Sunday, January 31, 2010

Councilors & Superbowl Tickets

Braveheart is one of my favorite movies. One of the most affecting scenes is when William Wallace realizes he's been betrayed by Robert the Bruce, a man he considered to be of high ideals, capable of leading Scotland to independence. Periodically, I take a gutshot like that from my own party.

My hope has been to minimize those angst-filled moments by administering "tough love." My hope has always been that maybe some Democrats will find their higher angels, lead by example, and bring this community out of the cynicism that permeates political life.

That need for "tough love" was never more apparent than when I read that 26 of 29 city-county councilors took the Colts up on their offer to acquire Superbowl tickets for the councilors at the $800 face value.

Senior Executive Vice-President for the Colts, Pete Ward, said this was done "as a show of appreciation for their public service." This is a ludicrously insulting quote. The Colts made the offer to curry favor with people who control the Colts financial future, and if you think otherwise, ask yourself why this offer wasn't extended to police officers, fire fighters, postal employees, and sanitation workers, among our many "public servants."

I have tremendous respect for many members on the city-county council. They work in a poorly-compensated, often thankless and immeasurably time-consuming job. But they chose to put their names on the ballot to serve, and respectfully, if our city-county councilors missed a meeting, most of us would never know, and in most cases, that absence wouldn't change anything. Can we say the same about our garbage or postal workers? Seriously, if the Colts are not kowtowing to voting power, what about the councilors service is so noteworthy? All the sitting or all the listening?

To my councilor friends, remember that leadership is a straight walk in the shoes of those you serve, not running in well-heeled circles. Leadership is holding your palm up instead of holding your hand out when perks are offered. Leadership is never being oblivious to a single instance of an obvious double standard. If you want a Superbowl ticket, go scrounge on Craig's List like the rest of us.

The Star reports that the Colts have no obligation to disclose who bought the tickets, and in truth, I'm grateful in not knowing. I don't think I could handle the disappointment.

Unfortunately, I don't expect I'll be permitted to stay ignorant. The questions will not stop until the media knows every person who took the tickets and the disposition of those tickets. So, to my council friends, if you are going to ignore the personal code of conduct component to this deal, at least don't be stupid on the politics.

Were I Democratic Party dictator of the universe, I'd corral everybody who bought the tickets, we'd sell them, and we'd donate all the profit collectively to the United Way of Greater Indianapolis or the Red Cross for relief to Hait. But as the only title I have is "party activist," I'll just implore all of my D colleagues to go to the game if you aren't donating all the proceeds to charity. I assure you that if you keep a single dime of profit, you're going to get hammered politically. And, frankly, you should be.

Scotland ultimately got its independence when Robert the Bruce became king. But that didn't happen until after the following exchange:

Robert Bruce, Sr: "All men betray. All men lose heart."

Robert the Bruce: "I don't want to lose heart. I want to believe, as he does."

So do I.


Friday, January 29, 2010

Buyer Retires

Steve Buyer is retiring, citing his wife's "incurable autoimmune disease." Buyer curiously stated, however, that he will serve out the rest of his term. Under the saying, "When it rains....," Buyer was already facing congressional and IRS investigations for running "the little scholarship fund that could....but never did."

While I feel terrible for Buyer and cannot envision how devastated I would feel if we switched places, I cannot help but wonder how much further along medical science would be in combating autoimmune diseases had Republican leadership not done so much to stall stem cell research.

Campaign Diaries reports that Buyer was accompanied at his press conference by State Senator Brent Hershman, which served undoubtedly as an implicit endorsement by Buyer. But the intriguing idea floated is that Lieutenant Governor Becky Skillman might be interested.

When the Governor selected her as his number two, she said she wouldn't run for his job. Then she changed her mind, resulting in friction and some very public gubernatorial stands on issues pushed by Todd Rokita, such as redistricting. Now Skillman finds herself in a tough fight and politically at odds with her own boss, which makes her 2012 chances pretty dim. How easy would it be for the Governor, who is now playing puppet master for every race in Indiana, to hoist his LG into that slot to clear the way for Todd Rokita?

If she wants it, Becky Skillman should pack her bags.


David O(ver) Running; Massa Definitely In!

David Orentlicher has withdrawn his candidacy to be Marion County Prosecutor and endorsed fellow contender and frontrunner Terry Curry. On the GOP side, Mark Massa is definitely running.

Getting out of the race was a smart move for David O., as his candidacy hinged on convincing the electorate that the office is a policy center for crime prevention, not just a law enforcement arm intent on bustin' heads.

The problem is that the general public doesn't look to their prosecutors primarily for programs. The "policy" approach has been tried by candidates with limited criminal prosecution experience in the past, and it always fails if the opponent has it. The same applies when candidates try to argue that the office is about being a good manager. Sorry, but Hoosier voters want a Jack McCoy, not a pontificating (and always seated) Adam Schiff.

The fact Republicans had no candidate for some moments created some intrigue because if the policy argument would ever work it would be where a D-leaning county's D candidate was running against a weak or GOP opponent. David O. certainly showed he had friends who would dig deep to help him.

Of course, a GOP weakling is not what we have now. Mark Massa will be formidable, and the Governor will make sure he has money. Word on the street was that Massa was very reluctant, but he won't tell the Governor no.

I would have loved to be a fly on the world. If you were a Governor worried about a Democrat getting into your business before you go national, what might you offer a guy to get him to run for prosecutor to protect your flank? Can you envision a conversation about U.S. attorney if that Governor became GOP chair or (Lord help us all) President? What about an Assistant A.G. post? Or maybe an even higher number of boards to serve on to rake in dough for little work. Maybe all of it.

Massa will be formidable, and all Democrats owe David O. for not taking this one to the tape. Next time you see him, give him a pat on the back for putting party first. Also, ask him if he minds sharing say, oh, $180,000 with Curry or the Marion County Democratic Party. Now that would really be putting party first.


Brizzi's Got Feds On Him For Allegedly Shaving Years for the Highest Bidder

Fox-59 is reporting that the FBI is questioning whether Carl Brizzi exchanged a sentence modification for campaign cash.

You've got to read this on your own, but the short version is that Paula Epperly Willoughby got 110 years for killing her husband, and Brizzi's office signed off on a sentence reduction to only 18, which enraged former GOP Superior Court Judge Gary Miller, who imposed the sentence. Take it away Fox:

Paula Epperly Willoughby's father is Harrison Epperly, a millionaire real estate magnet with property in downtown Indianapolis. From 2006 through 2008, Epperly donated $29,000 to the Brizzi campaign. $20,000 was donated the weekend before Brizzi's budget busting re-election in 2006. Those were the years his daughter's attorney was negotiating with Brizzi's office for a sentence modification.

Get who else was involved in that? GOP Hamilton County Prosecutor candidate and Brizzi chief trial deputy, David Wyser.

Fox also notes:
On May 29, 2009, less than a month before Epperly Willoughby's motion for reducing her sentence would be filed with the court, Harrison Epperly donated $2500 to Wyser's campaign for Hamilton County prosecutor.

Hanging out with playboys and living the high life on your donors' dollars is troubling, but contaminating justice is deplorable.

