Wednesday, August 27, 2014

White Launches Indy Sentinel

Welcome to the blogosphere, Charlie White.

As if we weren’t enough of an unseemly bunch, Indiana’s former Secretary of State has joined our ranks as blogger with his new venture, the Indy Sentinel. White told the Indianapolis Star’s Tony Cook that he has nothing but time on his hands right now and a bunch of knowledge to drop.

I knew White had joined the blogosphere, it was just interesting to see the Indianapolis Star mention it.

Of course, you know the story of Charlie White by now. No need to drag him back through the mud again. This blog has probably done enough of that. No need to also discuss his ongoing legal wranglings and hassles. I maintain that much of what happened to Mr. White was brought on by Mr. White. 

White’s problem will likely be that of credibility. He has tons of axes to grind, and, with his background, some might say they “wouldn’t believe him if his tongue came notarized.” Judge Marilyn Milian uses that quote on the People’s Court when some of the litigants have given her a reason to doubt their credibility.
Still, White’s personal life was laid bare for public consumption, and his professional life is in shambles. It’s hard to watch. I have to say I admire the guy for getting back up and dusting himself off and trying to move forward. This is a good way to do it.

I would say that his entry into the blogosphere has probably gotten the attention of the Republican power brokers. I’d have to say that White likely knows where they’ve buried the secrets over the years. Best of all, as editor and chief of his own blog, he can write it the way it needs to be written.  There must be some collective quaking in the boots among the Indiana GOP.  After all, White has nothing to lose at this point.

White's choice of names harkens back to the old Indianapolis Sentinel newspaper.  It was one of the dailies in Indianapolis until it was bought up by the Indianapolis Star back in the early 20th Century.

Again, I give a hearty welcome to the blogosphere to Charlie White. May your stay be long and prosperous.

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Bayh Says He's Still Unlikely to Run for Governor...Again

Evan Bayh
Leslie Weidenbener, a reporter from the Indianapolis Star penned an article saying former Indiana Governor Evan Bayh is unlikely to make 2016 like 1988 all over again and try to win the Governor's Office back for the Democrats.  He made his comments on John Krull's no limits radio talk show on WFYI, according to the Star writer.

No surprise.

The former Governor and U.S. Senator has said a run was "less likely than more likely" from the beginning.  He still is holding out until after Labor Day for a final decision.  My question is...why?  Why does Bayh need a little more time to keep potential gubernatorial candidates at bey?  Again, like I've said before, just make a decision, Mr. Bayh.

I admire candidates like John Gregg who continue to keep the foot mashed to the floor on a possible 2016 run.  He hasn't let up on his attacks on Mike Pence.  It's clear that Gregg isn't letting Bayh's indecision stop him from trying to win the office he nearly won in 2012.

What's also clear is that some part of him wants to get back in the game.  Unlike Elizabeth Warren, who keeps avoiding talk of a 2016 run like the plague, Bayh has entertained questions and has remained ambivalent enough to keep the attention of possible 2016 office seekers.  He has millions of dollars in his campaign account, and, if he's going to do it, this is the time as he approaches the age of 60.  For some politicians, they are just now beginning their careers.  Bayh has already had his.

Bayh may have a place in Indiana politics.  He may even have a place nationally in the future.  Many speculate that Hillary Clinton might select him as a running mate should she win the nomination in 2016 for President.

We'll see how long this goes after Labor Day

Monday, August 25, 2014

It's All About Love

This week will be a big one in the battle for marriage equality in Indiana.

On Tuesday in Chicago, the 7th Circuit Court of Appeals will hear the case from Indiana on whether or not same sex marriage should be legal in Indiana.  For a brief period in June, it was legal until the 7th Circuit issued a stay.  Today, those unions that were joined in June as well as ones that might be joined in the future hang in the balance.

Last night, however, I had the honor to be invited to a send-off dinner by Karen Celestino Horseman for her clients, a group of first responders, fighting just to have their unions recognized by the state they serve.  It was a gathering of about 20 people including myself, and I was privileged to be a fly on the wall.

The group filled that room at English Ivy's with laughter and joy and smiles.  It was a rowdy bunch.  There we were...all gathered for a cause.  Straight, gay, didn't matter...all were represented.  We were all gathered there to celebrate what could be an historic case for Indiana residents like me.

In June, I found out the same group, albeit smaller, gathered when Judge Richard Young overturned Indiana's prohibition on same-sex marriage.  Hopefully, we'll be gathering at English Ivy's again in a few weeks to celebrate another victory.  One way or another, it's just a matter of time.  It's all about love.  Love is on our side, and even the law will see that one day very soon.

I want to wish Karen Celestino Horseman, the plaintiffs she represents, and the legal team that includes Bill Groth (who also was there with his wife at English Ivy's last night) the best as they head to Chicago to fight for the civil rights of so many.

