Monday, December 15, 2014

Angie's List Stock Drops in Value by 78% in 1 1/2 Years

Today Angie's List stock closed at $6.16.  Nearly eleven months ago, on January 31, 2014, Angie's List stock was at $17.94 a share.    On July 5, 2013, Angie's List stock reached its zenith at $28 a share.  Angie's List stock has dropped by 78% in 1 1/2 years.

Navistar to Close Foundry; Breaks Commitment to Indianapolis Taxpayers...Again

The Indianapolis Business Journal reports:
Navistar International Corp. plans to close its foundry in Indianapolis, eliminating 180 workers, the Lisle, Illinois-based manufacturer announced Monday morning.

The foundry, located on the city’s east side at 5565 Brookville Road, produces engine blocks and heads. Navistar said the closure process will take place during the first half of 2015 and be completed in the summer.
People forget that just a few years ago, the City decided to grant Navistar a subsidy after it had failed to live up to a previous commitment.  This is what I wrote in October of 2011:
Listening to WIBC on the way home tonight, I heard Indianapolis Mayor Greg Ballard respond to the Litebox fiasco with assurances he would hold the company accountable for the jobs that were promised.  Ballard cited the example of his making a company pay back $5 million when it failed to live up to its job promises.

Mayor Greg Ballard
Ballard is talking about Navistar.  A decade or so ago, Navistar had received an $18 million abatement.  In 2009, the company laid off 1,000 employees. At that point Navistar clearly owed the City of Indianapolis $23 million under the contract.  In a bizarre move by City Legal, the case was settled for a mere $5 million.  City Legal Attorney Jonathan Mayes trotted out the bogus explanation that it was being settled for such a low amount to avoid legal costs.  Of course, City Legal's attorneys have fixed salaries and it was merely a contract interpretation matter, not one likely to result in years of litigation.   There simply was no reason for the City to give away $18 million of the $23 million it was owed.

But the story didn't end there.  In July 2011, Navistar offered to hire 250 more people and again asked for a tax abatement.  The City eagerly handed one over, even though the company had stiffed the City on $18 million in a previous deal.

If that is what Mayor Ballard thinks is holding a company accountable for not living up to job commitments, Lord help us.

Saturday, December 13, 2014

Star Columnist Mentions "Leading" Leading Indianapolis Republican Mayoral Candidates

Indianapolis Star Columnist Russ Pulliam pens a column about the quest for a Republican candidate to continue Mayor Ballard's RINO agenda:
All they want for Christmas is another Greg Ballard.
Marion County Republicans need someone to match up with former U.S. Attorney Joe Hogsett in next year’s race for mayor.   
An eager, ambitious candidate is hard to find.
“I can’t back somebody who doesn’t want to run,” says influential Republican attorney Bob Grand. 
Stop right there.  If Barnes & Thornburg Bob Grand enthusiastically backs someone it is for one Grand's agenda is simply more corporate welfare for his law firm and his clients and if taxes need to be jacked up on hard working men and women to do it, he has absolutely no problem with that.
reason and one reason only...he's trying to buy the office and will expect to control like a puppet whomever is elected.  The legacy of the Ballard administration is that from Day 1, Ballard turned his administration over to the profiteers like Grand and the taxpayers have paid a steep price because of that. 

Of course, Grand is widely despised in many if not most conservative corners of Indiana.  His mere association with a campaign turns off a lot of rank and file Republicans.  If you think not, one need only take a look at Marion Mayor Wayne Seybold's campaign for Treasurer.  He should have won easily, but his association with Grand and Attorney Dan Dumezich, Lake County's version of Grand, sunk his quest for victory at the 2014 Republican convention held in Fort Wayne .  Unfortunately, the beneficiary of the Grand/Dumezich backlash, Treasurer-elect Kelly Mitchell, immediately sold out and began accepting Grand's financial help after Seybold lost  That's the way Grand works.  If he bets on the wrong side in the election, he tries to buy the winner during the transition.  We saw that with Ballard's election victory in 2007.

Unfortunately, conservative Pulliam has a peculiar blindspot when it comes to Bob Grand who has become rich off of taxpayer money driven by a RINO, anti-conservative agenda.  Pulliam has previously penned a warm and fuzzy piece about Grand.  Apparently Pulliam thinks that a man lining his and his friends with millions of our tax dollars is "generous" when a few dollars are kicked back to charity.

Next, Pulliam turns his attention to Republicans he apparently he hopes will run:
Possible Republican candidates have included state Sen. Jim Merritt and Southside civic
Jeff Cardwell
leader Jeff Cardwell, who is now a top staff member with Gov. Mike Pence.
Cardwell has a long record of community service, helping build homes for needy families, as well as leadership in economic development on the Southside. “Cardwell is a successful businessman,” says former GOP county chairman Mike Murphy. “It is enticing to have a mayor who has actually run a business. He’s humble. He gets along with people. He has a lot of integrity.” 
I've written about Cardwell before.  Yes, the man I knew before 2007 had integrity.  He stood up to the corrupt GOP establishment.  He backed non-slated candidates and stood for conservative values.  Then something happened to Cardwell when he got elected.  He tossed aside his fiscal conservative background to become one of the biggest supporter of more taxes on Indy residents and of more corporate welfare.  If Cardwell voted against any of Mayor Ballard's 40 plus tax and fee increases (which now includes an internet tax and increase in the storm water fees) or the mayor's corporate welfare proposals, I'm not aware of it.  I've never seen a politician transform almost overnight and unfortunately in a negative way,  as Cardwell did.

Of course, Pulliam also mentions State Senator Jim Merritt.  Merritt has been a fervent supporter of everything Mayor Ballard did and chaired his 2011 re-election campaign.  If Pulliam thinks Indy conservatives are going to enthusiastically back Merritt he is in for a big surprise.

Sen. Jim Merritt
Contrary to what Pulliam apparently thinks, Mayor Ballard's record of corporate welfare and never ending tax increases was something that made him incredibly vulnerable.  Democratic mayoral candidate Joe Hogsett undoubtedly sensed that Ballard running for re-election gave him an enormous opportunity to put together a coalition of Democrats and fiscally conservative Republicans, wearing of Ballard's tax increases and reckless spending,  to win.  That's exactly the strategy Hogsett employed against another Bill Hudnut, when he defeated the popular Indianapolis Mayor in his race for Secretary of State in 1990.

My guess is that neither Cardwell or Merritt will run. Both have seen the electoral numbers in the county and know it was an uphill climb.  Both would be stained by a Ballard record that could easily be ripped apart by an even semi-skilled opponent, assuming he or she is properly funded which Hogsett will surely be.

Monday, December 8, 2014

Rolls Royce Keeps Tax Breaks While Laying Off Workers from Indianapolis Plant

Kara Kenney of WRTV reports:
Indianapolis - Rolls-Royce is continuing to receive tax breaks despite laying off hundreds of employees over the past year, Call 6 Investigator Kara Kenney reported.

Effective Dec.5, Rolls-Royce eliminated positions for 200 operations employees in Marion County.

