Tuesday, September 27, 2011

At-Large GOP Council Candidate Wants To Repeal HRO, Domestic Partnerships Benefits

Christopher Douglas, a longtime Republican and LGBT equality advocate, posted about a conversation he had with Michael Kalscheur. Kalscheur is running for one of the four At-Large slots on the Indianapolis-Marion County City-County Council. Douglas questioned Kalscheur on his views of the Human Rights Ordinance, which was passed in 2005 with bi-partisan support and adds "sexual orientation" and "gender identity" to protected classes in the cases of housing and employment, and prohibits the city from doing business with contractors who discriminate on those grounds. Kalscheur said that not only is he against the HRO, but if given the opportunity to vote for a repeal, he would.

Kalscheur also expressed opposition for domestic partnership benefits for city employees. Domestic partnership benefits allow unmarried couples in long-term relationship access to employee benefits such as health care. While this is generally seen as an LGBT-specific issue since they don't have the option of marrying their partner, an increasing number of straight couples are choosing cohabitation for extended periods before or in lieu of marriage.

While this might come as no surprise to those familiar with anti-gay ideologies coming from the GOP at the national and state stage, LGBT equality issues make for strange bedfellows in Indianapolis. The opposition and support for the HRO in the December 2005 vote was bi-partisan. Eric Miller and his organization Advance America (which generally supports Republicans), as well as several preachers from black churches in Marion County (which typically support Democrats) came out in loud opposition to the HRO. LGBT equality groups from both political parties, as well as non-partisan LGBT equality groups, advocated for the HROs passage in 2005.

But in the six years since the HRO passed, things seem to have changed. No attempts from any councilors have been introduced to repeal the HRO, Mayor Greg Ballard (R) enforced the HRO in the "Just Cookies" controversy, and it's generally seen as a non-issue even among candidates who are themselves gay and lesbian, likely because it's perceived as a settled issue. And throughout the nation, attitudes are quickly changing among the populous on issues such as same-sex marriage, with the majority of Americans supporting it.

While anti-gay views might be able to be expressed in "safe" Republican districts such as Ginny Cain has in district 5, Republicans who want to succeed in Marion County (either at-large or in most of the districts) have to recognize that holding and promoting anti-gay views will only hurt their chances in most of the county, which has been trending Democrat for the past several years. Alienating those who believe in LGBT equality shuts off a sizable chunk of citizens who would otherwise be open to hearing your views on municipal governance.

UPDATE: Indianapolis Star reporter Jon Murray writes that if the Democrats regain control of the council, one of the priorities will be to introduce legislation that will allow domestic partnership benefits. Beth Murphy, the editorial editor for the Star, said that these priorities were drawn from the various endorsement interviews the editorial board has held with Democratic candidates.

Monday, September 26, 2011

Ballard's Latest Ad: His Best Yet?

Mayor Greg Ballard (R) and his campaign put out a new spot for television, and it's grim. A group of women, who I've independently confirmed to be Marion County residents and not professional actors, are shown talking directly to the camera and taking aim at mayoral candidate Melina Kennedy (D) and her record and alleged support for tax increases.

While the ad only quotes a column by Indianapolis Star columnist Matthew Tully near the beginning and doesn't source when Kennedy supported other tax increases, Star reporter Jon Murray did some asking and some digging and dug up Kennedy supporting tax increases during her run for Marion County Prosecutor in 2006.

Now, every election cycle we get the "ugh, negative ads and ominous music AGAIN" and people going on and on about how the American people deserve better and shouldn't be treated to low blow tactics like this.

But hey, if this didn't work, politicians wouldn't keep making these ads.

This ad addresses Kennedy's record directly and paints a dark picture. Tax increases are a big no-no in today's political environment and this ad could move low information voters toward a Ballard vote.

