Wednesday, October 28, 2009

You aren't really all that anonymous on the Internet

As someone who writes a blog that nobody reads, I don't get very many comments (it's okay, I don't expect them. Any I do get are a welcome bonus). And those that I do get are usually anonymous.

I make it a point to make sure that I'm never hiding behind a screen name. I publish my Twitter with my real name, have my real name on this account, and comment on various blogs either using the same screen name or linked to my Facebook or Twitter. I don't believe in hiding behind a screen name. I believe that those who exercise their right to free speech should also be able to handle the rights of everyone else to respond to their speech.

So I received an anonymous comment on the short piece I did on Councilor Minton-McNeill, who I believe should resign. It's been 9 weeks and counting since she's done any business on the council, including missing meetings on the city budget and the expanded smoking ordinance. This comment looked to be from some Internet defender of her, but this person is posting these messages elsewhere under the name "Charlie Stewart", as in here.

Mr. Stewart's comment on my blog left no real information to go on and I did not go out and search for his name. I regularly read Indiana Barrister and that entry has gotten a lot of attention.

Mr. Stewart says he is a neighborhood president and, due to the information he claims to know, an insider with Minton-McNeill. Surely he would know that the hush-hush attitude she's been keeping with the public can't be good for her political future. My advice to him: Stop hiding behind anonymous Internet accounts and get your pal to speak up, do the right thing and resign. There's no job in the real world where you can take 9 weeks off with no public explanation and expect to still have it when you get back. Council seats should be no different.

That being said, there are situations where if she has a legitmate reason for being absent, she should keep her seat. But considering Minton-McNeill is not saying ANYTHING, let's just say I have faith in my fellow citizens and I hope she proves me wrong by making her situation public.

Seperation of powers? Who cares? Not Mayor Ballard.

According to Matthew Tully at the Indianapolis Star and Terry Burns at the Indianapolis Times blog, Mayor Ballard met with the Republican caucus before the City-County Council meeting Monday night. This was the same night where the only major piece of legislation was making a more wide smoking ban. Mayor Ballard has been silent on the issue. Normally, I'd be more wary of something coming from the unofficial mouthpiece of the Marion County Democratic Party. But Mayor Ballard is strangely silent and isn't big on publicly voicing his opinions, and Tully's report pretty much confirms it.

My contention with this isn't to score political points, like Mr. Burns is. Nor is it even because I'm for or against the proposed legislation, such as Mr. Tully. My problem is that Mayor Ballard (or someone from his office) meeting with the Republican council caucus is not an uncommon site, something that Paul Ogden has talked about. And in this case, Mayor Ballard made it clear he didn't want to veto the bill, because that would cause him to break another campaign promise, according to Tully.

Our system of government is set up so that we have three separate branches, each having specific duties, and certain checks and balances so that no one branch can usurp the other branch's power. Someone from the executive branch (especially the head of it) should not be a normal presence at either party's closed door caucus meetings before City-Council business. If Mayor Ballard wishes to meet with any council members on his own time, he's free to do so. But legislative bodies are not there to just rubber stamp whatever the executive branch wants.

Ironically, by all reports from the politically connected, it didn't look like the new smoking ban would pass anyway, due to a number of absences and councils abstaining from the vote. Even if it passed, it would've needed 15 votes to go to the Mayor's desk or be completely defeated. It was 13-13, so it's indefinitely tabled.

Mayor Greg Ballard is someone who camapaigned on very specific platforms. Since then, he's clammed up and only expresses opinions behind lock and key. I'd rather elect someone I disagree with who's willing to take a public stand, than someone I agree with but keeps it hidden. Unfortunately, Ballard falls into neither camp, because I have no idea what he stands for.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

City sets double standard for itself and private property owners.

Guess who gets the pass?

WRTV6 tonight had a story talking about graffiti on abandoned homes, deliquent properties, etc... While the city will try to get out to do something about it (wasn't public safety priority #1 for Ballard?), they'd like the neighborhood to take care of it.

What isn't too focused on in the story is that the city owns properties that they have let go to pot, graffiti, asbestos, and all. The site of Wianona Hospital has been owned by the city for years, used by it in Dec 2008 to train SWAT teams, and then forgotten about. Has the city gotten a fine for it? Has the Parks department gotten a citation for letting Busch Stadium go to crap?

Doris Minton-McNeill can't be bothered to do her job

Over at Indiana Barrister, Abdul reported that Minton-McNeill abstained from voting that night. This implies that she was actually there to vote. But she hasn't been at council meetings in a number of weeks, pretty much ever since a run in with a neighbor happened.

But make no mistake, she didn't abstain from voting. She wasn't there. Abdul says in the Comments section that she sent in a note saying she would've abstained from voting if she was there.

Not only could she not be bothered to show up, but if she had, she informed her constituents that she won't take a stand.

Previously in one of her absences, she was reported as receiving treatment of some kind. I fully support anyone who's attempting to get better and have no problem with a public official having a private life. But if that private life intervenes with their job performance, they either need to swiftly deal with the personal issues, or they need to resign. It doesn't matter if they're guilty as sin or innocent as a baby. Public officials should not be skipping their job and (presumably) getting pay checks while dealing with personal issues.

