Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Pete Repeat Good News for South Bend


Pete Buttigieg, the Democratic candidate who ran for state treasurer but lost in November is keeping his running shoes on and making a bid for Mayor of South Bend.

The seat is open after current Democratic Mayor Steve Luecke announced he will not run for re-election.

Anticipating his opponents' future efforts to paint two quicks runs in an unflattering light, Buttigieg notes:

While running two back-to-back campaigns is not a decision to take lightly, I cannot ignore this opportunity to make a difference. I was fortunate enough to have a great upbringing here, but our community struggles with the same kinds of issues I highlighted in the campaign for Treasurer. Without economic growth and more good-paying jobs, we risk falling into a cycle of decline in our neighborhoods, streets, schools, and economy.

There are four other names being bandied about - Pastor Barrett Berry of the Pentecostal Cathedral church, State Representative Ryan Dvorak, Work One business service representative Mike Dollinger, and St. Joseph County Councilor Mike Hamann. But I hope the city's Democrats pick Pete.

I've been around a lot of political people, and I don't remember being as excited about a candidate's long-term prospects since Evan Bayh was elected Secretary of State. Pete exudes intelligence, and every aspect of his campaign was pitch perfect, making him one of the few Willy Wonk-ish types who successfully tamed their inner professorial instinct. Nobody, except perhaps a clone of Pete with Meg Whitman's money, was going to be the Everlasting GOPstopper this year.

The biggest knock I've heard on Pete is that he looks really, really young, an affliction I wish I had. Of course, this is precisely why Pete can engage a new generation of Democratic leaders in not only South Bend, but throughout the state.

Buttigieg will need to corral support quickly to keep this venture from turning into a world of pure imagination. But if he is able to do so and win the general election, the sky (in a glass elevator) will be the limit.

(Somebody remind me to stop eating chocolate before I go to sleep).


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Sunday, December 12, 2010

Bayh Out, Pence Definite Now?


Evan Bayh announced today that he would not run for governor in 2012, adding to the sizeable wake of political devastation he has left for Democrats from his exit out of politics.

With Bayh waving off, Mike Pence's "fork in the road" just turned into a choice between a presidential path covered with savage brush and a road paved with gold leading to the Indiana statehouse.

I previously wrote that no citizen or party loyalist can demand someone's service or soul simply because they have political strength. If Bayh was, as he stated, burned out on the partisanship of D.C., nobody had the right to make him stay. Likewise, nobody had the right to make him campaign again.

Bayh says his decision was based, principally, on the well-being of his sons:

While Susan and I prefer Indiana to Washington, D.C., at this time, a statewide campaign would require relocating our children; it would require a change of schools, separation from their friends and athletic teams—all during a formative time in their lives. In addition, while adults seeking public office knowingly accept the rigor and occasional nastiness of modern campaigns, imposing the process on children—particularly teenagers—would be especially onerous.

Bayh also notes his desire to contribute differently:
. . .there are many honorable ways to contribute to society—creating jobs, growing a business, helping guide an institution of higher learning, or helping run a worthy charitable endeavor. I’ll continue to serve, but my contributions will take a different form and on a different stage. I will reassume the most important role any one can play in a democracy—involved citizen.

Among angry, progressive, Democratic activitists, there was already a developing meme that Bayh runs from a fight, and that he exited from the Senate race for fear he might have either lost or won so narrowly as to tarnish his "untouchable" status. The fact Pence was strongly looking at the gubernatorial race and would be a formidable foe had Bayh chose to run certainly doesn't detract from this narrative.

Accordingly, I would anticipate many people will question if burnout or kids are Bayh's real motivation for leaving. But such speculation, ironically, confirms the very public cynicism that would, standing alone, be sufficient grounds to prompt Bayh to go running screaming into the night.

But Bayh now has ten million dollars in the bank and no campaign. While he had no duty to stay, he arguably has a duty to mitigate the damage of his exit. If he wants to patch over the sore spots with people in his own party, he should cut a check for the whole balance to the Indiana Democratic Party.

After all, if Bayh is now content just to be an "involved citizen" for the rest of his life, why hoard the money? Even a small portion of that ten million could capture a lot of mayor chairs in 2011, which could then be used to help raise money for Democrats in 2012.

But I would anticipate Bayh will instead do what a politician would do - strategically dole out his money while accruing chits nationally, thereby maintaining influence well in excess of those "involved citizens" who find themselves shy of ten million.

Unfortunately, if Bayh chooses the later route, he will continue to be, for many Hoosier Democrats, what Lebron James is to Cleveland - the man who gave us some greatness before guaranteeing we'd be less competitive by moving to a greener pasture and taking his money with him.


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Sunday, December 5, 2010

Libertarians Call Out Mayor Ballard on Epic Budget Cut Failure


You can't accuse the Marion County Libertarian Party of not living up to its principles, even if it puts them at odds with a mayor whose election they backed strongly.

In a release today accompanied by damning video of Greg Ballard uttering a campaign promise I knew would haunt him like "read my lips," the MCLP says it was surprised to hear Ballard is running for re-election because he said he wouldn't unless he could cut the City's budget by ten percent by the third year.



The MCLP says the Mayor fell way short. From MCLP Chair, Tim Maguire:

"I am very surprised that Ballard decided against honoring his campaign promise not to run again if he wasn’t able to cut the budget by 10%, especially since the budget cuts necessary would have been so easy to make. Even without the benefit of a full time team of lawyers and accountants, we were able to find at least $65 million that could have been cut off the top of the 2011 budget."

Libertarian City-County Councillor Ed Coleman added this gasoline to the fire:
When I ran as part of the 2007 GOP campaign team, it was because I and other small government advocates believed Greg Ballard's promise to reform government and reduce the spending. It was broken promises like this that prompted me to abandon the failed Republican Party and its bloated-government policies.

The 25th Floor of the City-County Building has undoubtedly assembled its team of lawyers to figure a palatable way for the Mayor to tell the public he met his promise to eradicate all the "fluff," but if you look at the Libertarian Party's analysis, you'll realize how quickly our Mayor will be resorting to a defense akin to "it depends on what the definition of 'is' is."


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Tuesday, November 30, 2010

The Never-Ending Fundraising Operation? C’est La Vie. Now Let's Move On!


It’s not surprising most candidates hate raising money. After all, who wants to be the equivalent of the friend you have to avoid because they sell Amway, Avon, or dietary supplements and you fear any interaction opens the door for “the ask?”

But is there a time when it’s not only unpleasant, but also actually gauche to raise money?

I ask because some 2010 Democratic candidates for countywide office and their campaign staffs grumbled that mayoral and city-county council candidates raised money this year.

I remembered this when, a few weeks ago, I received an invite for a high-priced fundraiser for prosecutor-elect Terry Curry hosted by Marion County Democratic Party Chair Ed Treacy and Emmis CEO Jeff Smulyan. Yesterday, I got an email touting a second low-dollar event for Curry at Sun King Brewery. The dates? December 2nd and 8th, 2010, respectively.

Democratic candidates and activists focusing on 2011 now have their chance to bristle about a guy who hasn’t even taken office raising money for 2014.

They shouldn’t. The 2010 candidates and their staffs were wrong, and anybody who gripes about the Curry fundraisers now is equally wrong.

Excluding the ban on Indiana legislative candidates raising donations while the Indiana General Assembly is in session, there is no “off season” for fundraising. Ever.

When people complain about somebody raising money in their year, they’re really complaining about their own lack of fundraising traction. Anybody who is going to give to Candidate A will do it. When a prospective donor tells Candidate A, “I don’t have the money because I gave to candidates B, C, and D already,” it’s the same as when your dating interest tell you he is she is not ready for commitment. To paraphrase Chris Rock, they’re just not ready to commit to you.

But more critically, money is a transferrable good, and it behooves any party to have as much of it in the hands of as many of its candidates as it can get with the hopes it will travel.

Some people can raise money from certain donors when others can’t. I can easily envision people who would not traditionally give to Democrats (including Curry) who might fall over themselves now to throw money at the newly-elected prosecutor.

If Emily Post on Political Fundraising dictated that you sideline your money horses, you never get to see what they can pull in for the good of other candidates.

And that’s the real issue – will a candidate raising money in an off-year share the spoils of war?

With Curry, I’d say it’s a given. I haven’t tabulated the total, but I noticed at least one donation to Curry for $12,500 from the Marion County Democratic Party. For Curry to set the Dems up for 2011 would be a fitting token of appreciation.

As long as that’s Curry’s plan, there’s no naughty here, and Santa should reward him with two huge holiday fundraisers.

UPDATE: Several people have suggested that these events are to retire campaign debts, and there's no doubt that's true. But if you fall in the "it's unfair, waaa waaa!" crowd, that would actually be worse because political dollars are being taken out of circulation that could be used for 2011 and there won't even be anything left to share. iPOPA makes no distinctions on contributions regardless of their form, time, or purpose and says simply: If you are a candidate, quit worrying about what others do, run YOUR race, and raise YOUR money.