There is no end in sight to the number of people whose careers Carl Brizzi will ultimately kill.


Friday, January 22, 2010

For the Love of Money: Brizzi, Kennedy, Curry, & Orentlicher Burn Rate Roundup

Before anybody else goes nuts, yes, I am a “fan” of Republican Marion County Prosecutor candidate Helen Marchal on Facebook. But understand that while I know and like her, I will employ every decent means at my disposal to ensure the Democratic Party recaptures the Marion County Prosecutor’s Office in 2010. I only started becoming a “fan” of Republican office holders when I realized that some, specifically Carl Brizzi, would only communicate by Facebook. If anybody construes my fandom to mean anything else than me trying to keep an eye on the sneaky little (expletive), they have a disingenuous agenda.

But while I’m speaking of Brizzi…

After review of Carlito's year-end campaign campaign finance report, I'm convinced he must have really thought he was going somewhere else. Otherwise, I can’t account for what has got to be an unprecedented non-election year burn rate. In 2009, Brizzi raised $138,573, but he spent $124,291 without making a single media-related or strategic (polling/message consultants) purchase, meaning his income to expense ratio was 1.1. For comparison, Democratic Prosecutor candidates Terry Curry and David Orentlicher had rate of 3.0, and 410 respectively. No, that’s not a typo. David O. raised $184,000 by spending $484, from which I can only conclude that he writes some very persuasive postcards.

Democratic mayoral hopefuls Melina Kennedy’s and Brian Williams have rates of 7.8 and 3.3 respectively. Mayor Greg Ballard posted a solid fundraising year of $830,000 earned, but he spent $377,000 to do it, for only a 2.2 rate.

Burn rates tend to be consistent even when the scale of a campaign changes. For example, Marion County Clerk Beth White spent $3,000 to raise $12,000, for a 4.0 rate.

Admittedly, burn rate is more art than science. For example, Williams spent a considerable amount on production costs early which means he jumped ahead of a conventional campaign. His rate would be a lot more efficient without that cost, so you have to scrutinize the expenses.

Yet even with such limitations, ratios serve as a useful gauge of campaign efficiency. For example, Brizzi’s staff cost him $33,000 to raise that $138,000, for a 4.1 staff to dollars ratio. In comparison, Kennedy raised her $252,000 on about $11,000 in staff costs for a 25.1 staff to dollar ratio, making Kennedy finance director Katie Lineweaver the best buy in Marion County politics.

So how does Brizzi spend almost every dollar he raises in a year?

Living the high life, baby! Reading his report will make you want to become an elected official because what you can do with other people’s campaign donations is amazing. Who's down with OPD (other people's donations)?!? Yeah you know, C!

Carl had a total of $7,300 worth of dining expenses listed under the heading “business meeting.” No, not fundraiser. “Business meeting.” This includes, but is certainly not limited to, 12 trips to Harry & Izzy’s for $2,501, 2 to Ruth’s Chris for $717, 4 to Sullivan’s for $426, five to Ambrosia for $1371, 2 to the Canal Grill for $179, 2 to the Capital Grill for $154, and 2 to Bella Vita for $196. He also spent $300 at a place called Luciano’s in Michigan for a “donor meeting” that apparently didn't go well since there are no Michigan donors on his report. (As an aside, who really goes to ask for money and spends $300 at the meal?)

Brizzi paid $345 to the Indianapolis Bar Association for his annual dues in addition to a total of $1450 for a prosecutor’s conference in San Francisco. One restaurant accounted for $508 of that cost.

Traveling in style is apparently important for Brizzi, who spent $540 on Image Limo in Chicago the same night he went to the Su Casa restaurant and spent $207 for “networking” and $545 staying at the Omni Hotel. On a different date, Brizzi spent $342 for Party Time Limousine. Folks, you don’t spend $342 on a ride to the airport.

Brizzi also has approximately $1,500 in reimbursements to himself for “travel” and “business meetings.” We know not where he went. But it's pretty clear if you work this whole elected official thing right, you can backdoor tons of money.

A couple of my other favorite items are $848 spent at Brown & Joseph for “gifts.” To whom? We don’t know! Nor do we know who received the $350 gift from Iwan Ries, a cigar shop in Chicago. On the subject of gifts, I chuckled at the $604 expense from Circle Center Mall for "employee Christmas bonus" dated January 6. Very timely of you, Carl!

You may say, “Who cares? The guy isn’t spending taxpayer money. He can use it as he chooses, and if his donors are dumb enough to give to the guy knowing he’s going to spend it eating out every night instead of running for office, that’s there idiocy.”

Actually, that’s precisely my point. Only by having concrete restrictions on how campaign funds can be used and more descriptive campaign finance reports can you distinguish between a campaign contribution and bribery.

Okay, maybe it's "reverse bribery" and not "actual" bribery because the donor may not have the intent. But the candidate sure knows that if he wants to keep living the highlife, he needs to keep getting the dollars. As far as the reporting, how do we know Brizzi didn’t smoke every cigar from Iwan Ries himself? Because he’s done such a bang up job disclosing information to us we’ll just trust him?

But in keeping with my New Year’s Resolution of saying something good about everybody, I want to publicly applaud Brizzi for donating $250 and $400 respectively to Indiana Equality and the Lambda Defense Fund, two organizations devoted to ending orientation and gender identity-based discrimination.

You have to have chutzpah out the yin yang to donate to both Indiana Equality and Lambda Defense and Vanderburgh County Right to Life, though I'm going to assume they weren’t in the same room when they got their checks.

Stay tuned for more analysis of the Marion County Prosecutor's Race and what will be done with Brizzi's half million in the bank....


Thursday, January 21, 2010

On Township Consolidation, Compromise Is Counterproductive

Otto von Bismarck once said, "Laws are like sausages; it is better not to see them being made."

This has never been more true than with HB 1181, which is Representative Bill Crawford's answer to Ed Delaney's bill designed to abolish township governments. Under HB 1181, instead of just getting rid of the little buggers on an up-or-down vote (with all trustees and board duties going under the mayor, city-council, and a county-wide poor relief advocate, respectively), we permit every township to have its own referendum first.

This is, to use a fine term of art, bananas. As P.J. O'Rourke might say, having some townships in and some out is only a compromise in the sense that being bitten in half by a shark is a compromise to being eaten whole. It would defeat the purpose of consolidation if we created a county agency when only a few townships "opted in." It would almost certainly end up costing us more. As much as I respect Bill Crawford, this is an area where he needs to go all in or not go at all. There's no middle ground here, though that's where I find myself on the larger issue.

I'm incredibly torn on the subject of consolidation, though I'm leaning against it.

On the plus side, if money can be saved on administration costs that we can funnel into more poor relief, preferrably the type that addresses underlying causes of poverty instead of only cutting checks, how could I oppose it in theory?

Also, I can't deny that some of our trustees have done a disservice by acting like their offices are employment agencies for family members. The fact we need to include language like in Crawford's bill to abolish the practice of blatant nepotism tells you what kind of abuses can happen in offices "close to the people." But should we really phase out an office based on malfeasance of a single officeholder? Seriously, if we abolished an entire office everytime someone discredited it, Barack Obama wouldn't have been able to assume the presidency).

