Monday, August 31, 2015

Tully Piece Reveals Depth of Sugar's Interest in Gubernatorial Run

Tom Sugar
Photo from
John Gregg just elbowed out Glenda Ritz and Karen Tallian in the race for Governor. Will he also have to elbow out Tom Sugar, a friend and longtime aide of Evan Bayh's?

The Indianapolis Star had written an article on Sugar possibly running back on August 7.  A couple of days later, the Star’s Matt Tully sat down with Sugar, and it sounds like he might be settling in on a run. Sugar also sat down with WRTV last weekend.

Sugar has been pushing a major plan to end gerrymandering in Indiana and make the playing field more level for voters, but he also clearly has ideas on other parts of state government, too.  He's a senior Vice President for Complete College America, so education must be close to his heart.  

Tully’s piece is here.  The August 7 piece is here.

Why would Sugar consider a run now that John Gregg has just removed the other candidates from the field?  The answer is...why not?  There are some Democrats out there who, for whatever reason, don't like John Gregg as the nominee. If Sugar can shore up enough support, raise enough money, and make a good case, he can certainly challenge Gregg.

What Democrats don't need is just another Evan Bayh clone.  The Indiana Democratic Party has spent the last four or five years trying to find the next Evan Bayh.  We are in the situation that we are because so far we have not found that 

To his credit, Gregg has shored up a lot of support out there. He’s gotten some serious support from labor groups and party insiders. With that said, Gregg’s the frontrunner for the Democratic nomination. With the cash he's raised, he's a very serious frontrunner, and that has to figure in to anyone that's running's mind.  

Gregg's become a much stronger candidate in this cycle.  Just last week, he was in all corners of the state continuing to raise money and let people know that he's not just the guy with the two first names and a mustache.  Gregg's already running a general election campaign.

Friday, August 28, 2015

No Post Today

My schedule caught up with me.  I was so tired last night that I came home and fell fast asleep.

That means that I did not get anything up on the blog.  I apologize.  

See you Monday.

Thursday, August 27, 2015

Ramos vs. Trump; This One Might Stick

Jorge Ramos
Donald Trump may have finally gone a step too far by tossing Jorge Ramos of Univision out of a news conference because he didn’t like his questions.

Granted, Ramos was allowed to return and ask Trump about immigration policy, but tossing Ramos is the equivalent of tossing Lester Holt from NBC out. Ramos is a well-respected and well-known journalist especially in the Latino and Hispanic community.

Can you imagine if during the next Presidential News Conference that Barack Obama tossed Major Garrett of CBS News out because he didn’t like the question he was asked. That’s something that could have happened just last month. Obama had a bit of a standoff with Garrett over the way he asked a question about American hostages being a part of the negotiations for Iran nuclear disarmament. I thought Garrett’s phrasing may have been off, but it was a legitimate question and one a respected journalist like Garrett had every right to ask.
The President was visibly angered by the question, and he let Garrett know that he didn’t like the question, but he answered it. It’s the dance a future President must go through with the news media. The news media can be your best friends when you want them to cover something, but they can also make your time in the White House extremely uncomfortable.  You can’t lose your temper and toss someone from a news conference simply because you disagree with their line of questioning. 

As the LA Times points out, Ramos is certainly not the member of the media to mess with.  Snarky Trumpism send offs like “Go back to Univision,” are neither welcome nor appreciated. Ramos is a serious journalist and has earned that respect.

Wednesday, August 26, 2015

Last Week Tonight Takes on RFRA, LGBT Rights Fight

John Oliver has carved out a unique place among the comedy show genre with his HBO show.

His show, Last Week Tonight, has placed itself somewhere between the Daily Show, Real Time with Bill Maher, and an investigative news show.  The last few weeks, he's really been hitting it out of the park.

Take for example this offering from his latest show.  In it, he takes up the cause for LGBT rights and argues that the federal government should write it into code.  It's really an excellent segment that takes up the cause for LGBT rights and against things like RFRA.

Tuesday, August 25, 2015

Bullets Fly in Indy Leaving Behind Few Answers

Indianapolis had a bad weekend.

Several shootings have left questions that the next Mayor will have to answer, and those answers are just not very clear.

How do you strike a balance between the Second Amendment and the proliferation of legal guns in our city?  What is the first step in solving a crime issue that only seems to be getting worse?  These questions will confound our city leaders.

To me, it's unacceptable to have innocent bystanders caught in the crossfire of violence.  That's what happened in at least one case this weekend.  Some in our city pretend on one hand that the violence is ok because it's just criminals killing criminals.  In the very next sentence, they will say that violence is not ok and that we need to take extreme measures to stop it.

You can't have a city with a wild west mentality, but you also can't have Tombstone where Wyatt Earp takes all the guns.  So, we're stuck in the middle.

