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26 MAR 2007
An ordinance will be introduced at tonight’s City-County Council meeting calling for an investigation into alleged ethical lapses by Council President Monroe Gray. Although it’s been reported that Council attorney Aaron Haith originally would not let it on the agenda until he was over ruled by the Gray himself. Some recently obtained correspondence between Haith and the Republicans is telling.
In a letter to Minority Leader Phil Borst and Republican Attorney Bob Elrod, Haith called the measure “capricious and ludicrous.” He also went on to say it disrespected a fellow Councilor and was being proposed to embarrass the Council. He points out existing rules for ethical investigations and questions the Republicans’ intent for bringing the proposal.
I have been no fan of Monroe Gray’s Council presidency and have always questioned whether he had the intellectual gravitas to lead the body with all the challenges the city faces. To date I have seen nothing to be able to answer that question in the affirmative. However, I do there should be an investigation. It should be by a panel and with one Democratic appointee, Republican appointee and a bipartisan appointee. The Council it too important a body with too much work to do to allow Gray’s alleged conduct to go uninvestigated. Particularly the fact he failed to disclose business ties with a city contractor who got millions in city business.
If Democrats are smart, and most of them are, they will make such a suggestion so they can get on with the city’s important work.
24-25 MAR 2007
Indiana Takes Big Step Backward
Score a victory for the forces of limited, rigid and narrow thinking. Indiana Governor Mitch Daniels quietly withdrew plans for the Commerce Connector and majorly scaled back plans for the Illiana Expressway. The natives were restless and opposed both plans. These are usually the same people who end opposing DST and running water. I honestly think the only way this state will move forward will be to divided it in half so the people who walk upright are in one half and the low brow, slack-jawed mouth breathers can all live underground.
22 MAR 2007
Better Late, Than Never
Marion County Republicans finally have a slated candidate for Mayor. At a special caucus tonight, the GOP overwhelmingly approved ex-Marine and Indiana Business College instructor Greg Ballard as their candidate for Mayor. Ballard told the crowd Indianapolis’ growing crime rate will be his priority. He also says he wants to work to improve the quality of education in the city. He gave incumbent Mayor Bart Peterson credit for his work on charter schools, but says a lot more needs to be done. Ballard beat James Black, a fellow veteran, and former physical education teacher.
Ballard is a sharp guy, but Bart will be tough to beat even with crime spiraling out of control in Indianapolis, mainly because he has a couple million bucks sitting in the bank.
Not that this may matter to you, but today is my brother, Jamil's birthday. You may have heard him call into the show from time to time. He's a great guy, and we're more than brothers, we're friends. We've been there for each other and he's made the stay in Indianapolis a lot easier. Happy Birthday, bro. Love you.
21 MAR 2007
Score Another One For Hizzoner
Indianapolis Mayor Bart Peterson and Warren Township Trustee Jeff Bennet will announce today an agreement to merger Warren Township Fire with the Indianapolis Fire Department. This is the Mayor’s second fire merger victory. IFD merged with Washington Township last year. The mayor has enjoyed success on this front. Now if he can get Pike and Wayne Townships I’ll be impressed. Good luck getting Pike Township Trustee Lula Patton to give up her department. And if you want to find Warren Township Trustee to give up his fire department go get a butterfly net.
20 MAR 2007
There’s nothing real big in the world of politics today, but there are a lot of little interesting things.
Make That Two Candidates for Governor
Architect Jim Schellinger is announcing he wants a new job, Governor. The Democrat has strong ties to the state party establishment. And has lined up support from Indianapolis Mayor Bart Peterson, Congresswoman Julia Carson and former House Speaker John Gregg. Schellinger filed paperwork yesterday. The only other formally announced candidate is Senate Minority Leader Richard Young.
The Madness of Monroe
City-County Council Republicans will officially call for a bi-partisan investigation of Council President Monroe Gray’s alleged ethical indiscretions. They says gray’s failure to disclose his business connections with a contractor who does business with the city, in addition to other matters, warrant a closer look. Marion County Prosecutor Carl Brizzi’s office will neither confirm nor deny whether Gray is a subject of investigation.
Water, Water Everywhere
In case you were worried, water is now the official drink of the State of Indiana. The State Senate passed a resolution Monday making the declaration. With all the issues facing Indiana, education, property taxes, the budget it’s good to know that water is now the official drink of Indiana.
17-19 MAR 2007
It’s not Watergate, But…
City-County Council Republicans are introducing an ordinance that would call for a special committee to be formed to investigate Council President Monroe Gray. Both state and local laws allow for the creation of a panel with appropriate subpoena power. Republicans say recent actions and alleged indiscrepancies on the part of Gray make the formal investigation necessary.
They cite Gray’s reported failure to disclose his business connections with a city contractor as well as his being less than forthcoming regarding his wife’s involvement in the 300 East Bar-Restaurant.
And if Gray did not have enough trouble it is also being reported that he is connected with a fire fighter’s charity that had a city bank account to write checks, however City-Comptroller Bob Clifford, who has oversight authority, was not aware of this.
Democrats will accuse Republicans of playing politics, but with the recent pea shake busts, something much bigger is taking place in the Circle City. It’s not Watergate, but something is definitely not right in the State of Marion County.
16 MAR 2007
The Mother of All Conspiracies
Okay, I freely admit this will probably be the most bizarre thing you guys have ever read me post. But trust me, it will be the most fun
I was on the phone with a city hall source the other day and I asked them about the recent crackdowns on illegal gambling in Indianapolis this week. I asked why the Indianapolis Metropolitan Police department went after the poker club on the east side and the pea-shake house/car wash at 38th and Capitol. My source told me the city is simply tired of this illegal activity and is cracking down. They also told me that as much as I complain about crime, I should be happy. I was also told to expect more raids because the powers that be were tired of foolishness and nonsense.
I didn’t connect the dots at first, but one thing that has kept the city from cracking down on the pea shake houses has been being afraid of being called racist, because the pea shakes are in predominately low-income, black neighborhoods. Also, it’s no big secret the pea shakes have been rumored for years to have ties to a number of Black elected officials in Marion County. Everyone knows the Monroe Gray, Tony Duncan story. No white politician could attack a pea shake house without getting white sheets thrown at him.
However it’s much easier to go after pea shake houses as part of a greater crackdown on gambling, thus the raid over at the poker club on the eat side. Now think about this and let’s connect some more dots. Who stands to benefit the most with pea shakes shut down? Of course the neighborhood residents, but go a step further. Marion County is, for now, a one-party county with Democrats in charge, so if there is any political competition it’s different factions inside the party fighting for control, like Hamilton County.
So if pea shakes are notoriously rumored to have close ties to one faction of the current political party in charge in Marion County, it stands to reason another faction in Marion County would want to get rid of them. Cut off the pea shakes and you cut off the funding. Cut off the funding, you get rid of people in your party who embarrass you. And who has been the most embarrassed by the actions of some members of their own party? Who said the council has no new ideas? Who has the authority to order the actual raids? Who has no real competition in the upcoming municipal election so they can turn their attention to cleaning up their own house? It’s a conspiracy my friends. A c-o-n-spiracy!
I told you this was going to be a bizarre entry.
14 MAR 2007
BEAT THE PRESS!
To paraphrase an old saying, “if ignorance is bliss, some people in Warren Township must be the happiest on the planet.” I write that in response to the many of the comments made at Tuesday night’s PTA meeting over a reported sex scandal at Raymond Park Middle School.
As has been already reported, the District found out two students engaged in sexual activity in an Industrial Arts class and later expelled them. The incident occurred in December 2006 but the school didn’t find out about it until January. Once it made the news the story took on a life of its own and made national headlines. I did a Google search shortly after the story broke and found more than a hundred entries. One even reached Australia.
The administration, as well as many parents, took the tone that this negative publicity was the fault of the media. Us in the media (yours truly and Sandra Chapman at WTHR-TV to be specific) were the ones truly to blame. The way some people at the meeting spoke, had it not been for the media, none of this would have ever have happened. I respectfully disagree.
The media did not force the children to engage in sex. The media did not contradict itself by offering alternate stories of how the two kids were caught. The media did not say “no comment.” In fact we went through painstaking efforts to make sure the children’s identities were protected. It was the school district dropped the ball on this one, plain and simple. As soon as they found out about this, they should have gotten together and mapped out a strategy and then went forward and told as much as they could have, keeping full consideration of the students’ privacy concerns. I understand these are not easy matters to discuss. No school district wants to be known as the one where students have sex behind a computer desk. But consider the alternative.
Beating up on the press solves nothing. Instead of taking ownership and blaming the press the school district and it supporters are not teaching children to take responsibility. They are teaching them to pass buck. You would think people who are supposed to be in education would be smarter than this.
If the Warren Township School District learned anything from this, I would hope they learned two things. First, get in front of issues instead of letting the issues get in front of you. Second, you should never pick a fight with someone who buys ink by the barrel or has a broadcast tower because they will always get the last word.
13 MAR 2007
Gaze Upon the Military
I know I usually write about state and local issues here, but one thing I can’t stand is blatant discrimination. The only discrimination I have ever believed in should be based on merit and ability. This is why I take issue with recent statements by the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.
In a recent interview with my hometown paper, The Chicago Tribune, General Peter Pace said homosexuality was immoral and he likened it to adultery. He said he based his views on his upbringing and supported the military’s “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy.
Having grown up in a military environment, I have always respected the belief that people should be judged on their merits, not who they are. This is why the General’s comments are disappointing. But what makes matters worse is that while the army has dismissed more than 10,000 troops, including more than 50 specialists in Arabic, because of the policy, it’s granted “moral waivers” to recruits with criminal pasts.
According to the New York Times, It has increased the number of waivers by 65 percent in the last three years in an effort to expand its diminishing recruitment pool. While some of the waivers have been for minor drug offenses and traffic offenses, but they have also been for more serious crimes such as aggravated assault, burglary, robbery and vehicular homicide. The number of waivers for felony convictions has also increased. Also to meet its recruitment goals, the military has offered cash bonuses, allowed applicants with low aptitude scores and loosed age and weight restrictions.
I think it’s sad that the institution that is supposed to defend the American ideals of equality for all, would still engage in a policy that is remnant of our archaic past. And it’s even more sad that some who is gay and speaks fluent Arabic who can help this country win the war on terror is less desirable to serve his country than someone who is an older, overweight, high school dropout with a criminal background.
Vi Takes a Bye
Democratic State Senator Vi Simpson says she will not run for Governor in 2008. Simpson says she can better serve the citizens in Indiana by staying in the Senate.
10 - 12 MAR 2007
Although the election for Marion County Sheriff won’t occur until 2010, a primary race could already be shaping up. Current Deputy Kerry Forestall is already running for the spot currently occupied by Frank Anderson. However, Forestall could find a primary opponent in IMPD Officer and current City-County Council Member Sherron Franklin. Franklin has expressed an interest in running for Sheriff in three years. Both she and Forestall are experienced law enforcement officials with comparable backgrounds, however such a contest would definitely bring the dynamics of race and sex into the mix as Franklin is an African-American female and Forestall is a white male.
Just so you know, my son came home from the hospital yesterday. He had surgery to remove a growth that was attached to his lung. He’s weak, but in good spirits and the doctors say he will be fine after his recovery. He (along with his Dad) sends thanks to all of you who wished him well.
9 MAR 2007
More on Warren Schools
I’ve come across more information on the Warren Township School District controversy. Although Warren Township school officials will not comment on the matter, sources say the reported sex incident between two 6th graders occurred in November of last year, the District did not find out about the act until they returned January from Christmas break.
Sources say the District found out about the incident through a student who acted as one of the lookouts. The student, who is reported to frequently get into trouble at the Middle School, was being disciplined for an incident that occurred last month and in an attempt to “plea bargain” his discipline; he let the administrators know about the other two students having sex. An investigation was launched and the two students who engaged in the sex act were reportedly expelled for a year, sources say.
The student who acted as one of the lookouts who informed the school was transferred for disciplinary reasons.
Sources say some administrators wanted to speak out about the matter but were advised by their attorneys not to do so. Meanwhile, morale inside Raymond Park Middle School is considered to be very low right now.
Abdul on FOX News
Your favorite pundit was on The O'Reilly Factor last night talking about two middle school students in Indianapolis who were caught having sex in an Industrial Arts classroom and school district has been stonewalling the public about the matter. It was a lot of fun and already up on You Tube. Happy watching.
