Tuesday, December 20, 2011

And Speaking of Michele Bachmann...

Maybe it's because she's barely hitting double digits in polling, but I think Congresswoman Michele Bachmann (R-Minnesota) has achieved some type of Zen-like state. Maybe when you know there's nowhere to go but up, you can really speak and act freely on the GOP Presidential primary field.

Because I've been impressed with her campaign performance recently.

I thought she had an excellent debate performance a few nights ago. I know Republicans like to talk about Reagan's 11th Commandment, forgetting that Reagan ran against an incumbent Republican President in a primary and almost won, but she did something that few of the other candidates have been willing to do themselves: differentiate from the other attacks, and attack.

And she did both in the same night. Several times.

And I think that helps people take her seriously as a candidate.

I don't think it's because any of her policies have changed. But she is skipping the easy bullet points in the debates and going for the substance. She's giving interviews to media outlets that aren't necessarily considered "friendly grounds" to Republicans. and she is doing well. She's working these fairly large crowds on her Iowa bus tour from early in the morning until late at night.

Compare that to former Senator Rick Santorum who is still going for the easy applause lines in the debates. Who, from what I've heard, isn't all that much of a people person. Who, despite practically living in Iowa since 2010, is polling comparably with former Governor of Utah Jon Huntsman in the single digits.

Huntsman, by the way, isn't campaigning in Iowa at all and is exclusively focusing on New Hampshire.

I don't think this resurgence of Bachmann is going to get her the nomination. That is a steep hill to climb. But I do think she'll be able to bow out having run a good race, and I think that will at least put her on a Vice President list for the eventual nominee.

Friday, December 16, 2011

It's Not Often I Defend Michele Bachmann, But... Part II

Congresswoman Michele Bachmann was 100% right about Speaker Newt Gingrich's activities as a historian lobbyist during Thursday's Republican POTUS candidate debate. Bachmann correctly attacked him for cashing  big, fat checks from Freddie Mac, an institution that lives off of taxpayer money.

Gingrich has previously said that politicians who take money from Freddie Mac should be jailed, but he made an exception for himself because he wasn't an elected official.

 But Bachmann shot back, saying you don't have to be a registered lobbyist to peddle your influence.

This wasn't the only thing Bachmann knocked Gingrich over the head with. Bachmann attacked him for his support for government sponsored enterprises and for campaigning for pro-choice Republican congressional candidates. At one point, an irritated Gingrich viciously said to Bachmann "Ms. Bachmann doesn't have her facts straight."

The Friday morning punditry are even accusing Gingrich of sexism, saying that he wouldn't talk that way to any of the male candidates. And I agree. He has gentlemanly disagreed with everyone else in the debates, but has given snark responses in past debates to Bachmann.

I think Bachmann has gotten a raw deal, both from the Republican Party establishment and from the news media as part of these phony debates.

Don't mistake this as an endorsement of Bachmann. She's FAR out there on a number of issues that I passionately disagree with her.

But at least she's a serious candidate. Gingrich, someone who has been a part of the Washington establishment for 20+ years, is on a damn book tour.

Save The Star? What's There to Save?

Blogger and former Indianapolis Star journalist Ruth Holladay has extensively covered the Indianapolis News Guild's fight against cutbacks that have been mandated by Gannett, the Star's corporate owner. These cuts include a reduction in overall staff, pay cuts, pay freezes, and probably a whole lot of other things that makes it harder for the largest newspaper in the state to cover local and regional news.

And the guild's demands are not unreasonable. Despite it being a very tough time for the traditional print media, the Star is still overall profitable, and Gannett is taking in tons of cash. But they're largely doing it by cutting newspapers to the bone, outsourcing everything that isn't the kitchen sink, fluffing papers with wire stories and...well, that's about it.

So why am I reluctant to write about this? Why am I not out in the streets chaining myself to one of those new electronic parking meters that are on Pennsylvania right outside of the Star building?

Basically, what's the big fuss? This has been going on for years.

I'm often critical of The Indianapolis Star, what they do (and don't) report on, and what they editorialize for and their logic in their editorials. But I also know there are a lot of passionate employees who work at the Star, including their reporters and photographers. I know this because, if I make a factual mistake in critiquing the Star, I hear about it. Straight from them.

And when the Star wants to commit resources to covering a story, they can do an excellent job. They've been right up there with television media and blogs with coverage of the LiTEBOX and Duke Energy scandals.

But all too often, "coverage" of a story will be reduced to being trivialized in the Behind Closed Doors gossip column, such as was done with the coverage of Councilor Ryan Vaughn's conflict of interest in the parking meter scam sale. Or it'll be casually dismissed in a sentence within an editorial or a Tully column, as was done with criticisms of the water utility sale.

And this isn't something that developed over the last 6 months. This has been persistent over the last 2-3 years, at least.

So if I can be convinced that, if the Guild gains these concessions then the reporters will be able to pursue more stories, more aggressively, more often, rather than the sporadic appearance they are now, I'll be out there with a megaphone leading the charge. If that means whatever barriers are stopping reporters now will be lifted, then count me in as a supporter!

Until then, I'll just watch, observe, and hope for the best.

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Can Ron Paul Win Iowa?

The latest numbers, with full metrics disclosed, have come out of Iowa in the upcoming Republican caucus contest to nominate a POTUS candidate.

And what's the headline Public Policy Polling leads with?

"Paul closes in on Gingrich".

Former Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich is the latest "Not Romney" front runner of the pack, but it appears his support is very soft. He's lost five points total, and his favorability numbers are down as well as support among those who describe themselves as members of the Tea Party movement.

Congressman Ron Paul, however, has not only gotten his 10-12% rabid and fired up, but built upon it. His favorability numbers are up, and Public Policy Polling notes he's doing well with young voters, first time voters, and non-Republicans. PPP notes this is a similar path that now President Barack Obama took when he won the Iowa caucuses in 2008.

Paul's supporters are also more committed to him, with only 54% of Gingrich supporters saying they'll stand by their man.

So what can we expect from here on out?

Expect Paul's campaign and related political action committees, as well as former Governor Mitt Romney's POTUS campaign and PACs, to keep hammering Gingrich with negative ads. For three weeks. Watch Gingrich's numbers sink like a rock. Watch Paul activate his ground game in Iowa, which really was never abandoned since his 2008 run, and the other candidate's numbers will sink because none of them besides Romney have a ground game in Iowa.

Even though Romney is trying to win Iowa, I suspect there is one candidate that he wouldn't mind winning. He'd absolutely LOVE it if Ron Paul won Iowa. That would kill the campaigns of most of the has-beens in the GOP field. Texas Governor Rick Perry and Gingrich might be able to limp along to South Carolina and Florida, but being defeated by Paul would be a miserable way to start the primary season.

Meanwhile, Romney, like Paul, is looking at the primary fight further out than just the first handful of states, and both have the money and infrastructure to work it well into March.

As I've commented before, don't count Governor Perry out just yet. But if he wants a viable shot, he needs to not be beaten by Ron Paul.

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Politco Discovers the Blatantly Obvious: Newt Gingrich Isn't Serious

Former Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich is the latest "Not Romney" to take the lead in national polls and most every state for the Republican POTUS nomination, including Iowa. But Gingrich is quite literally being attacked by all sides. Senator Tom Coburn and any Congressional Republican who could get in front of a camera have taken to the airwaves to talk about how they can't support a Gingrich campaign exactly because they know how horrible of a leader he is. Former Governor Mitt Romney, Congressman Ron Paul, and Governor Rick Perry are all running ads against Gingrich in Iowa, a key state that Gingrich needs to win to carry on to later primary states. Radio show host Michael Savage has offered Gingrich $1 million to drop out, saying that Gingrich will be seen as a "fat, old man" against a debate with President Barack Obama, and would lose against Obama.