Earlier this year, on Jan. 6, the engine maker had a reduction in force of 330 positions that impacted both salary and production employees, according to Joel Reuter, vice president  of communications for Rolls-Royce of North America.


As part of its Amended Memorandum of Agreement with the City of Indianapolis signed in Feb. 2013, the company agreed to relocate thousands of jobs to the Rolls-Royce Meridian Center in downtown Indianapolis as part of its “advanced manufacturing operations retention initiative in Marion County (the Tibbs/Raymond Complex Initiative).”

Marc Lotter, spokesperson for Indianapolis Mayor Greg Ballard, explained a tax abatement is not forgiving existing taxes, but only lessening a percentage of taxes a company would pay because of a new investment.
Huh?  Anyway Lotter goes on to say that Rolls Royce's employment level of 4,300 is sufficient enough to keep the abatement, even with the layoffs of 530 employees.  Funny... when the abatement was handed out, Mayor Ballard bragged about how it would create 100 new jobs.  Froma March 6, 2012 press release issued by Develop Indy:

Indianapolis, Ind. – Mayor Greg Ballard today was joined by executives from Rolls-Royce to announce that the company will invest $42 million in a new advanced manufacturing facility in Indianapolis, creating over 100 new jobs by 2014.

“Today’s announcement reflects Rolls-Royce’s confidence in the stable business climate of Indianapolis,” said Mayor Ballard. “This environment is a large part of why Indianapolis is competitive in the global economy. The addition of over 100 new jobs provides opportunities for our skilled workforce. We are thrilled Rolls-Royce has chosen to expand in Indianapolis.”
So we taxpayers are not, as promised in 2011, subsidizing 100 new jobs but rather a company that cut 530 jobs?

Saturday, December 6, 2014

Angie's List Agrees to Pay "Undetermined Amount" If It Reneges on Job Promises in Subsidy Deal

Only in Indianapolis would city officials have the chutzpah to put taxpayers on the hook for a multimillion dollar subsidy deal for a company, which has never made money in its nearly 20 year history, based on an assurance that the company will put an "undisclosed amount" in an escrow account if it fails to live up to promises.  Will Indianapolis council members at least demand to know the amount of the promise before they approve the the bond?  How is the public not entitled to know the amount?

In a lengthy story on the subject, the Indianapolis Business Journal reports:
If Angie’s List fails to live up to promises fueling a taxpayer-subsidized headquarters expansion, the company will pay an undetermined amount into an escrow account for the city’s benefit.

Angie’s List also agrees to donate up to $1 million to east-side not-for-profits if the company headquarters is relocated.

Those protections are built into a $17 million economic-development deal announced in October, two weeks after The Financial Times reported Angie’s List had hired investment bankers to explore a sale. A bond issue for the deal still requires City-County Council approval.
The company says it will employ 2,800 people in Indianapolis by the end of 2019, but the city sought extra protection of its incentives because of the sale “rumors,” said Larry Gigerich, managing director of the site-selection firm Ginovus, which represents Angie’s List in its dealings with the city.


Angie’s List would get $10 million from the city for its redevelopment effort, plus take title to the Ford building, which is currently owned by Indianapolis Public Schools.

The bond under consideration by the council would be backed by revenue to the downtown tax-increment financing district.

Angie’s List would receive $9.6 million of the bond proceeds to help pay for a new parking garage on an adjacent two-acre parcel, which the company bought early this year in anticipation of the deal, Gigerich said.

The company would also receive a $400,000 grant for infrastructure improvements. That money would come from existing Department of Public Works funds, through a deal to be worked out next year, said the city’s director of strategic initiatives, Kurt Fullbeck.

Another $6.75 million in bond proceeds would go to IPS, which uses the Ford building as a warehouse, for the district’s relocation expenses. Then the city would turn the building over to Angie’s List, which would invest an estimated $23 million in renovations, Gigerich said.
[Mayor] Ballard's office wouldn’t say how much could be recovered through escrow.

“There is no set amount that might be required,” Ballard spokesman Marc Lotter said. “It should be noted an escrow payment is not a penalty. It is a sign of commitment by the company to take the necessary steps to come into compliance with an agreement.”

The amount to be deposited in escrow would be determined through a formula that gives a 50-percent weight to the head count, 25 percent to the capital investment, and 25 percent to wages.
Readers should be reminded that Angie's List laid off nearly 100 salespeople last August, just two months before inking a multi-million dollar subsidy deal with Indianapolis and state officials.

Friday, December 5, 2014

Can an Independent Candidate Win the Indianapolis' Mayor's Office?

Yesterday, Ten Point Coalition leader Rev. Charles Harrison has filed for an exploratory committee to run for Indianapolis Mayor.   It is still up in the air whether Harrison will run as a Democrat or an independent, but the betting is, if he runs, it will be as an independent.

Rev. Charles Harrison
Can a non-major party candidate win the Mayor's Office in Indianapolis?    Normally I think such candidates are like political Don Quixotes, tilting at windmills.  But having said that, the Indianapolis political climate is open to such a challenge.  Locally we have two parties whose leadership and elected officials are completely dominated by an elite group of political insiders, i.e. attorneys from big law firms, government contractors, and developers.  I call them "profiteers," those who have used political connections to become wealthy from taxpayer dollars.

Here is how it works.  Politicians vote to give taxpayer money to the profiteers who then reward the politicians with political contributions, perks, contracts for their friends, and cushy jobs for the politicians when they leave office.  While profiteering has increased exponentially during the administration of  Republican Mayor Greg Ballard, both local party establishments strongly support the system and will fight tooth and nail anyone who dares advocate for his or constituents against the profiteers.  No better example exists than council member Republican Christine Scales who is being targeted for opposing Ballard's never ending tax increases.  Where did the GOP establishment find the candidate, Tim Craft, to run against Scales?  Not surprisingly, Craft works for CB Richard Ellis (CBRE), a commercial real estate firm which has received millions in contracts from the Ballard administration.

The aforementioned taxpayer giveaways has led to a very surprising right-left coalition. Both conservatives and liberals agree that the city's leaders have terribly skewed priorities that have led to city services being neglected in favor of corporate welfare. When the money for city services comes up short, the answer is always for raise taxes on Indianapolis residents to pay for those services.  Then that new tax revenue gets diverted to yet more corporate welfare.

A message against misplaced priorities and corporate welfare could have enormous resonance with the voters.  But right now, that political impact of that message exists only in kinetic form, i.e. potential.  The average Indianapolis voter still doesn't fully comprehend what their local pols have been doing.  Those voters would have to be educated and that's always a difficult thing to do during an election.

An independent candidate would have to be skilled at driving the political debate, using the media, including the newer methods of social media, to make the election about misplaced priorities, corporate welfare and both parties never ending desire to raise taxes.  The candidate would have to do all this while opposed by the Indianapolis Star, which as the state's largest newspaper, is not only an enthusiastic supporter of corporate welfare but has also been been a beneficiary of it.