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Friday, November 19, 2010

Lugar Shows Richard Mourdock and Mike Delph the Uphill Climb


According to the blog of Wish-TV political guru, Jim Shella, Indiana's senior senator, Richard Lugar, has a poll that shows he has the highest favorable rating (66%) among Hoosier Republican politicians, including Governor Mitch Daniels (59%).

Shella writes, "Curiously, Lugar included potential primary challengers Richard Mourdock and Mike Delph in the poll. Mourdock is at 14% and Delph is at 7%."

There's nothing curious about including Mourdock and Delph. It's ingenious politics. You know who responds to polls? The "smart money crowd" (a/k/a lobbyists, interest groups, and party officials who don't want to get frozen out if they support a Lugar opponent and lose).

A well-known political maxim is that if you shoot at the king, you better kill him. Lugar is trying to show he's bullet-proof. And given that Lugar has an underwhelming $2.3 million in the bank with only two years to go, scaring the smart money into his column before one of his prospective opponents can get traction is critical.

I'm probably in the minority on this, but I think Lugar could be in jeopardy unless the GOP plays nice in 2012. In a general election? Without question, Lugar could still dominate.

But what if we see a GOP primary fight between Congressman Mike Pence and Lieutenant Governor Becky Skillman? Pence would fuel a high-octane cultural conservative/Tea Party turnout, and Lugar's statesmanship, outspoken role in nuclear anti-proliferation (and castigation of his own party for not getting on board), and occasional kind word toward the President make him too internationalist and soft for the Pence constituency.

If such a showdown in the Guv's race were to materialize, and Lugar were to square off with only one primary opponent, he could be doomed. The "only one opponent" piece is crucial though. The Indiana GOP has already showed it was in the market for something new when it only gave Dan "Sugar" Coats thirty-nine percent of the vote. Had Marlin Stutzman not been in a four-way field, he'd be a senator, not a representative. Any more than one opponent, and Lugar is a shoe-in.

The key to Lugar's survivability will be his next two years of voting. If he doesn't placate the neocons and deficit hawks in his own party, they'll be eager to trade in for a newer, more idealogically-pure model. Lugar would be eighty in 2012.


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Thursday, November 18, 2010

City-County Councillor Paul Bateman Pays the Price: Nice Knowing You!

"What is a man profited, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul?" - Matthew 16:26

Minister Paul Bateman, the Democratic City-County Councillor who broke party rank to give approval to Mayor Greg Ballard's short-sighted and short-monied fifty-year parking lease to ACS, might as well vote with Ballard and the Republican caucus for the remainder of his short time in office in exchange for a job with the City or with a city contractor because this is almost certainly his last term.

Steve Talley, the former council president who resigned the District 11 seat, which Bateman assumed, to take a job in the Department of Public Safety in the Peterson Administration in 2005, has decided he'd like his seat back. Needless to say, party faithful and elected officials in Lawrence Township are strongly supportive. Talley already did an impressive amount of door-to-door for other Democratic candidates in 2010, so he's undoubtedly reconnected with many of his constituents.

In his short time on the council, Bateman had already stained the Democratic Party's brand when, in late 2009, a bankruptcy trustee sought a nearly $1.3 million judgment against Bateman and others for allegedly using money, or authorizing the use of such monies, from the Russell Foundation for personal expenses, such as clothing, dental work, and purchase of a fleet of vehicles. Bateman was never charged criminally, and he made the right decision to step down from the Council's Ethics Committee when the investigation was ongoing. But I never understood how someone could be so integral to an organization while knowing so little about expenses of over half of its total donations toward non-charity related activities.

Moreover, that cloud was hardly one the party needed hanging over it while it was trying to contend that the GOP had bred a "culture of corruption" via Tim Durham, Lincoln Plowman, and Carl Brizzi.

In the interest of full disclosure, when I served as campaign manager for Pam Carter's attorney general race in 1992, Paul Bateman was one of the first people on board. Bateman was working with the UAW then out of Anderson, he was very helpful to our effort, and I've liked him personally since then. In fact, even today, if I saw Councillor Bateman on the street, I'd shake his hand and wish him well.

But not as a councillor.


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Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Mayor Ballard Gives Pacers Eleven Million Per Year, They'll Save Twenty-Five?!?


I've written before on how my objection to the City bailing out the Indiana Pacers to the tune of eleven million per year for the next three years is informed by the fact the team's financial woes are caused by the NBA's terrible business model. I've also said NBA Commissioner David Stern is coming to the rescue.

Stern has said the NBA will pursue more aggressive revenue sharing to bring it in line with the NFL's extremely successful model. Any change to the existing revenue sharing model will put more money in the Pacers' hands as a "small market team."

But more importantly, Stern has consistently said the owners will try to lower the salary cap. He just hadn't floated a number until now.

According to Stern, the owners will ask for a thirty-three percent reduction in NBA players' salaries.

NBA owners pay their players roughly $2 billion, and the Pacers, with a payroll of $64,368,000 (19th highest of the 30 teams), account for 3.21 percent of that total.

So what would a thirty-three percent reduction ($800 million total) mean for the Pacers on a pro rata basis? An annual savings of $25,680,000 per year.

Many may rightfully contend that the players won't agree to a thirty-three percent reduction. Fair enough. But if the league gets only half of its requested savings ($400 million for a twenty-percent reduction), the Pacers still save $12,840,000 per year, or more than what the City is giving them.

Even if your goal was to keep the team at all costs, would you agree to give the Pacers taxpayer's money while knowing that a year from now they will be sitting on tens of millions more?

Here's your answer.

Not unless you were a mayor who (a) either has lousy business sense; or (b)made a pledge to GOP bigwig and Pacers CEO, Jim Morris, and/or to Bob Grand, a/k/a "the most influential man in the Ballard administration," a/k/a "the former President of the Capital Improvement Board, a/k/a "partner at Barnes and Thornburg, the Pacers' law firm."

One wonders exactly how many more times the Mayor can take an idea that is not bad in principle (see Citizens Gas sale, parking renovation) and craft lousy deals that benefit the politically influential to the detriment of average taxpayers.


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Monday, November 15, 2010

Race Card Fever Is Catching!

Apparently, Democratic City-County Councillor Paul Bateman isn't the only one willing to join in the Mayor's race card game.

None other than T. Garrett Benjamin, the senior pastor of Light of the World Christian Church, is now personally lobbying members of the City-County Council to vote yes for a "once in a life time" opportunity "to put a minority firm on top and make them one of the largest in the country."

It boggles the mind that folks as astute as Reverend Benjamin cannot see that the City can do this on its own, keep tens (if not hundreds) of millions more than we will with this contract, AND STILL make Global the principal contractor, thereby giving it the experience and scope to compete nationally.

Minority business enterprises should absolutely be given "the opportunity to compete and prosper," as Reverend Benjamin contends. But our city doesn't need to sell its soul to ACS to give them that opportunity. Why do so many think it does?


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Sunday, November 14, 2010

Mayor Ballard Plays Race Card, Democrat Paul Bateman Picks It Up


This past Saturday I finally met Mayor Greg Ballard. I had just finished a segment on 1310 AM - The Light, during which I criticized the Mayor’s parking deal. He was waiting outside the studio, so I introduced myself and shook his hand. He glared at me like I’d walked on his lunch.

Never would I have imagined how badly he’d walk all over himself politically during the sixty minutes that followed, or that it would be a Democrat who would be coming to his rescue tonight.

The Mayor's radio appearance was calamitous. He used condescending phrases like, “Let me tell you something” while alternating between lecturing and being dismissive. When one man, obviously picking up on what the rest of the world was sensing, actually said that the Mayor sounded arrogant, the Mayor’s response was, “I have no idea what that is about.”

Oh, we know, Mr. Mayor.

But that’s no excuse for the racial demagoguery he is employing to sell the ACS fifty-year parking meter lease.

Being painfully objective, I am duty-bound to say that race in Marion County is ever-present in politics, especially in my party. Race gets harnessed frequently, and on occasion, abused. (See Al Sharpton, appearance on November 17).

But usually when people stoke a racial fire, they are trying to mold others’ perceptions or interpretations of events, and you can’t objectively say they’re right or wrong. Is Mayor Ballard indifferent to the bruises of Brandon Johnson or does he care deeply while being saddled with a tough Merit Board decision? A race-based appeal (pointing out that a white dude might not care all that much) might move people to the former view.

But what the Mayor is doing now isn't race-based persuasion; it's deceit in the form of omitting an unshakeable fact.

The Mayor asserted that his parking lease would make minority-business enterprise (MBE) Global Parking System, Inc., a national player and help it grow it’s 60% plus minority workforce. Repeating what he had said previously on Amos in the Afternoons, the Mayor quizzed with incredulity, “I don’t know how somebody could be against that!”

