Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Lawrence Township School Board Member Criticizes Administration's Budget Moves, Accused of Ethics Violation by Other Board Members for Speaking Out

Today's Indianapolis Star contains a letter to the editor signed by four Lawrence Township School Board members in which they criticize another board member, Henry Fernandez. The conclusory paragraph to the letter tells what their criticism is all about:
There is no question in the mind of this board that Fernandez does not have the best interests of the educational community at heart. His political motives are obvious with his incessant pandering and grandstanding rather than real work toward student achievement. His persistent negativism, his fueling a culture of mistrust and disrespect, and his inappropriate favoritism has been and continues to be destructive. He has rejected opportunities to work with the rest of the board in a productive, collaborative fashion. Fernandez has repeatedly violated the adopted Board of Education Code of Ethics as well as the board's Guiding Principles. His presence on the board should be questioned by the entire community. Having chosen private school over public schools for his own children, one is left to wonder what his real motivation is for continuing on the board.
What was the offensive letter to the editor written by Hernandez that the other four board members were responding to? Here it is:
Advice on school spending in wake of budget cuts If school boards are committed to increasing student achievement, they must protect from proposed cuts the budget items that directly support student learning. In the Lawrence Township school district where I serve as a board member, for example, the administration would like to significantly increase class size by eliminating scores of teaching jobs, eliminate virtually all instructional assistant positions, and purge all professional development from the general fund.

While those cuts are considered, teachers are asked to differentiate instruction for an increasingly diverse student body in newly "themed schools," just as teachers are held more accountable for increases in student achievement. Yet, the administration proposed no layoffs for central office staff and almost no cuts to extracurricular programming.

School boards can minimize the adverse impact of the reduced revenues from the state by restructuring the district -- creating models with more autonomous public schools and less central office bureaucracy.

Henry Fernandez
School Board member
Metropolitan School District of Lawrence Township, Indianapolis
Fernandez's crime? He asked questions of the administration, looked into possible mismanagement and offered a view that wasn't the administration's. In this letter, he is making a recommendation regarding cutting administrative staff versus the teaching staff. For that the board members accuse Fernandez of not supporting "student achievement." Give me a break.

It is apparent that the four who wrote this letter are nothing more than rubber stamps for the Lawrence Township administration and are offended that Fernandez's offense was that he wouldn't be a rubber stamp. Their reference to the Code of Ethics and Guiding Principles to suggest Fernandez is doing something ethically wrong in speaking out is repugnant. What they are trying to do is use an ethics threat to try to chill Fernandez's First Amendment right to criticize the administration. That the four board members (and the administration) disagree with Fernandez on the issues doesn't give them the right to silence Fernandez from expressing his views.

Lawrence Township voters have a thoughtful public servant with Henry Fernandez. What the "entire community" should do is vote out of office these four board members who are more interested in rubber stamping the administration's agenda than doing their job and representing their constituents.

Monday, March 29, 2010

The Marion County GOP Youth Movement? Sorry I'm Not Buying It

Today Francesca Jarosz of the Indianapolis Star reports on the supposed youth movement going on inside the Marion County GOP organization and in particular the Indianapolis City-County Council. The article reads in part:
Local Republicans are hoping the fresh faces -- with their new ideas and ability to relate to typically disengaged younger voters -- can help keep the party competitive in a county that has trended Democratic.

The selection of Angel Rivera, 28, and Aaron Freeman, 32, to fill the council seats vacated in the past two months by middle-aged men is just one piece of evidence that the push for youth in the local GOP is bearing fruit.

Earlier this year, Republican Ryan Vaughn became the council's youngest president at 32. The median age of Republicans on the council is 50 -- three years younger than the median age for council Democrats.

Examples also abound outside the council. Carlos May, 30, is challenging incumbent U.S. Rep. Andre Carson, 35, for the 7th District seat. Wes Robinson, 23, is running for a spot in the Indiana House of Representatives. And all members of the local Republican Party's staff, as well is most of Republican Mayor Greg Ballard's campaign staff, are younger than 35.

