powerful man in the world.

Prior to yesterday evening, I doubt if most people had heard the name Sally Yates.  She was a "keep your head down" career Department of Justice employee.  After Loretta Lynch departed her position as Attorney General, Yates took over as Acting AG to keep the lights on and the office running.

Little did Yates probably know that she might have to make one of the most consequential decisions in the recent history of the Attorney General's Office.  When her moment came, she was ready to stand up and be counted, regardless of the personal cost.

It was Acting Attorney General Sally Yates that reviewed President Donald Trump's executive order banning refugees from seven Muslim-majority countries and decided that it was indefensible and possibly unconstitutional.

Trump promptly fired her and found a someone that would defend his indefensible and possibly unconstitutional Executive Order.  That is Dana Boente.  He will serve as Trump's Acting Attorney General until Jeff Sessions takes over in the role.

The Department of Justice, by definition, must be above politics.  Yates, it seems to me, was trying to keep this above board.  She got fired for it.  Who knows what this means for our country.

I applaud her.

Monday, January 30, 2017

GOP Councillors Stunt "STEERs" Towards Pettiness

Even with King Donald running rampant in Washington, there's still time for a little pettiness in local government.

Before I get into this blog post, I want to say that in the interest of full disclosure, I dined on a 10 oz. sirloin steak tonight, and it was delicious.  That doesn't mean that I don't understand and appreciate what the City-County Council was trying to promote with its non-binding resolution a few weeks back promoting Meatless Mondays.

The Democratic caucus was behind the resolution, and it was essentially harmless.  If someone wanted to eat a big steak, like I did, on a Monday night, it's still a perfectly legal endeavor.

Still, some in the city and in media when apoplectic over it.  Tony Katz of WIBC hated it enough to do one of his signature "Popcorn Moments" on the council's resolution, and others took it to social media to whine.  Again, no one stops anyone from eating was just to promote a little more healthiness for a city that needs it.

Tonight, according to Council Vice President Zach Adamson, Republican Councillors supported a resolution praising the Indiana Cattle Association, "Complete with steaks handed out to all Councillors."

Adamson posted a video on social media of Councillor Jeff Coats and others helping to hand out the steaks to the Council members.

Again, I'm a big lover of steak, but this was a stunt that steered toward pettiness.  Touché, I guess.  Let's hope future stunts like this are rare.

Pence Caught Between Rock, Hardplace, Former Job Mess

Mike Pence
Mike Pence has been in the news after Donald Trump signed his controversial Executive Order on immigration last week.

Trump, whose administration says his ban is not strictly banning Muslims, came up with the idea to ban Muslims from entering the country during the campaign, and he has said that Christian refugees would even be given precedence as they try to pick through the mess he's made.

Of course, at the time Trump suggested the ban on Muslims, Mike Pence spoke out...and he took to Twitter to do it.

Of course, Pence now agrees wth his boss's current ban.  We wouldn't expect him to bite the hand that feeds him, now would we even though former Governor Mitch Daniels has spoken out against Trump's policy and, indirectly, Pence's hypocrisy.

For the second-straight weekend, peaceful protests have cropped up at airports and places of travel to show solidarity with those immigrants entering the United States and to urge the rule of law to be followed. So far, in some cases, it appears Trump's Administration officials are not carrying out court orders from several federal judges.

In short, it's a mess.

It's also a mess here in Indiana as the Hoosier State tries to clean up what Governor Pence left behind.

The story is over at Indy Republican.

Interesting, isn't it?

Sunday, January 29, 2017

Daniels Leaves No Doubt Where He Stands on Trump Immigration EO

Mitch Daniels
If Donald Trump won't listen to reason or protests on his immigration Executive Order, perhaps he'll listen to a former Governor of a Rust Belt State like Indiana.

After all, there has to be someone close to Trump who has spoken out on something like this before that has good Hoosier cred.

No...not that one.  He sold out.

Go back to Indiana's 48th Governor, Mitchell E. Daniels, Jr.

Daniels, now President of Purdue University, said, in a statement released by the university, “The President's order related to immigration is a bad idea, poorly implemented, and I hope that he will promptly revoke and rethink it. If the idea is to strengthen the protection of Americans against terrorism, there are many far better ways to achieve it.”

For once, I am in complete agreement with former Governor Daniels.

Friday, January 27, 2017

Wonder What's Going through These Minds?

Living former U.S. Presidents
It’s been a rocky first week for President Donald Trump as he’s tried to ease into the space between mega-celebrity, business mogul, and President of the United States.

For a moment, let’s step back one week to that moment that he became the 45th President of the United States. All of his living predecessors were there except for one who had every excuse not to be, but I wonder what the Ex-Presidents think about the current occupant of the office.

You can bet Jimmy Carter will be the first to speak out. The 92-year-old cancer survivor has been slowed recently by health problems, but he still stands as an example of what to be when you’re a former President of the United States. The humble peanut farmer is usually honest about his feelings, and that’s at times seemingly put him at odds with the other former presidents.

George Herbert Walker Bush is a loyal father, but I don’t think you’ll ever see or hear the 41st President of the United States speak an ill word about Trump. It’s not his style. H.W. Bush is the most infirmed of the former presidents, but his mind seems sharp. I would assume you’ll hear something out of the former First Lady, Barbara Bush, before you’ll hear it from George.

Bill Clinton is a bit of a wild card. Clinton staunchly defends his record, and he even did so at the expense of Barack Obama a few times. Clinton has modeled himself a bit after Carter and has worked with both Bush 41 and Bush 43 on a number of projects. Pressed directly for a quote, I think Bill would speak out against Trump.

Like his dad, George W. Bush seems content to be retired. As has been well-documented, W. would be more comfortable painting Donald Trump than speaking out about him. As a couple, I think we can bet to hear the least out of W. who did seem to relish that temporary limelight of being back in Washington again last Friday.

That brings us to the most recent occupant of the Oval Office, Barack Obama. Obama won’t leave the game, in my view. I have a feeling that we’re going to see Obama continue to wield power as a former POTUS because the current one will leave a vacuum only the former can fill. Give Barack some time to settle into private life and I guarantee we’ll hear from him sooner or later.

In short, I think you’ll hear from the Democrats. I don’t think you will hear much from the Republicans. Secretly, all five former living presidents will probably look forward to the day that the current occupant joins them in January of 2021.