Tuesday, February 28, 2017

Transit Thoughts

The process to expand transit in Marion County is coming to an end as the Indianapolis-Marion County City-County Council voted 17-8 to raise city income taxes by 0.25% to fund expanded transit. The proposal that passed the council is only to increase the tax rate. If the Mayor of Indianapolis signs the tax increase into law, the city and IndyGo will still need to establish what expanded transit will look like, though testimony before the council indicates that the bus rapid transit line known as the Red Line will be prioritized if federal funding doesn't come into play.

While I voted in favor of the transit referendum in November, I am personally lukewarm on the tax increase, the entire process, and even the transit plan.

I agree with what my friend and blogging colleague, Jon Easter, is likely to post today. That this referendum is essentially leaving large chunks of the city in the dust, and that unless you live along one of the proposed bus rapid transit lines, your geographic distance to a transit stop probably won't increase. Under served  areas will continue to be under served. This should be addressed in an honest way, and not simply written off that there aren't destinations on the south side.

I am frustrated that the surrounding counties aren't participating in this transit referendum. While many city officials in Fishers, Carmel, and Greenwood have spoken favorably for the regional transit plan, these decisions are left to the county and the counties haven't authorized the referendum. This is frustrating because Plainfield is recognizing the need for transit services and businesses are even funding a Plainfield commuter line in hopes of bringing more workers to the southwest side suburb.

And I personally likely won't benefit from the transit referendum. The routes for the Castleton area won't change. It will still be a half mile walk to get to the nearest bus stop. And for someone who works in Carmel, the transit system really doesn't benefit me during the week.

That being said, I think my old stomping grounds of Irvington and the east side overall will benefit with the Blue Line rapid transit system making it easy to access Broad Ripple, downtown, and other neighborhoods along their routes. While the routes proposed aren't perfect, I think they're a good start and I hope the council, the Mayor, and IndyGo invite public comment so we can have a good and deliberative discussion on the proper plan now that the transit tax is all but decided. And people trying to get around Indianapolis from the airport won't have to deal with confusing bus schedules or a ridiculous Uber charge and just hop on the rapid transit bus that'll service the airport area.

I honestly believe that, while not perfect, that this is the right move as long as our representatives proceed with an open and honest discussion now that the tax has been voted on.

Wednesday, January 18, 2017

My MLK Day

As a native Hoosier, I have never been to the MLK Memorial Park even though I used to live fairly close to it. This is the park where Robert F Kennedy broke the news to a largely African-American crowd that Martin Luther King Jr had been assassinated. The full speech is published on one of the nearby memorial markers. An additional marker marks the exact place where the speech occurred (closer to the park's southern edge).

I was able to spend the day with my dog, walking around Crown Hill, and saying goodbye to an old growth forest that will be chopped down by the federal government. I also went to the MLK Memorial Park, hoping to see the memorial for myself. I walked around the neighborhood and it was a mix of new apartments, homes being built, homes being fixed up, and some homes that probably haven't changed much since RFK was here.

But as I stood there at the memorial, I only saw myself and three other white folks around. As I thought about why that is, I started to reflect on my life over the past few years.

Three years ago, I worked in retail pharmacy on the retail end. If you took the staff of both the retail end and the pharmacy end together, the entire staff of the store I was in was at least 2/3rd minority, and more than half were women. At that employer, I wasn't a full time employee, so I didn't get paid holidays or paid time off at all. And any request to take a holiday or a weekend off met with a lot of resistance. Now, I have a job where I get weekends off, most bank holidays off, and I have an incredibly generous amount of PTO. And I wonder if I've benefited from a system where citizens who are minorities often don't have the same opportunities.

Maybe they're at a dead end job that works them to the bone, that doesn't care that everyone else has the day off. And because they have that dead end job, it makes it hard (if not impossible) to take time to go find a better one. And you can't just take time off, because you need the money.

Maybe they're using the day off to catch up on school work, something that I (a two time college drop out) probably should've done more of.