A Textbook Case of Mismanagement
Warren Township Schools are a textbook case about how not to handle a crisis. You probably know by now that back in November two middle school students were caught having sex in an Industrial Arts Class while other students watched and the teacher was distracted. The school district isn’t commenting about the matter, only saying that it’s been addressed.
I don’t know who came up with this public relations strategy but they should be fired. Don’t get me wrong, I fully understand student privacy laws and confidentiality, however in a situation like this, the school district has a responsibility to tell parents what it can, within the bounds of the law, and make everyone’s life easier.
You would think the school district would want to get in front of this considering past controversies. Allow me to list a few…
In February 2007, Zachary Rutherford filed a lawsuit against Warren Central High School administrators who he says failed to discipline a student who attacked him twice in 2001, ultimately causing him to leave for private school because he feared for his safety. Rutherford hopes to win damages from the school district and the bully's family.
In April 2006, a school board stopped disciplinary proceedings against 14-year-old Elliot Voge, an Eagle Scout who was suspended and recommended for expulsion by Stoneybrook Middle School Principal Jimmy Meadows. Voge forgot he had his Swiss Army knife in his coat when he was dropped off at school and immediately turned it into the school treasurer when he entered school, but Meadows still acted punitively because the school district requires students to report the presence of knives and other possible weapons but leaves the punishment for possessing a knife up to administrators.
In February 2006, a now-fired Warren Township janitor, 34-year-old Aaron Giroud, was charged with child molesting after a 7-year-old male student at Liberty Park Elementary came forward. Videotape shows Giroud leading the boy into a room and emerging four times within 11 minutes.
In October 2005, a 23-year-old substitute teacher, Brian Slack, at Warren Central High School was accused of emailing an explicit photo of himself to a sophomore at the Eastside school. The student said she had met Slack while he was a substitute in fall of 2004, and after class in April of that year, he began texting he, asked her to engage in oral sex with him, and asked her to send him nude photos of herself.
In February 2003, authorities arrested David Shaw, a former Warren Township School Board president, in order to question him on his financial dealings.
With this type of record, I don’t think “no comment” is the best answer.
8 MAR 2007
Believe It or Not, I Actually Do Like Indy
Contrary to what some of you my think, I really do like Indianapolis. It’s a great town with diverse neighborhoods and a good mix of city and suburbia. I could easily go back to Illinois, but for now I’m content to hang out here.
I say this because, some of us in the media have been accused of being negative about the city and going overboard on the issue of crime and not focusing enough on what’s positive about Indianapolis.
I don’t think we write and talk about the issues that face this city because we want it to look bad. We write and comment on these issues because we care about this community. We want the streets to be safe. We want good schools. We want people to have a decent quality of life. I have no vested interest in working in a place that’s not safe.
The people the voters elect have a primary duty to keep the city safe and when we (pundits) don’t think they’re doing their job, it’s our job to point it out. Do I think the Mayor, Sheriff or Police Chief are bad people? Of course not! I think they do care about the city, I just tend to think that they are focusing on the wrong aspect of law enforcement, by not focusing on the immediate need of putting more officers on the street. I think they need to be more visible and use their bully pulpits as a platform to rally the community to get a handle on this problem before we have a repeat of last year.
6 MAR 2007
We’re About to Get So Screwed!
The City-County Council has introduced a proposal that’s intended to help Indianapolis land Super Bowl XLV, but instead I think it’s going to result in the multi-million-screw job on the taxpayers. Under proposal the city would agree to "agree to provide all governmental services and support necessary to the success of Super Bowl XLV and related official events." The city will do this at no cost or liability to the NFL or its teams, whether the services "are below, equal to or beyond the normal level and range of governmental services usually provided for events."If the NFL won’t pick up any of these costs, then who will? I’ll tell you who, the taxpayers! Not only will you have to foot the bill for the activities, but also you won’t be allowed anywhere near the festivities. I know the NFL drives a hard bargain when it comes to negotiations, but could someone down at city hall at least pretend to have vertebrae.
I mean if we are going to get the screw job, at least make the NFL buy us dinner first, or at least get an appetizer and a glass of water.
As if two chambers, divided government and polar opposite philosophical differences weren’t enough to complicate the lives of Indiana lawmakers, now they don’t have as much money to play with as they thought they would. State budget revenues are down about 45 million dollars. This will only complicate matters as lawmakers try to pass full-day kindergarten and property tax relief. It does give credence to the Governor’s plans to privatize the lottery and raise cigarette taxes to provide Hoosiers with health insurance because it provides the state with a source of revenue that it did not have before and doesn’t look like it’s going to get.
5 MAR 2007
The Great Compromise of ’08?
Indiana lawmakers are in the half-time phase of the General Assembly. I say half-time phase because the session is more like a three-period hockey game and we’re in the second period. The third period doesn’t begin until two to three weeks before the session ends. Usually at this point lawmakers stake out positions, play hardball and later compromise by splitting the difference on dollars issues. I don’t see that happening this time.
Look at the five big issues on the table: Lottery privatization, the Commerce Connector and Illiana Expressway, Full Day Kindergarten, Property Tax relief and providing Health insurance for Hoosiers.
FDK – everybody agrees on it, just watch to see how they finally agree to pay for it.
Lottery Privatization – Democrats don’t want it. Most Republicans do. This is a philosophical argument, not money.
Tax Relief – this is about money and philosophy,
Commerce Connector and Illiana Expressway – once again, difference in philosophy.
Health Insurance – this is both about politics and cash.
If the situation was that the differences in all these issues were money and spending, I can see a compromise down the road. However, Democrats and Republicans have deep philosophical differences on these matters and they are either for them or against them. I don’t see much room for negotiations because there really isn’t much to negotiate.
2 MAR 2007
Week in Review
Although there has been a lot of news this week, I have some observations about some of the news behind the things you may have read, heard or watched.
We Shall Overcome Stupidity
Although Judge Greg Scott freely admits he was wrong to grab the arm of Judge Tonya Walton Pratt during a dispute over the state’s annual Martin Luther King celebration, I found out that one of the acts that was in dispute wanted to perform a skit where a character dressed as the Devil (would represent white people) was going to enslave Black people, who would later rise up and kill him. Somehow that doesn’t seem like something I would associate with Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. And to add insult to injury the Commission has hadn’t a quorum in years, even though it’s members can call a toll-free number and participate in meetings. Oh, and State Representative Vanessa Summers (D-Indianapolis) says the Commission should under FSSA instead of the state’s Civil Rights Commission. Yes, let’s put an MLK celebration under the state welfare agency. I think I’m about to be offended.
Everyone Knows Your Name
Marion County Prosecutor Carl Brizzi says he will sell his interest in Harry and Izzi’s, a restaurant-bar, slated to go into Circle Center Mall. State law does not allow law enforcement officials to have financial interests in an establishment that serves alcohol. Although it’s been reported that Brizzi had a 10 percent stake in the restaurant, he actually had a 10 percent stake in the corporation that was a partner in the restaurant venture. We can have an honest about debate whether Brizzi should have a stake in a place serves alcohol, but if the standard is simple “financial interest” then any police officer or law enforcement official with stock in any publicly traded company hat serves alcohol is breaking the law. I'm not sure if that's the road we can to go down.
It’s Murder Living in Indianapolis
I don’t have to tell you how bad the murder rate has been in Indianapolis, but what I do have to tell you is that it’s getting worse. At the beginning of the month we averaged a homicide every 3.8 days. Now the number is every three days. This is a trend that is going the wrong way and it’s only going to get worse as the weather gets better.
28 FEB 2007
All Is Not Well
I kicked myself in the butt for missing the Mayor’s State of the City Address yesterday. I had to teach and couldn’t cancel class. However, I did set my DVR to record it and watched it later. I will give the Mayor credit for being eternally optimistic about the city’s future, but when you think about it, does he really have a choice? You have to be optimistic about the city’s future because you’ll go nuts if you don’t.
Who wouldn’t want to think about 18 homicides, carjackings, a broke budget, etc. When a woman is carjacked, robbed and raped and it all starts in a parking garage just a few blocks from the Mayor’s office you have to think happy thoughts or you’ll be reaching for the anti-depressant.
While I understand the Mayor wanting to keep a positive front, I just can’t help but think of that scene from Animal House during the riot at the parade and Kevin Bacon yelling “be calm, all is well.” All is not well in the Circle City folks. If you think it is, I would suggest you ask the family of Asia Davis. She was the city’s 18th homicide victim.
27 FEB 2007
The Bar that’s Not in a Government Building
I’ve spent the past few days tracking down a story about a police incident at the Carmel home of an Indiana Pacer so I didn’t get a chance to comment on this. However everybody seems to have an opinion on Carl Brizzi and his 10 percent ownership Harry’s and Izzi’s which is under construction in Circle Center Mall.
There is a question as to whether a county prosecutor can own an interest in an establishment that serves alcohol. There appears to be conflicting case law in the matter. RTV 6, which I play news analyst, offers one theory and the posts over at Advance Indiana offer another theory.
I haven’t had a chance to look at all the facts, but I will. However, I have a hard time believing that the lone county-wide elected Republican in a Democrat-controlled County would purposely open himself to an attack over something like this if the answer was an easy one.
And for the record, Circle Center Mall is not a government building and there’s probably a lease agreement more than one-page long.
26 FEB 2007
Just Good Old Fashioned Fundraising
Indiana Democrats say they are not breaking the law with a March 6 fundraiser with House Speaker Pat Bauer as the guest speaker. A state law bans lawmakers from fundraising during long sessions. Spokeswoman Jennifer Wagner says individual lawmakers can’t raise money, but political parties can and elected officials can headline those fundraisers. However Republicans are saying Democrats are getting pretty close to the line. One Republican insider put it this way, “although it’s probably not adultery for me to look at naked pictures of Hallie Berry, my wife probably wouldn’t appreciate it.”
23- 26 FEB 2007
A Bad Sign of Things to Come
I took some time off to go be with my son. He’s doing better by the way, but still has sa way to go. But as I was doing my checking on Indianapolis I was disturbed at a trend I was starting to see. Last week we had seven homicides in the Circle City.
What’s frightening though is that there were two double murders in two days. I was worried about this. I was worried that as soon as the weather got more accommodating people would start acting silly.
Although there is no official homicide count yet, by some estimates the total number is 17, with seven occurring in the last week. If we keep it up at this rate (a murder every three days) We’ll have 60 murders by the middle of the year which puts us on track for another record homicide year. Back in June 30, 2006 there were 69 homicides in Marion County. In June 2005 at this time there were only 45 homicides. This is not a good sign.
What makes matters worse is that these are the coldest months of the year when criminals should be staying behind closed doors. If they are this bad now, what is going to be like this summer, or for that matter, this spring. And unlike last year, law enforcement faces new challenges that were not there last year. Officers are still upset over no contract, there are not enough of them on patrol covering their beats. Up to 200 of them could retire by the end of the year and there are not enough to come through the ranks of the current class. In addition, while the city is moving officers from behind desks and putting them on the streets, I am told that a backlog of cases is continuing to grow.
I honestly hope things don’t get as bad as last year, but I really do think they are going to get worse unless something changes soon. I can afford to leave and other friends of mine can too, but a lot of other people can’t and they will end up being the real victims.
22 FEB 2007
Peterson v. Parker
It looks like Indianapolis Mayor Bart Peterson will have a Republican challenger after all. Local businessman Bob Parker is expected to file paperwork today and formally announce tomorrow that he is running for Mayor of Indianapolis. Parker is a millionaire. And while GOP sources aren’t saying telling me what Parker will spend on the Mayor’s race, they say he can be financially competitive with Peterson who has at least $2 million in his campaign account. Parker owns Parker Machinery, a company that works with factory equipment. Peterson is expected to make an official announcement today that he is seeking a third term as Mayor.
19 FEB 2007
I was going to have more details on this tomorrow, but the information came down tonight so here it is. A complaint is being filed Wednesday with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission against Lawrence Mayor Deborah Cantwell. The complaint, being filed on behalf of four black officers, alleges Cantwell created a hostile work environment. They claim she used the n-word in describing one officer and other Blacks in Lawrence. They also claimed officers were not promoted because of their race and some were demoted. Check back for more details tomorrow.
A Quick Update...
Tomorrow's show will be very busy. A racial discrimination complaint will be filed against Lawrence Mayor Deborah Cantwell. Former Coroner John McGoff is going to challenge incumbent Congressman Dan Burton in the 2008 election. McGoff will join us. And are the Colts turning into the Pacers?