The simplicity in the ad, in black and white with the women speaking to the camera in plain language, makes it as if the women are speaking directly to the viewer. It was done beautifully, and I wouldn't be surprised if some higher ups in the state GOP helped cook this up in some focus group.

And while some of my political associates can easily rattle off dozens of tax increases and fee hikes that Ballard has supported, that doesn't matter if the viewer doesn't know about these issues. Outside of news junkies, municipal elections are filled with low information voters even moreso than Presidential elections. So the first impression can be very, very imporant, and hard to break.

The ad could be seen in a bad light because it's Ballard who has bought the taxes discussion to the table. This leaves the Kennedy camp room to fire back with their own ad to advance their own agenda. I know the Marion County Democrat Party put out some crappy YouTube videos in late 2010 that listed the various tax and fee hikes Ballard and the Republican council have supported, but surely they can do better.

And how else could it be bad? Well, if Ballard has to attack a candidate rather than run ads on his record, that might mean his internal polling shows him slipping. I wouldn't be surprised if he's still in the lead, but I suspect it's more within the standard margin of error rather than the 10 point lead county GOP chairman Kyle Walker has been touting.

Finally, did anyone else find it odd that it was Ballard's campaign committee that put this out, and not the county GOP or state GOP? Typically, the so-called "negative" ads and mailers are left for the political party to handle so the political candidate can officially distance themselves from it.

Jon Easter weighs in with his thoughts here.

Friday, September 23, 2011

GOP Supporters Boo Active Duty Soldier, POTUS Candidates Remain Silent

Tonight's GOP POTUS debate had a certain gimmick. Since Google was a co-sponsor of the debate, many of the questions were submitted on the Google-owned site YouTube. In the above video, an active duty gay solider asks the contenders for the GOP nomination for President essentially what they'd do since Don't Ask, Don't Tell was recently repealed and if they'd roll it back.

As soon as the video finishes, several in the crowd booed. No moderator of the debate or any of the Presidential contenders said anything about the crowd's blatant disrespect of the soldier, including the two libertarian-leaning candidates Ron Paul and Gary Johnson.

I guess in this Grand Old Party, you can only have free speech if you hate the gays. I would think that the fact that the guy is currently risking his life in Iraq would matter to them, but nope, they only care about the military when it'll benefit their political agenda. When it goes against their political instincts, they'll toss veterans to the wolves. Mark my words, many attending the debate and in the GOP would love nothing more than to kick out every gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgendered person currently serving and make sure that they'd never get a single benefit for their time of service. Yes, I understand some of my Republican friends say minds are changing in the party, but the Old Guard in many respects, including on DADT, are still in charge and have the influence.

And people wonder why I'm not a Republican.

UPDATE: GOProud has release a statement about this incident and is demanding an apology from former Senator Santorum:

(Washington, D.C.) – “Tonight, Rick Santorum disrespected our brave men and women in uniform, and he owes Stephen Hill, the gay soldier who asked him the question about Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell repeal, an immediate apology.

“That brave gay soldier is doing something Rick Santorum has never done – put his life on the line to defend our freedoms and our way of life. It is telling that Rick Santorum is so blinded by his anti-gay bigotry that he couldn’t even bring himself to thank that gay soldier for his service.

“Stephen Hill is serving our country in Iraq, fighting a war Senator Santorum says he supports. How can Senator Santorum claim to support this war if he doesn’t support the brave men and women who are fighting it?”

And the spin is in, saying it was only a few people booing and they were hissed. Doesn't quite make sense considering Santorum's anti-gay response to the question practically has people cheering as if the Beatles just came out on stage.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Make No Mistake: Ballard Agrees and Fully Supports Frank Straub

I somehow missed this reporting from FOX 59 WXIN that shows that Mayor Greg Ballard (R) personally signed off on bringing in an out of state buddy of Frank Straub's to look over the Indianapolis Metropolitan Police Department's entire professional standards division and the citizen review board. Straub, the director of the Department of Public Safety, makes it sound like this was requested by the Fraternal Order of Police, but the FOP disputes that, saying they wanted a neutral investigator for one specific incident, not a broad sweep.