Ten Point Coalition leader and local Pastor Charles Harrison believes it's time in Indianapolis to try new policing methods such as stop and frisk.  That makes many concerned about the Fourth Amendment implications as well as the possibility that stop and frisk can be used to profile.  Plus, I just don't know if IMPD has the staff to pull off stop and frisk operations.

That's not the answer, in my opinion.  I still think the answer lies in going to every youth center, school, school function, neighborhood, street corner, park, and anywhere else in the city and spreading the message that solving differences with a firearm just isn't a smart thing.  Once you shoot at someone, those bullets don't come back, and they can devastate lives.

Some don't care about the consequences, and, for them, we need to keep getting them off the streets and hopefully keeping them behind bars.  Maybe it is time to explore reasonably tougher sentencing for gun crimes.

The thing is that we need a crime fighter who is ready to declare war on illegal guns in our streets.  So far, we haven't heard much from Chuck Brewer.  The next Mayor will need to have credibility on this issue, and that's Joe Hogsett.

Monday, August 24, 2015

In Memoriam: Justin Wilson (1978-2015)

Justin Wilson, 1978-2015

IndyCar driver Justin Wilson died on Monday in a hospital in Pennsylvania.  He suffered injuries on Sunday at the Pocono 500 after he was struck by crash debris from another car.

Wilson's loss is particularly hard to take.  A part-time driver in 2015, Wilson was set for a full-time ride again with Andretti Autosport in 2016.  He was really a great race car driver that often took equipment other folks could do little with and brought it home safely and in a far better position than anyone thought possible.

He was known for his height (6'5") and his big smile.  He always seemed to have a positive outlook on life and in racing even though his talents often went unappreciated by owners looking for drivers with deeper pockets.  He was deep on talent, and it was about to pay off with a solid ride for 2016.

Wilson won seven Champ Car/IndyCar races, and he scored one point in Formula One competition.  On August 2, he came home second in the race at Mid Ohio Motorsports Park.  It was just his fifth start of the IndyCar season.  In 2013, for the chronically under funded Dale Coyne Racing Team, Wilson drove home fifth at the Indianapolis 500, his best finish in the Greatest Spectacle in Racing.

I did not know Justin, but I will always remember him for his class and his excellence.  People that knew him seem to universally have liked him and respected him.  He leaves behind two young daughters, a wife, his parents, and his brother, Stefan, who also is a race car driver.

Whenever a driver passes, I'm always reminded of the words of the great broadcaster Sid Collins who eulogized fallen driver Eddie Sachs who died at the start of the 1964 Indianapolis 500.  Before the race restarted, Collins's over-the-air eulogy included the following passage:

"We are all speeding toward death at the rate of 60 minutes every hour, the only difference is we don’t know how to speed faster and Eddie Sachs did. So since death has a thousand or more doors, Eddie Sachs exits this earth in a race car. Knowing Eddie I assume that’s the way he would have wanted it. Byron said 'who the God’s love die young.'"

Like Eddie Sachs, Justin Wilson was 37.  Godspeed to our racing friend.

Dickerson Joins Hill in Battle for U.S. Senate Democratic Nomination

John Dickerson
Photo from Facebook
If you haven't heard, Baron Hill has picked up an opponent for the Democratic nomination for Senate.

Back on August 15, John Dickerson, the recently retired Executive Director for the Arc of Indiana, threw his hat in the ring promising a bi-partisan approach to Indiana's problems.

I don't know Dickerson, but there are many people in my circles that do.  They seem extremely excited and much more fired up about Dickerson's campaign than the campaign of Hill.

Hill's advantages are some of Dickerson's disadvantages.  Where Hill has an established record, name recognition and supporter base to call on, Dickerson is starting from scratch. That could be an advantage for Dickerson, too.  He doesn't carry the Congressional record nor baggage of Hill.

Again, I was struck by the enthusiasm I saw from my friends on Dickerson's campaign.  One of those friends is news maker herself, Kathy Davis.  The former Lieutenant Governor made headlines when she resigned from Joe Donnelly's campaign as his treasurer over his Planned Parenthood vote.  Davis was present at Dickerson's announcement signaling that she must be ok with his views.

On the GOP side, Congressmen Marlin Stutzman and Todd Young are in the race with former Mitch Daniels staffer and Indiana Republican Party Chair Eric Holcomb.  The Indiana Senate's favorite tweeter, Mike Delph, is also thinking about joining the race.

Friday, August 21, 2015

Lugar, Donnelly Back Iran Nuclear Disarmament Deal

From the politics sure makes strange bedfellows department, Indiana's current and two prominent former U.S. Senators are split on the Obama Administration's deal to disarm a nuclear Iran.

