Friday, January 30, 2015

Ritz Seems Likely to Lose Power over State Board

Glenda Ritz
Superintendent of Public Instruction
The move to strip Glenda Ritz of all meaningful power and roll back the 2012 election results is nearly done in the Indiana Statehouse.

Republican legislators say that the move to allow the State Board of Education, an unelected board of political appointees, to name their own leader rather than the Superintendent of Public Instruction is not political, but I think that's not going to pass the manure test.

In Indiana, we know the smell of manure.  When you're driving around on a summer afternoon, there's nothing worse than getting stuck behind a truck full of it.  There's absolutely no way other than rolling up the windows and turning on the A/C that you can hope to avoid it.  In that case, the Republican party line wouldn't even stop smelling.

This is shifting the politics.  That's all.  It shifts control from the person Hoosiers elected to run the unelected board of political appointees to an unelected person from those political appointees who only serves at the pleasure of the Governor.  Other than beating the Governor at the ballot box, there's no way to hit reset on the state's education policy, and these kinds of things often get lost in the minutiae of many larger issues.

You've heard it here before, Glenda Ritz received more votes than Governor Pence did.  This is the way the Republicans have tried to put reformers like Tony Bennett back in the seat of educational power in Indiana.  Hell, you might as well go ahead and hire him back.

That's where we're going in education policy in this state, and you can thank the so-called "Democrats" who are on the board along with the Republicans at the Statehouse.  Teachers won't like this move if the Republicans insist on continuing with it.  Neither will Hoosier voters.

Thursday, January 29, 2015

McHenry's Road to Reelection Will Not Be Easy

Incumbent Janice McHenry has a challenger from her side of the aisle who is filed in District 6, and a Democrat has filed in the district, too.
The Westside Republican, who is running for a third-term on the Council, will face fellow Republican Joseph Baker in the Primary and, so far, Francisco Islas in the fall.  McHenry, of course, drew the ire of many Democrats when she testified against keeping the At-Large City-County Councillors during the SEA 621 debate by saying that the four countywides were "anonymous" and unknown to their constituents.

My friend, Paul Ogden, has stated in the past that McHenry is good at retail politics, and you can expect her to work the district hard.  She will have to.  While it does contain areas she currently represents, it also seems to have been expanded to include areas to the north and south of her current boundaries.  District 6 appears to be represented by Democrats Ed Delaney, Karlee Macer, and Vanessa Summers in the Indiana House.

Democrat Francisco Islas is filed in the district.  If you believe the maps and the numbers, Islas will give McHenry all she wants in that district.  Hopefully, he elects to work the district as hard as McHenry will.

I still think it would have been funny if Leroy Robinson, one of those At-Large Councillors she railed against, would have filed against her in the 2015 election.

Wednesday, January 28, 2015

District 1 Features Clash of Incumbents

In City-County Council District 1, two Democratic incumbents have filed to run, and it's sending shockwaves across Marion County.

City-County Councillor Angela Mansfield represents about 40 percent of the new District 1 currently, and she finds herself paired against Leroy Robinson who had to find a district to run in because his At-Large seat was legislated out of existence.  Robinson recently moved to District 1, Indy Democrat sources say.  Under the new state law, you only have to live in the City-County Council district you represent for a year before taking office.   According to filings with the Marion County Election Board, Robinson moved from District 10 to District 1.  Expected to file in District 10 is City-County Council President Maggie Lewis.

As far as District 1 goes, Mansfield is the much more established Councillor in the area, and she's earned a reputation of working hard for her constituents.  It's kind of perplexing to me why Robinson would decide to challenge Mansfield, but he has done so and appears to be going through with the challenge.  Robinson could have decided to move West and battle Janice McHenry or South and take on Marilyn Pfisterer.  Instead, he's taking on one of the best Councillors on the Council.

I think one way or another, Robinson made a mistake.  Either in the pre-primary convention or the May Primary, he'll find out that Mansfield is no slouch when it comes to a campaign.

Tuesday, January 27, 2015

City-County Council Filings as of January 26

The filing deadline for the City-County Council seats is a little over a week away, and the filings are beginning to fly in, but there are still a few openings.

In the interest of full disclosure, I will be filing for the Democratic nomination for City-County Council, in District 20 on Thursday.  Don't be surprised.  I have had an exploratory committee for several months, and I plan to make it official on Thursday.

As of the close of business yesterday evening, here are the filings for City County Council.  Incumbents are noted with an asterisk.  Remember, all seats are newly-drawn from their 2011 boundaries so there really are not incumbents for the district races only Council incumbents.  Plus, the At-Large seats will not exist, so those folks have to file in a district.

I'll review these over the next couple of weeks until the filing deadline, and I'll do some early analysis tomorrow.  Enjoy!