I bring this up because I often hear the sentiment, among law enforcement officers and supporters of law enforcement, that they would gladly vote for Ballard for re-election if he ditched Straub. But Straub isn't just some power hungry person who is doing his own bidding behind Ballard's back. He is doing it out in the open with the full support of Ballard. Regardless of Ballard's past record, this is his record now and this is how he truly believes our law enforcement officers should be treated.

In other Straub news:

I last reported on the Animal Care & Control budget hearing, but the second half of the meeting contained the hearings for the rest of the Department of Public Safety as well (sans the Indianapolis Fire Department and the Indianapolis Metropolitan Police Department, which will be heard this week). I wasn't paying as close attention to this section of the budget talks, mainly because I'm less knowledgeable about this, but hey, when it's still the Good Doctor Director Frank Straub doing the presentation, you just kind of have to watch the train wreck.

During this part of the hearing, Straub tries to refute the notion that his personal DPS administration is somehow top heavy and points out every single minor position that he has let go unfilled, as if it's some HUGE strain on his part not to have some Assistant Secretary of the Interior and that increases his other assistants' workloads by oh-so-much. He also mentions how about five positions will have to be eliminated, but they're still working on finding out which grant moneys will no longer be available so they can't identify which positions will be eliminated at this time. A few questions are asked by councilors asking if these grant moneys were lost due to Indianapolis specifically not being awarded it, and Straub gives the assurance that these lost grant moneys were lost to cities across the board.

He also mentions that, as a last hope, the push by President Barack Obama for a so-called jobs bill might help restore some funding for various positions in DPS and the various departments under DPS, so he's cautiously optimistic that, if passed, these positions might not need to be eliminated.

Maybe it's just me, but I don't think we should be relying on unreliable federal or not-for-profit grant funding for purposes in municipal government that we might consider vital. If they're that important, we need to find a way to fund them ourselves. And if they aren't important, then why are we wasting time to lobby for outside money?

One observant reader commented to me that Straub seems to intentionally make his answers extremely long and confusing as a strategy so that, as the meeting gets later into the night, councilors will feel a sense of urgency and won't ask follow up questions or will shorten their period of questioning. After watching this entire budget meeting, I fully agree. It's not uncommon for men like Straub, who have spent large portions of their adult life in the halls of academia, to be horrible communicators and often "talk down" to others who they see as lesser people.

Monday, September 19, 2011

Anti-Gun Craziness in Hammond, Evansville

The 2011 general assembly session passed a set of gun rights bills, signed into law by Governor Mitch Daniels, that superseded many municipal laws on the books concerning the carrying of firearms by private citizens on municipal government property. Basically, unless the guidelines in the new set of laws specifically exempt it, municipal governments must allow citizens to carry firearms in public. And most importantly, any currently existing ordinance or regulation from municipal government is null and void. Municipal legislative bodies don't need to amend or repeal them. These laws, like many others passed by the 2011 general assembly and signed by the governor, went into effect on July 1, 2011.

Indiana gun regulations already widely allow citizens to openly carry, and Indiana code doesn't make a distinction between openly carrying a firearm or carrying a firearm that is concealed.

First up is a case from Hammond, Indiana (via the Indiana Law Blog). One of the Republican council members tried to introduce legislation to harmonize Hammond's gun regulations with the new state law, and the proposal failed 8-1. After the failed vote, a lawsuit was filed to change Hammond's gun regulations and the National Rifle Association sent this letter to the mayor of Hammond, Thomas McDermott, informing McDermott of the change in state law and warning of possible legal action. McDermott responded with an executive order issued September 7 effectively changing the law on his own.

I'm not intimately familiar with mayoral powers of Hammond and don't know if that is exactly legal, but it was a good political move on McDermott's part to not let this drag on any further.