"We realize that things are changing," said Rivera, one of the new councilmen. "Our institutions need to be forward-thinking, forward-looking and ahead of the game. A lot of that is equated with youth."
To read the rest of the article click here.

Youth movement in the Marion County GOP organization? I am so not persuaded.

It is not that there are not young, energetic Republicans in this county. Indeed they are all over the place. They just aren't attracted to organizational Marion County GOP politics or get quickly turned off if they do become involved. I remember last year running into "Nicole" the former head of the Wayne Township Young Republicans at a dental office where she works. She was in the early to mid 1990s an up and coming coming Republican. Attractive, intelligent and energetic, she was the epitome of the type of person the party should have coveted and retained, especially Wayne Township which had a dearth of youth. Nicole had reenergized the Wayne Township Republicans as well as playing a role in the Marion County Young Republicans which also was an active, energetic group in the 1990s.

Today, Nicole, like virtually every Young Republican I was involved with in the 1980s and 1990s is out of Marion County GOP organizational politics. Nicole told me the party didn't want her. It's a refrain I have heard a 1000 times before.

On the same day I saw Nicole, I met an early 20s woman who worked in the same dental office where I saw Nicole. She too, along with her boyfriend, was interested in becoming involved in local Republican politics. She began talking about how important conservative politics was to her and how she wanted to be involved. She had no idea what I knew - that the local GOP party leadership does not care one whit about conservative politics. They care about using the party machinery to assert influence and make money. I knew that if I turned her name in to become an organizational Republican, she would be chewed up and spit out a few years later, totally disillusioned on local politics. I instead gave her the name of two candidates who I felt could better utilize her energy and talents without turning her off from politics.

As far as the young members of Ballard's staff, again I am again so not impressed. The real decision-makers in the Ballard administration - people like Joe Loftus, Bob Grand and John Cochran - are leftovers from the Goldsmith administration. They purposefully staffed the Ballard administration with young, inexperienced people they know they could manipulate a lot easier than people who are older with experience. It is the same with young members of the Council. Even Council President Ryan Vaughn is little more than a water carrier for his true bosses, Loftus and Grand, who are responsible for Vaughn's paycheck six figure paycheck as a Barnes & Thornburg attorney and lobbyist. An older, more experienced Council President would likely show an independence from Loftus, Grand and even Mayor Ballard, an independence you certain are not going to see from the young and inexperienced Ryan Vaughn.

I will be more impressed by the Marion County GOP organization when those Young Republicans of today become the future leaders of tomorrow. I will be convinced of the Marion County GOP youth movement truly exists when my party stops booting out young Republicans who have independent minds or who want to talk about the issues that motivate them to become Republicans.

A youth movement in the Marion County GOP? No, I'm not buying it.

Friday, March 26, 2010

IPS Violates Open Meetings Law Regarding Video Recordings; Reporter Andy Gammill Tosses Away Pretense of Objectivity, Becomes Part of the Story

Over at Indiana Barrister, Abdul has a series of articles entitled "Caught on Tape" in which IPS communications director Mary Louise Bewley is caught on tape expelling two members of the Education Action Group who were videotaping the meeting.




Also caught on the videotape is Indianapolis Star reporting Andy Gammill who is seen whispering to Ms. Bewley who then immediately storms off after the videotapers. According to Ms. Bewley's comment she was kicking out the EAG members because they were being "disingenuous" by not telling them in advance who they were and why they were videotaping.

It is astonishing to me that Bewley, who is communication director for the largest school district in the state, doesn't even know that videotaping a public meeting like that is protected by Indiana's Open Meetings law. Further those audio or videotaping a meeting do not have to identify who they are or provide an explanation why they are taping, contrary to what Bewley suggests.

Gammill's performance, on the other hand is disgraceful. He actively participated in turning in someone in for videotaping, apparently clueless that the videotaping is protected by law. That a Indianapolis Star reporter would be taking a position contrary to Indiana's Open Meetings law, which law is critical to protecting the right of reporters to cover meetings and the public's right to know, is bad enough. What is worse is that Gammill shot his objectivity to pieces by his eagerness to assist the IPS administration in targeting an education reform group. Gammill should be fired. As this story filters out, he will no credibility in this town when it comes to reporting on IPS and education reform issues.

