Tuesday, July 27, 2010
The gist of Andrew's argument is, similar to KKK rally's and Fred Phelp's protests, if NOM's protests are ignored, they'll go away.
However, NOM's position on civil marriages is not some type of fringe position. It is a widely help political belief held by millions of people across the country. Even among those who don't support federal and state constitutional amendments, there are many who still believe "marriage is between one man and one woman."
It's a legitimate public policy debate to be had. And thus, ignoring it only makes it seem like people don't care. Whereas it's clear, with 80-250 people showing up in the middle of the day to be the counter argument to a rally, people do care.
Finally, Bil Browning of The Bilerico Project has an excellent YouTube video up and a blog post that expands on it.
Monday, July 26, 2010
The folks rallying for traditional marriage were from the National Organization for Marriage (NOM), which is sponsoring a bus tour across several states. They had several speakers, only one of whom I recognized. Micah Clark. Clark is the executive director of the American Family Association of Indiana and has lobbied the General Assembly of Indiana for several years for a state marriage amendment defining marriage as one man and one woman. Their rally took place on the east side of the State House.
The counter-demonstrators started on both the east side of the state house and another, possibly separate, group of demonstrators on the south side of the state house. While one of the people on the south side group told me their counter-demonstration was going to be in silence, it appears that it quickly changed once the group met with other groups that were already on the east side. A few demonstrators led the counter-protest in chants such as "What do we want? Equal rights! When do we want it now? Now!"
After the speakers finished, the counter-protesters marched up a few steps onto the State House and stood by the Morton statue. After NOM left, the counter-protest marched around the statue a few times, the gentleman with the loud speaker thanked everyone for coming out and then a lot of the group rushed to the Marriage Bus to have their picture taken.
Bil Browning, founder of The Bilerico Project, estimated the crowd at about 40 on the side of NOM and 250 counter-protesting. WIBC estimated at 50 and 80, respectfully. WIBC's story also notes that Indiana law already bans same-sex marriage
Most of the signs with the NOM crowd were manufactured by the organization. Among the home made signs, one protester had a sign that said "Sodom, Gomorrah,America, 3 of a kind; Genesis 18:20, Their Sin is very grievous." The gentleman, Larry Adams of the Baptist Ministry Alliance, had his name, organization, and phone number at the lower end of the sign. He had a second sign that he had showed earlier, but refused to show it to me when I asked to take a picture. The sign had two nooses, and quoted Leviticus, and started with "The solution to homosexuals" or something similar. I didn't have enough time to get the exact quote from Leviticus, but you can draw your own conclusions from it.
I try to speak to people who might have a unique perspective when I go to public forums, protests, and so on. I spoke to one woman who seemed like she attended alone. Her sign read "Another straight Christian for equal rights for all." She explained to me that she is a Republican but said that her fellow Christians and Republicans are missing the point. She framed it as a rights issue rather than a morality issue. She said that this issue will affect how she votes in upcoming elections.
As to how this plays in politics, there's a few ways to look at it.
The counter-demonstrators "win" the rally. Not only did they have more numbers, but organizers told me most were local citizens, though a select few from marriage equality organizations were in the crowd as well. Compared that to NOM's crowd, which besides Micah Clark and a handful of others, piled onto the Marriage Bus and left town.
But does the rally really mean anything? Some of the counter-protesters were wearing Democratic Party shirts, and I'd bet that most were at least center-left voters, if not solid Democratic/liberal votes. Compare that to the NOM crowd, and from who I talked to and who I saw, were mostly conservative and Republican. So it's not like either side at the rally has a lot of swing voters in it.
My take? Politically, it's an issue that will go nowhere at the state level. Republicans who run on passing the marriage amendment in the General Assembly won't be picking up votes, and might even alienate some center-right and center-left moderates and independents. And most of the people who don't want it passed are voting Democratic anyway.
On the federal level, it's got some legs. Congressman Brad Ellseworth (D-8th District), who is running for the United States Senate, was not endorsed by Indiana Stonewall Democrats at the party's nomination meeting. Ellsworth's campaign should take note of the crowd that came out to demonstrate against NOM's rally. All of the counter-demonstrators are potential Ellsworth campaign volunteers and donors, and all it would take to be more open to LGBT issues.
Likewise, Dan Coats (R), who is running for the same Senate seat, should note that very few were motivated enough to show up at the rally for NOM and it won't help him win campaign donors, volunteers, or votes. He can probably take the same route Governor Mitch Daniels has taken, and that is quietly support these efforts while not making it a central part of a campaign.
