Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Happy Trails...The JohnnyStir Show on IndianaTalks.com

Well, that's that.

Last night, I ended my run as a talk show host on IndianaTalks.com.  The Johnnystir Show on Indiana Talks has aired its last program.  So, that's it.  After close to 75 shows, many guests, and some great fun, it's amazing to say that it's all over.

Obviously, I have to hand out some big thank yous.  I want to thank the man behind the curtain, Gary Snyder, for allowing me to do the show.  I also want to thank my most frequent guests/partners in crime, Chris Jackson, Matt Stone, and Steve Terrell.  All of them have helped me out tremendously with their views and opinions and have made things extremely interesting.

I also want to thank Patora Fine Jewelers at 6010 W. 86th Street for their support of the show.  Patora has been a partner since nearly the beginning, and their financial backing of the program kept us on the air.

You know, I never had done a long form talk radio show based on news and information.  Everything I had done in radio prior had been either the normal radio DJ shift-type radio, play-by-play of sporting events, or sports talk.  This experience expanded my horizons and showed me that I could do more than just spin tunes or call a game.

I have so many amazing memories from the short time the show was on the air.  It's hard for me to underline just one show that stands out.  I have many favorites.  I think we, as a show team, were able to bring a lot of issues to the internet airwaves and I hope that we made a difference.

Finally, I'd be remiss if I didn't thank all the fans of the program.  I know there were a lot of folks that would listen to the show or tune in on the podcast.  I appreciate everything.  Without you, there would not have been an audience to talk to, so I appreciate inviting me into your homes or onto your tablets or your ear buds.

The blog isn't going anywhere.  I'll still be plugging away here.  Thanks for your continued support!

Monday, July 28, 2014

Palin Launches Own TV Channel...No Joke

"Preparing Turkeys" with Sarah Palin...
only on The Sarah Palin Channel.
As if there wasn't enough crap on the internet, there's one more outlet.  Hockey moms rejoice.

Former Alaska Governor Sarah Palin is launching her own internet television station, according to the Associated Press.  

According to the report, Palin will oversee the network content and will also aim directly for her own supporters by contributing her own personal political commentary.  You know...avoiding the filter of the "mainstream media" and going directly to her supporters on her channel.

The former Alaska Governor and Vice Presidential candidate will remain as an analyst with Fox News Channel, according to the AP.  

I won't be subscribing to the channel that will set you back about $10 a month.  I guess that means I must wonder if all the programming will stop halfway through it's scheduled airtime. 

Saturday, July 26, 2014

An Open Letter to Evan Bayh

Evan Bayh
Dear Evan Bayh,
Hope all is well with you, Susan, and the boys.

I'm writing you in this open letter to ask you a couple of things and to provide you with some advice...not that you need it, but I think it's important someone say it.  I hope you don't mind that our friends here that read this blog see what I am about to say.

First of all, I'm glad you haven't ruled out a run for Governor.  Obviously, if you've read this blog before, you know that I have my problems with your politics.  On the whole, I think you're a good person, and, while I think your record as a U.S. Senator was far more conservative than I would have liked, you were a great Governor.  I think that your record as Governor is far better than that of anyone that's succeeded you in the office, and I think you would be perfect for the job again.  You have shown the ability to raise money and win elections more than perhaps any other Democrat in the history of Indiana politics.

All of that said, I was disappointed when you walked away from the Senate seat.  It wasn't so much that you retired, but it was how you did it.  You did not give Democrats a chance to shop around and find the right candidate.  We may well have settled on Brad Ellsworth, but your timetable in walking away really set him up to fail.  I don't believe he was a perfect candidate for that office, but I ended up voting for him.  I think we would have had a different Senator had he won that race than Dan Coats has been.

That's why I'm writing you now.  If you truly love Indiana, please decide soon what your future in this state's politics will be.  If you want to pass on running for Governor, that's fine.  Please announce you will not be running now and allow those that are interested in the job to come out of the woodwork and for the political process to take its course.  If you want to run for Governor, please give us more than just a, "I haven't ruled it out."  Let us know what you're thinking.  We don't want to hear, "It's less likely than more likely."  These kinds of comments keep good candidates from stepping on your very powerful toes if they are interested in running.

Should you run, you can count on my support.  What the Republican Party has done to education in this state is enough to provide you with thousands of votes from teachers across this state.  With Right to Work and other issues out there, you should not have any trouble with your base.  With Republicans like my mother crossing over to vote for you again, it will be a landslide.