Traffic Court Bill Signed Into Law

Readers of this blog will note that our law firm filed a lawsuit against Marion County Judge William Young's practice of finding motorists an additional $300 or $400 should they choose to exercise their right to a trial and lose. Our lawsuit deals with several issues in the Marion County Traffic Court, but the chief one is Judge Young's practice of fining someone for exercising a constitutional right, a practice which we think is illegal.

In the meantime, our legislature had moved into action to put a stop to this practice. State Sen. R. Michael Young (R-Indianapolis) introduced a bill to put a stop to these fines and putting into place a structured fine system whereby motorists could not be penalized an additional sum unless they have an history of challenging traffic tickets unsuccessfully. With overwhelming support form Republicans and Democrats, Conservatives and Liberals, the bill overwhelmingly passed the Indiana General Assembly. I am happy to say that on Wednesday afternoon the Governor signed the bill into law. It takes effect July 1, 2010.

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Washington Township Trustee Spends $20,000 to Fight $758 Claim


Today's Indianapolis Star brought a story that Washington Township Trustee Frank Short has spent $20,000 in attorney's fees defending against a poor relief claim for $758:

"Washington Township has spent about $20,000 fighting a local woman's poor-relief application for $758.27 to pay her rent and water bills.

The yearlong dispute is back in Marion Circuit Court today where there might finally be a resolution to case that seems almost certain to become fodder in the ongoing statewide debate over whether Indiana's 1,008 township governments are effective stewards of taxpayer dollars.

Washington Township Trustee Frank Short said he chose to devote so much time and money to the lawsuit because the verdict might have bearing on future cases.

"If there was a ruling in the case one way or the other and it affected the way we handed out emergency assistance dollars going forward," Short said, "that might be worth it."

He also said there was principle involved. Others are more concerned about the, well, principal involved.

"It looks as if the trustee is trying to make a point in this particular case, but it's going to be an extremely expensive point," said Julia Vaughn, policy director of Common Cause Indiana. "From my perspective as a good government advocate -- and as a Washington Township taxpayer -- perhaps it would have been better to just go ahead and pay the rent."

Washington Township rejected Layana Cooper's request for emergency aid in December 2008 on the grounds that it was identical to a failed aid application she had made in October. "

To read the rest of the article, click here:
I don't know enough about the case to know whether the legal point Short is trying to make is worth the cost. What I strongly question though is why Short would hire the highly expensive, politically-connected law firm Ice Miller when there are literally hundreds of attorneys in the city quite capable of handling the simple legal issues in this case as well or better than Ice Miller attorneys for a fraction of what that politically-connected law firm would charge.
Big law firms like Ice Miller don't dominate government legal work because they do a better job and it sure isn't because those firms are a better deal for taxpayers They get the legal work because they kick back a portion of those inflated billings to the politicians in the form of campaign contributions. If those contributions were not coming in, the legal work would dry up quickly. It is as close to pay to play as you can get without there being a quid pro quo.
How long are we going to look the other way while big law firms like Ice Miller, Barnes & Thornburg and others continue to fleece local units of government, i.e. taxpayers?

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Washington and Pike Schools Put on High Alert for Gang Violence?

Blogger Diana Vice today reported that the Indianapolis Metropolitan Police Department has placed Washington and Pike Townships schools on high alert for gang violence:
According to an inside source, school police officers working at Washington and Pike Township Schools were put on high alert today for potential gang violence after the IMPD reportedly issued a warning that threats were made by gang members from North Central High School against gang members who are associated with the Pike Township high school.

This comes after school officials reportedly called on school police officers today to remove an alleged gang member from a Washington Township School.

Nerves have been on edge since threats of gang violence erupted at Northview Middle School a few weeks ago in an ongoing Black vs. Hispanic scenario.