When history looks back on these days, it will record the findings of what happened, but I got to spend an evening with the trailblazers.

Friday, August 22, 2014

Charter School Closing Especially Messy for Students

Another charter school disaster is taking place in Indianapolis, and it's a true mess.  It's even messier for students.

Over allegations of academic dishonesty and cheating, Flanner House School is closing in less than one month leaving the children to make the painful transition mid-year to another school.

I just can't imagine this is what is best for students.  In fact, I know it's not.  Elementary school-age children need stability and compassion.  They don't need to be caught in the middle of a cheating scandal.

If you ever had to move schools in the middle of a year, it was devastating.  I never did, but I remember some of the friends I had in school that did have to make the move.  Leaving behind friends and trusted teachers was brutal.

Mayor Greg Ballard's Office was in charge of Flanner House School's charter.  It was the Mayor who was in charge of oversight, and it was his office that investigated the school along with the State of Indiana.  From what I read, both of those entities allowed the school to open this year even as an ongoing investigation continued.

There should be a state law that states that a school that's caught in a scandal like this cannot simply shut down in the middle of the school year.  If that's not possible, then a school caught with testing irregularities or serious questions surrounding its academics should not be allowed to open to students unless the questions are answered.  As for now, parents and students are left searching for other educational options.

It should be noticed that Flanner House School and Flanner House, Inc. are two separate entities.

Thursday, August 21, 2014

MCDP Releases Scathing Response to Ballard Budget Proposal

The Marion County Democratic Party responded to Mayor Greg Ballard's budget proposal in an e-mail to supporters.  They were not real supportive, and I don't blame them.

Here's the e-mail.
Mayor Ballard’s budget proposal is irresponsible and politically motivated. 
Our city is in the grips of an unprecedented wave of homicides. At a time when we all agree that public safety should be job one, Greg Ballard is playing politics. 
Ballard’s budget includes a $639,625 reduction in funds to the Prosecutor’s office, the very office responsible for putting the criminals in our community behind bars. This proposal is dangerous because it handcuffs the very man who the mayor should be supporting whole-heartedly, regardless of political party. 
Greg Ballard would rather stir up a partisan political brawl than solve the crime problem in the city of Indianapolis! 
The absurdities continue. The Mayor insists on raising taxes with a plan that nets very few additional police officers over time, while simultaneously paying more than $12 million dollars to PR and lobbying firms to sell us on a criminal justice complex that isn’t even built yet! That’s your money! Greg Ballard spends it as if you aren’t watching! 
If you are feeling some ‘cricket stadium’ or even ‘ROC’ de-ja-vu, you are not alone. This mayor has a knack for bad contracts, misplaced priorities, and wasteful spending. By slashing the Prosecutor’s budget, he is adding partisan gamesmanship to his arsenal. 
Mayor Ballard’s budget plan is an attack on the criminal justice system. This mayor is insulated from reality and ineffective in his actions. Now he is playing politics with public safety and the safety of our families. Don’t let Republicans get away with wasting your money! Register voters! Donate! Make your voice heard!

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Clinton Tries House of Cards Parody

Bill Clinton turned 68 on Tuesday.

To celebrate, the Clinton Foundation put together this video to get folks to sign his birthday card.  It's a parody of House of Cards...sort of.  The acting isn't that spectacular from Hillary, but Kevin Spacey is at his Frank Underwood best.

And don't watch this unless you've watched both seasons of House of Cards.  It contains a spoiler.


Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Councillors Had Right to Protest

Bill of Rights
Monday night while Mayor Greg Ballard presented his budget for 2014, a budget that should have raised questions and warning bells with the media, the actions of five City-County Councillors have reached the spotlight.

Five members of the Democratic caucus chose to display signs taped next to their nameplates on Monday night.  Exercising their First Amendment rights to free speech in solidarity with peaceful protesters in Ferguson, Missouri were Councillor Vop Osili, Councillor Leroy Robinson, Councillor Monroe Gray, Councillor Joe Simpson, and Councillor Brian Mahern.

The problem with the signs, and I don't know if any of the five Councillors noticed this, was that they were posted on the 10th anniversary of the death of IPD Officer Jake Laird.  The officer was gunned down in the line of duty on August 18, 2003.  The signs posted had a stick figure drawn with its hands up and used the slogan "Hands up, Don't Shoot" which has become a mantra among the protesters in Ferguson, Missouri.

Abdul-Hakim Shabazz noticed.

I have no problem with the Councillors expressing their First Amendment rights.  Just because you become an elected official, it doesn't mean you have some obligation to remain quiet.  In fact, it's just the opposite.  Our community leaders should speak out on issues of the day, and what's going on in Ferguson is a major issue right now.

