Thursday, January 11, 2018

Council Committee Chairs Show Politics of Clay Coup

The coup continues.

It’s been three days since shock and awe struck the City-County Council as Stephen Clay upset Maggie Lewis to become President of the legislative body.

Today, the Republican Party, the Council's minority party, received chair roles in three powerful City-County Council committees. Democrats LaKeisha Jackson, Joe Simpson, and Duke Oliver all received chair roles as well. They are three of the four Democrats (plus Clay) that joined Republicans to oust Lewis.

Monroe Gray, a former Council President and the Council's current Majority Leader, was that fourth Democrat to jump ship in support of Clay over Lewis. He suddenly gained a conscience today and voted against the President Clay's plan to give Republicans unprecedented power from the political minority. He was outvoted. 

Not surprisingly, he didn't get a committee chairmanship.

The Indianapolis Star published two great articles today about the ramifications of the move by Clay to join with disgruntled Democrats and ambitious Republicans to unseat the capable Lewis. In brief, the short term gain is palpable, but the long term cost may be expensive politically. Read them here and here. Kudos to James Briggs and Abdul-Hakim Shabazz for the excellent coverage.

Citizens of Indianapolis lose in this whole mess. Instead of a tuned-in Council that’s ready to deal with the problems and issues of a city, we’re now bogged down in internal caucus politics and Republican-Democrat struggles with a Council leader who apparently has many questions surrounding his past behavior. Mayor Joe Hogsett deserves a better Council structure to deal with as the city tries to make key decisions about its future.

At least it makes good blog copy.

My good friend and Council Vice President, Zach Adamson, reminded me that Gray was already a committee chair and retains his chairmanship of the Municipal Corporations Committee.

Monday, January 8, 2018

Council Shocker: Clay Elected Council President

Pastor Stephen Clay
In a shocker, Pastor Stephen Clay was elected President of the Indianapolis/Marion County City-County Council tonight by a 14-11 vote.

Clay, Monroe Gray, LaKeisha Jackson, Duke Oliver and Joe Simpson joined 11 Republicans to overthrow former President Maggie Lewis. Under-fire GOP Councillor Jeff Miller as well as Councillor Brian Mowery joined the Democrats in voting to keep Lewis as President.

My sources told me, as recently as a few days ago, that Clay stood little chance of becoming Council President. He was expected to get only a handful of votes. This, to me, is a surprise along the lines of Bart Peterson losing to Greg Ballard in the 2007 Mayoral Election.

It's also not particularly good news for Indianapolis. Lewis was a tremendous Council President who drew wide praise from both sides of the aisle. I guess she's going to spend her time picking some political knives out of her back. Eh tu GOP?

Republicans, of course, have called for the resignation of Councillor Jeff Miller. Charges were filed in November against Miller accusing him of inappropriately touching two young girls. Last week, allegations of inappropriate behavior towards a young man came back to light in a detailed Indy Politics report. Clay denies the allegations, and no charges were ever filed. The Indy Star took an even deeper look at the matter in this report by James Briggs.

It should be very interesting to see a number of things...

  • the relationship between Clay and the Republican and Democratic caucuses
  • the relationship between Clay and the Mayor Joe Hogsett
  • what political machinations went on behind the scenes to win the votes 
  • what kind of Council President Clay will be
Republicans and some Democrats united to overthrow beloved Council President Rozelle Boyd a few years back with Steve Talley as President. Talley proved to be an effective leader. Monroe Gray took over as Council President until Democrats lost the majority in the 2007 election cycle.

Clay was appointed to the Council after Talley was elected Lawrence Township Trustee in 2014. He was elected to his own term on the Council in 2015 by a margin of 84.2 percent to 15.8 percent over Terri Miller-Penquite.

In other news, Zach Adamson was reelected as Vice President of the Council.

Thursday, December 21, 2017

Indy GOP Sees Crime Wave as Political Opportunity

Senator Jim Merritt
In the past few days, the Indy GOP has stepped up its attacks on Mayor Joe Hogsett over the crime that continues to plague Indianapolis.