The Government has decided that once again it has nothing else better to do but make it a crime to sell violent video games to minors. The Senate Economic and Technology Committee passed a bill 5-2 that would make it a crime to sell or rent a violent video game to a minor. A retailer could be fined up to $1000 for renting or selling a game with an “M” or “AO” rating to a minor.
Once again, I shake my head in disbelief. You would think lawmakers, who are mostly good and reasonable men and women, would have something better to do. This bill ranks right up there with making it a crime to have sex with a chicken.
It would be one thing if this was a new concept, but the courts have already said such laws are unconstitutional. So if this bill goes forward then lawmakers will have successfully wasted everyone’s time.
Great going guys. Maybe there should be a rating label on legislative hearings. Say "W" for waste of time!
18 FEB 2007
Thank You, from the Bottom of My Heart
I just got back into town a few minutes after spending the past few days with my son. As I mentioned in my last post, he had surgery on Thursday. The doctors removed a growth about the size of a softball which was adjacent to his right lung. Unfortunately the only way to get it out was to take out nearly half of my son’s lung. He’s recovering, but he’s been in a lot of pain. He still manages to stay in good spirits, although he can be a little grouchy when his meds start to wear off. I really don’t blame him though. We’ll know in a few days whether the growth is cancerous. Early tests look good, though.
While my family waits to hear the results, I wanted to take a second to thank all of you who have kept us in your thoughts and prayers. It says something when bloggers from the left and right (who have no use for each other personally) have all wished my son well. I’ve also received a lot of e-mail and one loyal listener to the radio show sent flowers wishing my son a speedy recovery. It will take a while for him to get back on his feet. What complicates matters is he is a singer/dancer/actor and lung capacity is a big deal when performing. So that is another issue we’ll have to face.
But for now we can hopefully start recovery. We’ll know more late next week but keeping us in your thoughts and prayers, I like to think, has made a difference. Thank you, again, from the bottom of our hearts.
15 - 17 FEB 2007
Now I Can Tell You
For the past several weeks I have been under the most stress I have ever experienced in my entire life. You may not have noticed in my words or voice, but it’s been pretty tough. Last month my son was hospitalized for pneumonia. During that time the doctors found a spot on his lung. At first we thought it was scar tissue from a previous illness a few years ago, but it turned out to something different.
It turns out he had a growth on his lung, and what scared me was the fact it was the size of a softball and we had no idea what it was. His doctors told it could be anything from an abnormal growth to cancer. That is something no parent wants to hear. We went through more tests and a he had surgery this morning. They removed the growth and are running some final tests to make sure it’s not cancerous. He’s resting, but is in a lot of pain. If all goes well though, he should be back up and at full speed in 3 months.
As you can probably tell, this was not easy. I kept a lot of this to myself for the longest time and only told a handful of close friends a few days ago. I also found myself really not caring about a lot things, my jobs, politics, going out or anything. I’ve never dealt well with things I have no control over or can’t use my schmooze power to fix. I also learned that keeping all this stuff in never helps either. So I guess that’s why I decided to post this. It’s been tough, but it looks like the worst part is over for now. Have a good weekend.
14 - 15 FEB 2007
A Quick Trip through the Statehouse
I made a long overdue trip to the Statehouse today. I have been really bad about it this session. But the way I think about it, it’s like a baseball game. Unless someone hits a homerun in the first couple innings, it really doesn’t pick up until later. Yesterday it picked up.
The Honeymoon is over! Welcome to Marriage!
The Honeymoon between Republicans and Democrats officially ended the day before Valentine’s Day when Democrats blamed Republicans for failing to pass their own version of property tax relief. The measure failed 49-48. Although the bill wasn’t defeated and can still be reconsidered (it takes 51 votes to do that), Democrats blamed Republicans, although two of their own voted no. The measure would have raised income taxes, but 60-percent of the increase would have gone to property tax relief and the rest to public safety. What’s ironic about this is Democrats voted down all Republican amendments to the property tax bill. Luckily for all parties involved, the real property tax measure won’t come until mid-April, so there is plenty of room to posture.
Another Bet , o, n the Lottery
State Senator Luke Kenl, ey is getting ready to unveil his Lottery privatization plan. Under his proposal, which will be formally announced tomorrow, it would dedicate $600 Million to a life science fund that could be used at all Indiana public and private colleges. That fund would be overseen by the Indiana Department of Economic Development. The other $400 million would go towards awarding 1000 merit-based scholarships with a minimum of one scholarship to every high school per year in the state. The funds would available to students in both public and private schools and dedicated toward “critical need” professions such as nursing and math and science. Students who get the scholarship would have to agree to stay in Indiana for three years or pay the money back. The scholarships would also be merit-based so a student in need who is not getting a scholarship would be a prime candidate.
Third Time’s a Charm
Bart Peterson is smiling today. Seven Republicans joined the House Democrats and voted for Indy Works, Part III; Fire Consolidation. The measure got out of the House by a vote of 58-39. The bill goes over to the Senate where James Merritt is reported to be the sponsor. This is the Mayor’s third attempt at this and I will give him credit. If you can’t beat ‘em, wear them down. A win by attrition is still a win. Now it will be interesting to see if members of his own party, who control six of the nine townships in Marion County will be willing to give up some of that power. With Washington Township notwithstanding, anyone want to guess what that likely answer will be?
14 FEB 2007
Hearts and Arrows
With it being Valentine’s Day, I figured what better way to celebrate than by sending hearts or arrows to my favorite political figures. Hearts, we really like you. Arrows, you need to get it together.
Hearts – Emergency road crews.
Arrows – Anyone who drove yesterday who should have stayed at home.
Hearts – Mike O’Connor and Tom John. Both men are sharp, bright and what their respective parties need at this time.
Ar, rows – A good chunk of the Black Democrats in Marion County and Township Old Guard Republicans. The list is too long to go on with what’s wrong these guys, but fundamentally, they just don’t get it.
Hearts – Those lawmakers who voted against SJR-7.
Arrows – Those lawmakers who voted for SJR-7.
Hearts – The Governor for wanting to get the state out of the Property Tax replacement credit business.
Arrows – The Legislature, for not wanting to get out of the Property Tax replacement credit business.
Hearts – Elected officials who work hard and take their jobs seriously.
Arrows – Dan Burton and Julia Carson.
Hearts – Barak Obama and Rudy Guliani.
Arrows – Sam Brownback and Hilary Clinton.
Hearts – The Indianapolis Colts. Need I say more?
Arrow – The Indiana Pacers. Need I say more?
Hearts – Anyone who listens to Newstalk 1430, WXNT. I really appreciate it. Happy Valentine’s Day.
12 FEB 2007
We’re all keeping eye on the weather today as things could get a little hairy. In the meanwhile there are a couple issues out there worth keeping an eye on.
Lawmakers may take up the cigarette tax today to pay for health care. The amount I hear is 60 cents , p, er pack. The measure will come up in the House Ways and Means Committee.
City-County Council President Monroe Gray may face a challenger in this year’s municipal election. His challenge isn’t coming from the Republicans but the Libertarians. Libertarian Mark Rutherford is interested in running against Gray. Rutherford hasn’t made a formal decision, but thinks Gray has been a embarrassment to the District on the city’s near north side.
And speaking of elections, Marion County Republicans did not slate a candidate for Mayor this weekend. They’re waiting, in part, to see if Bart Peterson is really going to run again. We’ll know this Saturday as Marion County Democrats have their slating convention in Indianapolis.
11 FEB 2007
Are the Feds Looking at Indianapolis’ Pea Shake Houses?
What started out as a raid at a local pea shake house on Indianapolis’ west side could actually be the tip of the iceberg. Although officials will not confirm, reliable sources are saying that several Federal law enforcement agencies are looking at the , city’s pea shake houses for possible federal racketeering charges because of possible ties to organized crime.
Sources say the Government has identified nearly a dozen pea shake houses , with net profits of more than $29 million, after payouts. And that is a conservative estimate. There is also reason for the federal government to believe that in addition to those profits, millions more have been funneled into financing drugs, prostitution and loan sharking. Money may have also been funneled into financing legitimate businesses in Indianapolis.
A spokesperson for the Justice Department would neither confirm nor deny the investigation; however she did say that this type of scenario would fall under the purview of the federal government because such matters would be prosecuted under the RICO statutes.
Sources say this investigation has been taking place for the past three years and has managed to gather extensive information from video surveillance, wire taps, e-mail, cell phone conversations and bank records. It is not clear if the investigation includes any elected or appointed officials in Marion County. What is clear is that things in this county could get real interesting, real soon.
10 FEB 2007
This will be quick. Marion County Republicans elected local attorney Tom John as their new County Chairman. John got 65 percent of the vote in a four-way race. What was most notable though in the whole election was defeated candidate Bob Croddy’s speech to his fellow Republicans. It was really bad and really hateful. How bad and hateful was it? Let me put it this way, it would have sounded better in the original German. Enjoy your day.
A Black Eye for the Blue
Today’s news regarding an altered police report regarding the illegal gambling raid isn’t good news for the Indianapolis Metropolitan Police Department. For those of you just joining us, State Senator Glen Howard was mentioned in the original report questioning the officers, but was eliminated in the second report. When questioned about this alteration, Sheriff Frank Anderson told the Indianapolis Star he didn’t see what the big deal was, although IMPD Chief Mike Spears said it probably would have been better for the report to not be changed.
What’s disturbing about this is that this is sending a message that it is okay for authorities to alter police records. How many people have been arrested, prosecuted or sentenced because a police report might have been altered? How many defense attorneys might be salivating at the mouth over the possibility that a police report in their client’s , , case may have been altered? How much hard work by prosecutors has been for naught. And how many hard-working dedicated police officers’ work may now be compromised?
The ramifications for this are widespread. And if this is the new standard, can we really trust law enforcement anymore? I hope someone will answer these questions.
9 FEB 2007
Pea Shake Rattle and Roll, Part II
There’s some new controversy involving the illegal gambling bust that occurred last Friday on Indianapolis’ west side. According to the Indianapolis Star, a police report was issued about the bust at the “pea shake” house in the 1400 block of West Roche. That report listed the details of the raid that resulted in charges being filed against Leonard Howard. What’s odd about the report issued was that there was an earlier report issued that included statements by Democratic State Senator Glenn Howard. He said, “"They don't hurt nobody, it's just a pea shake. I know it's illegal, but they don't hurt nobody," That information was omitted in the second police report.
Now a more cynical person would think that there was something funny going on here. Sheriff Frank Anderson says he did not see anything wrong with the report being altered. IMPD Chief Mike Spears sys in hindsight, the report should not have been changed. Well, duh!
This is a classic case of having to choose between evil and stupidity. Either someone in authority at IMPD ordered the report changed to try to cover up the fact that Sen. Howard showed up at the scene of the raid. Or someone was stupid enough to think that no one in the media would notice; even though it had already been reported by me and RTV 6 that Howard was there. I can respect evil, to a point. I have no tolerance for stupid.
What this does boil down to is sheer arrogance by people in authority who think they can act with impunity and get away with anything. And for a long time they have, well here’s a news flash for a lot of these people. I normally don’t telegraph something like this but apparently there is some truth to the Internet rumor mill that the U.S. Justice Department has taken quite the interest as to what’s been going in Indianapolis as of late and I would not be surprised to see a lot of people on the business end of a grand jury.
Some Friendly advice for the Marion County GOP
On Saturday, Marion County Republicans will have their slating convention where they will choose their candidates for the upcoming election as well as a county Chairman. The sm, art pick for the GOP for Chairman would be local attorney Tom John. John has been active in the party and ran successful campaigns for Secretary of State Todd Rokita and City-County Councilmember Ike Randolph.
John and I sat and chatted recently and one concept he gets is that for Republicans to stop their spiral in the political abyss they need to understand that if they can’t win an election, nothing else matters. Just take a look at the last election and the number of Republican Council members who are fleeing city hall so fast I could hear Exodus playing in the background.
The demographics of Marion County are changing and last election there were 10,000 more Democratic straight-ticket voters than Republican. The GOP has no mayoral candidate and the party is divided into three factions, the old guard, the religious conservatives and the downtown crowd. Someone needs to bring this party and get its head screwed on straight. Of not, they better get used to being the permanent minority in this town.
7 FEB 2007
Hey Bob, Do You Write Your Mother with this E-mail?
