Saturday, October 31, 2015

Tully Defends Miller But Not Mascari?

Indianapolis Star columnist Matt Tully all but endorsed City-County Councillor Jeff Miller in the newspaper’s pages over a negative attack sent out by the Marion County Democratic Party into Miller’s district.

I haven’t seen the negative piece, but it bears note that the Republican Party has since reportedly dropped a negative piece on Emily Shrock. Shrock didn’t even have anything to do with the negative piece that hit mailboxes against Miller.
Councillor Jeff Miller

Listen, I’m not going to call balls and strikes on this one. I wish negative campaigns didn’t exist. That said, it’s part of the party, folks. 

Back in 2012, I thought about running for Indiana Senate. At the time, my mother was still living, and I was afraid of the effects a dirty campaign might have on her. I knew that if I threatened Senator Mike Young’s prospects for reelection, that he might go negative. I sought out every person I could think of to give me good advice.

My best advice came from Congressman AndrĂ© Carson. He didn’t sugar coat it. He told me to follow my heart knowing that the other side would do its worst if they had to. I picked up my phone, and I called Vi Simpson the next morning. I told her no.

This time, it appears to some degree that the negative campaigning has caused folks to defend Miller, and that’s ok. I consider Jeff a good friend. I find him to be thoughtful and engaging. He’s a good man and a wonderful father. 

I think he’s also good at playing the role of the internally- tortured politician. While there’s no question that he doesn’t always agree with his own party, he often votes with it and then explains how hard it was to vote with it. I don’t doubt his heart. He may in fact be struggling when he votes sometimes, but there are many reasons why he stays a Republican.

When I look at who I would vote for in that district, I see a candidate that has knocked doors, listened to voters, and pounded the pavement unlike any other candidate. That’s Emily Shrock. I think it puts her in a better position to represent the newly-drawn District 16 than Jeff.

Whether the voters will see it that way or not remains to be seen on Tuesday. Let’s not be sanctimonious about negative campaigning, though. There have been many times it’s occurred and has been unfair and Matt Tully has written nothing.  

In fact, it just happened to Frankie Mascari.

Mascari had a negative mail piece dropped against him in his district.  The shady piece uses dubious claims to portray Mascari as a vote for frivolous lawsuits against the city.  It leaves out the fact that these lawsuits were mostly bi-partisan efforts to safeguard taxpayer dollars and the Council's own function as a check against the power of the Mayor.        

Where's that column Matt?

Friday, October 30, 2015

Mascari Deserves Four More Years on Council

We’ve looked at the tight races in District 2, 3, and 16. Let’s head over to Beech Grove and surrounding area for our next stop as Indy Democrat looks at the key Council races you’ll be watching with interest on Election Night. 

In 2011, Beech Grove business owner Frankie Mascari was elected his current Council seat.  He began the race as an underdog to incumbent Susie Day.  When the votes were counted on Election Night, even though he had been outspent, Mascari was one of the best stories of the night for the Democrats as they picked up a seat on the notoriously-red Southside of Indianapolis.  

Turns out, Mascari's win would begin to lead a turnaround in Beech Grove that extended past the City-County Council to the Mayor's Office and other offices in the city.  

Mascari has tons of name recognition, and he's done a sensational job on the Council.  He's been one of the Mayor's most vocal critics on the way Ballard has done business.  It's no wonder Ballard has endorsed Beech Grove Councillor Anthony Davidson for the seat.  Ballard has even stumped for Davidson on a recent television ad.

The newly-drawn District 21 has changed from the old District 20 boundaries.  It still includes Beech Grove but now has more territory to the north and to the west than it used to have.  It now extends up to Prospect on the southern end of Fountain Square (which is now split between three Council districts).  Registration numbers show this will be a close race.

At the end of the day, District 21 loves a fighter, and they have that in Frankie Mascari.  If they want four more excellent years of service, they will reelect Frankie to the Council.

Thursday, October 29, 2015

Kip Tew Releases TV Spot

Kip Tew has gone up and on the air with an ad of his own after Colleen Fanning put an ad of her own on the air last week.

I saw Tew's ad this morning during the Eyewitness News Sunrise on WTHR.

It's a simple ad focusing on the crime issue.  Prosecutor Terry Curry has a pictured cameo.

Bad Lip Reading Takes on the Democratic Debate

Time for some laughs...enjoy.

Wednesday, October 28, 2015

Obama Finds Right Message on Testing

One place I have differed with President Barack Obama is education policy.

His push for reforms including the advancement of charter schools has, in my view, hurt traditional public schools by diverting critical funding away from them. Rather than fixing the problems in the quality of our traditional public schools, the rise of and push for charter schools, some with the same kinds of quality challenges as their traditional public school counterparts, has exacerbated the problems.

The President has also been behind and has helped move forward the performance-based pay models for teachers. In essence, many of his policies have helped contribute, in my view, to the teacher shortages we see across the country today.

It appears that we’ve reached a tipping point in the reform era. President Obama is now speaking out against the number and variety of standardized tests given in our traditional public school classrooms across the country, and he’s starting to advocate for steps to reduce them.

I’m glad the President finally is speaking out on this issue, and I wish he would reverse or change course in other areas as he has reached the “lame duck” part of his term. Having the President set the table for the next person to take office will be critically important.

