Saturday, February 6, 2016

Sources: Fletcher Pulls Candidacy for District 97

Indy Democrat sources are saying that just as quickly as he entered the race against Justin Moed that Perry Township Board member Jason Fletcher has withdrawn his candidacy against the popular State Representative in District 97.

We'll stay tuned to find out what happened at slat...er...the pre-primary convention today for the Democrats.

Thursday, February 4, 2016

Daily Posting Ceases Today; Please Read

There never is a good time to do this, so I'm electing the quick and fast mode on this one. I'm pulling the plug today. This will be the last daily post of the blog for now.

For now, this blog will become an at-will posting blog.  In the meantime, I'll be concentrating more of my time where I should be putting it as a teacher and on my IndianaTalks.com radio show, The JohnnyStir Show.  It airs, of course, on Monday nights at 8 p.m.

As for me, I'm not going anywhere.  I'll still be around, and, again, this blog will go on posting.  I'm not going to stop writing, but I can no longer commit to posting on a daily basis.  I can't in good conscience leave you without a voice from the left, so this blog isn't going anywhere.  I'm just adjusting the frequency of my posting.

I'm sorry if you feel as if I'm deserting you in the wilderness.  I know that you're all smart enough to find your way back.  I'll be utilizing social media more to let you know when I have posted.  Make sure you follow me on Twitter.

Again, I can't thank you enough for the loyalty you've shown to me over the years, and I'm glad we're continuing to step forward together...just in a different manner.

Wednesday, February 3, 2016

Fletcher Takes on Moed in HD 97

Rep. Justin Moed
We all know Justin Moed did not have a good spring last year when revelations about his personal life came to light.

That being said, Justin became a beacon of doing what's right in the damage control phase.  After disappearing for a few days, Justin came back, admitted his mistake, and said he was moving on.  Moed never pretended to be a holy roller or a Christian crusader.  He did what he did, and he apologized to his constituents for it.

Then, he went back to work for his constituents.  House District 97 has some of the rich parts of downtown, but it also has some of the toughest parts of Indy's near-Southside, and Moed knows these people.  He knows their communities.  That's because he's been bitten by several dogs walking these communities.  His campaign page often tells stories of sitting down in people's living rooms for coffee or lemonade.  He works hard, and he gets results.  In a tough legislature for Democrats, Moed has been a rock star in getting things done for his constituents and for the
Jason Fletcher filing for HD 97
City of Indianapolis.

That's why I was curious to find out today that my friend Jason Fletcher had also filed to run for House District 97 today.  Fletcher is currently the only Democrat on the Perry Township Advisory Board, and he is, no doubt, worthy of a look from voters.

I just wonder what happened for Fletcher to suddenly think he's a better choice for the 97th than Moed's proven record.  Fletcher did work hard walking much of the district for Emily Shrock's unsuccessful run for City-County Council.  The two districts overlap quite a bit.

I've been wrong before, and Fletcher is incredibly popular in Democratic circles and has built up a tremendous amount of goodwill.  I get the feeling that he's going to have to work hard to beat Moed in the 97th if it gets to a Primary war, and I just don't know if this was the right place to spend his political capital given even the struggles of Moed last spring.  The hardworking people in the 97th will remember the guy that's gotten stuff done for them.

End of LGBT Civil Rights Fight for This Session Just Means Delay of Inevitable

Efforts to end the discrimination against LGBT Hoosiers died today in the Indiana General Assembly, and, while the sun will come up tomorrow, it's hard to see how we could get this close and allow the whole thing to slip away.

The easiest thing we should be able to do as a government of the people, for the people, and by the people is to protect the civil rights of people.  Shoulda...woulda...coulda.  It's too damn hard, right?

It's too hard because some of these gerrymandered districts Indiana General Assembly members represent create a world where their representatives have no one to answer to except their own extremism, so they don't care about the rights of Hoosiers.  They could care less about someone who gets married on Friday and gets fired on Monday.

I'm sorry too.  I guess I had more confidence in people.  I guess I had more confidence in our legislators to get things done.  I thought in the end that they would feel the pain in their hearts that those who are discriminated against feel.  I thought maybe they'd feel the fear that many feel when they can't fully express who they are for fear of retaliation...or worse.