I get a lot of e-mail from a lot of candidates for a lot of offices. In this case it’s one from Robert Croddy. Croddy is a former 7th District Congressional Candidate and is currently vying for the Chairmanship of the Marion County Republican Party.
Croddy has sent out a number of e-mails, but the latest one has raised my eyebrows. Croddy asks for the support of fellow Republicans at slating this weekend. He touts his political and business experience. But he also says this.
It has been from these everyday studies that a boy from Center Township has learned to empower himself rather than to rely on the government like his single Mother, a Marion County Democrat activist, taught him to do. It is because of these studies that I seek to be the voice of the Marion County Republican Party.
I interpret this as Croddy attacking his own mother. Am I wrong? I don’t know about you, but if I was seeking the chairmanship of any political party I don’t think I would draw my mother into the argument nor would I say she was a single mother who relied on the government, eve, n, , , if it were true.
, Call me crazy, but I don’t think this is the best way to endear yourself to your fellow Republicans, even if your mother, w, as a Dem, ocrat.
6 FEB 2007
Pea Shake, Rattle and Roll
Let me admit to stealing that title from one of the local bloggers. Police raided a local “pea shake” house on the west side this past weekend. Everyone was paying attention to the Super Bowl so there was no press about it. However, according to the police report, the incident occurred in the 1400 Block of West Roche.
Police were responding to a disturbance and neighbors complaints. While responding, the cops saw in plain view gambling paraphernalia, including ticket times, winning numbers, etc. The officers asked if they could come in and did. Also according to the report, saw numerous illegal gaming items. The house had apparently been in operation for two years.
While making arrests and conducting investigations, State Senator Glen Howard came to the scene. Howard said, “They don’t hurt nobody, it’s just a pea shake. I know it’s illegal, but they don’t hur, t nobody,” according to the report.
Police did make arrests and confiscated more than $5,000. In addition, there was an “elaborate video security” system there but it is unclear whether there were any tapes taken.
If there were tapes, it will be interesting to see who was on them. This could be the start of something big.
5 FEB 2007
Add Another Super Bowl City To My List!
I have this bad habit of living or working in cities that tend to win Super Bowls. I was in Chicago in 1986. I was in law school in St. Louis in 2000, and now Indianapolis in 2007. It's a habit I don't plan to break anytime soon. Congratulations to the Indianapolis Colts. It was a victory that showed good guys who work hard, persevere and have good attitudes can win big!
2 FEB 2007
NFL vs. GOD
By now you’ve probably heard the story of some local churches who wanted t, o show the Super Bowl on Sunday and the NFL politely told them to go to hell. Since some of the churches would have charged money to recapture the costs of refreshments, the NFL said that would interfere with the millions and millions of dollars it would make through broadcast rights and other Super Bowl related activities.
Now granted, the Super Bowl is the NFL’s property. And people and corporations have a right to with their property what they want. However, I don’t see the inherent harm in letting a church host an event. There’s just something about pissing off people who have a direct line to God. That can’t be a good idea.
You know there’s rain in forecast for Miami. I hope it doesn’t last for 40 days. But then again there’s always a plague of locusts.
31 JAN - 1 FEB 2007
Super Dilemma XLV
As the city of Indianapolis puts together its materials to bid on Super Bowl XLV (45), there is one big hurdle the city will have to overcome, where the teams will practice. I ran into Mayor Bart Peterson tonight and he confirmed something I had thought for the past couple days.
Hotel space, tax incentives, places to party are relatively easy to come by. The big challenge will be finding a place for the teams to practice before the Super Bowl. You can forget about Lucas Stadium. The way I understand it, no team gets to practice on the actual field. There is the Colts facility on 56th Street, but it may not be up to par for what the two teams will need.
So the real challenge for the city will be where to get people to play. As it will be the middle of winter in the Midwest, any outside facility is out of the question. In addition there is no University infield to play on. IU and Purdue are too far away to send a football team to practice. So with all the challenges the city faces to get a Super Bowl, the biggest appears to be something a simple as finding a place for folks to practice for a few days.
30 JAN 2007
Time to Give IPS the “Barbaro” Treatment
There’s no worse feeling than having to get rid of something you love. Whether it’s that old sweater that’s worn and beaten, a favorite chair or an old clunker with so many miles you could have driven it half way to the moon. At some point in time, it served a purpose, the old sweater was once, on the cutting edge of fashion now belongs on the cutting floor. It’s time for IPS to go the way of my old car and old sweater.
Using the words of Superintendent Eugene White, the school district is failing. Students at the middle and high school level aren’t cutting the grade. The dropout rate is ridiculous. And any effort to bring more competition to the area , , , is met with the staunchest opposition. So with all that, what’s a pundit to advocate? Give IPS the “Barbaro” treatment. Take it out and shoot it.
That may sound harsh, but sometimes you need to dish out tough love. The system is not working, by its own admission. And if something isn’t working you fix it. When you can’t fix it, get rid of it and get a new one. IPS can’t be fixed.
Council Wastes Time and Money
Sometimes the need for democracy needs to give way to the need to stop bad ideas from going forward and wasting everyone’s precious time. That axiom should be engraved above the hall at the City-County building right above the Council chambers.
Councilors did not get the chance to vote on a 75-percent pay raise because sponsor Roselle Boyd, withdrew the measure. Of course this wasn’t until a number of public hearings, power point presentations and a lot of people coming out and getting their very valuable time wasted.
There was never any support for this. Boyd’s own caucus told me there was no support for this. No Republican was going to vote for this. And the sad part is that all this is taking place against a backdrop of a city spiraling down into financial abyss. Someone should have shown some leadership and put an end to this idea a long time ago.
Boyd is a smart man. I respect his appr, eciation for ,, , intellectual pursuits. However, the problem with intellectuals is that they tend to spend a lot of time studying things that regular people already know. And a lot of regular people knew a 75-percent pay raise was a bad idea that should have never seen the light of day.
27 - 29 JAN 2007
As anyone who knows me is fully aware I am in the precarious position of having ties to Chicago and Indianapolis. I grew up in Chicago and currently work in Indianapolis. I also have ties to St. Louis and Seattle, but neither city has a team in the Super Bowl so they don't count.
Whenever someone asks me, who do I cheer for in this year's Super Bowl, I politely pull up some analogy like, "that's like asking me to choose between my wife and my girlfriend" or "that's like asking Stevie Wonder what's his favorite color?" There is no good answer. Based on what I've been able to piece together (granted I am the most sports illiterate person you will find) the odds on favorite are the Colts. Overall, Peyton Manning and his team are better than Rex Grossman and his Bears. I don't dispute what the experts say, but I caution my Indianapolis friends to never underestimate the power of a Chicago team to win despite their best efforts.
I won't get into the "trash talk" of Indianapolis versus Chicago. But if you ask me personally, in Chicago there is no township government, there is no Monroe Gray, there is no $450 million in unfunded police pension debt that will require a tax increase to fix and last year vioent crime was at a 15-year low. I don't know if I could say the same for here. Of course I am in Indianapolis, so that gives the city an unfair intellectual advantage over the Windy City.
So what's a person with strong ties to both sides of I-65 to do? Easy, may the best team win. Besides, the White Sox already won the World Series so I am a happy camper.
C'mon, what did you expect me to say, honestly?
26 JAN 2007
Contrary to Popular Opinion, I Don’t Hate Democrats Nor Do I Love Republicans!
While making some vague attempt to exercise yesterday,, I ran into a political friend of mine. We talked about the usual stuff, local matters, a state-related proposal or two and a national issue. We were wrapping up our conversation when a he mentioned to me a Democratic-elected official who commented to him that “I don’t know if could be in the same room with Abdul, he hates Democrats!”
My friend was surprised at the statement and asked the official why they thought I hated Democrats? The official told them I was always beating up Democrats on my show when it came to crime and the city’s finances. My buddy to his credit asked the best question, “Was he wrong or did he ever lie?” The official sat there quietly after that.
There is a perception out there in some Marion County democratic circles that I hate Democrats and love Republicans. They are half right. I like and dislike some Democrats and like and dislike some Republicans. There are Democrats in this town I would go to the wall for and some Republicans I would line up against, and vice versa.
If it seems I’ve been hard on Marion County Democrats lately it’s because they’ve dropping the ball lately; crime, the budget, asking for 75-percent raises, personal behavior etc. But more importantly they are in charge! As they proudly stated at their slating meeting last Saturday, they control all but one countywide office. And as Peter Parker says, “with great power comes great responsibility.” And this is the price of leadership when you’re in charge.
It is interesting to note that a couple years ago when I was, and still am, the biggest proponent of consolidation and the human rights ordinance I was the Democrats’ hero and was referred to by a very prominent county Republican as a “pimple on an elephant’s ass.” So the more things c,,, hange, the more they stay the same.
My job I to keep people honest, give credit where it is due and scorn where it is appropriate. If some people think they’ve been feeling a lot of heat lately, then maybe they should check what they’re cooking in the kitchen.
25 JAN 2007
Continuing the Culture War
Bil Browning, the managing editor of Bilerico.com was on our show today talking about his campaign to dig up dirt and “moral lapses” regarding Indiana lawmakers who support SJR-7, a proposed amendment to the Indiana Constitution that would ban gay marriage and conferring rights to unmarried couples or same-sex couples.
Browning said he is launching the campaign because it is an attack on his family. He said he would only print what he can confirm and will not simply write about “youthful indiscretions.” But what I call as “skeletons in the closet that still have flesh on them.”
This has the potential to get real ugly and retaliatory and devolve into something I’m not quite sure Hoosiers are ready for. But like I said in a previous post, it will still be interesting to watch.
State Senator Jim Merritt of Indianapolis says he's still thinking about running for Mayor. He says he'll make up his mind soon. He says crime is an important issue and thinks the new Metropolitan Police department should be under the control of the Mayor, not the Sheriff. And despite Mayor Bart Peterson's $2.5 million war chest, Merritt says he thinks the race is winnable.
23 JAN 2007
State of the Union
I watched the State of the Union tonight. I wasn't surprised by anything that was said. So I worked on the following. It was a lot more interesting.
Culture War of Nerves!
A battle is getting ready to brew in the Indiana General Assembly, but it’s not one that you will see on the floor. It is one that if fought as intense as I think it will be, a lot of personal, private and potentially embarrassing information “coming out” about s, , om, e Indiana lawmakers.
The fight concerns SJR-7, an amendment to the Indiana Constitution that would limit marriages to one man and one woman and prohibit the state from concerning the rights of married couples to same sex couples and other unmarried couples. I personally don’t see the need for this and in fact have never had a problem with gay marriage. However, individuals who are more culturally conservative than I am do. I respectfully disagree.
But what will be interesting to watch is if the forces of the far right go forward, they may see their personal lives put on display. Already at Advance Indiana, operated by Gary Welsh, there is a repeat of a story regarding pro-life Sen. Brandt Hershman featuring allegations by his ex-wife that he forced her to have an abortion in 1997. Hershman called the allegations “dirty politics.”
Hershman’s story is but one of a potential many. At Bilerico, a blog run by Bil Browning names, without naming, quite a bit or dirty laundry. And it is calling on readers to offer up anything else. It will be interesting to see who gets named.
After more than two years in the Statehouse, I’ve heard quite, , a few stories about lawmakers whose personal lives would run contrary to public statements they’ve made about morality and values. Most the rumor I have kept at just that, rumor.
But now the situation is about to escalate. And it will not be just a Republican issue either. There are Democrats with potential skeletons as well. Regardless of the outcome, this is not going to pretty, but it will be something worth watching.
22 JAN 2007
When “W” Talks, Will People Listen?
The President will give his State of the Union address tonight. The pundits and newsmakers say it is important because this will be his first State of the Union with a Democratic-controlled Congress.
Although the speech is important, I don’t think many people will take it seriously or pay much attention to it. Look at the facts. He’s a lame duck. The President is at 33 percent approval rating, the lowest since Richard Nixon. More Republicans Senators are expressing opposition to troop increases in I,,, raq, . There were 25 American troops killed over the weekend in Iraq as well as 100 civilians. And everybody and his mother want to be President.
This is not to say the Presidency is irrelevant. The Commander-in-Chief wields a lot of power and has a bully pulpit that can easily capture the attention of the American people. What I wonder though is when the President talks tonight, will anyone listen?
20 JAN 2007
Although 99% of this town was paying attention to the Colts, some of us are dorks and still followed the goings on of local government.
