Tuesday, August 4, 2015

Goshen to Consider LGBT Human Rights Ordinance Tonight

Tonight, Goshen will decide if it is going to pass an ordinance protecting LGBT citizens from discrimination.  Neighboring Elkhart is also considering the issue.

Of course, in the process, the two Northern Indiana communities have become the target of the anti-gay hate campaign of Eric Miller who's telling lies about transgender individuals and making up stories on some gay agenda being pushed.  Yes, he's selling hate disguised as being concerned.

Well, there's nothing to fear.  Plenty of other communities in Indiana have passed such ordinances, and, as far as I know, none of us have been turned into pillars of salt just yet.  Hopefully, the council members, a 4-3 Republican majority, in Goshen will look past the lies and the wild innuendo and realize that it's human beings we're talking about here.

The Elkhart Truth wrote the story of a transgender man who was moved to speak out after hearing one of Miller's diatribes on the issue.  This ordinance is about men like "Frank" who live in fear that one day he will be outed and have no way to keep his former identity a secret.  It could cost him everything.

If you get a chance, send a good thought up towards Goshen today.  Here's to hoping the Councillors do what's right and support equal rights for all.

Monday, August 3, 2015

It's Still Early, but May Primary May Be Interesting in Indiana

By the time the excitement of the Primary Election reaches Indiana, the excitement part has been drained out.  It's very rare that the Hoosier State has anything to say about the national scene.  2016 is looking a bit like 2008 right now, and if these early indications ring true, the May Primary in 2016 may be another one to watch again in Indiana.

First of all, who knows how all this mess will shake out at the national level for the Republicans? Hopefully, by the time things reach the Hoosier State, that the top two or three candidates will have separated themselves from the gaggle.  Donald Trump seems to be getting a fair amount of support, but will others supporting other candidates support him or will they throw their support to someone other than him.

Besides the battle for the GOP Presidential nomination, you could also have a couple of hotly-contested races in Congress.  Both Indiana's Third and Ninth Congressional Districts might be looking for a Republican nominee.  That's because both Marlin Stutzman and Todd Young are running for the U.S. Senate seat being vacated by retiring Dan Coats.  Add in Eric Holcomb, and the U.S. Senate seat could also be an interesting primary race in 2016.

On the Democratic side, Glenda Ritz's campaign has been rocked in the last few days by campaign finance allegations against it.  She and state Senator Karen Tallian are contesting the Democratic nomination for Governor with John Gregg.

Sure, it's a long way out, but the 2016 Indiana Primary in May might be in play again like it was eight years ago.  As you may remember, Hillary Clinton eeked out a victory in Indiana over Barack Obama, but she underperformed.  The Obama crew kept their team on the ground, and it paid off in November because the President carried Indiana.

Sunday, August 2, 2015

"Hey, Evan, Hey, How About a Little Something, You Know, For the Effort"

Former U.S. Senator and Indiana
Governor Evan Bayh
While it has its blue parts, no one will ever mistake our state of Indiana for a blue state.

Furthermore, while we love to get together annually and have a good time at the JJ Dinner or at the IDEA convention, the Indiana Democratic Party has had its struggles trying to eat into the Republican control of the state's major offices.  Again, I am probably not telling you anything you don't know as a Democrat.

The real statistics don't make it better.  Since 2000, Democrats have won five statewide elections.  The late Frank O'Bannon avoided the Y2K bug and won a second term as Governor in 2000.  Four years later, Evan Bayh won a second term to the U.S. Senate.  For the first time since 1964, Democrats carried Indiana with President Barack Obama in 2008.  Most recently, Joe Donnelly was elected to the U.S. Senate, and voters sent Glenda Ritz to the Statehouse as the Superintendent of Public Instruction in 2012.  Other than that, Democrats have faced pretty long odds at the ballot box when it comes to statewide offices, especially in the non-Presidential election years.

It's challenging for Democrats, and it's going to take a lot of time, effort, and money to turn things around.  Dems have shown the ability to win an office here or there, but it's going to take something more sustained to make the Hoosier State more purple under these maps and over the next few election cycles.

One man is perhaps sitting on some of the answer to this problem.  That man is, of course, the aforementioned Evan Bayh who has stashed away millions in his campaign cupboard waiting for who knows what.