In short, the independent candidate would have to persuade voters that the local Democratic and Republican party organizations are in cahoots to pursue corporate welfare polices that make the rich richer at the expense of working men and women who are struggling to pay their bills.  It is that populist message that could unite the conservative and liberal voters in a tenuous coalition.  Creating that coalition and keeping it focused on the common ground that joins them, rather than their philosophical differences on policy, would be a challenge.

Could Harrison pull that off as an independent candidate?  Possibly.  It would be tough, but the potential is there.

Thursday, December 4, 2014

New Election Data Show GOP Indianapolis Council Electoral Advantage Has Shrank from 15-10 to 13-12

I had some time to look at analyze the 2014 Marion County election results with respect to the Indianapolis Council District Maps drawn by local GOP operative David Brooks.  The results are interesting.

First some background. When Brooks redid the districts following the most recent census, he used 2010 election results to design districts that were expected to provide a 15-10 Republican majority in the districts, a majority that was large enough to withstand the expected win by the Democrats of the four at-large seats a virtual inevitability because of that party's dominance of the county as a whole.  Of course, since Brooks drew the map, the Republican-dominated Indiana General Assembly eliminated the four at large seats, which following the 2015 election will reduce that body from 29 to 25 members.

Some additional notes.  The 2010 and 2014 elections most closely resemble the turnout one would expect in the municipal elections. Republicans generally do a lot better in Marion County with lower turnout.  2014 is a superior race to use than 2010 simply because it is newer.  The 2010 and 2014 elections, however, are a bit of an aberration in that they were excellent Republican years.  So one can expect the results are skewed somewhat more favorable to the GOP than they would be in a more normal election.

I used the Marion County Auditor's race, a low-profile, straight head-to-head contest (no pesky Libertarians messing up my numbers) between a Republican and Democrat to create a 2014 GOP baseline in the 25 districts.  The results tracked closely the 2010 results, with the Republican advantage sharply bouncing back in the council districts after a much less favorable 2012 presidential election years.  However, two council districts projected to be Republican using 2010 numbers, remained underwater in 2014.  District 2 located declined from 51.98% in 2010 to 49.78% in 2014.  Also, District 16, a south Center Township district which edges into Perry and Wayne Townships also flipped. Brooks had the district baseline of 51.55% using 2010 numbers, but the baseline dropped to 49.13% this year.

The worst part of the numbers is that the GOP will be defending scores of districts.  The Democrats have strong majorities in 10 districts, i.e. not a single one of which has less than a 59% Democratic baseline.  Republicans meanwhile only have five districts with a 59% or more Republican baseline. Of the other 10 districts drawn by Brooks to be Republican, here are the baselines.

District 2   49.78%
District 4   57.01%
District 3   53.95%
District 5   55.08%
District 6   55.15%
District 15  55.02
District 16  49.13%
District 19  52.5%
District 21  50.75%
District 22  54.78%

Translation:  If the Democrats improve turnout, they not only could have a majority on the council, the Democrats could have a supermajority.

I'm sorry I don't have information on where the councilors live and how these numbers will affect those councilors and the candidates who might oppose them.

Tuesday, December 2, 2014

AP Exclusive Story Reports that Investigation of Bennett Strongly Supported His Prosecution and Members of His Staff

Bombshell report coming out of the AP:
A monthslong investigation into former Indiana schools  Superintendent Tony Bennett’s
Former State Superintendent Tony Bennett
use of state staff and resources during his 2012 re-election campaign found ample evidence to support federal wire fraud charges, according to a copy of the 95-page report viewed by The Associated Press.
Despite a recommendation that charges be pursued, Bennett has never faced prosecution for such charges — which could have carried up to 20 years in prison.   
The investigation, which was completed by the inspector general’s office in February, found more than 100 instances in which Bennett or his employees violated federal wire fraud law. That contrasts sharply with an eight-page formal report issued in July that said the office found minimal violations, resulting in a $5,000 fine and an admonishment that Bennett could have avoided fines by rewriting rules to allow some campaign work on state time.
Bennett’s use of state resources during his failed 2012 re-election campaign came under scrutiny after the AP reported in September 2013 that Bennett had kept multiple campaign databases on Department of Education servers and that his calendar listed more than 100 instances of “campaign calls” during regular work hours. The AP also reported that Bennett had ordered his staff to dissect a speech by his Democratic opponent for inaccuracies — in apparent violation of Indiana election and ethics laws.   
The full Bennett investigation document shows more instances of campaigning with public resources than previously reported.   
From Jan. 1, 2012, to Dec. 31, 2012, the investigation found more than 100 violations of wire fraud laws. They included 56 violations by 14 Bennett employees and 21 days in which Bennett misused his state-issued SUV. Then-Chief of Staff Heather Neal had the most violations, 17.
In a section labeled “Scheme to Defraud,” the inspector general laid out its case, saying Bennett “while serving as the elected Superintendent of Public Instruction of the State of Indiana, devised a scheme or artifice to defraud the State of Indiana of money and property by using State of Indiana paid employees and property, for his own personal gain, as well as for his own political benefit to be re-elected to the office of Superintendent of Public Instruction.”    
The violations fell into five categories: political campaign fundraising, responding to political opponent’s assertions, calendar political activity meetings, political campaign call appointments and general political campaign activity.
Through reviews of emails and calendar entries and more than 50 interviews with top Republicans and former staffers, investigator Charles Coffin determined that Bennett falsified mileage logs to cover fundraising trips and the use of two state workers as campaign drivers. The report also details 20 days on which Bennett used the SUV to go to local Republican fundraisers coded as “business” in his handwritten vehicle logs, as well as instances when trips to events billed as education-related also had calendar notes about political donors being present.  
Bennett also used tax dollars to send a staffer to attend the 2012 Republican Party convention on his behalf.
I'm not sure if I'm more bothered by the alleged conduct of Bennett and his staff or David Thomas for apparently covering up the seriousness of the allegations and the prosecutors for failing to prosecute.  It is stunning the zeal with which they went after Charlie White on dubious charges, but failed to prosecute Bennett or anyone in his administration with respect to these findings.

Indianapolis Posts Sixth Coldest November on Record, Coldest Since 1976

Last month, Indianapolis posted the sixth coldest November on record.  Here is the chart from National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA):
           Year  Temp
           ----  ----
           1880  31.1
           1976  34.6
           1959  35.5
           1951  35.5
           1872  35.5
           2014  35.9
           1950  36.4
           1911  36.9 
           1873  36.9 
           1995  37.0

The Weather Channel notes many of the records set during the bone-chilling November we just experienced:
Thanks to a procession of cold fronts tapping air from Siberia and the North Pole in mid-November, 
several locations witnessed one of their coldest Novembers on record:

Record coldest November: Marquette (Negaunee Township), Michigan; Rhinelander, Wisconsin
- One of top three coldest Novembers: Alma, Georgia (2nd coldest); Jacksonville and Wauchula, Florida 
(each 3rd coldest)

Other locations chalked up a daily low temperature that set a record for the month of November, including:

- Casper, Wyoming: -27 (Nov. 12) and -26 (Nov. 13) each was colder than previous record of -21 
(Nov. 23, 1985)

- Burlington, Colorado: -10 (Nov. 13) bested previous record of -3 (Nov. 30, 2006) 

- Redmond, Oregon: -17 (Nov. 15) and -19 (Nov. 16) each was colder than previous record of -14 
(Nov. 15, 1955) 

- Joplin, Missouri: 6 (Nov. 18) bested previous record of 7 (Nov. 29, 1976)

Many other records were set for the coldest temperatures (highs or lows) so early in the season, including:

- Denver: Lows of -13 on Nov. 12 and -14 on Nov. 13

 - Lubbock, Texas: High of 27 on Nov. 12 

- Charleston, West Virginia: Low of 12 on Nov. 19 

- Charlotte, North Carolina: Low of 14 on Nov. 19 

- Jacksonville, Florida: Low of 24 on Nov. 20 

- Macon, Georgia: Earliest teens on record (17 on Nov. 19); previous earliest teens occurred on 
Nov. 20, 1914.