You get it, black folks? The Mayor is really looking out for you by specifically looking out for one company. If you are against this deal, you must be against Hal Darring, Global's CEO, which means you must be against black people.

But here’s the Mayor's obvious deceit through an even more obvious omission. If the City of Indianapolis was as psyched about Hal as the Mayor claims, it could pay for new meters itself (using bonds if necessary, as suggested by Bill Hudnut), make additional millions by cutting out ACS as the middle man, and still make Global its primary contractor.

Nobody could think the only way Hal gets more city work is by ACS fleecing the taxpayers on this deal, right?

Wrong.

Democratic (and African-American) City-County Councillor Paul Bateman, whose district cuts through most of Lawrence Township, is going to vote for the Mayor's deal for one reason: to help Global Parking and Hal Darring. Given that an awful lot of this administration's marquee deals were designed to reward particular businesses and/or individual's, who can criticize Bateman's motive?

But in supporting this deal, Bateman has bought into the disingenuous, racial crockery the Mayor is selling.

But wait! Say you're ACS and you want this deal badly. Maybe you sell it to Paul Bateman by letting him know that if ACS scores, it'll let Global come along when it rolls its pro-privatizatized monopoly, parking meter cabal into the next city. Maybe the real value for Global isn't gaining the experience or increased scale, but rather, the distinction of being ACS' go-to MBE subcontractor.

Fair enough. But if ACS is really interested in Global as a subcontractor, that interest shouldn't fall off just because ACS doesn't get an Indy deal, should it, Councillor Bateman? So who is really getting played?

In addition to tossing out the race card, the Mayor also implicitly admitted his administration's incompetence and political cowardice during his radio interview.

Ask the Mayor why the City can’t handle its own parking, and he’ll tell you parking “isn’t a core competency,” and he’ll tell you how meters stayed bagged too long, and the city loses revenue. First of all, as the Mayor admitted on air, we already have a private company doing the collections and ticket writing. That means there are two possible parties who are screwing up the bagging of meters: (1) the city; or (2) the contractor. If it’s “the city” that means YOU are admitting, Mr. Mayor, that you don’t know how to manage people. Make me manager for a day, and I'll tell every employee that any meter I find bagged for more than two hours more than necessary will result in the firing of the employee who was responsible for the meter. Problem solved.

Now, if the bagging problem is the the contractor’s fault, you are admitting, Mr. Mayor, that you don’t know how to manage a contract, so the idea we’d hand you a long-term one is pretty bananas, wouldn’t you say?

Friends, this is real simple. Over the next fifty years, meter users in Indianapolis will pay an estimated $1.0-$1.5 billion. If we take the Mayor's proposal, ACS will get between $400-$800 million of that money. If we don't take the Mayor's proposal, we'll get an additional $400-$800 million minus the costs of the equipment, upgrades, and management expenses.

Now, you'll all say, "Yeah, but it's ACS' management savvy that's getting that $1.5 billion. Not at all. This isn't ACS capturing greater market share with innovative product lines. The new money will come from increases from adding new meters, raising the rates, and technology that reduces "spillover," those situations where patron B uses the remaining time left on a meter from Patron A's change. Under this new contract, you won't be able to do that.

And therein lies the Mayor's political cowardice. One thing he also said on 1310 AM was that parking rates haven't gone up in twenty years. Notice the inactive verb? He doesn’t say “we” haven’t raised the meter rates while speaking about all the former mayors and himself. In Mayor Ballard's world, the meters are all Johnny Five's that can spring to life and adjust their own rates.

(Pssst! Mr. Mayor, raising the meter rate is your job).

At the end of the day, this is the REAL reason the Mayor wants to hand operations over to ACS. So that when rates go up, the Mayor can act like he had nothing to do with it, which is exactly what he'll be saying when our water and wastewater rates explode two years from now.


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Saturday, November 13, 2010

Mike Pence is "Running" for President


Many of my Republican colleagues have opined with near certainty that Mike Pence only has his sights on the Indiana Statehouse.

I doubt they're so sure now.

WRTV-6's political vet, Norm Cox, is on to something when he noticed that Pence is scheduled to speak at the Detroit Economic Club (DEC).

Why is a DEC speech significant?

Let's talk first about some political realities.

There is a perception that Americans don't trust folk too desperate to be president. This is why politicians say things like "I'm flattered by the groundswell of grassroots support" or in Pence's case, "We've been very humbled by the encouragement we've received back in Indiana and around the country."

But more importantly, no politician wants to announce a presidential exploratory committee to have it disastrously collapse for want of traction. A respectable showing and early exit in the presidential jockeying is survivable, but in a vocation where perception is reality, getting embarrassed can be a body blow, even if the goal is to elevate your profile immediately for another position (say Governor of a Midwestern state) with an eye toward a later Whitehouse run.

So what is a presidential aspirant to do?

Easy. Try to build a coalition of support while not letting anyone claim you're trying to build a coalition of support. It helps to think of politicians who run for president as your uncle who brings the guitar to the Christmas party and then guffaws, "Oh, I guess if you all want me to play a song or two, I can!" Somehow it seems less self-indulgent if they can claim they're only doing it because they're fulfilling the wishes of others.

So, let's say you're Mike Pence, the darling of social conservatives, and one knock on you is that you'll get crushed in a general election because you'll put waging a cultural war above curing America's current economic strife. What would you do?

Easy again. You'd find a prized podium like the Detroit Economic Club's (every president since Nixon has stood behind it) that captures the fancy of the CEO class, and you deliver a major address setting forth your "vision" for "economic growth, prosperity, and job creation with a plan focused on a renewal of the free market, smaller government, tax relief and reform, spending restraint, increased trade and more."

Sure, these are just the poll-tested, Tea Party/GOP talking points, but why spend time talking national economic policy if all you want is a little old governor's office?

The beauty of the DEC location is that, by staying in the industrial Midwest, Pence can say he's just talking common issues with Indiana's neighbor to the North. It's not like he's making a trip to New Hampshire. Yet.

Make no mistake, folks, Mike Pence has the train chugging along now, and if the DEC address fuels his speed by virtue of national buzz, he can always throw the track switch at the last minute toward Whitehouseville and away from Governortown.


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Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Join iPOPA for the DEMOCRATIC TAKEOVER of "Abdul in the Morning"


The Democratic Takeover!

Please join me tomorrow morning for the DEMOCRATIC TAKEOVER version of "Abdul in the Morning" on WXNT 1430 AM from 6 - 9 a.m.

I'll be dissecting Tuesday's election results and figuring out precisely how hosed Democrats are, in addition to addressing redistricting and the criminal investigation against Secretary of State-Elect Charlie White with my in-studio guest, Jon Elrod.

We'll also discuss Mike Pence's anticipated gubernatorial run, the pickle in which that run puts Mitch Daniels, and whether Democrats have a right to be angry at Senator Evan Bayh.

I'll either make your blood boil or you'll find me "refreshingly candid." You won't go away ambivalent. Think I'm wrong?!? Tune in, and I'll prove it to you.

Township Update

After looking at a new version of the "uncertified" election results from the Marion County Clerk's Office, I can now report that while Wayne Township Small Claims Judge Maxine King did lose (though by only six votes), Wayne Township constable Bill Newman retained his office by 18 votes.

If township government survives sixty Republican members of the Indiana General Assembly, Democrats will take back both of the offices.


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I Didn't Say What?!? Marvin Scott Justified in Fearing Muslim



In my election night post-mortem, I failed to mention that Congressman Andre Carson, hopefully, turned the lights out on Marvin Scott's political career (and led all Democrats in performance) with 59% of the vote.

Scott ran one of the most divisive campaigns in memory, which in this climate, is really saying something. Dr. Scott was, however, justified in fearing ONE Muslim - the one who electorally donkey-kicked his hindquarters. Let's hope the professor now realizes he needs to do more publishing and less rubbishing.

For my Democrat friends who are apoplectic on how I could forget the Congressman, or who see this as a slight, calm down. You need to understand that it's actually the highest form of praise. Andre Carson winning on election night is like the sun coming up. When you know something is going to happen without question, sometimes you just take it for granted.

But rest assured, I always know bold leadership is in the building and if AC had not been on the ticket, things could have been a lot worse.


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I Said What?!?


A colleague just pointed out that in my blog post about yesterday's results, I referred to our Democratic party trustee in Warren Township, Marion County as Russ Bennett. While I'm sure that's flattering for my buddy Russ Bennett, who is a great Democrat, my party's man in Warren Township is actually JEFF Bennett, who none of us can forget.

Blogs are like gremlims - you should never feed them after midnight or bad things happen. Also, this should serve as a warning to us all - friends don't let friends post under the influence of really crappy election returns.

My apologies to Jeff - we know you, partner!


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Marion County Democrats Weather Republican Onslaught; GOP Claims 60 Reps at the Statehouse?

Whether many Democrats will say it publicly, the clip below likely typifies many of their sentiments this morning. (Profanity warning!)