Sitting on campaign cash after leaving office is nothing uncommon.  According to an article published in USA Today, 141 former Congresscritters and Senators still have campaign cash.  It is uncommon to carry as much as Bayh carries in his account.

The former Indiana Governor's campaign account has more than $10 million just sitting there...waiting.  That's first on the list of all former members of Congress with money in a campaign account.  It's almost six million dollars more than former Massachusetts Congressman Marty Meehan has in his account.  In fact, if you combine Meehan's money with the next two names on the list, Tom Harkin's and Dave Camp's, you would only then exceed Bayh's $10.02 million.

So, it begs the question...what is Bayh waiting for?  Is he waiting for just the perfect campaign to come along?  Is he waiting for that VEEP call?  Is he waiting for the right time to make a political comeback?

It's his money, and he can do with it what he wants.  It just seems like if Democrats in Indiana are ever going to make a financial move that Bayh could play a big part in being leader in that regard.  Hoosier Democrats have shown up and shown out for Evan Bayh for years.  Maybe it's time he puts a little bit of that money back into helping grow the party he helped to lead for so many years.

Friday, July 31, 2015

Carson's 6th Annual Job Fair Scheduled for August 5

Congressman Carson
Indiana recently revealed an unemployment rate of 4.9 percent.  Are you one of those looking for a job or maybe even a change of career?

Congressman Andre Carson has announced that his 6th Annual Job Fair will take place on Wednesday, August 5 from 9 am to 3 pm.  The event is free and open to everyone and will take place at the Ivy Tech Corporate College and Culinary Center at 2820 N. Meridian St.

According to the Congressman's Office, a "wide array" of companies will be there ready to hire people.  I'd suggest dressing for success and taking copies of your cover letter, vitae, or resume.

If you want more information, dial Congressman Carson's Office at (317) 283-6516.

Thursday, July 30, 2015

Lewis Speaks to Perry Township Democratic Club

Maggie Lewis Speaks to Perry Township
Democrats and friends.
City-County Council President Maggie Lewis spoke on the Southside at the Perry Township Democratic Club on Thursday night.

She discussed the City-County Council's successes and the need for the Council to stay blue in the upcoming November election.

One of Lewis' four key components that she addressed in her talk was public safety.  She talked about what the Council had been able to do for IMPD.  "These men and women are putting their lives on the line every day in the name of public safety," said Lewis.

She said the Council has found success in supporting officers by finding money to upgrade equipment, buy new squad cars, and make necessary repairs at the police academy facility.  Lewis also highlighted the 80 additional officers that the Council was able to find the money for to increase the overall safety of Indianapolis.  She also highlighted efforts of the Council to block the Mayor's attempt to pull money from IMPD's budget unilaterally.

Lewis also discussed neighborhoods.  She said that the Council had been able to use some grant money to make things better in some specific Indy neighborhoods.  She touted the Complete Streets ordinance as one of the country's best pieces of municipal legislation.

Education was also on Councillor Lewis' agenda.  She mentioned the compromise the Council was able to reach with Mayor Ballard on expanding Pre-K education across Indianapolis as an example of what happens when both sides can come together and talk things out.

Lewis said that continuing to upgrade mass transit and making IndyGo better is a continuing project on her agenda for the Council.  Reducing the time it takes to travel by mass transit is something she and the Council has been working on and will continue to do so in the future.

The Council President also briefly addressed the often-contentious relationship with Mayor Greg Ballard.  She said that the Ballard Administration's "arrogance" has taken over in this second term and that there are many times that the Mayor has simply ignored the separate and co-equal legislative branch of government.  Lewis said. "We've seen that when we've been able to come together we've been able to do good things for the city."

Unlike the opposition party in Washington, Lewis made it clear that she would still like to see Mayor Ballard have a successful finish to his time in office because he is the Mayor of Indianapolis.  She indicated that the Democratic caucus on the Council will continue to stand up against the Mayor's efforts to run the city without the Council.

In closing, Lewis said that it's critical to get out and vote in November for Democrats and those that care about our city.  She said that no one should take anything for granted and that it was especially important to elect Joe Hogsett and give him a Democratic majority in the Council that he can work with to move Indianapolis forward.

