Monday, September 20, 2010

Some Pondering on the Sheriff's Race

I'll admit, I haven't followed the local offices up for election in November too closely, so here's to me making up for lost time.

This is a campaign ad from John Layton, a colonel in the Marion County Sheriff's Department (MCSD). And that ad makes me question if Layton actually understand what the Sheriff's Department does, or if he's trying to capitalize off of the public's ignorance.

I think it's the latter. While people like myself and most of my readers know that MCSD has no law enforcement duties, the general public might not. After all, it wasn't all that long ago that the consolidated police department ended up with current Sheriff Frank Anderson in charge. So I can see where the confusion might be.

But let's be clear. MCSD has few law enforcement duties. They manage the jails, handle the sex offender registry, and a few other administrative duties, as seen here. And I think Layton is capitalizing on that ignorance.

A few days ago, fellow blogger Jon Easter of Indy Democrat wrote a post praising Layton and trashing his opposition, Republican nominee Sergeant Dennis Fishburn. And while Jon isn't a partisan hack like some on the Democratic side are, he missed the mark on this one. Something I found odd was that he criticized Fishburn's lack of in-depth explanation on the issues, as seen in these admittedly brief comments made on Fishburn's Youtube channel.

In contrast, Layton had a website that had little more than a picture, an embedded Youtube video, and a quote. Oh, and an annoying GoDaddy! banner at the top informing the viewer that the site was hosted for free. They've since cleaned up the site and made it look slightly better, but you can still see the old, Geocities-era style site here in the Google cache.

And it really doesn't make Layton look better once the site comes back online. His "The Issues" portion of the site consists of two issues.

So let's be honest. There really isn't a whole lot of issues we really need to talk about and go into detail on. We assume that the MCSD will continue to carry on the required duties such as investigating into gang activity and managing the sex offender registry. But what can be done differently and more efficiently?

And that's where Layton fails as a candidate. Layton recently said "You're not going to be protected on the cheap, folks. . . . There is no fat on the Marion County Sheriff's Department."** This is absolutely appalling, especially since the MCSD has recently acquired brand new cars and motorcycles and, as I've noticed, is giving their hand-me-downs to the Indianapolis Metropolitan Police Department. I guess deputies really need motorcycles to...transport inmates from their cell to a court room, or to race to the City-County Building for an emergency data entry into the sex offender registry! If you want a MCSD that spends frivolously despite less duties, Layton is your man.

**I originally linked to the Indy Star article in this place, but the URL was screwed up, so I changed to a link to Gary Welsh's blog that covers the quote.

However, if you want a MCSD who is knowledgeable about the waste within the department, Dennis Fishburn is worth listening to. I had the opportunity to meet with Fishburn at IUPUI's Political Palooza. And to my surprise, he was as knowledgeable as I was about the issues I bought to his attention, and enthusiastic into implementing change. I told him that I was a Bart McAtee supporter in the primary, but he had nothing but good things to say about his former opponent. I went into that conversation thinking I'd be casting an anti-Layton/Anderson vote on November 2, but I think I'll be casting a pro-Fishburn vote instead.

For a "lower ballot" office, he and his campaign workers were very enthusiastic, knowledgeable, and were quick to address questions and concerns.

He's not the perfect candidate. His support for the Wishard referendum isn't a positive for me, but he isn't running for a spot on the Health and Hospital municipal corporation's board. He's running for Sheriff, and he has an open mind on bringing the MCSD into an era where fiscal discipline is a necessity for the entire city, something that Colonel Layton is adamantly opposed to.

For some excellent reading on the type of practices Layton is supporting and Anderson has carried out, Paul Ogden has written a series of articles on Anderson and the management of the jails as well as some budgetary issues. Here is the Google search of it.

One final thought. Can Fishburn win? I'm not certain. It's a Democratic county, but Republicans have overcome that hump before. I'm sure us politicos will be getting a better feel for the county races as we get closer to November.


  1. I am still wondering when Fishburn will start any TV or radio spots. I suspect they are waiting till closer to the election when people will be paying attention. I had a good chuckle when I saw Layton's ad knowing that the sheriff department does very little to police Marion county.