Finally, there were several record-long November streaks, including:

- Dallas/Ft. Worth: Six straight days of highs of 45 degrees or colder (Nov. 12-17)

- Chicago: 180 straight hours below freezing (late on Nov. 11 until late morning Nov. 19)

- Des Moines, Iowa: 10 straight days with subfreezing highs (Nov. 11-20).

Monday, December 1, 2014

TV Show Mocks Institution of Marriage With Same Sex Marriage Storyline

Last week, I happened to catch a show a new episode of which I hadn't seen in some time, Two and a Half Men.  Once at the top of the ratings for CBS, Two and Half Men has fallen on hard times.  The show's star, Charlie Sheen, left a few years back after personal issues led to his being killed off in the show.  He was replaced by Ashton Kutcher who plays Walden, a good-looking, nice guy billionaire who inexplicably has trouble finding a woman interested in marrying him.  In another odd twist, Jon Cryer's character, Alan, remains living at the Malibu beach house, formerly owned by his brother, Charlie (Sheen's character), which is now owned by Walden.

Ashton Kutcher
This is the last year of the show and it is clearly running on fumes.  But in a homage to the growing same sex marriage movement, the show's writers decided to have Walden and Alan get married. The impetus was Walden's desire for a baby to make his life more complete.  Since adoption would be made easier if he was married, and poor Walden couldn't find a woman interested in marrying him, Walden proposes to Alan, who accepts. 

The plot line of two heterosexual men getting married leads to hilarity.  Okay, not really.  The marriage of the two straight men does allows the writers to incorporate into the show an endless and tiresome stream of straight men acting like stereotypical gay men jokes. Alan, the more effeminate of the two, gets the bulk of those.

It should be noted that Two and a Half Men isn't the only show that incorporated a straight same sex couple getting married.  Several years ago in The New Adventures of Old Christine, Julia Louis-Dreyfuss' character married Wanda Sykes' character, Barb, to help her avoid deportation. Although Sykes in real life is a lesbian, Barb was straight.

The plots of the two shows are typical Hollywood in dismissing the importance of the institution of marriage and the personal and legal commitments involved in entering such a union.  But probably unbeknownst to politically tone deaf writers and actors (Cryer, Kutcher, Louis-Dreyfus and Sykes are, after all, on record as supporting same sex marriage) the shows' story lines actually denigrate the struggle hundreds of thousands of same sex couples have endured in their fight to be able to marry.

I don't think anyone can argue that advocates of same sex marriage have not been sincere in their push for same sex marriage.  Unlike Hollywood, those advocates approach the institution of marriage with a respect for the legal and moral obligations it represents.  It is exactly because of their respect for institution of marriage that they want to partake in it.  Hollywood mocking marriage does not help that cause.

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Immigration Issue Sets Up Conflict between Governor Pence and Attorney General Zoeller Over Which Office Determines State's Legal Position

The Indianapolis Star reports:
President Barack Obama's decision to act on his own to address what to do about the millions of immigrants in the country illegally drew criticism Thursday from multiple
Gov. Mike Pence
public officials in Indiana. 
Gov. Mike Pence said he is looking into filing a lawsuit to stop the changes.
Pence, a Republican and potential presidential candidate, said Obama is not taking into account the fact that on Nov. 4, after the Senate bill passed, "the American people changed the majority in the Senate." Republicans will take control of the Senate in January.
"And so what the president ought to do," Pence said Wednesday at a gathering of Republican governors, "is to sit down in January with the new Republican majority in the Senate and the historically large new majority in the House and search for common ground."   
Pence's spokeswoman said Thursday the governor's office has had preliminary discussions with Attorney General Greg Zoeller's office about filing a lawsuit to stop Obama's action.
"After the executive order is issued, we will analyze it and determine the next steps for the state of Indiana," said spokeswoman Kara Brooks.
What has not been reported is that Attorney Zoeller and Governor Pence aren't exactly signing from the same page when it comes to illegal immigration.  Zoeller has in the past opposed any effort by the
Attorney General Greg Zoeller
State of Indiana to take on what he perceives as the strictly national issue of immigration and has refused to defend state immigration legislation in court, leading to some bitter conflicts with Republican state senators.

The key to the conflict between the state senators and potentially a conflict with Governor Pence is that Attorney General Greg Zoeller makes the absurd claim that he has the absolute authority to determine the state's legal position in court and on issues, that he is not only attorney, but he is also the client, i.e the Attorney General is the State of Indiana.  That claimed authority would trump the Governor. So even if Governor Pence, on behalf of the State of Indiana wants to sue the Obama administration, Attorney General Zoeller position's is that he can stop that effort.

What undercuts Zoeller's claim is that Indiana law already provides an opt-out provision, that when the Attorney General feels uncomfortable representing the State on and issue, outside counsel can be appointed to represent the State's position in court.  Zoeller's claimed absolute authority over the positions taken on behalf of the state of Indiana has made that opt-out provision superfluous.

For more Ogden on Politics on this issue:

Saturday, January 11, 2014, State Senate Bill Seeks to Check Power of Indiana Attorney General Greg Zoeller

Monday, December 30, 2013, Attorney General Zoeller Encroaches on Governor's Power as He Lobbies for More Federal Funding for School Resource Officers  

Tuesday, February 12, 2013, Bill Highlights Tension Between Indiana General Assembly and Attorney General

Saturday, September 8, 2012, Republican State Senators Spar with Attorney General Over Representation in Indiana Immigration Case; AG Zoeller Claims He is Both State's Attorney and Client

Also: Attorney Marcia Oddi, publisher of the Indiana Law Blog and who has had a long career in Indiana's executive and legislation branches, published an article titled "Ind. Gov't. - Who Speaks for Indiana at the Federal Level" on legislation that was introduced allowing the AG to place a deputy in Washington, D.C. with particular responsibilities.  Her article, which also contains links to stories she wrote in 2009, 2010 and 2012 on the subject of who speaks for the State of Indiana at the federal level.

For additional Ogden on Politics stories discussing this issues, see:

Thursday, July 3, 2014, Attorney General Greg Zoeller Right, But a Hypocrite, On Duty to Defend Indiana's Marriage Law

Tuesday, March 25, 2014, Attorney General Zoeller's Press Release on Duty to Defend Indiana's Marriage Law Ignores His History

Friday, October 18, 2013, State v. State?; Will Indiana's Attorney General Defend the Expungement Statute Against Challenge By Another State Official?