Should you not run, you can also count on my support.  While I disagree with your decision to become a lobbyist and a Fox News contributor, I can still get behind whatever you choose to do in the future.  If Hillary Clinton should choose you for a cabinet position or even to be her Vice Presidential candidate should she run in 2016, I will support you 100 percent.

What I will not support is this continued flirting with Indiana politics.  It's time to make a definitive decision on your future or to give some sort of more definite signal of what you might do.  If you keep your toe in the pool too long, it will further separate you from a political base that should love you.  It will tarnish whatever legacy you wish to leave here.  Please, don't wait too long.  You can only get stood up at the altar so many times.  Don't do that to Indiana Democrats again, please.

Again, thanks for your longtime service to the Hoosier State, and I hope that we'll all hear your future plans soon.

Best of luck,
Jon E. Easter

Friday, July 25, 2014

Let's Get Real, Indiana GOP

Evan Bayh
The Indiana Republican Party put together an amusing web video that asked random folks on Monument Circle downtown to identify a couple of Democrats.

The intern from the Indiana GOP was armed with a microphone, a camera operator, and two pictures.  One was of Joe Hogsett, and the other was of Evan Bayh.

Predictably, the people shown in the video were either not interested in talking about politics or could not identify Hogsett or Bayh.  That, frankly, does not shock me.  Most Hoosiers are in the middle of their summer right now, and they aren't thinking of politics.  The 2014 election cycle isn't even on their agenda right now, and 2015 and 2016 are still way in the future.

As I said.  The video is amusing, but the execution isn't particularly great, and you get the feeling that if this is the best the GOP can do, Evan and Joe are going to be fine if they decide to pursue office again.  See...let's get real here, Indiana Republicans.

There are some things a throwaway web video can't change about Evan Bayh.  When he was Governor of Indiana, Evan Bayh was a very successful leader.  He has a record of cutting taxes, funding education, pushing reforms, and leaving the state in good shape when he left office.  He also has over $9 million to get this record to the masses, should he decide to run for Governor.

Joe Hogsett
Here are some things a chuckle-worthy video can't change about Joe Hogsett.  Hogsett, if he does decide to run for Mayor of Indianapolis, will be running against a man likely running for his third term in office in Greg Ballard.  It's become a daily drumbeat of bad news when it comes to crime in this city.  Just yesterday, there was more violence.  Ballard has had seven years to fix a lot of problems in public safety which, by his own representation, was job one for him.  Combined with other vulnerabilities, a skillful politician such as Hogsett can make this a more than competitive race in a county and city that runs more and more blue.  Like Bayh, Hogsett can raise a bunch of campaign cash and use that to define Ballard's record in office. 

Republicans want to remind folks that Hogsett has run before for office.  Ok.  We can talk about those runs and those races if you want.  Hogsett has never been the favorite in any race he's taken on.  His last run for Attorney General was particularly against the political current of 2004 Indiana.  Before that, he ran against incumbent Republican Senator Dan Coats in 1992.  In 1994, not many Democrats did well including Indy's own Andy Jacobs who survived a challenge for reelection from Marvin Scott, 53 percent to 47 percent.  The very popular Lee Hamilton only prevalied 52 percent to 48 percent in his race.  Conservative David McIntosh beat Hogsett by 10 percentage points.  In his 1990 race for Secretary of State, Hogsett, who had been appointed to replace Bayh as Secretary of State, was not the favorite, either.  Powerful Indianapolis Mayor Bill Hudnut was expected to wipe the floor with the young whipper snapper.  He lost.  My friend Paul Ogden does a really nice job in this blog piece analyzing what happened to Hogsett in all of those races.

Personally, I'd like to see the results of a similar survey if Democrats did a video.  We could take a picture of the GOP power brokers out there and see if anyone knows them.  I'm sure everyone will know Brian Bosma, David Long, and Dan Coats.  It would be cool to see if they knew who the real power folks were behind Ballard, too.  That's kind of a nastiness I don't normally get into.

Here's the GOP's video if you wish to see it.

Thursday, July 24, 2014

Group of Remaining USS Indianapolis Sailors in Indy to Commemorate 69 Years of Survival

USS Indianapolis (CA-35)
Indianapolis is the home of many conventions and reunions in the summer, but there is one happening starting today at the Hyatt Regency that is just that much more remarkable.

Most of you know the story of the USS Indianapolis by now.  The ship carrying our city's name delivered the final components of the atomic bomb "Little Boy" and then was on its way home.  A Japanese submarine delivered two torpedoes into the ship's hull tossing those that were not killed in the sinking into the shark-infested Pacific Ocean.  That day was July 30, 1945.