Anybody who has heard me talk about rights and benefits before knows that I want them applied equally to all people. It's sad that we even need to have this discussion to begin with, but even worse is that it doesn't seem that there is a political party or candidate out there who really wants equal rights for all. Especially when it comes to marriage. Even some of the most liberal members inside the United States Congress believe that marriage is between one man and one woman. Unfortunately, for marriage equality advocates, it looks like they will have to wait for a new generation of politicians to even begin to pull back the legislation and state constitutional amendments against marriage equality.
UPDATE: Media and blog reactions:
NOM Hate Bus Rolls Into Indianapolis from The Bilerico Project (also has a photo of some posters and interview with Larry Adams)
Saturday, July 24, 2010
I started reviewing concerts for a site called Indianapolis Music Net. I was probably the youngest, at age 16 or 17, regularly writing for the site. I was able to get out into the all-ages music community and write up shows featuring local and regional acts, as well as sometimes getting press passes for national shows happening at the Murat Center, Conseco Field House, and Deer Creek Music Center. I also met a lot of people as well, who weren't just playing music, but hoping to build something.
At this time, 2001-2004 or so, Mayor Bart Peterson was talking about making this a city for the arts or an art mecca or something similar to that. A lot of people that I've talked with over the years found that a bit ironic, since the police were coming down hard on all-ages venues. Solidarity Books was raided when the National Governor's Association came in due to what was claimed to be an anonymous tip on a fire code violation, and was subsequently shut down. Festivillia shut down out of the blue, with rumors due to pressure from law enforcement. And the Emerson Theater, which is still in business, has no shortage of stories of law enforcement officers having less-than-positive interactions with those attending and performing at the Emerson Theater.
One of those people I met was Clark Giles. He wrote this e-mail several years ago (early 2004) to some kind of committee, outlining motivations and realistic actions to take to foster a positive all-ages music scene in Indianapolis. In my opinion, giving young people something to do while they're here will retain them when they become adults. Negative experiences, such as some of what my friends and associates had in years past, will only serve to drive them away.
I'd normally type up an introduction to Clark, but he does it well enough in his e-mail.
Here is the link to the Google Docs version. It did not turn out well copy/pasted from a forum post to this blog post. If you do not HAVE a Google account, get one. But if you really don't have one, feel free to e-mail me and I'll send it to you.
Friday, July 23, 2010
This isn't coming from some elitist snob who has already got his. I've worked in several $5-7 an hour jobs, usually closer to the $5 part. And even when I had work-study available to me, I still picked up shifts at Panera Bread when I could. Even now, with my IT job, I'm looking for a second job to pick up a few shifts and earn some extra cash.
But I'm under no illusion that my job at Panera, or one of the several other similar entry level jobs in retail, food, or the broader customer-service industry that my friends had/have was skilled labor. Any competent person could've replaced me at any time after some on-the-job training.
I also question how efficient a union would be to those that rely on tips. I know at least a few of the jobs in hotels are tip-based, which means the employee receives a low wage (usually between $2-3 an hour) from the employer and is expected to make the rest up in tips. The flip side to it is, just like serving at a restaurant, you can make a lot more money if you're really good at your job. It's not uncommon to go to some of the finer restaurants in cities and find servers who have been working there for years. It's because they've turned what a server at Denny's does for minimum wage into a dining experience, and are tipped accordingly.
And if it's just a money issue, people can always get a second or third job. I've worked two jobs before, and I plan on doing it again real soon. I know it's not exactly the best time to get a job right now. But they are out there.
Overall, I don't see much of a point in unionizing customer service related jobs. I know Kroger is unionized, but my friends who worked there never got any benefit out of it. And I've never felt like I've gotten better service there than I did at Marsh or Meijer. And I don't think there's a noticeable difference in pay or offered benefits between Kroger and it's competitors.
Now that I've alienated the several new readers I got yesterday, here's what I did appreciate about the protest.
It was a group of people doing something. These people, as part of an organized group , held demonstrations in several cities across the nation with a realistic goal, and got media attention as well (here, here, here, and here). In the coming days and weeks when union negotiations are occurring, they'll be able to measure the effectiveness of their actions. They'll be able to tell where their efforts were most rewarded, and where they weren't.
A surprising number of relatively young people were at the protest as well. I am all for my fellow 20 somethings getting involved in local causes. Just because it's a cause that I disagree with won't stop me from being proud that they're taking action. But I also hope it goes beyond this single issue. I talked up the Marriage Bus protest and counter-protest that is happening next week, and I hope to see some familiar faces there.