You know, I wouldn't even be that bothered by this if Minton-McNeill has been open about it. But outside of Democrat Party insiders, I doubt anyone knows what's REALLY going on.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

CIB fires 11 low paid employees, wants more money for ICVA

The Capital Improvement Board continues their manufactured PR campaign to seem like they are REALLY tightening their belts by firing 11 employees. The Star reported that the first 9 would save $325,000, but didn't specify how much the other 2 would save a few days later.

Doing the math, 325,000/9 gets us to about $36,000 a year. Add that twice into $325,000 and we're up to $361,000. Divide that by 11 and we're just below $33,000 a year.

Mr. Ogden over at Ogden on Politics makes a reasonable assumption that the total cost-saving also includes benefits. So we're really talking about jobs in the $20,000-30,000 a year range. These are not well paying jobs, but are jobs that normal folks do.

What should also be said is that, earlier this year, WTHR reported that the CIB gave across the board raises to almost every employee except Barney Levengood. These raises range from the standard 3% cost of living, all the way up to 14%. Don't worry about Mr. Levengood, he makes $221,000.

As I originally reported back in August, I overheard a CIB board member before a board meeting say "Fire half of those union employees and it'd save us tons of money." Looks like they're going forward with this plan.

Mr. Ogden also writes very in-depth about how Indianapolis Convention and Visitors Association is lobbying for more money, despite most of it being wasted on salaries.

Fortunately, since municipal corporations are "separate" from the overall city-county budget, Mayor Greg Ballard can continue to say that nobody has to be fired due to cost cutting measures. I guess they also aren't counting the huge budget slash at the parks department, Doug Rae and two other animal control workers. Great job, Mr. Mayor!

Monday, October 12, 2009

Yours truely gets trashed by gay rights activists...for supporting gay rights

Let me preface this by saying that, I know that when I get into the "comments" section of a blog, news site, etc..., I know the logic to lunatic ratio is going to be very heavy on one side. I tend to keep my comments to blogs with a fairly small audience as far as commentators go, with many of the same people using the same or similar screen names across numerous blogs.

Over at Indiana Barrister, I made a number of comments, advocating equal rights and specifically, a repeal of the federal Defense of Marriage Act due to an infringement on states' rights. In a discussion, I said DOMA and other laws restricting benefits and marriage are discriminating against "homosexuals."

And that set off a storm from a handful of liberal partisan hacks.

Calling gays and lesbians "homosexuals" isn't going to help your cause or political organization amongst gays and lesbians. In fact, quite the opposite.

It's kinda like calling an African-American or Black a "Negro". Gays and lesbians have similarly rejected that word "homosexual" -- it's simply the current political reality.

Fact Checker:
Matt, Matt, Matt.....this is 2009....If you cannot use the accepted terminolgy, what other outdated ideas are you clinging to your breast? Should slavery be abolished? Should women be allowed to vote? Should we return to prohibition?

Ironically, Fact Checker has few concerns with facts if they can't be twisted to support his view.

Fortunately, one of the new non-partisan posters there came to my defense, saying that "homosexual" is a term that perfectly describes the discriminated people and is not judgmental. The same poster also pointed out how invalid a comparison the homosexual-Negro comparison is.

And even though that these comments came from the Internet, from two people hiding behind screen names, this type of behavior is not limited to the Internet. Partisan hacks on both sides want to dictate to their party members exactly what to say, how to say it, and how to act. And anything less than that is discouraged. Just look at Ed Coleman, who refused to toe the line for the Republicans that the Capitol Improvement Board was a-okay and needed more money. He left, and became a Libertarian.

And in the final irony, if Fact Checker or Wilson bothered to read my posts, they'd know that I'm in agreement with them. But to people like them, partisan politics and trashing "the other guy" is more important than anything else, including equal rights.

Sunday, October 4, 2009

The Star hides owner of Wanona Hospital property

Published in today's Metro section of the Star (based on this blog post of theirs), the Indianapolis Star finally reports on the long neglected property of the former Wanona Memorial Hospital, now owned by the city of Indianapolis.

What they don't publish is that the city of Indianapolis is the current owner. What they do say is it's "legally abandoned" and no one would pay the $2 million in taxes during an auction. And the Indianapolis Land Bank will take ownership on Oct. 16. What they don't say is the city purchased it for $1 in 2007.

As WRTV reported in July, the city has ignored the property since they stopped training SWAT teams there in late 2008, and declared it unusable due to asbestos poisoning. They didn't even bother locking the doors or boarding it up. The building has obvious signs that people are sleeping there, and before the story hit, it was infiltrated by a citizen and he took pictures.

When I visited the property a few weeks after the story hit, the doors were locked and ground entrances were boarded up. But I found a crowbar near one of the entrances, and the overgrown shrubs easily reached the broken windows, providing a clear entrance. The building is not secure, and if this was owned by a private citizen, they'd be written up by the city for not maintaining their property.

But it is a very clever strategy. Let this building, which housed sick people (and cured them!) until 2004 deteroriate so that it has no possible use as a medical facility, bulldoze it, and put in a brand new project that some well connected contractor will get. Because we've gotta keep those construction jobs in the city!