Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Bayh's Out, but Who's In?

Evan Bayh
I've been hard on Evan Bayh these past few months, but I have to give him credit.  He finally made his intentions clear as to his future plans.  He's not running for Governor in 2016.

Now others can move forward.  Just who those others are remains to be seen just yet.

The most persistent names are 2012 nominee John Gregg.  Gregg came close to defeating Mike Pence in November of 2012 after trailing by a wide margin early in the race.  I believe that Gregg has earned the right to try again.  So, we'll see how this time goes should he decide to run.

Another possibility is former State Senator and Gregg's Lt. Governor-nominee from 2012, Vi Simpson.  Simpson has been interested in the job in the past, and she, like Gregg, would have some good name recognition having just run in 2012.  Simpson might be the most popular candidate with the base of the party, but she might have trouble getting to the center.

Hammond Mayor Tom McDermott is also a potential candidate in 2016.  McDermott has said that he might be interested in a run, and he would be an interesting entry into the race.  Unlike Gregg or Simpson, McDermott has less name recognition than the more well-known previous candidates.

There are any number of other possible candidates for the job.  The Democrats bench is deep.  Mayors like Greg Goodnight and Pete Buttigieg could launch credible campaigns.  The Mayors need to be reelected first in 2015.  I haven't heard much about General Assembly members wanting to move to the executive branch, but the Democrats have some rock stars like Christina Hale that could find a strong voice.  Old hats like Baron Hill and Brad Ellsworth are also still out there.

There's also a good chance that the Democrat that runs is not listed above.  I guess we'll see.  Bayh's exit leaves this whole thing wide open.  Now, the question is...what does Bayh do with that campaign treasury?

We'll find out soon!

Monday, September 15, 2014

Thoughts on Vaughn...

Ryan Vaughn
Ryan Vaughn sent a political shockwave through Marion County on Friday.  He's leaving Mayor Ballard's Administration after a little over two years on the job.

Vaughn is set to become the President of the Indiana Sports Corporation.  He will replace the outgoing Allison Melangton who will be joining Hulman Corporation as Senior Vice President of Events.  In other words, she'll be helping to plan and execute events at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway.  The shuffle won't happen until October 27, but Vaughn leaving the Mayor's Office at this time is pretty interesting.

A Ben Davis High School and Wabash College graduate, Vaughn has climbed quickly from attorney to politician to his new position.  Brought on by the Mayor for, among other things, his acumen at dealing with the City-County Council as its former President, he will be taking that experience with him to ISC at a very critical time for Ballard.

According to news reports, the move over to ISC gives Vaughn a big raise, and he won't have to deal with many of the headaches he did as Ballard's COS.  It's a stressful job, and I can understand why the allure of the chance to do his own thing at the ISC was so tempting for Vaughn.  It might also be building up that resume for something in the future.

His comments about getting out of politics are definitely interesting.  Vaughn was someone many had thought might be interested in running for Mayor of Indianapolis.  That clearly is not going to happen with him taking this new position.  Makes you wonder what Mayor Ballard's thinking.  If he's running for a third term, he won't have one of the people that has been a key adviser on the government side there to turn to.  If this signals the Mayor is not running for a third term, it could mean that Vaughn has seen the future in his crystal ball may be cloudy for the Marion County Republican Party.

In any case, I wish Ryan Vaughn the best.  Even when I've been hard on him in the words of this blog, he's always treated me nicely.  He's a good man who you'll see back in the game someday and somewhere.

Friday, September 12, 2014

Share a Cup of Success!

With all the negativity going on in the world, I'm thankful that there's always Soul Pancake on YouTube to go back to to make you feel good about the world we share.

This video below has strangers get together and share successes with each other.  It's a wonderfully beautiful video.

Thursday, September 11, 2014

Watch Those Tax Dollars, Folks

Marion County Taxpayers
The City-County Council voted on Monday to raise our taxes for the stated goal of putting more police on the street.  It's water under the bridge now.  It's up to us to make sure the money is used for that purpose.

As opponents of the tax increase point out, Mayor Greg Ballard has more money than his predecessors for public safety thanks to a 65 percent property tax increase passed under the Peterson Administration.  Also off the table was the pension issue that bedeviled the city's finances for many years.  That means that Mayor Ballard should have had millions to spend on hiring officers and increasing IMPD's ranks.

He hasn't done it.  Not even close.

He has failed to even keep up with attrition, and he now has asked, yet again, for more of our money.  Instead of standing in obstruction, the City-County Council passed the Mayor's request for more income tax dollars for more police.  The IBJ reports it's a 43 percent tax increase.

Most of the blogs in town have their dander up on the issue, and I admit that I'm not thrilled.  No one wants to open their checkbook a little wider at tax time.  This, however, is for public safety.  I've been saying that I'd like to see more police on the street, and the stated goal of this tax increase is to increase the ranks of IMPD.

Somehow, we never got back our tax money that Ballard said he'd return to us in 2007.  Clearly, that money was squandered somewhere.  Now that the Mayor has his new money, he and his predecessors must be held accountable as to where this new public safety dollars go.  We can't count on the local media to do it either, but we, as citizens, have to see the progress and then exercise our voices (and our votes) if it's not made.

If the officers are not hired, the ranks don't grow, and we end up with more pet projects, shame on not only the Mayor, but shame on the Council and shame on us.

