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!


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.