Sunday, April 29, 2012

What is Susan Brooks Up To?

Susan Brooks is one of several candidates vying to be the GOP nominee in Indiana's 5th congressional district. The 5th district, which has gone from (arguably) THE most Republican district to just a heavily Republican district, will almost certainly go on to win the general.

Brooks' candidacy is kind of an odd one. She has a lot of money and a lot of establishment backing. But early polling by the presumed frontrunner, former Congressman David McIntosh, had her polling at 5%. I don't really have any reason to believe that she isn't in the lower tier of the major candidates (the others being McIntosh, Dr. John McGoff, and Marion Mayor Wayne Seybold).

But if Brooks is going to strike a chord, I think she might be banking on her name recognition in Marion and Hamilton Counties. And more specifically, maybe even the parts of Marion that are new to the 5th district. She has scheduled several events in those areas over the next few days.

Oh, and did I mention she's been hitting McIntosh pretty hard in direct mail pieces (Photo credit to @KozInIndy)?

And in the yard sign war reports, I'm seeing several of Brooks' signs on residential property within Pike Township. It is worth noting part of Pike Township falls within Mike Delph's Senate district. Delph has endorsed Seybold, but I don't think that has affected the minds of Pike Township voters all that much.

The following is a press release from the Brooks campaign.

GOP 5th Congressional District candidate Susan Brooks will meet voters in Hamilton, Marion and Boone Counties as follows from April 30 – May 4, 2012
Monday, April 30
7:30 a.m.                    Hamilton County Business Issues Candidate Connection
                                   The Mansion at Oak Hill, 5801 E. 116th Street, Carmel
6:00 p.m.                   Meet and Greet with voters*
                                   Kelties Restaurant, 110 S. Union Street, Westfield
Tuesday, May 1
1:00 p.m.                   Media Event, Noblesville (Details TBA)
4:30 p.m.                   Meet and Greet with voters*
 Jim Dandy Restaurant, 2301 Conner Street,Noblesville
6:00 p.m.                   Meet and Greet with Washington Township voters*
                                   Flanner & Buchanan Funeral Center, 1305 Broad Ripple Ave., Indianapolis
Wednesday, May 2
7:00 p.m.                   31st Annual Hamilton County Law Enforcement Memorial Service
                                   Carmel Civic Square, Carmel
Thursday, May 3
7:00 p.m.                   Meet and Greet with voters*
                                   Uptown CafĂ©, 809 Conner Street, Noblesville
Friday, May 4
8:00 a.m.                   Meet and Greet with voters*
                                   Shapiros, 918 Rangeline Road, Carmel
*Brooks has held 50+ such sessions throughout the 5th Congressional District to introduce herself to voters and find out what is most important to them.  
Brooks, a lifelong resident of Indiana and first-time candidate for office, is the former U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of Indiana.  For the past four years, she led statewide workforce development strategies at Ivy Tech Community College aimed at improving job training and placement for thousands of Indiana residents, working with Indiana's large and small businesses and the state's unemployed and under-employed.  Prior to that, she was deputy mayor of Indianapolis managing police, fire, and emergency response activities, as well as child health and welfare.
Paid for by Friends of Susan Brooks
Dollyne Pettingill Sherman
Susan Brooks for Congress

Friday, April 27, 2012

A Plea to 5th Congressional District Voters

We're winding down to the last handful of days before the May 8 primary takes place. One of the more heated primary battles in the state is in the 5th Congressional district. On the Republican side, there are seven candidates. Four of the seven have a combination of money, name recognition, and high profile endorsements making them viable candidates.

And since it is a Republican primary, it is more about driving out the base to get them to vote for you.

And in that case, direct mail pieces become important. Direct mail pieces can come from a candidate's campaign, the local or state party, or unaffiliated political action committees. And usually, the direct mail pieces are much more negative than any of the television or radio ads that are blanketing the airwaves.

Since direct mail pieces can come up right before or the day of the primary, it is tough for mainstream media to cover them while working on a deadline.

So if you're a 5th district resident (which might discount David McIntosh!), I'd like your help. Take a picture of any direct mail pieces. If possible, take a picture of the entire piece, and also zoom in on who paid for the mailing as well.