Nope.  I was wrong about Indiana.

Governor Pence hates the idea of civil rights for gay people so much that he's willing to stake his job on it.  Others believe that it's not a big enough issue to move on this session.

It's important to remember that, as the saying says, anything that's worth doing isn't easy.  Progress isn't easy, either.  Here in the Hoosier State, it's going to take a little longer, but we will someday celebrate LGBT civil rights.  It's going to happen hopefully in my lifetime instead of yours.

Yes, it's important to remember how far we've come.  Sometimes, we need a reminder about how far we have left to go.  As Macklemore said in Same Love, "We press play.  We don't press pause.  Progress, march on."

Don't stop living.  Don't stop fighting.  We will live in a state that someday recognizes our civil rights are worth protecting.  History is on our side.

Tuesday, February 2, 2016

Cruz Trumps Donald; Sanders & Clinton Neck and Neck in Iowa

As the numbers continue to trickle in from the Iowa Caucuses, it's important to remember to not read too much or too little into the results.  What's going to be interesting is to see who still believes they are viable after the voters in Iowa speak.

It appears that, so far, there is no clear winner in the Democratic Caucus as Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders are in, what Sanders has termed, "a virtual tie".  That's probably worse news for Clinton than it is for Sanders.  Reports also say that Martin O'Malley has decided to suspend his campaign.  That's a worthy decision given what the voters said after this first round.

For the Democrats, they'll continue to squabble and battle until a victor is named.

On the Republican side, it appears Ted Cruz has come out on top by a few percentage points over Donald Trump.  This should surprise no one.  Iowa is very conservative on the Republican side, and Cruz was expected to win or run a close second to Trump.  For Trump, as he has said, it's off to New Hampshire for his campaign.

Reports say Mike Huckabee and perhaps even Ben Carson are thinking of packing up the campaign and going home.

Again, this is just the first test. It's a long slog from here, but we're underway in the Presidential Derby 2016.

Monday, February 1, 2016

Iowa Caucus Signifies Start of 2016 Vote Counting

Clinton Hopes to Block Sanders
Momentum in Iowa
The big day is here.  It's Iowa Caucus day, and that signifies the actual beginning of the count of the votes towards who will be the nominees for 2016's Presidential Election in the major parties.

Hillary Clinton is holding on to a slim lead in most polls in Iowa.  For her, a victory would be great in Iowa because it's unlikely she's going to win in New Hampshire next week.  She doesn't need the victories, but it would be nice to put a stopper in the momentum of Senator Bernie Sanders.  Governor Martin O'Malley is a distant third in the polls and likely will not be a factor though his three or four percentage points of support could definitely help either of the frontrunners.

On the Republican side of things, it appears to be down to Ted Cruz and Donald Trump in Iowa. If either win, they can claim momentum going into New Hampshire.  If someone can jump up from the pack and surprise in Iowa, it could signify that the always-finicky caucus-goers might have not been so enamored by "The Donald" or Mr. Cruz.  Marco Rubio is running a distant third in most polls, and former frontrunners Ben Carson and Jeb Bush are languishing further back.

On the JohnnyStir Show tonight, I take a brief look at the caucuses, but most of the show is to reintroduce my listeners to me as a person.  My friend Steve Terrell takes the reins of the show and does a really nice job with the interview.

I hope you'll tune in at 8:00 p.m. on www.indianatalks.com,

Enjoy the caucus results!


Thursday, January 28, 2016

Remembering the Challenger Seven

The Challenger Seven
1st Row (L to R): Mike Smith, Francis "Dick" Scobee,
Dr. Ronald McNair
2nd Row (L to R): Ellison Onizuka, Christa McAuliffe
Gregory Jarvis, Dr. Judith Resnik
The date was January 28, 1986. I was 10 years old and was a student in the 5th Grade at Chapelwood Elementary.

There were no cell phones. There were no electronic devices. There was no internet.

I reported to the school clinic to take my medicine for asthma after lunch just as I did every day, and I noticed the nurse’s aide was crying. I asked her if she was ok, and she said she was. She just kept listening to this news broadcast on the radio as she opened the filing cabinet and handed me my medication. I didn't press the issue with her, but I remember wondering why she was so sad.  I took my medicine and went back to class

The rest of the school day was pretty normal I guess because I don't remember anything else about the day at school.  I just remember being 10 years old and curious and wanting to know how the day's Space Shuttle Challenger launch went.