For the deal are former Senator Richard Lugar and the man that took his seat, Senator Joe Donnelly.  Against the deal are former Senator Evan Bayh and the man that took his seat, Senator Dan Coats.  Welcome to Indiana, right?

As far as the specifics of the deal, you can go look them up, but the voice I most trust on the issue, Lugar, says he believes that this deal has the ability to bring stability and peace to the Middle East when it comes to Iran for the next 15 years.  Lugar, like President Obama, believes that if we pull out of the deal it will fall apart.  So far, Great Britain, France, Russia, and other major countries are backing the deal.

There is major division in the Senate, and Lugar responded to that criticism on MSNBC.  He said, "There is extreme partisanship in Washington, but extreme partisanship does not work well in a dangerous world."

Lugar was the longtime Chair or Ranking Member on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee.  He helped rein in loose nukes throughout the former Soviet Union, and he also famously negotiated a deal to bring an end to Muammar al-Gaddafi's nuclear ambitions in Libya which briefly brought that crazy dictator back to the world stage after years of exile.

In the same MSNBC interview, Lugar argued that without this deal that war with Iran becaomes a very scary possibility and that pulling out of the Iran deal would, as President Obama has said, leave future Presidents with little choice but to go to war with the oil rich country.

All things being equal, I'll go with Lugar and Donnelly on this one.

Thursday, August 20, 2015

Hogsett Ready to Enlighten Darkest Neighborhoods

Indianapolis has a moratorium on street lights...who knew?

Joe Hogsett wants to end that moratorium and bring some light into some of the toughest neighborhoods across Indianapolis.  Here is his latest ad.

Immediately, supporters on the other side of the aisle attacked Hogsett's plan saying that it's not realistic nor is it affordable.

My point would be that anytime Mayor Greg Ballard wants to do something, he tends to find the funds.

One only needs to look at the World Sports Park for an example.  Supporters swear up and down that the facility is used, but $5 million for a park with rugby, cricket, and gaelic football?  Seriously?  How many street lights would $5 million buy?

I found online that streetlights in the City of Santa Monica cost in the neighborhood of $4,800.  Let's assume $1,500 in labor to install it...just for fun.  That's about 940 streetlights for the cost of the World Sports Park.  I don't stand behind those numbers, but they are what I could find out there.  If anyone has better numbers, let me know.

Regardless of the cost, I think the benefit would be safer neighborhoods and safer people.  That's amazing enough.

Wednesday, August 19, 2015

Carmel Loses Nerve

Mayor Jim Brainard
Amid a crowd full of riled up citizens, Carmel's city government lost its nerve last night.

A proposal to pass an ordinance protecting LGBTQ citizens from discrimination that had the support of six of seven City Councillors and Carmel’s Mayor was stopped, at least temporarily, by its opponents who say that it would somehow violate their religious freedom. 

The proposal now goes back to committee where it will get its first hearing on Thursday. It’s expected to be watered down now, and who knows if it will keep any bite at all.

You have to give the opponents credit. Neighborhood groups can tell you that nothing scares a politician like a room full of mad individuals, and it appears that the opposition mounted a charge like you wouldn’t believe. According to what I saw on Twitter, many that spoke against the ordinance did so with an appalling hate, intolerance and lack of understanding. Even WIBC’s Tony Katz was there to speak out against the ordinance.

Maybe it was a bad idea in retrospect to ram this through quickly by Mayor Jim Brainard, but I hope that the ordinance now goes through the proper channels and emerges out the other end ready to pass through like a Carmel roundabout. 

Other cities in Indiana have done it, and I know Carmel can too.

Tuesday, August 18, 2015

In Memoriam: Julian Bond, 1940-2015

Julian Bond
We lost a great man over the weekend.

Civil rights activist Julian Bond is gone.
Fearless and outspoken, Bond fought for the rights of African-Americans in the South in the 60’s as a member of the Student Non-Violent Coordinating Committee. That only tells part of the story. Before it was popular to do so, Bond was an outspoken advocate for the rights of LGBTQ citizens of the United States. He famously boycotted the funeral of fellow LGBTQ and civil rights activist Coretta Scott King because the King Family chose an anti-gay megachurch as the venue.
“Sexual disposition parallels race. I was born this way (African-American). I have no choice. I wouldn’t change it if I could. Sexuality is unchangeable.”
This wasn’t the only liberal cause Bond advocated for. Among other things, he also was a very big voice against climate change dissenters. He was outspoken during the Bush Administration for George W. Bush’s war policies and spoke out against many of Bush’s cabinet members.
Bond served in the Georgia State Legislature from 1965 to 1987 in both houses. For 12 years beginning in 1998, he was the President of the NAACP. All along, he remained active as an attorney and a teacher and was a former President and current Board Member Emeritus of the Southern Poverty Law Center.