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

More Ballard Bait and Switch: New Justice Center Now Projected to Cost Taxpayers $2 Billion

Gary Welsh of Advance Indiana has an excellent article on the new proposed Justice Center which was originally portrayed as costing only $300 million to construct.   It turns out that was a lie.  Deputy Mayor Adam Collins now concedes that the administration had estimated from the beginning the construction cost would be $500 million.  Further, by using an outside contractor not only to construct but to own the building, the deal will cost taxpayers upwards of $2 billion over 35 years.  Welsh reports:
Indianapolis Deputy Mayor Adam Collins
When the Ballard administration unveiled its plan to use a P3 agreement to construct a new criminal justice center a year ago through the City's shadow government, the Greater Indianapolis Progress Committee, it placed the cost of the new facility at a little over $300 million. Now the administration claims it knew all along the construction cost would be $500 million after receiving bids from three foreign-led investment groups. Deputy Mayor Adam Collins told WTHR's Mary Milz yesterday afternoon the administration had "estimated from the very beginning this facility would cost $500 million."

The true cost is several times that $500 million figure because the City will be locked into making payments to the private developer for the next 35 years. The RFP the administration illegally refused to make public until yesterday pegged those annual fees at $50 million a year. Collins told yet another lie to Milz in explaining why the administration refused to at least acknowledge it had told the bidders the City placed a cap of $50 million on the annual payments. "The reason we kept quiet is we didn't want to prejudice the market and allow (the bidders) to think how much we were willing to spend on a particular facility," Adams told Milz. The only reason to keep it secret, along with the entire RFP in violation of law, was because the entire bidding process was nothing but a sham.
Welsh then took the opportunity to look closer at the deal and found the inflation adjustment provision in the deal which members of the mainstream media missed completely in estimating the deal at $50 million x 35 years for $1.75 million.
Anyone with a clue knows these deals always have cost-of-living allowances. Sure enough, the RFP provided a payment schedule where those $50 million payments would grow to more than $68 million during the life of the agreement. Total payments would approach $2 billion, not $1.75 billion, or about four times the actual cost.
Collins goes on to repeat the outrageous lie that using the third party vendor is cheaper for taxpayers than simply bonding the project and having the city be the owner.  Welsh points out why Collins repeats this tall tale:
Collins goes on to tell yet another lie to Milz by claiming the P3 arrangement is cheaper than if the City relied upon traditional bond financing to build the facility itself. "Even so, Collins said leasing a facility would be cheaper than the city building one itself." "We're confident that whichever bidder we choose will provide the taxpayer with a significant cost savings above and beyond our own estimates," he said. Anyone with a brain knows that the huge fees built into a P3 agreement to benefit the private developer wind up costing far more than traditional financing and self-management costs. The P3 costs are at least 40% to 50% higher. A P3 approach is preferred because the corrupt politicians don't want to do a straight up property tax-backed proposal that would be subject to voter approval at a referendum, and because there is a greater opportunity for more kickbacks to the political insiders to profit from a P3 deal. Let's be honest.
Unfortunately honest, transparent government won't be a legacy of the Ballard administration, the end of which can not come too quickly.

Monday, November 24, 2014

Republican Challenger Enjoys Comfortable Lead over Louisiana Senator Mary Landrieu

Senator-Elect Bill Cassidy (R-LA)
There is still one U.S. Senate seat to be decided, Louisiana's.  That state's runoff election between Republican Challenger Bill Cassidy and Democratic incumbent Senator Mary Landrieu will be held on December 6th.

A Rasmussen poll released Sunday showed Cassidy with a
15 point lead.  Sen. Landrieu's failed effort to get the Senate to reconsider opposition to the Keystone pipeline does not appear to have helped the incumbent Senator.

The expected win in Louisiana would give the Republicans 54 seats in the new Senate.  In another race, the winner of which was not apparent until after Election Day, Alaskan Democratic Senator Mark Begich on November 17th conceded to Republican challenger Dan Sullivan. Sullivan led by less than 8,000 after all the votes were counted.

Thursday, November 20, 2014

Democratic and GOP Attorneys Pocket as Much as Half Million Dollars Asserting Alleged Frivolous Defense in Mulholland Case (w/correction)

If you want to find out how Marion County politics works, study the case of Zach Mulholland, the unslated candidate whose literature was seized during the May 2012 primary pursuant to a statute which makes it a crime to distribute a piece of literature that has more than one candidate named on it without the express written approval of all such candidates filed with the Election Board before the election.

Greg Hahn
In 2003, in a case in which yours truly was the lead plaintiff (Indiana Right to Life was the other plaintiff), the Marion County Election Board agreed the statute was unconstitutional and that the Board would not attempt to enforce it to seize non-slated candidates literature in the future.  In direct violation of the federal court judgment reached in that case, Ogden v. Marendt, the Board, with the unanimous vote of three attorneys, voted to enforce the order and seize Mulholland literature.  The Board later even went so far as to make a referral to the Marion County Prosecutor's Office to try to get Mulholland prosecuted for violating an unconstitutional law.

David Brooks
Of course, the Board was wrong and had no chance of winning the lawsuit Mulholland filed.  I would think any attorney doing his or her ethical duty would have strongly advised the Board to admit it was wrong and settle.  Maybe Hahn and Brooks did exactly that.  If the Board, immediately settled, the taxpayers would have only been on the hook for the nominal cost of Mulholland's literature and a few thousand in attorney's fees incurred by Mulholland's attorney.

But that's not the way politics works in this town.  The Board instead hired a Democratic and Republican attorney, Greg Hahn and David Brooks, respectively, who apparently saw the litigation as an opportunity to run up a huge bill on the taxpayers.  Jim Shella of WISH-TV reports that new Board Chairman Cody Kendall has pulled a plug on the lawsuit, which yesterday climaxed in a Mulholland Shella reports that Kendall says that $300,000 to $500,000 were incurred in defense costs.  Taxpayers will also have to pay Mulholland's legal costs which total about $80,000.  Which leads to the obvious question, why it costs as much as $500,000 for the defense attorneys yet only $80,000 for the plaintiffs' attorneys.  Could it be because defense attorneys padded the bill because taxpayers were paying?

Coby Kendall
Before kudos are extended to Kendall for doing the right thing, he has been in his position for probably a year and only pulled the plug when the federal district court judge told him the defense needed to be dropped and the law never be enforced again.  (Given there were absolutely no sanctions for violating the 2003 order, I wouldn't be surprised if the Election Board tries to enforce it again.  After all, the non-slated candidate has no remedy after the election and the taxpayers get stuck with the legal costs.)  Kendall also earlier had the Board consider a criminal referral for Mulholland violating a statute he knew perfectly well had been declared unconstitutional and couldn't be enforced.  The Board later decided against the referral.