There's a line in MLK's "Dream" speech where he talks about how 1963 is the starting point and that the movement for civil rights will eventually lead to "an invigorating autumn of freedom and equality". MLK's message in his "Dream" speech and his many speeches and sermons is that there are legitmate issues that need to be addressed but that we will make it through. And today, as I stood there with three other white people at a MLK memorial on MLD Day, I wonder if we are in that "autumn", or if we're still stuck back a few seasons and waiting to get to autumn.

Monday, January 16, 2017

Will The Indianapolis Star Ever Post a Circle Centre Disclaimer?

The Indianapolis Star has published a variety of articles concerning downtown retailers and restaurants closing over the last several months. But a particular interest is the closing and opening of stores within the Circle Centre Mall, where the newspaper is both a tenant and an investor. None of these stories contain a disclaimer. And if you click on IndyStar.com's "About Us" section, it still claims the newspaper is located at the intersection of New York and Pennsylvania in downtown Indianapolis.

It isn't unusual for local news media to cover the opening and closing of restaurants, particularly ones with a long history within Indianapolis. But it is my view that The Indianapolis Star has almost an obsession with Circle Centre Mall. And they should make it clear to their readers what their business relationship is with the mall and that they have a vested interest in the success of the mall.

Monday, November 7, 2016

My Final Electoral Map

A few days ago, I posted to Facebook the following electoral map in the Presidential race against Republican Donald Trump and Democrat Hillary Clinton:

I based this on RealClearPolitics polling averages posted at the time. As the polls in competitive battleground states have tightened, the margins are really slim in some areas. Pennsylvania, for example, Clinton has an average of 2.4% lead, and the most recent poll shows Pennsylvania as tied. I've long said that states like Pennsylvania and Michigan are fools' gold for Republicans, President Obama easily won the state in 2012 by more than 5%. And even though the polls are tighter, Hillary Clinton has had a very stubborn lead, so I feel safe in calling Pennsylvania for her.

Some are forecasting that Utah could be in play, but like Pennsylvania, Trump's lead in the polls there have been stubborn. With both Libertian nominee Gary Johnson and independent candidate Evan McMullin making a serious play there, the Never Trump vote is divided three ways. Both Clinton and McMullin have largely failed to go past 30% in many polls, and support for Johnson seems to be bleeding into either McMullin or Clinton's camp. Trump also has seen a slight rise in the polls there. He may very well not break 50% in Republican heavy Utah, but I still believe he is the likely winner.

The other two traditionally Republican states that Trump has to make a play for, Arizona and Georgia, seem to be safely in Trump's column, though that he's had to spend resources there is a testament to the type of candidate he is.

Trump also appears to have stubborn leads in Ohio and North Carolina, while Clinton has an admittedly slim stubborn lead in Florida.

One of the smaller swing states, New Hampshire, has gone from a likely Democratic sweep in both the Presidential and Senate race to a toss up. Like Florida, the margins are slim for either candidate. This is the only real time where I'm differing from RCP's polling average because one poll shows Clinton with an 11 point lead. I believe that poll is an outlier and that Trump overall has a slight edge in polling.

One interesting note to my map. If Florida flips to Trump, this map ends up 269-269.

Which may mean each candidate could rely on Maine to bring them over the top. Maine is one of two states that awards one electoral vote to the winner of each Congressional District and the remaining two votes to the state wide winner. Clinton is the almost certain winner of the state wide vote and Maine's second Congressional district. Trump has a slight lead in Congressional district 1, but I'm willing to give it to Clinton because it is a very slim lead.

The other state that divides up its electoral votes, Nebraska, seems to have a solid Trump lead and I don't believe that will change.

For the remaining Indiana elections, which is a combination of polls and instincts:

Superintendent of Public Instruction: Glenda Ritz (D, Incumbent) over challenger Jennifer McCormick (R), which is in line with a recent WTHR/Howey poll

Indiana Governor: Calling it for John Gregg (D) against Lieutenant Governor Eric Holcomb. The recent WTHR poll has it tied, but Gregg has led in some previous polls. With 11% undecided and Eric Holcomb essentially running as an incumbent, I'm giving the lion's share of the undecided to the challenger. You can expect a post-mortem post on this race depending on which way the election goes.