Tuesday, October 27, 2015

Watch District 16 As Swing District on Council

In our continuing series looking at the City-County Council’s key races district-by-district, Indy Democrat has looked at District 2 and District 3.
Emily Shrock
Councillor Jeff Miller

Today, we’ll cover District 16. The way this district is drawn has put incumbent Jeff Miller, a Republican, up against Democrat Emily Shrock. It’s about a 50/50 district that now includes not only the IUPUI campus but also the University of Indianapolis campus. The district takes in the Western part of Fountain Square and then goes down south to pick up part of Perry Township. On the West end, it picks up the Near-Westside and parts of Northern Mars Hill. In short, it’s a very diverse district.

At one end are the new developments and high-end real estate located on the Southside of downtown Indianapolis. On the far western reaches of the district, you have some traditionally-ignored neighborhoods that have big infrastructure needs and rescue from crime. It’s quite a remarkable bit of territory.

The old district Miller used to represent included the area around Garfield Park, and this new district has some of that area on the Westside of the park, but it’s definitely a bit of new territory for Miller on the far Northside of the district around IUPUI and on the far Southside of the district in Perry Township. 

Shrock, a Deputy Prosecutor, has used that to her advantage by knocking, re-knocking, and knocking again on doors across the district. She’s worked incredibly hard, and I believe she would be a magnificent City-County Councillor. Miller, who is frankly a friend of mine, listens and works hard. He does his job and is a good Councillor, but many in this new area do not know him. Registration-wise the district is capable of swinging back Democrat. When he was elected to the Council in 2011, Miller defeated Democrat Dane Mahern in a tight race. I would expect another close race on Election Night 2015. 

This may be a bellwether district to see what kind of coattails Joe Hogsett might have depending on the margin.  A close win either way is expected.  A blowout by Shrock will indicate Hogsett had coattails.

As in Districts 2 and 3, the fight in District 16 may come down to just a handful of votes in a traditionally low-turnout district. If you live in this district, you should definitely plan to get out and make your voice heard it literally could make the difference for one candidate or the other.

Monday, October 26, 2015

Hickman and Scales Battle As Incumbents for Newly-Drawn District 3 Seat

It's incumbent vs. incumbent in another district race worth watching as this election cycle comes to a close over the next two weeks.

At-Large Councillor Pam Hickman was left with few options when the Indiana General Assembly passed Senate Enrolled Act 621 a couple of years ago.  The "Ballard Power Grab", as I like to call it, really did a number on the Democrats as it eliminated the four At-Large seats on the Council.

Councillor Scales
Councillor Hickman
We've already seen the nastiness of the law.  Leroy Robinson moved into District 1 specifically to run for the seat and narrowly defeated Councillor Angela Mansfield to win the nomination.  Rather than take on Joe Simpson, Council Vice President John Barth declined a run and will finish his time on the Council in January.  Kip Tew is locked in a neck-and-neck battle with Colleen Fanning in District 2.  Originally elected to an At-Large seat, Zach Adamson took over Brian Mahern's vacant seat when the former Councillor became a Marion County employee and could no longer legally hold a Council seat.

The law set up the battle between Hickman and fellow incumbent Christine Scales in District 3. 

Scales is no favorite of the Republican establishment because she has often been a critic of Mayor Greg Ballard's policies, but they seem to be playing nice (they even gave her money) because they know this seat is very important as to what party controls the City-County Council majority.  It's a far cry from the Primary Election back in May where Scales was "primaried" by her own party.

Both Hickman and Scales are hard workers and take their jobs seriously on the Council.  It's going to come down perhaps to which candidate works the district harder in these last two weeks.  

Scales was nearly defeated by Kostas Poulakidas four years ago, but she held on for a slim victory of just 39 votes.  The district was redrawn a bit and favors Scales slightly more now, but it's still a very tight district.  

This is another district that I believe we'll be waiting a while on Election Night to call.

Saturday, October 24, 2015

Fanning Going Negative on Tew in District 2 Race

Colleen Fanning
Newly-drawn City-County Council District 2 is the site of one of the most hotly-contested races of this election cycle.

The northside district that includes important Indy areas like Broad Ripple has incumbent At-Large Democrat Kip Tew battling Republican Colleen Fanning.  Libertarian Sam Goldstein is also in the race.

Both candidates have raised a lot of money including a recent $20,000 contribution by Bill Osterle to Fanning.  It was the largest contribution anyone can remember from a single contributor to a Council candidate.  It exceeds the entire yearly salary of a Councillor.

The race for that seat has been expensive because both parties want control of the Council, and District 2 may hold the key to that control.

Councillor Kip Tew
Tew, who likely would be running At-Large if not for the GOP-backed power grab that eliminated the At-Large seats, has seen Fanning run a TV ad on her own, and she also received an endorsement in a television ad from Greg Ballard.

Now, with that extra change from Osterle, the former Angie's List CEO, in her pocket, it appears she's going negative on Tew.  The candidate reports via Facebook:  "It's come to my attention that my opponent has decided to launch negative partisan attacks by the way of mailers. I'm disappointed in the negative campaigning while our district is dealing with a crime wave. Please check out my latest mailer in contrast."

He then posted a picture of his issues-based mailing highlighting an endorsement from Marion County Prosecutor Terry Curry.