According to a knowledgeable source, two students were recently arrested for bringing knives to the middle school. The student perpetrators were allegedly recruited by members of the notorious Latin King Gang and given the assignment to stab another student at Northview Middle School. Rumors have been circulating that the Northview Middle School incident may be related to an Indianapolis gang-murder investigation.
Vice continues on detailing the security problems in the Washington Township Schools that have gone on without being addressed by the administration.

Unfortunately the Washington Township administration has a reputation of being more concerned about its image than the welfare of the students. Pike has similiar problem - an administration out of touch with teachers, students and the community. The adminstrations of both school districts have a far too cozy relationship with their respective school board members. School boards should be a check on school administration, not a rubber stamp for whatever school leaders want to do.

Politically-Connected Real Estate Broker Makes Commissions Off Of City Leases; Is Bales Doing Any Work For His Money?


This morning I watched the video from the Administration and Finance Committee of the Indianapolis City-County Council. During the meeting, the councilors considered a proposal to lease approximately an old Target store at 8115 E. Washington Street to relocate the Traffic Court. The space would be approximately 15,000 square feet and provide for ample parking.

I don't think anyone disputes that the current traffic court location is unacceptable and that a change needs to be made.

The plan though was for the City to pay an upfront "build-out" fee of $500,000 to $600,000 to improve the property so that it could be suitable for use as a traffic court. The landlord would be contributing $240,000.

Councilor Barb Malone pointed out that usually a lessee doesn't contribute that kind of up front money for a lease. Rather it is usually done over the life of the lease. It was pointed out that it was done to buy down the lease. Judge William Young, who presides over the traffic court, also pointed out that since government leases by law have to have an "out" provision in case the agency is not funded, banks are unwilling to finance leases thus requiring more cash up front.

Councilor Malone did a good job of asking questions and raising concerns about who would profit. R.P. Lux is the lessor's broker for Centre Properties which manages the property. I believe Craig W. Johnson and Singleton Associations, LLC owns the property. I'll have to review real estate records though to better sort thing out.

What I found most interesting was a comment that passed quickly, namely that the City was requiring them to use Venture Real Estate as the City's broker. Yep, the same company headed by poltiically-connected John Bales who has entered into questionable real estate deals that have enriched Marion County Prosecutor Carl Brizzi.

About a year and a half ago, the Ballard administration entered into a no-bid contract to allow Venture to inventory city property. In exchange, Bales' company would get the commission on any sale or lease of city property. Testimony from a city official recently indicated that deal may have been quietly scrapped.

Regardless, this doesn't seem to be the same deal that required that Traffic Court use Venture as the lessee's broker, even though from the testimony Venture apparently is not doing any work on the deal. Bales will receive tens of thousands dollars in commissions off the Traffic Court lease even though his company is apparently not doing any work on the lease, probably because everyone involved wants Bales' company to keep a low profile given the numerous media revelations regarding questionable deals involving Bales, including IBJ's expose on the lease with the Marion County Prosecutor's Office that put substantial commissions in Bales' pocket courtesy of his friend Marion County Prosecutor's Carl Brizzi. Of course, much of Bales' commission will undoubtedly end up funnelled back to elected officials in the form of campaign contributions.

Just another day in the life of Indianapolis politics.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

The Legal Violation at the Indianapolis Parking Violation Court


Today I spent early afternoon at the new Indianapolis Parking Violation Court located in the Guardian's Home in Irvington. I had long wanted to see how the court operated. The only feedback I had heard was a media report four people who initially had hearings in the court walked away with their $40 tickets turned into $250 fines when they dared challenge their tickets in court.

Kara Kenney of Channel 6 news did a report on the court and wanted to interview me. So I met her at the court when I found out it would be in session.

The regular judge of the court, Dennis Pappenmeier, did not preside. I don't know if it was a coincidence or because because of the presence of WRTV or me or both, but administrative law judge John Krause arrived about 15-20 minutes late to preside over the court instead of Pappenmier. I know Pappenmier. Great guy but unlike Krause, Pappenmeier is not an attorney. Given the number of attorneys who are desperate for any employment these days, there is no reason to not have a non-attorney presiding as a judge anywhere, especially not in a city of over 800,000 people.