On the idea of trustees being "close to the people," I am not sure I accept it on faith that you can't connect with folk unless you limit your territory by trustee boundaries lines. Sure, trustees are neighborhood based, but couldn't statellite offices be established under a county poor advocate to retain that flavor?

I keep asking myself this question. Were someone like Julia Carson put in charge of a county-wide trustee's office, couldn't she save money for the entire county without being cruel the way she did in Center Township? I like to think her success had to do with her philosophy of personal responsibility, not the fact she had only 90,000 constituents.

But here's what bothers me terribly about consolidation. Nobody can show me the numbers. The Kernan-Shepard report says that the total levies for all local government via property taxes in 2006 was $7.8 billion, of which 2.7% was for all township government. That's a savings statewide of $216 million, but that's only if you make every dollar spent go poof. You can't. Most of that $216 million is spent for direct poor relief and firetrucks. So how much would Marion County save if it got rid of all of its township governments? We don't know, as the bill has an "indeterminate fiscal impact."

Here's another interesting tidbit from the Kernan-Shepard report. From 1984 to 2005, the tax levy for township governments overall has gone up 6.07%. Guess what the county increase was during that time? 6.09%! So we're supposed to abolish a governmental unit that has held the line better over time than the one into which we're consolidating?

But my greatest issue is that I get indigestion chewing on hypocrisy. The greatest local government cost is schools, with 53.81% of the total levy. Why isn't anybody talking about finishing Unigov and consolidating those? If townships are such an inefficient governing body, why is every single school board in Marion County township-based? Is it because nobody wants to pay for IPS who doesn't live in it, or that nobody wants to see IPS kids going to their magnets throughout the county?

This rather selective picking and paucity of compelling financial data plays into the unease of Democrats generally, as they hold six of the nine trustees' offices, and of the African-American community, in particular, as three of the nine trustees are African-American: David Baird in Wayne, Lula Patton in Pike County, and William Douglas in Center.

You can't deny the racial undercurrent that has attached to this story (though I doubt Dr. Adam Herbert, the African-American former president of IU and PhD in Urban Affairs, would say he intended to stick it to black folk by co-authoring the Kernan-Shepard report).

As Amos Brown noted in a recent colum for The Recorder, "If [the Philistines who want to do away with township government] get their way, scores of Blacks, elected by their neighborhoods and our community, would lose their positions. Again, for no good reason."

That's a powerful critique. But I think it relegates African-Americans to a marginal role when they could have something better. You see, Ed Delaney's bill replaces a bunch of small trustees for an elected countywide poor advocate. That person will almost certainly be a Democrat, and given that fifty percent of our current trustees are African-American and pretty skilled, you have to like their chances.

In short, were I Amos Brown, I'd be willing to sacrifice a few elected knights for the chance to have an elected "king" of poor relief. My party would have to give away some mini-fiefdoms, but I can't think of better training for actually being the mayor than efficiently running a county-wide operation. We could do well springboarding from that office.

So, no, it's not all downside in consolidation, but before I jump on board, somebody is going to have to help me wrap my mind around the blatant hypocrisy (and arguable racism) in how we choose what we abolish and what we keep.

Talk to me, people!


Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Mitch Daniels & Greg Ballard: Ingenious Republican Strategems - Part II

Last week I talked about Todd Rokita's disingenuous pursuit of legislative districts that are not drawn by "politicians." I got great feedback, but I haven't heard from Rokita's camp in response to my challenge for him to prove his "concept map" creates more competitive districts than currently exist.

Today, I do a two-for-one and talk about Governor Daniel's decision to lease the toll road and Indianapolis Mayor Greg Ballard's decision to lease Indianapolis parking meter collections and operations.

Probably the greatest failing of democracy is its ineptitude at stopping politicians from mortgaging our children's future. It's easier to push expenses into the 2030s then make us square up now because the people who will ultimately pay the tab are too enthralled with Handy Manny and his screwdriver to notice they're the ones being screwed. Buying now and making people who can't vote pay later is a tried and true political gambit.

But what if, instead of pushing expenses into the future, you could bring money you were going to earn...back from the future like Marty and Doc Brown?

Oh, the political brilliance of this idea is so profound, you'll be amazed to know the Governor and Mayor Ballard were probably inspired to adopt it by a J.G. Wentworth commercial.

Here's a typical script, if you haven't seen one of those:

A J.G. Wentworth success story. Felicia and the annuity.

Felicia: A few years ago, I inherited an annuity from my grandfather. I started receiving monthly payments from his insurance company. Then everything seemed to happen at once.

Narrator: Felicia's employer moved to another state, and she was left unemployed.

Felicia: Your money starts to go pretty fast when there's no cash coming in.

Narrator: J.G. Wentworth knows that a big change in life's circumstances can change how you view your annuity.

Felicia: I heard about J.G. Wentworth through TV ads.

Narrator: If you have an annuity that is no longer serving your needs, and you need cash now, call J.G. Wentworth. You'll get a free appraisal and have all your questions answered. Don't wait. The sooner you call, the faster you'll have your money.

The premise of annuity conversion is pretty simple, and politically-speaking, breath-takingly shrewd. Say you have an asset that will create revenue for you into the indefinite future, like a toll road or a ton of parking meters. You could wait and get the money year to year, but if you're a Governor or Mayor, wouldn't it be more fun to get all the money for the next 10 to 90 years or so right now? All you have to do is enter into a long-term lease with a company that will give you a big lump sum now because, unlike you, they'll be around after eight years still making money hand over first.

If you do this, not only will you have more money for roads or billionaire sports owner prop-ups, this tactic is also a handy middle finger to the guy or gal who unseats you. That's money they won't get! Heh heh.

You think I'm wrong? Tell me this script wouldn't have worked as well as the original:

A J.G. Wentworth success story. Mitch and the toll road.

Mitch: Back in 2004, I inherited a state in pretty good fiscal shape. I started receiving monthly payments from the toll road. Then everything seemed to happen at once.

Narrator: Mitch's Indiana employers moved to other states, and Mitch was left with growing numbers of unemployed.

Mitch: Your money starts to go pretty fast when there's no cash coming in.

Narrator: J.G. Wentworth knows that a big change in life's circumstances can change how you view your toll road revenues.

Mitch: I heard about J.G. Wentworth through TV ads.

Narrator: If you own a toll road that is no longer serving your needs, and you need cash now, call J.G. Wentworth. You'll get a free long-term lease appraisal and have all your questions answered. Don't wait. The sooner you call, the faster you'll have your money from an international conglomerate.

I rest my case.

Also, you notice how Mayor Ballard won't tell us how many years the contract for parking services with be? He'll just say that it will be long enough that the company can recover its investment. I promise you it will extend beyond his term.

Why should this concern you? Right after the toll road transferred hands, the rates went up big time. Expect the same with parking downtown, friends.....because (in their minds)'s "their money and they want it now!"


Monday, January 18, 2010

Could Irsay Help Kill the Superbowl in 2012?

