Saturday, September 2, 2017

Rokita Revelations Bring Back Personal Recollections

Rep. Todd Rokita
The revelation by the Associated Press that Todd Rokita is a bit of a bear to work for should not surprise anyone who has followed things closely since the Congressman has been in public life.

I don't know if the article will cause Rokita to lose the primary or not to Luke Messer, but it sure makes him look bad.  I can only go by the personal experiences that I've had meeting politicians of that make and model.  I've met other candidates, too, on and off the campaign trail.  I can say that you probably don't want to make enemies of your past staff.  It can bite you in the butt.

Now, I've never worked for my friend AndrĂ© Carson, but I can tell you that he's about as unpretentious as they come.  Congressman Carson and I first met when he was running for his grandmother's vacant seat.  I was undecided at the time, and Carson called me on a Saturday afternoon, as I recall, a few weeks before the caucus.

We talked about everything from his philosophy of government to religion to 90's pop music to what toys we played with as a kid.  Ultimately, I voted for David Orentlicher in the caucus, but I pledged my support to Carson in the primary and since then.  He's never held my caucus vote against me.  In fact, when I talked to him about it, he said, "Well you're on board now. Let's go."

When I was considering a run for state office, Congressman Carson gave me great advice as a friend.  He's also been a source of constant encouragement for me with my blog, my old radio show, and in my run for City-County Council.

His grandmother was another Congressperson that I had a great relationship with during her time as my representative.  I met her at a predatory lending roundtable, and I said I was from Decatur Township, "Well, I didn't know anyone LOVED me in Decatur," she said.

After that, I was her "Decatur Boy" everywhere she saw me.  I also was on the receiving end of a kiss on the cheek and a big hug from the Congresswoman.  She was one of a kind.

Probably the least pretentious politician I've ever met was (and hopefully will be again someday) Brad Ellsworth.  The former Congressman from Indiana's 8th District was in French Lick one year, and I wanted to meet him.  I finally ran across him and introduced myself.  He kept saying, "Call me Brad," whenever I kept trying to call him Congressman.

After a serious discussion of some issues we disagreed on, he invited me to his hospitality suite that night, so Chris Jackson and I found our way to the upper floors of the French Lick Hotel.  We entered the hospitality suite and asked for the Congressman.  "Oh, you mean Brad," said the staffer.  "He's out on the roof deck."

His suite opened up onto a large roof deck, and, sure enough, there was one of the 435 members of Congress surrounded by mostly his staff under the Southern Indiana stars.  We were admonished again to call him Brad by Ellsworth when we tried to go again to the Congressman word.  So, our last stop of the night was with Brad and his staff under the stars.  He sipped Diet Coke, and I seemed to remember a causal chat about our families.

I know this breaks down in a partisan way, but it doesn't have to.  I know there are truly nice Republicans and truly nightmare Democrats.  These are just the experiences I thought of when I read the AP article.

Monday, August 28, 2017

Battle Over Budget More Bore Than Big Deal

Mayor Joe Hogsett
Joe Hogsett has done a great job fiscally as Mayor of Indianapolis.  

That’s what the latest kerfuffle over the budget has told me. 

The Indianapolis Mayor has garnered wide praise from both sides of the aisle when it comes to the relationship with the City-County Council when compared with that of his immediate predecessor. Suddenly, some in the GOP are now accusing Mayor Hogsett of overselling the city's fiscal state even while they claim it's actually good.

If you haven’t been following the news recently, the Indianapolis Star's James Briggs has a pretty good wrap-up of the story here. According to the piece, Republicans like Councillor Jeff Miller are praising Mayor Hogsett’s budget as "probably one of he best" in 10 years while simultaneously still disputing just how good it is. 

Pretty boring times at the City-County Building betwixt the two major parties when the only fodder that the Republicans can throw at the Democratic Mayor is, “Your budget is good…but…but…it’s not as good as you say!”