And it looks like the city of Evansville might be facing a similar story. The Evansville police escorted a man out of a publicly owned park and zoo for carrying a firearm openly. That man is now suing the city and the Department of Parks and Recreation seeking financial damages and an injunction against the city so they can't arrest anyone else for carrying a gun on public property. Hopefully the city ponies up a settlement and then quickly has a symbolic repeal of any gun regulations it has that conflict with state law.

I have great respect for my liberal friends, and can see why they believe what they believe even when I don't personally agree with them on most issues. But I'll never understand why some liberals have this irrational fear and hatred of guns. These dumb little gun laws, like the Indianapolis law that banned guns in parks, didn't stop a single criminal from carrying a gun into a park and using it to harm others.

And this isn't coming from an NRA member or a lifelong gun owner. I've shot guns (rifles and shotguns, and got to shoot a musket once or twice as well) when I was in Boy Scouts, and that's it. But I'd like the option to buy a gun if I ever felt the need to have one, and believe others should have that same option.

Instead of passing laws that only affect law abiding citizens, let's work on stamping out the criminal element that would use guns against us.

IN ADDITION/update: Some online discussion has questioned what the gentleman in Evansville did to provoke Evansville police to actually ask him to conceal his weapon. According to the article, it doesn't seem like he was an active disturbance until after police or park officials asked him to conceal his firearm. While a citizen not acting perfectly makes it a bit harder to defend him, I don't blame a citizen getting a bit flustered for being questioned. It's natural for most people. And it doesn't seem like any criminal charges were filed either. It seems like some of the story is missing, but it's important to note the gentleman never should've been asked to conceal his firearm in the first place. Indiana doesn't make a distinction between open carry and concealed carry.

Friday, September 16, 2011

The Problem with Pet Ownership

Reflecting on the recent Animal Care and Control proposed budget hearing, I now have learned more about the actual state of animal care (lowercase letters) in Indianapolis. And it isn't good. I witnessed this first hand earlier this evening.

I went with a good friend to Peppy's Grill, a great 24/7 diner in Fountain Square. While eating, I saw a cat while looking out the window. It was in the yard of the residence next door, so I figured it belonged to someone nearby.

I later saw the same cat while going back to my car. After getting my dog into the car, I approached the cat and it practically ran to me as I came to it. I really don't know much about animals, especially cats, but it seemed relatively young, nourished, and very friendly.

While petting it, a car drove up to me. The driver, also a neighbor nearby, said that I should take the cat. I explained to him I have a dog who just thinks that all cats are weird looking squirrels so I didn't see how that'd work out, and I asked if he knew who it belonged to. He said the previous resident of the rental property next to Peppy's Grill abandoned the cat after they moved.

During the Public Safety Committee meeting, many of those during the public comment section talked about the high number of animals that are euthanized at the shelter. While I do love animals (I've owned several dogs, cats, and parakeets at one time or another), I also recognize that the primary role of a county run animal shelter is public safety. If animals can be adopted or put into foster homes, that's a plus. But if there's too many, euthanasia has to be an option.

I read a statistic, maybe it was in a news article or maybe it was during the hearing, that an average of 22 animals per day are euthanized at the shelter. It's kind of hard to say it's only a Marion County problem, because people across Indiana can come here and drop off animals, but let's assume these 22 animals are all from the central Indiana area.

It probably means that there are too many pets and not enough responsible owners within Marion and the doughnut counties.

So what can we, both as a society and politically minded people, do? I don't have all the answers, but it's certainly something that needs to be addressed, even after the buzz over Animal Care's budget fades away.

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Council Committee Hears Animal Control's Proposed Budget

The Public Safety Committee of the Indianapolis-Marion County City-County Council met this evening to hear the proposed budget for Animal Care and Control, which falls under the umbrella of the Department of Public Safety. The person presenting Animal Care's budget was the Good Doctor himself, DPS director Frank "Call me Doctor" Straub.