Indiana's US Senate election: The Cook Political Report has said that Congressman Todd Young (R) is the expected winner against former US Senator Evan Bayh (D) per NBC's Meet The Press. I have to agree with that assessment. Even though Bayh gave an excellent debate performance and has done a lot of things right in the late stages of this campaign, Young and his Washington D.C. based super PACs and special interests have successfully re-defined the Bayh name for some Hoosier voters.

Democrats can take some solace in that the Cook Political Report is predicting Democrats with 50 US Senate seats, which means the Democrats will control the chamber if Hillary Clinton wins the Presidential election.

Indiana's Attorney General: Even though Curtis Hill (R) has dodged media inquiries as to why he's refusing post-conviction relief of an innocent man, this is still a Republican state and I don't believe Lorenzo Arredondo (D) can overcome that at this point.

Monday, October 17, 2016

Where is Evan Bayh?

It was only a few months ago that Evan Bayh entered the race for Indiana's US Senate seat, taking on the Republican nominee Todd Young. It instantly made the race competitive and sent shock waves across the nation. Since then, Bayh's several point advantage has nearly disappeared.

Bayh's campaign has been dogged by attacks on his residency (his neighbors claim to not have seen him), and his choice of gigs after he left the Senate in 2010. Besides claiming that him being a lobbyist isn't "true", he really hasn't had a good answer in response to these attacks.

Anyone who has been on any type of social media has likely seen several dedicated Twitter feeds, Facebook accounts, and YouTube videos tearing into Evan Bayh, often contrasting with the Evan Bayh of yesteryear with the Evan Bayh of today. Here is what my Facebook search looks like when I type the word "Bayh" into it:

This can be repeated for pretty much any social media. In some instances, the negative Bayh pages or accounts are placed before Evan Bayh's official campaign account.

Which brings me to my main question: Where is Evan Bayh?

In a recent Wish-TV article, Bayh appeared at a campaign event. Wish-TV described the appearance as "rare".

A quick glance of Evan Bayh's Facebook page shows no real events being held in the handful of days left before the election. His campaign's website doesn't mention any either. The "Meet Evan Bayh" section doesn't lead you to events, so it really doesn't live up to its name.

Some may say that Evan Bayh can run against Republican POTUS nominee Donald Trump and win, But I'd argue Indiana polls show Trump consistently on top and no major GOP candidate or elected official in the state of Indiana has reversed their endorsement of Trump.

Evan Bayh may still win this election. But it won't be because of the actions of his campaign.

Friday, July 15, 2016

Why #PenceMustGo Still Matters in Indiana

Image: Gary Varvel of IndyStar.
As I went to sleep last night, there were rumors saying that the VP pick for Pence was not finalized. However, various sources today an offer was made, and Pence accepted. The official announcement, set for 11 AM today, has been postponed due to the latest terrorist attach in Nice, France. But even though it isn't official, I still would like to talk about the impact of Governor Pence leaving the race.

There are all types of names being floated around to possibly replace Pence on the ballot as the GOP gubernatorial nominee. They are essentially a Who's Who in Indiana politics with a mishmash from practically every level, with interested applicants ranging from former Mayor's all the way up to Indiana's US House reps, and everything in between. Rumors are flying that GOP Party Chairman US Senate candidate Lieutenant Governor Eric Holcomb has secured the necessary votes on the Republican committee that would be in charge of appointing someone to replace Pence on the ballot.

And that leads us to address the #PenceMustGo movement.

The #PenceMustGo movement has always been a loose coalition of disaffected Republicans and active Democratic or liberal supporters looking to get Governor Pence out of the Governor's Mansion. However, it has failed to really settle on a single strategy on getting Pence out. 

At first, it seemed like Governor Pence might face a primary challenge from within the GOP. Former Angie's List CEO Bill Oesterle threatened to fund that hypothetical candidate, But that failed to materialize and Pence ran uncontested in the May 2016 primary. Oesterle did start a PAC called Enterprise Republicans, but it really isn't independent of the Republican Party and they really haven't done much besides a half-assed attempt at making the State GOP platform less horrible. They even staffed the Marion County Republican Party's booth at Indy Pride this year.

For those Republicans in the #PenceMustGo movement, Pence departing from the gubernatorial race seems to have solved their problems. Many of them are declaring "victory". A handful are saying there are certain people they still wouldn't vote for (the socially conservative House Speaker Brian Bosma is usually on that list), but they're almost giddy about Holcomb as a candidate.