Quite a change from the eight years previous to Mayor Hogsett’s term, isn’t it? You remember it. The Council and then Mayor Greg Ballard fought over seemingly every project and every contract. 

Lawsuits were filed. Ballard accused some his own party of playing politics against him. A longtime GOP (now Democratic) Councillor was primaried because she stood up to the Mayor.  All the while, Ballard was spend spend spending away on pet projects such as the World Sports Park on Indy’s Eastside and handing out essentially no-bid contracts.

That's part of the issue according to the Hogsett Administration. They tell the Star that if they had not done anything about the budget and spending, Indy was headed for a structural budget deficit of over $50 million.

Republicans have been very quiet, and they clearly sense an opening here to try to make a molehill out of an anthill.  As budget battles go, this is like the battle between pepperoni or sausage on a delicious pizza or what specific color of light blue you wish to paint your wall.  "Do I want light blue or morning blue?"

It's a boring battle of semantics over politics.  The bottom line is that, as Councillor Miller again acknowledges, this is a good budget.

Wednesday, August 23, 2017

Is It Just Me or Does This Make You Sick, Too? (WITH UPDATE)

I was scrolling through my Twitter account timeline earlier tonight, when I came across this Tweet from the digital director of the National Republican Senatorial Committee.

Are you kidding me?

This is what passes for appropriate campaign strategy in 2017?

Listen, if you want to raise outsourcing as a campaign issue against Joe Donnelly, go ahead.  If you want to use tactics that smack of racism in 2017, then get ready to lose and lose big.

This is not the kind of campaign tactic that's welcome in the Hoosier State or against an honorable guy like Joe Donnelly.  It's beneath the office of U.S. Senator, and it's well outside the bounds of what should be appropriate in campaigning.

I call on Todd Rokita, Luke Messer, and any other Republican Senatorial candidates to immediately condemn and disassociate themelves from this kind of campaign ploy.  Whoever dreamed up this ploy and thought it was a good idea should be relieved of their position immediately.

It's not funny or appropriate.

People who were at the event told me that Joe, although he is portrayed as having seen the band and to have reacted, arrived long after the band had left.  "I never even knew there was a band there (until I saw the video)," said one event goer on Facebook.

Tuesday, August 15, 2017

Council Raises Worker Pay, Riles Up Katz

Monday night, the City-County Council passed a pay raise for city and county workers to bring those that qualify up to a $13 an hour living wage.

The raises, according to the estimates, will cost $450,000, and Mayor Joe Hogsett has said that the city's $1.1 billion budget can easily handle the cost.  Initially, Mayor Hogsett played it cautious on the pay hike.

With everyone seemingly on board, the proposal passed 22-2 with the only no votes coming from Joe Simpson because the Democrat didn't feel it went far enough with the raises, and Jason Holliday because...well...he's Jason Holliday (he votes no a lot).

The seemingly non-controversial vote from he Indianapolis Marion County City-County Council was too much for WIBC's morning man, Tony Katz.  Katz, a Carmel resident, tweeted out:

That raised an eyebrow for me.

First of all, the raises cost just $450K...not $450 million.  That's literally .0004 percent of the budget.  Seems ok to this Marion County resident.

Secondly, the proposed budget pays out $120 million in road and street and bridge and sidewalk repairs.  That's more than $450,000 by a lot. Apparently, it is possible to care about social justice while addressing the city's needs, and it does it responsibly.

When I called Katz on his tweet, he said I didn't get the issue and that there's no such thing as a living wage.  Just to make it clear, I had to lay it out for him.

Hope he gets it. The raises are a small (in cost), nice thing for the hardworking city-county employees that most need it.  I'm sorry if folks can't handle that.  It was the right thing to do.

Sunday, August 13, 2017

Clinton Called It...Completely

In light of this past weekend's events, I think his stands alone and needs no comment.  Watch this video.

Saturday, August 12, 2017

Rokita: Too Extreme for Indiana

Rep. Todd Rokita
Hoosiers rejected Richard Mourdock when he got too extreme.