It's the one weakness the Republicans can definitely exploit against Hogsett, an otherwise popular Mayor on both sides of the political aisle, as the 2019 municipal elections grow closer.

Let's be honest though, this is not the same situation as Democrats faced when Greg Ballard was Mayor. Ballard largely ignored the crime issue blaming things many times on bad guys killing other bad guys and failing to stem a rising tide of homicides that continue through this year's record 151st murder.

Hogsett isn't doing that. In fact, he's taken responsibility for the issue saying, in a press conference a few days back, that the continued homicides are unacceptable and pledging to do what's necessary to stem the tide.

The latest tactic by the GOP is to essentially troll the Mayor's Twitter account and try to portray him as a Mayor absent from the problem. Just today, Indy GOP Chair Jim Merritt used a tweet describing Mayor Hogsett's visit to the Broad Ripple Sertoma Club as a platform to try to nail him on crime.

Listen, I get it. Hogsett ran on the law and order ticket and was a fomer United States Attorney. I'm sure that he's as disgusted by what's happening in our streets as anyone. I've also had the privilege to talk to him, and I know the job wears on him even though he doesn't show it. To portray Joe Hogsett as someone who is absent from this issue is just not correct.

I might also point out that Merritt had an opportunity to run for Mayor of Indianapolis in 2015. He did the math and realized that he couldn't beat Hogsett, so he didn't run, according to my sources. 

That's not the point, though. We do have a major problem in this city, and it must be addressed. If Merritt wanted to help solve the problem, he'd be more like his Senate self. That has done great work at the state level to help numerous individuals across Indiana deal with addiction and a number of other issues. Instead, he's trying to attack Hogsett without providing much of an alternative plan. It's the same thing the out-of-power party does time and time again.

Our city is far from perfect, and we have very big problems to solve with the violence that's happening on a daily basis everywhere in Indy. There's no person more acutely aware of that than Joe Hogsett. There's also no politician in or out of power better to deal with it than Joe Hogsett.

Sunday, December 10, 2017

If Moore Wins in Alabama, America Loses

Judge Roy Moore
It's transparent what some Republicans are trying to do in Alabama right now, but no one is talking about it. They are using Judge Roy Moore.

He may get the last laugh.

Yeah, Roy Moore is back in the good graces of the Republican National Committee. After withdrawing from the campaign a few months ago, the RNC has jumped back in and is putting money behind a man who may be a serial child molester if the accusations made against him are true. President Donald Trump even joined the fight on Friday endorsing Moore.

That should surprise no one. Moore is as morally bankrupt as Trump. They are two peas in the same pod. Moore, however, is maybe even more sinister than the President. As is well-documented, Moore is a one man hate group. 

I believe Republicans at the RNC level see Moore for what he is, but they are just running behind him to keep the seat of Jeff Sessions in the red. If Doug Jones wins the seat on Tuesday, that means that the Democrats are one seat closer to taking back the Senate. That would be a disaster for the GOP agenda.

I honestly believe many Republicans have no intention of allowing Moore to take Sessions' seat. I think they wish to send him back to Alabama before he can do much in the Senate and replace him with another Republican that would be appointed by the Governor of Alabama, Kay Ivey.  Again, as has been well-documented, this is something that is rarely done or rarely accomplished in the Senate. A Senator has not been expelled since the Civil War.

It's just sad that the Republican Party is even backing Moore again. It's going to come back and bite them where it hurts someday. The far right is a much smaller political coalition in numbers than the center right and the left. For Trump, backing Moore is a ready-made political ad. 

If Roy Moore wins on Tuesday, the United States of America loses. He will likely be a U.S. Senator, and his hateful views and opinions will serve with him. It's imperative that Doug Jones wins.

Monday, November 27, 2017

Indiana Dems Rally Troops By Electing Leader
Terry Goodin
Terry Goodin, SERIOUSLY?

The Democrats got together in a conclave today and elected a new Democratic "Pope" to lead the Indiana House Minority into this critical 2018 session.

