Sunday, October 8, 2017

Democrats Must Articulate Message for Future Success

President Trump
Harold Ford, Jr. was on Real Time with Bill Maher on Friday, and he said something that I've been saying for a while.

If Democrats are going to do anything in the next few election cycles, they are going to have to do it on message and not counting on making Donald Trump into a supervillain. My advice to the DNC would be to ignore Donald Trump and let him sink himself. He's doing a great job of it. What Democrats need to do is get back to being the party of the people.

Now, I do believe it's fair to talk about Donald Trump and his leadership. I think it's fair to talk about how he's been divisive, but that can't be the only message.

Trump has systematically rolled back almost every bit of progress President Barack Obama made on many fronts. We have to remind people why the progress was made is incredibly important. We have to become the party of defending the Affordable Care Act. We have to become the party of defending Dreamers. We have to become the party of human rights and equality. We have to push a plan and get candidates who can help Democrats to push it.

For 2020, we have to put forth a 50-state strategy again. If we take a winning message and put it behind a strong candidate, we will win. Don't expect a landslide, but expect those states that flipped in 2016 to flip back in 2020 if we hit the right message. We have to play electoral politics as well as we can play it and hope that we can bring some more states over, too.

It's just not going to be easy, and I would assume that Donald Trump will be President in 2020. Republicans have a civil war going on in their own party, and we can't do the same thing. We have to find a candidate that unites the party and get behind that candidate.

Finally, once Democrats get the message and the candidate, the move must be made to go digital. Work so hard on social media platforms...just like the Trump campaign and the Republicans did in 2016.

The bottom line is that without the first part of this, a coherent message that resonates, the rest of my plan won't work. We can't cede the messaging to Trump and the Republicans, and we certainly can't win by getting into the mud with him no matter how much he tries to take us down there.

Tuesday, October 3, 2017

In Memoriam: Tom Petty (1950-2017)

Today, we learned of the death of rock and roll legend, Tom Petty. Tom was 66 years old.

Not to be petty, but it was a heartbreaker.

Tom's been a part of my life, whether he knew it or not, since I was a kid. I remember seeing his "Don't Come Around Here No More" video on MTV when I was a child of six or seven. I can remember being slightly frightened by it, but I knew it was special.

Petty's music was special. It was the soundtrack of a summer night or an afternoon at work. Tom's lyrics were subtly complicated but easily accessible, and, while his voice was never the best in rock, his showmanship and musicianship stand unquestioned.

"Learning to Fly" was an important song in my life. It came out when I was in high school, and I can remember playing it on WBDG during my student DJ days. The lyrics spoke to me, a young man trying to find myself in the big world, because they told a story and a lesson all at once.

Losing Tom Petty is like losing that friend you've had most of your life. You know he's gone, but his music will continue to inspire people, young and old, for ages to come.

Goodbye old friend.

Monday, October 2, 2017

Apologies to Tom Petty and Family

When I saw the death of Tom Petty confirmed by CBS News and Rolling Stone, I wrote my in memoriam blog post on his death and how his music affected my world.

It appears that Mr. Petty may still be with us, and I hope that's true. I've retracted my blog post.

My apologies to Tom Petty and his family.

Coming Together To Change Our World Takes Unity

What an awful start to October.

When I woke up this morning, I flipped on the television to be greeted not by Julia Moffitt, Ben Hill and Chuck Lofton, but the coverage of last night's mass shooting in Las Vegas.

As I was at work, I kept checking Twitter for updates, and the death toll continued to go up. Unbelievably more than 500 people were injured.

Obviously, I send my condolences to all those that have lost and wish the best to those recovering. I send thoughts of comfort to those in mourning. Your burden to bear is so much.

It's true that we're not safe anywhere from terror...foreign or domestic. It's also true that we can't stop living our lives. It's more likely that I could get hit by a semi on 465 on my drive to work than me being the victim of a terrorist attack.

We still don't know the motive of the attacker in this case, but he was able to do a lot of damage and shake up a lot of lives in just a few minutes. No one person should have that much power or the means to do it, but we can have that debate on another day.

I firmly believe that today is a day for coming together. For giving each other hugs and hoping and praying, if that's what you do, for a time when these mass killings are a distant memory and when human beings value each other's worth so much that no one ever wants to take another's life for any reason.

You may say that I'm a dreamer, but I hope I'm not the only one.

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.