Last week I begged your pardon for writing about the Colts because they’re “off topic” from my typical political posts. Now I wonder.

Listen to what the best writer in the game, Sports Illustrated’s Peter King, has to say about the prospect of a lock-out in the 2011 season (which would mean no January 2012 Superbowl for Indianapolis):

At the core of the problem is ownership's demand for players to bear an equal part of the cost for stadium construction, debt service and upkeep -- and the players saying it's not their problem.

In NFL Players Association executive director DeMaurice Smith's recent e-mail to player representatives, he startled player leaders by saying ownership wanted to cut player compensation by 18 percent per year in the new CBA.

I thought the 18 percent number might be an exaggeration, a scare tactic to get players' attention. It's not. The owners, one management source said, have asked that the players' pool of revenue against which the salary cap is calculated be reduced by 18 percent.

You wonder what 18 percent means. So did I. The management source said the owners want $1 billion a year credited to ownership and not subject to being part of the pie that the players divide. "There's obviously been an enormous shift from public financing of stadiums to private funding,'' the management source said. "Those costs are not recognized in the current CBA, and we feel that has to change.''

But from the players' perspective, it's got to be a tough sell to union leaders. Imagine Smith going into a union meeting at a team and telling the players that the average compensation to the men in this room is about $1.8 million this year in salary and bonus payments, and explaining to them in a time of bountiful success for the NFL, each of the players is going to have to take, on average, a $324,000 pay cut. The players will never go for that, absent the owners being able to prove they're losing money in a time of unparalleled wealth in the league.

Okay, so let's think this through collaboratively, dear readers. "The owners," of which Irsay is one, claim they need to cut player salaries to pay for "the enormous shift to private financing" of stadiums. (Apparently, this "shift" to private financing happened right after we built Lucas Oil using a stadium full of tax dollars).

How in the world could Jim Irsay keep a straight face and vote for a salary cut for players on the basis of needing to pay for private financing and operations costs? Yet he needs to lead the revolt against this talk because, if he doesn't, there will be a lockout, and we will lose the 2012 Superbowl, a venture into which we've sunk dollars too plenty to count.

What makes this possibly even more ironic is that NFL costs overall are allegedly 51% payroll and the rest operational (including the aforementioned dome financing, maintenance, and operations). If we have a lockout, most owners will save on the payroll, but lose on the revenue and operation costs. Irsay won't lose on the latter because we're covering it all (see CIB bailout plan!).

In other words, the guy we're relying upon to talk some of these other owners off the ledge has less of an incentive than anybody in the league. Unless...dear God, somebody please tell me he doesn't get the money from the Superbowl concessions, too.


Sunday, January 17, 2010

Is Durham Selling Off Assets?

Last week, I wrote about Tim Durham's partner at Fair Finance, Jim Cochran, liquidating his belongings at his Naples, Florida home. I speculated that Durham could do the same thing.

I think he is.

Let me give you a disclaimer. I don't know the VIN numbers of the vehicles you're about to see, so I could be wrong. But look at the car over Durham's right shoulder here:

That's a 1908 Cadillac. Now look at this auto listed with RM Auctions in Phoenix, Arizona for sale on January 21, 2010:

"Oh, Chris, that could be a coincidence," you say. Sure it could. After all, there were 2,377 of these made in 1908, and I'm sure all 2,377 are in immaculate shape, just like in these photos, I respond sarcastically.

Did I mention that Durham has had at least four of his cars refurbished by RM, which featured Durham (p. 40) in its magazine?

There are a couple other vehicles fitting descriptions of Durham's collection, and they're all selling under "no reserve," which means whatever the high bid is, that's what the seller takes.

You know who sells with "no reserve?" People who do not care about their properties or people who are desperate.

From the RM article:

"Sales from [Durham's] collection have led to regret in the past, likely another reason Tim does not sell his cars easily."

Sounds like he seldom parts with a car, so I'll select door two. How more desperate can you be than having the FBI browsing through your file cabinets while you're being sued and put on the front page of the paper almost daily?

I cherish our bedrock principle that every man is innocent until proven guilty, but, unfortunately for Tim, I can also add. This will not end well for the investors. My heart goes out to them because they're about to see hundreds of thousands of dollars (and probably their best source for recovering funds) transferred to several prestigious law firms in the form of retainers.

Think of the tragic irony. A man can use ill-gotten gains to afford the best legal talent necessary to prove they weren't. Sigh. This country has two systems of justice. One for people who rob you with a knife for $20, and one for people who rob you for millions with misleading contracts and bogus spreadsheets.

In my mind, though, a "white collar" criminal is just a man who knows not only that the pen is mightier than the sword, but also that it usually comes with fewer years.


Friday, January 15, 2010

An Open Letter to U.S. Attorney Tim Morrison on Durham's Assets

Dear Mr. Morrison:

We've never met, but I know you by name and reputation. I would like to offer advice on how you preserve the latter.

Most lawyers I know think politics doesn't play in law enforcement. Sure, they know your office issued a subpoena without Attorney General Eric Holder's authorization trying to force disclosure of all visitors to a left-wing media website. Sure, they know you were appointed by Michael Mukasey, the Republican Attorney General under Republican George Bush. And, sure, they know whoever takes over for you will be appointed by Barak Obama (if the Republicans in the Senate will start confirming people in Indiana).

But we generally haven't countenanced politics influencing the handling of a specific case, with Gore v. Bush being a pretty huge exception

Unfortunately, this perception took a hit when Alberto Gonzales (a/k/a "Karl Rove's lackey") started firing career professionals like yourself for not aggressively prosecuting Democratic office holders.

As you probably know, the general public is more cynical than lawyers. (I know. How could this be possible?!?)

Accordingly, when things happen in a case that aren't explained well, a lot of people start to speculate wildly. I'm of the opinion (in large part because of Gonzalez) that you don't have to be an X-Files fanboy and wear tinfoil on your head to accept that there are people with formidable spheres of influence who might subtly sway how a case moves forward behind the scenes.

Mr. Morrison, you can assuage the conspiratorial angst just by filling in some knowledge gaps.

Here's all the public knows. On November 24, 2009, you filed a complaint seizing Tim Durham's assets. Six days later, you filed a motion dismissing the forfeiture complaint. Your office's explanation was that Durham's assets would not "dissipate."

You should clarify what you mean and explain generically what you learned in those critical six days. "Dissipate" in the traditional legal sense is synonymous with "to waste."

Durham may be so leveraged on his home and cars that he cannot sell anything because he couldn't convey clear title without retiring the liens/mortgages/loans first. But how can he not waste (or otherwise hide) money in bank accounts? Also, while this is not my field, aren't security interests created all the time with general descriptions, such as "accounts receivable, inventories," etc.? What would stop Durham from selling some art, jewelry, or other home furnishings on the sneaky sneak then making the money "disappear" into the friends' bank accounts or safe deposit boxes in Liechtenstein?

