Monday, August 28, 2017

Battle Over Budget More Bore Than Big Deal

Mayor Joe Hogsett
Joe Hogsett has done a great job fiscally as Mayor of Indianapolis.  

That’s what the latest kerfuffle over the budget has told me. 

The Indianapolis Mayor has garnered wide praise from both sides of the aisle when it comes to the relationship with the City-County Council when compared with that of his immediate predecessor. Suddenly, some in the GOP are now accusing Mayor Hogsett of overselling the city's fiscal state even while they claim it's actually good.

If you haven’t been following the news recently, the Indianapolis Star's James Briggs has a pretty good wrap-up of the story here. According to the piece, Republicans like Councillor Jeff Miller are praising Mayor Hogsett’s budget as "probably one of he best" in 10 years while simultaneously still disputing just how good it is. 

Pretty boring times at the City-County Building betwixt the two major parties when the only fodder that the Republicans can throw at the Democratic Mayor is, “Your budget is good…but…but…it’s not as good as you say!”

Quite a change from the eight years previous to Mayor Hogsett’s term, isn’t it? You remember it. The Council and then Mayor Greg Ballard fought over seemingly every project and every contract. 

Lawsuits were filed. Ballard accused some his own party of playing politics against him. A longtime GOP (now Democratic) Councillor was primaried because she stood up to the Mayor.  All the while, Ballard was spend spend spending away on pet projects such as the World Sports Park on Indy’s Eastside and handing out essentially no-bid contracts.

That's part of the issue according to the Hogsett Administration. They tell the Star that if they had not done anything about the budget and spending, Indy was headed for a structural budget deficit of over $50 million.

Republicans have been very quiet, and they clearly sense an opening here to try to make a molehill out of an anthill.  As budget battles go, this is like the battle between pepperoni or sausage on a delicious pizza or what specific color of light blue you wish to paint your wall.  "Do I want light blue or morning blue?"

It's a boring battle of semantics over politics.  The bottom line is that, as Councillor Miller again acknowledges, this is a good budget.

Wednesday, August 23, 2017

Is It Just Me or Does This Make You Sick, Too? (WITH UPDATE)

I was scrolling through my Twitter account timeline earlier tonight, when I came across this Tweet from the digital director of the National Republican Senatorial Committee.

Are you kidding me?

This is what passes for appropriate campaign strategy in 2017?

Listen, if you want to raise outsourcing as a campaign issue against Joe Donnelly, go ahead.  If you want to use tactics that smack of racism in 2017, then get ready to lose and lose big.

This is not the kind of campaign tactic that's welcome in the Hoosier State or against an honorable guy like Joe Donnelly.  It's beneath the office of U.S. Senator, and it's well outside the bounds of what should be appropriate in campaigning.

I call on Todd Rokita, Luke Messer, and any other Republican Senatorial candidates to immediately condemn and disassociate themelves from this kind of campaign ploy.  Whoever dreamed up this ploy and thought it was a good idea should be relieved of their position immediately.

It's not funny or appropriate.

People who were at the event told me that Joe, although he is portrayed as having seen the band and to have reacted, arrived long after the band had left.  "I never even knew there was a band there (until I saw the video)," said one event goer on Facebook.

Tuesday, August 15, 2017

Council Raises Worker Pay, Riles Up Katz

Monday night, the City-County Council passed a pay raise for city and county workers to bring those that qualify up to a $13 an hour living wage.

The raises, according to the estimates, will cost $450,000, and Mayor Joe Hogsett has said that the city's $1.1 billion budget can easily handle the cost.  Initially, Mayor Hogsett played it cautious on the pay hike.

With everyone seemingly on board, the proposal passed 22-2 with the only no votes coming from Joe Simpson because the Democrat didn't feel it went far enough with the raises, and Jason Holliday because...well...he's Jason Holliday (he votes no a lot).

The seemingly non-controversial vote from he Indianapolis Marion County City-County Council was too much for WIBC's morning man, Tony Katz.  Katz, a Carmel resident, tweeted out:

That raised an eyebrow for me.

First of all, the raises cost just $450K...not $450 million.  That's literally .0004 percent of the budget.  Seems ok to this Marion County resident.

Secondly, the proposed budget pays out $120 million in road and street and bridge and sidewalk repairs.  That's more than $450,000 by a lot. Apparently, it is possible to care about social justice while addressing the city's needs, and it does it responsibly.

When I called Katz on his tweet, he said I didn't get the issue and that there's no such thing as a living wage.  Just to make it clear, I had to lay it out for him.

Hope he gets it. The raises are a small (in cost), nice thing for the hardworking city-county employees that most need it.  I'm sorry if folks can't handle that.  It was the right thing to do.

Sunday, August 13, 2017

Clinton Called It...Completely

In light of this past weekend's events, I think his stands alone and needs no comment.  Watch this video.

Saturday, August 12, 2017

Rokita: Too Extreme for Indiana

Rep. Todd Rokita
Hoosiers rejected Richard Mourdock when he got too extreme.

Apparently, that wasn't enough of a warning for Todd Rokita.

This week, arguably the most clueless man in Indiana's Congressional delegation announced he was running for Indiana's U.S. Senate seat in 2018.  He becomes the latest Republican in the race.

Now, Rokita has his fans.  They tend to fall on the far right conservative side of the coin.  It's been easy for Rokita to say and do just about anything he's wanted to do in the very conservative 4th Congressional District and continue to get away with it.  After all, Rokita's 4th District predecessor used his muddy combat boots as a prop and once did a speech on the floor about smoking lettuce.