I'm not sure this tax increase was the way to address our public safety problems.  We keep asking for more from taxpayers.  More money for schools.  More money for utilities.  While it's fair to ask us for more money for public safety, it just doesn't feel like the right timing to me.

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Curry Enters Mayor's Race...In a Manner of Speaking

Terry Curry
Terry Curry entered the Mayor’s race on Tuesday.

He endorsed Joe Hogsett.
The Marion County Prosecutor put his support and weight behind Hogsett, and it’s a huge early endorsement for the fledgling campaign of the former U.S. Attorney.
When Hogsett was U.S. Attorney, he and Curry worked together at the local and federal level on strategies to fight violent crime in Indianapolis. With the Mayor controlling what happens at budgeting, the Prosecutor’s endorsement weighs heavily on who he believes has the best chance to win the Democratic nomination as well as the election in November 2015.

In a news release from the Hogsett campaign, Curry is quoted about his time working with Hogsett and the importance of continuing that work in the future, “At this moment, Indianapolis faces enormous challenges. However, I am excited about the possibility of what we can collectively accomplish with Joe leading our great city, and I look forward to working with him in the years to come,” said Curry.

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

Delaney Speaks to Decatur Township Crowd

Ed Delaney
Last night, Rep. Ed Delaney spoke to Democrats in Decatur Township.

Delaney, who is unopposed for reelection in 2014, spoke for about 20 minutes on a variety of topics.  His message was simple, "I'm here to listen."

That's what he did for the duration of this talk.  He had lost his voice early in the day, so he picked yours truly to act as his mouthpiece for the evening.

Decatur Township residents shared their frustration about a number of issues.  The residents were concerned about the lack of sidewalks, pollution, education, the cost of utilities, the declining revenue from small claims courts, and a variety of other issues.  Delaney had a good grasp of the issues and was eager to provide his idea about what should be done.

Delaney attacked Governor Mike Pence for sitting on his surplus while local governments and residents suffer.  He said that he would do something this session to encourage the Governor to share his surplus with the rest of us in the state.  He also said that he was against eliminating the homestead tax credit for local income taxes saying that it was essentially robbing, "Peter to pay Paul."

Mayor Greg Ballard also was a target of Delaney's political attacks.  Delaney went after Ballard for selling the public water and sewer utilities to Citizens Energy for cash he used to repair roads and streets.  He said, "Indianapolis is the only city in the United States where when you flush a toilet...you pave a street."

As far as the Delaney vs. Hogsett race, Delaney explained that he is unopposed for Mayor and is unopposed for reelection in his House District as well.  "There are people 'looking at' running for Mayor, but I'm the only current candidate," said Delaney.  Incidentally, Joe Hogsett had a representative in the room.

Delaney appeared to have a very good grasp of the issues and a strong message carrying forward.

Monday, September 8, 2014

Democrats Come Together for Annual Picnic

Candidates from the next two election cycles were on full display at the Marion County Democratic Party Annual Picnic on Sunday at Garfield Park on the near-Southside.

Congressman Andre Carson, Prosecutor Terry Curry, Sheriff John Layton, and the rest of the 2014 Marion County Democratic Party ticket were on the scene and actively hustling to make sure the base gets out to vote on November 4.  Also present were statewide candidates Beth White, Mike Boland, and Mike Claytor.

People say that folks aren't charged up about this upcoming midterm election, but you could not really tell that from the hundreds in attendance.  It looked like a normal crowd for
the picnic on a perfect weather afternoon.

Ain't No Party like a Democrat Party.
Photo by Josh Peters
Besides the 2014 ticket, several 2015 candidates were there, too.  Joe Hogsett was shaking hands and kissing babies as he continues to try to solidify support for his yet-to-be-announced-but-everyone-knows-about-it run for Mayor of Indianapolis.

While Hogsett did his thing, so did Ed Delaney.  The State Representative running for reelection and who has announced for Mayor also spent time shaking hands and talking to people.  It's way too early to tell who the room preferred.  Many of the people I talked to seemed to agree with me that both are excellent candidates for Mayor.

As always, I enjoyed the picnic.  It's a great way to see and catch up with friends and people from all over Marion County.

Thursday, September 4, 2014

Can We Talk? Joan Rivers Gone at 81

Joan Rivers
Photo from Facebook
Can we talk?

Joan Rivers was one royal...well, you know.  I know, it's never right to speak ill of the dead, but in Joan's case, she'd probably laugh and fire an insult right back.

That's the kind of comic Joan Rivers was.  She was her own woman, and she was unapologetic and unrepentant.  She could and would say anything, and she didn't care who she offended.  She didn't ask you to like her, and she didn't care if you did.

Frankly, she offended me a few times, and she said some very hard-to-hear things.  Still, she understood that sometimes comedy at its core is not only about making people laugh but it's about making people talk and think and respond.  She was probably genuinely happy when half the crowd was rolling on the floor and half the crowd wanted to run her off stage.

Rivers was fearless, but she was also timeless.  At 81, her death still seems like a shock.  Just a few months ago, she made a triumphant return to the Tonight Show and was absolutely as hilarious as she was in her first appearance in 1965.  That's hard to do.

What we do know is that there is only one Joan Rivers.  Now, she's gone.  Fearless, tactless, funny, challenging, acerbic, gentle...there was only one.

Can we talk about Joan Rivers?  Love her or hate her, she made you think.

She was a legend.