Friday, February 24, 2017

Thank YOU Joel Miller

Chairman Joel Miller
Photo Courtesy of Facebook
Joel Miller and I have been friends for a long time. That's why it's a funny feeling writing this.  For, this isn't a political obituary.  This is just a thank you for all he's done.

As reported here and elsewhere, the big fella, the grand poobah of the Marion County Democratic Party, our Chairman, is stepping aside, and we'll get a new head coach as of March 4.  If all goes as planned, that new Chair will be Kate Sweeney Bell who I've known for just about as long as Joel.

I believe I first met Joel when he was the Executive Director of the Marion County Democatic Party.  He was a guy about my age, and we hit it off from the start.  Joel is funny, and he has some great stories.  My journalist side was immediately drawn to those great stories.

Over time, our friendship has remained rock solid.  When I thought about running for State Senate, I made a few phone calls, and Joel was one of them.  He advised me to run and "Kick Mike Young's ass."  I probably should have, but I wasn't ready for primetime then.

Eventually, Joel became the Chairman of the Marion County Democratic Party, and I was, for a while, the only left-leaning blogger in town writing about politics.  Never once has Joel told me what to write here.  Now, I know he reads it because I've gotten phone calls on rare occasions he has disagreed with me.  That's only happened maybe two times in four years.  Joel's been extremely good with me, and always has made himself available for a comment when I've needed it.  I appreciate that access to the Party Chair.

Finally, I'll never forget this.  I have run for office twice here in Decatur Township and on the Southwest side.  I didn't worry my opponent either time.  In fact, it was quite clear that I wasn't going to even be competitive from the early returns.  Still, Joel made it a point to come to me after my City-County Council race looked discouraging and tell me how proud he was that I got over 38 percent of the vote and had exceeded my baseline vote.  It was a moment I will remember to hear my friend and my party chairman say, "I'm proud of you, brother. Good run."

So, thanks Joel. Thanks for being a great Marion County Democratic Party Chairman.  In just four years, you've managed to accomplish much.  Through your leadership and hard work, Marion County continues to lead the way for the Indiana Democratic Party.  You've left things in great shape.  Take a couple of hours off and then get right back to work.  We need you in this fight, and I will look forward to covering whatever you decide to do next.

Thursday, February 23, 2017

Hold Legislators Responsible on Town Hall Question Regardless of Party

It's easy for me to sit here and say that every member of Congress should be holding town hall meetings in every constituency in the United States.

That's an easy argument to make.  It's so easy, and it's so true.

We elect our representatives and our senators to go to Washington and represent us.  They are acting on our behalf there.  It's only fair that they should be getting their marching orders from those they represent, regardless of party.

This is not the same as being accessible, and, if there are security concerns, then measures should be taken to do what it takes to make sure that both the constituents and the public officials are safe.  Take that concern off the table.  I'm not asking for an informal "Congress on Your Corner" in this contentious time.  The bottom line is that frankly, this is the time that our elected officials need to hear most from their constituents.  There's so much crosstalk out there that it's important to get the messages from the working men, women and young people that send our elected officials to office.

If your elected official is not holding one of these events, continue to demand that they do. Republican or Democrat, it doesn't matter the party.  If we don't continue to hold our elected officials responsible for the work they do in office, we get the government we deserve.

Wednesday, February 22, 2017

MCDP to Reorganize on March 4; Sweeney Bell Expected to Lead Marion County Democrats

Kate Sweeney Bell phone banks.
Photo courtesy of OFA Flickr Page
The Marion County Democratic Party will meet on March 4 for its reorganization meeting at the UAW Union Hall on South Tibbs Ave.  The doors will open at 9:00 am with credentialing being cut off at 10:00 am.

Precinct Committeepersons and Vice Precinct Committeepersons will meet to elect a new Chair, Vice Chair, Treasurer and Secretary of the local party.  

Current Chair Joel Miller will not be seeking a second term as Chair, and Marion County Recorder Kate Sweeney Bell has been working to solidify support for several months for a run at Chair.  She has the support of Mayor Joe Hogsett and and Congressman AndrĂ© Carson.  She's been longtime friends and allies with both party heavyweights.

Besides Sweeney Bell for Chair, recommended candidates supported by the Mayor and the Congressman, according to the Mayor himself, are Stuart Mora for Vice Chair, LaDonna Freeman for Secretary, and Mark "Tony" Duncan for Treasurer. Nominations will be taken from the floor.

I have no concerns about Sweeney Bell's ability to run a party, but I do have concerns about having her, as an elected official, being in charge day-to-day.  Miller worked as a full-time Chair, and he was in the office almost every time I visited the headquarters.  Sweeney Bell will have to make sure that the people she puts in charge around her will carry out her agenda.  When I raised my concerns, Sweeney Bell pointed out that Mike McQuillen is an elected official and Chairs the Marion County Republican Central Committee.  That's true, but I believe a legislative post is much different than an executive office.  

If anyone can pull it off, though, Kate can.  As I learned a long time ago, if you want to get things done, go see a busy person to help you.  She's going to be incredibly busy.  I've known her for years, and I have the utmost confidence in her and respect for her to move the party forward.  

Joel Miller deserves a heaping helping of praise as well.  It's hard to replace a legend, and he did so magnficiently taking over for Ed Treacy and carrying the ball forward.  There is now not a Marion County Executive Office that is not in the hands of the Marion County Democratic Party.  Joel has been a friend of mine for years as well, and I can't thank him enough for the work he's done. Joel is still very young, and you can bet you haven't seen the last of him. Life, however, moves on, and it's an exciting time for Democrats. 