In the past few days both Democrats Sherron Franklin and Jackie Nytes have both sent out formal word that they are running for re-election for their Council seats. It looks there will be some in-fighting to fill the spot over the seat of outgoing Council Minority leader Phil Borst.
Former Deputy Mayor Mike O’Connor was slated this weekend to take over from Ed Tracey as the new head of the Marion County Democratic Party. Meanwhile, GOP activist and sometimes Congressional Candidate Bob Croddy sent out an e-mail talking about his intent to run for chairman of the Marion County Republicans. He also took a swipe at the current front-runner for the job, Tom John.
Speaking of Mayor, veteran Warren Township firefighter Darrell Morris is announcing he’s running for Mayor. He did a lot of work with the townships trying to draw up an alternative to the Mayor’s Indy Works Consolidation plan. Sen. Jim Merritt has sent out a couple news releases pushing truth-in-sentencing legislation and the franchising of the state lottery as a way to tackle Indiana’s “brain drain.” Still no word yet on whether Jim will run for Mayor.
The Justice Department was back in town this past week following up on officer complaints of racial discrimination as well as working with the city over its current consent decree regarding racial hiring. . And three of Indy’s main bloggers devoted quite a bit of space this weekend to a man in a chicken suit.
See, there was something going on other than AFC Championship game.
18 JAN 2007
I’m hearing a couple things through my very reliable sources network…
First, State Senator Jim Merritt (R-Indianapolis) is being named as a possible contender for Mayor of Indianapolis. Sources close to Merritt say he’s honored to be considered, but considers himself more a Senator. Keep an eye out on this one.
A legal complaint may be filed soon against a prominent Marion County elected official for racial discrimination and dropping the N-word. Details soon.
If You Can’t Shoo Them, Sue Them!
Anyone who has ever had to deal with the homeless in Indianapolis’ Downtown area know what a nuisance many of them are; whether it is the persistent and rather aggressive panhandling or their lying on the sidewalk or congregating in clusters. If you are ever approached by one, and your nose will tell if they are nearby, and they ask for money, do not be surprised that once you tell them no, they will ask you why?
Many of the homeless need to be committed into institutions, but since that likely won’t happen, a New York art dealer might actually have the answer. Sue them!
The New York Sun is reporting Karl Kemp, a high-end antique art dealer on the city’s Upper East Side, is suing four unnamed homeless people for $1 million on the grounds that their loitering has driven away customers.
The complaint goes on to say the homeless have spent "significant amounts of time" obstructing Karl Kemp's storefront window display, "consuming alcoholic beverages from open bottles, performing various bodily functions such as urinating or spitting on the sidewalk, and…verbally harassing, o, r intimidating … prospective customers."
That sounds a lot like the ones in Indianapolis. Maybe one of the downtown businesses and establishments should file a suit. Or better yet, buy the places where they hang out and sue them to get them to go somewhere else.
Then again, we could change our laws and re-institut, ionalize them so they can get the care they need. The roof of a mental institution has got to beat that of a cardboard box.
17 JAN 2007
Daniels Asks for Cooperation in Moving Indiana Forward
Indiana Governor Mitch Daniels is extending a hand and an olive branch to Indiana lawmakers tonight as he unveiled his third state of the state address. In the 30-minute speech the Governor intermixed a relatively new agenda with newer themes of cooperation. “Cooperation is always the best way,” Daniels said in his address.
Between November 8 and December 20, the Governor unveiled his plans for full-day kindergarten, creating the Illiana Expressway and Commerce Connectors, health insurance for Hoosiers and turning the Lottery management to a private company. Most of which was met with mixed reaction from lawmakers.
Daniels did admit in his speech he learned a few things from the last two years in office. “The cooperation that has eluded us on most occasions is now the only alternative to stalemate and paralysis.&nb, sp, ; If I too often did not find the words to bring it about, I will have to do better, and find them now.” Aides to the Governor did not say he was telling lawmakers he was “sorry” but as much recognizing the new political dynamic of the legislature.
Although Indiana lawmakers are stressing property tax relief as one of their big items, the Governor’s address only dedicated six lines to the subject. Daniels’ aides say there was no need for Governor to go into extensive detail about the subject as he talked about it before and there were a number of plans on the table to give local governments more options to raise revenue and provide Hoosiers with property tax relief.
Reaction to the Governor’s speech was somewhat mixed.
State Representative David Crooks (D-Washington) said he was pleased with the Governor’s bi-partisan tone. However, Vi-Simpson (D-Bloomington) noted, “the Governor has been talking about a canoe, but instead he’s been using a one-man kayak.” Jeff Espich (R-Uniondale) said he liked the tone of the speech, while Thresea Lubbers (R-Indianapolis), who will sponsor the Governor’s Full Day Kindergarten plan, said the Governor and proponents of FDK will have a selling job on their hands.” Libertarian Mike Kole says the Governor invokes the name of Reagan, but looks to government as the answer to problems, something Reagan would not do.
Mike Edmundson, Executive Director of the Indiana Democratic Party said, “if he’s serious, we’re there as a willing partner, but time will tell if he will be a consensus builder.” “If they don’t like the Governor’s suggestions, we welcome the suggestions from our Democratic friends,” noted Jen Hallowell, Executive Director of the Indiana Republican Party.
In his inaugural address, Daniels alluded to building a barn as an analogy to call for Hoosiers to work together; in his third address he used a canoe. “Paddled on one side only, it just turns in circles. If either side chooses to dig in its paddle stubbornly enough, it can tip the boat over. But with a common heading, and a shared effort, the canoe can be the fastest boat in the water.”
By Your Leave
Last month I worte about the new Center Township Assessor Eugene Akers who decided he was going to keep his job as an IPS administrator while serving as Assessor. I speculated this would be a conflct of interest. Mr. Akers didn't think so then, but apprently he's found Jesus since then.
Akers is taking a leave of absence from IPS. It's unclear how long the leave will be, but it took him long enough.
He tells the Indianapolis Star there was no conflict because the "school district didn't pay taxes." That was the point of my argument. The district didn't pay taxes, it was a taxing body. A taxing body that Ackers would have got a paycheck from. A taxing body that could potentially lose money based his assessments of Center Township Property.
If Mr. Ackers' didn't see a potential conflict for something this obvious, if I were a Center Township property taxpayer, I'd take a close look at my bill when it comes later this year. Who knows what else he would miss.
16 JAN 2007
First it was murder, now it's...
Indianapolis is becoming home to a distrurbing number of carjackings. According to WTHR-TV, there have been 13 car jackings in the Circle City since January 1. That's virtually one a day. Add in a murder every three days, prominent citizens becoming victims of crime and it all ads to a perception that lawlessne, ss is sweeping the city. This is not good seeing how there is an AFC Champiosnship game taking place this weekend. I hope they brought their bulletproof jackets.
15 JAN 2007
(I originally wrote this piece 12 years ago. I felt a need to reprint it as we mark Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Day. Thanks for indulging me.)
Recently I had a conversation with a black friend of mine and she told me something I found was a bit disturbing. We were arguing over crime and how to deal with it when she told me, "Abdul, your attitude is typical of middle-class back folk." I asked her to tell me what that meant. She then went on to say as middle-class blacks tend to move up the socio-economic ladder, they forget their origins, and treat poor blacks the same way whites do.
I have to say I was a bit taken back by all this, because I was being attacked for my status in life which I had no control over. So I told her that she really needed to get grip and maybe the weave in her head was too tight and slowing the flow of oxygen to her brain. I for one find it rather annoying that I'm accused of being insensitive just because I have a low tolerance level for crime, welfare, and people reproducing who shouldn't. And I'm not saying these problems are exclusive to poor black neighborhoods so get that attitude out of your head right now.
What I am saying is that attitudes of individual responsibility, self-reliance, and hard work are not the exclusive property of white folks. Why should I send my children to horrible schools and stay in crime-ridden neighborhoods? What possible point could there be to prove? That I'm a well-to-do idiot? I don't think so. I'm sure there would be some thrill in moving my furniture in my house in the middle of the night so no one will see and steal it later that day while I'm out working.
Many middle-class blacks feel a sense of guilt at having made a measure of success for themselves while seeing the fellow "brothers and sisters" left behind. The logic being older middle-class blacks can remember when they were shut out of the "mainstream" by whites and don't want to return the favor. I for one have no such guilt because there's a big difference between closing the door on people because of race, which has nothing to do with behavior, and having serious concerns about people who haven't learned how to honor the social contract, which does have a lot to do with behavior.
This is not to say that poverty and bad behavior are soulmates; both my parents grew up poor in the rural south, however they didn't hop in the horse and buggy and do drive-by shootings either. What I am saying is blacks who are doing well should not make excuses or feel responsible for those who don't. I personally am shocked at stories I hear of people voting against their own interests (particularly economic) for the benefit of someone else, especially when the end result is counter-productive. But I know what you're saying, "Abdul, other ethnic groups work together why shouldn't we?" I am not saying blacks shouldn't work together. What I am saying is that if you're in a balloon that's going down, the first thing you do is get rid of the dead weight.
I am all for helping people who want to better their situations, but the only way people will ever make any real achievement in this world is when individuals decide they want to take personal responsibility for their actions and take charge of their destiny. And accommodating bad behavior is not the way to make that come about.
(Thanks for indulging me. Next time I'll talk about apologizing for slavery. Bye! Bye!)
That was my attitude back in 1996. Funny how some things don't change.
12 JAN 2007
Randolph Not Running
Ike Randolph, Indianapolis City-County Councillor, says he will not run for Mayor against incumbent Bart Peterson. Randolph cites famliy and personal reasons. Randolph, a Republican, was first elected to the council in 2003.
Long Time Councilman Borst Will Not Seek another City-County Council Term
Republican City-County Councilman, Dr. Philip C. Borst announced that he will not seek an eighth term on the Indianapolis City-County Council. The council’s republican leader says "it is just time to give up the seat. I have thoroughly enjoyed serving the people of Perry Township and Marion County going on twenty eight years." The first eight years Borst represented all of Marion County as an at-large councilmember from 1980-1987, and the last twenty years as a district councilman in Perry Township.
Borst has been a Southside veterinarian for 32 years, and is the owner of The Shelby Street Animal Clinic. He and his wife Jill have been married for 26 years and have two sons, Alex a junior at Purdue University and Eric a junior at Lutheran High School.
11 JAN 2007
Read Mitch's Lips, "No New Property Replacement Tax Credits!"
The Daniels Administration is sending local governments a message with this year’s budget. The state is no longer going to, solve your financial problems, but it will help you get the tools to do it yourself.
Daniels budget Director Chuck Schalliol today announced there is no new money in the Governor’s budget for property tax relief for local governments. The nearly $25 billion spending plan includes slightly more than $2 billion for property tax replacement credits. That is money that goes to the locals to avoid property tax increases for services.
Schalliol says local issues should be addressed by local governments where there is local accountability. He says the problem facing local governments has been one of spending, citing stats which say locals have been spending 6.1 percent annually, while income has only gone up 5.1. He did not come out and directly endorse plans like Hometown Matters or a proposal by Senator Luke Kenley (R-Noblesville) to give local governments more authority to raise revenue, but he said they are on the right track.
Schalliol says the state would pick up part of child welfare expenses in 2009.
The Budget Director says local problems should be addressed, but not through increased State taxing and spending. He adds that prior state efforts to provide property tax relief have failed.
Schalliol’s comments came as he unveiled the state’s spending blueprint to lawmakers. The budget has new money schools and provides for the first year of full-day kindergarten. It also finishes off payment to schools and local governments. Overall state spending increases have been kept under four percent.
Money from privatizing the lottery and increasing the cigarette tax were not included in the budget as the revenue would go toward dedicated programs.
The Dirty Little Secret on Page Two
I’ve made it perfectly clear that I am no big fan of the Blue Ribbon panel’s recommendations on how to deal with crime. The more I read it the more I shake my head. One line item actually says it all.
One page 2 of the Recommendations Offered by the Neighborhood and Family Committee, there is a call for increased funding for Multi-Service Centers to reach their main constituencies through core programs. I’m taking this recommendation with a grain of salt because one of the members on the panel making the suggestion is Regina Marsh, Executive Director of the Forest Manor Service Center.
So basically Marsh is recommending her agency get more money.
Did I mention she was once part of a criminal investigation back in 2001 involving illegal bingo operations.
Of cou, rse I did.