As for the actual arrest, I wasn't a fan of it. I'm sure there is an actual ordinance on the books saying you can't block a public avenue such as a sidewalk. But no street was blocked, and very few, if any, were walking down Maryland by the Hyatt, so I doubt it was a huge interruption to anyone's day. As a taxpayer in this city, I will tolerate a protest that takes up a sidewalk as much as I tolerate the beggars on nearly every street corner from 9-5. It's a small convience I'm willing to give up so some of my citizens can exercise their right to protest.
That isn't to say Indianapolis Metropolitan Police Department didn't conduct itself well. They had no problem with news cameras and several citizens taking pictures. And by all accounts, it was a peaceful event ending in a peaceful arrest of 41 people. No charges were filed which was the smart thing to do. Unfortunately, other cities where arrests took place did press misdemeanor charges in some cases.
Overall, it was an interesting event that was worth my time. I hope some of my readers will join me at next week's protest. And feel free to drop me an e-mail or leave a comment if you know of any other protests or major events that will happen this summer.
Thursday, July 22, 2010
Minority Leader of the City-County Council Joanne Sanders (D-At Large) was one of approximately 24 people arrested by the Indianapolis Metropolitan Police Department in connection with the Unite Here! protest. The protest started on the south side of the State House, then marched over to the Hyatt Hotel on Maryland Street, and protested on the sidewalk closest to the Hyatt. The protest was part of a country wide effort to get unions into the Hyatt Hotel. Protest organizers told me they expected several arrests.
The protesters formed three groups: two groups standing on either side, with two dozen people sitting down in the middle. Joanne Sanders, along with a Catholic priest and several of the protest's organizers, were among those sittings, and subsequently arrested.
You can follow a blow-by-blow account of the protest at my Twitter page. Of note is that José Evans (D-District 1, and also a Mayoral candidate) and Dane Mahern (D-District 19) were also present at the protest. I estimated the protesters to have about 50 among them, including a few young children. If charges are filed against those that are arrested, I'll be sure to update the story.
And on a selfish note, I'm fairly certain this is the first story on the protest after it occurred, as well as my Tweet reporting Joanne Sanders' arrest.
UPDATE: WTHR's Twitter page said 40 were arrested. I'm guessing their 40 is more accurate and my estimation of the crowd was really off. A lot of people showed up in the last few minutes before the demonstration began.
UPDATE II: WTHR's story says 41 arrested, with most being issued summons while eight were jailed.
On another note, I noticed The Indianapolis Star simply changed the headline from their pre-protest story to reflect the number of arrests. The article doesn't say anything about the actual protest, because it was written before it happened. Hopefully, that'll be corrected soon. But still, sloppy on their part.
UPDATE III: WISH-TV is reporting that the 31 being issued summons lived outside of the seven counties surrounding Marion County. The others were jailed.
UPDATE IV: Joanne Sanders responded to my e-mail. She said there were no formal charges at this time. It doesn't surprise me. Several years ago, my editor at the time along with several dozen people were ticketed at the Emerson Theater for loitering. Those ticketed, mostly those under 21, were just stepping out for a breath of fresh air in between sets of the multiple bands performing. The tickets were later dropped. I'll try to dig up the article my editor wrote if I can find it (several news organizations also reported on the ticketing).
Wednesday, July 21, 2010
Ed Wench of WIBC interviewed two of the leaders of the protest earlier today. The two employees used the terms "civil disobedience" and said that there's a "good chance" a number of the protesters will be arrested. My understanding of "civil disobedience" is you are breaking the law in, but in a peaceful way. The employees/protest organizers did not exactly say what law they might be breaking tomorrow.
The National Organization for Marriage is bringing their bus tour to Indianapolis. You can find details of that here. At least two counter-protests have formed on Facebook here and here. I'll stop by and see what it's all about. It'll be interesting if the main protest will be focusing on the Federal Marriage Amendment or the state constitutional amendment that has died in the state House of Representatives the past few years.
Finally, Public Safety Director Frank Straub's comments about a "safety zone" have, frankly, pissed me off. I'll be penning an open letter to Frank Straub and the "task force" that was recently announced. I plan on both e-mailing it and hand delivering the letter, as well as posting it here.
Let's be honest.If the shootings that occurred Downtown last weekend had been tied to the Indiana Plumbers Expo, or one of a thousand other conventions, the follow-up discussion wouldn't be so difficult.This is similar to what Gary Welsh has been saying over at Advance Indiana.
But we're talking instead about Indiana Black Expo and its annual Summer Celebration. So any discussion about the monumental problems tied to it gets bogged down in the treacherous issue of race.