While I haven't seen the mailers Tew is referring to in his Facebook post, if Fanning has gone negative, that likely means that she is behind.  This isn't Tew's first rodeo, so he will know exactly how to respond.

As for me, it's disturbing that one person wrote a check in this race for $20,000.  I don't care that Osterle is a social liberal.  It just disturbs me.  I honestly would have thought twice about accepting the donation had I been Fanning, but I'm clearly

Friday, October 23, 2015

Brewer's Political (or Will Be)...Make No Mistake

Chuck Brewer
I heard Chuck Brewer say it again on Saturday at the Marion County Alliance of Neighborhood Associations Meeting.  Brewer says it with so much ease that I almost think he believes it.

"I'm not a politician."

Brewer then often goes on and touts his Marine Corps experience, his work at Sears Roebuck in Chicago, and his entrepreneurship that opened two downtown restaurants.  It's a good solid resume.

The GOP nominee is following the same playbook with the same campaign advisory staff that carried Greg Ballard to an upset win over Bart Peterson and made it stick by holding the office in defeating Melina Kennedy.

Ballard's mantra the first time was that he was a Marine and not a politician and that he been successful as a small business owner.  Ballard even had written a book about it.  Clocking in at a whopping 71 pages, The Ballard Rules is more long pamphlet than book.  The second time around, he kept the Marine and not a politician thing, but he added in the slogan "Leadership at Work".

Joe Hogsett
Greg Ballard has been anything but not a politician.  From his dealings with campaign supporters to appointments to his dealings with the City-County Council, Greg Ballard has shown he's absolutely a politician and a pretty good one.  If a Republican can find a way to get elected twice in a city that swings Democratic, then I'd say he's been pretty successful at making his own brand of politics.

It's the brand Chuck Brewer's running on.

I don't mean to be cynical here because I'm not.  I'm a politician because I'm running for office.  I'm political.  If I'm elected, politics will be my thing.  It's inevitable.  If Chuck Brewer is elected, he'll be a politician too.  Someone will give him a list of appointments to make, and he's going to be confronted with decisions about campaign donors.

To me, Joe Hogsett has the experience in politics and government to chart his own path.  That's the kind of experience you don't get in food service or corporate America.  City government isn't a business. It's a much different animal, and that's why we need Joe.

Thursday, October 22, 2015

Both Indy Mayor Candidates Up with New Ads in Closing Days

It's time for closing arguments in the Mayor's race.

Chuck Brewer's finally received the endorsement of the man whose budget he often criticizes in his stump speech, Mayor Greg Ballard.  Ballard dropped $400,000 into the race early and then has waited until now to officially put his stamp of approval on Brewer's campaign.

The ad featuring Ballard also goes after two of Ballard's biggest foes on the Council, indirectly.  One is Kip Tew, one of the best friends of Marion County Democratic Party Chair Joel Miller, and one of the At-Large Councillors seeking a district seat.  Colleen Fanning is getting the Mayor's endorsement in District 2.  Fanning also received a cash infusion of $20,000 from Republican and former Angie's List CEO Bill Osterle a last week.  Ballard's endorsement will certainly be met with a mixed reception in Broad Ripple where public safety is a challenge and many activists look at Mayor Ballard's parking garage with disdain.

The other Councillor singled out is Frankie Mascari.  Mascari has been very vocal against the Blue Indy and Freedom Fleet deals as well as the way Mayor Ballard has done business.  Ballard endorses Mascari's opponent, Anthony Davidson, in the ad.  Mascari is a beloved figure in Beech Grove with great name recognition.  Like District 2, Dems must hold this district to maintain the majority.

I'd say the inclusion of the Council candidates in this ad shows how much Republicans are putting their chips on the Council campaign.

Meanwhile, Joe Hogsett has gone on the air with an ad that just kind of sums up the themes of his campaign so far.  It's a strong ad that drives home the idea that Hogsett's administration will concentrate on the neighborhoods of Indianapolis.  It's Hogsett's 10th spot.

Wednesday, October 21, 2015

Council Races Will Go to Wire

The City-County Council races on November 3 will be extremely interesting, and I think will keep us watching until the last votes are counted.

Conventional wisdom and political targeting tells me that the powers-that-be think control of the Council will come down to five to seven races.

District 2 where At-Large incumbent Kip Tew, the Democrat, is battling Republican Colleen Fanning.  Fanning has raised over $33,000 but has spent the majority of it having just over $9K left in the bank.  After the campaign filing period, former Angie's List CEO Bill Osterle decided to drop another $20K on Fanning.  Tew has raised over $67,000 this year for his run and has almost $46,000 in his campaign account. With all of that money in the race, I'm sure you'll hear a lot about it over the last few days.  Fanning is up on TV with an ad.  Libertarian Sam Goldstein has raised over $3,000 for his run and has $2,500+ in the bank.

Next door in District 3, it's another battle of incumbents.  At-Large incumbent Pam Hickman finds herself in a battle with Republican pariah Christine Scales.  Scales, who defeated slated Republican Tim Craft in the May Primary by 131 votes, now finds herself as one of the Republican Party's needed incumbents to hold on.  Scales has raised over $12,000 but had only 1/3 of that left.  Since then, she gladly accepted the Marion County GOP's $1,500 despite the fact that they have fought against her in the past.  Hickman has raised over $14K for her run and has almost $8,000 left in the bank.  Libertarian Chris Bowen, who ran for Mayor in 2011, is also in this fight with no money in his campaign coffers.