When the white smoke blew from the chimney from the Statehouse, you have to wonder if some of these Dems were smoking something before they voted and Curtis Hill was waiting outside to declare their activity illegal.

That's because they elected one of he most socially-conservative Democrats in the Indiana General Assembly, Goodin, as their leader.

By socially conservative, I mean socially conservative. You the 1950's sense. I'm definitely exaggerating...but not by much. Look him up.

You know, if you are a Democrat that cares about social issues or gun control or really any of the core tenants of our party, this has to tick you off.

I guess these are the things that happen when no one's watching.

I'd say something stronger, but, as a member of the LGBTQ community, I just got slapped in the face so hard I'm picking my teeth off the ground.

Woo hoo! Go team. Starting to wonder if it matters here in Indiana. SERIOUSLY. If the Democrats "in power" are this completely oblivious and elect basically a Republican as their leader, why bother with state politics? Heck, Eric Holcomb may be even more of a Democrat.  Kegger at Bosmas to celebrate!

Scott Pelath...please...COME BACK!

Tuesday, November 7, 2017

Gerrymandering Resolution Passes City-County Council by 15-10 Vote

Current Council Districts
Last night, a bipartisan group of Indianapolis/Marion County City-County Councillors passed a proposal for a special resolution to urge the Indiana General Assembly to support reform eliminating gerrymandering.

Fifteen Councillors voted yes. Almost all of them were Democrats (two Republicans). Ten Councillors voted no. Almost all of them were Republicans (one Democrat).

Why has the Republican Party decided to take this position? After all, gerrymandering City-County Council Districts and eliminating the At-Large seats from the Council didn’t provide the desired result of a Republican-majority Council in 2015’s election. In fact, Democrats won two of the seats Republicans seemed to engineer to be in the hands of the GOP.

Gerrymandering dilutes voices, and, to be honest, both parties have been guilty of it. It’s one of the biggest benefits of winning a majority in a political system. Under the current set-up, the majority gets to draw the district lines. Usually, the party in power does so to protect itself.

It’s past time to reform this practice and eliminate it from politics. Unfortunately, this proposal didn’t pass 25-0. Below, note the people who represent you that voted for and against this proposal and, should they appear in public or at town hall meetings, make sure you ask them why they want to continue to gerrymander. If they don’t give an answer that makes sense, ask the question again.

Voted Yes on Proposal 285.
Zach Adamson-District 17 (D), Stephen Clay-District 13 (D), Jared Evans-District 22 (D), Colleen Fanning-District 2 (R), Monroe Gray-District 8 (D), LaKeisha Jackson-District 14 (D), Blake Johnson-District 12 (D), Maggie Lewis-District 10 (D), Frank Mascari-District 21 (D), Jeff Miller-District 16 (R), Duke Oliver-District 9 (D), Vop Osili-District 11 (D), David Ray-District 19 (D), Leroy Robinson-District 1 (D), Christine Scales-District 3 (D)

Voted No on Proposal 285.
Jeff Coats-District 5 (R), Susie Cordi-District 18 (R), Jason Holliday-District 20 (R), Scott Kreider-District 23 (R), Janice McHenry-District 6 (R), Mike McQuillen-District 4 (R), Brian Mowery-District 25 (R), Marilyn Pfisterer-District 15 (R), Joe Simpson-District 7 (D), John Wesseler-District 24 (R)

Monday, November 6, 2017

Say It Ain't So, Joe!

Senator Joe Donnelly
Joe Donnelly, you've done it again.

I've tried to defend you to my friends. I've tried to compare you to a statesman, and I've even tried to give you credit when you have done things right.

Last week, you made my voluntary job very difficult. If you weren't running against crazy in 2018, I'd gladly let you take up the mantle on your own and live with the consequences. That said, you've put me in the position of going to the polls and holding my nose to vote for you.

That's right. You have my vote, and that's probably why you feel comfortable voting for two virulently anti-gay judicial candidates put up by the Trump Administration for confirmation. You feel like you can take my vote for granted. 