Julian Bond passed away on Saturday at a time when we need him more than ever. His strong voice would be welcome in this time of racial and political uneasiness in Washington and across the country. His legacy lives on. 

Julian Bond was 75 years old.

Monday, August 17, 2015

Get Well Governor Pence!

While I spend a lot of time here criticizing our Governor, I always remember that he is our Governor.

Thankfully, it does not appear that the complications that Governor Mike Pence is experiencing from his original hernia surgery last week are life threatening, it's still scary for the Governor and his family to have him go back under the knife even if it is an outpatient procedure.

I want to send Governor Pence nothing but my best wishes for a speedy and complete recovery.

As far as the blog goes, I'm going to be laying off the Governor for a few days as he recovers.

Tallian Out; It's Gregg vs. Pence

Senator Karen Tallian
Sources are saying that Indiana Senator Karen Tallian of Michigan City is stepping aside in her gubernatorial bid. That now clears the way for a rematch of the 2012 General Election battle between Governor Mike Pence and former Indiana House Speaker John Gregg.

As most of you are aware by now, this is quite the anti-climactic ending on both sides. At first, it seemed a couple of Republicans might want to challenge the sitting Governor, but they have declined to run. Superintendent of Public Instruction Glenda Ritz decided to throw her hat into the ring, but her campaign failed to get off the ground. Tallian’s campaign suffered from much the same.

Gregg has been able to collect big money donors and endorsements while Tallian and Ritz were not. Tallian at least ran a strong campaign. Ritz’s campaign was dogged by mistakes and missteps almost from the beginning.
John Gregg

With Ritz running for reelection now for Superintendent of Public Instruction, Tallian remains a shining candidate for Lieutenant Governor. Her message appealed to the more progressive wing of the party, and, together with Gregg, they would make a great team (much in the same way Vi Simpson would again as well should Gregg choose her).

Of course there is a lot of time left for other candidates, but it seems right now that Pence will battle Gregg again. Pence has provided the Democrat from Sandborn a lot to go after this time around. It remains to be seen if the sequel in 2016 will exceed the original from 2012. Gregg seems much more willing to play it professional and less hokey this time around, and he clearly has learned from his mistakes.

The 2016 election could come down to whether or not progressives buy Gregg 2.0.

Don't Forget Daniels's Role in Producing Teacher Shortage

Indiana has a teacher shortage.

College graduates are going into other fields other than teaching, and those seeking teaching licenses seem few and far between.

There are many factors that have led to this point, but even the most staunch supporter of education reform has to notice when all of this began.

The year was 2008, and Mitch Daniels was going for reelection.  Daniels popularity had taken a few hits in his first term, but he was streaking towards reelection against an underfunded and unexpected opponent.  On the Superintendent of Public Instruction front, Democrats nominated a very popular and well-known educator, Richard Wood, to be the nominee.  Republicans nominated Southern Indiana superintendent Tony Bennett from Clark County.  Daniels appeared in a series of ads with Bennett talking about putting discipline back in the classroom and giving teachers more protection if they took reasonable steps in maintaining control.  Bennett won the general election over Wood in a tight race.

The new tone and tenor towards teachers was apparent right away.  Bennett drew the ire of many leading teachers when he wore casual clothes in some of his first meetings with them.  Quickly, teachers saw that Daniels had sold us a bill of goods with Bennett.

By 2012, reforms had been passed in Indiana.  Those reforms took away most collective bargaining for teachers and instead limited what could be negotiated.  No more could teachers negotiate things like working conditions or hours.  Raises would no longer be automatic and pay became tied to things like test scores and improvement.

Veteran teachers found their salaries locked in where they were on the salary scale, but new teachers found themselves locked at the lowest level.  In some districts, that is barely what some would call a living wage.

People like to say that teaching has never been about the income.  It's about the outcome.  That's true, but don't say that it's easy to attract excellent candidates to teach when you tell them they may only barely make a living wage before paying for insurance and things.

Sadly, I saw this coming, and I tried to sound the alarm.  I tried to speak truth to the powers-that-be, but they didn't listen.  My voice was probably one of the softer ones in the cacophony.  Others spoke even louder and more forcefully, but the General Assembly wouldn't listen.

Most of the reforms that have put us here today had a champion, and I'm not talking about Tony Bennett.  The grand champion in all of this reform effort was Mitch Daniels.

Even before Governor Daniels became Governor, he was talking about dismantling public schools as we know them.  During his second term as Governor, he pushed the reforms which have created the situation in. Most of those bills are based on model bills by ALEC.

What's gone on from January 2013 forward is on Mike Pence and the leaders of the General Assembly.  Together, they have done more than enough to hamstring urban districts and the ability to improve.