On the Westside, Frank Islas, the Democratic challenger, is waging a powerful ground game against the known hard campaigning Janice McHenry in District 6.  Islas has raised over $7,500 for his run and has nearly $4,250 in the bank.  McHenry has raised over $14,000 for and spent all but $4,200.

In District 12, Blake Johnson, a dynamic young Democrat, is looking to take the seat of longtime Councillor Mary Moriarty Adams.  Susan Smith is the Republican nominee.  Smith's account shows $11,000+ raised but only a little over $1,000 in the bank.  Johnson has raised almost $28,000 with nearly $15,000 in the bank.  Libertarian Michael Gunyon has raised $650 and spent $640.

District 16 could be very interesting.  The new lines have left new turf to cover for incumbent Republican Jeff Miller.  That might open the door for a hard-driving campaigner like Emily Shrock.  The very concerned Miller has raised over $26,000 and has over $7,300 in the bank.  Shrock has raised over $35,000 and has over $17,000 left in the bank.  This one could come down to a hundred votes or less.

District 21 is another to keep an eye on.  Incumbent Frank Mascari, the Democrat, is battling Republican Anthony Davidson.  Davidson's campaign report shows about $7,000 raised and over $1,300 in the bank.  Mascari has raised over $15,000 and has $7,000 in the bank.  I still think this district leans towards Mascari.  Last week, MIBOR did drop $1,000 on Davidson to help his bottom line.

And finally, one that no one is talking about is District 22.  In that district, incumbent Bob Lutz, a Republican, is rematched against Democrat Jared Evans.  The district shifted south on Lutz into a less friendly area for Republicans.  Evans has raised over $6,800 for the race and has almost $2,000 left.  Lutz has raised almost $8,000 and has $1875 remaining.

Other matchups to watch include...

The race in District 4 between Ray Biederman, the Democrat, and Mike McQuillen, the GOP leader on the Council.  Will there be any backlash against McQuillen for his controversial votes on the Council over IMPD?

District 5's race between Democrat Curtis Bigsbee and Republican Jeff Coats.

District 15's battle between Democrat Christopher Wall and incumbent Republican Marilyn Pfisterer

The completely open seat in District 18 between Eddie Barnes, the Democrat, and Republican Susie Cordi.

District 19 where incumbent Ben Hunter, the Republican, battles Democrat David Ray.

Finally, does anyone know why my opponent in District 20, incumbent Councillor Jason Holliday loaned himself $9,000??

13 seats are needed to control the Council.

One thing we know...Jack Sandlin will be reelected.  Nice going Jack.

Monday, October 19, 2015

In Memoriam: Mark St. John

Mark St. John
Indianapolis has lost a great voice for equality, and I have lost a friend.  According to multiple sources including my fellow blogger, Sheila Kennedy, our friend Mark St. John passed away suddenly after returning home from traveling.

As we've seen the polls swing around to support LGBTQIA causes, it's been because people like Mark St. John stood up and demanded that people in power listen.  No one does anything worth note without shaking some trees and rocking some boats, and Mark was no different.

I'll always remember now the last time I saw him.  Zach Adamson held a birthday party for his husband, Christian Mosburg, on September 26.  It was a really good night where several friends got together and watched a movie, ate some great chili, and enjoyed each other's company before parting and going our separate ways again.

Mark was there.  I noticed he was nursing a sore foot, so we talked about that for a bit.  "This will heal," I remember Mark saying.  He looked good.  Certainly, I had no idea that he'd be gone in less than a month.

Never ever take for granted those friends you have.  You never know when it will be your last conversation with them.  I never saw Mark leave that night, so I wish I would have at least had a chance to say so long.

Thanks to Mark for all he did to advance LGBTQIA causes in Indiana, and thanks for being a pioneer who spoke out when speaking out on these issues was not popular.  At least he lived long enough to see a world where equality took on a whole new meaning.

Rest easy, friend.

Mayoral Debate Won't Change Anything

The two Mayoral candidates debated, and I'm pretty sure few of you saw it.  Why Channel 8 would schedule the debate on a Friday at 6:30 p.m. is anyone's guess?

I watched it on replay on WISH's website, and it was a pretty low-key affair that leaves me wondering what Chuck Brewer's path to victory is.  He didn't take the fight to Joe Hogsett at all as I expected he might, and he has a couple of good lines he could use that I've heard on the campaign trail.  Brewer will sometimes needle Hogsett for his past electoral history or the stretch perception that Hogsett is using the Mayor's office as a stepping stone.

Instead, Brewer stuck to the script, and he's good at it.  He's a very good candidate, and the Republicans were lucky to find him after so many had said no.  A very good candidate won't defeat an exceptional candidate like Joe Hogsett without some help.  Hogsett has not given Brewer even the first blink of help and is running a perfect campaign.

The only path to victory that I see for Brewer is a race where extremely few people turn out and in the right areas of town.  If that happens, that's very bad news for the Marion County Democratic Party because it could mean Republicans will control both the Mayor's Office and the City-County Council.  That's why it's so important that Democrats refuse to take this election off.  It's a must to show up and vote and, if possible, to bank those votes early.