District 1
Angela Lynn Mansfield (D)*
Leroy Robinson (D)*

District 2
William David Bowser (R)

District 3
Pamela Louise Hickman (D)*
Christine Edith Scales (R)*

District 4
No Candidates Filed

District 5
Curtis Wesley Bigsbee (D)
Jeffery William Coats (R)

District 6
Joseph Brendan Baker (R)
Francisco Robert Islas (D)
Janice Shattuck McHenry (R)*

District 7
Joseph Edward Simpson (D)*

District 8
Monroe Gray (D)*

District 9
William C. Oliver (D)*

District 10
No Candidates Filed

District 11
No Candidates Filed

District 12
Robert Blake Johnson (D)

District 13
Stephen J. Clay (D)*

District 14
La Keisha Danyse Jackson (D)*

District 15
No Candidates Filed

District 16
Emily Armonia Shrock (D)

District 17
Zachary W. Adamson (D)*

District 18
Edwin Joseph Barnes (D)

District 19
No Candidates Filed

District 20
No Candidates Filed

District 21
Frank Mascari (D)*

District 22
No Candidates Filed

District 23
No Candidates Filed

District 24
No Candidates Filed

District 25
No Candidates Filed

Monday, January 26, 2015

Pence to Create State-Run Media Arm

Congratulations, you're about to be the owner of a fully-functioning news organization.

Tom LoBianco of the Indy Star writes that Governor Mike Pence's Administration is creating a state-run media service called Just IN.  You and I will be footing the bill for this taxpayer-run news service that the Governor's Administration says will "break news" and offer stories to news organizations across the state.

At first blush, this is a horrible waste of tax dollars.  To create a news organization that's simply a front for a PR wing of the Governor's Office is really scary to me.  While the right wing often rails against the "mainstream media" for being "leftist", I guess we should just note that Pence is not making any bones about what he's doing.  When you say the media is state-run in Indiana, it's really state-run in Just IN's case.

I don't expect large city media outlets falling for this Just IN lure, but small town papers up against the budget might certainly be consumers of this new service.  As you know, there are tons of small town newspapers out there and many local radio stations too across Indiana that might run with Just IN's content.

Since we own it, I think Indiana taxpayers should get notice of all the editorial content meetings that Just IN will hold and show up.  After all, we should all determine the content as owners, right?  RIGHT!

By the way, almost every public school district will be going for a referendum in the next few years.  At least the "Show Horse" will look good for his Presidential run if he spins the articles, right?

Malware Warnings

I was experiencing some problems with a blog that I linked to through my blog roll generating malware warnings.  When I could not get rid of the blog that was generating a malware warning, I was forced to get rid of the entire blog roll.  

I apologize for the inconvenience.  I know this was a popular feature on my blog.  If I have forgotten to replace your favorite blog or your blog was on the list, and I have forgotten to put it back on there, drop me a note at johnnystir (at)


Medellin Turnaround Driven by Infrastructure Improvements

"Metrocablemed" by Camilo Sanchez at en.wikipedia.
Licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0 via Wikimedia Commons -
About 20 years ago, Medellin, Colombia was a city in turmoil.

The city was crime-ridden and under the control of famous drug lords.  Anyone that dared to stand up to them found themselves dead.  How Medellin has become one of the Western Hemisphere's success stories and most desirable places to visit and even work is a tale many city planners can also follow.

A reprinted article on details the steps that Medellin has taken to turn itself into a bustling economic giant that just keeps growing.   It involves the term "transit-oriented development" and we could do it easily here in our city.

While Indianapolis has its challenges, it can't compare to the Medellin city planners were faced with in the early 1990's.  Drug lords like Pablo Escobar were seen as Robin Hood figures.  Law enforcement and military operations did a great job taking down Escobar and taking back the streets, but that was only part of the issue.

As the article from Salon discusses, Medellin connected a modern and integrated transportation system to the city's poorest areas giving everyone access to every part of the city for about, 91 cents.  Then it took even greater lengths to connect other of the poorest barrios to the city.  The story doesn't stop there, either.  You'll just have to peruse the article which was reprinted from a piece by Judith Rodin.

I wonder if Indianapolis could do better by connecting our residents via a variety of forms of cheap transportation?  Could our city do better if we were all more connected via the internet?  Thoughts worth thinking.

Friday, January 23, 2015

Resign or Divest...My Two Cents in Behning's Ethics Dilemma

"Can I interest you in our
lobbying services?"
Sit down.  If you haven't heard this story, you're going to need to be sitting to read it.

Tom Lobianco of the Indy Star reported earlier this week that the most powerful Republican on education matters in the Indiana House, Bob Behning, decided it would be a good idea to form an education lobbying firm, Berkshire Education Strategies, this past summer and sign up one of Indiana's biggest testing vendors as one of his clients.