Schellinger Named Head of IEDC by Pence

Jim Schellinger
Wednesday was a very good day for former Democratic candidate for Governor, Jim Schellinger, and some would argue a very bad day for John Gregg and the Indiana Democratic Party.  

Schellinger, an Indianapolis-based architect and successful CEO, was named President of the Indiana Economic Development Corporation.  He will start in September.

The kicker on all of this was that it wasn't some quirk in state government that allowed a Democrat to appoint Schellinger, it was Republican Governor Mike Pence that named the 2008 gubernatorial candidate to the position at the IEDC.

Schellinger raised a lot of money for the 2008 run against then-Governor Mitch Daniels and was seen for a long time as the shoo-in front runner.  The polls tightened, and, when the votes were counted, Schellinger had lost to former U.S. Congresswoman Jill Long Thompson.  

While Schellinger later endorsed Long Thompson, he did not quickly embrace her as the Democratic nominee after the bitter primary fight.  Long Thompson's campaign never recovered from the battle, and, fighting financial woes, it limped a landslide loss to Daniels despite Barack Obama having won the state by a couple thousand votes over John McCain.

Schellinger returned to his job in the business world at CSO Architects and in 2012 donated some $75K to Gregg's efforts to keep Pence out of the Statehouse.  Schellinger's move, according to the Star, has some Democrats thinking that this will keep him out of the 2016 race between Pence and likely John Gregg for Governor as a fundraiser.  

That's key for Pence.

This likely also ends any future runs for Schellinger for statewide public office.  Democrats will see him as Mike Pence's guy. 

It's a win for Mike Pence, though.  By nominating a prominent Democrat, it means he can argue that he's reached across the aisle to appoint a guy that's spent a ton of money against him to such an important position for the State of Indiana.

We'll see how this all works out.

Wednesday, July 29, 2015

Opposition to Blue Indy Program Not About Idea

Mayor Greg Ballard
The Indy Star's new columnist, Suzette Hackney, penned a column last week about the Council vs. the Mayor over the Blue Indy Program.  Her thesis: let it pass.

Unfortunately, Hackney has little idea of the process (or lack of it) leading to this impasse between Mayor Greg Ballard and the City-County Council over his electric car sharing program.  The disagreement culminated in last week's vote to tow Blue Indy's demonstration cars from prime parking spots.

There seems to be some sort of idea out there that the issue is Democrats or others being opposed to the idea of electric car sharing, but the problem is not the idea.  It's Mayor Ballard's plan.  Incidentally, Chuck Brewer released a statement fully supporting Ballard's plan.

At its heart, Blue Indy is a great idea.  Few dispute that, but the lack of details from the Mayor's Office, the high price tag, and the seeming detour around the council and the public process turned this slam dunk into one that has clanged off the backboard.

Before the ink was dry on the Hackney column, the Washington Post wrote about Los Angeles' plan for an electric car share program giving opponents even more ammunition.  Matt Stone, my good friend over at the Indy Student Blog, did an excellent analysis of the Indy electric car share plan vs. the Los Angeles plan.  Turns out the LA plan calls for 400 less cars and comes in tens of millions cheaper.  

Truth is the Council is just doing its job as a separate and co-equal branch of government.  It's asking the questions that need to be answered.  Besides, when the Council and the Mayor have found an impasse, the resulting compromise has usually benefited the city.  We'll see what happens on this program from here.

Tuesday, July 28, 2015

Bayh Undergoes Surgery; Carson Announces Death of Grandfather

Bayh Family
Photo from Facebook
News came yesterday afternoon that former Indiana First Lady Susan Bayh had surgery to remove a benign tumor from her brain.

The good news is that she's expected to make a full recovery, according to WTHR.

The wife of former Governor and U.S. Senator Evan Bayh, Susan Bayh is an attorney, and she sits on a number of corporate boards and boards of organizations.  

Evan Bayh lost his mother to cancer many years ago, so it probably goes without saying that he's relieved that his wife's tumor was determined to be benign.

I wish Mrs. Bayh nothing but the best as she recovers from this health scare.  

Sam Carson
Photo from Facebook
Carson Loses Grandfather
Congressman Andre Carson announced yesterday that his grandfather, Sam Carson, had passed away.  

Carson credited his grandfather, a Marine Corps veteran, for mentoring him "with strength, grace, and spirit."