It's also important to point out that this is a nationwide problem.  For all the things he's been right on, President Barack Obama and his Education Secretary Arne Duncan have been wrong.  It's important to remember that reform was and has been a national phenomenon based on shoddy models.

I'm going to make a few predictions.  It's going to become a lot easier to become a teacher in the near future.  I predict that we'll see the General Assembly make that happen.  These people won't stay in education either.  They will realize that the low pay is not worth the big headaches because it takes a special person to teach these days.

The point of this post is this.  While everyone loads on Mike Pence and the GOP these days for education reform, don't forget who the grand poobah was.  Mitch Daniels pulled the grenade pin and walked away.

Friday, August 14, 2015

Living Wage Forum Draws Zero Republican Participants

Last night, I had the opportunity to participate in an Indianapolis Candidates Forum on Living Wage at the Central Library last night.

The forum, sponsored by Raise the Wage, drew a full house of concerned workers, advocates, and activists.  It was a good discussion with hard questions and untimed answers.  The Central Library's Michael Torres moderated the discussion, and there was plenty of time to meet the candidates before and after the meeting.

There were six Democrats on the panel (Curtis Bigsbee, Frank Islas, Jared Evans, Kip Tew, Zach Adamson, and me) and one Libertarian (Mike Jasper).  Sadly, ZERO Republicans showed.


Not one.

Organizers said they invited all the municipal candidates through the county parties.  I guess that means Republicans running for municipal office don't think a living wage is an important issue in Indianapolis.

It's really a shame no Republicans were there to hear from the speakers.  They talked passionately about what a living wage might do for our city.  I firmly believe that a rising tide lifts all boats and that more money in paychecks across the board makes us a stronger community.

Who knows what we could accomplish if a few basic needs could be met?

Indianapolis doesn't have home rule on wages.  The state legislature must be convinced to raise the minimum wage in Indianapolis.

Thursday, August 13, 2015

Be Like President Carter: Leave a Legacy

Courtesy of the Carter Center
I was really too young to remember much about President Jimmy Carter's time in office from 1977 to 1981.  I can barely remember Ronald Reagan taking charge of the country as I was just five or six years old.

To me, politics back then was something I was not really aware of or cared about.  I was much more interested in my toys, my little red wagon, and building things with my Legos.  I didn't know really what was going on in the world around me.

What I do know is that in the studies I've done since, President Carter's Administration was far from perfect, but it is also far from the failure some believe it was.  Among his chief accomplishments, Carter managed to bring a lasting peace between Egypt and Israel.  He also did score the release of the hostages.  Carter worked tirelessly to secure their safe return.  After President Reagan took the Oath of Office, Iranian officials released the hostages as a final insult to President Carter.  Carter has said in interviews that it didn't matter who got the credit and that hearing the hostages had been released was one of the greatest moments of his life.

Carter went back to Plains, Georgia as the first sitting President to lose in a landslide since Herbert Hoover.  He didn't hang his head.  He didn't get bitter.  

Instead, President Carter picked up a hammer and started building homes for Habitat for Humanity.  He got busy and used his clout to build the Carter Center which has dedicated itself to work in the name of peace and equality across the world.  He sat out to eradicate the horrible guinea worm from Africa.  He sought to spread Democracy across the globe with free, fair elections.  He became a chief negotiator and a worthy servant for any sitting President.

President Carter's recent work has been on behalf of civil rights for women worldwide.  He's shined a light continuously on places we should have been looking.

As was reported yesterday, President Carter is now suffering from cancer.  At the age of 90, the warrior is sick.  I know this won't stop him from fighting.  Jimmy Carter won't stop on this Earth or beyond.  His legacy will continue long after he's gone, and he will be the model of what a former President of the United States can and should do with his waning years.

I'm not convinced cancer understands who it's fighting.  President Carter, my thoughts are with you and your entire family.  You have fought a long and worthy fight for so many, and we will be with you as you fight this disease.  

Our world is better because you are here, and we need you.

Wednesday, August 12, 2015

Carter Battling Cancer

Jimmy Carter
The 39th President of the United States, Jimmy Carter, has announced that he is battling cancer.

The cancer was apparently discovered during recent liver surgery, and it has spread to other parts of the former President's body.

Carter, who recently turned 90, has been a force since leaving office in 1981.  Some argue that he's been the best former President in history.  A force for global peace, fair elections, and better living conditions for the poor across the world through the Carter Center, Carter is a Nobel Peace Prize winner.

Through it all, he's remained the same, humble Sunday school teacher in Plains, Georgia.

It goes without saying that I wish President Carter well as he battles this disease.  While there may have been better Presidents, there have been few better men to serve as President.