That said, I think the timing was definitely off, and this might not have been the venue for this type of protest.  I can understand why some might have been put off or offended by the actions of the five Councillors.

That, however, is the nature of the First Amendment.  It's that same piece of our Constitution that protects the rights of peaceable assembly, of petitioning the government, of the free press, and the exercise of or the lack of exercise of a religion.

The First Amendment is not always nice, and its protected language can sometimes be in your face.  You nor I have to like what someone is saying, but we should all defend the basic right to express diverging views from our own.

While I wouldn't have put a sign like that up in front of me on the City-County Council, Councillors Simpson, Gray, Mahern, Osili, and Robinson thought the message needed to get out there.  It did.

So, can we go back to discussing the budget now?

Indiana's 2nd Congressional District Race Worth Watching

Rep. Jackie Walorski
Congressional races across Indiana in 2014 have all the excitement of watching the corn grow in Hoosier fields.

There certainly isn't much out there to indicate there will be major changes in Indiana's delegation come January 2015.  That comes with one exception.

In Indiana's District 2, Congresswoman Jackie Walorski, the Republican incumbent, is under serious attack from Notre Dame official, Joe Bock, her Democratic challenger.  Bock is raising money, and it's clear that both Republicans and Democrats know how important the seat is.

Joe Bock
For Democrats, they have to have the seat in order to win back the House.  Republicans know that they have to hold the seat to keep the House.  With very few of the seats in question this time around...or frankly any time, Indiana's 2nd remains one to watch.

It's also gotten the attention of comedian, Bill Maher.  During his "Flip a District" segment on Real Time, Maher has mentioned Walorski's Northern Indiana district calling her a "gerrymandering queen" and pointing out that she only won after the district was redrawn to be more favorable to Republicans.  Walorski made it to the final 16 of Maher's list.

Fact is that Walorski was expected to win more handily last time than she did over Brendan Mullen.  Mullen, however, kept it close.  Walorski ended up nipping Mullen despite a district that rates +6 Republican.

Bock, who is very conservative, can win this, but it's still a bit of an uphill climb for a Democrat even with Walorski's seeming unpopularity.  I would not be surprised if this race ends up tight in November.  Howey Politics Indiana's Jack Colwell reports that Walorski has been running ads all summer long.

Monday, August 18, 2014

Rokita Ponders Repeal of Endangered Species Act

"I was once endangered, Todd."
I try to give Representative Todd Rokita the benefit of the doubt, but sometimes, and I don't say this lightly, I just wonder if he's all there.

On his Facebook page, Rokita tells the story of the Tippecanoe River and Lake Freeman up in Carroll County.

Apparently, there had been some complaints about a low water flow and level up there, so the Congressman looked into the issue.  Good responsive work there Todd.

In his investigation, he got a solution for the Tippecanoe River, but he didn't get a solution to the Lake Freeman issue because there are apparently six endangered mussels that would find themselves in a world of hurt if the low flow water problem were solved.

Rokita's solution: suggest the repeal of the 41-year-old Endangered Species Act.  Yep...let that sink in.  He actually put that up as an option.  

Conceived by President Nixon, the Endangered Species Act was passed nearly unanimously through Congress in 1973.  Only a few House members, including one in Indiana, voted against the act.  I guess that meant it was popular.

Now, listen, I'm no rabid environmentalist, but I don't know what gives us, as humans, a right to dictate to those voiceless and defenseless mussels what's best for them.  Do we wipe those little guys off the planet just so Jebby can ride his wave runner?  I say, heck no.

The Endangered Species Act is responsible for the preservation of countless species.  Two of our nation's most revered animal symbols, the bald eagle and the buffalo were once on the list.  Thanks to conservation efforts, they were spared extinction.

Makes you wonder if a bald eagle habitat were holding up progress on Lake Freeman if Rokita would be so blase about preserving them.

Click here and tell Representative Rokita exactly what you think about the Endangered Species Act.

Ballard Proposes Cuts to Prosecutor's Budget Despite Own Rhetoric

Mayor Greg Ballard
As I write this, the City-County Council is still meeting.  It's been a long night.

Mayor Greg Ballard made an appearance to present his $1 billion budget.  In the budget is more money for police and fire, but less money for the Marion County Prosecutor.

Seems funny that's the direction of the priorities that the Mayor took here.  After all, he spends much of his time these days railing against the courts, the Marion County Sheriff, and the Marion County Prosecutor for not being tough enough and keeping criminals in jail or charged.  He often talks about arresting the same people over and over again.

Yet, when it comes to putting his priorities down on paper in his proposed budget, he throws more money to the police side of public safety...where he's previously said it wouldn't help...and reduces the funding for the Marion County Prosecutor's Office some $640,000 (according to John Tuohy's Indy Star article).

Ballard also left out the cost of his crime plan from the proposed budget.

Remarkable how priorities work, isn't it?