I still don't have a handle on what's going to happen on Election Night.  I think Joe Hogsett's going to be the next Mayor of Indianapolis, but the margin and the Council he gets to work with are largely up to the voters.

Friday, October 16, 2015

Hogsett Reaching Out to Faith-Based Community

Joe Hogsett
When Greg Ballard took the Mayor's Office in 2007 and defended his win in 2011, many commentators looked at the faith-based community as the group that powered his narrow victories.

Give the Mayor credit, he's been able to reach out and has been able to talk to churches and pastors all over the City of Indianapolis and sell them on his policies thus gaining their loyalty.

It appears that Joe Hogsett has been working hard to gain the support of this part of Ballard's perceived stronghold.  He's even continued to reach out to the faith-based community with this radio ad currently airing on targeted radio stations across Indy.

I don't think this race for Mayor will be close on November 3, but it's nice to know that, just-in-case, Hogsett is reaching directly out to the faith-based community in action and in ads.  He's not taking it for granted.

Thursday, October 15, 2015

Draft Biden PAC Making Powerful Argument for Biden Run

The question hanging over the Democratic Debate on Tuesday was: Will Joe Biden get in?

That remains to be seen, but the PAC trying to draft Biden to run has done two extremely effective ads that show exactly why the Vice President would be formidable in this upcoming 2016 Election Cycle.

The first spot.

And the second.

I thought the Vice President hurt himself by sitting out Tuesday's debate in Las Vegas, and I thought if he was going to run that he needed to announce sometime today or Friday.  I still believe that.

The debate on Tuesday showed that there may in fact be a podium for Biden on the stage, but the need for an alternative candidate between the three major candidates for the nomination may be drying up.  Biden may be missing his last shot and perhaps his best shot at the big chair in the Oval Office.

Then again, knowing Joe Biden's work all these years, that's probably fine with him.  The longer this goes, the less likely he runs.  He at least owes the candidates running an answer.

Wednesday, October 14, 2015

Democratic Debate Thoughts

Hillary Clinton
Photo from Twitter @HillaryClinton
It's been well over 24 hours after the first Democratic debate of the 2016 campaign cycle, and I thought I'd take a moment to analyze the action.

First of all, the broadcast itself started out like a farce.  CNN promoted the heck out of the 8:30 p.m. debate time and then it actually didn't get rolling until closer to 8:45 with all the commercials and hullabaloo.  With the National Anthem sung, I firmly expected Anderson Cooper to announce CNN legend Bernard Shaw was going to come out of the bull pen to throw out the first question.

Once things got settled down, the debate ran efficiently and effectively.  Anderson Cooper was a tremendous moderator who didn't let the candidates get away without answering the questions posed.  He needs to be included in the Presidential Debate rotation.  Dana Bash was also very effective as was Don Lemon and Juan Carlos Lopez.  There was some criticism thrown at CNN for having certain anchors matching certain ethnic/racial backgrounds ask certain questions.  Point well-noted, but I thought the panel was strong.

Jim Webb might disagree.

As far as the participants go, I thought Hillary Clinton was very solid in her performance.  She was able to absorb attacks and turn them around most of the night.  She stumbled a bit on Cooper's question about whether or not she changes her positions based on political expediency, but she came out of it well.  Clinton won the debate easily, but she was also the most experienced and accomplished debater on the stage.  Between her runs for Senate in the past and President in 2008, she has this format down.

Bernie Sanders also didn't fall all over himself in this debate.  I would have called the debate closer, but Sanders has a penchant for yelling.  People don't like to get yelled at.  Certainly Bernie supporters crowded into house parties and ran up the opinion polls.  He was the people's choice in this debate because he spoke about the people's issues.  He was weakest on foreign policy and gun policy.

Martin O'Malley emerged as the alternative to Clinton and Sanders candidate in this debate.  He was smart, well-prepared, and usually had an answer for every question.  His "we already did that..." mantra wore a little thin and his ending every sentence with a smile style also seemed a little less than sincere.  O'Malley is by far the youngest candidate of the major ones running, and he will be a force to be reckoned with in years to come.  Unless something major happens, he will be on someone's shortlist for a Vice Presidential nominee.

He's smart.  He's tough.  He's experienced, but he's also not good on his feet.  That was Jim Webb.  Constant complaining about time really got old fast.  His positions seemed to fulfill that moderate niche, but his demeanor lacked that of a President.  Webb is not the oldest candidate, but he sure acted like a disgruntled old man sitting on his porch telling the neighborhood kids to keep the dogs out of his posies.  Webb should, however, be considered for a cabinet post if someone can work with him.

Finally, there's Lincoln Chafee.  Chafee appeared at times to have wandered in out of the Wynn Resort's Casino.  He might be scandal free, and he might be a beloved Rhode Islander.  He unfortunately for him came off last night as the least Presidential of the candidates in my mind, and he constantly found his attacks at the other candidates often blowing back up on him.

Overall, the debate was an adult conversation of many issues.  As one might expect, the discussion was much broader than that of the Republican side's debates which have centered mostly around foreign policy, faith, and immigration.

The performance by the top three Democrats in this race made me proud to be a Democrat.  I can't say that I'd be proud to be a Republican after watching that mess.  Then again, I'm biased.