Sam Carson married Julia May Porter shortly after she graduated from Attucks High School.  Of course, the Carson name has become synonymous with politics in Indianapolis over the years as Congresswoman Julia Carson elected to keep her married name even after being divorced.  The union of Sam Carson produced two children, Sam and Tanya.  Sam Carson the son has attempted to run for public office.  Tanya's son Andre grew up to be the current 7th District Congressman.

My thoughts and prayers go out to my friend, Andre Carson and all of the Carson family on the loss of Sam Carson.

Monday, July 27, 2015

Democrats Gather for 8th Annual Picnic at Garfield Park

Ain't No Party Like a Democrat Party!
For the 8th-straight year, Democrats gathered under the Pagoda at Garfield Park for the United Democrats Picnic.

Probably 150 to 200 candidates, officeholders, and rank-and-file Democrats from all walks of life, backgrounds, and sides of town gathered to swap stories, laugh, win door prizes and dine on some delicious food.

It's always interesting for me to people watch.  This year, I was in the eye of the action as a candidate, but I still got a chance to sit back and just watch things develop.  Congressman Andre Carson spoke about what I saw best, "Look around people," Carson said. "Our party looks like the United Nations!"

Mostly the focus was on the upcoming Mayor's race.  Joe Hogsett reminded everyone that, from Sunday, just 99 days remained in the campaign.  It's 98 as you read this.  He talked about working hard and taking nothing for granted as he and his campaign continue to make this campaign a countywide fight.

City-County Council candidates like myself also got a chance to speak up and speak out, and most of the ticket was in attendance.  Candidates from Lawrence and Beech Grove were there.

Also making the rounds were legislative candidates for 2016 and candidate for U.S. Senate, Baron Hill.  Dressed in a dark pink shirt and khakis, Hill worked the crowd and told me that the campaign is "going great" and that he was "encouraged" by the reception he's getting.  It was the first opportunity I had ever had to speak with the former Congressman, and he looked tanned and ready to go take the fight to the Republicans.

Glenda Ritz was the only gubernatorial candidate in attendance.  She spoke briefly and received a warm reception from the crowd.  John Gregg and Karen Tallian both had other commitments that kept them from attending though the efforts to get them on the ballot continued with petition signing.

It was a very enjoyable afternoon.

Friday, July 24, 2015

Hogsett Urging Supporters to Reserve Yard Signs

Yesterday, I received an e-mail from the Hogsett for Mayor campaign with a subject line dealing with yard signs.

Hogsett didn't purchase a sign for the Primary fight and is pretty much relying on his commercials and campaign door knocking to spread the word.

One thing a sage and wise candidate told me one time is that, "Yard signs don't vote."  That's true.  In a neighborhood like mine where it's overwhelmingly Republican, a yard sign of a Democratic candidate can turn some heads...especially if if it's in the yard of a longtime, well-known Republican.

Anyway, the Hogsett campaign is trying something innovative.  It's asking loyal supporters to make sure they get a yard sign by reserving one for a $5 campaign contribution.

You asked and we've answered: Hogsett for Mayor yard signs will be making their debut this fall! 
And we want to give you the first chance to secure one.

Since we know these signs will be in high demand -- and we will be ordering very limited quantities -- we're offering key supporters the chance to reserve a sign with just a $5 donation.
Once signs arrive in the fall, they will be distributed on a first-come, first-served basis. Don't leave it to chance: guarantee your Hogsett for Mayor yard sign today! 
Want to spread your support and help us place additional signs in your part of the city? With a $25 or $50 donation we will make sure you, as well as key locations in your neighborhood, are proudly letting people know: We Need Joe. 
Thanks for all you do,
Thomas Cook
Hogsett for Indianpolis

P.S. -- Know someone who will want a sign? Be sure to share this with them!

I put the idea up on my personal Facebook profile, and opinions seemed split.  As a candidate myself, I offer free yard signs.  In fact, I have about 90 of them in my garage ready to find a yard in District 20.

While some may be turned off by this tactic, I personally think it's an interesting idea.  Hogsett seems to be running a frugal campaign last month having sent out a plea for donated office supplies and even office furniture.  It seems like they want to spend only the dollars they take in for what they really need.

Hopefully, Joe will guard the city's coffers in the same manner.