The Good Doctor, who wears the same type of tie that I do when I get all dressed up, started the night off with class by reminding everyone that he used to live in New York and was in the general vicinity when the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks occurred. After invoking 9/11 verbally (speaking of which, look for The Good Doctor to get sued by former NYC Mayor Rudy Guliani for a trademark infringement), he then splashed a picture of the World Trade Center's twin towers burning in his PowerPoint presentation three days outside of the tenth anniversary of the terrorist attacks. What does this have to do with public safety in Indianapolis or Animal Care and Control? I have no idea. But now I'll have to get a new tie.

Sorry, I couldn't resist having a bit of fun at Straub's expense.

But onto the meat of this meeting.

First on the docket, and what I'm focusing on, is the proposed budget for Animal Care and Control. Even though Mayor Greg Ballard (R) said that public safety would stay flat rather than be cut for the 2012 budget, that was a complete sham. Animal Care and Control's proposed budget is being reduced by about $200,000 for general operating expenses, you know, the stuff Animal Care and Control does as part of a service to Marion County citizens. There is a total of $0 from the geniuses who put this budget together for food for the animals and, according to testimony given tonight, the shelter is constantly at full capacity. According to testimony tonight, all food at the shelter is donated. Straub specifically pointed out Proctor and Gamble, as well as Kroger, as major donors.

To their credit, several councilors at the meeting tonight expressed concerns. Benjamin Hunter (R-District 21) and council president Ryan Vaughn (R-District 3) said that they've been talking with other councilors and city officials, assuring that funding for Animal Care's basic operational expenses will be restored to 2010 levels.

Both Hunter and Vernon Brown (D-District 18) bought up over $500,000 in something that Hunter referred to as "chargebacks". Apparently, if a city department like Animal Care and Control needs assistance from another city department, like the Office of Corporation Counsel (city legal), then Corporation Counsel sends Animal Care an invoice. About $400,000 in these "chargebacks" were to Corporation Counsel, and another $100,000 was to Indianapolis Metropolitan Police Department for responding to animal calls. I was unclear if this was actually in the budget, or if they were looking at "chargebacks" from the previous budget year.

Brown asked how much the average attorney at Corporation Counsel makes, and the city comptroller responded about $50,000. Brown quipped back that it sounds like Animal Care and Control could've "ten lawyers" of their own. While that ignores health care and other expenses, his general point is sound. Considering the legal market is so bad that previously employed lawyers are now stripping for money, I don't think it'd be too hard to fill these positions even if you pay them less than Corporation Counsel attorneys.

Excuse me for asking, but what the flying hell is the point of Corporation Counsel if it isn't to handle the legal work of the city, including city departments? Do they have something better to do? And on a more serious note, where does a "cashback" for Corporation Counsel then go? Into their general fund? Into the individual attorney's pocket? Somewhere else? I'll do some digging to see if I can get some answers.

Public testimony consisted of the usual group of community activists that were joined by animal caretakers and shelters as well as several volunteers from Animal Care and Control. One long time animal caretaker held up a faded copy of The Indianapolis Star from 1994. The headline was "Deadly Wait" describing problems with Animal Control. The more things change, the more they stay the same.

Another volunteer encouraged the council to bump the operating fund all the way up to $200,000 repeating the theme that even at $180,000 and change, it's still horribly underfunded for the largest county shelter in the entire state.

And the last citizen to make a comment noted that DPS' administrative fund was $700,000, way above the proposed budget for Animal Care's operating expenses. It really shows where DPS' priorities are.

And finally, I have to give kudos to Public Safety Chairman Benjamin Hunter. He handled the large amount of citizens seeking to comment on the proposed Animal Care budget with class. Even though a buzzer was used, he didn't cut off anyone's microphone or verbally interrupted them. He also put what he knew everyone was there for first on the agenda so that the public could have their voices heard and get on with their lives.