Apparently, that wasn't enough of a warning for Todd Rokita.

This week, arguably the most clueless man in Indiana's Congressional delegation announced he was running for Indiana's U.S. Senate seat in 2018.  He becomes the latest Republican in the race.

Now, Rokita has his fans.  They tend to fall on the far right conservative side of the coin.  It's been easy for Rokita to say and do just about anything he's wanted to do in the very conservative 4th Congressional District and continue to get away with it.  After all, Rokita's 4th District predecessor used his muddy combat boots as a prop and once did a speech on the floor about smoking lettuce.

Rokita has trailblazed his own path to crazy in the 4th.  He called Americans "piggish and un-American" for worrying about the health of the overall economy vs. allowing the country to default over the debt ceiling.  Rokita tried to bust civil service unions by making civil servants such as postal workers at will employees.

As if that weren't enough, the conservative firebrand tried to change the laws regarding free and reduced school lunch.  The plan would have potentially knocked 120 schools across Indiana that serve 58,000 kids from the program, according to the Indianapolis Star. Fourteen schools would have been in Indianapolis alone.

He's defended United Airlines and the actions of law enforcement in the awful case where the Louisville doctor was dragged down the aisle because he refused to give up his seat to a United flight crew.

“This is a bit of a two-way street. What happened on that United flight shouldn’t have escalated to where it was, but a grown man, assumedly sane, when approached by law enforcement on an aircraft should abide by the request being made,” Rokita said.  United settled with Dr. David Dao.

Even his campaign announcement drew scrutiny.  Indy Star columnist Matthew Tully penned a highly critical piece writing, "U.S. Rep. Todd Rokita is taking things to a new level this summer, peddling a package of baloney so oversized he must have bought it at Costco."

The Lafayette Journal & Courier's Dave Bangert appears to have caught Rokita in some sort of political hypocritical mess.

Bangert writes:

One of the better lines on the Statehouse steps – presumably no location was available as a backdrop in the 4th District, where calls for town halls have gone unanswered in 2017 – was his commitment to something called “No Budget, No Pay.” 
The fundamentals are sound: Members of Congress should be held accountable if they can’t deliver a workable budget. Rokita touted Indiana’s balanced budget provisions and promised to fight for the same as a U.S. senator. 
Fair enough. 
But Rokita conveniently forgot to mention what happened in October 2013, when No Budget meant No Government for a short time. 
At the time, Rokita gloated about how the federal government shutdown was a stand against the Affordable Care Act. He said at the time, “We’re doing exactly what our constituents asked us to do,” by delaying the rollout of Obamacare. The longer the shutdown, the better his chances, he told me in a conversation from Washington, D.C. “I think we’re going to win.”
 Bangert added that the tactic didn't work, but that Rokita did get paid.

I know I'm getting windy here, but there really isn't anything in Todd Rokita's record that shows that he's anything but a man who is as far from the model of an "Indiana Senator" as can be.  Think about that tradition.

Richard Lugar was seen as a statesman and a trusted voice by both parties.  Birch Bayh penned the 25th and 26th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution.  He also is the father of Title IX.  Vance Hartke was instrumental in improving access to college and improving transportation in our country while standing up to oppose the Vietnam War.  Even Dan Coats, in his first go around in the Senate, supported gun control laws and voted for Ruth Bader Ginsburg's confirmation to the Supreme Court.

Joe Donnelly fits this tradition more than any of the Republicans running and certainly more than Rokita.  In a Senate full of those on the right and those on the left, in true Indiana fashion, Donnelly has placed himself in the middle which draws ire from the liberal left, and it may be those folks that ultimately help elect their polar opposite if they don't vote for Donnelly in 2018.

It's so critical that Todd Rokita goes home to Brownsburg in 2018.  I can't imagine him with a bigger bully pulpit and more power than he has today.  Right now, he's the 4th District's issue, but Hoosier voters can avoid making him Indiana's problem...for six long years.