It's a hard issue to discuss. I've ticked off an endless stream of readers during five years of writing columns about all sorts of issues, but even I got queasy at the idea of diving into this one.
It doesn't help that moronic and simplistic racists thrive on this kind of thing. They turn anonymous online forums into a 21st century version of KKK meetings and make it even harder to have an adult conversation.That said, we can't let the delicate nature of this subject, or the words of a few racists, prevent us from finally having an honest, and perhaps painful, discussion about the ongoing problems related to Black Expo. Fear of having a blunt conversation, and fear of being labeled a racist, likely has prevented the city from adequately addressing this ongoing problem before now. And so we are subjected to national headlines about the 10 young people shot in the very Downtown that Indy's leaders so often point to as the thing that makes this city special.
So what is the city's and Indiana Black Expo's answer to the ongoing crime problem that occurs during Indiana Black Expo's two weeks?
It reeks of middle management pass-the-buck tactics.
They're forming a task force.
I wish I was joking.
On the task force, taken from a side-bar in The Star's article today:
Members chosen so far to serve on the Indiana Black Expo task force are:
» Deputy Mayor Olgen Williams.
» IMPD Deputy Chief Daryl Pierce.
» IMPD Cmdr. Karen Arnett.
» Indiana State Police Maj. Jeff Walker.
» Mark Miles, president and CEO of the Central Indiana Corporate Partnership.
» Tamara Zahn, CEO of Indianapolis Downtown Inc.
» Jeff Sweet, manager of the Greater Indianapolis Hotel & Lodging Association.
» The Rev. Charles Harrison, Ten Point Coalition.
» LeDeanna Brown, president of Midwest Leak Magazine.
» Radio One disc jockey B-Swift.
» State Rep. Bill Crawford, D-Indianapolis.
While Zahn said on WIBC that the task force is still forming, I can't say I'm impressed. Between Public Safety Director Frank Straub's suggestion of safety zones, and the line up so far, it looks like it'll be a lot of pandering, and a lot of do-nothings.
Pat Andrews of Had Enough Indy? also has an excellent post about Zahn's not-for-profit, Indianapolis Downtown Inc.
Monday, July 19, 2010
A Cnet story published earlier today says that BurstNet was contacted by the Federal Bureau of Investigation asking for voluntary disclosure of information, claiming a hit-list and bomb making instructions were posted. BurstNet voluntarily cut off the service for unknown reasons, and presumably complied with the FBI's request.
This is an important reminder to bloggers to back up your blog if you want to preserve it. Blogger's own Terms of Service state as such (emphasis mine):
1. Description of Service. Blogger is a web publishing service and optional hosting service (the "Service"). You will be responsible for all activities occurring under your username and for keeping your password secure. You understand and agree that the Service is provided to you on an AS IS and AS AVAILABLE basis. Google disclaims all responsibility and liability for the availability, timeliness, security or reliability of the Service or any other client software. Google also reserves the right to modify, suspend or discontinue the Service with or without notice at any time and without any liability to you.
Saturday, July 17, 2010
I'm reading comments on Facebook and Twitter, as well as over at Gary Welsh's Advance Indiana, that Black Expo has had a history of crime in the recent past. I'll be looking into that to see what has happened in years past, and report back when I can.
I can personally attest to traffic being absolutely horrible downtown. Be careful, and keep a cool head.
UPDATE: Wish-TV seems to be the first with a news cast up on their site.
UPDATE II: I am deferring to fellow bloggers Abdul Hakim-Shabazz and Gary Welsh, who are all running excellent coverage of this major event with unique perspectives of what happened. I might have a few thoughts to throw into the ring later today.
As if Westboro Baptist Church's world view wasn't already considered completely insane, they have a big protest coming up next week. They'll be in San Diego, California to protest San Diego Comic-Con International, or Comic Con for short. Comic Con is a large convention where basically all things nerd are appreciated and promoted, with companies usually making big announcements concerning comic book story lines, movies, and so on at the convention.
Westboro Baptist Church is protesting, well...here's what they say from their event schedule:
San Diego Convention Center 111 W Harbor Dr. WBC to picket Comic Con 2010 at the San Diego Convention Center. Are you kidding?! If these people would spend even some of the energy that they spend on these comic books, reading the Bible, well no high hopes here. They have turned comic book characters into idols, and worship them they do! Isaiah 2:8 Their land also is full of idols; they worship the work of their own hands, that which their own fingers have made: 9 And the mean man boweth down, and the great man humbleth himself: therefore forgive them not. It is time to put away the silly vanities and turn to God like you mean it. The destruction of this nation is imminent - so start calling on Batman and Superman now, see if they can pull you from the mess that you have created with all your silly idolatry.
