Having attended the meeting, I have a number of observations. First, the Council continues to disappoint with its continued softball questioning of people who appear before committees. For example, at one point, Councilor Oliver asked Straub the question: "Are you a man of your word?" The other questions were not much more difficult.
Kudos go to Liz Karlson, President of the Republican Liberty Caucus, for standing up for gunowners, a loyal Republican constituency. She presented a passionate, articulate argument, personalizing it with her own experiences. As Indianapolis Republicans teeter toward inevitable disaster in the municipal elections of 2011, she is someone who needs to play a critical role in rebuilding the Republican Party for 2012 moving forward. We reform-minded Republicans can't make the same mistake we did in 2007 - winning the election and then losing the transition to the Old Guard Republican faction whose sole interest is cashing in as much as possible during Ballard's one term, while foregoing any long-term goal of rebuilding a Republican majority in the county.
While I would praise Liz, I can't say the same thing for former councilman Bill Dowden. I admired Dowden when he was on the Council, but last night he did not represent gunowners well. He seemed completely unaware of the lack of support the Ballard administration has displayed regarding gun rights (more on that later) and the positions taken by Frank Straub. Dowden's presentation went on far too long and it was unclear until the very end what position he was taking and even that position was mushy, at best.
IMPD Chief Michael Spears gave about a 30 second endorsement of the Straub nomination. Not sure if the brevity was due to a lack of enthusiasm or simply a recognition that the nomination was already a done deal. Spears though deserves substantial criticism for having IMPD officers pack the room, all wearing dress blue uniforms. (That same strategy was employed during the CIB meetings where workers came wearing their work uniforms.) While some political strategist apparently believes this shows solidarity and support, it comes across as a heavy-handed, overly organized and insincere. As an observer, I would be a lot more inclined to believe those officers actually supported Straub if they showed up in their civilian clothes. While it is true they were going to the Mayor's State of the City speech following the meeting, I have little doubt that they would have worn their uniforms regardless.
Right before my presentation, Public Safety Chairman Ryan Vaughn remarked that he knows Mayor Ballard supports the Second Amendment. Not that Vaughn is particularly concerned about the truth when phony political spin works much better, but he could not be more wrong. Mayor Ballard's administration has taken the position that the City doesn't have to follow the Second Amendment in any gun policy or ordinance it adopts. Mayor Ballard's position saying the Second Amendment is irrelevant to any law not adopted by the federal government is completely contradictory to that of another Republican, Attorney General Greg Zoeller, who has argued in legal filings that states and cities need to comply with the Second Amendment.
I would close by again praising Liz Karlson for leading the way on this issue. Were it not for her efforts, the Straub nomination would probably have never been flagged as a problem by gun rights supporters. Although Straub's confirmation is, and always was, almost a certainty, the fact is Karlson, on behalf of gun owners, helped fire a warning shot by gun owners that will pay dividends in the future.