So looking at Gingrich's actual campaign, the folks at Politico have wondered what anyone with a brain has known for some time. Newt Gingrich is not a serious candidate for the Republican POTUS nomination. He is on a tour to up his speaking fee, sell his books, and hock his movies.

His entire campaign staff in Iowa quit months ago, and upon that happening, he went on vacation. His campaign has no money. His schedule is erratic and he isn't spending time where he needs to. He has no ground game and isn't planning any media buys. He won't be campaigning aggressively in Iowa until December 27, 2011. His hand-written naming of potential delegates of New Hampshire falls short of the 40 really needed when even the low polling Jon Huntsman could name 40 people who supported him.

Nevermind some of his disastrous policies. At least the other guys and gals are seriously campaigning because a part of them wants to be the President of the United States.

But Gingrich doesn't. He wants to up his speaking fee and sell books. He wants to cash in on his public service, something he's been doing every day since he was forced to resign by his own Republican caucus in 1999. I think it's absolutely disgusting that someone can abuse campaigning for the highest elected office in the country in this way. He should refund every dollar to any conservative who thought he was seriously running, because he has deceived them and conservatives and Republicans deserve better.

Broad Ripple Parking Garage Becomes Hot Mess

Once upon a time, the Powers-That-Be had decided that Broad Ripple needed a parking garage. And if you had talked to anyone from Mayor Greg Ballard's office, outgoing Council President Ryan Vaughn (Broad Ripple lies in the council district he represents), or the Broad Ripple Village Association, they were all singing the praises of how amazing and awesome this garage would be. It'll bring a much needed police sub-station to the community, a little more retail, and almost 300 new parking spaces. Sure, we're kicking in $6.3 million dollars for a garage that we get no revenue from, no ownership of, or really no control at all. And sure, similarly  sized parking garages (that look nice, if I may say so myself) contain more spaces and cost less than this $15 million proposal. And yes, the contract between Keystone Group and the city has never been made public.

But hey! New parking spaces! Electric car charger! Safe bike parking!

Man, how times change.

Now the Broad Ripple Village Association's Land Use Committee is refusing to support the proposed parking garage because it's changed drastically compared to the plans they first saw and used to convince BRVA members of how awesome it is. Two businesses near the proposed site, including a veterinarian clinic, are remonstrating against the garage and the several zoning variances they're hoping to avoid.

The vet's specific complaint is that the bank drive-thru exits directly into a small alley, which the vet's employees use to walk dogs. It's a very small alley that I doubt sees a lot of traffic and a bank drive-thru would greatly increase that.

And before anyone mentions the current Chase drive-thru located in the same area, it's designed so any cars exit onto College rather than the alley.

Retail space has expanded from 14,000 square feet to 25,000, so maybe Broad Ripple will get a Wal-Greens after all! At the same time, they want to make spaces much smaller, and aren't even trying to hit the promised 350 spaces.

It also looks like the structure is going to expand and overflow from the property so that some of it will be above the sidewalk. This just sounds like it's going to be a big, huge structure that will be an eyesore for what is considered the "entrance" to Broad Ripple.

Also, it looks like the electric car charger and internal bike parking have been completely removed from the re-designs way back in October.

If we're absolutely determined to blow $6 million on this, how about we start from scratch and make sure it isn't a boondoggle?

For more information:
Indy Star article
Advance Indiana
Had Enough Indy? (which has links to several other relevant posts)

Saturday, December 10, 2011

Rick Perry's Iowa Ad: My Thoughts

Governor of Texas and Presidential candidate Rick Perry was one of the few serious contenders in the Republican presidential field who currently holds political office, and the only one who currently serves as governor of a state. The political pundits were spouting off about he was planning to campaign on the Texas miracle of job creation (of course, I'd say if you put a bunch of oil in my backyard I'd be able to create jobs too, but I digress). He seemed to be the candidate who could bridge the Republican Establishment and the Tea Party/grassroots in Republican politics. Of the three candidates the re-election campaign of President Barack Obama was watching before the primary really kicked off, one of them was Rick Perry.

Perry, whose high point in the polls as "Not Romney" essentially was the day before he officially entered the race, has been plagued by problems on the campaign trail. His overall debate performance has been horrible, his gaffes (especially for someone who has been in elected office for most of his adult life) numerous, and his ability to do "retail politics" almost non-existent. This is in stark contrast to what has reportedly been his history in Texas, where everyone and their mother SWEARS he's actually a really good campaigner.

So what does the "jobs" candidate put out in his first big ad push as some likely caucus attendees are starting to pay attention? Well it's about dem gays and school prayer!

Are these the issues Iowa Republicans really care about? Will this ad help motivate someone to go to a school gym or a church basement and attend a caucus for a couple of hours while they may still be nursing a New Years' hangover on January 3, 2012?

Well, maybe.

Iowa is one of the few states that has legalized same-sex marriage. In Varnum v. Brien, the Iowa Supreme Court ruled that essentially the state has no business restricting marriage licenses to same-sex couples but recognizing and issuing them to opposite-sex couples. That 2009 decision was unanimous. In the following 2010 retention election, all three justices who were on the ballot were dismissed by voters due to active campaigning from religious organizations such as the National Organization for Marriage. Republicans in the state legislative branch have introduced constitutional amendments to ban same-sex marriage (and essentially overturn the court decision), but it has been blocked by Democrats who have, since 2009, controlled at least one house of the state legislature.

And if the GOP voters care about that, they may also have the misconception that prayer has been "banned" from schools.

I know every liberal pundit in the world has been going "lol most disliked YouTube video ever", but in the age of the Internet, we need to remember that these political ads are being made for the early states, not for the entire nation. Also, YouTube users are idiots.

And right now, this ad (I couldn't find the other where he's wearing the same jacket) "re-introduces" Rick Perry. It's folksy. It has some good background music. It's just him. If he can run this for a week, then put something with some bite in it before Christmas that REALLY lays it into Romney/Gingrich, then air something positive (maybe about his jobs or economic plan?) between Christmas and January 3, I think he has a shot of at least keeping his campaign alive long enough to go for a win in South Carolina. Especially if Newtmentum ends of self-destructing.

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Sting Operations Nabs Former Politician?

Word on the street is that a sting operation nabbed a former high ranking political figure. He was allegedly caught soliciting a male prostitute in a downtown Indianapolis hotel. The sting took
place around 2pm today. As I get more details, I'll make a new post.

And usually December is a lull in juicy political gossip.

UPDATE: The only notable name that seems to appear in yesterday's sting operation is a Brian Hasler. There's a former Democratic state representative who also goes by that name who is now a lobbyist.

Saturday, December 3, 2011

More on Redistricting: Don't Trust David Brooks

I've previously talked about the details of the actual effort of redistricting in terms of the actual process. Now I want to tell you why David Brooks, the man charged with proposing maps for precincts and Indianapolis-Marion County City-County Council districts, is not trustworthy.

David Brooks was contracted by outgoing Council President Ryan Vaughn (R-District 3) to make maps for new precincts and new council districts to the tune of $225,000. This contract was not open for bid and was not approved by the full council or any other body. To the best of my knowledge, no one else was even consulted about the contract, including the rest of the Republican caucus and Mayor Greg Ballard (R).

According to the Rules of Professional Conduct, an attorney is essentially an advocate for their client. They are supposed to represent their client's best interest. They aren't allowed to do anything illegal, but they are under no obligation to have your best interests at heart unless you're cutting the check.