  2. guy77money,

    What I've gathered from news accounts is that all political campaigns are finding that they're just getting less money. Generally, post-Labor Day is when candidates start airing ads, but it's obviously post-poned for many.

    Our Senate candidates seem to have money flowing in from out of state, and some of our Congress critters do as well. I imagine that's less so for the city-county races, and the recession is hitting them hard. And as I've noted in the past, the county parties are very bad with managing their money. The MCGOP even had to borrow $3,000 from Ballard's camp in fiscal year 2009!

  3. Layton is running the Jail and MCSD, The buck stops at his desk not Anderson's. Anderson is just a figure head.
    That said, lets see how professional the Jail is ran.
    If you were a student at any school and AIDS or hepatitis was a concern. Who would you expect to clean the blood and body fluids on the floor and desks if an accident happened? Would it be a hazmat team or a janitor? How about another student with a bottle of disinfectant and some rags?
    At the MCJ inmates clean body fluids from surfaces when this happens with a bottle of disinfectant and paper towels. NO masks, NO gloves just a plastic bag for disposal into the general trash.
    A Hazmat team is called when the police discover blood and fluids at crime scenes but when there is a crime scene within our Jail who cares? ...not Layton.
    It’s only a matter of time before a law suit hits Marion County because of Layton's ignorance.
    When this happens the tax payers will take it in the shorts again.

  4. Really? John Layton has run through the ranks at the MCSD. To say that he doesn't understand what it does is laughable.

    Dennis Fishburn has, to my knowledge, never made an arrest. How can we trust someone to run the jail that has never made an arrest? He's currently the pawn shop detective and doesn't make his own arrests, there either.

    So, you've got 36 years of experience from a road deputy all the way up to the Executive Officer for Colonel Layton or 14 years of experience in the food service division followed by work as an IMPD pawn shop detective.

    Hmmm...I wonder who is the best qualified to serve as Sheriff.

  5. Layton is the poster child for ignorance, and if he is elected the citizens of Marion County will suffer. I agree with you student that Fishburn may not be the best candidate, but I would rather vote for a guy who worked in the trenches because he did not buy his rank with political favors and promises.

    If the citizens only knew half of the skeletons in Layton's closet, or the corruption that is present under his watch, they would ask why he was not in the same boat as L. Plowman.

    And as far as Frank being a figure head, if he did not have a Garmin he could not find his way to work in the morning. He is totally along for the ride at this point. All he has time to do is send out department e-mails about everyone in uniform saluting the statue out front, and he does not even ddo that by himself.

  6. Anon 2:42, I'm aware of the allegations of misconduct that focus on medical concerns and other such stuff, but I'm not very knowledgeable, and Paul Ogden has that area covered on his blog in ways I wouldn't be able to add to the discussion. I'd encourage you to go read it at the link I provided if you haven't already done so.

    Nice spin, Anon 4:09, but I guess I need to repeat myself. MCSD has no law enforcement duties outside of the ones I outlined and will rarely need to make arrests. The position of Sheriff is a glorified administrator and we don't need to hear some "tough on crime" crap because it diverts away from the actual issues. The spending in MCSD is out of control for a department with so little to do. And if it means electing someone from the trenches rather than someone "experienced" to get that done, I'd be glad to do so.

  7. John Layton has served this county with distinction the last 36 years, and he will make a fine Sheriff.

    The Marion County Sheriff's Department may not have any law enforcement duties anymore, but it's still a very vibrant law enforcement unit. They employ over 1,600 people and are still in charge of warrants, prisoner transfer, and security at the City County Building in addition to the things you say up there in your post, student.

    Dennis Fishburn is a nice fellow, but he's not ready to be Marion County Sheriff. As I say in my blog post, the Republicans ran off their best candidate when McAtee was defeated and, for them, unfortunately lost another strong one when Tim Motsinger got caught up in the whole Durham mess.

    Layton is the most qualified and ready candidate to carry on the reforms that have been indicative of Frank Anderson's term. Go back and look and see what happened before Frank Anderson to know the kind of Sheriff he has been.

