Saturday, February 26, 2011

State and County Workers Get Paid Less than Private Sector Counterparts

I was listening to 93.1 WIBC's Open Lines segment hosted by Larry Downes about an hour ago. When I tuned in, I heard a caller repeat the misleading talking point that "government workers" make 30% more than their private sector counterparts.

This is misleading in parts, and flat out false in others.

Every lie and deception starts with a truth, that eventually gets twisted. Here is where this lie originated.

Throughout 2010, USA TODAY printed a series of articles that showed that several federal departments had substantially more workers earning $150,000+ (in pay and benefits) than they did even a few years ago. Somewhere in that series, USA TODAY wrote that this was about 30% more than the counterparts in the private sector were earning.

This lie has morphed into ALL government employees, and I can say it's honestly not true.

I have several friends, relatives, and associates who work in the state and city government. When I told some of them about this series of articles, they laughed and would say they wish they got paid that much. What state and local government often do is make up for the lack of salary by giving a halfway decent retirement package.

Finally, there are jobs in the public sector that just don't exist in the private sector, thus there's no proper comparison between public and private salaries. Police and fire, for example.

Is there reform that's needed in collective bargaining and public sector unions? It's a debate that should be had. But let's not take it out on the back of the majority of state and municipal workers who work hard doing the public good, and often for very little money.

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Mike Delph's Immigration Bill Will Fail

State Senator Mike Delph (R-Carmel) recently had his immigration bill pass out of the state Senate. And even though it overwhelmingly passed both in committee and in the full body, the numbers deserve a closer look.

The GOP overwhelmingly controls the Senate, so much so that the Democrats can not attend and there will still be enough of a quorum to conduct business. Yet, the bill only passed 31-18. That means five Republicans joined a handful of Democrats in voting against this bill. When a conservative body like the Indiana Senate can't agree on something, it probably means it's doomed in Indiana's House of Representatives.

This whole immigration business, on the state level, is ridiculous. Judge Andrew Napolitano, a strong advocate of state sovereignty, believes that if the states gave up any authority when forming the federal government, it's the ability to deal with foreign powers and foreign people. Add on to that that the proposed bill has so many similarities to the infamous Arizona immigration law that Indiana will likely join Arizona in federal court after the feds file a lawsuit. Even winning that lawsuit could cost millions of dollars which Indiana can't afford doesn't have.

Our immigration system is clearly broken, but the proper place for reform is at the federal level. We need both increased enforcement at the borders and to make legal immigration easier for those without millions of dollars and a ton of time to kill. I came across this flow chart which shows how difficult it is to legally enter this country. Short of having a spouse to marry, the odds are stacked against you. Any potential employer will have to wait, so your skills better be worth waiting for or they're going to settle on someone who lives in the country.

Of course, the difficulty in enforcement at the borders is that our troops are fighting wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, and we have bases all across the world. Individual states could call up their National Guard units for border protection, but I bet a good chunk of them are deployed in the aforementioned wars. This is why we need a discussion at the federal level, because no one state can do this alone, and we can't have 50 different immigration policies.

So President Barack Obama, Speaker John Boehner, what are your ideas?

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

The Challenge for Mourdock

State Treasurer Richard Mourdock announced today that he'll be challenging Senator Richard Lugar in the spring 2012 primary, where Lugar is expected to run for re-election to an 8th term. Mourdock has been posting this video to his Facebook and Twitter accounts, which show President Barack Obama speaking highly of Lugar.

Mourdock has an uphill battle, no matter how one looks at it. Lugar has been in Indiana politics for decades, and didn't even face a challenge from the Democrats when he was last re-elected. Lugar also votes the party line the vast majority of the time, and it's hard to make an argument as to why the START treaty is bad, at least in a 30-60 second soundbite. Hell, I'm having trouble figuring out why the START treaty is bad, and I actually pay attention to these type of things.

And perhaps the biggest challenge Mourdock might be facing is the threat of other challengers. State Senator Mike Delph has said he won't be endorsing Mourdock and thus is leaving the door open for his own candidacy, and I wouldn't be all that surprised if a "dark horse" candidate or two like Don Bates Jr. jumped into the race as well. Expect to see a repeat of the GOP 2010 Senate primary where the "Tea Party" vote gets split in multiple directions, allowing the establishment candidate to sail to victory if several challengers get into the primary.

It's an interesting time, to be certain.

Friday, February 18, 2011

What Is An Anonymous Blogger's Win-Loss Record?

There's a relatively new blog in town (that I'll link to only once) called Washington Street Politics. They started up a few months ago, and besides being the "unofficial" voice of the county GOP (similar to the Indianapolis Times being the voice of the county Dems), they take some potshots at Paul Ogden.