Finally, it should be noted that while Jim Shella does quote Mulholland as saying that the Board spent "half a million dollars that ... defending a law that a first year law student could tell you is unenforceable," Shella completely omits providing context as to WHY there was an assertion that the Board had taken a frivolous position - namely that the Board in 2003 had admitted the statute was facially unconstitutional and agreed not to enforce it.

CORRECTION:  An earlier version of this story indicated Kendall had voted to make a criminal referral of Mulholland.  Actually the Board decided against this at a subsequent meeting.  However, given the fact that Board members actually contemplated making a criminal referral, despite the Board's own agreement in 2003 that the statute was unconstitutional and wouldn't be enforced, and after being slapped down by the 7th Circuit earlier this year, reflects very poorly on the attorneys on the Election Board, particularly Democrat Kendall and the Republican appointee, Vincent Perez.

Also, it should be noted that Marion County Clerk Beth White, while voting to have Mulholland's materials seized, did vote against turning the legal defense of the case over to partisan attorneys Hahn and Brooks.

By the way, here is my story on the Board's meeting following the 7th Circuit decision, the meeting at which they contemplated trying to have Mulholland prosecuted.

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Marion County Election Board Concedes, Again, Slating Statute is Unconstitutional and Agrees, Again, Not to Enforce It

Plaintiff Zach Mulholland, the unslated Democratic state representative who had his election materials seized at the polls in the primary of 2012 despite a 2003 federal court injunction against the Marion County Election Board enforcing the law, has prevailed in his lawsuit.  The ACLU of Indiana has just put out this press release:
Indianapolis--Political parties in Marion County cannot prevent the free speech activities of candidates they do not back for election, and county officials cannot enforce an unconstitutional law used to impede such speech, a federal judge affirmed today.

Judge Sarah Evans Barker of the U.S. District Court, Southern District of Indiana, in approving an agreed judgment filed by the parties, ruled that Indiana's "slating" statute -- Indiana Code § 3-14-1-2(a)(2) and (3) -- cannot be enforced. The order also provided that the Marion County Election Board cannot convene further hearings concerning the 2012 primary election or the plaintiff in the lawsuit, Zachary Mulholland, and required
Zach Mulholland
compensation and fees to be paid to Mulholland and to the American Civil Liberties Union of Indiana, who brought the case on his behalf.

In 2003 the Election Board conceded, in an approved judgment in a separate federal lawsuit, that Indiana's slating statute -- which made it a crime for a candidate in a primary election to publish election materials linking him with other candidates without prior permission and notice to the Board -- violated the First Amendment. Still, during the 2012 primary season, the Board enforced the statute against candidate Mulholland by seizing his campaign literature at polling sites on Election Day and demanding he appear for a hearing.

In March the ACLU of Indiana won an appeal in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit on behalf of Mulholland, a candidate for state representative, and the case was remanded to federal court for a final judgment. Seventh Circuit Court Judge David Hamilton wrote in the opinion that the Election Board's pursuit of action against Mulholland "shaves very close to harassment or bad faith prosecution."

"The Judge's decision today is a major victory for our plaintiff and for the First Amendment," said Kenneth J. Falk, ACLU of Indiana legal director, who argued the case with ACLU of Indiana senior staff attorney Gavin M. Rose. "Government agencies cannot enforce laws that have been declared unconstitutional, and the Election Board cannot prevent voters from receiving information about candidates for public office."

"We agree with the Seventh Circuit that this has been an outrageous misuse of power," said Jane Henegar, ACLU of Indiana executive director. "The Election Board has wasted hundreds of thousands of taxpayer dollars on private attorneys' fees in defense of actions that are indefensible. If the Board had admitted the unconstitutional nature of its behavior two years ago, the total cost to the taxpayers would have been a couple of hundred bucks, the cost of the seized pamphlets."

The decision, Zachary Mulholland v. Marion County Election Board, 1:12-CV-01502 SEB-MJD,was issued by the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Indiana, Indianapolis Division, on Nov. 18, 2014.
The Election Board's decision to seize Mulholland's literature in direct defiance of the 2003 consent decree, should have subjected the Board members, all of whom were attorneys and one a Marion County Superior judge as of January 1st, to sanctions for contempt of court. The non-Board attorneys who participated in the direct seizure of Mulholland's materials should also be brought before the court on contempt.  They all almost certainly knew about the 2003 consent decree in which the Election Board admitted the statute was unconstitutional and agreed not to enforce it.  Yet they  arrogantly decided to enforce it against Mulholland anyway.

Maybe a bigger outrage is the extraordinary amount of tax dollars that were spent to pay attorneys to defend the Election Board's completely indefensible position in this case.  That was identified in the press release and deserves repeating:
"The Election Board has wasted hundreds of thousands of taxpayer dollars on private attorneys' fees in defense of actions that are indefensible. If the Board had admitted the unconstitutional nature of its behavior two years ago, the total cost to the taxpayers would have been a couple of hundred bucks, the cost of the seized pamphlets."
It remains to be seen whether the Election Board will, a few years down the road, attempt to enforce the statute once again against an unslated candidate.   Unfortunately in this case there were zero consequences for those who directly defied a federal court order.  They got what they wanted - campaign literature taken away from a competitive non-slated candidate - and the only people who ended up paying a price were the taxpayers. 

Analysis Shows Democrats' Failure in 2014 Mid-Term Election Was Not Due to Failure to Turn Out Its Voters

Sean Trende of Real Clear Politics has authored an excellent article in which he takes the 2014 mid-term election and adjusts them so that the turnout demographically in 2014 matches those who turned out in 2012.  Trende found that Democrats were not doomed by their voters not turning out
but rather their voters voting against President Obama, and voting for Republicans:
A congealing conventional wisdom surrounding the 2014 elections is that Democrats had a long night because of an unfavorable Senate map and because Democratic constituencies failed to show up. One storyline growing out of this is that once Democrats can enjoy a “presidential electorate” rather than a “midterm electorate,” their fortunes will turn, and Democrats will run well.

This isn’t entirely correct.  The major factors driving the different results between 2012 and 2014 were not demographic.  The major difference was that in 2012 Barack Obama was a moderately popular president.  In 2014, he is an unpopular president.  If this does not change between now and 2016, demographic shifts alone will not save the Democratic nominee.

We can illustrate this best by borrowing a page from Harry Enten, and seeing what would have happened if the 2014 electorate had instead more closely resembled the 2012 electorate. That is to say, let’s keep whites voting 60-38 for Republicans, Hispanics voting 62-36 for Democrats, and so forth, as they all did in 2014, but alter their shares of the electorate to resemble 2012 (72 percent white, 10 percent Hispanic, and so forth) rather than 2014 (75 percent white, 8 percent Hispanic, and so forth). This allows us to isolate the effects of demographic change between 2012 and 2014.

The results are underwhelming: If the 2014 electorate had resembled the 2012 electorate in terms of race, the Republican vote share would shrink by just 1.97 percentage points.  In other words, in a 2012 electorate, Republicans would have won the popular vote for the House by 4.5 points, rather than 6.5 points.  That’s not nothing, as they say, but it still only explains a relatively small share of the difference between the 2012 and 2014 results. Put differently, if Obama had put up the same vote shares among racial groups in 2012 as Democrats ultimately did in 2014, he’d have lost.