When the City announced the new parking violation court in a press release months ago, it gleefully warned that defendants who challenge their tickets would be facing a $2500 fine. To me it was reminiscent of Traffic Court where motorists enter with $150 tickets and walk away with fines of $449.50 or $549.50 if they dare ask for their day in court. (That's why we also named the Parking Violation Court in our injunction lawsuit against Traffic Court.) The Indiana General Assembly felt so adamant that motorists should not be fined for asking for their day in court that it overwhelmingly passed a law stripping traffic court of authority to fine motorists for choosing to go to trial. It was clear that the Parking Violations Court intended to go down the same path employing some hairbrained, fadish"Six Sigma" strategy to maximize parking fine revenue by threatening people with maximum fines should they ask for their day in court.

Today I heard what I believe was a Citation Services Collection (the company that runs the parking fine system in Indianapolis) employee tell the Channel 6 reporter that they've never fined anyone $2500. She did admit to the reporter though that they have assessed "court costs" of as much as $150 on top of the tickets most of which are $40.
I am not sure what the authority is for doing that. The maximum statutory court costs for moving violations is around $70. Not sure why the allowable court cost for a parking violation would be that much higher. Imposing a $150 "court cost" on a $40 ticket could have a chilling effect on those wanting their day in court.

Nothing though compared to what certainly appears to be a fatal flaw in the proceedings. ALJ Krause pointed out correctly that the City had the burden of proof and only had to prove its case by a preponderance of the evidence. The City attempted to meet this burden by having a person who I believe was a Citation Service Collection employee (not the one who handed out the ticket) read the ticket into the record. Then supposedly the burden switched to the defendant to counter that evidence.

Here is the problem. Without the person who wrote the ticket, the introduction of the ticket is hearsay. While hearsay is allowed in an administrative law proceeding, under Indiana law it cannot be the sole piece of evidence upon which a judgment is based. That is Administrative Law 101. If the City has nothing more than a CSC employee reading the ticket into the record, the ALJ should be finding in favor of every parking defendant. My guess is that our woefully inexperienced leadership at City Legal failed to instruct CSC on that little legal requirement which the failure to follow should invalidate every parking case decided in favor of the City.

Monday, March 22, 2010

How Does Healthcare Reform Affect Wishard?


Last November, Marion County voters approved a referendum to build a new Wishard Hospital. Wishard Hospital, of course, is the hospital in Indianapolis that is devoted to serving uninsured patients. In the old days, this type of hospital used to be called a "charity hospital." Most cities have done away with their charity hospitals.

Last year, Wishard folks acted with urgency to push through a referendum on the new hospital and opted to have it decided in a special election rather than wait until the May 2010 primary. At the time, I wondered if Wishard was racing to beat the Obama health care reform which would provide insurance to the uninsured and give those folks who now go exclusively to Wishard the right to go to hospitals other than Wishard for their medical care. In short, the Obama health care plan could end up diverting people to other hospitals leaving Wishard without its enormous pool of uninsured patients.

The Indianapolis Business Journal has an article today examining the impact of the health care reform bill. It did not, however, discuss the impact of the law on Wishard.

Councilor Ed Coleman to Introduce Resolution Supporting Attorney Greg Zoeller on Second Amendment Incorporation


This press release came in this weekend while I was out of town:

Libertarian Party of Marion County

LPMC Contact: Timothy Maguire, LPMC

Chairman, 317.372.6436 or chair@indylp.org

LPMC Website: http://www.indylp.org/

Councillor introduces resolution to support US Constitution

INDIANAPOLIS, IN - The Libertarian Party of Marion County (LPMC) is proud to support an upcoming City-County Council resolution which affirms the rights of Indianapolis citizens under the United States and Indiana Constitutions. City-County Councillor Ed Coleman (L) will introduce a resolution this Monday, March 22, in support of the Second Amendment to the United States Constitution and the protections it provides to Indianapolis residents.

