Saturday, May 21, 2016

The Worst Enemy for Pence Re-Election: The Man in the Mirror

This is a counterpoint to Ogden On Politics column on "The Pence Re-Election Dilemma: "What About Donald?". Paul believes that Governor Mike Pence (R) and his re-election campaign have a challenge with presumptive Republican POTUS nominee Donald Trump.

Paul believes that Donald Trump is beloved by the Republican base, particularly those who describe themselves as Tea Party. On that, we agree. Donald Trump has become successful with Republicans in spite of a lot of establishment forces against him. His voters in primaries often crossed economic, social, political (moderate and conservative), and (to what extent they exist in Republican primaries and caucuses) racial lines. I would say that Donald Trump is also attractive to a part of the Republican base that many don't like to bring up. Within Indiana, a lot of those "Lugar Republicans" have convinced themselves that Donald Trump has just been lying about the xenophobia and racism throughout the primary, and that may well be true since he told The New York Times in an off the record interview that "Everything is negotiable." If Pence does have try to distance himself from Trump (which I don't think is guaranteed), that could cause some extreme backlash against a Tea Party and evangelical base that perceives Pence to have betrayed them even though he's practically done their bidding over the past four years.

But I'd like to point out that Indiana is still, ultimately, a Republican state. Any election that happens state-wide will favor Republicans. The poll sponsored by Enterprise Republicans shows this.

General election match ups right now are as follows:
POTUS: Trump 40%-Clinton 31%-
US Senate: Young 36%-Hill 22%
Gov: Pence 40%-Gregg 36%

The numbers within the poll are even worse. A full third strongly disapprove of his job performance. And a plurality of undecided voters 42% disapprove as well. Some of those undecides are likely those Doughnut County Lugar Republicans  who will gladly vote GOP the whole way but for one reason or another aren't ready to back Governor Pence.

In fact, in the doughnut counties, Pence only has a 48% approval rating. Six in ten of independents and nearly as many women under 45 are looking for a new Governor.

More than once, I've heard that Governor Pence couldn't muster 50% of the vote in 2012 because of US Senate candidate Richard Mourdock and his comments on rape. That didn't explain why other Republicans further up or down the ballot didn't suffer the same fate. And this year, Mourdock isn't on the ballot.

Anecdotal, but I've talked to a lot of hard core Republicans. Many of these Republicans will engage in mild birtherism and use words like "Killary" to describe presumptive Democratic POTUS nominee Hillary Clinton. And more than a few of these Republicans, particularly women, are hesitant to support Governor Pence.

So what's the explanation for Pence's numbers being under water?

I'd suggest the Governor look in the mirror and the policies he's championed while in office.

Monday, May 2, 2016

Trumped Up Election Predictions

Election predictions are a dime a dozen, and by the time this is actually posted on Tuesday, may be worth even less than that. Regardless, here are my predictions:

United States POTUS:

On the Democratic side, I can't say anyone will be surprised when former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton wins Indiana's primary on Tuesday. Senator Bernie Sanders has done a lot of events in Indiana, so I suspect it will be closer than the polls predicted. But Clinton has a lot of ties to the Democratic establishment, and a lot (not all) of Indiana Democrats are loyal to the Clintons. So I'm going with Hillary Clinton with a 53-54% of the vote.

Over with the GOP, I don't think there's any doubt that Donald J Trump will walk away with the vast majority of Indiana delegates on Tuesday. One of the amazing things about the Trump campaign is that, in states where Trump wins, he wins across several demographics. So I don't think a state with a lot of evangelicals, or a state with a lot of college degrees, is necessarily going to hurt Trump as it has in some other primaries or caucuses. Notice that most of Trump's events have been in the urban areas of Indiana (Indianapolis, Carmel, South Bend, Terre Haute, Evansville). Those areas are spread out throughout the state that I think it'll be difficult for a Senator Ted Cruz to even win a single Congressional district. I think Trump will get 59% of the vote statewide and easily carry all Congressional districts.

US Senate (GOP)

The handful of Todd Young ads I've heard have largely been positive. All of the PAC and campaign ads I've seen and heard from Congressman Marlin Stutzman have been negative in tone. I think the limited polling done in this race is within the ballpark of the internal polls the Stutzman campaign is looking at. I don't think this race will be close at all. I'm giving Young a 60-40% edge.