Tuesday, August 1, 2017

So, I've Been Meaning to Say...

It's official. I'm getting older.

Last week, I turned 42.  I also found out that I'm now diabetic.  Next week, I'll go in for a sleep study to find out why I blow the rafters off my room at night with my snores.

I'm too young for this sh....tuff.

Listen, I'm not griping or complaining.  Except for the sciatica and a toe that I slammed into the door jam on Sunday morning, I feel pretty good. I am blessed to have excellent health care through my employer, but I also feel a bit guilty for missing (maybe willfully and blissfully ignoring) all the signs up until now.  To be frank, I've knocked down some of those signs.

The thing is that for a long time that I had an almost fatalistic view of my life.  Easter men don't live long lives. We mostly drop dead in our 60's.  Dad nearly made 70, but he died at 69.  Watching my mom's struggle with long term illness began to change my mind.  When you are delivered the test results that you are diabetic, I came to the realization that I could be my mother and sooner rather than later.

I'm one stroke from being in long term care for the last bit of my life, and that bit could be a long time.  Not quite the mirror image you want looking back from the future.

If I don't improve the quality of how I'm living, I won't improve the quality of my life in the future.  I had a vision of myself in ten years, and it's not who I want to be.

So, I'm going to make some small changes at first.  Then, I'm going to gradually change some other things.  Before you know it, it's going to be a new me.

I know this blog post is not about politics, but I wanted you to know what I've been going through lately.  I've been kind of depressed about all of this, and, frankly, I haven't had a lot of time in my life to blog.  I'm going to start posting again.

We're going weekly for a while, but I fully intend to get back to a daily weekday posting schedule.  I just need to get myself sorted out, first.  I hope you all understand, but I understand if you don't.

Finally, I don't write this for sympathy.  I know many people have it worse than me.  I also don't write this to get a lecture.  Believe me, I've already lectured myself.  I just want you to know that we're all in this crazy world together, and I wanted you to know what was going on with the blog.

Thanks for your support over the last nine years, and I hope you'll continue to read on into the future.

Wednesday, July 26, 2017

Senate 2018 Race Update: Messer is IN; Rokita's Gonna Rokita

Rep. Luke Messer (R-IN 6)
Officially, the Republicans have a frontrunner in the race for U.S. Senate, but that status could be very short-lived.

Congressman Luke Messer is officially in the race for U.S. Senate from the state of Indiana according to a tweet from his campaign on Wednesday.

Messer, who has raised a large war chest for a run, is expected to battle fellow Republican Todd Rokita in the May Primary for the opportunity to face incumbent Democrat Joe Donnelly in the fall of 2018.  There are other Republicans in the race, but the two Congressman have raised the most money.  Rokita has not yet announced officially that he is running for the seat.

Speaking of Rokita, the Congressman released a statement from his Congessional Office indicating he believes perhaps "God's will" controls natural disasters.

Rep. Todd Rokita (R-IN 4)
Rokita represents beleagured Kokomo in the 4th Congressional District, and the folks in Kokomo have had their fill of bad weather in the last few years.  Two major and costly tornadoes have hit the city since 2013.

Rokita said, “Even though we cannot predict God’s will when it comes to natural disasters, let’s prepare ourselves for God’s will," according to the Statehouse File.

The Rokita statement brought back memories for some who remember Richard Mourdock's 2012 foot-in-mouth moment. During the final debate with Joe Donnelly and Andy Horning,  Mourdock said he opposed abortion even in rape cases because, as he said, when a woman becomes pregnant due to a rape, "that it is something that God intended to happen."

The best news for Joe Donnelly is that Rokita's often his own worst enemy.

It's still unclear who Donnelly would face. According to Abdul Hakim-Shabazz, a poll showed recently that the Republican nomination is anyone's game at this point.  There's even room for someone like Curtis Hill to join the race.