Even if you're a member of the council, the body that has the authority to redistrict, he is under no obligation to give you good advice. He is only there to represent the interests of his client, Council President Vaughn.

I'd highly encourage members of the council, advocacy groups, and citizens to to take Brooks' opinions on redistricting with a grain of salt. He is hired to serve his client's interest, not yours.

Friday, December 2, 2011

First Thoughts on Council Redistricting

Though I've commented on other forums, I've been hesitant to comment on my own blog because I really wanted to fully educate myself on the issue of council redistricting and the adjustment of precincts. I mean yeah, they released these half-assed in the early afternoon two days before Thanksgiving, and four public meetings have been called sporadically and pretty much only posted about on a handful of websites.

But I digress.

Say what you will about Mayor Greg Ballard and his major initiative pushes such as the water company sale and the parking meter deal, but I think he had some pretty good marketing people. Even though I was harshly critical of both deals, I always had councilors and contacts on the 25th floor who would answer my questions and engage me in civil discussion. Both of those big pushes were stretched out over several months. Yes, it was mostly a dog-and-pony show in public forums, but at least they existed and it appeared at least some people appeared to be think they were genuinely working for the people.

In this case, this is a completely political move from this "non-political" mayor, Greg Ballard, and Council President Ryan Vaughn.

Let's first establish this. David Brooks, the attorney that Vaughn unilaterally hired to do the reprecincting and redistricting, is a blatant political figure. Brooks, a longtime figure of Marion County GOP politics, is the chairman for Center Township. Ironic, considering he lives in Hamilton County.

He also doesn't come off as very friendly, or someone who has spent a lot of time in public life. I don't know what area of law Brooks practices in, but I wouldn't be surprised if it's an area of law where he spends a lot of time pouring over thick legal books in some office. He got a bit testy tonight to some Democrats in the audience, as well as representatives of Common Cause Indiana and the League of Women Voters. Say what you will about the Ballard folks, but most of them have been able to keep their cool even when being questioned. They might DODGE the question, but they don't resort to sighing loudly or try to completely ignore the person asking the question.

Oh, did you want to see specific maps of the districts? With like, streets and stuff? Then come on up to this HUGE table with a bunch of folders...that's kind of confusing and intimidating. It might be a bit confusing, because it's based on the old precincts. Or it's based on the new precincts, but those aren't approved yet. Or something. I kind of got lost. Brooks also doesn't really know how to project his voice, so it was hard to make out what he was saying at times.

I asked a question both about the legality and the timing of this.

I quoted Indiana Code, which states (emphasis by me in bold):

So I asked him if it's legal. Brooks simply responded "Yes, it's legal" and then was silent for a few seconds and was looking for a sign that I was satisfied with that answer. I wasn't, and I don't think anyone else in the room was either. So he expanded on it saying that it can be done this year, but it also must be done next year. He theorized that it could be as simple as re-affirming what happened this year.

I also asked about the timing. Yes, I wanted to ask about the $225,000 payment he got, and how much work he actually did, and all that jazz, but I'd be hitting a stonewall. So I went for the quick argument. They introduce this thing at 1pm two days before Thanksgiving, schedule four meetings in various parts of town at the last minute, are introducing this Dec 5, and are expecting a vote Dec 19th from the full council. And at some point, a committee hearing is going to be held as well. Maybe that's a bit too close for the Holidays? Maybe some councilors will be out of town? Maybe some citizens who'd like to pay closer attention would be out of town?

Brooks suggests that the council could review this and take it under advisement, but that's simply not true. Dec 31, 2011, at 11:59pm, all legislation pending in the council dies as the clock hits midnight, including this redistricting if it doesn't pass.

One of the first questions Brooks was asked was why Irvington was broken up into three different council districts. After this was mentioned. Brooks had this stunned look on his face, as if he was just now learning about this information.

Oh, and this was preceded by a bunch of banter about keeping "communities of interest" together. Apparently, "communities of interest" is code for packing a bunch of Democratic leaning voters together in a handful of districts, but splitting up neighborhoods that, if done right, can lean Republican.

Also, why am I talking about Brooks so much? He isn't an elected official. He can't really address the legislative aspect of redistricting. But not a single elected Republican was there. Only one councilor, Brian Mahern, bothered to show up. Though honestly, a lot of the bickering between Mahern and Brooks lacked substance. One extended debate was about access to the redistricting software, and Brooks mentioned he only had a one-use license. Software licensing is really expensive, and purchasing a multi-use license for something you only use once every four years might not be the wisest fiscal move.

But Mahern does get credit for getting Brooks to admit that he met with absolutely no one while redoing the precincts and redistricting the districts.

Overall, this was a complete waste of time to attend. I'd encourage anyone who was planning on attending next Tuesday's event to just go to your favorite bar and have a few drinks. You won't have learned anything about how redistricting works, but hey, at least you'll be a bit drunk.

State House Republicans: Let's Drug Test Dem Poors

Two Indiana statehouse Republicans plan on introducing a bill in the upcoming three month 2012 legislative sessions on drug testing welfare recipients (or more specifically, those getting money benefits from the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families). Presumably, those who would test positive would be disqualified from these benefits.

Believe it or not, this has been done before in Florida. Governor Rick Scott, who owned an investment in a chain of urgent care clinics in Florida which he later sold under political pressure, pushed hard for this legislation to pass. Scott has claimed that "Studies show that people that are on welfare are higher users of drugs, than people not on welfare".

Funny, because only 2% of those tested in Florida failed, while another 2% didn't or refused to take the test. The article linked to above kind of goes back and forth on the OTHER argument, that if it actually saved any money by kicking these people off of TANF, but let's save that for the other time.

Let's go with the argument that dem poors do more drugs than us civilized folks.

According to the Office of National Drug Control Policy, Florida's overall rate of illicit drug use is 8%.

Last I checked, 2% is less than 8%.

So poor people aren't more likely to use drugs, and the financial savings on it are questionable at best. So why are we in Indiana considering this?

I think this will kind of turn into one of those pieces of legislation that isn't intended to pass and when Democrats vote against it, you'll see it on direct mail pieces in October 2012 saying "Liberal elitist Ed Delaney voted to GIVE A BLANK CHECK to HEROIN ADDICTS who want to RAPE AND EAT SMALL KITTENS!" Basically, they want to turn those damn poor people into the new Republican boogie man. The older one, gays and lesbians...I'm sorry, "protecting traditional marriage", has to wait to be played until at least 2013.

So with this being a time where the so-called middle class is decreasing, and more and more are relying on TANF and other forms of public assistance, is this really a wise move?

And what's the real point in all this? To kick people while they're down? To save a few thousand bucks, if that? What about the other leeches in government? Lobbyists, contractors (especially the lawyers who send invoices for hundreds of hours of work that aren't even audited and are essentially cut a blank check), the elected officials themselves? There's no shortage of juicy gossip of what goes on after hours in some of the hotels downtown while the legislature is in session.

So while I'm overall against drug testing in theory, let's put it into practice. Anyone, corporate welfare, political welfare, or regular welfare, give us a hair sample and piss in a cup.

Yeah right, who am I kidding. That'll never happen. That's way too logical and fair.

Thursday, December 1, 2011

ICVA Releases Horrible Super Bowl Ad "Promoting" Indy

You'll want five minutes of your life back after you see this.

The Indiana Convention and Visitors Association posted this clip on one of their YouTube channels. The word on the street is it was intended for a trade show of some sorts. But I don't think that makes me feel any better.