I ask because today it was a buyer's bonanza for Fair Financial co-owner, Jim Cochran. I am not making this up. He is having an everything must go sale at his home at 298 Mooring Line Drive, Naples, Florida, and the sale is going splendidly! Cochran's Bentley sold for $135,000 in the first five minutes, and a couch went for $2,500. Check out some of this nice stuff:

In short, Mr. Morrison, if Durham ends up paying people pennies on the dollar, you'll be questioned for not doing more, in particular, when Congressman Jon Boccieri (D-OH 16th) has again asked you to help freeze all of Fair Finance, Cochran, and Durham assets.

Why aren't you listening? Why aren't you speaking? Why aren't you indicting?

Yes, we know there are restrictions about how specific you can get regarding an ongoing investigation, but when you say absolutely nothing, you leave a vacuum that makes people fill in gaps with conjecture of nefariousness.

How about this idea for a "The Firm"-type novel? A midwestern Governor (who we'll call Ditch Maniels) with massive financial ties to a Ponzi-scheme operator, sees his bid to be President hanging in the balance. He confides his worries to his sister, who we'll call Deborah Maniels, a former U.S. attorney before she went to the Department of Justice in D.C. Using her old contacts, Deborah gets the investigation stalled. Somewhere along the way, somebody gets shoved down an elevator shaft or dies in a freak escalator accident.

Do I think seriously think something like that happened? Not a chance. I'm being facetious. But I have the luxury of being a lawyer. I promise you there are people wondering who called in what favors to create a 180 in six days. Help put their fears to rest, Mr. Morrison.

(Send me your best conspiracy theories involving a local politico, and I'll print the winner's entry and give him or her a free annual membership to iPOPA).

Have a great weekend, friends!


UPDATED: The Brizzi Requiem

Carl Brizzi announced he is not running for re-election. Surprised count? Zero.

Brizzi says he'll throw his weight behind his chief of staff, Helen Marchal. Good call. Wonderful lady. Her husband is Democrat Commissioner Jeff Marchal, a good guy in his own right.

Under optimal circumstances, Ms. Marchal might have a fighting chance to crawl from the wreckage and make a respectable showing. However, knowing I needed such circumstances, I'd be miffed by the following Brizzi quote were I her:

"...after serving as prosecutor for the last seven years, I have wrestled with the question of whether I could make a commitment to serve an additional five years."

You can't serve an additional five years unless you first intended to serve out the remaining one year of your current term, can you? That says to me that Brizzi is stayin' for now.

Sorry, but guilt by association is an often lethal political staple. That's why I'm skeptical Dr. Evil's number two can Febreeze off the Brizzi under any circumstance. But with him clinging to the office, it'll be impossible. You can't establish your own reputation for ethics and adept management when you're still working under the Brizzi cloud.

Were I Marchal, I'd offer to give back the Brizzi endorsement letter in exchange for his letter of resignation. (Seriously, isn't having Brizzi endorse you for prosecutor akin to having Michael Vick endorse you for ASPCA president?) Also, aren't we talking awkwardness on par with The Office? How do you navigate around the fact your campaign's biggest liability is the guy for whom you work? Yow.

Brizzi is actually pretty savvy politically, so you have to ask, "Why doesn't he go and give her a fighting chance?"

I'm beginning to wonder if we had him all wrong. Maybe it wasn't that he is loaded with Tim Durham stock-pick money. Maybe it's that, like Durham, he's completely over-leveraged. If, as one blog reported, every property he owns is encumbered by two mortgages, can you imagine him walking away from $130,000 per year without a sweet deal lined up?

Maybe his continued tenure at the City-County Building is not political arrogance or indifference, but rather the last card held by a crumbling guy with nowhere to fall: if the GOP wants him gone in time to save this election, they better get somebody on his phone with a really good offer.

UPDATE: Rough week. Sometimes I overlook the obvious, such as the necessity that Helen Marchal resign for fear of violating the Little Hatch Act. She is no longer in the office so "The Office" issues are gone.

The federal Hatch Act prohibits local employees from engaging in political activities if the entity for which they work has programs financed in whole or part by federal money. Those activities include being a candidate for a partisan office. Clearly, you cannot stop a sitting prosecutor from running for re-election, which makes Brizzi's remaining all the more troubling, doesn't it?


Thursday, January 14, 2010

Rokita Is a Devious Genious

Sometimes I suffer from political tactic envy when Republicans come up with the most amazing ploys. Today, I’m talking about my Wabash classmate, Todd Rokita.

Rokita put his poli-sci chops in full motion by starting a crusade called Rethinking Redistricting, the goal of which is to take the drawing of legislative boundaries out of the hands of the evil politicians. You know, the self-interested types deviously sketching out Rorschach legislative boundaries to confuse simple-minded Hoosiers about who our state reps and senators are.

I’ve seen Rokita’s traveling presentation, and it’s ingenious. It employs “common sense” with cunning effectiveness and is chocked full of “that’s outrageous” moments. “Why would we have the North side of a street in one district and the South side in another?” Rokita asks to collective gasps of indignation. “Why would we split a city in two?” he asks, as if we are forcing it to secede from the Union instead of giving it one more state rep to advocate for it than most cities have.

Another thing Rokita and Governor Daniels talk about is the lack of competition in legislative districts. Here’s the Guv’s quote: “Hoosiers deserve districts that make common sense and keep communities together, not lines drawn by political party computers to protect incumbents and limit competition.”

Now, as populist as this rhetoric is, we know aspiring politicos have to be at peace with their own party leadership, at least to some degree, so ask yourself this question: “How does a guy running for Governor as a Republican in 2012 avoid getting frickasseed by every R at the statehouse over this proposal? At first, Rokita did got the verbal beatdown by Senator David Long and House Minority Leader Briam Bosma. But then it stopped.

I think I know why. Rokita told them what he knew.

Follow this closely, devoted readers.

Professors Jowei Chen and Jonathan Rodden have compelling research showing that, because Democrats tend to live in urban areas, if you take “politics” out of map drawing and require compact, contiguous districts, Republicans gain electoral advantage, even without any intentional gerrymandering by Republicans.

Have you ever heard of anything as clever? How can even a wide-eyed optimist avoid morphing to a haggard cynic when the single greatest political advantage the GOP can ever have comes from saying, "Let's not make redistricting political!" The good government types and editorial boards are now shills for the Republican Party, and they don't even know it!

"But wait, Chris," you say. "Governor Daniels and Rokita talk about competitive districts and how many incumbents run unopposed."

Indeed, but among the priority hierarchy, notice that competition is the last thing mentioned. Did the Star (or anybody else) think to ask Rokita this question: "If you knew splitting a particular city would make a strong Republican-leaning district competitive, would you do it under your plan?" You already know their answer.

Initially, I was going to prove this alleged desire for competition is a sham by analyzing the maps Rokita paid to draw up. Then I learned something interesting. They aren't actual maps; they are concept maps.

I don't care what you call them, though. I challenge Rokita to produce the precincts in his map for me to analyze whether Rokita's own map increases the number of competitive districts. If he can't or won't do this, he shouldn't talk about competition because that's not his goal. Victory is.

(Sorry, Teddy, but if we were sitting around with beers in hand with no mics, cameras, or blog thoughts, you know you'd chuckle about how politically devious this is. And brilliant).

LATER THIS WEEK...the Republican Gambits for Leasing Toll Roads, Parking Meter Collection, and Property Tax Reform!!!


Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Colts Follow-Up: National Mocking!

Okay, so now the Colts are being mocked by the hillarious and satirical on-line magainze, The Onion. This is too good not to repost in full, though please check out the website for some great laughs.

Colts To Rest Starters For First Game Of Playoffs

INDIANAPOLIS—At his weekly press conference Monday, Colts head coach Jim Caldwell announced that he will rest key starters during the divisional round of the AFC playoffs to keep his players fresh for a Super Bowl run.

"You can't win the Super Bowl if you don't get there with all your players healthy," said Caldwell, who added that next Saturday quarterback

Peyton Manning would probably get the first two series, which will mostly be comprised of running plays.

"Dwight [Freeney] and Dallas [Clark] will get about a quarter in the AFC Championship game. But honestly, even if we make it to the Super Bowl, I can't see playing these guys the whole game. The 2010 season is closer than you think."

Throughout the entire press conference Manning could be seen in full uniform, stalking and pacing in the back of the room.

Also today, Tiki Barber predicted that Baltimore would beat the Colts. I'm thinking that's pundit crazy talk, but he said two things: Baltimore's defense confuses Peyton Manning (recall his two interceptions in the 17-15 victory) AND "The Colts took their foot of the gas and lost their mojo." We'll see.

Next post is back to the politics!!!


Monday, January 11, 2010

What Do Colts Have in Common With a Political Party?

I seldom stray from politics, but today I do so to defend Colts fans who find themselves being trashed as "spoiled whiners" following their near universal disappointment that the Colts management sat their starters against the New York Jets, effectively foregoing pursuit of a perfect, not just a 16-0 season.

I had a friend who said the following about the movie Underworld: "This is so unrealistic. They wouldn't be able to put sunlight into a bullet." And I thought, "That is the unrealistic part?!? It's not the centuries old blood-feud between vampires and werewolves?" But I understood his point. If you're going to offer "fiction," it has to be consistent within its own little universe.

Jim Caldwell and Bill Polian said their goal was to win a Superbowl, not go 16-0. Presumably, they didn't mean they would purposely tank the perfect season, but rather, would sacrifice the latter to preserve the former. Under what circumstances would such a sacrifice be necessary?
Because you need starters to win, but playing starters can get them hurt, costing you a Superbowl. Sound proposition, right?

I'm going to completely put aside: (1) how demoralized the Colts players looked; (2) how the decision will likely mess with them subconsciously; (3) how Manning admitted this was discussed widely among the players; (4) how you don't take your "foot off the gas" when you are trying to get momentum going into the post-season; (5) how having the offense go consistently three-and-out against the Jets increased the risk of injury to an exhausted defense; (6) how Manning looked rusty in the first half against the Jets and some more reps against a real team, not a practice squad, would have helped him; and (7) how, by the time the Colts take the field this week against Baltimore, it will be four weeks from the last game during which they played hard.

I'll just focus exclusively on management's offered rationale that you don't play key guys in meaningless games.

Okay, then explain why, even though we wrapped up the AFC number one seed, we had starters playing the entire game at Jacksonville? And explain why Peyton Manning took a single snap on a snow-covered (and slick) field in Buffalo, along with Dallas Clark and Reggie Wayne?

The answer became obvious when Manning threw only to Reggie Wayne and Dallas Clark until both of them had 100 receptions for the season, then the troika exited stage left. Those passes were almost all dinkers that even our 3rd-string backup could have completed. So why was Manning in the game? Oh, right. He has a consecutive starts streak going.
Is there anybody else in this city who doesn't see that management risked our Super Bowl victory so that three guys could achieve individual accolades but that same management would not take that risk for a more laudable team achievement of perfection? How can anybody say management used consistent logic, even in their own little universe?

I'll bet anything that Wayne and Clark were in because Manning told Caldwell that get them their pieces of history was the only way to bring peace back to the mind of his two star receivers.

Now, some say the injury to Patriots receiver Wes Welker in a game the Patriots didn't need rebuts Colts detractors, in particular now that the Pats got bounced by Baltimore.

It does no such thing. Welker was untouched on the play that resulted in his injury. It was just one of those freak things. Just like with Marlin Jackson and Chad "Ocho Cinco" Johnson, guys can get hurt in practice. The only guaranteed way to keep players safe is to not let him leave their homes. But as former Pacer Ron Artest showed when he face-planted on his staircase, even that isn't foolproof.

Peyton was more likely to twist a knee on a snowy field than he was from getting hit by a mostly non-existing Jets pass rush.

But, ultimately, none of this matters. We folded up shop, and that's inexcusable. And because of the illogic of when we play/don't play starters, I'm starting to wonder if Teddy Bruschi had it right when he said the Colts wanted an excuse because they were afraid to play for perfection. What if the starters stay in against the Jets and lose? Or what if the Colts win against the Jets, bring the starters and lose against Buffalo? Being afraid is the only thing that makes sense because playing your stars even for a second on a sheet of ice sure as heck doesn't.

Understand I never called for Caldwell or Polian's resignation. Those folks are going overboard. I remember well being 0-13, not 13-0. What Caldwell did as a rookie was outstanding, and Polian's decision does not change my belief that he is the best operations guy in the NFL.

But you know why people follow sports? No, it's not primarily to see beautiful athleticism, though that’s part of it. Just like with political parties, it's about a feeling of belonging to something bigger than you, even though you aren't the star on the field.

Most fans watch sports because their lives will never be as exciting as having millions transfixed, waiting to see in the last instant if he can stretch his arm across the goal line and turn his team into a world champion, or instead come up a yard shy, making the other team the world champion. Every member of that city or state or even national fan base can live vicariously through those players. They can say that MY team has achieved something only a handful of others have had. Every Colts victory is our victory. That perfect season would have been our perfect season. Didn't millions of Democrats feel that same exhilaration when Obama was declared our president?

I don’t mean to overly minimize the Colts' sustained excellence of winning the most games in a decade of any team in the NFL history, but how’s that play in the debate down at Spencer's Stadium Tavern?

Dolphins fan: Yeah, well, my Dolphins had a perfect season!

Me: Oh, yeah, well, the Colts had…the most victories spanning a decade in NFL history.

Pats fan: Yeah, but they had ONE Superbowl during that time! By your own rationale, all those season victories are meaningless because your alleged ultimate goal was to win the Superbowl, a task you failed at nine of those ten years. We played in four Superbowls and WON THREE during YOUR alleged decade of dominance!

When Peyton Manning was pulled from that field, it suggested that neither Polian nor Caldwell cared whether Colts fans would be deprived of the chance of saying that the team for which they root, for which they invested money, sacrificed work, gave sacred leisure time, and used as a means to bond with family and friends, had achieved what nobody else has ever achieved - the perfect season with Superbowl victory in the 16-game NFL era.

And why did we give up the pursuit of perfection? To keep guys safe WHO WE JEOPARDIZED THE WEEK BEFORE AND THE WEEK AFTER!

If the Colts don't win the Superbowl, most people will think it's because we didn't keep them sharp, and we demoralized our players by suppressing their killer instinct. If we win, that will be awesome. But who among us won't wonder, "What if?" It will be the first Superbowl victory with a mental asterisk next to it.