You can reach me via Facebook, Twitter, or e-mail me at

Saturday, April 21, 2012

Coming Up/Blog Preview

As the academic semester winds down and my time becomes more flexible, I'll be able to work on this blog a bit more as the primary election quickly approaches.

Typically, the rule with this blog is that I don't contact public officials before writing a post about them, but I welcome their comments and am happy to edit them into the post or make a follow up post. But I'm working on a story concerning an appointment to some city board, and I'm waiting to hear back on an elected official. Eventually, I'll hit the "Publish" button if they don't respond within a reasonable amount of time. But I'd really like their side to be told.

I'm in the process of writing up profiles of the 5th district GOP candidates. Those will be appearing over the next several days. I'll be profiling Susan Brooks, David McIntosh, John McGoff, and Wayne Seybold.

I'll be featured on this Saturday's episode of Civil Discourse Now. Paul Ogden and Mark Small will be talking with representatives of the two Democratic candidates in the 5th Congressional district, and I think there will be a general discussion of the 5th as well.

Friday, April 20, 2012

Doctor, Doctor, Give Me the News, I've Got a Bad Case of...

hiring buddies from out of state and paying them exorbitant salaries for positions, regardless of if they're qualified for the position or not?

Well, that doesn't quite fit into the lyrics of the original song. And it doesn't really describe me. But it does describe Frank Straub (did you know that he has a PhD and is from New York????) and how he acted to quickly hire a new interim police chief for the Indianapolis Metropolitan Police Department.

However, the replacement doesn't meet the qualifications to be a police chief in Indiana. You can find the city and state code that outlines those requirements here, included in the blog comment by Concerned Taxpayer.

So instead of just appointing someone else as acting chief (can an acting chief even be legally permissible under city and state code?), another officer is going to be acting chief while the new guy gains the proper certification and whatnot.

So basically, we're paying this new "not" acting chief to be a glorified consultant? Two people doing one job?

Maybe this is just me, but if I was a rank-and-file officer, I'd be a bit confused about who is really in power.

This seems to be a reoccurring problem with the good Doctor. The Department of Public Safety (DPS itself, not the departments it encompasses), not all that long ago, had a total of two employees. Now, we're well north of a dozen. It seems to have expanded at a rapid rate, and we wonder why IMPD can't fully staff their beats?

Oh, I'm sorry, we're not doing beats anymore. We're doing zones.

Maybe its just me, but if I needed someone to take over a position just for a little while until I could find a permanent replacement, I'd do it a bit differently. I'd promote someone from within, preferably someone who isn't interested in continuing beyond the interim period, bump up their pay a bit, and then start looking for a replacement.

I certainly would not drag some guy from some other state, have him move here for a temporary job, and then fire him once the position is filled.

But hey, that's just me!

Monday, April 16, 2012

Non-Politics: You Should Go See Bully

The documentary film Bully is in a limited screening across the United States, including a handful of theaters in Indianapolis. I encourage anyone who lives near one of these theaters to go see the film. I'll be doing so sometime this week once I get some free time.

I think a lot of people tend to gloss over what goes on in elementary schools and high schools. They say "Kids will be kids" or one of those other phrases. They think that just because bullying often doesn't result in full-on assault, since there is no visible injury, that it is somehow more comparable to horseplay than it is to someone who assaults and beats a family member, co-worker, or classmate.

And I don't think that's true.

I think there's also a misconception that if you send your kid to the school in a wealthy community, or like me, to a religious school, that bullying is somehow less of a problem.

I went to St. Monica from 2nd grade until 8th grade. It was a very small school and still is. Many of the same 30-something people in my 2nd grade class were still there six years later when we graduated. I was never in the popular group, but that never bothered me. I had my friends and we were nerds and we did our own thing.

And while most of my classmates weren't the most amazing people in the world, most of them were okay. But I did have one specific bully. And that's true. I remember one time I fell on the gym floor while we were doing laps around the gym. And while I was getting up, I felt a pair of feet step on my back, pushing me back down to the floor. I lift my head up only to see my bully, jogging away but his head turned to face my direction. And he has this shit-eating grin on his face that would erase any doubt if his actions were intentional or not.