To quote Lawrence Township Trustee Russ Brown, Marion County was an island of blue in a red wave yesterday.

Democrats got trounced nationally, giving up control of the U.S. House of Representatives, in part, courtesy of Indiana’s 8th and 9th Congressional District losses, which served as sandwich bread for the main entrée of the Dems’ cough-up of their U.S. Senate seat to uber-lobbyist Dan Coats.

Dems got trounced in Indiana. The best performing D statewide candidate, treasurer candidate, Pete Buttigieg, garnered only 38%. Despite running against a guy being investigated by two special prosecutors, Vop Osili still got only 37%. I had speculated that Vop might poll less well than expected because of his unusual name, but apparently the only name that bothered voters yesterday was the Democrative Party’s.

Dems got trounced in local races. Depending on the outcome of the Bob Deig/Wendy McNamara race in Southwestern Indiana, the GOP will go from 48 members in the Indiana House of Representatives to 59 or 60.

Deig’s situation is a fascinating illustration on the perils of electoral musical chairs. When Senator Bayh (playing the little kid who accidentally knocks down the first domino) vacated his seat, Ellsworth went up from the 8th, a seat he would have likely kept. Then Trent Van Haaften went from state rep into Ellsworth's slot, and Deig jumped over to run in Van Haaften’s house seat, presumably thinking it would be fun to be in the house majority.

If Deig wins, which is iffy given that he holds only a 30-vote lead with 2 precincts still to be accounted for, he would have certainly become the political version of Randy Moss, but for the fact Indiana Senate Democrats somehow managed to lose four of their seventeen seats.

Deig’s vacated senate seat (which Deig might have maintained had he stayed put) was lost to Republican Jim Tones. Senate Republicans also took Connie Sipes’ open seat and knocked off Democratic senate icon, Jim Lewis, and social justice champion, Sue Errington.

The remaining Senate Democrats (a/k/a "The Unlucky Thirteen") will be able to hold their caucus meetings in the coat closet, and they may need to ask the GOP to loan them some ringers just to fill the minority chair slots on senate committees.

But amidst the smoldering wreckage, shattered glass, and charred remains arose the Democrats of Marion County, who elected Terry Curry as prosecutor with 52% and kept the sheriff, auditor, clerk, recorder, and assessor positions (Colonel John Layton, Billie Breaux, Beth White, Julie Voorhies, and Joe O’Connor, respectively).

This is huge because someone can finally look under the hood of the Daniels administration to see if they've been shadily hocking parts we need to keep the governmental engine running smoothly.

Though Democrats suffered a heart-crushing loss of State Representative John Barnes, the other Marion County newbie Dems – Representatives Mary Ann Sullivan and Ed Delaney – pulled through strongly.

Democrats also fared relatively well in township elections. Jeff Bennett and Russ Brown retained their trusteeships in Warren and Lawrence respectively, along with incumbent trustees Frank Short in Washington, Lula Patton in Pike, and Wally Akers in Center.

Other than John Barnes’ loss, the only dimming of Marion County's Democratic wattage was the body blow delivered to the entire Wayne Township government. Wayne Township Trustee David King Baird was defeated, as was constable Bill Newman and Small Claims Judge Maxine King, though the latter two races may be subject to recounts, given these losses were by 37 and 68 votes respectively. Some Democratic insiders are not broken up by Baird’s loss, as he has created some PR problems for the party, and it is an almost certain D pick-up in four years (assuming the office still exists then).

Out in Lawrence Township, party stalwart and Indianapolis Times blogger, Terry Burns, can almost certainly expect a recount, given his 118-vote victory, but for the moment, he is our Lawrence Township Constable. Also in Lawrence, Democrat Judy Conley nearly knocked off incumbent Lawrence Small Claims Judge Jim Joven, who may be facing a recount of his own.

In short, the Democratic state of affairs may be a mess nationally and statewide, but they run a tidy ship in Indianapolis.

Bring on 2011.


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Monday, November 1, 2010

iPOPA on WRTV-6, leading Democratic Takeover of "Abdul In the Morning!"

iPOPA will appear on WRTV-6's election night coverage with political vet, Norm Cox, and talk show host and Indiana Barrister blogger, Abdul Hakim-Shabazz. Our first segment should run from 7-8 p.m., and another segment during the 11:00 news.

Also, iPOPA will lead a "Democrat takeover" of the "Abdul in the Morning" show on WNXT-1430 when I serve as guest host this Thursday from 6-9 a.m.

How awesome will that be for my Democrat and progressive friends? It will be the one time this week you can tune me in without having to tune Abdul out!


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Sunday, October 31, 2010

iPOPA Questions Governor Daniels on His Definition of Private Sector Job Creation


Dear Governor Daniels:

Speaking as a Hoosier, I guess I'd agree that the existence of a Hoosier job today that didn't exist yesterday is a good thing, so I don't mean to nitpick.

But I have a hard time with intellectual dishonesty, so when the Indianapolis Star reported today your announcement on the "creation" of 2,650 jobs, I was plagued by skepticism.

As you know, you announced that Indiana was benefitting from a 650-worker locomotive factory to be opened by Progress Rail Services, a 500-job service center for Ascension Health, and another 650 jobs at student loan firm Sallie Mae and call-center operator Affiliated Computer Services (ACS). This was in addition to the 850 jobs you announced earlier in the week to be created by two other companies.

Don't take offense, Governor, but given that these jobs are to be "created" over five years, can you tell how many will actually ever exist? I ask because you've held some press conferences next to CEOs who've made grandiose promises they never kept.

Remember when WTHR-13 in Indianapolis went to find the jobs you "created" and instead found a bunch of empty warehouses and cornfields? You must have been so embarrassed that we Hoosiers had been double-crossed! I suppose, however, that the sting didn't linger for you as much as for us since at least you got to use all those bogus job announcements to get re-elected.

Maybe being there in person to hear Progress Rail CEO Billy Ainsworth's inflection makes a difference, but he sure didn't sound all systems go when he said, "If the economy picks up and demand picks up, we'll go to full production."

Also, given your gift for political theater, I hope you will forgive me for thinking you knew long before Friday that these companies were going to "create" jobs, but you consolidated and held the announcements until a week before the election to achieve maximum political effect.

Speaking of political effect, what a great quote you gave! You nearly dislocated your shoulder patting yourself on the back when you said, "Weeks like this remind us that Indiana is a leader in private-sector jobs creation because we've built the best sandbox for business."

Governor, initially I wondering why nobody told you that Ascension Health is a not-for-profit entity. Then it occurred to me that you conservatives probably just lump not-for-profit job growth into the "private sector" since at least it isn't "government employment"?

But more importantly, Governor, is it really fair to say Indiana "created" jobs in cases like with Sallie Mae where the 350 new Indiana slots are the result of 2,000 people losing their jobs in other states? If we employed your logic, wouldn't India be "creating" more American jobs than any state in the union? When a company like Sallie Mae moves its workforce, maybe we should brag that Indiana not only has a great sandbox, it also is extremely skilled at picking up crumbling pieces from companies in other states before their inevitable departure overseas?

Oh, I also noticed you said ACS, the vendor who served as a subcontractor for IBM on your massive welfare automation boondoggle is going to add 300 jobs? Out of curiosity, if IBM sues ACS as a party in the lawsuit the State of Indiana has against IBM, will you have to treat ACS with kid gloves in the litigation to get the jobs? Also, are these 300 ACS jobs dependent on a parking deal, by chance? I know the Mayor of Indianapolis said that his colossally crappy 50-year parking lease would create 200 jobs. Tell me you aren't counting those chickens because I'm thinking they might not hatch.

Finally, Governor, I was under the impression you hated President Obama's stimulus package because you said it wasn't creating private sector jobs. Did I hear that right? If so, you must have been hating life when you announced that Abound Solar Manufacturing was creating twelve hundred manufacturing jobs making state-of-the-art solar panels in an abandoned Getrag facility in Tipton County? Maybe you saw in Time that there's been a whole new economy created by the stimulus?

Maybe if you'd spent less time on your anti-stimulus national posturing, we could have landed more Abounds and become renowned for our new energy economy. (Dude, green is right up your alley - that was the color of your campaign t-shirts!) But, hey, I'm sure it's hard to bash a stimulus package when you have to keep announcing jobs created by it, so I understand why you hung back.

Thanks for listening!


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Saturday, October 23, 2010

Rokita Creates New Reaganesque Mantra: "Never Release an Investigation Into a Fellow Republican (Charlie White) Ten Days Before Election Day!"


No matter how occupied my life becomes, there are times I am so troubled, I feel compelled to stay up into the wee hours of the night to speak.

This is such a time.

I learned today that Indiana Secretary of State Todd Rokita (political science major, Wabash College, Class of 1992) completed his investigation into possible vote fraud by GOP Secretary of State candidate Charlie White (political science major, Wabash College, Class of 1992), but he refuses to make his findings public.