Pence Infrastructure Plan Fails to Quiet Critics

Governor Mike Pence
Governor Mike Pence announced a $1 billion package to fix Indiana's infrastructure yesterday, and it did nothing to mollify his critics.

John Zody, Indiana Democratic Party Chairman said in a news release, “It took a month-long interstate bridge closure, $71 million wasted in faulty asphalt, and a public relations crisis for Governor Pence to finally put his ideology aside and begin tackling one of today’s biggest problems facing our state. However, today’s announcement only achieves the bare minimum that’s needed to maintain Indiana’s D+ rated infrastructure system. With campaign polling showing him ‘in the low 30s’, the governor is making a political reaction to a real problem Hoosiers have known about all along. The sudden change in course shows that when given the choice, the Governor Pence will choose his ideology over the well-being of our state 100% of the time, and these delays hurt our state."

Democratic frontrunner for Governor in 2016, John Gregg, said, “Mike Pence continues to lead from behind. As he’s done in the past, it’s only after an embarrassing public relations crisis that he has stepped up to offer any ideas. And, sadly, his infrastructure proposal amounts to filling half a pothole. The plan doesn’t even fund the state’s existing infrastructure needs, it doesn’t address future needs and it doesn’t offer support to our cities, towns and counties who also maintain hundreds of miles of critical roads and bridges. Hoosiers deserve better.”

The $1 billion plan to be doled out over four years, as I understand it, features $649 million from either bonds or Indiana General Fund money.  The rest is to come out of Indiana's $2 billion surplus.  The Democratic leaders are right.  It's late and not adequate.

It's throwing a simple bandage on a gushing wound.  Our roads, streets, and freeways are failing and crumbling.

Now, my good friend Abdul-Hakim Shabazz took on the Democrats.  He said that they have failed to put forth a plan that's as far reaching as the Governor's to fix the infrastructure.  Thanks to redistricting, the Republicans have marginalized Democrats.  Democrats have been reduced to the loyal opposition.  Sadly, Democrats have so little control over state government right now, we have one party ruling the's been that way since 2011, and Republicans haven't even needed Democrats to show up for work since 2013.  Democrats can't stop any legislation Republicans want to jam through if they wanted to, so let's stop attacking the D's speaking out.  There is no filibuster in state politics.

It's Republicans that hold all the power, and this issue is not new.  Brian Bosma noted that he would like to increase funding for infrastructure in 2016 and 2017 in March.  The urgency came when major interstate bridges started to fail, but it shouldn't be a shock to the party in power.  After all, at the tail end of the Daniels Administration, a major bridge over the Ohio River had to be closed and repaired.  This is not a new issue, and it's not the Democrats fault it's not getting taken care of.

Governor Pence has been largely silent on the issue, and that's the reason he's getting attacked.

We all want this fixed, but Governor Pence's "solution" just brings up more questions.  How will this plan be sustainable past these four years?  What is our plan going forward?  If he refuses to lead, he needs to get out of the way.

Tuesday, October 13, 2015

UAW CAP Council Releases Endorsements

The Greater Marion County UAW CAP Council released its endorsements last week for upcoming Indianapolis municipal elections on November 3.

Mayor-Joe Hogsett

City-County Council
District 1 Leroy Robinson
District 2 Kip Tew
District 3 Pam Hickman
District 4 Ray Biederman
District 5 Curtis Bigsbee
District 6 Frank Islas
District 7 Joe Simpson
District 8 Monroe Gray
District 9 William "Duke" Oliver
District 10 Maggie Lewis
District 11 Vop Osili
District 12 Blake Johnson
District 13 Stephen Clay
District 14 La Keisha Jackson
District 15 Christopher Wall
District 16 Emily Shrock
District 17 Zach Adamson
District 18 Eddie Barnes
District 19 David Ray
District 20 Jon Easter
District 21 Frank Mascari
District 22 Jared Evans
District 25 Jeff Wheeler

Monday, October 12, 2015

2015 Mayoral Race Markedly Different Than Previous Two Mayoral Election Cycles

John Krull wrote about it, and Abdul-Hakim Shabazz said he's about to.

The 2015 Mayoral Election cycle has been characterized by what it hasn't been:  NEGATIVE.

2007 was a bare knuckles brawl between Greg Ballard, the outsider riding the wave of angst over property taxes, and the two-term incumbent, Bart Peterson.  Peterson was the heavy favorite even two months out, but an uptick in crime, a poorly-timed tax increase and a well-coordinated independently-created internet campaign greatly benefited Ballard.

In 2011, the most expensive race for Indy Mayor in history saw Greg Ballard fight off Melina Kennedy.  Ballard was successful in planting his continued image as a non-political outsider just taking care of the issues.  Kennedy tried, but she was unsuccessful in portraying Ballard as out-of-touch on key issues.  Channel 8 did this report in August of 2011 highlighting the early negativity of that race.

It's been quite the change to say the least to see Chuck Brewer and Joe Hogsett aiming their rhetorical fodder at the issues rather than each other.

Sure, there's been some signs of it.  I've heard Republicans attack Hogsett for his electoral past.  I've heard some Democrats attack Brewer for his lack of experience and for being relatively unknown.  None of these attacks have come from either Hogsett or Brewer or their campaigns and staffs.

It remains to be seen if this campaign remains above board, but both candidates can be proud of the way they have campaigned for the office so far...and so can the voters.