Next up, I tuned in for the several other DPS budgets that were being heard tonight (IFD and IMPD are up next week). I've got quite a few words about The Good Doctor based on my observations from the later portion of the meeting. I'll have a post on that sometime tomorrow.

Council Candidate Vop Osili Releases General Election Commercial

I received a press release in my inbox and, to my surprise, it was about a district level City-County Council candidate getting a video together. Vop Osili, the Democrat nominee for district 15, has possibly the best commercial I've seen so far in this municipal election cycle. Osili is an excellent public speaker and comes across as genuine when speaking. When he's speaking on camera, he's stationary and sitting on a porch, which gives the feeling that he's basically talking directly to you.

On a personal note, I often drive by that Vop Osili poster while on my way to Ivy Tech's campus in Avon. It's important to remember that district 15 doesn't just encompass downtown Indianapolis, and Osili's commercial makes this point.

The challenge for district level candidates is getting enough money to actually air these commercials in late October/early November on channels with programming where likely voters are going to be tuning in. Typically, council candidates run on a shoe-string budget and any airtime they might get is usually in an ad with their parties mayoral candidate. I don't know if Osili really needs to air his commercial on television since he's running in a heavily Democrat leaning district, but if he does, it'd certainly help his profile.

If elected, Osili will be a great asset to the Democrats to promote the party within the county and possibly elsewhere. I wouldn't be all that surprised that, in a few years when the political tides are more friendly to Democrats, that Osili runs for a higher office. Could he be a new representative for Democrats in Indiana, similar to how Evan Bayh was for several years? Only time will tell.

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

The "Contest" for Renaming Georgia Street is a Complete Sham

The Powers-That-Be in this town have decided to hold a contest on what Georgia Street should be called after it's federally funded makeover is finished. Of course, these people see a problem when it isn't broken. A commenter over at Paul Ogden's post on the subject saw an interview with an Indianapolis Downtown Inc official where the official claimed that since there's nothing southern about Georgia Street, it's a bad name. Great, I can't wait until Tamara Zahn at IDI starts trying to change the cultural district's name that is Massachusetts Avenue.

The two names that have been publicly floated are "Champions Way", in reference to the Superbowl being hosted here in 2012, and "Hospitality Boulevard", which I guess is a contrived way of fitting the phrase Hoosier Hospitality into a street name.

Both of those names sound absolutely horrible, and if I was a betting man, I'd bet that they came from out-of-town consultants who don't live in Indianapolis.

Then there's the other side of changing street names: Businesses have to change business cards and basically communicate to anyone who sends them mail about the new address.

I actually like what my friend Jon Easter posted on Facebook, naming it after Mayor Bill Hudnut. Hudnut had a vision for Indianapolis and it's due to his administration that this city has grown to what it is today. I won't pretend I'm smart enough to decide if "Hudnut Street" or "Hudnut Place" or whatever rolls off the tongue the most, but I think if chosen well, a new street name would be worth the cost.

But as Aaron Renn over at the Urbanophile points out, it's very, very easy to botch a street re-naming. And it looks like it's going to happen.

Make no mistake about it. IDI and their partners in crime have a name already in mind, and that's the name that will be chosen. This is more or less a publicity stunt for some good PR. And hey, it'll probably work. Still doesn't change that, years after the Superbowl is gone and that miniscule amount of tax revenue is long since spent, we'll have a street named by PR consultants that doesn't fit in with the rest of the streets in the city.

Saturday, September 10, 2011

Herman Cain Can't Be Serious

I found Herman Cain's latest campaign commercial to be a resignation that his Presidential aspirations are going nowhere fast, so he's decided to just troll everyone and basically release his own version of tribute.wmv.

Leaning on a crutch of 9/11 is supposed to be a Rudy Giuliani gimmick. It's sad that Cain has sunk this low. And to think I actually took him as a somewhat serious candidate not all that long ago.