10 JAN 2007
More on Mayor’s Plan
Indianapolis Mayor Bart Peterson unveiled his crime plan tonight. I was teaching and could not see it live, but my DVR recorded it so I watched as soon as got back to my place. I made it a point to watch it twice, so I could comment intelligently.
The Mayor is right when he says the pre-1977 police pension is the albatross around the city’s neck and it must be removed. His idea to borrow more than $450 million to make the pension solvent by putting it into a fund administered by the Public Employee’s Retirement Fund or a private firm is not necessarily a bad idea. With a reasonable return on investment, the pension fund should do quite well.
What I am not a big fan of is nearly a half-billion dollars in new debt that could potentially grow into more than a billion dollars in payments over the life of the loan. If I want that, I’ll go to the Payday loan place on East Washington Street. I would rather the Mayor use any revenue stream generated from consolidation or Hometown Matters to pay off the balance of the loan.
An aggressive payment schedule would eliminate the loan debt in less than a decade, thereby freeing up hundreds of millions of dollars in funds that can be used for public safety or tax relief.
The Mayor has put an interesting idea on the table, it just needs some tweaking.
I’m glad to offer it.
9 JAN 2007
110 Pages of Common Sense
This may sound odd, but I owe the folks on the 25th floor an apology. I made the mistake of commenting on Mayor Bart Peterson’s Blue Ribbon Panel report on crime by only going by the report in this morning’s online edition of the Indianapolis Star. I should h, ave read the whole report. Before reading it in its entirety I said the report was full of nothing but common sense. After reading through the document I can’t help but reach the conclusion that it’s a 110 pages of common sense.
I found the report to simply restate things that have already been said or proposed before, finding jobs for ex-offenders, working with at-risk youth, address mental health issues and strengthen families. That’s it.
I could have written this and saved everyone time and money.
It is a disappointing document because it does nothing but state the obvious.
Here’s another obvious statement, crime is caused by criminals! As long as there is an environment where criminals feel they can act with impunity, none of this matters.
Indianapolis is no longer a safe city.
8 - 9 JAN 2007
Indiana Lawmaker Mugged (11:30 p.m.)
An Indiana State Senator was the latest victim of violent crime in the Capitol City. State Senator Sue Errington (D-Muncie) was mugged tonight (1/8, ) at the CVS pharmacy at 56th and Illinois in Indianapolis. Sources say she was punched in the face and had her purse stolen. She was treated for injuries at St. Vincent Hospital.
If you did not think crime was out of control, hopefully this will change your mind.
One day down, 54 calendar days to go
Today was the first day of the rest of my life. Well, not really. But it was the first day of the Indiana General Assembly. It was great to be back at the Capitol and I made a few observations. Here they are.
Observation #1 - Prayer is no longer a big deal. House Democrats drafted a generic prayer that took about 30 seconds to deliver. The Senate observed a moment of silence. I like the latter because it proves there is a God.
Observation #2 - I actually think there will be more bi-partisanship all around, because there aren’t enough votes to be otherwise. Both parties control one chamber each and in the House, there isn’t much room to mess around because of the 51 votes needed for anything to pass.
Observation #3 – Something just might happen with property taxes. All four legislative leaders want some kind of tax relief. And “Hometown Matters” just might give them the room to do it.
Observation #4 – Indianapolis Mayor Bart Peterson’s plan to get tax revenue raising authority out of the General Assembly may run into some stumbling blocks in the Senate from the more conservative branch. He’s going to make a big announcement Tuesday night.
Observation #5 – Governor Daniels may have a friend in State Rep. Charlie Brown who I’m told is willing sponsor a, $1 increase in the cigarette tax.
Observation #6 – Watch for Sen. Luke Kenley to offer a proposal that would give the state control of the operation costs of school districts and alleviating that burden off the taxpapyers.
Observation #7 – This is going to be fun.
8 JAN 2007
Bart May Be Safe, But As For the Council…
Now that we are in 2007, everyone can turn their attention to Municipal races. Indianapolis Mayor Bart Peterson is likely to announce soon that he will run for a third-term in office. Third terms can be tricky for elected officials. By the end of eight years, voters, although they like you, are usually ready for someone else. And while the Mayor’s internal polling shows him in the high 60s for likeability, only about 55-percent of those think he should be re-elected. I would argue that could make this year’s mayoral race competitive under the right circumstances.
However, what I’ve been able to gather, the GOP has still not settled on a candidate. Eric Dickerson is not interested in the job and Council Member Ike Randolph is still working out a couple issues before making a final announcement. I do think it says something when the two named front runners on the GOP side for Mayor are both moderate-conservative Black Republicans.
As far as some of the other names go, GOP Chief Murray Clark doesn’t want the job. U.S. Attorney Susan Brooks likely won’t do it for personal reasons. <, /SPAN>And Marion County Prosecutor Carl Brizzi would only do it under certain extreme circumstances. So I think for the most part, the Mayor is safe for now. Although I strongly believe he still vulnerable on the crime issue with last year being one of the worst homicide rates in the city’s history, that vulnerability can only be exploited by the right candidate, with the right campaign and the right amount of cash.
So while Hizzoner may be safe, the Council on the other hand is a completely different story. I strongly believe the Democratic-controlled Council could change hands, but once again, under the right circumstances. Marion County is trending more Democratic, as explained by the large number of straight-ticket voters, but I would argue, the council’s biggest weakness starts with its President, Monroe Gray.
When crime was out of control, Monroe Gray played politics with the Prosecutor’s office and stifling a plan to increase jail space because he wanted to use his “juice,” which by the way allowed a convicted child molester to go free and molest again. When questioned about any financial involvement with 300 East, the controversial bar in a government building, political columnist Matt Tully had to put the major squeeze on Gray to get him to tell the truth and confess that Gray’s wife was an investor in the establishment. Gray also said the bar was necessary so Black people could have a place to hang out away from white people. Thirdly, a crime may have been committed when the Council’s Office put out literature on Council letterhead saying members would not only pledge their re-election support for each other, but also candidates who ran against Republicans. Expect formal complaints to be filed about this by Republicans and Libertarians.
The list goes on. Gray’s dropping of the f-bomb on the Government Channel to describe the budget, , during last year’s hearing. His allowing a 75-percent council pay raise to show up on the agenda. His blocking a proposal to non-violent ex-offenders a chance at employment. His threatening to run candidates against Angela Mansfield, Patrice Abdullah and Sherron Franklin when they would not go along with the program.
Although each council seat is won or lost by the candidate, making the election about Monroe could mean a change in local government and Republicans can do at the county level, what Democrats did at the state and national level.&nb, , sp; Of course, the Democrats could decide to pick a new President and neutralize my argument, but somehow I don’t see that happening.
6 - 8 JAN 2007
Governor Mitch Daniels Friday said that he doesn’t have bill sponsors lined up yet for some of his major initiatives, Full Day Kindergarten, the Commerce Connector and Lottery Privatization.
I spent the afternoon talking to Democratic and Republican sources and here’s what I’ve come up with so far, noting this is the government so it’s subject to change…
FDK – This will pass, with a lot of debate, but without many conservative votes. The trick will be in how it’s paid for.
Commerce Connector – Likely to pass. Republicans like it. Although it doesn’t pass through any Democratic districts, there’s no real reason for Democrats to oppose it. Since the project doesn’t involve an existing road, there is no selling or leasing of a state asset. However, I can see , this being used as a bargaining chip for something else (like an increase in the minimum wage) later in the session. But this will be the issue to watch.
Lottery Privatization – This was dead before it was announced. Democrats don’t like it. Republicans can’t stand it. As one lawmaker put it, it’s one thing to take a state asset that’s losing money and privatize it, but the lottery is making money. Another interesting theory surrounding privatization of the lottery is that any company who took the agency would be governed more by contract than the legislature, so they could operate with 150 people getting in their business, but that’s just a theory.
That’s what I know this afternoon. It could change by tomorrow night.
I’m No Election Attorney, But…
I got a weird press release in my e-mail today. It came from the City-County Council Office on official letterhead. Here’s the first part…
Council Democrat Caucus Announces Leadership
Indianapolis – The Democrat members of the City-County Council announced today their support for the re-election of Monroe Gray as President and Joanne Sanders as Vice President of the Council for 2007. The members re-elected Lonnell Conley as Majority Leader of the Democrat Caucus. The members met on Tuesday night to organize and to discuss key measures that will likely come before them during 2007
Seems pretty simple enough, but here’s the other part…
The members also pledged their mutual support for the re-election of the fifteen (15) incumbent Councillors and to assist slated candidates in districts which are not now held by a Democrat. Democrats now hold a slim fifteen (15) to fourteen (14) majority on the council but expect to gain seats following the fall election. President Gray said “he is excited about the coming year and is confident that the Democrats will retain their majority following the election this November. We will continue to work with the other branches of city government to develop community friendly solutions to the city’s pressing issues”. , P>
I don’t know about you, but I wouldn't put something that political on city letterhead because that would look like politicking on government time. Maybe someone who is a licensed election attorney should investigate further.
5 JAN 2007
Back on the Tube
Your favorite radio talk show host will be on Indiana Week in Review this weekend. You can me on WFYI-TV, Channel 20 Friday at 8 p.m. and Sunday at noon. Check it out.
4 JAN 2007
Some I.D. Please.
The 7th Circuit Court of Appeals has upheld Indiana’s Voter ID law. By a 2-1 vote, the panel held the state’s law requiring voters to show a government-issued ID when they vote was constitutional. Indiana Democrats argued the law disenfranchised voters, however the Court ruled Democrats could not produce one voter who had been turned away because of voter ID.
Your's truly is sick today so my good friend Brad Klopfenstein is filling in for me today. I'll be back tomorrow with more interesting things to chat about. And in case you're wondering, this is my first sick day in more than two years. In case you were wondering. See you tomorrow.
3 JAN 2007
Marion County Prosecutor Carl Brizzi has filed charges against an Indianapolis wo, man whose 3-year old was found walking Saturday on I-465. Four counts of Class D Felony Child neglect charges were filed this morning against Nancy Dyer. Dyer’s initial hearing is tomorrow morning. According to police reports her 3-year old son, Damon, was found playing on 465 in only a diaper, T-shirt and barefoot on 465 after leaving their Westside apartment.
Member of Mayor’s Crime Panel was Once Potential Target of Criminal Investigation
One member of Indianapolis Mayor Bart Peterson’s Blue Ribbon panel on crime was once included in a grand jury investigation regarding a scam involving local bingo parlors. According to public records, local authorities investigated a number of questionable connections between three not-for profit groups and their gaming operators, which according the October 12, 2001 edition of the Indianapolis Star grossed millions of dollars, but yielded slim rewards for the actual charities.
One of the charities involved was Forest Manor Multi-Service Center, whose Executive Director is Regina Marsh also serves on the Mayor’s Blue Ribbon Crime Panel. According the Star, investigators said the bingo operations were illegally run by a third party instead of the charity, volunteers were illegally paid, records were fudged and financial records were hidden or destroyed, while most of the money went to benefit a few.
Although charges were filed in the case, none were filed against Marsh, however public records show that in 2000-01, the bingo operation associated with her charity took i, n, more than $3.4 million and had profits of only $26,774. Such actions even led local African-American commentator Amos Brown to call for Marsh to be fired or resign from her post.
Although this story is nearly six years old, the fact the Marsh is on a panel whose job it is to fight crime and help the less fortunate is something that should have been taken into account and her never having been put on the panel in the first place. In addition, Marsh is also reported to be the Democrats’ pick as a primary challenger to Council Member, and occasional maverick, Sherron Franklin.
The Mayor says the panel will make its recommendations next week. It would be a shame that the committee’s hard work would be tainted by the past history of one member.
There's some good news and bad news today. The good news is Eric Dickerson and friends have acquired a mobile trailer for Thelmon Green, the 93-year old man who lived in a van at 38th and Keystone who was told to leave his home by the Marion County health Department. Green was told his van did not meet the city code so he had to move. The trailer meets the code and Green can live happily ever after.
The bad news is that Ike Randolph and family have suffered a loss. Ike's father-in-law passed away New year's Eve. He collapsed at the Colts game Sunday and could not be revived. Our sympathies to the Randolph family.