Target Gender Neutral Policy Causes Ridiculous Uproar

From Wikipedia
Target announced a new policy that it would not be classifying its toys and other products by gender and many in the social media world lost their heads. 

It makes you wonder: why do people care how Target chooses to sell its toys, anyway? Furthermore, why put the energy and time into condemning Target and just go somewhere else?

The fact of the matter is that people are likely concerned that, oh my gosh, if Little Johnny sees a girl toy next to a boy toy, he might just play with it. The horror! What’s next for Little Johnny? Cone bras and show tunes?

When I was little, I would put a blanket on my head and pretend to be “Joan”, my little sister I never had. My parents often played along, and we’d laugh about it. I was PLAYING. I did not want to be a girl. It was also fun to go over to my friend’s house and play with her Barbie dolls sometimes. In fact, her dollhouse was awesome. Again, I was PLAYING.

There are little girls who like to play with little boy toys and little boys who love to play with little girl toys. Why should we force children into gender roles that we define for them? It won’t change who they are on the inside! 

Fact of the matter is that Little Johnny should be able to play with whatever toy you buy him. If you choose to make your purchases based upon where Target has traditionally set up their toys, then that’s on you. It’s not on your kids. 

As far as those young people that struggle with gender identity even as a child. Yes, there are stories of people knowing they were the wrong biological gender even as a small child. Yet, sometimes we force them to be one gender or the other. Imagine trying to shove your foot into shoes that just didn’t fit.

Let’s let kids be kids. I applaud Target for this move. It’s a strike for gender neutrality and equality.

Tuesday, August 11, 2015

Carnel Next to Pass LGBT Protections

Mayor Jim Brainard
When I started this blog seven years ago, I didn't think the words I'm about to write might be possible.

Carmel is about to pass a human rights ordinance including LGBT citizens and even gender identity as well.

Mayor Jim Brainard is leading the charge, and his Council is following to the tune of six of seven members.  It's due to be considered at its August 17 meeting.  A rally is planned before the meeting.

Carmel is, of course, anything but a liberal bastion of Democratic politics.  Brainard, however, is smart enough to know that an ordinance like this one in a state with the Religious Freedom Restoration Act makes his city a desirable place to settle for LGBT families.  Plus, and most importantly, it's the right thing to do.

Congratulations Mayor Brainard and the City of Carmel.  It will soon be illegal to fire someone on Monday for getting married on Sunday in your city!  Hopefully, Mike Pence is listening and will allow the statewide agenda to carry a similar protection for LGBT Hoosiers.

Monday, August 10, 2015

Ritz Withdraws Leaving Two in Race

Glenda Ritz
Last week, Glenda Ritz did the sensible thing and ended her run for Governor of Indiana.

Her campaign had been characterized by mistakes and follies from the start, and the nail in its coffin was the mistakes made in campaign finance.  It was a sloppy mess, and it did not do any favors for those that doubt her leadership abilities.

The question she will now face is did her campaign for Governor hurt her campaign for reelection as Superintendent of Public Instruction?  Time will tell whether Ritz can rebuild her coalition and get herself reelected in 2016.

As far as the campaign for Governor goes, two very strong candidates remain.

On one hand, you have John Gregg.  Gregg has outraised Mike Pence, and he continues to work the backroads, backwoods, and side streets of the Hoosier State determined to do what he didn't do in 2012.

On the other hand, you a true progressive State Senator, Karen Tallian.  Tallian may not have the money or the polling numbers, but she has tremendous support among some constituency groups.  She also has the message of working currently in the General Assembly with the Republican Majority to get things done.

Gregg is likely the frontrunner, but it remains to be seen how Tallian will resonate now that it's just her and the mustachioed man from Sandborn in this race.

Friday, August 7, 2015

Done Defending Donnelly

Senator Joe Donnelly
I've defended Joe Donnelly on this blog in the past.  I took some flak over it, but I did what I thought was necessary at that time.

Well, I'm about to do a small flip flop, and I'm sure some will give me some flak over it, too.  I'm even calling myself out on it.  I'm done defending Joe Donnelly.  He is a big boy and can do it himself...especially after Monday's vote to defund Planned Parenthood.

That's really the heart of what Monday's vote was about.  It was a largely symbolic vote for Donnelly to show what side he was on in the debate, and he voted his conscience.  I called him a sellout on Thursday's blog post, and I was wrong on that, and I want to apologize to the Senator for trivializing his views on the issue.

I know abortion is a deeply dividing issue.  It's either very easy or very hard to reduce it to a simple "for" or "against" proposition.  For me, I'm on the record as agreeing with our 42nd President, Bill Clinton, that abortion should be safe, legal, and rare.  I also understand why so many people, including Senator Donnelly, have personal and deeply-held beliefs that abortion is wrong.  Because of the Supreme Court decision in the landmark Roe v. Wade case, abortion is legal across the United States, and it's a woman's right to choose to end a pregnancy.  It's up to her to dictate what happens in and what happens to her body.