As has been well-chronicled by Brian Howey here and by the Associated Press here, Charlie kept taking money as a Fishers Town Council member, though he certainly knew he no longer lived in the district he represented. (He was five miles over the line).

In addition, White voted in a precinct in which he knew, or certainly should have known, he was not eligible to vote.

All of this has culminated in the appointment of two special prosecutors - one Democrat and one Republican. Of course, there will be no way the duo completes their work before election day.

Cue Rokita to center stage.

Given that Rokita's reputation was built on his alleged fervor for upholding the integrity of Indiana's voting laws, when Indiana Democratic Party Chairman Dan Parker asked for an investigation, Rokita had to oblige.

I was skeptical. After all, in addition to running in the same political circles, according to Charlie White's most recent campaign finance report, Rokita’s campaign committee paid $717 for refreshments for a July 15, 2010 fundraiser for Charlie. (Curiously, Rokita's report covering all activity from July 1, 2010 through September 30, 2010, shows no such donation).

However, I (political science major, Wabash College, class of 1992) have known Rokita for a long time, and I thought maybe, just maybe, he would employ some integrity, make a recommendation to the prosecutors, and support it with what he uncovered.

He did neither.

And here is a sad reality. I was lab partners with Charlie White and lived in the same dorm he did at Wabash, and there were times I found him to be a really good guy. But if I put aside my personal relationship, I can honestly say that nobody who did what Charlie did would ever get my vote for this office. And if Charlie wins, it will be only because his opponent's name is Vop Osili.

The hardest thing to do in politics is look at people you are either fond of or friends with and tell them they have acted improperly and will have to suffer the consequences. It takes grit. It takes character. It takes cajones of steel (or diamond ovaries, for the ladies) because when the stakes are high, your own party will employ political pressure that feels like vice grips and ice picks.

Rokita's mettle got tested, and he folded like aluminum foil. His office released a statement today saying it had reviewed only public records, subpoenaed no witnesses or records (as Rokita has no authority to do so), took no witness statements, and yet somehow spent 100 hours on this venture. The obvious question is, "How?!?"

In addition, Rokita made no recommendation (though he could have), noting there were already two prosecutors on the case. Playing the political situation with the deftness of Yo Yo Ma on a cello, Rokita stated, ”No one should conclude by the mere activity of this review and report that an offense was committed or not committed.”

If only Rokita had heeded the wisdom of Mr. Miyagi.



Instead Rokita said nothing and released nothing, thereby proving this charade was undertaken only to preserve his image as a 4th District Congressional candidate.

I doubt Rokita could speak. Because if he had said what he really thought, if he had spoken bluntly about what those documents told him, he would have created a statewide headline that would have virtually undone White's candidacy.

By shutting up and shutting down the media, Rokita almost certainly ensures that White will get to the tape, gasping and coughing, just edging Osili, and that's all that matters. Because if that gavel of justice bangs down on Charlie White a month after his election, and he is bounced from his office by virtue of a felony conviction, you know who appoints the guy or gal who will complete the remainder of the term? Governor Mitch Daniels (under Indiana Code § 3-13-4-3).

I've disliked Republican policy positions on many days, but I doubt I've been as personally disappointed in a Republican as I am on this one.

You're better than this, Teddy.


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Thursday, September 30, 2010

Charlie White's Whitewash Effort Defies Logic

Editor's note: This is a special report written by Erin Rosenberg the Indianapolis Times. Read here or go there and actually see the poll book evidence referred to below, but READ it! All their feigned outrage at voting fraud, and now it's no big deal?!? There is NO WAY Charlie White didn't know he was no longer in his council district, and this evidence shows conclusively that he intentionally violated the laws he would uphold if he becomes Secretary of State.

. . .

By now, most people have heard about the voter fraud allegations being leveled against Charlie White, the embattled Republican candidate for secretary of state.

State and local Democratic Party leaders are calling for a criminal investigation into the possible wrongdoing, but Republican leaders are claiming that the call for an investigation is just noise about nothing more than a clerical requirement of an “affidavit” that White didn’t complete when he voted in his old precinct. So, who’s right?

Here it is in a nutshell: First, I remind everyone that by White's own admission, he did not reside at the Broad Leaf house when he voted in the May Primary, and that, by its definition is voter fraud. White says he “forgot” and made a “mistake”, but was still entitled to use the Fail Safe voting provision even though he didn’t follow the law in using it. This is completely wrong. White knew perfectly well how to use the Fail Safe provision to vote in his old precinct and the 2009 voter poll book proves it. Mr. White cannot claim he did not know the proper procedures for using the Fail Safe voting procedure in May 2010 because he JUST USED it in November 2009.

In addition, absent the required Fail Safe provision affirmation in May 2010 for voting one time at a former precinct, White appears to have been set to vote for a second time illegally at the same former polling site in the 2010 November election. And, he could have done it precisely because there was no affirmation in the Primary election.

White’s actions show that he knows the laws and how to abide by them, but chose not to when they suited his ambitions and personal desires. Mr. White must suspend his campaign and a special prosecutor must be appointed to conduct a real investigation of these allegations.

THE FACTS

On November 2009 Election day, White walked into Delaware Precinct 14, his no longer valid polling location and was rightfully permitted to vote because he made an oral affirmation of his actual current address which was then written (reduced) in the poll book. That is to say, in November 2009, White voted where he was currently registered (where his apartment was in Delaware Precinct 14), but not where he currently lived (as recorded in the 2009 poll book as his ex-wife’s address in Delaware Precinct 12 which is a different precinct). From this affirmation of his claimed current address, a formal change of registration form was mailed to him in November of 2009. He completed and mailed back a voter registration form in early 2010. This new registration officially changed his registration to his ex-wife’s address in Delaware Precinct 12.

In March of 2010, White purchased and moved across town into a condo with his new wife. White again did not update his voter registration when he moved. In May, he returned to the precinct of his ex-wife in Delaware Precinct 12 where he was still registered, but no longer lived, and voted. This time, he didn’t tell anyone that he no longer lived there and didn’t complete an oral or written affirmation. His current address was not notated in the poll book as it was in 2009. Presumably, if he had informed the poll workers of his change of address, then at the very least, his affirmation of the new address would have been notated in the poll book as it was in 2009.

White did not update his voter registration until last week when he was informed that Greg Purvis was going to hold a press conference the next day revealing these facts. Voter registration ends next week for the General Election. These facts are not disputed by anyone.

THE LAWS AT ISSUE

According to Indiana law and found on the Secretary of State’s website, you are an eligible voter if:

▪ You are both a U.S. citizen and a resident of Indiana; and
▪ You will be at least 18 years of age on or before the next General or Municipal Election, and
▪ You are not currently in prison after being convicted of a crime; and
▪ You have lived in the precinct where you vote for at least 30 days prior to the election; and
▪ You are registered to vote.

Obviously, White was not an eligible voter since he did not live for 30 days prior to the Primary Election in Delaware Precinct 12, the precinct in which he voted in May 2010.

Indiana has two provisions, IC 3-10-11-2 and IC 3-10-12-3.4, commonly referred to as Indiana’s “Fail Safe” provisions, that allow, in specific circumstances, for a person who is not properly registered to vote in their former precinct.

IC 3-10-11-2 applies to a voter who satisfies all of the following:
(1) The person resided in a precinct in Indiana.
(2) The person currently resides in Indiana.
(3) The person lost residency in the precinct of the person's former residence not more than 30 days immediately before the election.
(4) The person was a qualified and registered voter of the precinct of the person's former residence.
(5) The person is otherwise legally qualified to vote.
(6) The person is not registered in the precinct of the person's present residence.
(7) The person requests a transfer of the person's registration (by filling out a VRG4/12 form, which is a request to transfer voter registration).

Indiana Republican Party Chairman Murray Clark has acknowledged that I.C. 3-10-11-2 is not the provision under which White voted in May 2010 and Clark is correct. White moved in 2010 more than 30 days before the election, so this provision does not apply to him. In 2009, it isn’t known on which date White moved into his wife’s home. It is known that he did not fill out a VRG4/12 form, but he did make an oral affirmation that was recorded in the poll book by a poll worker. So, he wasn’t invoking this particular provision then, either.

Clark has publicly stated that White was entitled to vote in Delaware Precinct 12, the precinct serving White's ex-wife's address, pursuant to the second Fail Safe provision, Indiana Code 3-10-12-3.4 which permits a person:
(1) Who moves within the same county and same congressional district and
(2) Did not update their voter registration,
To return one (AND ONLY ONE) last time to vote in their precinct of former residence provided that:
(1) The voter make an oral or
(2) Written affirmation to the poll clerk as to the voter's current residence address.
a. If a voter makes an oral affirmation, the poll clerk must reduce the oral affirmation into writing on the poll book and initial the affirmation.

This Fail Safe provision does not require a VRG4/12 form. It does not require an affidavit at all. It requires an affirmation. And, you can only use it once.