Wednesday, October 7, 2015

No Posts Til Monday

Day job has me busy.  Unless some breaking news occurs, we'll resume daily posts on Monday, October 12.

See you then!

LGBT Protections Pass in Carmel

On Monday, Carmel passed an ordinance protecting the LGBT community from discrimination. 

It brought to close a sometimes contentious debate about civil rights in a conservative-dominated community full of affluence. It also signaled that times are changing in Indiana.

The new ordinance adds Carmel to the ever-growing list of communities passing ordinances such as this one to prevent LGBT folks from discriminated against within the city limits. It’s a welcome sign of inclusivity and stands directly opposite from the divisiveness RFRA represents.

It wasn’t easy. Initially seen almost as a slam dunk, Carmel was descended upon by opposition to the ordinance. What had been co-sponsored by six of the seven Carmel City Councillors at one point. It passed with a one vote margin, 4-3. Needless to say, the opposition wasn’t happy and Micah Clark, Curt Smith, and Eric Miller all were in the house to see it up close.

This ordinance passed because the good people of Carmel stood up and said they wanted it. They supported Mayor Jim Brainard's call and pushed this ordinance through. It’s going to take this kind of effort across Indiana to get these ordinances passed because Clark, Smith, Miller, and others that oppose them won’t stop. They will continue to tell their tales of woe and misery about these types of ordinances. The good news is that, more often than not, the right side is winning these arguments and those cloaking themselves in religion are losing.

Times have changed, and people are too. Good job Carmel. May the State of Indiana follow your example.

Tuesday, October 6, 2015

Hogsett Releases Ninth TV Ad

Last Monday, Joe Hogsett released his ninth TV ad. This one is called “Cleanup” and addresses the problem of abandoned properties in Indianapolis.

So, if you’re keeping track:

Ad 1-Established Joe’s credentials

Ad 2-Established Joe’s backstory with his father’s accident

Ad 3-More backstory along with Joe’s work as a federal prosecutor to fight crime.

Ad 4-Discussed setting up a Summer Jobs Program for teens

Ad 5-Took us to Joe’s home in Rushville largely in a biographical ad

Ad 6-Discussed the 30-year moratorium on streetlights and crime

Ad 7-Offered hints for parents to keep kids safe from online predators

Ad 8-Talked about Joe’s cheap nature in that he would not buy new sneakers

Chuck Brewer’s ad posted here a few days ago also ran during the Colts game on Sunday. I have yet to see it play again. It’s largely a biographical ad covering similar themes as Greg Ballard’s ads from the past.

Monday, October 5, 2015

Meyers Takes Down Right's Planned Parenthood Hearings Farce

It took him a while, but Seth Meyers has finally eased into the chair of the Late Night franchise and is comfortable as its host.

He's done it by taking what he did best over on SNL and highlighting a lot of it.  For example, he epic-ly and expertly takes down the right's witch hunt Congressional hearings on Planned Parenthood in this clip below.

Excellent work, Seth.

Saturday, October 3, 2015

Visit & Experience Indy, Secretary Clinton

Clinton's e-mail gaffe
Photo courtesy the
One of Hillary Clinton's e-mails released this past week mentioned our fair city.

She called our city "basketball-crazed Indianoplace."

I can handle the first part.  Indiana is basketball-crazed.  You'll find me attending tons of Indiana high school basketball games this fall, winter, and into the spring.  I completely agree with that.  It's the second part of her comment to which I take umbrage.

The e-mail in question was written in 2010.  That was two years after Hillary Clinton, locked in a battle with Barack Obama for the Democratic nomination, crisscrossed the Hoosier State stumping for votes.  In the end, she narrowly defeated Obama to win the Indiana Primary.  The margin was much closer than it was supposed to have been and coupled with other primary defeats, the writing on the wall became more clear.  Clinton's historic run for President was on life support.

Here we are, eight years later.  Hillary Clinton is again running for President of the United States.  It's unclear whether Indiana will matter in the larger scope of the campaign at this point, but Clinton is locked in a tight battle with Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders in Iowa and New Hampshire, two critical early states in the primary process.  Joe Biden is dipping his toe into the water to see if he might run for President.  In short, things aren't going well for Clinton, who, like 2008, was seen at one point as the inevitable nominee.

It's gaffes like the e-mail insult of Indianapolis that cause Clinton to lose support.  She seems aloof and comes across as not a nice person regardless of her obvious qualities and qualifications that might make her a good President.  After all the time running ragged in this state, Clinton's words about Indianapolis carry more weight to me.  This just isn't some throwaway comment, and, at least for me, it hits home.

Except for my time in Bloomington at Indiana, I've lived all my life in or around Indianapolis.  I love this city, and I can remember when people derisively called it "Indianoplace" because it was, frankly, not the most exciting city on the planet.  Today, we're still not New York City or Las Vegas, but our city has built the strong reputation of being a smaller city with big dreams and aspirations.  Our city has become a regional center for the arts, for entertainment, and a worldwide host of some of the most major events on the planet.  Indianapolis is home to magnificent facilities and restaurants and budding neighborhoods.

Yes, we have our problems.  In the last two years alone, over 200 homicides have been committed.  We have a problem with homelessness we need to tackle, and we have a cadre of other issues that the next Mayor will deal with on day one when he steps into his office.