For many Democrats, the vote by Donnelly on Monday was one of those line in the sand moments.  On these types of issues, some Democrats find it hard for compromise because it's exactly these issues that define the difference between the political parties and the ideologies.  It strikes at the very heart of what it means to be a Republican or a Democrat or a progressive or a conservative, and, for some, it's extremely difficult to see how someone that agrees on so many issues can disagree on this one that seems so fundamental to the entire conversation.

As I've said before, the Democratic Party is a big tent, and we let people underneath it with wide-ranging and various views.  I can't, however, defend our Senator from you if this is your jumping off point from the Donnelly train.  The Senator's overall record on women's issues is abysmal, and this vote on Monday was another bad moment for him.

There are many things I like about Donnelly.  He's accessible, engaged, involved, and thoughtful.  He doesn't speak over your head or around you.  The times that I've spent in the Senator's presence usually have left me impressed.  That's why it's been so easy in the past to overlook some of the differences in our views.

Things may be changing on that.  Joe Donnelly will have to make the case in 2018 to progressives and Hoosier Democrats that he's the best choice to win their votes.  In a mid-term election, he won't have the luxury of a Presidential turnout.  Some Democrats may stay home and let him sleep in the bed he has made.

Thursday, August 6, 2015

Respected Democrat Quits Donnelly Campaign Over Planned Parenthood Vote

Kathy Davis
Photo Courtesy
Davis Design Group
On Monday, Indiana Senator Joe Donnelly voted with 50 Republicans and one other Democrat to defund Planned Parenthood.

That was enough for former Lieutenant Governor, Kathy Davis.  The straight shooting and universally-respected Democrat told the Indianapolis Star that she resigned her position as Donnelly's campaign treasurer as a direct result of Donnelly's vote on Monday.  She had been with the campaign for four years.

Davis is one of the smartest people I've ever met, and she's not one that's generally known for making a quick decision.  Davis's exit is a huge loss to the Donnelly campaign, and it signifies the depth of disappointment some Democrats have in the Senator's vote.

The only other Democrat to vote for the defunding of Planned Parenthood was West Virginia's Joe Manchin.  Other Democrats were able to ultimately block the effort to defund.

Wednesday, August 5, 2015

Donnelly Sells Out to Right with Planned Parenthood Vote

Senator Joe Donnelly
Indiana Democrats knew what they were getting when they elected Joe Donnelly.  We knew he wasn't Richard Mourdock, but we also knew he’s a moderate in every sense of the word, and he’s not afraid to buck his party line.

Joe Donnelly disappointed me on Monday.

Listen, I understand that abortion is an emotional issue. I am personally opposed to abortion, and I would urge any woman in the situation to think long and deeply about the decision. It’s one that will live with you the rest of your life with. While I’m personally opposed to abortion, I don’t believe it’s my place to tell a woman what to do with her body. I believe abortion should, as President Bill Clinton once said, be safe, legal, and rare.

Planned Parenthood is an organization that makes sure that women have access to safe and legal abortions.  That's a very small part of what the organization does in fact, some point out that it's just three percent of what the organization does.  The vast majority of what Planned Parenthood does provides low-cost health services to women who would not have any other way, in most cases, to get the services.  

In an investigation, Indiana found no wrongdoing by Planned Parenthood as it operates in this state, and you know Governor Mike Pence was just wanting to find something wrong.  It's been that way in the other states that have launched investigations, and the videos that led to the vote on Monday to try and defund Planned Parenthood are looking more and more like heavily-edited hoaxes by the far right.

That's what Joe Donnelly responded to on Monday when he joined the Republicans and voted to defund the only reproductive health care some women have access to.  Thankfully, it takes more than just a majority to get anything done in the Senate.  

Donnelly is not cobbling much of a record together on women’s issues. With the exception of Lilly Ledbetter, he’s voted wrong on a number of issues. 

This is the latest.

Tuesday, August 4, 2015

Goshen to Consider LGBT Human Rights Ordinance Tonight

Tonight, Goshen will decide if it is going to pass an ordinance protecting LGBT citizens from discrimination.  Neighboring Elkhart is also considering the issue.

Of course, in the process, the two Northern Indiana communities have become the target of the anti-gay hate campaign of Eric Miller who's telling lies about transgender individuals and making up stories on some gay agenda being pushed.  Yes, he's selling hate disguised as being concerned.