2 JAN 2007
A Lot of Chiefs and a Few Disgruntled Indians
Today I attended the inauguration ceremony of the new Indianapolis Metropolitan Police Department. The ceremony itself was fairly routine, how the circumstances surrounding it were not. The merger of the Indianapolis Police Department and the Marion County Sheriff’s Department has, in the words of fellow pundit Matthew Tully of Indianapolis Star, been a marriage the parents wanted, but kids did not. I’ll take it one step further, it was a marriage that was necessary, but ain’t over yet.
It’s no big secret the rank and file of both departments are not big fans of the merger. A handful of them protested today. And one of them was in a chicken suit. The officers are going to have to come to realization that this merger is not going to change and they are in it for the long-haul.
At the same time, the top management is going to have to take some steps to improve officer moral. Whether it’s more money, or something, you can’t expect someone to do a good job when they feel like an 8-year old who just left the Never Land Ranch to spend the night at former Congressman Mark Foley.
There were about 50 officers at the ceremony, mostly command rank and about 25 protestors outside. That’s not a good start for the new consolidated police department. However, I hope both sides take this as a new opportunity, for a new start for the new department.
31 DEC 2006
New Year’s Resolutions
I’m getting ready to head out of town and do a comedy gig for a charity back in Springfield. I’ve done this for the last several years on New Year’s Eve, so I’ll be sober this evening. But before I left town, I wanted to share my New Year’s Resolutions for my favorite public officials. Here they are…
Gov. Mitch Daniels
Keep the big ideas and big agendas coming, but don’t forget they also require the big sell.
Mayor Bart Peterson
You’re going into 2007 with the 3rd worst homicide rate in the city’s history. Get crime under control.
Sheriff Frank Anderson
You have a lot of angry cops under your command now. Use the charm you have with the public on them.
Indiana House Speaker Pat Bauer
You guys are great at playing the loyal opposition. But soon you’re going to have to offer big ideas.
Senate Pro Tempore David Long
Good luck at herding the cats that are your caucus.
Please re-elect Monroe Gray Council President. He is the gift that keeps on giving.
After this last election in Marion County, you should seriously think about going on survivor.
Marion County Democrats
Congrats on the big wins in the last election. I’m looking forward to writing about the infighting I hear is taking place.
Marion County Republicans.
My condolences on the losses in the last election. But like the Democrats, I’m looking forward to writing about the infighting I hear is taking place.
Keep being Carmel.
You can’t improve on perfection so just relax in 2007.
30 DEC 2006
Good Riddance to Bad Rubbish!
Saddam Hussein is dead. No one will miss him, but I jut have to think that maybe if we did a better of job of picking who we get in bed with in regards to our foreign policy that maybe things like this won’t be necessary in the future. Hopefully, Iraqis will take this opportunity to unite and get over themselves, but somehow, I don’t think so.
28 DEC 2006
If you get some time today, check out NUVO. I've got a year in review piece on Governor Mitch Daniels. I think you'll find it interesting.
26 DEC 2006
Happy Boxing Day!
My sources tell me a class action suit could be filed this week that could throw a major monkey wrench into Mayor Bart Peterson’s plan to consolidate the IPD and the Sheriff’s Department. They tell me the class action suit will center around social security. Several officers will file suit to stop the city letting sheriff’s deputies opt out of social security, saying the withdrawl would lead to pay disparities between officers. The city recently received word from the federal government they did not have to force IPD and new officers into social security, saving $4 million.
22 - 25 DEC 2006
MERRRY CHIRSTMAS!!! I know that may sound wierd from the Muslim guy, but hey, it's Christmas. Thanks for all your support on the morning show and for the whole line-up at WXNT. Hope you get what you want for Christmas! Take Care!
(This was updated at 12:10 a.m. C, ST on 23 DEC 2006)
Let’s Make A Deal
A tentative deal has been reached between the city of Indianapolis and the Fraternal Order of Police over stalled contract talks. The two sides have been at odds over retro pay, causing officers to picket city hall and Monday Night Football. Under the terms of the tentative agreement, the issue of retro pay will be addressed in 2007 talks in the new Metropolitan Police Department. The officers will get pay parity on January 1, 2007. They will work a six-day work week, with three days off and will get to decide how they want their shifts structured.
20 DEC 2006
And the winner is...
Jeff Bennet was certified tonight as the winner in the Warren Township Trustee race. Following a recount, the Democrat took a seven-vote deficit and turned it into an 11-vote win over Republican Tom Marendt. The vote total was 10,592 to 10,581. This is good news for Mayor Bart Peterson, since Bennet supports consolidation. This is a big loss for Republicans as Marnedt was the best spokesman they had opposing the Mayor's consolidation plan.
19 DEC 2006
Dollars and No Sense
The City-County Council made its biggest mistake Monday night. It introduced a measure that would give Councilors a 75-percent pay raise. That’s right, 75-percent. The proposal would raise council pay from just over $11,000 to nearly $20,000. I wrote about this back in November, but there’s nothing like actually seeing the measure on a sheet of paper.
One of the justifications for the raise is that councilor, s haven’t had an increase in pay since 2000. Well if that’s the case, then the pay should be adjusted for inflation and increased to about $13,000. That number is less egregious than 75-percent. And to add insult to injury, the measure was introduced not only on the day that more than 200 police officers and their families showed up to protest over a 5-percent pay raise that was taken off the table, but the Council had to table a measure that would have given the Sheriff a $52,000 raise and a three-percent salary increase to all other countywide elected offices.
Ironically, I do believe public officials should be paid better because fundamentally, you get what you pay for. However, in tough budget times, the last people to get a raise should be the elected office holders. Some, one back at City Hall isn’t thinking. And last night, it showed more than it usually does.
16 - 18 DEC 2006
Tales From the City
On Friday night, RTV 6’s Jack Rheinhart ran a story on how the pay raise and retro pay offer by the city of Indianapolis to the police department had been taken off the table. I did some follow up on this over the weekend and here’s what I can tell you.
FOP President Aaron Sullivan says the raise and retro offers were taken off the table late last week. He says the city told him during a negotiation session. He says when the officers voted against the Mayor’s proposal earlier this year, that’s when the city said it was off the table and no longer an option. He says the city then told him the money for their raises had been spent on other public safety measures, such as jail overcrowding.
I spoke with Deputy Mayor Steve Campbell this weekend also. Steve told me they had communicated with the FOP that the offer for the raise and retro pay was off the table. And the FOP must have misunderstood the city’s position. I did question Steve about the where there the money for the raises went, citing the sewer fund and County Option Income Tax were being used to pay for public safety. Steve told me the money was pulled from across the budget and that City Comptroller Bob Clifford could provide me with more details.
What’s interesting is the officers have been furious, as noted by the postings on Indy Undercover. It’s also noteworthy that as upset as the officers are right now with the city, between 100-150 showed up to help search for a missing child on the east side this weekend. However, the Mayor’s office does have a point when it says the Union voted down the offer back in July, but I do not recall the Mayor ever taking the retro pay issue off the table publicly, saying it was no longer an option.
Steve did also say that in a few days all of this will be Sheriff Frank Anderson’s issue as the new head of the Indianapolis Metropolitan Police Force.
I would hope the two sides might be able to work something out soon. The City-County Council meets Monday night and will vote on a raise for all countywide officers. It looks like some action is being planned Monday night by the officer, that while perfectly lawful and in adherence to departmental procedures, could be extremely embarrassing to Indianapolis as the city will have nationwide attention with the Colts playing the Cincinnati Bengals at the RCA Dome for Monday Night Football.
I’ll be watching.
15 DEC 2006
Things are about to get a little bizarre with the Indianapolis Metropolitan Police Department. Republican City-County Councilmember Jim Bradford is introducing an ordinance that would take control of the new consolidated police department from the Sheriff and put it back under the Mayor. The measure will be read into the record Monday night and a hearing before the Law Enforcement Consolidation Committee will occur Tuesday. Although Democrats could block the measure at the Committee level, it could still be brought to the full council for a vote in January.
This move comes on the heels of three Republican Sheriff’s deputies being passed over for promotion to Captain. The Deputies, City-County Councilmember Lincoln Plowman, Becky Lake, the fiancé of former candidate Steve Davis and Tim Mottsinger were given the wrong textbook by the Sheriff’s Department to study for the promotions exam. Deputy Doug Shefel was also given the wrong study guide. Sources say the three complained about the study guides, but were told it was their own fault for purchasing the wrong texts. The Sheriff would not hear their personal appeals. None of the three commented to WXNT.
Although Mayor Bart Peterson has said he would veto any measure that would put consolidation under his office, a survey of Councilors, who would not comment on the record, revealed there are potentially enough votes, 18, to override a Mayoral veto.
Eight is Still Enough
Another Secretary of State Recount showed Republican Jon Elrod is still eight votes ahead of Democrat Ed Mahern. A hearing will be held in the morning over the actual contesting of the election.
Less You Forget
There's another controversy brewing with the Marion County Coroner. This one could be potentially more disturbing than all the other issues. More details next week.
14 DEC 2006
Taking Bets on the Lottery
I have to admit, when I first hear, d about a plan to privatize the Hoosier Lottery, I was a little taken back as well. But the more I thought about it, the more it made sense. Put the emotions aside and look at the facts.
First, the lottery isn’t going anywhere. It will still remain in state hands, just like the Toll Road, the Indianapolis Water Company and Airport. The state will hire a private company to oversee the lottery, and get a lot of cash for it. The money will be used to send people to college and bring more smart people to Indiana. Private companies already manage and run the riverboats, casinos and horse tracks. It not an expansion of gambling because nothing more is being added to the state. So after looking at all that, I’m trying to grasp what the problem is?
The Governor has the backing of all the major public and private colleges and universities in Indiana. And those schools have a lot of alumni and a lot of supporters who probably, wouldn’t mind making a phone call or two to their local lawmaker. Secondly, the budget forecast shows there’s not a lot of new revenue on the horizon, and that forecast the experts say is optimistic at best. Do we have to all the necessary safeguards? Sure. Openness, transparency, no loss in revenue, you bet we do.
But if we have a way to pay to make people smarter as a result of the money that comes from a voluntary activity, that is usually pad for by people who aren’t good at math, will so, meone please tell me what the problem is?
Friends in Strange Places
If Governor Mitch Daniels proposes privatizing the lottery today, he may find a friend in David Orenlichter. I spoke this morning with the Democratic State Representative to gage the Party reaction to the Governor’s plans to privatize the lottery. Orenlichter didn’t outright say it was a bad idea. In fact he said that if the government were to privatize a function the lottery might be the place to start. He cited the fact that the lottery was not a mandatory government function but a voluntary one. And the fact that Indiana already has privatized gambling in the forms of casinos. The Governor is expected to unveil his proposal at 11 a.m. today.
Vote! Or Else!
Another story as to why township government should go away. Apparently a Westside Marion County Township Assessor has told their employees that if they don’t vote in the May primary, they won’t get a raise this year. I’m all for voter participation, but this seems a little extreme. The only way to know if someone voted would be to check the ballot and then the elected official would know how their employees voted in the last election. Nothing good can come of this, but then again, it is township government.
13 DEC 2006
The Fiscal Forecast is Partly to Mostly Flat
Governor Daniels expected announcement tomorrow to privatize the lottery comes at a time where the state is looking for some extra cash. The revenue forecast expected tomorrow will show pretty flat numbers. Budget Director Chuck Shalliol says the state isn’t in a crisis, but happy times also aren’t here either. Shalliol wouldn’t give me exact figures , but he says based on the forecast if Indiana were going to buy a car, it would want get something nice, but reliable. Privatizing the lottery could bring a $1 billion for higher education, however with full-day kindergarten and the state’s other financial obligations, tomorrow’s forecast definitely shows cloudy financial skies for Indiana.
12 DEC 2006
For Sale: One Utility. Only $40 Million.
The Lawrence Utility Company could be for sale. Sources say Citizens Gas will acquire Lawrence Utility for $40 million. Although he declined earlier comment, a spokesman for Citizens Gas says there will be 20-percent rate reduction in customer bills and it will be immediate for customers upon completion of the deal. A news conference for the deal was scheduled to be announced Thursday in Lawrence at City Hall.
I managed to pick up quite a bit of info yesterday. Here it is.
Coalition of the Willing Woman
Jean Breaux, daughter of outgoing Democratic State Senator Billie Breaux, may find herself with more influence than she thinks when she arrives at the Capitol. Sources say there is a lot of in fighting on the Republican side of the aisle, particularly amongst the men of Conservative Caucus and the L, eadership. Things have gotten to the point where the women of the Senate may be the Chamber’s saving grace when it comes to health care and Full Day Kindergarten. They already exercised their muscle by the Republican female Senators backing David Long, , in his qu, est for the Pro Tempore. Stay tuned.