Maybe a better way to see the differences is to look beyond demographic splits and instead compare the ideologies of the two electorates.  But if the 2014 electorate had consisted of the same proportions of liberals, moderates, and conservatives as the 2012 electorate, the Republican margin would have contracted by just three points.

No matter how you slice it, demographic changes in the midterm electorate account for a relatively small portion of the Democrats’ problems in 2014.  The real difference between 2012 and 2014 isn’t changes in the demographic makeup of the electorate.  It is changes in the way that demographic groups voted. This, in turn, has everything to do with the president’s job approval rating.

Monday, November 17, 2014

Valparaiso Law School Grad Wearing Only Diaper When Arrested for Stabbing; Did They Snap Because They Faced a Personal Financial Crisis?

The blog Above the Law follows up on the story of Alecia and Andrew Schmuhl, the husband and wife Virginia attorneys, and 2009 Valparaiso law school graduates, who are accused of stabbing and torturing the partner of Alecia's law firm, as well as the partner's wife, following her firing from the firm:
Last week, the legal world was rocked by allegations that Alecia and Andrew Schmuhl, married lawyers, went on a rampage following Alecia’s firing from Bean Kinney & Korman, a well-known Northern Virginia law firm. The Schmuhls were accused of forcing their way into the home of the firm’s managing partner, Leo Fisher, and viciously stabbing both Fisher and his wife, Susan Duncan. Both Fisher and Duncan remain hospitalized with serious injuries.
Since we last reported on the Schmuhls, additional details have come out about what happened during the alleged home invasion and what will happen to them as they’re prosecuted for this ruthless attack, but many questions still remain.   
For example, why on earth was Andrew Schmuhl wearing only a diaper at the time of his arrest? 
So what’s with the diaper? When he was arrested, Andrew Schmuhl was naked, covered in blood, and wearing only a bloody diaper, according to a report from WUSA9. Some sources believe that Andrew was so intent upon causing Fisher pain that he wore a diaper so he wouldn’t have to take a break at any time during the attack and risk Fisher’s escape. Other sources say that Andrew may have thought he and his wife would be involved in a long police chase after the attack, and wore the diaper as a precautionary measure. Either way, a lawyer wearing a diaper makes this case even more sensational than it already is.
Raymond F. Morrogh, the Fairfax County prosecutor on the case, described the night’s events as a “torture session.” According to Morrogh, Fisher was Tased repeatedly and then “brutally stabbed” in the face, head, and upper torso; Duncan was also Tased and stabbed repeatedly; and Andrew Schmuhl fired one bullet at Duncan, but missed. According to a note written by Fisher while at the hospital — which is now his only mode of communication thanks to the extent of his injuries — before leaving the scene of the crime, Andrew allegedly made this ominous promise: “I’m going to come back and finish this job.” 
Alecia Schmuhl, who claims she was scared of her husband, says that she was in the car throughout the duration of the attack (about three hours), and that she had no idea what her husband planned to do.... 
The blog also notes the incredibly changed appearance of the couple and suggest "depression" was to blame at least for Alecia's declining appearance.  But there may well be a reason for her depression and for the stabbings.  Valparaiso University Law School lists the total cost of tuition and expenses of
Alecia and Andrew Schmuhl in happier times
attending at $53,862.  As graduates of Valparaiso, a private law school, the young couple could easily have a combined  $250,000 in law school student loan debt, not even to mention what they carried over from four years of college.  While corporate lawyers are still generally paid well, it would take a heck of a salary to pay a $250,000 loan not to mention the other financial responsibilities of the young couple.

Mug shots of Alecia and Andrew Schmuhl
As far as Andrew Schmuhl, apparently he was unemployed.  He still has a LinkedIn page in which he says he is "Seeking employment opportunities in the Northern Virginia, District of Columbia, or Maryland area."  According to that page, Schmuhl last attorney job was working with the United States Army, but that ended in September of 2012.  Assuming he didn't have other positions since then, he would have been unemployed over two years.  With the couple deeply in debt, debt that's almost impossible to discharge in bankruptcy, one could see why Andrew might have been extremely angry at the law firm's partner for firing his wife.

Indianapolis Hasn't Installed a New Street Light in 33 Years: Failure Shows Misplaced Priorities of the Ballard Administration

Fox59 broadcast this most interesting story last Thursday:
Marion County has not installed a new street light since 1981, when a moratorium was put in place under former Mayor William Hudnut.

Indianapolis Street Light (from Fox59 Story)
The reason, says Stephanie Wilson with the Department of Public Works, was and remains funding. Marion County currently has 29,000 street lights, and their electric bills cost the city $5.1 million a year. Wilson says funding for street lights comes from the transportation budget.
That means adding more lights would result in less money for roads, sidewalks and bridges. When there is an area in need of more lighting, Wilson says existing lights are reallocated.  
“In conditions where there is either a dangerous area for pedestrians or for drivers, we work with public safety, with IMPD and IFD, and we listen to their recommendations. If it’s needed, we can repurpose existing street lights and place them in areas where they are more needed,” says Wilson.
If a new area is developed, street lights have to be paid for through private funds.
 The Mayor's Office admitted the importance of street lights to crime: 
Mark Lotter, Communications Director for Mayor Ballard’s office, says the city needs more street lights to cut down on crime rates and attract new residents as well.
“We understand that street lights and lighting of public streets and sidewalks is very important to making neighborhoods safer,” says Lotter. “It also makes them more inviting and better places to live.”
Lotter says that a "long term funding sources" have to be identified.  That's Ballard speak for residents needing to open up their wallet and pay higher taxes or fees if they want a city service funded.  That's been the history of Ballard's tenure as Mayor.  Existing revenue sources can always be found for corporate welfare for politically connected developers and  billionaire sports owners, but if residents want basic city services, they need to open their wallets and pay more.

Let's do some basic month.  The current 29,000 in street lights use $5.1 million in electricity every year. That is $175.86 for every street light.  So if the city added a 1000 street lights, that is only an added cost of $175,860 a year. We can't find that in the budget without raising taxes?
Further, the addition of new lights could be used to take advantage of new LED technology that would save on maintenance cost and offers substantial energy savings.  San Antonio converted its 20,000 street lights to LED in 2012.  Forbes last year reported on Los Angeles' retrofit of its street lights with LED illumination, the world's largest such project.  The Forbes article details not only savings, but has before and after pictures showing the LED lights providing much improved illumination.

A few weeks ago, the Ballard administration announced it was converting the city's fleet of cars over to alternative fuel vehicles by using a third party vendor from which the city would rent the vehicles.   As a result of this "green" initiative, the Ballard administration claimed taxpayers would save money, a claim that was easily refuted by anyone capable of doing sixth grade math.  But with LED conversion of street lights, the Ballard administration could actually adopt a green initiative that truly would save the taxpayers money.   Apparently though Mayor Ballard is only interested in things that make money for companies, not in proposals that save taxes.