US Congress (District 9) (GOP)

This is an all out brawl between State Senator Erin Houchins and Tennessee Indiana businessman Trey Hollingsworth. Several other candidates, including Indiana Attorney General Greg Zoeller, are in this race as well but seem to be gaining little traction. There have been no real public polling done on a district level, but the cynic in me is giving the edge to Hollingsworth with 45% of the vote with Houchings coming in at 25%.

Tomorrow, I hope to share with you some insight on the winners and losers.

RIP Gary Welsh

Gary Welsh, author of the Indiana based blog Advance Indiana, died over this past weekend according to The Indianapolis Star.

Before I sat down to write this post, I reflected a long time on Gary Welsh, the man, and Gary Welsh, the public persona.

More than a few people think the handful of Indianapolis (and honestly, not much more if you expand to Indiana) bloggers are closely connected. In truth, most of us know of each other in passing. A few bloggers are also attorneys and may have some professional overlap due to their day jobs. But in reality, some of us have never met. Others may only run into each other at public events.

Gary and I did meet, mostly on the Civil Discourse Now podcast. Gary was often a panelist we relied on if someone we scheduled canceled, or if we needed someone at the last minute. In one show, we had Gary on the panel and our guest was a fortune teller. While much of the panel and production crew were skeptical but respectful towards our guest, Gary really seemed to take the fortune to heart. I wouldn't call Gary religious, but he did seem to have some type of faith. It might be a faith or spirituality that was only known and made sense to him, but I think he had it.

Gary's blog was one of the most prolific Indiana based blogs, and perhaps the longest running. More than just a repository for his personal opinions, he often planted seeds that mainstream media could then turn into stories. More than a few times, he broke news himself. Much of Indiana media and Indiana politicos checked Advance Indiana regularly, even if they didn't want to admit it.

Paired with the passing of WTLC-AM's Amos Brown, the loss of Gary Welsh is a loss for Indiana's political scene. Many times, these two men were the critical voices. Some times, they were the voices critical even people on their "side" (Amos was a Democratic pundit, Gary a Republican) wanted them to shut up. But that often didn't happen. More than a loss of critical voices, both men had institutional knowledge that will be incredibly difficult to replicate.

Jon Easter at Indy Democrat also wrote an excellent piece on suicide prevention.

If there are any comments, please be respectful. I typically do not censor for content. But due to the death being so recent, I want to be respectful to the friends and family that may inadvertently stumble upon this blog.

Saturday, April 30, 2016

I'm a delegate...(to the State Dem Convention)

Apparently not enough people filed in my state delegate district so I won by default.

This will be the first time I've ever attended one of these things and even though none of the state-wide offices on the Democratic side are contested, I still am kind of excited. I really feel like this is where I belong if I want to help change the state of Indiana in a positive way.

Wednesday, December 2, 2015

Municipal Money and Salaries

The topic of the day is the proposed raises for the Indianapolis-Marion County City County Council and the Indianapolis Mayor. The proposal, sponsored by outgoing councilor Mary Moriarty Adams, would boost the pay of councilors to about $16,000 and the mayor to about $120,000. The proposal has a short life span if it isn't acted on quickly, as the council will only have one more full meeting this calendar year. And any measure that doesn't make it out of the full council by the end of the year dies as the term of this council ends on January 1, 2016. According to IndyPolitics, outgoing Mayor Greg Ballard declined to say if he supported it or not, saying he hasn't seen the specifics of the proposal.

Several news reports have mentioned that councils and/or mayors in other Indiana cities, or cities in neighboring states, have much higher salaries. In fact, Carmel Mayor Jim Brainard and the Carmel City-Council voted raises for most city employees themselves and Brainard earlier this year. Carmel's elected officials voted on those raises as part of the city's budget, after the 2015 Republican primary in May, which is the de facto election in Carmel and most of Hamilton County.

Social media commentary on local news' Facebook pages have been almost universally negative on this action.

So what do I think?

I think the salaries for mayors and councils across the state have a huge pay gap. And I honestly don't see why. I wonder if one party control in some of these cities (particularly Carmel, Westfield, and Gary) might make it easier to slip these pay increases in. Many of these communities have been one party control for decades, but it is only within the last 10 years that Democrats have really had the same kind of success that they've long had in Gary, or Republicans have had in Carmel.

I think proposing this after an election, where this wasn't an issue that was talked about publicly, reeks of backroom deals. I suspect that this has been talked about in caucuses and informal meetings for quite some time.

