Friday, September 12, 2008

When Advance Indiana Isn't Talking Crazy, It's Making A Lot of Sense!

Advance Indiana may churn a lot of inflammatory and conspiratorial "news" items, and Lord knows we've gone at it, but when it comes to open and honest government, it's hard to knock Gary Welsh, AI's pen-to-paper man. He'll put a finger in the eyes of his party and the eyes of its key affinity groups when called for, and he does so today.

Advance Indiana today leads with the Indianapolis Star's story about Mike Ripley, a Republican representative who represents Wells, Adams, and Allen counties. Ripley, who has served since 1996, stepped down and guess what type of job he's taking? Everybody in unison: LOBBYING!

As the Star points out (kudos as well for staying on this story), Indiana is NOT one of the thirty states that has a waiting period before a legislator or high-ranking executive official can turn lobbyist.

I believe Indiana needs a law, and in fact, I think Indiana should set the bar. Most states have a two-year waiting period. I'd say four is right. Two election cycles would more likely change the personalities enough (and the Governor and his people) that the value of these former public servants as lobbyists would decrease. And, quite frankly, any the only members of the Indiana General Assembly or in the executive branch who could be upset about such a law are people who KNOW they will be cashing in on their connections in the future. I promise you that there are members in the General Assembly right now who are hanging on because they know that in addition to their ridiculously high pensions, they have the "lobbyist retirement plan" to fall back on.

I want to help create a network of politically active folks who will speak truth to power, even to those in our own party. I know I'll tell Senator Vi Simpson (who I think fondly of, and whom I've supported financially) that I don't care about her indignation at this bill. A revolving door draws the wrong kind of people into the General Assembly. I once asked a candidate for state representative who I knew pretty well to look me in the eye and swear to God his first job out the statehouse would not be lobbying. He wouldn't. That's when I knew he had no business being in the General Assembly.

Having said this, I support a legislator pay commission to make our state equal with others. We pay our folks $11,600 a year unless their committee chairs. This is ridiculously low, which guarantees that only rich people (or those taking a short-term loss for a long-term lobbying gain) will serve. This system is broken, and we need to fix it.

WHO'S WITH ME?!?!? (Crickets chirp....tumbleweeds blow through as everybody working in this system realizes that it's easier to NOT make waves with their own connections than to do what's right).


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10 comments:

varangianguard said...

Well, I would help, but no one listens to me.

Anonymous said...

sorry, but little morsels of saneness tucked into a heaping pot of off-the-hook batshit crazy don't tempt me to dig into that dish.

Advance Indiana is 99.999% completely unreadable. If you want to dig out the tolerable parts, be my guest, but I'm done wading through that quasi-racist wasteland.

Anonymous said...

If Advance Indiana said something same, it was purely by accident.....let's not put lipstick on that pig!!!!

Wilson46201 said...

Even a blind pig finds an acorn now and then...

It's also hardly the height of political astuteness and bravery to decry the revolving-door of legislators-to-lobbyists.

[my reference to a blind pig does not refer to Sarah Palin so don't even try it, Gary!!!]

iPOPA said...

Wilson:

If it's not politically brave, why can't we get the law passed? If enough of "the right" people said something, this would get done.

IPOPA

artfuggins said...

Both parties have too many friends who are lobbyists for this much needed legislation. Let's never use Advance Indiana as a standard as to what should be done. It is a symbol of what is wrong with Indiana and society. It has so much pent up hate, misery and misinformation.

J. Hagedorn said...

I'm with you Chris!

As someone who's been there at Ground Zero during that sausage-making festival that we call a legislative session, I believe the only way you ever accomplish something like this is to infiltrate the cushy lobbying world and expose it a la Abscam. Expose it in terms that Joe Six-Pack will understand, and you'll get legislation to put an end to it, instead of fights over who's tougher on Mexicans and Gays. Otherwise, this issue just doesn't resonate with the voters like a good debate over flag burning.

The problem is, as soon as someone reaches that level where they can cash in, there's no way you can convince them to pull the plug on it. Unfortunately, I don't know any fat cats that are itching to spend some money to decrease their influence!

iPOPA said...

Art:

Our discourse has become so contentious in this country that we won't even give credit where it's due. That's not me.

You acknowledge the problem of legislators turned lobbyists as readily as AI does, but you won't extend the praise. I am never afraid that favorable words toward someone where they are due will outpace the remaining deeds of that person, which much also be assessed. In short, saying Gary is right on this one doesn't undo the remainin body of his work any more than acknowledging John McCain's courage in Vietnam undoes his complete disconnection with the current suffering of average Americans right now.

Anonymous said...

IPOPA, you are probably correct. The problem I have is that Advance Indiana wallows in hate, smears, lies, racism so much that when I find something that we agree with, it creates doubt about me. It makes me wonder if I am becoming one of them.

Wilson46201 said...

Hitler created the first modern road system, the autobahnen. The Nazis developed the first cruise missiles and jet airplanes. I do not praise them either...