  8. Maybe, 4:09, you can explain why Layton's video makes it seem like the MCSD will be actively going out to arrest people and breaking up gang wars.

  9. Anon 409,

    How can we trust a guy who wants to do nothing with the jail, and only make arrest, to run the jail??

  10. Well, 4:18, if you keep making arrests, you have a full jail and have justified your existence. In fact, you might be able to go to the circus known as the City-County Council and request a NEW jail. [/end sarcasm]

    Anybody else think we need to eliminate Sheriff as a "constitutionally mandated" office? There's just no point in doing this dumb separation with one agency doing A, B, and C and another doing X, Y, and Z.

  11. I do student, and funny you bring that up. There is a guy that works for the sheriff's department now that has said he will run as an independent in 2014, and has said that if he is elected he will work toward such a constitutional change, ala Kearnan-Shephard Report. For a consolidated city, that just makes sense.

  12. Indy Student,
    While I like most of your stuff here, you are way off base here.

    Fishburn was put in place because of the fact that Tom John and Dave Brooks hates the McAtees.

    Fishburn has less than $12,000 in the bank

    He has no experience in management.He has not managed one single person.

    He took money to be the spokesperson for Wishard,he lies when he says he did not.He never once came to a rally unless there was a TV camera there.

    He has ben a Sgt for a long time.Tels me that he doesnothave what it takes to be management.

    His job is to go to Pawn shops and lok for stolen sterios.

    If it were not for his son Jason,he would not have anything.It is sick that he is rideing his sons problem in this race.

    No one comes to his fund raisers. The one they had at the state GOP headquarters had only 9 people show up, 7 of those were his staff.

    He is a joke amoung the rank and file in the IMPD

    Maybe you should ask him how many people he has arrested?

    This is the man that you want to run the jails and the sex offendor program?

    If you think that he is such a great man, how about taking a look at his videos on you tube.They are a joke.

    I pray that we can see a debate between Layton and Fishburn.It will be the biggest joke ever.

    Layton will win by 12-16 points.

  13. Anon 8:41,

    Thanks for your response, and I think it's worth addressing a few of your points.

    I wouldn't be surprised if TOJO's hands were behind Fishburn's candidacy in some way, I just think in this case, they came out with a strong candidate. There's still time for Fishburn to forget about his campaign promises and carry on the legacy of Anderson and the political hacks before him that occupied the office.

    But the difference is is that if Layton is elected, Anderson's legacy of mismanagement of jails and frivolous spending WILL continue. With Fishburn, there's a chance it won't.

    If there's anything I've learned about politics since I've been writing and observing it, it's that money and prior experience can only do so much. Our current President had no executive experience and only a bit of "management" experience, and I don't think his lack of experience in these areas have attributed to his administration. His successes and faults and mistakes could've been made by someone with the experience just as well as they've been made by someone without.

    The question of arrests must be a talking point being circulated, since a number of comments have been left mentioning it. Go ask the sitting Sheriff how many arrests he has made in his 8 years as Sheriff.

    His YouTube videos are basically his "Issues" page, and it still edges out Layton's two entire (very, very, very short) paragraphs on "the issues" of his own site.

    As for the rank-and-file of IMPD, I'm actually looking into that.

    I've said that him supporting Wishard didn't sit well with me, but it also doesn't matter because he's running for Sheriff, not for a spot on Health and Hospital's board. If your allegations are true, I honestly would like to have more information. You can contact me via e-mail or Facebook. Info is in the Contact Me page in the upper right side of this blog.

    I would tell you to take it to the media, but the media is very Pro-Wishard and they wouldn't care.

  14. Matt...How many people were at the last Fishburn fund raiser?

  15. Unlike some of my readers, I don't use my vote as a betting chip, voting for who I think will win. I vote for candidates who I think are most qualified for the job by judging what I think of their views. And you all can keep saying "Layton is a colonel" and "Layton has more money" till the cows come home. None of that changes that Layton will be a continuation of the, at best, horrible mismanagement and fiscal waste of the Anderson administration.