Friday, September 9, 2011

What Jobs Bill?

Last night, President Barack Obama held a joint session of Congress to introduce what he is calling the American Jobs Act. Obama repeatedly encouraged to pass the bill "right away", but no bill has actually been introduced to either house of the United States Congress. The Hill is reporting that the GOP House caucus sent a letter to Obama asking him to send the bill to the House so that they can study it in committee and have it scored by the Congressional Budget Office.

So I log onto Facebook and see a number of my liberal associates posting phone numbers of legislative leaders in the US Congress so people can call and encourage them to pass this proposed bill. But how can you pass a bill that, as of right now, doesn't exist? Is this another case of having to pass a bill to find out what's in it?

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Ballard's Backers Need to Grow A Pair

I've heard about these "negative" ads mayoral candidate Melina Kennedy (D) has been sending via the mail and on television about Mayor Greg Ballard (R). I mean, when most of the local blogosphere is conservative, it's hard to not hear about it.

So I decided to do something and actually look at the direct mail pieces and watch the television ads. The second of two direct mailers can be seen here, though I can't find the first one online. The videos can be seen here.

I obtained both of the direct mailers myself. The first mailer is basically her first campaign commercial, except in written form. It focuses on education, and I don't recall Ballard's name being on it at all. On the second mailer, Ballard's name is on it a total of twice, both within the same bullet point of information. Nothing negative about it.

Kennedy's second television ad talks about the supposed lack of focus on education the Ballard administration has had. While that point is debatable, I don't know if it's negative. It's an issue. Candidates challenging incumbents often compare their views with the incumbent so voters might see a difference.

All I gotta say is if these are "negative" ads, then the Marion County GOP and Ballard's backers need to put on some big boy pants and grow some alligator skin. I typically see "negative" ads as when it's a personal attack on a candidate, like, oh say, this one. Didn't see Ballard's wife or children mentioned in Kennedy's, and nothing is mentioned as a personal insult to Ballard.

And while some Ballard's Backers are crying over the tough, mean negative ads from that monster Melina Kennedy, one GOP ward chairman from Warren Township is spreading rumors about why Kennedy left her previous jobs as deputy mayor under Mayor Bart Peterson and as a lawyer with the law firm Baker & Daniels, suggesting she couldn't "handle" the pressure of the city job and that she was caught in ethical troubles at B&D. If this local politico bothered to check his history, Kennedy left the Peterson administration to run for Marion County Prosecutor in 2006, and left B&D in 2011 to commit to running for Mayor full time. He's also slammed her for working as a waitress while growing up. Man, politicians trying to relate to common people by showing they've worked the same dead end jobs others have. What is up with that, right?

If you ask me, this representative of the county GOP is going much more personal than the Kennedy campaign. Ballard's backers need to grow some thicker skin.

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

I've Been Endorsed by the FOP

Headlines were made when the Fraternal Order of Police Lodge #86 overwhelmingly endorsed Democratic challenger Melina Kennedy over incumbent Republican Mayor Greg Ballard. It's often been a topic of this blog what Ballard's public safety director, Doctor Director Frank Straub, has done to de-moralize the Indianapolis Metropolitan Police Department. And it's suspected that the endorsement of Kennedy has less to do with her public safety platform and more to do with a repudiation of Ballard's/Straub's.

Some of Ballard's last backers are pushing the conspiracy theory that Sheriff John Layton (D) gave money to 50 deputies to register with the FOP so they could vote for Kennedy. Let's see, the voting total was 125-36 in favor of Kennedy. And 125-50 is...oh, 75. So according to the conspiracy theory, Ballard still loses out on the endorsement! Also throwing off that conspiracy theory, being pushed by Marion County GOP Chairman Kyle Walker, is that 19 GOP City-County Council candidates were endorsed, including several incumbents.

The FOP also released their endorsements for the City-County Council races as well. Paul Ogden has a breakdown of the list here. His list includes party affiliation.