Rokita has trailblazed his own path to crazy in the 4th.  He called Americans "piggish and un-American" for worrying about the health of the overall economy vs. allowing the country to default over the debt ceiling.  Rokita tried to bust civil service unions by making civil servants such as postal workers at will employees.

As if that weren't enough, the conservative firebrand tried to change the laws regarding free and reduced school lunch.  The plan would have potentially knocked 120 schools across Indiana that serve 58,000 kids from the program, according to the Indianapolis Star. Fourteen schools would have been in Indianapolis alone.

He's defended United Airlines and the actions of law enforcement in the awful case where the Louisville doctor was dragged down the aisle because he refused to give up his seat to a United flight crew.

“This is a bit of a two-way street. What happened on that United flight shouldn’t have escalated to where it was, but a grown man, assumedly sane, when approached by law enforcement on an aircraft should abide by the request being made,” Rokita said.  United settled with Dr. David Dao.

Even his campaign announcement drew scrutiny.  Indy Star columnist Matthew Tully penned a highly critical piece writing, "U.S. Rep. Todd Rokita is taking things to a new level this summer, peddling a package of baloney so oversized he must have bought it at Costco."

The Lafayette Journal & Courier's Dave Bangert appears to have caught Rokita in some sort of political hypocritical mess.

Bangert writes:

One of the better lines on the Statehouse steps – presumably no location was available as a backdrop in the 4th District, where calls for town halls have gone unanswered in 2017 – was his commitment to something called “No Budget, No Pay.” 
The fundamentals are sound: Members of Congress should be held accountable if they can’t deliver a workable budget. Rokita touted Indiana’s balanced budget provisions and promised to fight for the same as a U.S. senator. 
Fair enough. 
But Rokita conveniently forgot to mention what happened in October 2013, when No Budget meant No Government for a short time. 
At the time, Rokita gloated about how the federal government shutdown was a stand against the Affordable Care Act. He said at the time, “We’re doing exactly what our constituents asked us to do,” by delaying the rollout of Obamacare. The longer the shutdown, the better his chances, he told me in a conversation from Washington, D.C. “I think we’re going to win.”
 Bangert added that the tactic didn't work, but that Rokita did get paid.

I know I'm getting windy here, but there really isn't anything in Todd Rokita's record that shows that he's anything but a man who is as far from the model of an "Indiana Senator" as can be.  Think about that tradition.

Richard Lugar was seen as a statesman and a trusted voice by both parties.  Birch Bayh penned the 25th and 26th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution.  He also is the father of Title IX.  Vance Hartke was instrumental in improving access to college and improving transportation in our country while standing up to oppose the Vietnam War.  Even Dan Coats, in his first go around in the Senate, supported gun control laws and voted for Ruth Bader Ginsburg's confirmation to the Supreme Court.

Joe Donnelly fits this tradition more than any of the Republicans running and certainly more than Rokita.  In a Senate full of those on the right and those on the left, in true Indiana fashion, Donnelly has placed himself in the middle which draws ire from the liberal left, and it may be those folks that ultimately help elect their polar opposite if they don't vote for Donnelly in 2018.

It's so critical that Todd Rokita goes home to Brownsburg in 2018.  I can't imagine him with a bigger bully pulpit and more power than he has today.  Right now, he's the 4th District's issue, but Hoosier voters can avoid making him Indiana's problem...for six long years.

Tuesday, August 1, 2017

So, I've Been Meaning to Say...

It's official. I'm getting older.

Last week, I turned 42.  I also found out that I'm now diabetic.  Next week, I'll go in for a sleep study to find out why I blow the rafters off my room at night with my snores.

I'm too young for this sh....tuff.

Listen, I'm not griping or complaining.  Except for the sciatica and a toe that I slammed into the door jam on Sunday morning, I feel pretty good. I am blessed to have excellent health care through my employer, but I also feel a bit guilty for missing (maybe willfully and blissfully ignoring) all the signs up until now.  To be frank, I've knocked down some of those signs.

The thing is that for a long time that I had an almost fatalistic view of my life.  Easter men don't live long lives. We mostly drop dead in our 60's.  Dad nearly made 70, but he died at 69.  Watching my mom's struggle with long term illness began to change my mind.  When you are delivered the test results that you are diabetic, I came to the realization that I could be my mother and sooner rather than later.

I'm one stroke from being in long term care for the last bit of my life, and that bit could be a long time.  Not quite the mirror image you want looking back from the future.

If I don't improve the quality of how I'm living, I won't improve the quality of my life in the future.  I had a vision of myself in ten years, and it's not who I want to be.

So, I'm going to make some small changes at first.  Then, I'm going to gradually change some other things.  Before you know it, it's going to be a new me.

I know this blog post is not about politics, but I wanted you to know what I've been going through lately.  I've been kind of depressed about all of this, and, frankly, I haven't had a lot of time in my life to blog.  I'm going to start posting again.

We're going weekly for a while, but I fully intend to get back to a daily weekday posting schedule.  I just need to get myself sorted out, first.  I hope you all understand, but I understand if you don't.

Finally, I don't write this for sympathy.  I know many people have it worse than me.  I also don't write this to get a lecture.  Believe me, I've already lectured myself.  I just want you to know that we're all in this crazy world together, and I wanted you to know what was going on with the blog.

Thanks for your support over the last nine years, and I hope you'll continue to read on into the future.