This clip basically epitomizes every single complaint I've ever heard about ICVA and Indianapolis Downtown Inc and all the other similar organizations all rolled into one. That they're frankly not only downtown focused, but primarily focused in the "Mile Square" and everything else is on their own.

The overall message I got from this ad was:

  • We have like, six hotels, total.
  • If you aren't staying at one of these downtown hotels, you're probably a loser.
  • Use the Skywalk so you don't have to see or watch or hear or feel anything unseemly, like snow or cold or salt on a sidewalk.
  • Don't ever go outside.
  • Eat at in-house restaurants.
  • We can't stress this enough, don't ever go outside.

One very reliable source, who generally holds ICVA's media work in high regard, is telling me that this little clip cost $35,000. ICVA released a statement saying

This clip seems to have gone "viral", with even many of my non-political Facebook and Twitter friends commenting on it. At the time I'm writing this, there are 146 "Dislikes" on YouTube compared to 62 "Likes".

Finally, ICVA uploaded this comment to their video:

To reiterate, this video was produced to pre-promote a trade show in Chicago for convention and meeting planners. The goal was to showcase our hotels and convention center and have some fun with the fact that we're hosting the Super Bowl. As a parody it was not intended to be taken too seriously and, by no means, was it meant to encapsulate all that Indianapolis has to offer. It didn't cost a dime and nobody was hurt in the filming of this video.

Make of it what you will, though I personally don't buy the whole "didn't cost a dime" line.

UPDATE: The video has since been yanked. You can read this blog entry from the ICVA blog and see their train of thought and how they're obviously lying through their teeth. I love how they keep repeating that it was for a trade-show and only intended to them, but then people point to their Twitter and Facebook feed where it was ALSO posted. One commenter even notes that the Facebook posting says, specifically, to "Share It".

On the one hand, if this is the worst screw up that happens during the Super Bowl, we're lucky. On the other hand, if these marketing geniuses don't know how to use the "Unlisted video" option on YouTube, or how to embed a low quality video in an e-mail, then I question if they can handle marketing Indianapolis during the Super Bowl.

The sports blog DeadSpin was particularly brutal.

Monday, November 28, 2011

Susie Day and Mike Speedy Think Lincoln Plowman Should Serve Sentence at Home

State Representative Mike Speedy (R) and outgoing councilor Susie Day (R) recently wrote letters to Judge Larry McKinney. The subject matter: Pleading their case so that convicted felon Lincoln Plowman could serve his sentence outside of prison. Plowman, a former Republican councilor and high ranking IMPD officer, was recently convicted on federal charges of bribery and attempted extortion.

I think it's absolutely disgusting that Day and Speedy wrote these letters just so their friend won't have to go to jail. I think it's sickening that people like Day and Speedy see nothing wrong with Plowman using his power and influence within his government jobs to enrich himself and his "clients".

I think it says a lot about our elected officials' moral compass that someone can betray the public trust, use government resources for their own personal benefit, and cost taxpayers thousands of dollars, and they think it's appropriate for that corrupt person to sit at home as punishment. I can't help but wonder if they'd give the same type of leniency to someone who steals $100 from a gas station. That's far less money than what Plowman stole.

If you were on Facebook at the time Plowman was convicted, you'd see members of the City-County Council talking about what a great, moral, awesome, kind, compassionate, amazing person Lincoln Plowman is. That this isn't the Plowman they know. That they can't believe he did this. That he's just a swell guy.

I've got news for those councilors: Your friend was convicted in a federal court of abusing the public's trust. It took a jury of his peers only a few hours to convict him. And I think it says a lot about you, personally, that you guys continue to defend this man.

If you feel like contacting Mike Speedy and Susie Day to tell them how you feel about this issue, here's how to reach them:

Mike Speedy:

Susie Day:

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

It's Not Often I Defend Michele Bachmann, but...

Recently, Presidential candidate and Congresswoman Michele Bachmann (R-MN) appeared on Late Night with Jimmy Fallon. When she was introduced, Late Night's house band, The Roots, played her out with "Lying Ass Bitch", a song by ska-punk band Fishbone.

To his credit, Fallon conducted a good interview and Bachmann must've found her Zen place or something, because she's been doing well on the campaign trail the last couple of weeks.

But it was absolutely shameful that she was introduced with that song and I can't believe how some people on the Left, who would be screaming misogyny if Nancy Pelosi or Michelle Obama was introduced with a song like that, are brushing this off as humor. You'd see the nut jobs from Democratic Underground and other fringe organizations gathering signatures and Occupying NBC and it'd be the outrage of the year.

It's too bad. I actually really like The Roots, but this'll make me think twice before I buy concert tickets to see them.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

The Ongoing LiTEBOX Drama

And before anyone says, yes, LiTEBOX is the way all the company's officials have been using it.

LiTEBOX's Twitter account is really quite bizarre. I mean, at first, it just looks like it posts whatever their Facebook page posts. But sometimes they get into Twitter debates and stuff like this slips out.

Apparently, someone from LiTEBOX thought that there'd be some great, awesome puff piece in the Saturday edition of the Indianapolis Star.

Then when, surprise, nothing appeared in the Star about LiTEBOX the Saturday before the election, this bizarre tweet was posted along with a link to a (now deleted) Facebook post.

Then the much talked about job application was posted with these great, awesome, easy-to-follow instructions. Kind of odd that this job application is one page long, asks for a Social Security number, doesn't ask for work history, personal or professional references, or really ask for much. Also, it's hosted at "freepdfhosting.com" because I guess LiTEBOX's website couldn't handle the awesomeness of a job application!

Oh, also, you aren't actually applying for a job at LiTEBOX but you're applying for a job through CFA Staffing, which is a company that seems to largely handle temporary work.

Oh, also, remember those detailed, easy-to-follow instructions that LiTEBOX typed out, such as "fill out this form" and "click the submit button." They follow it up with this Facebook post that essentially says "Don't do any of the stuff we previously said and, in fact, do the opposite". Then they talk about a SEVENTEEN PAGE JOB APPLICATION that will be posted at some point, which I think kind of screws over the people who've already applied, but I digress.

And this is the business that our man Mitch described as "visionary"? If he's head over heals in love with this, then I've got a bridge he might be interested in.

Saturday, November 12, 2011

Republicans Blame Everyone But Themselves for Council Losses

Last Tuesday, the citizens of Indianapolis-Marion County elected divided government. Mayor Greg Ballard, a Republican, won his bid for re-election. At the same time, the At-Large seats on the City-County Council went from two Republicans, one Democrat, and one Libertarian to all four being held by Democratic representatives. The only other switches were in two district races, where a Republican gained a seat held by a Democrat, and a Democrat gained a seat held by a Republican. That gives Democrats a three vote edge.

Recently, Republicans across social media and blogs have decided to simultaneously dismiss the Libertarian party as useless and also call them "spoilers." Jon Elrod, a former representative in the Indiana state legislature, pens a post over at Capitol & Washington on the race between Republican Jack Sandlin and Libertarian Ed Coleman in council district 24. You can read it for yourself, but it essentially boils down to "Haha! Looooosssseeerrrrrrs!" This isn't Elrod's only rant against Libertarians. His Facebook page is literally filled with them.

But then I started seeing some other people on social media and in the blogs (particularly Paul Wheeler, better known as Patriot Paul) saying the Libertarian At-Large candidates were "spoilers" for the Republican At-Large candidates. While not outright stating this, the logic is that if Libertarians didn't run people in a certain race (in this case, the At-Large City-County Council race), then enough of the votes would've gone to the Republicans so they'd win. That essentially these votes "belong" to the Republican party.