But most of the time, it wasn't aggressively physical. He would say something to me from across a room, stand in my way in the hall, small stuff. And he wasn't smart and we didn't hang out with the same people, so it isn't like our paths crossed. But one time, he went on a school sponsored trip to a Pro-Life dinner that my religion teacher was attending. In the back of my mind, I've always thought he tagged along just to get to me.

So at the dinner, we're all seated at this table and I'm trying to pay attention to the speakers. He's not seated by me, but he's close enough that I can see him making faces and kicking me under the table. I ignore him while the event is actually going on and for the most part, and it isn't unlike any of the several other times he was a jerk.

But after the dinner, the teacher had all the students help clean up the reception by stacking chairs and helping disassemble the tables. And as I was going to grab a chair, the bully got in my way. And I don't quite remember what happened next. Did he touch me? Did he say something? Did he get in my face? Did I try to go around him only for him to move again?

But whatever happened, I just had enough and I ended up pushing him. Hard. I remember him stumbling over a chair.

The religion teacher, being the good mediator she was, reacted promptly, and she identified the problem.

And her solution to that problem was through a group therapy session a few days after the incident.

I, being the quite, introverted kid I was at the time, refused to participate in this sham of a punishment. I tried telling my religion teacher about the history I had with this kid, but she didn't listen or didn't care. I think she had seen one too many episodes of Dr. Phil and was convinced that she could turn our relationship around.

The therapy session, attended by my father and the bully's parents, probably had a lot of religious references and quoting of scripture. I don't remember much, but I do remember that at the end of the therapy session, we were told to shake hands.

The other kid, of course, was eager to do so.

I was very hesitant until I learned that my religion teacher wouldn't let us go home until we both shook hands. A similar scene plays out in the movie as well.

Nothing changed just because I had a chat with my bully.

There were days in middle school that I just didn't want to go to school because of how this bully and some of his buddies treated me.

I don't think my bullying is all that extreme.

But it could've been worse. And my heart goes out to all the people who had tougher times, and are going through tougher times than I did.

I can only hope that, especially among males, that there won't be a stigma about being bullied. That it's okay to go to a teacher, a supervisor, an adult. And I hope those adults, especially in the school system, will have the cajones to aggressively deal with bullying and put a stop to it before something life changing happens.

Finally, I found this via CNN of Kevin Smiley, who is featured in the film. His son, Ty, killed himself after being suspended from school. According to Tulsa World, Ty was suspended for retaliating against his bully. Someone who had a history of bullying Ty, and continued to bully others after Ty's death. It is a powerful clip, but Ty's death was something that should never have happened.

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

IN-GOP Senate Debate Tonight: Preview

The debate between US Senator Richard Lugar and State Treasurer Richard Mourdock is tonight. Both are competing to be the GOP nominee in the United States Senate race in Indiana. The winner on May 8 will be competing with Democratic Congressman Joe Donnelly in the fall.
You can view the debate via C-SPAN here or listen here. It starts at 7pm EST.

I talked to some of the supporters that were lined up outside of the debate's venue just a few minutes ago.

My thoughts, as follows:

Mourdock's supporters are much more passionate. They are really committed to their candidate and give a hint that they might not turn out for Richard Lugar in the fall.

On the other hand, they are really attached to two issues: Lugar's residency and Lugar's votes for Supreme Court justices Elena Kagan and Sonia Sotomayor. They view those as votes for liberal justices and that Democrats wouldn't vote for conservative justices appointed by a Republican President. The Mourdock supporters I talked to struggle to go outside of those two issues besides generalities such as "love for the Constitution" and "patriotic".

Lugar's supporters think Lugar will be an asset when the Senate falls into GOP hands, and believe he is vital to saving the country. Especially if President Barack Obama is elected to a second term. They say that he knows the most about foreign policy than anyone else in D.C. ("including the President," as one Lugar supporter quipped to me).

When I questioned some Lugar supporters about his votes for Sotomayor and Kagan, they claim that it is because he believes and respects the Constitution's "advice and consent" role in choosing judges. They say that as long as a President nominates someone, the Senate should defer to the President unless the nominee is blatantly unqualified.