You see, I like you, Joe. I think you're truly a good man who has public service in his heart, but I wonder if you like me. I wonder how you can look your constituents who are LGBTQIA+ in the face after you vote the way you did on those nominees. It's hard to, on one hand, court my vote and ask for my money while you vote against my interests.

No, I'm not a one-issue voter. That said, if someone consistently tells you that they want your money and your vote because they need it to go to Washington to serve you and then does the opposite, what would you do?

I remember standing in the hallway of the Indiana Democratic Party's state convention and having a long conversation with then-Congressman Brad Ellsworth. At the time, Ellsworth was wrong on many LGBTQIA+ issues, but he said something that will always stick with me.  He said to me that, on the issue of Don't Ask, Don't Tell that he was willing to risk his political career to vote the right way on that bill. He did. He voted to overturn the policy, and it was used against him in the 2010 Senate race.

Are you willing to do the right thing and put your career as a Senator on the line to do the right thing for Hoosiers? It's not like these nominees were going to fail, Joe. Without your vote, they still would have been confirmed. You did not need to be one of the eight.

I understand that you represent Indiana, Senator Donnelly, but putting these kinds of judicial candidates into our justice system is not helpful for anyone except he ideologues on the right. They are more than comfortable putting principle and party ahead of the people. Don't make that same mistake, sir.

Again, you have my vote. You won't get any of my money.

My "Note to Self"

In honor of CBS This Morning’s excellent “Note to Self” series, I’ve decided to write a letter to 12-year-old Jon Easter, a socially-awkward and bullied 7th grader.
Dear Jon,

You have no idea what you’ll miss if you go through with those thoughts in your head. The next 30-years are going to be filled with fun times, great discoveries and even some emotions you can’t even describe, but you will emerge as a strong-willed individual who loves life.

Right now, life doesn’t seem so simple, but it is. You have no idea what’s going to happen in the next few years. Spend more time with Mom and Dad and the family, even if they don’t have time. Drink up the advice and lessons you learn from them. You will need them later.

Related to that, realize now that your parents are wiser than you. Realize that you don’t know all the answers, even if you think you do. You’ll realize that later those lessons make sense.

Come to terms with those feelings inside. Everything is going to be fine, and the quicker you realize that you’re not broken and don’t need to be fixed the faster you’ll start to grow as a person. You are not crazy. You are gay, and it may still take you some time to understand that. One day, you’ll look yourself in the mirror, and you will admit it to yourself. It won’t be the end of the world, trust me.

As hard as it is, don’t be so hard on yourself.

Realize that those that treat you badly don’t really understand you, yet. Someday they will, or they don’t need to be in your life. That’s a brave decision at 12, but I know you. You’re very brave. Don’t ever let anyone tell you that you’re not.

Stand up for what you believe in, and stand up for what is right. It may sound cliché, but you will gain respect if you stick to your principles while still understanding that you don’t know nearly everything.

Take every opportunity that comes your way, and don’t be so afraid to try new things. Put down that Nintendo controller and get outside. Enjoy the world and let the world enjoy you.

You are going to be a teacher. It will be the joy of your life, and you’re going to be successful at making a difference in the students you teach. It will keep you motivated and young-hearted, and it will give you an outlet for your precociousness. It will also keep you coming back for more each day. Never give up on anyone you teach, no matter how much they may give up on you. Always be there to soften their landing.

Love is going to be hard for you. Don’t accept second-best. Don’t settle. Take comfort in the friends that my make and know that some of them will be your second family. Continue to lead with your heart and continue to be kind.

Speaking of family, you will lose people you love. When they are gone, they will stay with you forever. You’ll cry sometimes, but you’ll smile mostly. Be there for them when they need you.

I don’t know where we’re going from here. You can only control what you’re going to control, but I hope to be around to have 72-year-old Jon write a letter to 42-year-old Jon. Who knows what we’ll accomplish between now and then? I just know that I’m still in the opening act, and I’m still not ready for intermission.

With love and thanks,