Of the approximately 900 survivors that ended up in the ocean without lifeboats, 317 ended up being picked out of the ocean four days later.  Nearly 69 years later, only 36 survivors are still alive and only 15 will be in town. The Indianapolis Star's Will Higgins penned this article about the reunion, which is due to run through Sunday.  If you want to help out these veterans continue their reunions, here is a link to their website.

The USS Indianapolis Memorial on the Canal
Sadly, the obituary pages are filled these days with the stories of World War II veterans.  We are losing these veterans at the rate of 555 per day.  By this time next week, there will be almost 3,900 fewer veterans of World War II than there are today.  By the end of this year, we will go under 1,000,000 surviving veterans of WWII.  I don't tell you this to depress you or to make you do anything other than think.  We are losing our living history...one person at a time.  If you're a World War II veteran and you're reading this, thank you.

Back to the Indianapolis.  Those men that did survive on that awful July day back in 1945 survived somehow against the odds because of who they were.  They beat the heat and the sharks and the fear.  In our city, 15 of them will gather to commemorate their own survival and their lives in the 69 years since.  To all these veterans and those survivors that could not make it to the reunion, I say I'm glad you're still here to tell the story that none of us should ever forget.  Many of you survived to have families and to contribute in your own ways to our our great nation.  It hasn't been easy.  It's probably been harder than I can ever imagine.  I salute you all.

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Resolution to Stop Coal Burning at Harding Street Station Moves On

IPL's Harding Street Station
The City-County Council's Community Affairs Committee heard the proposal for a resolution that would urge IPL to stop burning coal by 2020.

In front of a packed house, the committee heard from residents and interest groups across Marion County.  IPL also had a chance to speak about its efforts to clean up pollution in the community.

Last Monday, a bi-partisan group of City-County Councillors announced efforts to bring the use of coal to an end at the IPL plant. Republican Jefferson Shreve, who sits on the Community Affairs Committee, voted no last night as the four at-large Democrats (Zach Adamson, John Barth, Pam Hickman, Leroy Robinson) voted yes passing the resolution on to the full Council by a 4-1 vote.The proposal for the resolution will now be debated in front of the full City-County Council.

Environmental activist group, the Sierra Club, released the results of a poll that was conducted in Marion County of voters.  Sixty-nine percent of those polled support the end the use of coal and improvement of the air and water quality in Indianapolis.  Even 51 percent of Republicans are on board, according to the poll of 400 registered voters.

Shreve voted against the proposal saying that it had no teeth and he did not believe it was feasible for IPL to phase out coal in the timetable given in the resolution.  Adamson rebutted Shreve's justification for voting against passing the resolution out of committee.  Councillor Jeff Miller had a prior commitment and couldn't attend the committee meeting. and fellow Republican Christine Scales was absent as well leaving the vote on party lines.

It should be noted that this is just a resolution.  IPL is not compelled to do anything, and they pretty much said they weren't in the hearing last night.  Fred Mills of IPL said, "If this Council wants to pass a resolution asking IPL to stop burning coal by 2020, that is YOUR prerogative."  He added emphasis on YOUR as if to say, come at us...if you dare.

Off to the full Council for this one!

Please the comments section for an update from Councillor Scales on her removal from the Community Affairs Committee.  The City-County Council's website is incorrect on the membership of the committee.  I regret the error.

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Adamson Elevated to Chair of Public Works Committee

Councillor Zach Adamson
Photo from indy.gov
City-County Councillor Zach Adamson announced on his Facebook page this morning that he had been offered and had accepted the Chair of the Public Works Committee of the City-County Council.

On a personal note, as someone that sat on Adamson’s campaign committee and has seen his political career move from neighborhood activist to City-County Councillor, I could not be more thrilled. Zach has worked hard for this position, and it’s a big moment for him and for many in the community.

Adamson has drawn bi-partisan praise for his work on the Council. He certainly has a point of view, but he also has been one of the most dogged advocates for neighborhood issues along with a handful of other Councillors. In short, it’s not just me that has seen what an awesome Councillor he has been.

From a political standpoint, this is not good news for Mayor Greg Ballard. Vernon Brown was the previous Chair of the committee. Brown, a former majority leader on the Council, is the favorite to be elected Warren Township Trustee in November. Brown did an admirable job as the Chair of this committee, but Adamson’s knowledge of Marion County as an At-Large Councillor and his advocacy for neighborhoods not only on the Near Eastside but all around Indy will be welcome in the position.