House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Bill Crawford tells me he plans to hold two major hearings on Governor Mitch Daniels’ efforts to privatize state government. Crawford says prison privatization has not worked as well as the administration has touted. He cites recent budget committee hearings where the administration has asked for more money for health care and food services. Crawford says he opposes privatization, but would not cut services to the poor or prisons as a way to reign in the Administration. However, Crawford says he does have other “budget options” at his disposal that he ma be willing to use.
Someone Call Security
Wayne Township Trustee-elect David Baird is reportedly looking for a few good men. Sources say Baird wants to hire security guards, to protect th, e Wayne Township Trustees office. With recent disposal of the Fire Resource Center, I don’t know what the guards would have to protect, but with crime out of control in Indianapolis, I can’t blame him too much.
The Race For County Chair
I’m told Kyle Hupfer, for DNR Commissioner, is getting into the race for Chairman of the Marion County Republican Party. Attorney, and former Todd Rokita campaign manager, Tom John is also a contender for the job.
10-11 DEC 2008
Consolidation Begins at Home
You all know I am a big fan of government consolidation, particularly when it comes to Township government. Township government is about as dated and tired as Brittney Spears’ music act. However, with that said, I will come to the defense of the Republican Township trustees in Marion County on one instance. Before Mayor Bart Peterson, “Hizzoner” as I like to call him, goes after them, it, would be nice if he could get his own party in order.
Pike Township Trustee Lula Patton has no desire to give up her fire department. In fact, she stood with other Township Trustees and State Senator Mike Young, opposing the Mayor’s plan. In addition, the incoming Wayne Township Trustee David Baird, has also hinted that now that he’s got the job, giving up the Wayne Township Fire Department might not be the best idea. Both Patton and Baird are Democrats. If I were the Mayor, I would spend my time and energy trying to get Patton and Baird on board (I’d use a butterfly net when going after Baird, though).
The Mayor has a good chance of getting consolidation this legislative session. Democrats control the House and a consolidation-friendly Senator is the head of the State Senate. And Governor Mitch Daniels is in favor of less government. However, if we’re going to push for consolidation, save the taxpayers money and get rid of outdated government, like charity, it should start at home.
My County for a Coroner!
As you all know I’m a Shakespeare fan. My favorite line from Richard III is “A horse, A horse! My kingdom for a horse!” The line occurs at a time in the play where after King Richard’s horse is killed and he is at the mercy of his enemies. Literature experts say the line is usually used when someone is in need of an unimportant item. Well in that case, allow me to paraphrase. “A coroner! A coroner! My County for a Coroner!” You know where this is going.
My good friend Matt Tully, columnist for the Indianapolis Star, has written a piece this morning calling on the Mayor to step up to th, e plate and call for Ken Ackles, the Marion County Coroner, to step down. I’m going to go a step further than Matt, and call on any elected Marion County Democrat to call on Ackles to resign.
If you don’t think they’re already talking about this, think again. Many privately are already saying Ackles and his office’s recent shenanigans have been an embarrassment for the party. I just finishing reading the Coroner’s mission statement on his website which talks about vision, integrity and excellence. I don’t know about you, but I haven’t seen much of any of that as of late.
It’s been written that former deputy Mayor and all-around really smart guy, Mike O’Connor is going to take over as the new head of the Democratic Party in Marion County. I could not see a situation where Mike would want Ackles on any ticket anytime soon. And if the Marion County Democrats are smart, they will put pressure on Ackles to step down. It’s never easy telling a loved one that they have a problem and they need to go, but keeping Ackles in office is helping no one, well maybe Republicans.
8 - 10 DEC 2008
I know I'm not the most religious person in the world, but I thought a prayer might be in order based on recent events in Marion County. Here it is.
How’s it going? Sorry to bother you, I know we talk five, times a day, but this is kind of a special crisis. You see things are getting more bizarre in Marion County. I’m not talking the usual bar in the government building weird, or the school district employee who plans to double-dip as center township assessor, but really weird. You see we have this coroner Ken Ackles, you may have seen some of his handiwork lately. And the coroner’s made this new hire; her name is Dr. Joye Carter.
She seems like a nice lady. She’ll be the new contractual pathologist. I know I shouldn’t bother you with this, with your son’s birthday coming up, but once she comes on board, could you pay a little extra attention to the Marion County coroner’s office. I’m asking this because once she got her Indiana license, it just made me think of her testifying on the witness stand in a murder trial and what the defense attorneys are going to do to her. I saw some of my defense attorney friends salivating on their way to the Legal Beagle to buy a round of shots because they can’t wait to get her on the stand.
I mean look at her record. In 2001, the Texas State Board of Medical Examiners fined Dr. Carter and she nearly lost her license for allowing an unlicensed pathologist to perform autopsies. In addition, in 1998 her office was accused of tampering with evidence in the connection of the trial of murder of a 12-year old girl. That same year, workers in her office admitted angry employees stacked bodies on top of each other in the morgue in violation office policy. And in 2000, a federal jury awarded an employee $250,000 for wrongful discharge for exposing illegal activity in the medial examiners office. I won’t even start with the Enron deal. This can’t be good.
So Lord, if you love me, please do the following. If I die, and based on what I’ve written on my blogs about some local elected officials lately, that might be happening sooner than later, please don’t let there be enough of me left for the Coroner to do an autopsy. And please give County Prosecutor Carl Brizzi the strength to plea bargain my case so Dr. Carter doesn’t have to take the stan, d and my defense attorney friends can go after her like a Katrina refugee goes after free housing. Of course, you could solve this problem by letting me die the way I always wanted to, being shot at the top of the Eiffel Tower by a super model’s jealous husband. If you do that, I promise not to complain about the cold weather anymore. And yes, I realize the last time I spoke to you about it you told me to enjoy it while I could, because if things didn’t change I’d be begging for it in about 60 years.
P.S. The test results came back negative, thanks!
7 - 8 DEC 2008
The Governor’s budget office has put out a new report recommending millions in savings by privatizing and consolidating a number of state functions. Both sides of the aisle are staking out their usual positions, Republicans call it great concept. Democrats call greed based on need. My position on privatizing government services is simple, I’m for it as long as it works. When I say works, I mean when the private vendor can provide the social or administrative service at less cost and equal or better service, and follows the same transparencies of open government that the public sector must, then I say give it a shot. So a company is motivated by profit? All the more reason to give them a shot at state services, you can’t keep a contract if you can’t do a good job, because there will be someone else there to pick up the ball you dropped. A watchful government, combined with the free market should keep things under control. Normally I’d say what do we have to lose, but the more appropriate ending would be what do we have to save.
Not so Great Moments in Recent Black History
2006 has not necessarily been the year of the Black politician and public figure in Marion County. Look at the list, Heather Bolejack, Ron Gibson, Ken Ackles, Eugene Akers, Carl Drummer, Bill M, ays and Monroe Gray, well I’m not 100 percent convinced on the last one.
But the way things have gone for these folks, I wonder if maybe I should break out my emergency homeowner’s kit from college. It was white clown make-up I used to wear to festivals when I lived in Europe.
These people have made it a point to engage in behavior this year that really doesn’t help Black folks’ image as a whole. I won’t say any of the above mentioned people have committed any crimes, although some have a special prosecutor breathing down their necks, but the sad part it is they will claim racism when they screw up and get caught.
What makes it worse is that there are a number of really good African-American politicians out there who work hard everyday to improve the lives of people who generally get left behind. And when others engage in shenanigans, it really hurts the entire group.
I hope things change in 2007, if they don’t I think, I know who’s getting clown make up next year.
7 DEC 2006
The Metropolitan Development Commission gave its thumbs up to 300 East. The board voted 6-3 to approve zoning variances for the famous “bar in the government building.” Board members gave their approval after the investors made a number of changes in the proposal, including opening hours, a ban on live entertainment and outside noise. The investors also agreed to submit a new design to separate the bar area from the restaurant. That will be tricky because the place is not that big, having been on the inside. What’s more interesting is that if the opponents of 300 East wanted to make some noise, they would abandon any fight over zoning and go straight to the issue of the actual lease between the investors and Center Township Trustee Carl Drummer. There are some major questions there that could be asked during a deposition after an injunction had been issued to stop the investors from taking possession of the property. By the way, the liquor license has not been approved yet.
6 DEC 2006
Behind the Deal
Although the Marion County Coroner and other local government officials have agreed to work out a deal to keep the office functioning, there was apparently a lot more going on behind the scenes.
According to sources close to the coroner, Ackles ordered staff to remove charts from the files of Dr. Stephen Radentz’s offices at the Forensic Pathology Associates of Indiana. Sources say 14 boxes were removed Tuesday night from the FPA offices. Three of the boxes contained information regarding pending cases. In addition, sources also say autopsy equipment had been taken and not all of it returned. The removal of the equipment, sources say, resulted in a four hour delay in performing autopsies.
Ackles did have a meeting today with Marion County Prosecutor Carl Brizzi. During that meeting Brizzi asked Ackles whether he was prepared in the event Dr. Joye Carter’s license was not approved. Ackles told Brizzi he had a plan “B” and “C.” When asked about the plan, Ackles simply responded, “I’m the coroner.”
You will also be pleased to know that over the weekend several bodies were removed from the coroner’s office without proper paperwork being signed.
Now you know the story behind the deal.
5 DEC 2006
Clips from Around Town
I have a speech to give this afternoon but there are a few items of note taking place today and tomorrow...
A vote is expected tomorrow on 300 East, the famous bar in the government building. The petition has been amended to limit the hours alcohol can be served.
Jean Breaux, daughter of Sen. Billie Breaux is going to announce her candidacy to take her mother’s seat. The elder Breaux was elected Marion County Auditor.
The Gov talks about full-day kindergarten in a couple stops.
WellPoint is creating 1200 jobs in Indianapolis.
Crime continues to be out of control in Indianapolis. I’ll spell out the details later.
4 DEC 2006
Assessing a Possible Conflict of Interest
The incoming Center Township Assessor may be sitting on a potential conflict of interest. Eugene Akers was elected November 7 by a 12-thousand vote margin. However, Aker’s new job may conflict with his old job. He currently oversees custodians in the Indianapolis Public School District. He officially takes office on January 1st. By holding both positions Akers would be responsible for assessing property in the school district while still being on IPS’ payroll. IPS makes up about 48 percent of the average Center Township property tax bill. Numerous calls to Akers have not been returned. However a spokesperson for IPS says Akers told the District the Assessor’s job is a part-time one and doesn’t plan to leave.
Current Center Township Assessor Jim Maley was elected back in 1984. Up until recently he says he easily put in 40-hour work weeks. He says h, ealth problems have slowed him down. He would not comment on Akers.
However, outgoing Lawrence Township Assessor Paul Ricketts says it’s odd that an assessor would hold two jobs which require full-time commitments. He also says the potential for ghost employment is also there.
Under Indiana law certain office holders can only hold one office at a time. It is a violation of the Indiana Constitution for an office holder to hold two jobs that are so incompatible with each other that they “create a conflict of interest or go against public policy.”
1 DEC 2006
Brother, Can You Spare A Dime?
Actually, it would be 85,000 dimes. That would be the amount of a proposed raise that is being floated around the City-County building for members of the City-County Council who want an $8500 raise.
Currently, Council Members make a base pay of $11,400 a year, not including meetings. Their base salary is 12 percent of the Mayor’s salary which $95,000. The Mayor’s Office got a raise in 2000. Council members also get $112 per council meeting and $62 per committee meeting. There can be no more than 21 council meetings per year and 62 committee meetings. The Council President gets an extra $1982 per year, while the Vice-President, Majority Leader and Minority Leader get $1320. Committee Chairs gets $797. However, a council member can’t get two extra salaries, so if a member is Vice-President and also committee chair, they could only get one stipend. In a perfect world, the most a council member could make would be just over $16,000.
A raise would be a bad idea. Not that Council Members don’t deserve it, per se, however, when the City and County are faced with serious financial crises, including looking for $140 mi, llion to make up a budget shortfall, public safety obligations, crime at record levels, pension obligations and not to mention the tax increases that were passed, it would be very bad public relations for the Council to give themselves an $8500 raise. &, nbsp;However, the way things have gone this year down at city hall, it would not surprise me if this went through.