At the end of the day, fans (and political activists) want to see a fighter’s spirt. They aren't bothered by the fights we lose as much as the ones we don't suit up for.

Let’s be honest. Winning a Superbowl requires some luck keeping players healthy, and it requires that destiny to be on your side. How often do you see a quarterback elude an almost certain sack to heave a ball down the field to have the receiver catch it while falling down and holding it against the top of his helmet? But that’s precisely how the New York Giants took it all away from the last alleged team of destiny, the New England Patriots, isn’t it?

We all will be pulling mightily for you, Indianapolis Colts, to win it all. But I will always steadfastly believe this: to BE a team of destiny, you have to play like one. On December 27, 2009, the Indianapolis Colts didn't.


Great Idea of the Week Award Goes To....

....Indiana State Senator Sue Errington (D-Delaware County), who introduced Senate Bill 192, which states that a hospital cannot deny visitation to a "domestic partner" of someone hospitalized.

This extremely well-craft bill sets forth reasonable visitation restrictions that hospitals may impose unrelated to who the visitor is, and it further takes into account an individual patient's medical needs.

What it doesn't do is make reference to sexual orientation. In other words, unmarried heterosexual couples (of which there are a growing number) need not fear being denied visitation with the person they may love most in the world because vindictive family wants to draw an iron veil over them as they gasp their last breath.

Of course, because gay couples will benefit, too, do not be surprised if anti-gay opponents attack this bill under the guise of needing to keep marriage sacred, a curious notion given that the most virulent anti-gay tacticians fail to keep their own marriages sacred (see Newt Gingrich, Karl Rove).

Respectfully, while I try not to let emotion force me to rhetorical excess, I have to question the humanity of people who oppose this bill, in particular, as it pertains to gays and lesbians. Imagine having parents who repudiated everything about you during your life. When you're on your deathbed, they can ride in and take away possibly the most comforting thing that could happen in your final hours?

My hope is that even Hoosiers who object to gay marriage will recognize the broader scope of this bill to include heterosexuals and the compassion found in letting a person about to take their last breath see a person who, in life, they loved most.

Here's how you can help. Find your state senator and let him or her know you support SB 192. Also, most bills die for want of committee action. The Chair of the Health & Provider Services Committee, where this bill is assigned, is Republican Ryan Mishler. Start by e-mailing him and telling him to set a hearing for SB 192! Then email other committee members who might be sympathetic as well and ask for their support and a hearing: Vaneta Becker (R-Evansville), Ed Charbonneau (R-Valparaiso), Beverly Gard (R-Greenfield), Jean Breaux (D-Indianapolis), Earline Rogers (D-Gary), and Vi Simpson (D-Elletsville).

Finally, e-mail Sue Errington and thank her for introducing this bill. Good job, Senator!


Saturday, January 9, 2010

Cheney's Unspoken Words

I have a love-hate relationship with politics. I love what it can be. But at times, I hate what it is becoming.

I’m disturbed by our obsession with dissecting our opponents’ every utterance. We don’t stop at what they speak. We fault how they speak, when they speak, and why they speak. We even fault what wasn’t spoken at all.


Because politicos know the media beast puts conflict on page one, so we have to serve it up or get served in turn. Unfortunately, most political figures in divided government achieve little except managing the status quo, or the things they accomplish are supported by a majority of Americans, otherwise, they wouldn’t pass. That means all that’s left is to point to an opponent’s words (or lack thereof) in an effort to brand them as different from “us.”

Republicans have arguably pioneered “word dissection politics.” But even if you dispute this contention, as with most slash-and-burn tactics, they’re clearly employing it with more rigor than Democrats now, even if they often do so with intellectual dishonesty.

I’m thinking primarily of Vice President Dick Cheney’s criticism after the Christmas bomber episode (though for another example, see Republican Congressman Peter King's request that Obama say "terrorism" more, as if repeating the word three times will make national security fairies appear and transport us all back to a pre-2001 Kansas).

Cheney excoriated President Obama for allegedly trying to hide the fact we are “at war.” Here is Cheney’s salvo:

[President Obama] seems to think if he gives terrorists the rights of Americans, lets them lawyer up and reads them their Miranda rights, we won't be at war. He seems to think if we bring the mastermind of 9/11 to New York, give him a lawyer and trial in civilian court, we won't be at war. He seems to think if he closes Guantanamo and releases the hard-core al Qaeda-trained terrorists still there, we won't be at war.

We are at war, and when President Obama pretends we aren't, it makes us less safe. Why doesn't he want to admit we're at war? It doesn't fit with the view of the world he brought with him to the Oval Office. It doesn't fit with what seems to be the goal of his presidency—social transformation, the restructuring of American society. He seems to think if he has a low-key response to an attempt to blow up an airliner and kill hundreds of people, we won't be at war.

What an asinine line of attack for people who have…what’s the word I’m thinking of here? Oh, right. Logic.

Does Cheney fault Obama principally for policy change? Absolutely not. His emphasis is on rhetoric. Cheney thinks Americans are stupid enough to fault our President for being less bellicose than George W. Bush. Whatever happened to the great American axioms “speak softly and carry a big stick,” “you will know a man by his deeds,” “let your game speak for you,” and “all talk and no action?” They’re apparently out the window with the VP, for whom talk even exceeds deeds.

As peeved as I am that the VP goaded the White House into a "war on war words," I respect the White House’s political smarts in responding. The conservatorati and the GOP galvanize their base attacking Democrats’ alleged lack of patriotism and military cocksureness, and the White House’s response demolishes Cheney. Here it is:

For seven years after 9/11, while our national security was overwhelmingly focused on Iraq -- a country that had no al Qaeda presence before our invasion -- Osama bin Laden and al Qaeda's leadership was able to set up camp in the border region of Pakistan and Afghanistan, where they continued to plot attacks against the United States. Meanwhile, al Qaeda also regenerated in places like Yemen and Somalia, establishing new safe-havens that have grown over a period of years. It was President Obama who finally implemented a strategy of winding down the war in Iraq, and actually focusing our resources on the war against al Qaeda.

Seven years of bellicose rhetoric failed to reduce the threat from al Qaeda and succeeded in dividing this country. And it seems strangely off-key now, at a time when our country is under attack, for the architect of those policies to be attacking the president.

The White House added that the President knows we are at war, but "The difference is this: President Obama doesn't need to beat his chest to prove it, and -- unlike the last Administration -- we are not at war with a tactic ("terrorism"), we are at war with something that is tangible: al Qaeda and its violent, extremist allies.

I don’t know how any objective observer can read the two statements and not think the VP really shot himself in the foot politically on this one. Of course, that’s an improvement over him shooting......over never mind. All I can say is he's the Conservative of the Year? Who else was in the running? Alan Keyes?!?


Friday, January 8, 2010

iPOPA Defends Abdul Appearances

If you weren't able to tune in to my Monday morning appearance on "Abdul in the Morning" on WXNT 1430 A.M., you can hear the podcast (see end of post).

