Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Jackson Elected to City-County Council

Councillor Jackson
Last week, precinct committee people got together in District 11 and elected LaKeisha Jackson to the City-County Council.

Jackson replaces former City-County Councillor Vernon Brown who resigned his office to concentrate on his campaign for Warren Township Trustee.  Brown also was one of the Councillors whose day job prevented him from running for reelection in District 11.

According to published reports, Jackson is a neighborhood advocate and activist with a long history of involvement.  She is the Executive Director for the Pathway Resource Center.  She also was recognized by Mayor Greg Ballard in 2012 with one of his Mayor's Community Service Awards.

Sounds like District 11 is in good hands.  How this will change the balance of the Council and its voting coalitions remains to be seen.

Monday, September 1, 2014

Happy Labor Day 2014

Thanks to our brothers and sisters of organized labor, I have today off.  No blog post here.  Thanks to all those who struggled to make this day of respite possible!  Thanks for the 40 hour work week, overtime, and the lunch break.  Thanks for getting children out of the workplace and for making strides towards equal pay for equal work.  Thanks for the minimum wage (and the inevitable rise that will come someday).  Thanks for representing workers and their families.

Thanks organized labor!  Happy Labor Day!

Saturday, August 30, 2014

Mourdock Leaves Office Reportedly to Save Cut to Own Pension

Richard Mourdock stepped down from his office as Treasurer of State on August 29, 2014.

If he had stayed past August 31, new retirement laws would have cut his pension, according to WISH.

That means that the geologist turned career politician who Hoosiers elected to two four-year terms as Treasurer decided to turn his back on those that elected him for apparently his own benefit.

What ever happened to serving out your term and handing your office keys over to your successor?  It seems as if some politicians of both parties have decided to say screw you to the voters that elected them and pursue their own interest.  Mourdock is just the latest.

Given the timing of his announcement on reportedly the LAST possible day that he could leave office without receiving cuts to his state pension, Mourdock's resignation seems even more of a slap in the face to Hoosiers.

I wonder if this is what God intended?

Of the current occupants of the offices of the Indiana Attorney General, the Secretary of State, the Treasurer of State, the Auditor of State, and the Superintendent of Public Instruction, three have been appointed without an election by the Governor.

Governor Mitch Daniels appointed Connie Lawson Secretary of State after Charlie White was forced from office.  Governor Mike Pence appointed Suzanne Crouch to take over from Dwayne Sawyer as Auditor.  Pence had appointed Sawyer Auditor after Tim Berry resigned to become Indiana GOP Chair.  Now Pence will appoint a new Treasurer to serve out the remaining months of Mourdock's term.

Friday, August 29, 2014

Donate to ALS or Parkinson's Research

One of my students challenged me to the Ice Bucket Challenge.  I've been too busy to get dunked, but I will do it.  I promise.

I did, however, make a donation to the ALS Association, and it made me think back to a very personal story.

My ALS story has to do with my mother.  For those of you that don't know, my mother suffers from a very advanced form of arthritis as well as Parkinson's Disease.  While her mental capacities are still with her, she struggles, the Parkinson's has advanced so far that she struggles to stand on her own, and she also has trouble eating, dressing herself, and other things we all take for granted.

When she was first experienced symptoms, the doctors weren't sure about her initial symptoms, and it took some tests to finally hone in on the diagnosis that was reached with Parkinson's.  It was a very scary period for all of us.  To hear that you might, at worst case scenario, have Parkinson's or ALS must have been more than disheartening.

As I've watched my mom's physical health deteriorate, I can empathize with those watching people suffer from ALS.  With ALS, the body is robbed of its muscles until eventually it robs you of your ability to breathe on your own.  The prognosis isn't good, and it is almost always fatal.  It's always debilitating.

So, as you do your Ice Bucket Challenges, give a little to ALS research.  Go to www.alsa.org/donate and give.  You can also give to Parkinson's research at www.pdf.org.  Take a pie for Parkinson's.

Enjoy your Labor Day Weekend!


Thursday, August 28, 2014

New Security Gates Planned At Governor's Residence Signal Exactly What?

For over 40 years, the Indiana Governor's Residence has stood at 4750 N. Meridian Street.  It's a beautiful English Tudor home, and it's been the source of controversy as well as pride over the years.

The house is much older than 41 years old, but it's only been the official home of the Governor since Otis Bowen took up residence there.  Since then, Governors Bowen, Orr, Bayh, O'Bannon, Kernan, Daniels, and Pence have used the mansion as a residence or a place for ceremonial activities.

The commission that oversees that residence nearly proposed moving the residence from the home on north Meridian to a new location, but they eventually settled on renovating the residence that was built in 1928.  Some accessibility issues were addressed and a few other security features were added during the O'Bannon Administration.  Renovations were undertaken in the early days of the Daniels Administration.

On the grounds is a beautiful gazebo placed by the late wife of Governor Robert Orr.  Governor Bayh installed a basketball goal.  Mitch Daniels time as Indiana's Chief Executive was notable for Daniels not living in the mansion full-time and using it for only occasional events, and Governor Pence has taken up beekeeping.

Over the years, security has also increased.  No longer can you enter the mansion's grounds off of Meridian.  As part of the renovations in the Daniels Administration, there is now a larger parking area off of 46th Street.  Perhaps a sign of the times we now live in is that the Governor's residence is now going to be the home of security gates.

The money, according to the Associated Press, will come from the Governor's Public Building Foundation, and it's not known the full scope or price tag of the project other than the gates will be wrought iron.

More security is certainly not something this Hoosier would ever deny Governor Pence or the future occupants of that home, but it makes you wonder why the Governor right now at this moment may need more security.  Is it his rising national profile?  Is this in anticipation of a future run for President?

Oh the speculation!

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, whatever...it 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!