We are no longer Indianoplace, and our city deserves an apology from Secretary Clinton.

It's these kinds of gaffes that concern me most about her candidacy.  Hillary Clinton might be a great President, but she certainly isn't a great candidate.  Again, I don't mean her qualifications or accomplishments.  She's more than qualified.  Her resume is full.  She fails where Joe Biden succeeds.  Biden is warm, friendly, and regular.  Hillary seems none of the three.

She doesn't have to soften up to be elected, but maybe she needs to, as Reagan once did, "shine a light on her problem."

By and large, this e-mail controversy has been contrived by the right to discredit Hillary.  This "Indianoplace" e-mail is not a problem for her except regionally, but there's an opportunity here for her to make it right.

Take one day off the campaign trail and come visit Indianapolis and see what we have to offer. Hoosiers are nice, forgiving people, Secretary Clinton, so come on over.

Friday, October 2, 2015

Campaign Crunchtime Hits

It's October 2.

So far, no one has released an official poll in the race for Mayor of Indianapolis.

Joe Hogsett
Chuck Brewer
Rumors say that polling has been done and that it is not particularly good news for Chuck Brewer, but Joe Hogsett said he's going to run this race through the finish line like he's "20 points behind."

Hogsett has saturated the market with a variety of TV and radio ads.  We've learned all about him and have even gotten to hear about his plans for the city as Mayor.  The public at large still doesn't know Chuck Brewer, but the Republicans still are trying to roll him out in the public persona of Mayor Greg Ballard II.

On the stump, Hogsett rarely refers to his opponent and instead focuses on what he would do as Mayor of Indianapolis.  He leans heavily on his experience and his record as United States Attorney.

Brewer himself might have tipped the narrative of the last month of the campaign earlier this week at the Decatur Township Civic Council Meeting when he indirectly attacked Hogsett as a career politician who's running for Mayor of Indianapolis to satisfy some need to "be somebody."

To describe his own candidacy, Brewer used the familiar Ballard lines of, "I'm a Marine not a politician," and touted his experience at Sears and as a business owner as qualifications to become the head honcho of the City of Indianapolis and Marion County.

Democrats in the know say to watch for the Brewer campaign to hit with nasty, negative ads the last few weeks of the campaign. They still should have that $400,000 check Mayor Ballard wrote the Brewer campaign after he won the nomination.  With a skilled campaign team, that money can go a long way in the last few weeks.

Whatever happens, there are just a few more ads, tactics, and political plays to unfold before us.  It's crunch time!

Thursday, October 1, 2015

Indy Democrat Blog Endorses John Gregg

John Gregg
All political winds say it’s going to be John Gregg vs. Mike Pence II coming up in 2016 for Indiana Governor whether some Democrats like it or not.

That’s fine with me.

In fact, I endorse John Gregg for Governor of Indiana in 2016.

Now, I understand that may cause some of you to apoplectically hurl something towards the computer, and I get it.

You’re not sold on John Gregg. You think he’s not liberal enough or progressive enough. You are disturbed by his views on a woman’s right to choose or perhaps penalizing him for his past opposition to same sex marriage or believe he’s too close to groups like ALEC.

I share some of your concerns. I do, but here’s the truth. It’s going to take a lot of money and a lot of time to knock off Mike Pence in November of 2016, but it’s critical that Democrats do it. John Gregg has shown the ability to be the candidate to do it.

Yes, he’s anti-choice, but he’s not going to cut off the funding of Planned Parenthood. No, he’s not a perfect candidate for a progressive, but I think he’s a good candidate for Governor of Indiana.

From double digits down in the last month of the 2012 race, Gregg closed to within three percentage points when the votes were counted. He did it by learning from his mistakes in the early campaign and with a sharp message directed right at Pence.

It turns out mostly what he said about Pence in 2012 was right. The Governor has been anything but a unifying force in this state. He’s done almost everything he could to divide us. He’s also shown a lack of pure understanding about how state government works and at times how to make policy with his own supermajorities. In a state of a weak governor, Pence has been weakest.

Gregg has the ability to work across the aisle and bring Indiana back from the laughingstock it has become for the rest of the nation.

Now make no mistake, if you thought Pence had a tough job, Gregg will have an even tougher one. He’s going to be the lone Democrat gear in a system the Republicans think has worked pretty well for a while, but that’s another reason why Gregg is perfectly suited for the challenge.

The challenges of working with a 50-50 House of Representatives when he was Speaker certainly tested his abilities.

Electing a Democrat to the Governor’s Office would be a huge first step to rebuilding a majority to help Governor Gregg pass an agenda. To get there, Gregg needs the time and the resources it's going to take to defeat Pence.

I have been blessed to have four very long conversations with John Gregg. One was at his house in Sandborn, and three others have been on the phone. One thing that struck me each time was how curious Gregg is. He genuinely wants to hear what people think and what people are thinking. I also think that some are being unfair to John because his opinions have changed. Gregg 2016 is a bit more progressive and a lot less prescriptive than Gregg 2012 was. I think he’s more open to suggestion than perhaps before. He knows enough to know he doesn’t know it all.

John Gregg has done the work to earn not only my endorsement but those of unions, politicians, and others across the state. I wish him well in doing what he has to do to FIRE MIKE PENCE.