And despite what some Lugar surrogates in the media act like, it seems that regular supporters would be happy to support Mourdock if he becomes the nominee. One Lugar supporter told me he doesn't think Mourdock is a "monster" (his words, not mine), but he does think Indiana would lose a great asset if Lugar doesn't win the nomination.

There was a collective fear among Lugar supporters that Mourdock is a more vulnerable candidate in the fall.

Neither Mourdock or Lugar supporters that I talked to were open to voting for Democrat candidate Joe Donnelly.

Tune in if you want. I'm sure it'll be dry, but I'm hoping some crazy from someone will come out.

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

More on Matthew Tully's Latest Love Letter to Dick Lugar

Indianapolis Star political columnist Matthew Tully and US Senator Richard Lugar have been having a love affair ever since 2012 started. Tully would write a column about how much he loves Lugar, how his "statesman like demeanor" is needed in Washington D.C., and the other talking points Lugar surrogates have been using for much of the last year. Or, sometimes to mix it up a bit, Tully would slam Lugar's opponent, state treasurer Richard Mourdock. And when Tully does that, he usually bemoans how "partisan" Mourdock is or how "out of touch" Mourdock is with Hoosier values.

So can I ask, again, what in the world do people see in Richard Lugar?

Richard Lugar has been in Washington D.C. for over 30 years.

Over the last 12 years, Richard Lugar has been right there in the United States Senate. Votes have been cast for two wars, a financial bailout with no strings attached, and a federal power grab in K-12 education. And Lugar voted for each of these bills which spent trillions of dollars.

And those initiatives were pushed with huge bipartisan margins. Not just the usual token one vote from the opposition party or some such nonsense. HUGE bipartisan margins in both houses of Congress.

So here's Tully talking about how more bipartisanship is needed.

I say if bipartisanship is going to get us into another war in the Middle East, or is going to give a blank check to Bank of America, then I want whatever the opposite of bipartisanship is.

So here's your chance, Lugar surrogates. Tell me what Senator Lugar has done to clean up any of DC's various messes in the 30+ years he's been there.

Sunday, April 8, 2012

My Two Cents (again) on Bike Lanes

The Indianapolis Star has an excellent article today about the new bike lanes that have popped up all over the city over the past few years. Typically, the media reports of bike lanes throw them all together with re-paved roads, new and re-paved sidewalks, and re-paving the multi-use trails/greenways, and essentially praise that it is being done at all. End of story.

City hall reporter Jon Murray got out and actually talked to cyclists who use the bike lanes. And to the surprise of some, it includes both praise for the bike lanes and criticism. Murray lets the people in his article make their points, and they are points that need to be made.

We could all make huge, long lists of why motorists are idiots and inconsiderate of cyclists, or how some asshole cyclists are jerks that break the rules of the road. But that's really a separate discussion about how cycling and alternate forms of transportation can co-exist with motor vehicles, and distracts from the discussion of bike lanes specifically.

Some of these bike lanes are just not very easy to understand. If "education" is needed for a bike lane, it probably needs to be put back on the drawing board rather than slapping it on the road and hoping for the best. And if the lane does fit the road, maybe the road needs to be re-paved and regularly swept so it doesn't become a perpetual ditch or bump.

The article also highlights something I've suspected for some time: No one really knows how many people are using these bike lanes.

And as someone who has only started cycling in the past two or so years, I have to admit: Making the transition from cycling only for athletic purposes to riding as a mode of transit was a mental leap I had to make. For a new transit cyclists, it can be intimidating hopping onto a road. Even if most of the route you've planned out uses greenways and neighborhood streets, those few minutes on the road can make a new cyclists nervous.

And I don't think those new, more casual cyclists, are going to make the jump from athletic/recreational biking to transit biking just because bike lanes are installed. Bike lanes are still on the road and all the same rules still apply.

So I think bike lanes should be seen for what they are: It makes the bicycling community more visible, but the amount of people cycling isn't necessarily increasing. Those that are cycling are more visible, and they might be doing it more often. But the raw number isn't increasing by all that much.

At least that's what I suspect.

And if that's fine, then good.

But I think the goal should be to get more people cycling more often.