Aside from not realizing which way my mic was facing, it was a decent showing. I was part of a "liberal blogger" panel, though I consider myself more of a moderate. But, hey, whatever marketing Abdul needs to get the militia-oriented among his listenership riled, so be it.

Anyway, I’ve caught some grief from my own party for appearing on Abdul’s show. I’ve been called a turncoat, a sucker, and a few other unpleasant things. You see, Abdul Hakim-Shabazz is a Republican in name and Libertarian in spirit, which means we disagree on almost everything. Also, he’s run some stories on his blog and radio show that have been inaccurate and/or caused headaches for local Democrats. In fairness to Abdul's Republican detractors, he's irritated them almost as often.

The thought process among my kinsmen seems to be that Democrats should boycott Abdul because he doesn’t play nice and appearing on his show gives him legitimacy.

Sorry, but Worden genes don’t permit punking out for any reason, and the last time I checked, politics is a rhetorical contact sport.

Tuesday night at Congressman Andre Carson’s volunteer appreciation rally, he said, “Don’t let anyone silence you.” He was telling Democrats to not only speak out among the general public, but also within our party ranks. The Congressman knows that the courageous will say what needs to be said without regard to their own standing. That’s why I will follow his lead and shake off the haters.

But I would be lying if I didn’t say that the criticism for doing nothing but defending Democratic values walloped me psychologically because it made me question both the spines and abilities of some people in my own party.

You see, I’m a Democrat because I believe steadfastly that we get it right more times than not. And if you’re afraid to defend a position or go toe-to-toe with your political opponents just because you don't have home field advantage, maybe it’s because you can’t. Sorry, but I’ll travel any distance, walk into any lion's den, and suffer whatever arrows are slung my way for the chance to tell somebody why I’m proud to be a Democrat.
To my critics I ask, “Why won’t you?”

Because somebody hurt your feelings?

Maybe its time for my party to quit cowering when we don't own the mic. That cowardice and "I'll take my ball and go home" mentality is embarrassing. Amos Brown has burned many a Republican, and yet they still go on his show, don't they?

Sorry, but you won’t find yellow here at iPOPA, only blue. If my party has the courage to live up to its ideals, every time I come off Abdul's mic, people will know that on election nights 2010 and 2011, G.O.P. will mean “go out peacefully” in Marion County.

(As a parting aside, I wouldn't counsel all elected official to field questions on all shows because some would be set-ups. But neither I, nor the critics I've encountered, have been elected).

To listen, click here 2010-01-04_Abduls_Liberal_Blogger_Friends.mp3


Thursday, January 7, 2010

Will Mayor McCheese Demand KFC Pull Racist Ads?

As most people know, our Mayor has accepted $5,000 worth of fire extinguishers and smoke detectors from Kentucky Fried Chicken in exchange for appearing in some press photos and letting KFC put its logo on the extinguishers and some Indy fire hydrants.

As the Indianapolis Business Journal story notes, this money comes as a promotion for KFC's new "fiery" chicken wings.

I'm sorry, but when did $5,000 become the sales price for our city's dignity, Mr. Mayor? Even if we are hard up for cash, why would you negotiate such a crappy deal? Don't you see how much free press KFC gets just from the story about the deal? They probably saved $20,000 in regional advertising costs, and since this story is being churned by KFC nationally, well, who knows how much else they saved on marketing by getting two tool-for-mayors (the other city is Brazil, Indiana) to sign off on this reputation-crushing venture.

And if we're going to rent space on our hydrants, why give it to a company that authorized one of the most racist television ads I've ever seen.

Yes, the ad, which tells white people to offer a bucket of chicken as the cure for black loudness, only runs in Australia. But we're suppose to accept they've never heard of the stereotype? They know. And so does the Mayor.
So will he step up and demand a change in KFC policy, or will he take the hush money (and bisquits) and, once again, disappear.


White: Turnaround of the Quadrennium!

It's the special election of March, 2007, her first test as Marion County Clerk, and seemingly everything that could have gone wrong for Democratic Marion County Clerk Beth White did. At least 150 inspectors didn't report for duty, 5 precincts never opened, many opened hours late, and some polling materials were sent to the wrong precincts.

It was such a disastrous start, I remember actually thinking to myself that there was no way Beth White wouldn't be a one-termer, even in a Democratic county. Perish the thought!

What a difference a trial by fire can make.

Rising like a phoenix, White handled record turnout in the 2008 primary and general election with almost nary a glitch (perfection is unattainable in that office, as even Republicans concede). She now finds herself kicking off her re-election campaign at noon on Tuesday, January 12 with the word on the street that the GOP has nobody who wants a piece of her.

Never let it be said there aren't second acts in politics. Beth flipped the script, and now she has everyone playing their parts with precision. I don't know how the Democratic Party could do better, frankly.

White will have a kick-off fundraiser on the 12th at the Professional Firefighters Union Building, 748 E. Massachusetts Avenue from 5:30 p.m. to 7:00 p.m. The suggested donation is $100. Questions or to RSVP? Call Catherine Parker at 253-7634 or e-mail


Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Evans Says Klein is Washed Up!

In a bold move, City-County Councillor and potential mayoral candidate, Jose Evans, today hand-deliver to Hizzoner Greg Ballard's 25th floor penthouse suite a letter demanding the resignation of Matt Klein, the executive director of the Department of Waterworks.

Evans blisters Klein for failing to capitalize on one million dollars in available federal stimulus funds while spending $700,000 to hire CH2MHill to oversee management of the water company. Evans also chides Klein for "building a new bureaucracy" while failing to exercise oversight of airport water system construction and permitting the "illegal siphoning" of Indianapolis Water to the town of Pittsboro (in Hendricks County).

Evans writes: "In this critical time for the City of Indianapolis, we need strong and effective leadership for our people. The recent controversies and negative publicity surrounding our water utility fall directly under Matthew Klein’s authority. Because of these failures, it’s clear that he is not in a position to lead our water utility in a direction that will safeguard and protect our residents and water customers in the future.”

Under the heading "no surprise at all," the Mayor was allegedly "too busy" to engage Councillor Evans personally. What else would you expect from a Mayor who seems to not be engaged at all?

Kudos to Evans for having the courage to mix it up and take it to the Mayor's adminstration for what I would call "mismanagement" except that connotes somebody was actually managing. Maybe we should call the last two years: "The Unmanagement of Greg Ballard."


Tuesday, January 5, 2010

BAD INTEL! So Deputy Mayor's son is NOT Independent!

Okay, so Deputy Mayor Olgen Williams' son IS running as a REPUBLICAN. I posted that he was running as an Independent, and this is obviously not accurate. Williams' comment may have been describing his political m.o., not his party, when he said he was an independent.
IPOPA apologizes for the error.

(Next time I'll wait for the declaration of candidacy!)


Sunday, January 3, 2010

IPOPA on Abdul

Quick note to my fans and detractors alike...

Tomorrow, I'll be making my fourth appearance on "Abdul in the Morning," on WXNT 1430 A.M. from 7 - 8 a.m. If you're even remotely interested in politics, you'll probably enjoy this show. You should call and harass me or call and compliment at your leisure. Enjoy!