Let's just assume that the notion that all the votes that went to the Libertarian candidates (especially Bill Levin's, who ran a bit above the other Libertarians in that race) would've otherwise gone to other candidates.

Why else would the Republicans lose the At-Large council seats?

I think one reason might be because there was a lot of new blood among the At-Large Republican council candidates, which is odd considering they won three of the four seats in 2007.

Over the years, their incumbents went from three to one. Only Barbara Malone ran At-Large in the previous municipal cycle. The other three, while they all have a history of working within the Republican party, hadn't done much in terms of running for political office. I've also heard from several sources that Malone had been dodging attending community events that she previously either committed to attending or had a history of attending.

I also think the Republicans faced stiff competition from the Democrats. The Democrat At-Large candidates essentially ran as a team, and it showed. Leroy Robinson, Pamela Hickman, Zach Adamson, and John Barth were often seen together at candidate forums and community events. All too often, only 1-2 (if any) Republican At-Large candidates showed up, even in areas and groups that tend to trend Republican.

Anyone else see the irony of the party that supposedly stands for personal responsibility and pulling yourself up by the bootstraps is trying to blame everyone but themselves for their political losses?

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Do the Democrats Have a Real Majority on the Council?

Over the last two and a half years, when Mayor Greg Ballard had a major initiative that required a council vote, sometimes a Republican or two would dissent and vote against it. And almost always, like clock work, the precise number of Democrats needed to pass it would abandon their caucus and vote for the deal.

Paul Bateman and Jackie Nytes, both incumbents who won't be on the council next year, crossed over and voted for the water utility sale. Bateman crossed over and voted for the parking meter sale as well, likely due to the promise of minority contracting.

And while those two were the most reliable votes to cover up Republican dissenters, other Democratic councilors showed that they'll be there to back Ballard if they have to.

José Evans voted for the infamous City Way/North of South deal where we'll be giving Eli Lilly a $100 million loan to build a huge new campus that they couldn't get financing for anywhere else. This vote was shortly after Evans abandoned his mayoral ambitions, where he often said that "Indianapolis needs a mayor who cares about the neighborhoods just as much as he cares about downtown." Ironically, this vote was for a huge downtown construction project which, well, only benefits downtown.

Finally, Vernon Brown was there to vote to re-confirm Frank Straub as director of the Department of Public Safety. Never mind that Brown's full-time employment is with the Indianapolis Fire Department, but I digress.

I think if the Ballard people can twist the right arms, they can probably get most of their legislative agenda through the council. It'll be a razor-thin margin on most votes, but it can probably be done.

I guess the old saying might be true. "I'm not part of an organized political party. I'm a Democrat."

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

The Morning After: Indy Municipal Thoughts

I'm furiously refreshing the "unofficial" results at the county clerk's site as I type this.

While the details are still being hashed out, it looks like my prediction of a 17 seat council majority for the Democrats is holding true. They're headed to capturing all of the At-Large seats and gaining at LEAST one district seat as well with none of their incumbents in danger. The Republicans, however, are losing the At-Large seats and might be losing Christine Scales seat in district 4.

Democratic mayoral nominee is trailing in the votes to Mayor Greg Ballard and it looks like he'll get by with 52 or so percent of the vote (also as I predicted).

Unfortunately, the Republicans are holding onto the southern district 24 seat with Jack Sandlin. Ed Coleman and the Libertarian Party gave it a good shot, but the power of incumbency and a major party are really difficult to overcome.

A few more interesting notes: My friend Jeramy Townsley was actually ON THE BALLOT in district 9 as an independent. He got over 300 votes placing him at just under 5%. Congratulations to him. I know my friend Curt Ailes (who writes for Urban Indy) had some nice things to say about him, and it's always hard running against two major party candidates.

Finally, it looks like my friend and fellow blogger Josh Featherstone broke 5% and 300+ votes running in the near-eastside district 21. Congratulations to him! He ran way ahead of the Libertarian baseline. I'd sure like to know how he did that.

Now that I pointed out what I found interesting, here is my analyses.


I've said it before, and I'll say it again: There is a perception that Ballard is just some average guy trying to do good in the world, that he focuses on the nuts and bolts, that he isn't political, and that is part of his appeal. I know my Democratic friends will disagree, but that perception exists, even among people who normally vote for Democrats.

That can basically be summed up in "Welp, Ballard hasn't screwed up."

Kennedy, however, was rarely critical about specific policies of Mayor Ballard. Sure, she said the city should be a "better negotiator", but she never said she'd cancel the parking meter privatization, and was virtually silent on the water utility sale. She also never said what she'd do differently, outside of the area of education.

Because she couldn't demonstrate that Ballard screwed up, and couldn't give voters a reason to vote for her, she lost. I believe more than a few Democrats crossed over, supported their council candidates, and voted for Ballard.


The Democrats played the better game in terms of campaigning. Even the candidates that didn't have a ghost of a chance, like Jackie Butler in district 5 and Scott Coxey in district 23, probably wore through a few pairs of shoes in how much they canvassed their districts. Those efforts didn't pay off in their districts, but it did thrust the At-Large Democrat candidates to victory.

For the most part, Democrats put in quality candidates in the council races and put forth a lot of effort, and it shows. They won in a landslide in most of the districts they were defending and At-Large. As more precincts come in, Leroy Robinson's 4th place had enough of a buffer so 5th place finisher GOP Barbara Malone wasn't much of a threat. It also helps that Robinson is a fierce campaigner and Malone has skipped out on several candidate forums during the election cycle.

While having a council majority isn't very sexy for Democrats (councilors aren't big fundraisers, Mayors are), I think it gives them a lot more power to leverage if they choose to use it.


Democrats: They need to soul search and find out why reliable Democratic voters supported Ballard. In four years, they need to find a candidate that can articulate how a Democratic mayoral administration will be different than a Republican mayoral administration. Kennedy failed to do that, in detail, and that's part of the reason why she lost.

Republicans: They need to soul search on how to win council races. Ballard won, but he had no coattails, suggesting that independents and Democrats supported him but didn't support GOP council candidates. The powers of incumbency are great, and it'll be easy for Democrats to defend most of these seats. How do Republicans win any of them back? Frankly, I have no idea.


I remember back at HobNob, Jim Shella theorized that Ballard could win re-election, but he might win it while Democrats take back the council. Ballard just insisted "No, we'll carry the council", and said it again when Shella questioned him. I don't know if Ballard has had to work with Democrats yet. He'd be wise if he scheduled a meeting with the new caucus, and soon. Otherwise, expect a lot of his agenda to hit a brick wall come 2012.

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

2011 Election Open Thread

Today's the day. Not only are there municipal elections in Indiana, but Ohio has a ballot initiative concerning the limitations placed on collective bargaining for public employees and if to keep that law on the books or not. Mississippi has a proposed constitutional amendment to define "personhood", which I guess is some pro-life/anti-abortion thing? Sounds pretty silly to me, but I digress.

You can check out my Indy predictions, without context or analysis, on Twitter.

Now get out and GO VOTE! Indianavoters.com if you need any further info.

Monday, November 7, 2011

Candidate Profile: Vop Osili (D-District 15)

Vop Osili is no stranger to Indianapolis or politics. He was the Democratic nominee for Secretary of State in 2010, gaining a majority of votes in Marion County ensuring the Democrats get placed first on general election ballots for the next four years. Before that, he has a lengthy resume of activism within the Democratic party and the Indianapolis community, including being a member of the board of directors at the Children's Museum.