Apparently, the FOP isn't guaranteed to endorse you if you were a former IPD/IMPD/Sheriff. Councilor Benjamin Hunter (R), an IPD officer until 2008, was passed over in favor of his challenger Todd Woodmansee (D) in District 21 Contrast that with Jack Sandlin (R). Sandlin, a former IMPD officer, won the endorsement over sitting At-Large Councilor Ed Coleman (LP) for the District 24 race. Coleman was one of the earliest critics of Frank Straub and the only vote against him in his initial confirmation. Two Democrats and three Republicans (including two of their incumbents) were endorsed for the At-Large races.

And finally, yours truly was endorsed over Sahara Williams (R) and Maggie Lewis (D-incumbent) for the District 7 race.

I'll say both I'm completely surprised and completely honored. Despite the kind words that the head interviewer said to me as I walked out of the FOP building, I felt I had completely botched the interview. Seven officers sat at the other end of the table and asked me seven questions from the survey they had sent me. I answered with seven answers which I had sent them earlier in the day. There was no follow up or anything like that.

So I thought that was weird.

Then I started talking to other council candidates.

They all reported the exact same experience.

One of them took the straight forward interview style with a bit of humor. John Barth, a Democrat At-Large council candidate, told me he answered the questions in quick succession because he knew which question would be next. Apparently, the FOP has a sense of humor because they ended up endorsing him.

(And apologies to my Facebook and Twitter followers, since I'm basically rehashing this subject in the form of a blog post)

Thursday, September 1, 2011

Satellite Voting: What's the Big Deal?

Satellite voting (the practice of opening up satellite voting locations across the county in the several days preceding an election for in-person early voting) is, again, being made an issue with the Marion County Election Board. As the fall general election for municipal offices comes closer, the deadline to determine satellite voting locations looms as well. The Marion County GOP, being the well-oiled machine it is, can only one entire person to actually make their way to the board meeting. That person is Kyle Walker, the county GOP chairman. He says satellite voting is expensive and doesn't increase turnout. Well, the turnout part can kind of be seen as true, but I personally believe expensive is misleading.

If there's one thing government should spend an excessive amount of money on, it's voting. We should make it as easy as possible for people to cast votes. Many people don't work in the 9-5 world anymore. People hold multiple jobs that can have odd, or even unpredictable, hours. College students have classes that start as early as 7:30am or run late until 9pm. People are busy, and demand convenience. And one of those conveniences should be the ability to vote either early or on election day.

If anything, in-person early satellite voting should be encouraged. It's the mail-in absentee voting where fraud or even simple mistakes can occur.

On another note, noted county GOP apologist Ernie Shearer is quoted in the article as well, saying "We're sick and tired of you spending our money." Shearer must've forgotten that the Mayor Greg Ballard proposed and City-County Council (majority Republican) approved budgets, which he has fawned over, allocate money to the Clerk's office for satellite voting. He's barking up the wrong tree here. The Clerk's office doesn't get any money that it isn't specifically allocated in the budget.

Goldsmith's Domestic Violence Arrest Led to NYC Resignation

I just received a news alert from 93.1 WIBC-FM on my phone with a plain text statement saying that former Indianapolis Mayor Stephen Goldsmith has been arrested in Washington D.C. The arrest was due to alleged domestic violence.

The New York Post has the exclusive story.

Goldsmith is also a former New York City deputy mayor who recently was resigned/forced out by Mayor Michael Bloomberg due to Goldsmith's disastrous two year tenure, especially when it came to snow removal this past winter.

UPDATE: After reviewing the Post's story, this is not a recent arrest. It happened in early August at Goldsmith's DC residence. A police report was filed and Goldsmith did spend time in jail, but his wife is saying she never wanted him arrested, no physical altercation occurred, and she declined to press charges. New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg found out about the arrest and Goldsmith offered his resignation.