    And it doesn't help that our spineless City-Council has rubber stamped his budgets despite being elected on the promise of fiscal responsibility in 2007.

    And based on what Fishburn has said, he will be going in a much different direction. And I'll be in line to criticize him if he doesn't act on it.

    If all of Layton's experience in MCSD will bring us more frivolous spending (new take home motorcycles, anyone?) and more mismanagement of the jails, maybe it's time to stop electing people with so much damned experience.

    Even though I lean conservative, I am open to voting Democrat, especially on the "low" ballot races. I'm still contemplating votes between Coats and Ellsworth and Massa and Curry. But Layton plainly saying "There is no fat" is hard to overcome/spin. As long as we keep putting people like Layton in these positions, it's no surprise that consolidation hasn't saved us a single buck.

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  17. Let me try this again....
    I have talked to many Republicans and many people in law enforcement in both the MCSD and IMPD. Almost to a man or woman, they will tell you that John Layton will make a great Sheriff.

    You may not remember this, but Layton ran for this office before. He lost. He ran before Frank Anderson left his job as a U.S. Marshall and took over the department that was in shambles after the mess that Jack Cottey left behind.

    Anderson never complained. He said "When I raised my hand, the problems became Frank Anderson's." So, he and his good people around him like John Layton went to work. They got a jail that had been under a court order for overcrowding and had been compared to jails in Tijuana off that court order and accredited today.

    The Marion County Jail is the Sheriff's Constitutional responsibility, and Anderson and John Layton have done a great job.

    Layton has a slogan "Ask Any Deputy." That's a brave slogan. I have been doing that. I have asked Republicans, Democrats, and Independents, and they generally believe that John Layton is ready to serve and will serve well as Sheriff.

    Fishburn doesn't know the job. Layton does. It's that simple. I just don't have the confidence to turn over the keys to the jail to Dennis Fishburn.

    Finally, the Marion County Sheriff's Department processes arrests. So, you had better have a sheriff that understands that process. The MCSD transports prisoners, so you had better have a Sheriff that understands that. The MCSD runs the 911 center. You better certainly have a Sheriff that understands that.

    John Layton understands these things.

    Student, I guess we'll agree to disagree. If you wish to vote for Fishburn on the basis of websites, then, so be it. Fishburn's isn't all that impressive either. Go talk to the people on the ground. Talk to John Layton.

    See what you think then.

  18. the way...the ad isn't misleading. It's a resume ad.

    Listen carefully to the ad. It just states that John Layton bleeds brown and that he's been Frank Anderson's right hand man for the last seven years. That's all.

  19. Isn't the fact that Layton is using his rank in the ad a violation of the Hatch Act?

    Or the fact that he is car 3 in the department, and obviously oversees the use of Federal Grant money at the department?

  20. Jon, while that may be what the ad actually is, I don't think the average viewer of the 11pm news would think so. They'd come away thinking "Shucks, that guy is going to be out there KEEPING MARION COUNTY SAFE." I was thinking that McAtee's commercials were deceptive along the same lines, but Layton really cranked it up a notch.

    Anon 7:24, I won't go into LHA violations, but I've never been comfortable with LEOs wearing uniforms in political commercials. I thought there was a state or federal law barring it specifically, but I haven't been able to find that.

  21. Here's a thought on this entire MCSD, IMPD merger mess that is causing so much rumbling during the election.


    Should IMPD be a fully funded and equipped full service county-wide police agency, absolutely. Should MCSD have fully sworn LEO's who are properly trained at a state certified academy, YES! It's not new, many other counties in other parts of the country run both a County Sheriff and a full service County Police or Metro Agency. In those places all people with police powers (Patrol, Jail, Court, etc.) are fully licensed LEO's with the same powers of arrest.

    Here's the kicker, THEY ALL GET ALONG! Unlike here where we seem to see constant bickering by people who think one is inferior to the other. HOW ABOUT YOU GET OVER YOURSELVES and learn to work together. If MCSD lacks propper LE training, we have an 1800 man IMPD that can help provide basic, FTO and in-service training. Places in Maryland and Georgia do it this way and amazingly it works just fine.


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