Note: There is a great deal of confusion about what this affirmation does. It does NOT actually change a person’s voter registration. White made an oral affirmation. He did not give anything written that actually changed his address. All that this does is allow a person to vote in their former precinct provided that they affirm their current address. It does not mean that White was automatically registered to his wife’s address in 2009. He still had to actually change his registration, which he did. But, in November 2009, White affirmed by virtue of writing his current address in the poll book that he was using this Fail Safe provision to vote in his former precinct.

To make this clear, the Title of this Fail Safe Provision is:

IC 3-10-12
Chapter 12. Special Procedures for Certain Indiana Voters to Vote in Precinct of Former Residence Under NVRA

This provision is the one that White used in November 2009 (I am sure White doesn’t want to claim that he illegally voted in 2009 by using 3-10-11-2 and not completing the VRG as mandated by law). It is also the provision he is now claiming to have used in the 2010 Primary, except acknowledging he did not do the affirmation (reminder: as he just did in November 2009).

CHARLIE WHITE’S DEFENSE

In responding to Indiana Democratic Party Chairman Dan Parker’s voter fraud charges, Murray Clark, the State Republican Party Chairman, issued a statement stating:

"Charlie was entitled under law to vote one last time at his old polling location. He satisfied all the criteria to go back his old poll, his precinct, and vote. What wasn't done was the formality of the affidavit, which in retrospect we wouldn't be having this discussion if it had been done."

Now, to be fair, I am going to assume that Chairman Clark said this based on information received from the Charlie White campaign. So, for all intents and purposes, this is White’s explanation and justification for his actions. I suspect White has been less than upfront about all of the facts at issue here and Chairman Clark is simply doing his job- a job that he does quite well. Indeed, I have to wonder if White told Chairman Clark that he had used the Fail Safe provision correctly and actually made an oral affirmation in 2009 before asking him to make this statement.

So, what ‘affidavit’ is Charlie White referring to that he “forgot” to fill out? The VRG4/12? White didn’t have to complete that under IC 3-10-12-3.4. It seems White means the affirmation. Remember, a voter can do a written affirmation in the form of an affidavit (which includes the option, but does not require, completing the VRG12/4) or an oral affirmation, which the poll clerk must reduce into writing on the poll book.

WHY THE AFFIRMATION MATTERS

So what? What is the big deal that he didn’t do an affirmation in 2010 (as he did in 2009)? Besides the fact that it is legally required to do to take advantage of the Fail Safe provision, of course!

Indiana’s Fail Safe provision is written as it is to balance two important interests: ensuring the integrity of the vote by preventing people from voting in precincts where they are not eligible and do not reside balanced by the recognition that sometimes people forget to cross all their Ts and dot all the Is when it comes to updating one’s voter registration.

Basically, the law allows people one mulligan when it comes voting legally. BUT JUST ONE. That is the balance. If the law allowed people to vote at precincts where they didn’t live as many times as they wanted, there would be rampant voter fraud as ineligible people could vote where they didn’t reside every election, even though that is against the law and the whole point of the overall voter eligibility statute. That doesn’t make any sense.

So, how do we ensure that people don’t abuse the Fail Safe provision and vote repeatedly at a precinct they are no longer eligible to vote at? Aha! By requiring that if you vote outside of the precinct where you live, it MUST be recorded by written or oral affirmation so you can’t return and vote a second time. How else would anyone know that the person had used his or her one Fail Safe vote if it isn’t recorded? They wouldn’t.

Indeed, White’s actions prove this very point. Until being caught by Greg Purvis, no one knew White was claiming his 2010 Primary vote as a Fail Safe vote. No one knew because it wasn’t recorded anywhere. Why did Charlie White not want anyone to know?

As already mentioned, White didn’t update his voter registration after he voted in the wrong precinct in May. Not in June. Not in July. Not in August. Not until LAST WEEK when he was forced to by Purvis. Indeed, if Purvis had not had his press conference when he did, by White’s own admission that he just plumb forgot gosh darn it, he would not have properly registered for the 2010 November Election.

What would he have done? Where would White have voted in November if he hadn’t been “notified of his mistake” right before voter registration ended? We can all guess the answer to this. Do you think he would have NOT voted in the General or would he have voted where he was registered (his ex-wife’s address and not where he had been living since March), where he voted already once in May while not residing there, and, would have done a written or oral affirmation at the polls because he missed the voter registration deadline. Why would this be a problem? Because he would be voting for the SECOND TIME at the same precinct he voted at in May- even though he had already used the Fail Safe provision. You know what? No one would have been the wiser. No one would have known. Do you know why? Because if it is not written down, it never happened. No one would know precisely because he did not do an affirmation in the Primary. There would have been ZERO record of him using the Fail Safe provision, even though he just used it in May!

As to why White would want to his registered address to be at his ex-wife’s home until November 2010, I will simply say that White could only continue receiving his town council pay and legally serve on the council up until he moved out of his council district. This part of the analysis, the why, has been thoroughly examined elsewhere, but I think it is pretty obvious to anyone looking at White’s situation.

Why he was doing it, however, doesn’t change the fact that by not doing the required affirmation, White appears to have tried to hide the fact that he had already used the one time only Fail Safe provision in May and could not use it for a second time in November.

CONCLUSION

Do not let White and his supporters confuse you about what happened here, folks. This is easy to figure out. The affirmation (not affidavit) requirement, contrary to White’s claim, is not just a formality; it is the crucial, most necessary part of the entire provision.

The affirmation requirement is what provides the protections from voter fraud, prevents the provision from being misused. It is the ONLY thing that makes the ONE TIME part of the provision enforceable.

Charlie White knows this (remember, he just did it in 2009...). Anyone who is serious about the integrity of the vote in Indiana should be able to figure this out. The republicans who continue to defend White and, clearly, White himself are trying to divert attention from the clear facts so no one will notice what White actually did and seems to have been trying to do.

Apparently, they, and White, fall on the side of lax laws and legal interpretations that allow for rampant abuse and …voter fraud. Is this what you want for your next Secretary of State? Hoosier voters should demand that our voter laws- in their ENTIRETY- be taken seriously and enforced equally for all Hoosiers in all corners of this great state.

Greg Purvis has asked for a special prosecutor to be appointed to investigate these facts. White is the Hamilton County Republican Chairman and the Hamilton County Prosecutor, Sonia Leerkamp, is also a Republican. I do not want to imply that Ms. Leerkamp is not capable of doing a fair and impartial investigation. I have no reason to doubt her on this. However, given the perception issues, I believe an impartial prosecutor should be brought in to investigate.

Demand a special prosecutor be appointed. Demand White suspend his campaign and address these charges.


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Thursday, September 16, 2010

Lincoln Plowman Indicted!


WRTV-6 reports that former GOP city-county councillor Lincoln Plowman and IMPD major has been indicted. When high-ranking members of IMPD and the Marion County GOP are being charged criminally, it is not hard to figure out why there is little faith in the department. I feel bad for the hard-working and honest officers who are going to get the inevitable blowback from failed leadership.


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Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Mosque Madness Brings iPOPA Back to Defend President Obama

President Obama was stupid, stupid, stupid.

He could have stayed mum about the controversy surrounding the construction of an Islamic center two blocks from Ground Zero.

Yes, let's make that "two blocks thingy" clear from the outset.

Nothing Islamic is being constructed on the site where the Two Towers fell. For a sturdy analysis of how the national media is perpetuating that myth, see Michael Calderone's outstanding article.

In addition, nobody who has been two blocks in every direction of where the Two Towers once stood could call two blocks away "hallowed ground" unless Dunkin Doughtnuts, discount jewelry stores, and strip clubs are America's new definition of sanctity.

But back to Obama's idiocy.

Why not stay silent or oppose construction of the mosque, which was the much smarter political play? Certainly, other Democrats, such as the beleaguered Harry Reid, have done so.

Instead, Obama waded in and gave Republicans, conservative pundits, and all those who think Obama harbors a secret (or even a not-so-secret) allegiance to Islam, a huge talking point, and one with staggering political resonance. To the degree most Americans are united on anything, it is their suspicions of Muslims.

So at a time when many political observers believe Democrats are already going to get walloped in the midterm elections, what was Obama thinking making any statement on this?!?

Before I answer, let me say two other things.

First, most people have not read the President's entire remarks on the controversy. Do yourself a favor and do so now:

That is not to say that religion is without controversy. Recently, attention has been focused on the construction of mosques in certain communities – particularly in New York. Now, we must all recognize and respect the sensitivities surrounding the development of lower Manhattan. The 9/11 attacks were a deeply traumatic event for our country. The pain and suffering experienced by those who lost loved ones is unimaginable. So I understand the emotions that this issue engenders. Ground Zero is, indeed, hallowed ground.