Unlike many school children, I was blissfully unaware for a few hours that teacher Christa McAuliffe and six others had perished in one of our country’s worst space program disasters. On TV sets at school-wide assemblies, those other children watched the launch of the Space Shuttle Challenger live, and they saw the horrible aftermath of the Challenger breaking apart.

A malfunction in the Solid Rocket Booster’s o-rings caused the SRB to slam into the External Fuel Tank and destroy the Challenger. The horror would have to wait until I got home, and it was up to my grandmother to break the news. 

Like many kids my age, I loved the space program and was enthralled by the cosmos. There were nights when I would lay on the porch with my family and look up into the night sky for the Big Dipper and the Little Dipper and Orion and other constellations.  I was five years old when the Space Shuttle Columbia was launched to start the shuttle program, and I can remember watching that launch early one morning with my parents like it was yesterday. 

The loss of the Challenger Seven hit me hard, and it seemed like the television news stations couldn’t get enough of the live video of the space vehicle coming apart as those SRBs snaked away from the scene.  I remember not quite understanding the gravity of the situation, but trying to make sense of everything in my childhood mind.

So, here we are 30 years later. The legacy of the Challenger Seven continues thanks to the work of  their surviving families.  Because of their strength, the lessons of that shuttle mission that were just supposed to take a few days have become much more enduring.  Over 40 Challenger Centers have opened all over the country teaching young and old alike about space and the teamwork it takes to solve complex problems. 

Let  us honor Commander Francis “Dick” Scobee, Pilot Michael Smith, Mission Specialist Judith Resnik, Mission Specialist Ron McNair, Mission Specialist Ellison Onizuka, Payload Specialist Gregory Jarvis, and Teacher Christa McAuliffe. 

On the night they died, President Ronald Reagan took to the airwaves.  He was supposed to give his State of the Union Speech that night, but he postponed it.  Instead, he spoke directly to the nation about the day's loss and put it directly in perspective what it meant.  

He also took a moment to speak directly to those little ones, like me, that were struggling to make sense of the entire incident.  So many others had witnessed the awful event live that morning.  In his poignant remarks, Reagan said:
“On this day 390 years ago, the great explorer Sir Francis Drake died aboard ship off the coast of Panama. In his lifetime, the great frontiers were the oceans, and a historian later said, ‘He lived by the sea, died on it, and was buried in it.’ Well, today we can say of the Challenger crew: Their dedication was, like Drake's, complete. 
The crew of the space shuttle Challenger honored us by the manner in which they lived their lives. We will never forget them, nor the last time we saw them, this morning, as they prepared for the journey and waved goodbye and "slipped the surly bonds of earth’ to ‘touch the face of God.’”
Whether your religious or not, the imagery is peaceful and beautiful.  The perspective was perfect.  Astronauts and those that push the boundaries of human life to contribute to a greater understanding of the world are truly heroes.

The Challenger Seven were truly heroes. They all died on January 28, 1986.  30 years ago today.

Wednesday, January 27, 2016

In Memoriam: Susan Jordan

Susan Jordan
For any principal of any school, one of the toughest parts of the day is dismissal.

Trying to move hundreds of kids out of your building efficiently and safely is a triumph when it is done correctly and a nightmare when something happens.

On Tuesday, Indianapolis saw that nightmare scenario unfold, and a principal is being hailed as a hero.

Outside Amy Beverland Elementary in Lawrence Township, Principal Susan Jordan was hard at work like a shepherd making sure her flock of little sheep were each deposited safely aboard buses.  Suddenly, a bus jumped the curb and witnesses say Jordan pushed children out of the way of the careening bus before being hit herself.  In the aftermath, two children were rushed to the hospital with non-life threatening injuries, but Mrs. Jordan, a veteran educator and administrator, did not survive the accident.

Time and time again, teachers put their lives on the line when bad things happen to protect the lives of the young people in their charge.  Mrs. Jordan apparently died doing just that.