Hat tip to The Bilerico Project, where I first saw this story.
Wednesday, July 14, 2010
How will the Democrats play this issue? The leading candidate in the Mayoral race on their side, Melina Kennedy, has been quiet on the utility transfer due to her day-job at the law firm of Baker and Daniels (who is representing the city in the deal). And Democratic candidates who haven't even gotten the nomination wouldn't dare talk trash to Herb Simon, a long time supporter of Democrats (though like many of the movers and shakers of this town, he contributes to both parties locally). So what will they do?
I thought that they might criticize some of the finer details of the deal. Gary Welsh has already started their homework for them in two excellent posts. Someone like Brian Williams, who sunk his teeth into the water utility sale, could get in on the ground floor and point out specifics of the deal that could be played as bad, and what a Democratic administration would've done differently. A Democrat could also note that the deal won't have any City-County Council over site because it allegedly is coming from within the Capital Improvement Board's budget, and the Council only would need to review if it requested new spending. Finally,they could go after the short-term fix, since it just leaves a new deal for another administration to handle if the current one doesn't get re-elected.
And to prove how right I am, I had an e-mail exchange on Facebook with Jon Easter, one of the writers over at Indy Democrat. He basically confirmed my suspicion, and these points appeared in his latest post.
But there's one final viewpoint I'd like to cover: the viewpoint of the public. It really does seem like this bailout is getting overtly negative reviews, but what impact will it have on the average citizen in 2011 and their decision of who to vote for? As bloggers, sometimes we have more of a long-term memory or tend to focus in on certain subjects. That isn't true for everyone, and what is an issue now might be forgotten in a week, month, or a year from now.
Thursday, July 8, 2010
He cites a 1941 opinion Hines v. Davidowitz in which the state of Pennsylvania, in hopes of catching Nazi sympathizers, required all aliens to register with the state and carry identification. The federal government had the Alien Registration Act, and the state law was ruled based on the Supremacy Clause. The federal act didn't require aliens to carry identification. Napolitano further claims that the states, when forming the federal government, gave up any power to deal with foreign governments and foreign people.
Napolitano also says that the laws are not equal between the federal and state law. Napolitano notes that being here illegally is not a federal crime, but a U.S. Code violation. He says that you cannot be prosecuted or sent to jail for violating this section of the code, only deported. Arizona's law, however, does make it a criminal offense.
But what I found interesting was what Judge Napolitano said last night on the Alan Colmes' Show. Arizona amended their law so that only people suspected of a crime could be asked for proof of citizenship. Napolitano claims that his experience as a judge has taught him that police in New Jersey (and he presumes elsewhere) are trained to create scenarios so that suspicion of a crime may occur. He cites an example of not making eye contact during a stop for speeding, and says police officers may use the lack of eye contact as reasonable suspicion and search the vehicle. He says he has thrown out evidence in his time as a judge when presented with similar situations.
Napolitano certainly seems sympathetic to Arizona's dilemma, saying that no President of the United States since Richard Nixon has taken the issue of immigration seriously.
It also seems that at least 17 states will propose similar laws when their legislative bodies meet, but I agree with Gary Welsh that states might want to delay passing any similar laws until Arizona's case plays out in the courts.
I believe both sides of this debate seem to have some legal merit, but I also think the expansion of police powers is more disturbing, regardless of the law's constitutionality.
With the state GOP touting a Road to 51 campaign, this means the Marriage Amendment to the Indiana Constitution may become an issue both houses of the General Assembly take up. I ask that elected officials and advocates keep in mind that while equality in some areas might be available, it isn't as easy for "undocumented" couples.
You can read the full post here.
Tuesday, July 6, 2010
As I've said before, I remain unconvinced that Citizens Energy Group can create a high level of efficiency with these one-sided contracts being hauled along.
Here is the Fox 59 Face Off video. Hat tip to Bart Lies!, where I first saw it:
Friday, July 2, 2010
A Marist Poll study shows that only 74% of Americans know what we're celebrating this coming July 4th. When asked what country we declared independence from, 26% chose "other." Included in that other were countries such as Mexico (not a country at the time), China, Japan, and France (one of our allies during the Revolutionary War). And a few of those 26% thought we just split from another nation without any real conflict.
The poll can be found here. Included in that is the poll's methodology as well as a handy table breaking down the results based on various demographics.