Well, there's nothing to fear.  Plenty of other communities in Indiana have passed such ordinances, and, as far as I know, none of us have been turned into pillars of salt just yet.  Hopefully, the council members, a 4-3 Republican majority, in Goshen will look past the lies and the wild innuendo and realize that it's human beings we're talking about here.

The Elkhart Truth wrote the story of a transgender man who was moved to speak out after hearing one of Miller's diatribes on the issue.  This ordinance is about men like "Frank" who live in fear that one day he will be outed and have no way to keep his former identity a secret.  It could cost him everything.

If you get a chance, send a good thought up towards Goshen today.  Here's to hoping the Councillors do what's right and support equal rights for all.

Monday, August 3, 2015

It's Still Early, but May Primary May Be Interesting in Indiana

By the time the excitement of the Primary Election reaches Indiana, the excitement part has been drained out.  It's very rare that the Hoosier State has anything to say about the national scene.  2016 is looking a bit like 2008 right now, and if these early indications ring true, the May Primary in 2016 may be another one to watch again in Indiana.

First of all, who knows how all this mess will shake out at the national level for the Republicans? Hopefully, by the time things reach the Hoosier State, that the top two or three candidates will have separated themselves from the gaggle.  Donald Trump seems to be getting a fair amount of support, but will others supporting other candidates support him or will they throw their support to someone other than him.

Besides the battle for the GOP Presidential nomination, you could also have a couple of hotly-contested races in Congress.  Both Indiana's Third and Ninth Congressional Districts might be looking for a Republican nominee.  That's because both Marlin Stutzman and Todd Young are running for the U.S. Senate seat being vacated by retiring Dan Coats.  Add in Eric Holcomb, and the U.S. Senate seat could also be an interesting primary race in 2016.

On the Democratic side, Glenda Ritz's campaign has been rocked in the last few days by campaign finance allegations against it.  She and state Senator Karen Tallian are contesting the Democratic nomination for Governor with John Gregg.

Sure, it's a long way out, but the 2016 Indiana Primary in May might be in play again like it was eight years ago.  As you may remember, Hillary Clinton eeked out a victory in Indiana over Barack Obama, but she underperformed.  The Obama crew kept their team on the ground, and it paid off in November because the President carried Indiana.

Sunday, August 2, 2015

"Hey, Evan, Hey, How About a Little Something, You Know, For the Effort"

Former U.S. Senator and Indiana
Governor Evan Bayh
While it has its blue parts, no one will ever mistake our state of Indiana for a blue state.

Furthermore, while we love to get together annually and have a good time at the JJ Dinner or at the IDEA convention, the Indiana Democratic Party has had its struggles trying to eat into the Republican control of the state's major offices.  Again, I am probably not telling you anything you don't know as a Democrat.

The real statistics don't make it better.  Since 2000, Democrats have won five statewide elections.  The late Frank O'Bannon avoided the Y2K bug and won a second term as Governor in 2000.  Four years later, Evan Bayh won a second term to the U.S. Senate.  For the first time since 1964, Democrats carried Indiana with President Barack Obama in 2008.  Most recently, Joe Donnelly was elected to the U.S. Senate, and voters sent Glenda Ritz to the Statehouse as the Superintendent of Public Instruction in 2012.  Other than that, Democrats have faced pretty long odds at the ballot box when it comes to statewide offices, especially in the non-Presidential election years.

It's challenging for Democrats, and it's going to take a lot of time, effort, and money to turn things around.  Dems have shown the ability to win an office here or there, but it's going to take something more sustained to make the Hoosier State more purple under these maps and over the next few election cycles.

One man is perhaps sitting on some of the answer to this problem.  That man is, of course, the aforementioned Evan Bayh who has stashed away millions in his campaign cupboard waiting for who knows what.

Sitting on campaign cash after leaving office is nothing uncommon.  According to an article published in USA Today, 141 former Congresscritters and Senators still have campaign cash.  It is uncommon to carry as much as Bayh carries in his account.

The former Indiana Governor's campaign account has more than $10 million just sitting there...waiting.  That's first on the list of all former members of Congress with money in a campaign account.  It's almost six million dollars more than former Massachusetts Congressman Marty Meehan has in his account.  In fact, if you combine Meehan's money with the next two names on the list, Tom Harkin's and Dave Camp's, you would only then exceed Bayh's $10.02 million.

So, it begs the question...what is Bayh waiting for?  Is he waiting for just the perfect campaign to come along?  Is he waiting for that VEEP call?  Is he waiting for the right time to make a political comeback?

It's his money, and he can do with it what he wants.  It just seems like if Democrats in Indiana are ever going to make a financial move that Bayh could play a big part in being leader in that regard.  Hoosier Democrats have shown up and shown out for Evan Bayh for years.  Maybe it's time he puts a little bit of that money back into helping grow the party he helped to lead for so many years.