I know many of the blogs I regularly read now link to this new blog, but I continue to refuse to. I'm fine with anonymous blogging. The now-dead Indy's Political Stock Exchange was entertaining, and never tried to discredit politicians or other pundits. But when anonymous bloggers use the veil to personally and professionally discredit others, that, in my mind, crosses a line. It just reeks of petty, vindictive behaviour.

Somehow, I doubt that the folks behind this blog will ever have the cojones to stand up and be counted. And I also doubt they'll change their childish antics in regards to Paul Ogden. So until they do, they'll continue to be not linked at this blog. They're an entertaining read, but I can't take them seriously while they keep up these childish antics.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Those Durn Kids Today

Whenever a subject combines both religion and morals as well as politics, you often get to hear a piece from the religious fundamentalist. The fundie will go on and on about how society is in a downward spiral, how kids today are just lazy slackers and nobody wants to do an honest day's labor, and they're all so immoral, and what happened to the good ol' days and blah blah blah.

It's disappointing, to me, to hear this type of rhetoric. People I consider friends have expressed these types of thoughts to me, and personally, I find it insulting, ignorant, and a bit ironic as well.

I find it insulting because, as a 20-something year old, I'm a part of the generation that they're criticizing.

I find it ignorant and ironic because the elder generations have ALWAYS criticized the younger generation for a lack of morals, a lack of work ethic, and so on and so forth. One only needs to look at the history of rock and roll (and, as part of that history, blues, jazz, and country too) to find that the religious fundies of the 1930s and 1940s criticized the younger generation for listening to this music, and claiming that it caused them to lose all sense of decency. But when the teenagers and 20-somethings of the 1930s and 1940s grew up and took over the world, it didn't go to hell in a hand basket.

Does my generation face challenges? Yes, most certainly. But I don't think it's anything insurmountable. Give us a chance before you decide to heep criticizm upon us. And right now, the world is still largely in the older generations' hands.

Saturday, February 12, 2011

Slating Results

Both the County Democrats and County GOP held their slating conventions today for the 2011 municipal elections.

The Dems had two contested races for two slots for their At-Large ticket. John Barth won over Pat Andrews in "Slott B", and LeRoy Robinson won over Annette Johnson in "Slott D".

I'm not surprised in the least at either result. Barth has been running since early 2010 and raised a decent amount of cash. Andrews raised some funds too, but she might've came in a bit late in the game.

Robinson came in late in the race too, but a personal dispute between the Marion County Democrats and Johnson became public when the county Dems sent out this mass mailer to many precinct committeemen.

Johnson has previously told me that she does not plan to run against the slate, though I haven't spoken to her in some time. I'm unaware of what Andrews plans are at this time.

Congratulations to both parties for what appears to be lively events. Now, onto the primary!

Jon Easter weighs in with some stats and his thoughts.

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

To My Democrat Friends

Picking up on a theme from Bil Browning's latest post: Where's the outrage?

Where's the outrage over HJR06 passing out of committee?

The Indiana Democrat Party has said nothing more than a Tweet and giving a link to a news article on their Facebook page.

The Marion County Democrat Party are more silent, not saying anything on Twitter, through a press release, or even through their unofficial spokesperson.

Compare that to the Libertarian Party of Indiana, which has had three separate posts on Facebook concerning HJR06 and promises of a press release soon to follow.

I've also noted the silence from LGBT organizations (besides Indiana Equality, which organized the opposition's testimony yesterday), but I'm not quite as willing to throw organizations under the bus run by volunteers. I'm going to make a few phone calls and see what I can find out.

Monday, February 7, 2011

How to Rush a Resolution Through the State House

I attended the Judiciary Committee hearing on HJR0006, which is the proposed amendment that would define marriage as between one man and one woman...and does some other stuff as well. Those advocating for this amendment don't want we, the people, to pay attention to that second part, because it could have wide-ranging consequences to any unmarried couple in the state of Indiana. Representative Eric Turner does little more than say "Well, it won't" when questioned on how "Part B" of HJR0006 will affect domestic violence statutes, domestic partner benefits from public and private entities, and so on. As Doug Masson puts it, "Well, if Rep. Turner says so, I guess that means we can go ahead and ignore the actual text of the proposed amendment."

So let's do that and move on. While "Part B" is something I'm concerned with, I'm more concerned about the whole package.

So say you're a Republican committee chairman trying to get your bigoted resolution rushed through as quickly as possible. You know you're dealing with a group of citizens who've organized large demonstrations previously. So what do you do? Schedule the hearing for 10:30 on a Monday morning, coincidentally the week after snow hit central Indiana resulting in several business and school closings. Most people, after several days off of work and/or school, will have to get back as soon as possible. It just wasn't possible for a large group of citizens to make it here, and there were only about 30 people up in the public balcony area with me.

