Monday, March 2, 2009

Council Committee Votes to Boot Libertarian Ed Coleman From Committees; Republicans Concede At-Larger Republican Council Seats in 2011

Today, the long rumored event happened. Meeting in "executive session" (apparently in an effort to squelch any comment from the public, Indianapolis City County Council Committee on Committees voted to strip Councilman Ed Coleman of his committee assignments and replace him with two Republicans, Barbara Malone and Ryan Vaughn, on those committees. Republicans Council President Bob Cockrum and Council Majority Leader Lincoln Plowman and Democrat Minority Leader Joanne Sanders voted unanimously for the measure.

At first, Cockrum refused to let Coleman speak. Finally, Sanders spoke up on his behalf and said she thought a sitting councilor should have the right to speak. Coleman was finally allowed to address the committee and raised the good point of how a 3rd party could ever serve on the council, if the Republicans and Democrats conspired (my word) to only allow members of the majority party to be on committees. He raised a good point, and Cockrum, naturally, had no answer.

People who have been around Marion County Republican politics should know that such thuggish, retaliatory behavior displayed by the committee has been standard operating procedure in the party for years. Up until the late 1990s when the numbers in the county turned in favor of the Democrats, the Republicans could get away with demanding 100% loyalty from elected officials or face consequences. But in an era in which the Republicans are in the decided minority in Marion County, such an approach to dissent within the party is the height of foolishness. Following the meeting, Lincoln Plowman actually had the chutzpah to say that the vote had nothing to do with politics. No, it had everything to do with politics.

Republican leadership on the council would be wise to start healing the divisions within the Republican Party rather than inflicting more wounds. Bob Cockrum, Lincoln Plowman and other Republicans need to open their eyes to the angry electorate, many of which are members of their own party. Ed Coleman wasn't an abberration, but rather a reflection of the anger many Republicans have about the direction of the party. The primary reason Ed Coleman left the Republican Party was because he started asking questions about the Capital Improvement Board and faced retaliation and isolation within his own party for doing so. Even before leaving the GOP, Coleman had been stripped of his committee assignments, and left on only two committees. All othat followed Coleman's appearing in the Indianapolis Star questioning what was going on at the CIB and asking that they open their records. The question that should have been asked in the Caucus iswhy other Republicans are not asking about one of the leading problems faced by the city today. Questions are not being asked because of a lack of leadership on the council.

I've often referred to these Marion County Republicans who wanted retaliation as "mathematically-challenged." Republicans no longer have any room for error when it comes to county-wide races. Republican leadership on the council would be wise to start putting together the divisions within the Republican Party rather than to engage in a purely retaliatory act that is certain to tick off not only Libertarians but many Republicans who like Coleman, are outraged at what has happened with the CIB and want full disclosure. Republicans would be wise to also build a bridge to Libertarians. Although historically the Libertarian vote is small, in a close election 2 to 4% could easily determine the outcome. The vast majority of Libertarians are conservative and, if there is not the Libertarian option,on the ballot, would vote Republican. Why Council Republicans think its a good idea to stick their finger in the eye of the Libertarian Party, given the numbers in the county, is a mystery.

Joanne Sanders had to be the happiest person on the Council tonight. I think of the three on the committee, she knows that the vote to oust Coleman dooms any chance Republicans have to retain control of the Council in 2011. It's really simple folks. In 2011, the Republicans put up four at-large council candidates as do the Democrats. Libertarians put up one, Ed Coleman. Disaffected Republicans go in and vote for one council candidate, Ed Coleman. Coleman won't come close to getting elected. But he'll certainly get more votes than any county-wide Libertarian candidate in Marion County history, most of which votes will come straight out of the Republican base. The result will be an easy sweep by the Democrats of the at-large seats and, with the sweep, control of the council.

Republicans will look back at March 2, 2009 as they day when they shot themselves in the footing, giving up all hope of winning the council majority in 2011. All that was traded for a retaliatory act against a councilor, who would have voted with Republicans 90% of the time. Stupid is as stupid does. And today, Council Republican leadership displayed stupidity on a legendary scale.


Sean Shepard said...

It is absolutely correct to say that Councilor Coleman is not an aberration. There have been at least a few precinct committeemen dump the GOP and come to the LP in just the past year or so. And it's not just GOPers, in Marion County, a few Democrats have also made inquiries.

I think when people realize that Libertarians have very principled, well thought out positions and don't routinely sacrifice those principles for personal, political or party gains ... once people see the honesty in the approach ... it is attractive and refreshing.

Arguments about the best place to be effective aside, the LP is the home for voters and politicians who actually care to know anything about economics, are fiscally conservative and don't wish to use government to dictate how others live their lives so long as they are doing no harm to, or violating the rights of, others.


You are spot ON, councilor!

Downtown Indy said...

We are indoctrinated with 'we have a two-party system' from early in our schooling. So far, neither of 'those' has done particularly well for us. Beats me why more people don't realize they have other choices and give them a chance. You know the old saying about repeating the same behavior but expecting different outcome!