Just makes you want to scream, doesn't it?

Don't worry.  Behning doesn't plan to lobby in state.  He'll only apparently represent clients that Indiana also deals with as vendors in out of state contracts.  

Nope, this is actually a story in the Indy Star, and it's not from the Onion.  You know, there are times that you just allow a story to stand on its own and don't have to say much.  It just seems like, in this case, it's kind of like this cartoon, doesn't it?

I think this one's easy.  No matter what the House Ethics Committee says, Behning should either immediately divest himself from Berkshire Education Strategies OR should immediately resign from the legislature.

Thursday, January 22, 2015

IBJ Article Reports WIBC's Tony Katz Chasing, Catching Bob & Tom in Local Radio Race

In an article that pretty much just throws a jumble of numbers at you, the Indianapolis Business Journal and some data from Nielsen make the claim that the WIBC Morning News with Tony Katz is chipping away at legendary market leader, Bob & Tom, in the morning radio race.

If this continues to occur, it could signal a huge shift in Indianapolis radio and signal an end to an era of dominance by Bob & Tom on the Indy airwaves.

I've written about Katz before here, and, I have to admit, I kind of get why people like him.  He's not a completely nasty guy on the air like Rush Limbaugh, and he does have some sort of different perspective on things.  Time will tell if that perspective will hold listeners long-term.  Bob & Tom have held the market's top radio spot against all challengers for over 30 years.  As a radio guy, I still prefer the old Steve Simpson Morning News to what Tony Katz has put together.

Bob, Chick, Tom, Kristi
In order to make its case, the IBJ relies on Nielsen numbers which, admittedly, contradict themselves.  It's often the same reason why on television station can claim it's the number one newscast over another claiming the same thing.  In the very key 25 to 54 demographic, Bob & Tom remain the number one show in Indy by a wide margin with Katz cutting into their lead.  Among all listeners six years and older, Katz actually leads Bob & Tom.

Bob Kevoian and Tom Griswold are Indianapolis radio legends.  The duo came to the city in the early 80's from Michigan and started what would become one of the most successful syndicated comedy morning shows in the business.  Based in Indy, the duo's show is heard coast to coast on over 130 radio stations.  Don't make a mistake in thinking that Katz is somehow putting the Cumulus powerhouse out of business.  He most certainly isn't.  Bob & Tom are still going strong after 30 years in Indianapolis and strong nationwide in a radio business that's seen nothing but mostly downs in the last few years.  They are holding their own by doing what they do along with longtime news director Kristi Lee and sidekick Chick McGee.

Nonetheless, Katz should be credited for doing what I didn't think was possible: making a run at the legends in town.  You had to know something was up at WIBC when they changed Garrison's long-running schedule, and it's also good to know that Steve Simpson landed on his feet in Minneapolis.  His show is still missed here in town even though Katz's show is doing well.

Congratulations Tony.  Good luck at keeping your early gains.

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Chairman's Nightmare Playing Out for Walker

The race for Mayor in 2015 has shown one thing if nothing else.  Marion County Republican Chair Kyle Walker has lost control of his party.

Deputy Mayor Olgen Williams
Take this week for example.  The Republicans, secretive and promising to make a big splash, promised a local businessman was about to announce his run for Mayor.  As Chuck Brewer was waiting on the high dive preparing his Triple Lindy to dive into the Mayor's race, Olgen Williams ran by, slapped him on the belly, and cannonballed his way in.  Kyle Walker stood by, all wet.

Local Businessman Chuck Brewer
You could say that things got complicated when Greg Ballard's Deputy Mayor for Neighborhoods decided to enter the race on Monday, Dr. Martin Luther King Day.  This upstaged Brewer's announcement and added a very strong Republican to the race.  In essence, Williams, who has largely been silent during his time as Deputy Mayor for Neighborhoods, usurped control from the man who was supposed to have it, Kyle Walker.  Welcome back Olgen.

I don't envy Walker.  This may be his toughest challenge to date.  How to get this one solved is going to take whatever skill he has as a party chair.  Williams isn't the choice of the party.  That has been made clear by Brewer's emergence.  Williams may, however, prove to be the better candidate because of name recognition.

Kyle Walker can't simply go in and attack Williams, either.  After all, as one of the members of Mayor Ballard's Administration, that would be like attacking the judgement of the Mayor.  He's going to have to let this one play out, I think.  Williams, a veteran politician, knows it.

The poor guy in the middle of all this is probably Chuck Brewer.  I'm sure someone talked him into running and putting his life and business on hold.  Now this.  What a welcome to politics.

This one's going to be interesting for a while as it unfolds, and presumptive Democratic nominee Joe Hogsett is probably content to watch.