I think putting this before a lame duck council, with several members not returning, and a lame duck mayor, is attempting to circumvent political backlash, hoping that people won't remember or won't care in four years.

I honestly don't have a problem with council raises. A good councilor does a lot of work. Some treat it as a full time or nearly full time job in addition to their actual full time job and other responsibilities. The ones doing the hard work, I have much less of a problem giving it to them. The do-nothings, I have more of an issue with.

As for the Mayor, I think the perks more than make up for whatever salary he doesn't get.

Ideally, I'd like to completely revamp our legislative body. I think we're a big city and we should have a big-boy, full time council. Cut it down to 11 or 13 members, give them a decent salary, make it their full time job. Put restrictions on other work they can do so conflicts of interest don't arise.  Microsoft's Board of Directors is only 10 people so there's no reason we need 25 cooks in the kitchen.

Failing that, I really think the Indiana state legislature and look at the disparity in pay between city and county councils and Mayors of cities and towns and take the politics out of it. Establish a salary for elected officials based on the type of city (class 1, etc...) or county, set the salary, index it to inflation. I really can't think of a good reason the Mayor of Gary or Westfield should be paid more than the Mayor of Indianapolis. I'd like similar rules to be established for the county wide offices, but many of those offices might be supported by specific fees they charge and the fees collected in a more populated county will obviously be more than in a more rural county.

Wednesday, August 26, 2015

Indiana: Where Our State Parks Aren't Free And Don't Have Trash Cans

A friend of mine recently moved to Indianapolis and overall has enjoyed her time in the city. But her top gripe is that the closest state park, Fort Harrison State Park, charges admission or requires an annual membership.

We took my dog, Quest, out on a hike through the park today. Along the way we noticed several signs saying dogs must be on a leash at all times and that owners must clean up after their dog. As a good citizen, I did so when my dog made a mess.

As our hike ended and we returned to the parking lot, we looked for a trash can and found none. There are several picnic tables, and even picnic areas presumably meant for large gatherings. But not a single trash can was around. Both restrooms also did not have trash cans.

We did, however, encounter signs saying that group picnics must clean up after themselves.

As we left the park, I kept an eye out for a trash can, any trash can, any where, only to find none.

My friend mentioned that the Department of Natural Resources also runs the nearby Fort Harrison State Park Inn and Golf Resort. She complained that she has to pay admission to the Ft Harrison State Park but it seems unable to provide even basic levels of service in return for membership. She also wonders if her membership fee for the park is subsidizing the Inn and Golf Resort.

I wonder if they have trash cans at the golf resort?

Monday, July 27, 2015

LA Starts Electric Car Sharing Program for $1.6 million Vs BlueIndy's $49 million

NBC Los Angeles reports that the state of California has awarded a $1.6 million dollar grant for Los Angeles to launch an electric car sharing program. The program will launch in some of its more diverse and low-income areas, including South LA and Koreatown. The pilot intends to add a fleet of 100 cars, with residents being able to sign up and pay a monthly membership or pay on a per-hour basis. While exact rates are still being worked out, officials are saying they hope it to be lower priced than car sharing services such as Uber and Lyft.

For reference, Los Angele's base uber fee is $0 bae, $.18 per minute, and $1 per mile. Indianapolis' Uber fares are $1.25 base, $.18 per minute, and $.95 per mile.

While the report doesn't specifically say what type of electric car infrastructure that LA already has, I'm going to guess the answer is little to none. You can see some shots of charging stations being constructed in the background if you watch the news report clip on NBC-LA's web site. All in all, this works out to about $16,000 per car.

In contrast, the electric car sharing program BlueIndy is costing nearly $50 million for 500 cars. That cost likely doesn't take into account the millions of dollars of lost revenue when Dictator Mayor Greg Ballard (R) unilaterally removes hundreds of parking spots from public use to turn them over to the exclusive use of a for-profit company. Or the massive fines ParkIndy, the private operator of our public parking meters, will levy upon the city for the permanent removal of the parking spaces. Despite the $6 million dollar in help from city taxpayers, don't expect that to make it any cheaper to rent one of these cars. A 2014 estimate puts the estimate at $15 for an hour, or membership fees at $10-15 for a week or an annual membership costing about $15 a month.

Total costs work out to about 98,000 per car.

Had enough Indy?