And we could go a long way by improving the greenway multi-use trails that already exist in our city.

We made a good step over the winter by expanding the Monon Trail's hours.

A good second step would be to re-pave the White River Trail. The part along Cold Springs Road already has been.

Another idea is to expand the Canal Towpath and possibly pave it. As it stands now, it is difficult for multiple cyclists or joggers to pass each other if they're going opposite directions because some parts of the trail can get very narrow.

I think investing in greenways would lead to a greater benefit, even if the overall mileage of greenways is a fraction of the mileage covered by bike lanes.

But hey, that's just me.

Friday, April 6, 2012

What Do My Liberal Friends See in Dick Lugar?

If you've been reading Matthew Tully's Twitter feed or Chris Douglas' Facebook wall, you'd notice that it is a never ending stream of a complete and utter love fest for Senator Richard Lugar and/or viciously attacking State Treasurer Richard Mourdock, who has the nerve to challenge the revered statesman in the May 8th GOP primary.

I think it's worth pointing out that, unlike some on the right, I completely respect my liberal friends in Democratic, Republican, and unaffiliated circles. I believe there is a legitamate discussion to be had about what the government's role is in our lives, what services they should and shouldn't provide, and so on. I don't inherently believe that a progressive political viewpoint is anti-American or is incompatible with American values.

That being said, I think politicos such as Tully and Douglas are imagining a Richard Lugar that they support because they pretend Lugar agrees with them on issues when, in fact, that isn't true.

A common theme Douglas strikes on in his well written posts on Facebook is advocating for a progressive tax system. Specifically, let the Bush era tax cuts expire and maybe even raise rates on money that comes from capital gains.

And that's a fair discussion to have. I might not agree, but I'm happy to have that discussion.

So where has Senator Lugar been, over the past 30+ years, and what is his voting record in regards to the tax system which Mr. Douglas believes needs to be changed?

Turns out that Lugar has supported the abolition of the Internal Revenue Service, repeal of the income tax, and replacing all of that with a national sales tax. Lugar is also a recent co-sponsor of the FAIR Tax, which uses a national sales tax as the basis for most federal revenues. If I had to wager a guess, I bet Lugar and Mourdock ac

What about LGBT issues? Well, Lugar has voted for a federal constitutional amendment to define marriage as between one man and one woman...twice. He has also supported and voted for the Defense of Marriage Act and voted against the repeal of Don't Ask, Don't Tell. And while the Equal Non-Discrimination Act never came up for a vote in the US Senate, I don't think Lugar is going to be a co-sponsor any time soon.

So, to my moderate and liberal readers, what are these moderate and liberal policies that attract you to Senator Lugar? Because I think you're supporting the idea of a candidate rather than what the candidate actually stands for.

Thursday, April 5, 2012

Where Does David McIntosh Live?

Anyone who has been reading the blogs for the past 24 hours knows that shit has hit the fan in the 5th Congressional district GOP primary.

Wayne Seybold, the current mayor of Marion, was first up. He was attacked by blogger Greg Purvis. Purvis, an activist in Hamilton County and probably one of like, 2 Democrats that lives there, reported the rumor that Seybold's mother retains her British citizenship to keep access to their nationalized healthcare system. Seybold's camp quickly squashed the rumor.

The current controversy is an old one. David McIntosh moved to Virginia after losing his run for Governor in 2000. Speculation on his residency dogged him when he was still in the exploratory committee phase late last year, but seemingly was settled once people started hearing reports that he was spending nights in Anderson, Indiana.

Now the residency issues are haunting him again with the revelation that McIntosh (and likely, most of his family that is driving age) has a Virginia driver's license. And in Virginia, you can only get a driver's license if you're a resident of Virginia.

But you, dear reader, probably already knew all that.

But what you haven't seen is this awesome website called Where Does David McIntosh Live?

In it is a bunch of opposition research, not just the residency issues.

And it is well designed.

So who put it up?

The site lacks a disclaimer...well, anywhere, about who runs it.

Doing a WhoIs for the domain name turns up one of those proxy domain name registering services.

But it sure got put together in a hurry. Makes me think this site had been sitting on a computer somewhere, and some opponent of McIntosh's was just waiting for the issue to come up.