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 AndrĂ© 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

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
Later...
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)
Later...
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!

UPDATE:
Dr. Hampton has released the following statement.

***PUBLIC 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.