I was discussing my interview with some Democratic friends of mine last weekend, and I commented how Osili jumped straight to the point with no beating around the bush. What usually takes about half an hour to get to, he took 15 minutes, so my interview with him was more like a conversation than anything else (Which is how good interviews should go, but I digress).

I'll admit that choosing to write about Osili's candidacy seems a bit off at first. After making it out of a contested primary, district 15 (which consists of most of downtown and the Haughville area) is heavily Democratic, so it's pretty much a guaranteed win. But district 15, more contemporarily, has one issue that interested me more than anything else: It's had three council representatives over the past four years. Of those three, one was forced to resign after it was revealed that he didn't live in the district, and another was MIA for several weeks without explanation.

How does that affect Osili? He's seen by some as a potential rising star in the Democratic party, not just in Indianapolis-Marion County, but in Indiana. I asked Osili directly if he can commit to a four year term. He reflected a bit on the question and said that, during the primary, he really felt that this race was exactly what he should be doing at this time as a public servant and he said he can commit to four years.

When asked what issues are a priority for district 15, he pointed out two issues that I haven't heard many candidates talk about: homelessness and employment for non-violent ex-convicts. He explained that the homelessness problem shouldn't just be viewed as a way to clean up the streets and make downtown more appealing, but as a humanitarian effort. In both cases, he points out that vocational training can help so they become more desirable to employers. I asked him about some municipal initiatives that the Ballard administration has undertaken to employ ex-convicts, and he said that the government can't employ everyone, but it can create an environment to make them more employable.

Asked about a comprehensive smoking ban, Osili made it clear that he's in favor of a comprehensive one. But he said he'd vote against any proposed ordinance that would provide exemptions.

Osili and I talked a bit about the politics of the race, and he asked how things look in his district. I mentioned it heavily leans toward Democrats, and after a Democrat candidate makes it through the primary (Osili faced two challengers during his May primary), it's smooth sailing from there. Osili mentioned at one point that he once read that district 15 is the most diverse districts in terms of ethnic diversity, and I'd agree with that. But I'd also point out that almost every other part of the county is becoming more diverse as well, and that's causing a lot of the county to trend Democrats with only a few pockets here and there that trend Republican.

But I quickly mentioned that this doesn't mean a win for Kennedy. I told Osili that there is a perception (regardless if it's a "true" perception or not) that Mayor Ballard is seen as an average guy who is working on the nuts and bolts issues of the city and people appreciate that, and typical Democrat votes might cross over for him. When I said there's also a perception that Ballard isn't a "political guy", Osili repeatedly loudly tapped his Starbucks cup and had a bit of a grin on his face.

After meeting with Osili, I really appreciate his passion that he has for Indianapolis. I hope his passion can transfer into getting some work done if he's elected. Because right now, there is a real lack of leadership on the City-County Council.

Candidate Profile: Benjamin Hunter (R-District 21)

EDITORS NOTE: This is the first in a series of candidate profiles for the upcoming municipal election. While I do have my own opinions, I believe the purpose of this blog is more to inform than to opine. While I don't "softball" interviews, I want the candidate's answers to speak for themselves so my readers can make an informed decision at the polls.

The first candidate profile is Benjamin Hunter, the incumbent Republican councilor in district 21. District 21 is an east side district that contains the Irvington and Cumberland areas.

Meeting at the Lazy Daze Coffeehouse, Councilor Hunter and I started off with some issues that we had started discussing on Facebook.

During the Public Safety Committee budget meetings, Hunter and Councilor Vernon Brown (D-District 18) talked extensively about "chargebacks" within the Animal Care & Control budget. Asked to explain what a chargeback is, Hunter says it's essentially when another city department uses it's own resources to assist another department to carry out it's needs. When that service is provided, one city department essentially charges the other for the service, and eventually the city department in need of the service reimburses the city department providing the service. Hunter singled out Corporate Counsel (City Legal) and information technology as the two biggest issuers when it comes to chargeback.

Since chargebacks can't exactly be predicted, they are included in a section of the budget for estimated costs. Several times, Hunter said he "isn't a fan" of chargebacks and joked that some departments could practically hire an entire law firm with what they currently pay in costs to Corporate Counsel. The trick with chargebacks, as far as Hunter is concerned, is if you need someone in a field for a specialized task, that money still needs to be there in those cases. But he hopes to tackle these issues further in future city budgets.

In a discussion about consolidation over the last several decades, Hunter segued into the topic of how time consuming council work can be and talked about how, initially, he wasn't planning on running for re-election. But after talking with fellow Republican and council president Ryan Vaughn (District 3), he agreed to run for one more term. He also said he thinks it's funny that some people think he's only on the council to run for Mayor in a few years, which he ruled out.

He talked about what he sees as accomplishments the council and the Mayor Greg Ballard (R) administration has made during his term, such as the sale of the water company, the infrastructure improvements on both the "wet" and the "dry" side of the city, and the long-term parking meter lease. Hunter said that while it's worth having a discussion on how these were structured, he believes that ultimately it was the right decision to pass them due to the noticeable improvements.

Hunter says that the big issue that faces the east side is still an image problem because of its association with crime. He thinks the media could use some education on what the east side really is, while at the same time the city needs to continue to cultivate the environment that has led to development in areas such as Irvington.

He also talked a bit about the police reform package that he authored that passed the council. "I didn't have someone from Corporate Counsel write it for me," Hunter said. He felt that his experience as an officer in the Indianapolis Police Department gave him experience to back up where reform was needed.

A lot has happened since Hunter proposed a comprehensive smoking ban in 2009, which ended up being tabled by the full council. The state legislature took up a smoking ban in the 2011 session, and Governor Mitch Daniels even said he'd sign it. But the ban died in the state Senate when advocates for the ban refused to add exemptions. I questioned Hunter what his views are on a smoking ban considering what all that has happened and he stated "My views haven't changed." He explained that it's just one of the things that will give Indianapolis an edge in attracting young professionals and businesses. When asked, he said that he would introduce a comprehensive smoking ban if re-elected.

One of Hunter's final remarks was about the size of the council. He mentioned "nine councilors, full time" would be a good fit for Indianapolis-Marion County. Currently, the council is a part time job and has 29 members (25 districts, 4 At-Large).

Hunter is often thought of as a moderate within the GOP, but I found it interesting that he described himself as a conservative at least once. It shows how political beliefs and philosophies can really be diverse at the municipal level of government.

Later in the day, I'll finish my piece on candidate Vop Osili, the Democratic nominee running in district 15.

Guest post: The Case for Kennedy

EDITOR'S NOTE: I have reached out to the mayoral campaigns to make their case to the readers of my blog. These guest posts only reflect the author's view in their role as an official within their respective mayoral campaign. This in no way should be viewed as an endorsement from me, either of the candidate or any opinions expressed within the guest post.

The follow is a guest post by Jon Mills. Mills is the communications director for Democratic mayoral nominee Melina Kennedy.

I have 2 small children, and we often talk to them about the “choices” they have when making decisions. Tomorrow, our community faces a choice. To some, the choice of who to vote for might seem of little consequence because both Mayoral candidates seem like fine individuals. But even if both candidates are “good people,” this choice is important because it will shape Indianapolis’ future and will impact whether Indianapolis is a City in which our children want to live and raise their families when they grow up.

When I think of my kids, here’s what the election comes down to for me. We need a mayor with a vision for the future. We need results. We need a mayor who focuses on today’s challenges and tomorrow’s solutions, not the past. We need a mayor who understands that the choices we make today will have tremendous consequences for tomorrow. We need Melina Kennedy.