Tuesday, February 21, 2017

Buttigieg Still in Thick of DNC Race

Mayor Pete Buttigieg
This weekend, Democratic National Committee members will vote to see what man or woman will lead the DNC forward into the future.  Last night, on MSNBC's Hardball, another major Democrat declared at least some support for South Bend Mayor Pete Buttigieg.

In the closing moments of the show, former DNC Chair and Vermont Governor Howard Dean brought up Buttigieg while discussing the upcoming election for DNC Chair saying that there was an outside chance for he party to elect him chair.  Chris Matthews asked him point blank if he supported Buttigieg, and Dean said, "I kinda am."

As Dean noted, it's still an outside chance for Buttigieg.  The frontrunners are still Congressman Keith Ellison and former Labor Secretary Tom Perez, but they could cancel each other out leaving Buttigieg as a very viable candidate.

If you measure endorsements of muckety mucks, even with Dean's sort of endorsement, it's going to have to be the rank and file members that push Buttigieg over the top.  On his side, Buttigieg has former Maryland Governor and possible future Presidential candidate Martin O'Malley and former Pennsylvania Governor and DNC Chairman Ed Rendell.  Senator Joe Donnelly is backing Buttigieg as are many mayors across the country.

Congressman André Carson is backing Ellison.

What a run it's been for Mayor Buttigieg, win or lose.  When he started this thing, he was largely a young guy with a strange name from the city where Notre Dame is located.  Now, the political class has been introduced to Buttigieg, and it bodes well for both the future of the Indiana Democratic Party and the party in general.  If he wins, he'll be a great Chair.

Friday, February 17, 2017

Odds Favor Third Term Pursuit for Curry

Marion County Prosecutor
Terry Curry
Pursuit of a third term seems likely for one Marion County Democrat.

Terry Curry, the Marion County Prosecutor, has yet to make a formal statement that he's running for a third term, but a recent fundraising e-mail asks supporters to stand with him as he runs.  

If he runs, Curry is almost sure to win the race in a county that is trending more and more Democrat.  Plus, Curry has done a very good job since taking control of the office in 2011 in restoring confidence and order in the office.  Lord knows, he had his work cut out for him when his predecessor, Carl Brizzi, left office. 

Curry knocked off a strong primary field in 2010 and saw his toughest general election battle with now Indiana Supreme Court Justice Mark Massa, a well-funded and strongly-backed candidate.  In 2014, Curry easily won reelection with relatively little opposition from Duane Merchant.

That seems like eons ago.

Curry's fundraising e-mail touted several of his successes as Marion County Prosecutor as well as some of the successful cases and contributions to the community his office has worked on since 2011. 

While there have been a number of successes, there are legitimate criticisms of Curry's record, and he seems to acknowledge that there's still work to do in the future, "Not only do we see the challenges, we are ready to take them on through our community outreach, crime prevention training, and the vigorous prosecution of those who victimize others in our community," Curry said.

If successful in running and serving his third term, Curry would equal Stephen Goldsmith, who served 12 years as Marion County Prosecutor.  He did not run for reelction in 1990 instead deciding to run for Mayor of Indianapolis in 1991. Jeff Modisett won the race for Marion County Prosecutor in 1990 and would become the last Democrat to serve in the office prior to Curry's tenure.  

With county prosecutor as a statutory office created by the General Assembly, there are no term limits for this office in the Indiana Constitution.  Like Curry, Marion County Assessor Joe O'Connor can run for a third term. Pursuing second terms will likely be Marion County Clerk Myla Eldridge and Marion County Recorder Kate Sweeney Bell.  Marion County Auditor Julie Voorhies can also run for a second term as Auditor.  

Only Sheriff John Layton will have to step aside in 2018 due to being term limited. Former U.S. Marshall and former Chief Deputy Kerry Forestal is the likely candidate to emerge as Layton's heir apparent.

Thursday, February 16, 2017

Wednesday, February 15, 2017

Impeachment Seems Eventual Possibility for Trump

I am getting so tired of writing about national issues on this blog.  After all, I'm not the "United States Democrat Blog" here.  That said, it's the day-to-day drama of the White House that just keeps giving, and this is Indiana.  We all know how often the General Assembly has done something silly, and I don't mean Bruce Borders dressing up as Elvis.

Before we go further, this blog is full of blatant innuendo and rumor.  I don't have any facts to back this up.  I just have inklings, feelings, and intuitions.  Call it the hairs on the back of my neck.

I never thought I would say this about a sitting United States President, but I believe that Donald Trump has sunk himself already as the Chief Executive.  His Administration is not savvy enough to save him or itself.  This thing is going down, and it's going to be more than Michael Flynn whose career is sunk.

We are less than three weeks into this new regime and aboard this new ship at the White House, and it is listing...badly.

It's just shocking.

Today, the New York Times reported that the Trump campaign had repeated contact over time with the Russians.  Yesterday, the Washington Post reported that Flynn had discussed sanctions with Russian authorities before Trump was sworn in and then pretty much lied about it to his superiors.  Now, further reports say that Mike Pence was cut out of the loop here.

Investigations have begun.  There will be hearings.  People are asking questions. The famous question, "What did the President know, and when did the President know it?" is being asked.

Personally, I think the road to impeachment has begun, and the quicker it happens, the quicker we can start to mend up this country's wounds.  You can say what you want about Mike Pence or Paul Ryan or wherever the wheel will stop, but they are not Donald Trump.  We have to protect what our country is and the very bedrock it has been built upon.

Donald Trump is clearly not fit to be President, and he's surrounded himself by some very dangerous but careless people.