Because of the apparent actions of Mrs. Jordan, young people she saved will live to contribute to society and make life better.  It's incredibly sad that she won't get to see those young people grow and blossom and develop to their potential...at least on this Earth.  If one believes in the afterlife, perhaps she is the guardian angel now for these children.

Whatever happens, I'm sure her memory will always be present throughout the hallways of the school she capably administrated, and she will be remembered by all of us for her apparent final selfless act of courage.  I'd like to say any of us would have done it, but do we really know for sure unless we are called to act?  Susan Jordan was, and she did.

As a fellow educator, I found myself weeping at the story, and I didn't even know Mrs. Jordan.  I can only imagine what the next few days, weeks, and months will be like.  For the students and staff at Amy Beverland, they've lost their beloved leader.

My thoughts are with them all as well as the family and friends of a truly remarkable woman.

Tuesday, January 26, 2016

Race To Replace Young Heats Up

Indiana's 9th Congressional District
With Todd Young attempting to move across the Rotunda from the U.S. House to the U.S. Senate, the race for Young’s 9th District seat might be one to watch as we head towards May and into the General Election season.

Let’s dispense with the Democratic side very quickly. Past candidate Shelli Yoder has decided to dip her toe in the electoral pool again. Yoder ran a very credible campaign in 2012 against Young before losing 55 percent to 45 percent to the incumbent. Real estate agent and businessman Bill Thomas has a website up touting his credentials as a conservative Democrat. 

Yoder has to be considered the favorite given her strong past run and strong name recognition. Thomas’s website, frankly, misspells Benghazi which doesn't make the best first impression.

On the Republican side, there most certainly will be a nasty battle.  In fact, ads are already running for May’s Primary. My morning slumber was interrupted on Monday morning by a Congressional ad run by a PAC (I didn’t get the name) on behalf of businessman Trey Hollingsworth. The ad, negative in tone, specifically targeted another 9th District Republican candidate, Indiana Attorney General Greg Zoeller, as a “career politician”. 

Others in the race are State Senators Erin Houchin and Brent Waltz and former conservative radio host and Congressional staffer, Jim Pfaff. Engineer Robert Hall is also in the race.
Like Yoder, Zoeller has name recognition across the 9th District having run for and won election to statewide office twice. Houchin and Waltz both are seasoned politicians that have the knowledge to win races and raise money. Hollingsworth obviously has some benefactor in a high place who doesn't seem to like Zoeller and has put up some slick internet ads.  It seems that Pfaff and Hall will need some help to make this a true six-way elephant race.

I'll be keeping my eye on this one as we head towards May.

Monday, January 25, 2016

One Week to Go to Iowa Caucuses Launch 2016 Presidential Race for Real

One week from today, the votes begin to count as Iowa caucus-goers head to sites across the state to begin the Iowa Caucus.

On the Republican side, it's still a free for all with Donald Trump, Ted Cruz, and Marco Rubio up front.  On the Democratic side, Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders are locked in a head-to-head battle that few saw coming just a few months ago.  While most still predict Clinton to prevail in the end, her air of inevitability is gone for certain.

It's the granddaddy of all elections as every decision a campaign makes is analyzed, over-analyzed, and put in perspective.

Just when it seemed like everything was settling in, Donald Trump unleashed the former Governor of Alaska, Sarah Palin, on the masses.  Palin, still wildly popular among many in the Republican Party, endorsed Trump.  Speaking of formerly relevant political figures, shock radio host Glenn Beck came out and endorsed Ted Cruz.  The Des Moines Register endorsed Marco Rubio.  It's wild on the right.

On the other side of the aisle, the Register endorsed Hillary Clinton, and Clinton has been rolling in the endorsement.  Many young people are "Feeling the Bern" right now with Senator Sanders.  At risk is early momentum and perhaps showing that one's campaign remains viable.

So, the political circus in 2016 is set to begin for real.  Each Monday, I'll take a moment to try to digest the Presidential race and express my opinions.  I'm ready if you are!

On tonight's JohnnyStir Show at 8:00 p.m. on IndianaTalks.com, my good friends Chris Jackson, Paul Ogden, Gary Snyder, and Steve Terrell do our best to make sense of the polls and the hype heading in to this big week.  Tune in.