To me, that doesn't really solve anything.

As someone who voted for former Governor Mitch Daniels (twice), I've learned that to become the Republican Governor of Indiana, you either have to be a social conservative, or a social conservative who hides it well.

Daniels was thrown to the wolves by social conservatives for his supposed "truce" on social issues (his precise quote, in context, was a truce on campaigning on social issues; it didn't address legislating and governing) but in my analyses, he is every much as conservative as Mike Pence. Daniels signed legislation defunding Planned Parenthood and enacted other restrictions and regulations on abortion rights. He repeatedly supported so-called "traditional" marriage (including support of a constitutional amendment banning same-sex marriage).

To me, this is an attempt by the Indiana Republican Party to slap a new coat of paint on the same policies that they have repeatedly pushed upon Indiana. They think that if they put up what is essentially a blank slate with Holcomb, they can distance themselves from Pence, who despite the advantages of incumbency was still within the margin of error against his Democratic opponent. 

This is on top of what the Republican Party of Donald Trump and Mike Pence now stand for: Judging people based on their ethnicity and their looks, demonizing minorities, and building figurative and literal walls throughout our country and society.

I honestly am not content with this outcome. Pence, and whoever wants to run on his accomplishments, still must go. And I will do what I can to help make sure that happens.

Thursday, July 14, 2016

The Party of Donald Trump and Mike Pence

Image: Via ABC News.
BREAKING: As I was composing this blog post, Brian Howey is reporting that no offer has been made and that all the VP contenders have been summoned to meet with Donald Trump. Governor Pence must withdraw his name by noon Friday, or his name will stay on the ballot unless he dies or moves out of state. Pence faces the decision to stay in the Veepstakes and withdraw his name from the Governor's race, or stay in the Governor's race and withdraw from the Veepstakes.

Original post below:

Pretty much the entire political world knows by now that presumptive GOP nominee Donald Trump has picked Indiana Governor Mike Pence as his Vice Presidential nominee. However, some of the Trump Supporting Media (TSM) are saying a VP pick has not been finalized. It will be kind of hilarious if Trump has Mike Pence come all the way out to the North East only to be told "Hey Mike, can you get Newt's luggage for me?"

But I want to address what this actually means in terms of Donald Trump and Mike Pence, and what this means for the Republican Party.

I know some #NeverTrump-ers read this blog. They're friends of mine, or we interact on social media. I think many of you have been in denial for a while now. When I told a fellow blogger who has largely been supportive of Governor Pence and critical of Donald Trump, he responded with:

  • "It isn't official, is it?" (denial)
  • and "waiting for the words out of Deadbeat Donald's mouth" (anger)

He knocked out two of the five stages of grief in the span of two minutes. He only has bargaining, depression, and acceptance to go. By the time you read these words, he might've gotten to all five stages.

Like it or not, the Republican Party is the party of Donald Trump. And Governor Pence doesn't just "fully support" Donald Trump. He believes in Donald Trump so much, that he is going to join Donald Trump as his running mate.

So now that we're here, let's talk about what the Republican Party has become by embracing Donald Trump.

The Republican Party has become a party where people are judged not by their accomplishments or their words, but by their skin color and heritage. Trump is being sued by former Trump University students, a scam barely disguised as a set of seminar course. The judge presiding over the rulings was born in East Chicago, Indiana. But Trump repeatedly told CNN's Jake Tapper that the judge is "Mexican" and that Trump can't get a fair trial in front of the judge because "we're building a wall between here and Mexico". Much of the TSM tried to rush out other allegations against the judge, but Trump didn't mention those in the initial interview.

The Republican Party has become a party where women are judged not by their accomplishments, but by their physical attributes. Among other quotes, Trump singled out former Hewlett Packard CEO Carly Fiorina in an interview saying "Look at that face. Would anyone vote for that?"

I'd go on further, but frankly, if I had to list every negative attribute of Trump, this blog post would never end.

Tomorrow, we'll talk about the implications of Governor Pence leaving the 2012 election, and why it really shouldn't matter electorally, but it probably will.