The resolution further expresses its support of the position of Indiana Attorney General Greg Zoeller (R) who co-signed a “friend of the court” brief in an important Second Amendment case argued before the Supreme Court. In the brief, Zoeller and a bi-partisan group of more than thirty other state attorneys general argue that the Second Amendment applies to state and local units of government. The case, McDonald v. Chicago, was heard before the Supreme Court earlier this month and is expected to be decided later this year.

Councillor Coleman proposed an ordinance earlier this year which would allow law-abiding citizens to defend themselves in city parks. The proposal is currently tabled. “This [resolution] is a simple vote,” says Coleman; “either you support the Constitution or not.”

Timothy Maguire, Chairman of the LPMC, is confident that Councillors and the Mayor can put aside their differences and support the Attorney General. “Regardless of our disagreements about Indianapolis gun laws, I think we can all agree that the Bill of Rights is as much of a limit on local government as it is on federal government.” Coleman continues, “If elected officials do not support the U.S. and State Constitutions, they should resign as they can’t effectively support their constituents.”
The Libertarian Party is the third largest political party in the United States, and is the only non-major party with ballot access in the state of Indiana. Libertarians believe in a small non-intrusive government that is financially responsible, administratively competent and socially tolerant.

###

The resolution being introduced by Councilor Ed Coleman should be a no-brainer at least for the Republicans on the Council to support. The sole Republican who might have trouble signing off on the resolution is Mayor Greg Ballard whose administration has taken the position in court that the Second Amendment does not apply to the City's gun policies and ordinances. In other words, Ballard takes the position that the Second Amendment only applies to the federal government and not state and local governments like the City of Indianapolis. Ballard's position is directly contrary to AG Zoeller's position and is not a popular position for a Republican officeholder to take in any part of the State..

If as expected that the U.S. Supreme Court rules this Summer that the Second Amendment does apply to states and local units of government, it is quite possible that Indianapolis' gun ban in parks would be one of the first test cases by national gun rights groups. I have doubts that the city's park gun ban could survive a Second Amendment challenge.

Ballard might think his battles with gun-rights supporters was over with the tabling of Coleman's guns in parks proposal, but in realitybigger battles probably lie ahead. Undoubtedly Mayor Ballard is well on the way to turning off a significant and critical segment of the Republican base - gun rights supporters. That's not a smart thing for a politician to do when he needs to hold onto every Republican vote in order to win re-election.

Sunday, March 21, 2010

How Republicans Stomped the Democrats in the 2010 Election and Then Lost in 2012


One of the things I teach in my class is that the game of politics is like physics in that for every action, there is a corresponding reaction that follows.

In 1980, the Reagan and the Republicans had a sweeping victory, even retaking the Senate for the first time in 30 plus years. In the mid-term elections of 1982, the GOP took it on the chin.

In 1992, Democrat Bill Clinton won the White House. In the mid-terms election which followed in 1994, the Republicans won a huge victory, winning a majority of U.S. House seats for the first time since the 1950s.

In 2000, Republican George W. Bush won the White House. In the 2002, Republicans lost seats in the mid-term election.

While the focus is generally on these "reaction" elections, I would urge one to look to the elections that followed the reaction election. In 1984, 1996, and 2004, the incumbent President, whose party had suffered losses in the mid-term elections, came back and won re-election.

Today Republicans seem suddenly popular. GOP leaders are ecstatic about its upset victory in the Massachusetts U.S. Senate special election and polls suggesting Republicans will make big gains in Congress during the 2010 election. All across the country "tea parties" are breaking out against the big government policies of the Obama administration, which ironically followed the big government polices of the Bush administration.

Republicans are undoubtedly headed toward a big victory in the 2010 elections. But Republicans are fooling themselves if they think the victory would be because the public likes the GOP's policies. Rather it would be a rejection of the big government policies pursued by the Democrats. Republicans would only be succeeding because in 2010 being the "Party of No" to those big government policies is enough for victory.