I found it quite ironic that several of the amendment's most fervent supporters, including Eric Miller of Advance America and Senator Brandt Hershman, have been married multiple times. I guess the definition of marriage can evolve to allow divorces for straight people, but no further than that.

The most entertaining testimony advocating for HJR06 came from Micah Clark, head of the American Family Association of Indiana. He suggested that re-defining marriage causes marriages to become less "super", and eventually meaningless. And then he threatened to abandon his wife and two kids if HJR06 wasn't added to the least, that's what I picked up from his testimony.

The best testimony from the opposition was from a gentleman who wasn't scheduled to speak, Patrick Roth. Roth's testimony would be perfect if it was for a debate on legalizing marriage equality. Unfortunately, that isn't the subject. The subject is to prevent discriminatory language appearing in our constitution.

I have to say, the outlook is bleak. The passage of HJR06 and it's Senate counterpart is all but inevitable. The only bright side to this is that a proposed constitutional amendment has to pass two separately elected legislative bodies.

It's time for members of the state who support marriage equality to remember that elections have consequences.

Advance Indiana and Doug Masson also weigh in.

UPDATE: I've been informed that a few members of Parents, Families, and Friends of Lesbians and Gays (PFLAG) were on the House floor near the back and encouraged Roth to speak. If you have a Facebook account, you can see Roth's speech here.

Out and About on a Monday

I'll be at the Indiana State House today attending today's hearing on HJR0006, which is the proposed constitutional amendment to define marriage between one man and one woman (Oh, there's a second sentence too, but no one wants you to understand it or even read it). You can follow me on Twitter or friend me on Facebook to get my uninformed, unedited, stream-of-consciousness thoughts.

Saturday, February 5, 2011

Some Happenings at the State House

Two of the proposals that I'm most interested in are up for a hearing in the Indiana House and Representatives and the Indiana Senate, respectively.

The Indiana House is hearing HJR0006, which is the resolution that would define marriage in our state constitution. It would be the first time our constitution is used to discriminate rather than promote rights. Indiana Republicans have repeatedly passed this resolution in the Senate several years, but Pat Bauer (D-South Bend), then Speaker of the House, refused to give it a hearing. Current Speaker Brian Bosma (R-Indianapolis) has previously stated that the anti-LGBT resolution is "the most important of the people's business" while on the floor of the House of Representatives.

This joint resolutions goes against both my personal opinion and common sense. My opinion is that rights and privileges should be equally available to all citizens under the law, no ifs, ands, or buts. Any marriage involving two, non-related consenting adults is fine with me.

Common sense says that Indiana law already defines marriage when the state legislature passed it's own versions of the "Defense of Marriage Act". That law was even upheld by an Indiana appeals court.

If a joint resolution passes both houses of the General Assembly with the same language during two consecutive sessions, it then goes to a state-wide vote to be voted for or against by the citizens of Indiana.

A committee will be hearing the resolution Monday, July 7 at 10:30am.

State Senator Mike Delph (R-Carmel) has also introduced an immigration bill that is similar to the Arizona law that was passed in 2010. Passing this law could put us in the middle of a federal lawsuit that could end up bankrupting our state. Regardless of one's opinions on Arizona's law, let's wait until the dust settles instead of charging in head first into enforcing immigration.

Delph's proposed legislation will be heard February 9 at 3:30pm in the Senate Chambers.

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Vop Osili and District 15 Vs At Large candidacy

I've been doing some mulling over the announcement that Vop Osili will be running for City-County Council District 15. Osili was the candidate the Democrats nominated for Secretary of State, but only won a handful of counties, including Marion County.

There was a lot of Internet Blog Speculation about Osili running for an At-Large seat, but I think that was coming from speculators who were basing their statements on rumors rather than reliable sources.

I think Osili has his sites set on a career in politics. It must be hard in the world of politics to go from running for a state-wide office for a full time job down to a part-time legislative office.

But in Indiana politics, it seems you need to establish a record of winning, and establish it quickly. Recent history is full of established winners and perennial candidates, and after a candidate loses, it seems like they aren't taken seriously as an office seeker anymore.
Osili saw the writing on the wall. He needs to establish a record of winning elections. And while he could've run for an At-Large seat, he would've faced stiff competition from previously announced candidates. And as Joanne Sanders demonstrated in the 2007 municipal election,the At-Large seats don't always go the way of the mayoral race.

Running for district 15 is almost a guaranteed win, and Osili will be able to spend a large amount of time campaigning for his fellow Democrats in the mayoral race (Melina Kennedy) and other council candidates in more competitive districts.

Osili has a future in Indianapolis, and maybe even state wide politics. But he needs to prove to the powers-that-be that he can be a positive and effective force. He made the right decision in running within a district rather than At-Large.