But let me be clear: as a citizen, and as President, I believe that Muslims have the same right to practice their religion as anyone else in this country. That includes the right to build a place of worship and a community center on private property in lower Manhattan, in accordance with local laws and ordinances. This is America, and our commitment to religious freedom must be unshakeable. The principle that people of all faiths are welcome in this country, and will not be treated differently by their government, is essential to who we are. The writ of our Founders must endure.

We must never forget those who we lost so tragically on 9/11, and we must always honor those who have led our response to that attack – from the firefighters who charged up smoke-filled staircases, to our troops who are serving in Afghanistan today. And let us always remember who we are fighting against, and what we are fighting for. Our enemies respect no freedom of religion. Al Qaeda’s cause is not Islam – it is a gross distortion of Islam. These are not religious leaders – these are terrorists who murder innocent men, women and children. In fact, al Qaeda has killed more Muslims than people of any other religion – and that list of victims includes innocent Muslims who were killed on 9/11.

That is who we are fighting against. And the reason that we will win this fight is not simply the strength of our arms – it is the strength of our values. The democracy that we uphold. The freedoms that we cherish. The laws that we apply without regard to race or religion; wealth or status. Our capacity to show not merely tolerance, but respect to those who are different from us – a way of life that stands in stark contrast to the nihilism of those who attacked us on that September morning, and who continue to plot against us today.

Second, I understand why many Americans do not feel this opposition is about freedom of religion because, in the strictest sense, it isn't. There's no law saying you can't be a Muslim now or that you can't build a mosque where you want. So for any political official to pitch it solely in those terms is a bit misleading. But Obama had to frame the issue under a noble constitutional freedom because he can't tell the real truth, and it is this:

The Americans who oppose the construction of this mosque do so out of prejudice, as defined below, and any objective person would recognize this.

"Prejudice" is defined as "making a judgment, usually negative, about an individual or group of individuals (say, for example, a group who want to build a cultural center) on the basis of their social, physical, or cultural characteristics." One of those cultural characteristics is clearly religion.

Opponents believe that because some so-called Muslims were responsible for 9/11, no Muslims should build anything identifiably Muslim within two blocks of Ground Zero.

But is that the real demarcation line? What if the community center were three blocks away? How about four? Or five? Precisely how many blocks away from Ground Zero would be acceptable to the Sarah Palin's of the world?

Would I be wrong in suggesting that at least one of the 9/11 victim's families would suggest you shouldn't even have a mosque in New York City? Should we kowtow to that person's wishes, no matter how prejudiced, because they had loved ones die? (For the record, Toby Harnden notes that two blocks is a quarter of a mile away from Ground Zero, and there is already a mosque a third of a mile away. Do we need to relocate that one? Oh, also, as Justin Elliott with Salon has reported, there's also a mosque in the Pentagon, where Muslims have been praying since 2001. Do we need to move that, too?)

Also, what of the sixty Muslims who died on 9/11? Of course you didn't know until now. Nobody wants to talk about them because they make the conversation too inconvenient.

But back to the prejudice.

If a KKK-Christian (and, yes, the Klan does claim Christianity as its abiding faith) had destroyed the Two Towers, would anybody protesting the cultural center now say that a Christian Church couldn't be built two blocks away from Ground Zero? Of course not. Nor would anybody question whether those who wanted to build the church were doing so as some kind of victory dance. What people would recognize is that some racist "Christian" psychos can't discredit every other practitioner of Christianity. In fact, most of us would recognize that the Klan members had engaged in a perversion of Christianity, which is precisely what those who want to construct the center say about the 9/11 terrorists' view of Islam.

If an African-American snipered a bunch of people in Times Square, would anybody say the NAACP couldn't build a center within two blocks because some of the victims's families were upset? Of course not. Most likely because, even if the victims' families felt personal racial animus toward the sniper, they wouldn't even think to project it against an entire race.

But many Americans cannot (or will not even try to) differentiate a handful of Muslim terrorists from the hundreds of millions who peacefully practice Islam, and therein lies the completely transparent conflict. While claiming there is no prejudice at play, many Americans also will tell you without any qualifiers, limitations, or irony that "Muslims" are intent on destroying us all.

One analogy Rush Limbaugh has used is to compare the outcry over the construction of the Islamic center to the expected outcry over building of a Shinto (predominant Japanese faith) Temple next to Pearl Harbor. And to Rush I would say that prejudice would cause that outcry as well because it would be saying that just because someone is of that faith, they were somehow responsible for what others of that faith did.

Or, let me put it a way Rush's fans might understand: "Religions don't kill people; people who pervert religions kill people."

Now, having said all of this, had I been hired as a PR consultant for the financiers of this center, I most certainly would have told them when the outcry began to accept offers for an alternative location.

But I also would have recognized that by doing so, they would legitimize for the rest of America the perception that their faith - and not a bunch of psychos - was what caused 9/11.

So why was Obama so stupid, stupid, stupid? Because he was right, right, right, and if he turns out to be a one-termer, at least he'll know he didn't cave to the darkest instincts of some Americans.

As Michael Douglas says in The American President:

America isn't easy. America is advanced citizenship. You gotta want it bad, 'cause it's gonna put up a fight. It's gonna say "You want free speech? Let's see you acknowledge a man whose words make your blood boil, who's standing center stage and advocating at the top of his lungs that which you would spend a lifetime opposing at the top of yours.

I'm proud to have a President who will take a massive political hit because he sees a chasm between our deeds and our most cherished ideals.

If you're not, maybe you're not ready for advanced citizenship.


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Saturday, June 12, 2010

iPOPA Says: "Goodbye, and thanks for all the fish?"

Some of you may have recognized that, as of late, my posting has been infrequent.

This is simply a function of that classic American conflict: doing what we love to do versus doing what we need to do.

As all bloggers know, we do it for the love of writing and the love of politics, not for the money. (As most bloggers also know, what we earn from Google Ads as a function of dollars per hour would be illegal even in a Singapore sweatshop).

For me, though, doing this blog well has always been very time-intensive. I put a lot into research and crafting the right phrases and analogies (though when I re-read my posts, I ALWAYS find some typo...sorry for that).

Being painfully objective, I literally can't afford to do it any more.

I'm going on a hiatus for the foreseeable future. Whether this is truly permanent (meaning I won't be back in a year or two) remains to be seen, but unless somebody out there wants to put me on payroll, this is likely me signing off as a blogging political commentator. If you don't hear from me again in this forum, I want to thank you all for your loyal readership. I hope you've enjoyed iPOPA and at least once thought, "I never thought of it like that. That's a good way to put it."

They say the best measure of a man's character is his deeds, not his words. But sometimes contributing to public discourse by putting the words down is the deed. I hope you agree.

iPOPA


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Wednesday, June 9, 2010

iPOPA on Pacers's Bailout


I was invited to appear on Fox 59's first "Faceoff" segment, during which two members of the community debate "issues of the day." The topic for myself and NUVO contributor (and talented writer) Andrew Roberts was whether the City should absorb the $15-$18 million cost of operating Conseco, thereby "bailing out" the Pacers. Here's my statement, which is a bit more detailed than what any 2-minute video can allow:

I don't want the Pacers to leave. But the City should not give an extra dime to millionaire ballplayers and billionaire owners when it's on pace to set a homicide record, can't pay for basic services like libraries and transportation, and has to use deficit spending, back-door tax hikes for sidewalks and roads.

The Pacers have not even shown us their books, so we have no idea how leanly they operate. All we know is they pay more in player salaries than one-third of the teams, and the NBA will almost certainly adopt NFL-style revenue sharing when it creates a new collective bargaining agreement at the end of 2011. How foolish will we look opening up the public coffers when bad management put the Pacers in the hole via low attendance and costs, and we can see the smoke from the money train pulling into the Pacers' station?

Most observers do not believe the Pacers could find a better deal in any other small-market city, they would have to pay between $50 and $150 million to move, and every objective study shows that when a team relocates, the psychological loss is real, but the economic one isn't. You can't even call this proposal a "bailout" because that connotes an opportunity to recover the dollars government provided. So far, all the Pacers have said publicly is that the taxpayers should eat a cost the Pacers agreed to cover. Sorry, but we're stuffed right now.


Here's the video segment:
 


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Friday, June 4, 2010

iPOPA Schools You on "Expectations Game" and Greg Ballard's Thin Line Between Hero and Con Artist


People who follow politics know the most consistent foe for an elected official or candidate is the “expectations game.”

If expectations get set high, the best case scenario is an “as good as expected,” which means you can never actually “win.” If they get set low, you might hold your own with a seasoned opponent just by asking him, “Can I call ya, Joe?” winking, and uttering a complete sentence.

In other words, as paradoxical as this sounds, having people expect nothing from you is great. But here’s an iPOPA corollary. If done right, playing up a catastrophe that isn’t is just as valuable.

Think about it.

You go to a restaurant, and they say you can’t be seated for an hour. But the next thing you know, your little chimichanga-shaped beeper is lighting up 30 minutes later. Or your auto mechanic says, “This will cost $600,” but when the works gets done, it’s only $425. Awesome, right?

