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.

Friday, July 14, 2017

It's Only July: 2018 Indiana U.S. Senate Election Making Headlines

It's been quite a week in the U.S. Senate Race for 2018.

Taking the bad news first (from the candidates' perspectives), the American Democracy Legal Fund has filed FEC complaints against Republican candidates Todd Rokita and Luke Messer because they continue to campaign for the office and have raised more than $5,000 and yet remain unannounced as candidates.  Both of those things would seem to violate federal campaign laws.

Rokita and Messer say the ADLF complaint is baseless and Rokita's campaign called it politically-motivated.

Messer and Rokita each have, on the positive side, sizable $2 million plus warchests according to Indy Politics to fire political bombs at each other prior to having the survivor face Joe Donnelly in the general election. It's going t be a nasty nasty primary.

On the Democratic side, Donnelly also got some bad press this week.

An AP report published on Thursday said that a company owned by Donnelly's brother and that the Senator had profited from had benefited from using labor at a plant in Mexico.  Donnelly, of course, has been a loud and vocal voice against companies sending jobs to Mexico such as Carrier and Rexnord.

The Donnelly campaign says that the Senator's family's company employs many Hoosiers and Americans and that he's still committed to making better trade deals such as renegotiating NAFTA.  It remains to be seen if this has any traction.

On the good news side, Donnelly has raised nearly $4 million for his reelection fight.  Of course, he's going to need a lot more than that.  Abdul-Hakim Shabazz also reported on his Indy Politics website that Donnelly is sporting a 53 percent approval rating.

We still have 10 months until the primary in this race, and it feels like it's already campaign season.

Thursday, July 13, 2017

Indiana: A Heartless State?

Governor Eric Holcomb
Eric Holcomb signed off on an application to make Indiana one of the first states to require people to work as a condition of receiving Medicaid benefits.

The plan would not apply to all Hoosiers receiving Medicaid...only those who are not pregnant, under 60 years old, or not "medically frail" would be required to work, according to Maureen Groppe's report in USA Today.  Groppe says 59 percent of Hoosiers already on Medicaid work.

According to the USA Today report by Groppe, critics say that no many more people would qualify to work therefore numbers in the workforce won't rise by much.  Opponents say that this is just another barrier that could be used to interrupt or toss people from their coverage.

It does beg the question, for example, as Groppe does, what does "medically frail" mean?  For example, is someone who has cancer, for example, medically frail?  Could working make someone with heart disease more medically frail?  The article also mentions those with mental illness.

Hopefully, Holcomb will change his mind on this stupid and heartless idea.  We really should not expect people on Medicaid to work as a condition of their coverage.

Tuesday, July 11, 2017

Trump Scandal of Hour Embroils Don Jr.

President Donald Trump
People ask me why I haven't been blogging on the President more, and, frankly, the only excuse is that I'd have to be a full time, 24/7/365 blogger to keep up.

That's right.  This administration's missteps come at you like a MLB pitcher's fastball to the cranium...every day.

The latest scandal from the administration that has given us more scandals than accomplishments is the Donald Trump, Jr. meeting with some nebulous Russian woman to receive damaging information on Hillary Clinton back in August of 2016.

You know the story by now, at first Trump Jr. denied the meeting occurred. Then he said it was a meeting about adoption. Now, after great work by the New York Times, Trump Jr. admitted that the meeting was to get promised damaging information on Clinton.  The New York Times now reports that Trump Jr. knew of Russian efforts to derail the Clinton campaign prior to the meeting.

The plot just keeps thickening.  Depending on how this all pans out, it could be that connection to put the whole picture together.

It's more lies and deception from an administration that seems to revel in it.

So, there, I wrote about it.  Now, I feel like I need a shower.