It’s an especially critical position as the Council continues to debate Mayor Ballard’s infrastructure plan vs. the infrastructure plan the Democrats on the Council have proposed. With a couple of swing votes on the Council in Brian Mahern and Christine Scales, the work that the Public Works Committee does will certainly be critical.

I wish the best of luck to Adamson as he takes on this new challenge. He’s going to need it!

Merchant's Attack Falls Flat Quickly

GOP candidate Duane Merchant came out of hiding for an attack on Prosecutor Terry Curry's ethics, according to Jim Shella of WISH-TV.

Curry calmly sidestepped the attack and went about his business.  See below.

If it doesn't load, go here.

Yeah, I'd say that one is to bed, and Shella kind of took the wind out of Merchant's sails with his commentary at the end regarding Carl Brizzi's tenure as Prosecutor.  Nothing to see here.  Please disperse.

Monday, July 21, 2014

Dungy's Galling Comments Send Wrong Message

Tony Dungy
Picture from Facebook
Tony Dungy has succeeded on his own terms over the years becoming the first African-American coach to win a Super Bowl. Long before his team won the Super Bowl, Dungy waited for a long time and was passed over many times for coaching positions despite the fact that he was one of the best assistants in the league. 

Eventually, he got his chance with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and turned that franchise around. He picked up where Jim Mora left off in Indy, and the Colts became one of the most successful franchises in history.

Dungy knows about being a trailblazer.

Through all of this, Dungy has advocated for men to be responsible fathers. He has never been afraid to speak out, and I commend him for that. He’s also been very up front about his faith, and I also have no problem with that.

On the negative side, Dungy has headlined fundraisers for organizations that actually work against equality for LGBT Americans. He was a very public backer of Indiana’s amendment banning same sex marriage.

The Tampa Tribune published an article about changes the NFL is making in the expected conduct of players, and Dungy was a prominent individual interviewed in the piece. Dungy made it clear that he would not have taken openly-gay player Michael Sam as the St. Louis Rams did, in his words, “…Not because I don’t believe Michael Sam should have a chance to play, but I wouldn’t want to deal with all of it.”
“It’s not going to be totally smooth … things will happen.”

I’d be happy to take Coach Dungy at his word. He’s an honest man, but I can’t help but wonder if some of that desire to not deal with an openly-gay player in his locker room is informed by his understanding or lack of understanding about what it means to be gay. The Tribune writer, Ira Kaufmann, leaves it like this. Even in a news conference-type atmosphere, I certainly would have nailed him with a follow-up had I been writing that story to clarify what “thing” might happen to Sam.

What is particularly galling about Dungy's views is that he's one of the individuals that staunchly defended Michael Vick's return to the league.  He even mentored Vick as the convicted felon was brought back into the NFL.  To be honest, I didn't have a problem with Vick getting a second chance.  In fact, I think most everyone deserves a second chance.  What Vick did was awful, but he served his time in prison.  While Dungy advocated for him, he's going to turn his back on Sam because of perceived "things" that might happen?  That's just hard for me to take.

Dungy’s comments were disappointing. It is refreshing to hear that he believes Sam deserves a chance to play and excel in the NFL, but it’s a bit disheartening to hear the rest of his opinion on the subject.  It sends the wrong message about LGBT people and their acceptance into the workplace...even a workplace like the NFL locker room.

It sounds as if Sam landed with the right coach and the right team in St. Louis. Coach Jeff Fisher said in the article that any coach that isn’t going into the locker room these days is not going to be a coach in the league for long.

Didn't More Eyes, Police on Streets Help Keep Indy Safe on Saturday?

The Ballard Administration and its defenders keep telling folks in Indianapolis that the answer to less crime and safer streets is not more police officers on the streets.  Their actions, on the other hand, say something different.

Take this past weekend for example, Indiana Black Expo's second Saturday again went off without a hitch downtown, and that's honestly a tribute to the entire public safety community and, yes, even Greg Ballard's Administration.  

There was a police officer, make that officers, on practically every block downtown.  Downtown was blanketed with police officers, and they were ready to respond to anything that might develop to prevent what happened in 2010 from happening again.  Downtown was safe because the peacekeepers, excellent organizations like the Ten Point Coalition and others kept it that way.  The good people of this city should be commended as well.  It was a team effort, but I would say more eyeballs on the streets of downtown and good police work help keep the city safe.

Now, we can't blanket every inch of this city with a police officer.  That's true.  Good police work will never prevent every crime from happening.  If there are more eyes on the street...if there are more people working on prevention...more police out there walking the beat...doesn't it stand to reason that crime might go down?  Isn't it a major part of the equation?  Just wondering.  

What do you think, Mr. Mayor?