Now imagine the scenario where a 3rd party, the manager, steps in at the restaurant and says, “Your wait is an hour? That’s won’t do at all. (To hostess) I want these folks to be seated within 30 minutes!” Or the body shop chief says, “We’re going to cut this bill to $425!” You’d love those people, right? But what if you found out later that the restaurant knew the wait was really probably going to be around 15-20 minutes and the mechanic really had the cost pegged at $350? Wouldn’t you feel suckered?

***

So I’m with my little man at the Marion County main library about two months ago, and as we're walking out, I see somebody I know on the library board photo. Two days later, I see this person, and I mention I was just at the Glendale branch, and that I hoped they could avoid closing it because it was jam-packed. The person responds that (s)he looked at the books and so has another "well-informed individual" and there are cuts to be had to keep the libraries open. I ask for confirmation, and I got what I felt was a pretty resounding expression of confidence.

That was a staggering revelation to me because I’d read the horror stories just like you all about the impending doom. I started wondering about who has a vested interest in claiming impending tragedy that really isn’t? My first thought was that this was an effort to sway referendum voters on whether they really want permanent property tax caps (more on that coming to you later). But then the Mayor swoops in with a solution that isn’t really, and as Democratic mayoral candidate Melina Kennedy pointed out, the financial pinch won't hit until 2014, so it's not like we're going to turn Keystone Avenue in front of the Glendale branch into to a Half-Price Books.

***

So next I hear Indygo is about to be reduced to apparently one bus that just drives in circles from 10th and College to West and Washington. [Okay, it wasn't really that, but it sounded equally cataclysmic.] The next thing I know, the Mayor swoops in with "solutions" that aren't really. I kid you not, his ideas are: (1) tap a $5 million Indygo line of credit without knowing how it will be paid back; (2) shift $1.6 million that has been set aside for insurance to cover lawsuits; and (3) take $3 million from capital improvements (i.e., making the buses less rickety) and use it for operating costs. And for this, the Star gives Ballard the headline: "Ballard Says City Will Help Indygo Pay Expenses." Wow.

My first thought was that Indygo must really know its drivers to put aside that kind of cash for liability. But here's the Mayor, deciding they’ll use this cash to keep the company operational instead of waiting for lawsuits that might never happen. Brilliant! Thank God Ballard is on the 25th Floor because certainly nobody associated with Indygo could have ever come up with "borrow, raid the reserves, and spend our legal funds and pray we hit fewer pedestrians this year."

My point is this … even though I know the economy is bad and dollars are probably tight in most places, after the Mayor's CIB inflated its deficit figures, because of most likely inflated Pacer operating losses, and because of the episodes above, I now find myself suspicious of the books of any entity that the Mayor controls directly or by appointment power or for whom he shills. They keep, curiously, putting him in a position to "save the day" only for us to later learn the day didn't really need saving to the degree claimed or that the saving was just for a day, not a long-term solution.

Conspiratorial? Alright, I admit it. But explain this. Mayor Ballard said he would go into the city and cut 10% of its budget. He hasn't come close. He smashed Bart Peterson for passing an increase in the County Option Income Tax (COIT). But notice he kept the money. Insiders will tell that if Peterson wouldn't have done the COIT, the Indiana General Assembly (cough - Luke Kenley) wouldn't have authorized a state takeover of police and fire pensions, which unloaded a huge burden on the city's finances. In addition, you have a massive federal influx of dollars, which I would wager means that if you add all revenue streams, Greg Ballard has more dollars at his disposal than any Mayor in Indianapolis history. (I'm going to get these numbers!)

So why is the Mayor raising taxes on almost every service provider in the county, and why do we need an imprudent, back-door tax increase in the form of a $170 million bond issue just to fund sidewalk repair? (I still don't know anybody who can say specifically how the separate $262 million from the back-door-tax-hike Cit Gas purchase of the water and wastewater operations will be spent).

Sorry, but, yet again, something doesn't add up here.

In the Ballard Superman story, maybe truth is the kryptonite, which is exactly why the administration, quite frequently, seems to have it tucked away in a lead box.


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Thursday, June 3, 2010

Judge Bill Young Earns "Triple Crown of Dubiousness"


The judiciary today became the third branch of state government to tell Republican Marion County Traffic Court Judge Bill Young: "Not a fan!"

You may recall how Judge Young's practice of doubling or tripling the fines for people who went to trial and lost resulted in not only a class action lawsuit, but also the Indiana General Assembly's passage of a bill barring the practice that was signed into law by Governor Daniels.

Well, today the Indiana Supreme Court issued an opinion that unanimously chided Judge Young for failing to be impartial, courteous, and open-minded.

The short version? His Honor took a recess so a Defendant could discuss a plea agreement. She opted to go to trial, then when the State called its first witness, she changed her mind.

Young stated in response that if she was found guilty, she was going to jail for a year and added, "I don’t know if I want to take your plea. I’d rather just go to trial, I think. I don’t like being jerked around at all, all right?”

In addition, while reviewing the Defendant's criminal history at sentencing, Judge Young noted new charges for theft and battery. When the Defendant's counsel asid, "Those are only alleged charges," Young responded, "Sure, they are."

Here's the Supreme Court's rhetorical body slam:

Indiana Judicial Conduct Canon 2 requires a judge to “perform the duties of judicial office impartially, competently, and diligently.” Judges must be “objective and open-minded.” Rule 2.2, comment 1. “A judge shall perform the duties of judicial office . . . without bias or prejudice.” Rule 2.3(A). “A judge shall be patient, dignified, and courteous to litigants.” Rule 2.8(B). A judge shall disqualify himself or herself “in any proceeding in which the judge’s impartiality might reasonably be questioned” including in circumstances when “the judge has a personal bias or prejudicial concerning a party.” Rule 2.11(A).

The trial court’s behavior in this case did not meet these standards.

I've heard from judicial officers on both sides of the party fence that Judge Young is looking to move back into the City-County Building when the shuffling occurs by virtue of Judge Tonya Walton-Pratt going to the federal bench.

This is the conduct we should promote?


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Thursday, May 27, 2010

BREAKING NEWS: Carson, Ellsworth, Hill, Bayh Support Repeal of DADT

Representatives Andre Carson, Brad Ellsworth, Pete Viscloskey, and Baron Hill, all voted in favor of repealing the military's "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" policy tonight, a measure which passed out of the House by a 234-194 margin. At the same time, Politico.com reports a similar measure in the Senate passed out of the Armed Services Committee, 16-12, with the assistance of Senator Evan Bayh.

Carson stated, "Any patriotic American willing to give his or her life in defense of country should have that opportunity. And our troops should never be forced to lie about who they are in order to continue their service. Today’s vote will help ensure this kind of personal conflict is never an issue for the brave men and women in our military.”

The only Democrat who voted against the measure in the House delegation was Represenative Joe Donnelly. According to the Louisville Courier-Journal, Donnelly said earlier today that he would vote no to any effort to change the law before the Defense Department had finished its review.

Donnelly stated, "I value the expertise and experience of our military leaders and first want to know their thoughts on the matter."

The problem is that there will be some at the DoD who are against the repeal, and some, such as General Colin Powell, who favor it. Waiting for what may be an only mildly favorable report or an ambivalent one would be seized upon by opponents to short-circuit the entire effort. In other words, Donnelly's position was cowardice covered in military deference crap, in my opinion.

You may say, "Aha! iPOPA just admitted that some GENERALS may tell you this is a bad idea." In response, I would tell you, yeah, this wouldn't be the first time some generals opposed an idea of a commander-in-chief, and I would refer you to the dialogue from one of my favorite scenes of The West Wing, where John Amos, playing Percy Fitzwallace, the African-American Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, is talking to some lesser officers about their feelings on letting gays serve openly:

Major Tate: Sir, we're not prejudiced toward homosexuals.

Admiral Percy Fitzwallace: You just don't want to see them serving in the Armed Forces?

Major Tate: No sir, I don't.

Admiral Percy Fitzwallace: Because they pose a threat to unit discipline and cohesion?

Major Tate: Yes, sir.

Admiral Percy Fitzwallace: That's what I think, too. I also think the military wasn't designed to be an instrument of social change.

Major Tate: Yes, sir.

Admiral Percy Fitzwallace: The problem with that is that's what they were saying about me 50 years ago - blacks shouldn't serve with whites. It would disrupt the unit. You know what? It did disrupt the unit. The unit got over it. The unit changed. I'm an admiral in the U.S. Navy and Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff...beat that with a stick.

I'm guessing Donnelly isn't a fan of Harry Truman, who desegregating the military when 87% of Americans, including a supermajority of its military personnel, opposed the decision.

Sorry, Joe, but we have a civilian-led military, and if Congress and the Commander-in-Chief say gays and lesbians can serve openly, the generals will use their expertise to implement the policy, not to decide it.


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