The incumbent frequently talks about how bad things used to be. And while I believe he has not made much progress on a variety of fronts, from joblessness to crime to education, I’m most concerned by his lack of vision for the future. Paving streets is fine, but it is not enough.

Sadly, Indianapolis used to be known as a regional leader; over the past four years we have fallen behind our peers. Take jobs and wages, as an example. The IBJ recently reported that, over the past 4 years, Indianapolis has lagged behind Cincinnati, St. Louis, Nashville, Pittsburgh, Columbus and Louisville in jobs and wages. We can do better.

Melina has put forth a plan that focuses on job creation where it most frequently occurs: small businesses and local entrepreneurs. Melina understands that attracting national and foreign companies to Indy is important, but unlike Mayor Ballard, she has specific plans to help local businesses grow jobs right here as well. She understands that we need to create an environment that inspires our brightest minds to stay and open their own businesses here.

Melina also “gets it” when it comes to education and improving educational outcomes of our children. She understands the link between success in school and success in life, and the impact quality schools can have on our neighborhoods, poverty, crime, and jobs. We also can’t afford to have more families leave the city out of concern for our schools. As just one significant part of her plan, Melina would take almost 1/3rd of the proceeds from sale of the water company and invest it where our educational leaders agree it will do the most good: quality early childhood education. When children arrive at school ready to learn, it pays long term dividends to our entire community in reduced crime, less poverty and better jobs.

I also agree with the police, the prosecutor and the sheriff, who have endorsed Melina because they believe she will do a better job reducing crime. My wife and I feel less safe today than we did four years ago. We are worried about car break-ins and home invasions in our neighborhood. We need a mayor who will work better with neighborhoods to reduce crime and make us feel safer. Candidate Ballard promised 750 new officers – Mayor Ballard never delivered them. Kennedy has a specific, achievable plan to put 100 officers back on the streets and return to true community policing.

The incumbent may be a decent guy who is trying hard, but we can do better. We need a leader like Melina who listens, inspires and leads with vision. Tomorrow we have an important choice – and I know that if we elect Melina Kennedy to be our next Mayor, we will be positioning this City well not just for tomorrow, but for the long term.

Guest Post: The Case for Ballard

EDITOR'S NOTE: I have reached out to the mayoral campaigns to make their case to the readers of my blog. These guest posts only reflect the author's view in their role as an official within their respective mayoral campaign. This in no way should be viewed as an endorsement from me, either of the candidate or any opinions expressed within the guest post.

The follow is a guest post by Megan Robertson. Robertson is the campaign manager for the re-election campaign for incumbent Mayor of Indianapolis Greg Ballard (R).

In 2007, our city faced many serious challenges. A review of the Indianapolis Star in October of 2007 outlines the problems facing our city back then – rising crime, abandoned homes, skyrocketing property taxes AND an increase in income taxes, crumbling streets and sidewalks and no plan to address it all.

Then we witnessed the biggest political upset in Indianapolis history. Mayor Greg Ballard, a 23-year veteran of the US Marine Corps, came to office, rolled up his sleeves and took on all those challenges. He started by putting taxpayers first, bringing fiscal responsibility and sound financial management back to city government.

Mayor Ballard acted quickly to bring responsibility for public safety back to the Mayor’s office. Four years later, overall crime is down 7%; property crime is down, and violent crime is down. In fact, 2009 and 2010 had the lowest number of murders in 15 years. With a military background and experience in recruitment, Mayor Ballard is leading the most comprehensive and important reforms of IMPD – implementing long overdue performance evaluations and merit-based promotions to professionalize the police department, as many departments across the country have done for years. Mayor Ballard is committed to community policing and is investing in high-quality police officer training and new technology to help fight crime.

While other cities across the country have raised taxes, cut services or laid off police officers and firefighters in this tough national economy, Indianapolis stands in contrast. We have improved city services and protected our public safety budget – all while property and income taxes are lower.

Four years ago, Greg Ballard campaigned for property tax reform, and as Mayor, he led the charge at the city level by publicly supporting property tax caps at the statehouse. Governor Mitch Daniels has applauded Mayor Ballard’s role in this critical issue. With property tax caps now in place, 98.5% of city homeowners’ property taxes are lower than in 2007, with the average homeowner seeing a one-third reduction.

Despite the worst national economy since the Great Depression, in 2010 we had the single greatest year in attracting new job commitments and capital investment to our city. Indianapolis attracted more new job commitments in one year than Melina Kennedy recruited in 2002, 2003, 2004, and 2005 combined – and that was in a good economy. We are setting the stage for job growth and nearly 13,000 more people are employed in our city since January.

Our potential for growth is receiving national attention. Forbes recently named Indianapolis the #1 Next Big Boom Town in the Midwest, the Wall Street Journal ranked us in the Top 7 cities for business start-ups and Newsweek says we are among the Top 10 cities best poised for economic recovery.

Fiscal responsibility and a commitment to improving our infrastructure help position Indianapolis for the future. Through RebuildIndy, neighborhoods are benefiting from significant improvements to streets, sidewalks, and bridges. We are also removing thousands of unsafe, abandoned homes and buildings, including Keystone Towers and Winona Hospital. The value of these projects is not only about better infrastructure, but it is also public safety. Additionally,we have increased connectivity, created a bicycle-friendly city and we are becoming more sustainable.

Mayor Ballard has expanded charter schools to meet the demand and provide better opportunities for more students in our city. He supports education reforms which put the students first and bring greater accountability to our schools because everyone deserves a good education.

We have made a lot of progress but there is more work to do. That’s why I ask for your support for Mayor Greg Ballard on Tuesday, November 8.

Saturday, November 5, 2011

Municipal Hodgepodge

I'm taking a break from my pseudo-election guide (IE I have barely written any of them), but I've got a few tidbits kicking around here and there.


I've got to hand it to two candidates for City-County Council for the worst yard signs. They go to candidates Len Farber (D-District 3) and Jackie Cissell (R-At Large).

I've only been seeing Farber's yard signs recently, even though he had a primary challenger and the baseline Democratic vote in district 3 makes it a competitive district. This might indicate the lack of support his campaign has gotten from the Democratic party and Democratic donors. Onto his sign, a good chunk of it is white. Yes, white. It has a blue streak that leads to his name.

I found the white background made it hard to quickly read anything on the yard sign and I'm fairly certain I missed several of them on Kessler before finally seeing one.

Cissell's sign is this type of bright orange, similar to what a road construction sign might look like. It isn't as bad as Farber's, but it's not so easily readable like Ballard's or Kennedy's are.

In another part of the Yard Sign wars, I'm just not seeing a lot of Barbara Malone yard signs. Malone is the only incumbent Republican At-Large councilor running for re-election that was elected in 2007. I've heard from several traditional and new media outlets that she is dodging media requests or refusing interviews. She has the power of incumbency, but can she pull off re-election?


If you're an average voter who only kind of pays attention to politics, you'd probably have no idea that two Republican At-Large councilors aren't running for re-election. Kent Smith resigned when his National Guard unit was called up for active duty, while Edward Coleman party switched and is running as a Libertarian in district 24 on the south side of Indianapolis.

So how would you find out about the new At-Large GOP candidates?

I don't know if you would.

I recently received three very large direct mail pieces from the Indiana Republican Party that attacked Kennedy and connecting her to the former administration of Bart Peterson. On that same day, I also received a smaller direct mail piece from the Marion County Democrats that included photographs of Kennedy, the four At-Large Democrat council candidates, and the district candidate. On the back was a sample ballot encouraging me to vote straight Democrat.

I know the At-Large races are typically low priority, but it seems like the council GOP candidates (and a few on the Democratic side as well) are not receiving a lot of support from their party, even when they're in politically viable areas. And that's a damn shame.