It will be interesting to see if f Democratic mayoral candidate Joe Hogsett picks up on this story. It's an ideal campaign issue.  It's easy to explain the connection between street lights and Hogsett's signature issue, crime.  It illustrates the misplaced priorities of the Ballard administration. Using the LED technology, the conversion of street lights could also be sold as saving the taxpayers money.  It's a win, win, win.

Note:  A company named Leotek produces A Municipal Guide for Converting to LED Street Lighting that has useful information.

Sunday, November 16, 2014

Average Monthly Temperatures Since 2012 Show Markedly Lower Temperatures for the United States

I was in the process of possibly doing an article on how the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) has adjusted (manipulated?) older temperature readings in the official records, but I thought I'd write separately to set out some monthly temperature data that might be of interest.  I remember all too well the unusually warm temperatures of 2012, particularly the scorching hot summer that year, being repeatedly cited by the time by alarmists as proof positive of global warming.  In light of the alarmists focus on weather as proof of anthropogenic global warming I thought I'd set out how the monthly temperatures in 2013 and 2014 in the continental United States have ranked out of the 120 years of official records kept by NOAA.

Jan.  2013        31st warmest
Feb. 2013        48th
March 2013     73rd
April 2013       99th
May 2013        45th
June 2013        15th
July 2013         35th
Aug. 2013        28th
Sep. 2013           8th
Oct. 2013         85th
Nov. 2013        65th
Dec. 2013        91st
Jan. 2014         60th
Feb. 2014         84th
Mar. 2014        78th
April 2014       46th
May 2014        30th
June 2014        33rd
July 2014         75th
Aug. 2014        53rd
Sep. 2014         26th
Oct. 2014           4th

Nineteen of the last 22 months have not even broken into the top 20.  Nine months, in fact, have ranked in the bottom half.  Of course, alarmists will scream that this is weather and not climate. I totally agree.  But why is it okay for the alarmists to use weather events, like a hot day or hot summer, as proof of global warming, while decrying those who use colder weather to prove the contrary? The answer is that alarmists are hypocrites, more than willing to use weather when it advances their anthropogenic global warming theory.  That's also why they repacked their their from global warming to "climate change." That way any change, and the climate is always changing, proves the theory.

Thursday, November 13, 2014

Marion County GOP Leadershop Pledges to Campaign to the Left of Hogsett, Writes Off Fiscal Conservatives in Party

Yesterday former U.S. Attorney Joe Hogsett made it official.  He is a candidate for Indianapolis Mayor.  This triggered a snarky response from Marion County Republican Chairman Kyle Walker:
"Joe Hogsett has been rejected by voters three times and next year will be the fourth;
Marion County Republican
Chairman Kyle Walker
either in May or November. Hogsett's unwillingness to support pre-k for low-income families is one of the many reasons he is wrong for Indianapolis."
Gary Welsh of Advance Indiana has a good response to this statement:
Okay, so as a Republican the primary reason I should oppose Hogsett is because of his supposed lack of support for pre-K education for low-income families, something they've been offered for nearly 50 years under the federally-funded Head Start program? So that's your strategy to defeat Hogsett? Excuse me, but if people want to talk about education, then let them run for the school board. 
I would add, so we Republicans are supposed to be motivated to vote for the GOP brand because we'll support the creation of an entitlement program that's been shown not to offer any long-term benefits and is to be paid for with a tax increase?  Kyle Walker, have you decided to just write off fiscal conservatives in your own party completely?

If anyone doesn't think Hogsett knows how to run to the right of a Republican and draw enough conservative votes to win, they need to study what he did to former Mayor Bill Hudnut when they both ran for Secretary of State.

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Time for Indiana GOP Chairman to Show Leadership, Address Problems with Marion County Republican Party Organization

Following the election, Indiana State Republican Chairman Tim Berry wasted no time going on the offensive against Democratic State Superintendent of Public Instruction Glenda Ritz with an extremely tacky "Chairman's Corner.":

Tim BerryChairman's Corner
With Republicans nearly sweeping Election Day, one question remains.

Who was the biggest loser?

On the heels of Glenda Ritz's announcement about her plans to seek re-election, 20 of 23 Democratic candidates she publicly endorsed lost their respective races.

She made public appearances and recorded radio & TV ads for her friends, but her efforts received little fanfare.
Ritz's name wasn't on the ballot, but the education policies she supported were and voters responded.GlendaRitz_Endorsements_enews

The Indiana Democratic Party's efforts to paint us as the party that despises teachers, public education and even women - all FAILED. Voters saw through the antics and believe our education system and our state is in good hands under Republican leadership.

At the very least, there are some important insights we can gather from this election cycle including Ritz's faded star power and the lack of a Democratic message that resonates with Hoosiers.
There's no doubt that the next election will be different than the midterms, but Indiana's future is looking bright. 
Tim Berry
Indiana Republican Party
Paid for by the Indiana Republican State Committee.
Not authorized by any candidate or candidate committee.
Berry's "Chairman's Corner" was actually forwarded to me by Republicans who were upset with Berry's snarky post-election tone.  So much for winning with class and dignity  Kicking people when they're down, after an election is over, is considered to be highly improper.  

But local Republicans are upset with Berry for another reason.  In sharp contrast to GOP success in state legislative and statewide offices, the Republican organization in Marion County continues to be in rapid decline.  This election, Marion County GOP Chairman Kyle Walker didn't bother to field candidates in 8 of 15 house races, including three competitive house seats.   Democratic incumbents won two majority Republican house baseline districts, despite lower turnout that should have favored the Republican challengers.  Republicans locally didn't even bother to try to win the prosecutor's office and, for the first time in what must be at least 80 years if not more, the Marion County Republicans did not field a candidate for a county-wide office, Assessor.

On This Week in Indianapolis, Republican political consultant Jen Hallowell said that, regardless of which candidate the Republicans select for mayor, that candidate will benefit from the strong grass roots GOP organization Mayor Ballard built.  But while Ballard's 2007 upset election could have been used to rebuild the grass roots of the GOP, it mostly certainly wasn't.  Instead Ballard, Walker, who is Hallowell's husband, and former Marion County GOP Chairman Tom John were more interested in cashing in on the spoils of Ballard's victory than doing the work necessary to rebuild the once vaunted Marion County Republican machine.  The number of Republican elected officials in the county declined markedly during the Ballard-Walker-John era.  GOP leaders like Walker and John substantially increased their power while stripping precinct committeemen of virtually any cloud they had, including a meaningful vote in slating.  Without any incentives to do the grass roots work of the party, people were no longer interested in being active in the Marion County GOP.

Unfortunately, because of changes in the rules, the Marion County GOP chairman gets to pick the majority of the people who would be eligible to vote for his election.  Yes, Kyle Walker, like Tom John before him, gets to pick his own voters.  As a result, Marion County GOP PC elected by the Republican electorate can't fire Walker for being, obviously, derelict in his duties.  But his removal could come from another source, Berry calling for his removal.  It is unlikely that Walker would remain on in the face of opposition by the Indiana State GOP leadership.    

It is time for Tim Berry to stand up and show some leadership.