Wednesday, March 25, 2009

The Statehouse Revolt: The Aftermath

I want to thank everyone for the work they did to put on the "Revolt" today. Certainly thanks goes out to Melyssa. She is a publicity dynamo the likes of which I've never seen. While I put a lot of time in on the rally, no one worked harder or devoted more time on the cause than Melyssa.

Thanks go out to Sean Shepard. He told me afterwards he had never acted as a host of such an event. I thought he was absolutely terrific. Thanks, Sean.

I thought Diana Vice use of props was fantastic. Obviously she was a media favorite. A closeup of Diana speaking is on Her tale of success fighting against the powers is an example we can all try to emulate. Diana, you were great.

Julia Vaughn, like me, hails from the small river city of Madison, Indiana. I never realized Julia was such a forceful speaker. What is interesting is that even though her underlying political beliefs might not have been the same as most of the crowd, the good government issues that she and her group, Common Cause, bring to the table are issues that cut across party and philosophical lines. Things like revolving door legislation and lobbying reform is at the top of everyone's agenda, everyone except the legislators. Thanks, Julia.

No one brings more substance to a discussion of city affairs than Gary Welsh. I think Gary shined during his presentation. His report on the Capital Improvement Board and the professional sports teams should be a chilling warning to those folks down in Evansville discussing building a new sports arena. Remember that temporary 1% food and beverage tax that was supposed to pay for the RCA Dome and then disappear after it was paid off? Well, Gary hasn't. He does a great service for the city with his blog. I appreciate your efforts at the rally, Gary. Keep up the good work.

What can I say about Mark Small. Mark and I went to law school together. Even though we were philosophical opposites, we found a lot of common ground on issues. Mark also brings a great sense of humor to everything he does. Today, his take on the professional sports franchises demanding more of our money was entertaining and information. Thanks for your efforts, Mark.
Having been a northwest side resident for years, not terribly far from the world-famous race track, I really appreciate JoEllen Dotlich coming and speaking about what is going on with the town of Speedway and the Speedway Redevelopment Commission. JoEllen put a human face on dealing with these appointed commissions that decide issues behind closed doors and then trot them out for "dog and pony" shows where they pretend to give the public input on issues they have already decided. Thank you so much for coming, JoEllen and sharing with us.

Jim Premeske of Team Hammond Taxpayers, Frankie Neidhammer, President of the Vanderburgh County Taxpayers Association, and Jim Arnold, of Citizens of Delaware County for Property Tax Repeal all gave us a perspective on what is going on in their communities. From their presentations, it certainly appears that what Indianapolis is experiencing with a government that is out of touch with the people is not a unique situation. Thanks Jim, Frankie and Jim for traveling so far to come and speak at our rally. Everyone appreciates your dedication to the cause.


Now my thoughts on the rally. Contrary to some media reports, there was a common theme among the presentations - that government is out of touch and listening to lobbyists instead of the voters. Those media outlets are confusing the term "theme" and "issues." The rally presented a single theme, but multiple issues. The reason why is that there are multiple issues where our elected officials seem to care not one whit about what people think. They seemingly only care about those lobbyists giving them campaign contributions.

As I tried to emphasize at the post-rally luncheon, what we have is a coalition. As with any coalition, not everyone is going to agree on every issue. I am on record as saying I’m uncomfortable with some of the immigration rhetoric and I am not a fan of Sen. Delph’s bill, which I believe additionally could irreparably hurt the future of the Republican Party. Likewise, I don’t think that the Fair Tax (replacing the federal income tax with a large sales tax) is workable, a position that is directly opposite of some of my biggest advocates.

Like our coalition today, political parties are by definition coalitions. It is a healthy thing for the success of a coalition, including political parties, that people are allowed to express their positions without fear of being ostracized or punished for their beliefs. That's why I am troubled when the Indianapolis Mayor's Office and the GOP leadership of the City-County Council demand that other Republican council members support their agenda 100% of the time or face being ostracized within their caucus. That is not a healthy situation, especially when the Republican Party is a distinct minority party within the county and needs to allow elected officials some independence to reach out to non-Republican voters. The elitist, pro-corporate welfare direction of the Marion County Republican Party leadership is dooming my party to certain failure in 2011. Many Republicans have expressed that view to me - privately - because they know to say so publicly will bring consequences. Ask Ed Coleman.

But I digress. The revolt today was about Republicans, Democrats and Libertarians coming together for a common cause, to be heard in our Statehouse. Although we brought our concerns to the steps of the Indiana Senate and House, we need to take those concerns and translate them into action. In the program today, I identified numerous "good government" reforms that would probably have nearly universal support among the people who attended the rally as well as the general public. While the rally was not really a forum to have a lengthy discussion of those detailed reform proposals, in the coming weeks, months and years ahead, we can work toward unifying the coalition behind those or similar reforms. There are two steps in this process: talking about the problems and taking action. The talking is over. Now it's time to start preparing to take action.

Again, thank everyone for all they did and for attending the rally. I can't thank you all enough.


Downtown Indy said...

The media underscored their message which was that few or no politicians came by to check it out, unlike 'many other' similar events.

Obviously they could not help but hear the message. They just didn't want to enter the lion's den.

Paul K. Ogden said...

DI, very true. I'm not sure why Shella thinks they were not paying attention, except for the fact that's the story he had in mind from even before the rally started.

Patriot Paul said...

Shella & other media panhandlers make their bread & butter off of access to politicians and statehouse personnel. Should we really have expected balanced reporting? Consider the source.
There was a source that touted this as a libertarian event. Another source cited this as a 'tax revolt', instead of accountability issues.
Media in general are not challenged to do better. An amateur could do a better job just walking off the street

Diana Vice said...

Hmmm...maybe Shella wasn't looking in all the corners or in the balcony. I saw several legislators and at least one high ranking government official near the rally. I hope they had their ears on.

Diana Vice said...

I think maybe some media types are just a little miffed because most people get real news from blogs now as mainstream media is becominng more and more irrelevant. Bloggers need to join efforts and do a better job at advertising their blog sites.