District 24 is unique in the council elections this year. Both candidates can claim incumbency , kind of. Coleman was elected At-Large as a Republican and is running for re-election in his home district. Jack Sandlin, the current district councilor, was appointed to the position after Mike Speedy won a state house election in 2010. Unlike every other district, there is no Democratic challenger.

My sources are telling me that Ed Treacy, chairman of the Marion County Democratic Party, is asking Democrats in district 24 to vote for Coleman. And it isn't so much asking as it is ordering. I think Treacy is preparing for a thin margin of error on the council, and a Coleman win could eliminate an otherwise reliably Republican district.


I'd like to publicly thank both the Ballard and Kennedy camps for responding in a timely manner to my requests for a guest post on this blog to advocate for their candidates. And I'd also like to thank my GOP and Democratic friends for getting me in touch with the right people. I know how crazy competitive campaigns can get in the final days before the election so it means a lot that these busy political people responded positively to my request.

But I think it also speaks a lot about how valuable new media can be in politics, especially in these smaller elections where votes can be decided within a couple thousand, a few hundred or even a few dozen votes! Especially in the case of the blogosphere, it allows candidates to directly connect with politically aware citizens.

I'm going to publish both posts at 8am Monday morning, and each will have their own post with it's own title and comments section.

I'll be writing up my candidate profiles throughout the day tomorrow. I had the opportunity to sit down and chat with incumbent councilor Benjamin Hunter (R-District 21), candidate Vop Osili (D-District 15) and candidate Michael Kalscheur (R-At Large). I originally intended to do candidate profile questionnaires via e-mail, but I felt I was asking similar questions to other voter guides out there, so I opted not to do it.

Busy few days up ahead, and I'm sure there's more to come!

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

More On The Negative Campaign Against Christine Scales

Today, I received three (yes, three) pieces in the mail from the Indiana Republican Party on Melina Kennedy, the Democratic nominee for mayor.

I first thought about what a waste it was to send three negative direct mail pieces to the same address on the same day addressed to the same person. I mean sure, they were about different subjects (one about crime, the other jobs, and the final one on crime, jobs, and taxes), but I digress.

But then I turned my thoughts back to the negative campaign being waged by Democrats against Councilor Christine Scales, a Republican running in the 4th district of Indianapolis for re-election to the City-County Council. Her opponent, Kostas Poulakidas, is one of the most well financed campaigns for council in Indianapolis history. And that money can buy a lot of direct mail pieces.

Poulakidas and the Democrats, aided by the Indiana Democratic State Central Committee (and perhaps aided by a $5,000 contribution Poulakidas gave the Indiana Democratic Party), first sent out this postcard-like mailer and later sent out a follow up. The postcard reads "Paid for and authorized by the Indiana Democratic State Central Committee."

In these several GOP pieces on Kennedy, the disclaimer reads "Paid for by the Indiana Republican Party. www.indgop.org Authorized by Greg Ballard for Mayor"

I'm not intimately familiar with campaign finance law or what types of disclaimers are required on mailers, television ads, and so on. But I find it interesting that the disclosures are different and, in my opinion, more honest on the GOP side.

UPDATE: Terry Burns and Kip Tew, both Democrat insiders, are taking the stance that THEIR negative mailers in district 4 are just "lighthearted" and "a joke." Nevermind that their mailers lied about Scales' council attendance record and distorted the Capital Improvement Board bailout vote, a vote which a majority of their Democrat councilors voted against.

Monday, October 31, 2011

How to Use Your Ballot

EDITOR'S NOTE: This is the first in a series of the election guide I'm preparing for my readers. I have invited both the Kennedy and Ballard camp to make their case in a guest posting on this blog. I've also sat down with several City-County Council candidates, and am sending out e-mail surveys for others. But first, I contacted the Marion County Clerk's Office, which is currently run by Beth White, a Democrat.

I asked the Clerk's office several scenarios and how to properly fill out a ballot in each scenario. To appear completely unbiased, they use stuff like "the Purple Party" or what have you.

Each entry in this election guide will be tagged with "Election Guide". I'll also start a Page (on the right hand side of this blog) that will link to all Election Guide entries.

Remember, you need to bring your photo ID to vote in Indiana. For additional information on voting, visit Indiana Voters or contact the Clerk's office.

1. How can someone only vote for one political party's candidates?
The simplest way to cast a vote for one party's candidates is to use the straight party device. A voter would darken the oval next to political party's name, which means a vote will be cast for every candidate on the ballot for that particular party. (Do not darken the party emblem or underline the party name, which occasionally happens and does not capture the person's vote.) There is no need to darken the oval next to the candidates if you are using the straight party device and only want to support candidates of one particular party. However, a voter can choose to skip the straight party device and darken ovals next to every candidate of the same party.

2. How can someone vote in races and spread their vote across several political candidates/parties?
Instead of using the straight party device, the voter would darken the oval next to the individual candidates they are supporting regardless of party affiliation. Another option is to 'scratch.' This means a voter would use the straight party device but also cast a vote for a different party in one or more races. For example, Vicky Voter is supporting all of the Orange Party candidates except in the dogcatcher race. She wants to vote for Yellow Party's candidate. Vicky could darken the oval on the Orange Party's straight party device and then darken the oval next to the Yellow Party's dogcatcher candidate. The machine will read the ballot as a vote for every Orange Party candidate except for the dogcatcher race where the Yellow Party candidate gets her vote. Her other option would be to skip the straight party device and simply darken the ovals next to each individual candidate she is supporting.

3. Can a "straight ticket" voter vote in a race if their party isn't running a candidate in it? If so, how?
Yes. Let's say the Blue Party has candidates in all but the dogcatcher's race. Only the Orange and Yellow parties have dogcatcher candidates. A voter can darken the oval next to the Blue Party's straight party option and then select either the Orange or Yellow party's candidate for dogcatcher. The machine will read this ballot as a vote for every Blue Party candidate except in the dogcatcher's race where either the Orange or Yellow party candidate the voter selected will receive the vote.

4. It's my understanding that there is at least one write-in candidate in at least one of the races this year. What is the process of voting for a write-in candidate if the voter chooses to do so?
To vote for a write-in candidate, a voter darkens the oval next to the write-in option and writes in the candidate's name on the line provided. Only those candidates that have declared themselves to be a write-in candidate (or another declared candidate for that office) will have their votes counted. The official list of write-in candidates should be made available at theclerk's table on Election Day.

Friday, October 28, 2011

An Indianapolis Monthly Must Read

There is an excellent article within Indianapolis Monthly that focuses on the three LGBT candidates running for the Indianapolis-Marion County City-County Council this November. Zach Adamson has been running since 2009, made it through the county Democrat party's slating and the primary, and will be running At-Large. Tood Woodmansee and Jackie Butler were appointed by Democrat County Chairman Ed Treacy after the primary to run in council district 23 and 5, respectively. Ironically, Butler is running against Ginny Cain, one of the most anti-LGBT voices currently seated on the council.

While the overall point of the article is to show how far the LGBT community has come in Indianapolis (indeed, Indiana will be one of only a handful of states with an elected LGBT politician), it really is a great biography piece for Zach Adamson. He's a Democrat's democrat, but this guy isn't beholden to anyone. He'd be a great asset to a legislative body which is in desperate need of the type of experience and character Adamson brings to the table.

Tomorrow, I tackle some endorsements I've been reading over. Here's a preview: When you write about your endorsement process and say "all the candidates suck", you don't have to endorse someone. Just skip that district and move onto the next.