When the calendar turns from November 2010 toward the 2012 Presidential Election, Republicans though need to be more than the "Party of No." The party needs to stand for something, to have an agenda of conservative principles that can be sold to the public after the 2010 election. While that was tried in 1994 with the "Contract With America," the newly-elected Republican House balked at executing the plan and the GOP was punished at the polls in 1996.

Thus far, Republicans have not offered that alternative agenda to the Democrats' floundering policies. Someone better come up with a plan and fast lest they want to see Obama re-elected in 2012.

Note: The image is from the K-World Gallery.

Marion County Prosecutor Carl Brizzi Given 50% Interest on Elkhart Building from Defense Attorney, Building Leased to State of Indiana


The Indianapolis Business Journal reported yesterday:
Marion County Prosecutor Carl Brizzi paid nothing for a 50-percent stake in an Elkhart office building he acquired in partnership with a local defense attorney.

Brizzi and Paul Page, an attorney and condo developer, bought the 15,200-square-foot building at 1659 Mishawaka St. in February 2008 through a company called L & BAB LLC. About five months later, the Department of Child Services agreed to lease 13,000 square feet in a 10-year, $2.5 million deal.

Page, an attorney with locally based Baker Pittman & Page and principal in Page Development, acknowledged in interviews with IBJ that Brizzi—whom he called an “equal partner” in the deal—did not contribute cash and isn’t named on the loan the pair used to buy the building.

Brizzi has said in disclosure documents that his equity interest in the property is worth $50,000 to $100,000.

The idea of an elected prosecutor teaming with a defense attorney to buy a building without putting any of his own money or credit at risk gives the appearance of an ethical lapse, said Henry C. Karlson, an Indiana University emeritus professor of law.

“A prosecutor, like a judge, exercises great discretionary power,” Karlson said. “If this man’s clients are being prosecuted in Marion County, in my opinion, there is an inherent conflict of interest because of the business relationship. That conflict would disqualify not just Carl Brizzi, but everyone in his office.”

Records show Page has represented clients in at least 12 criminal cases in Marion County, for traffic-related offenses, since he partnered with Brizzi. Page said the decision to co-invest had nothing to do with Brizzi’s elected position.

Brizzi, a Republican who has opted not to seek re-election after his second term expires at the end of 2010, said in a statement that the Prosecutor’s Office has checks and balances in place to avoid “even the appearance of favoritism influenced by either campaign contributions or outside business dealings.”

“Campaign finance laws and the rules governing the conduct of prosecutors allow for outside business ventures,” Brizzi wrote. “This real estate investment was no different. It was done ethically and by the book.”

Rainmaker

Page said Brizzi earned his stake in the Elkhart building by bringing him an attractive investment opportunity. He said Brizzi and John Bales, a local real estate broker and Brizzi business partner, approached him about the deal, which eventually paid Bales about $100,000 in commission.

No one would say how the building owners arrived at the name L & BAB.

“People bring things to the table—it doesn’t have to be money,” Page said. “If someone has an idea, the rainmaker is entitled to it. If I bring someone to the law firm, I get paid because I make the rain. Bales really put the deal together, but those two guys were friends so I’m assuming that’s how it all developed. I’m the investor, I get the loan.”

Page would not say how much is owed on the building’s loan. Records show the building, a former call center, was most recently assessed for tax purposes at $906,000.

Page said annual lease payments of more than $248,000 from the Department of Child Services cover the loan payments and building expenses. But if that changes?

“I guess I can sue him,” he said, referring to Brizzi. “If it falls south and defaults, he’s going to be in it to me for 50 percent. If I’ve got to pay the bank $10, he owes me $5. It’s not like he’s not at risk.”

Page said Brizzi has not partnered on any of his other deals. Those include the Villagio at Page Pointe condo project in Indianapolis and a handful of condo buildings in Florida.

“This is a one-shot deal,” he said. “I don’t know them that well.”

Bales, a principal at the locally based real estate brokerage Venture Cos., said in an e-mail that he dealt only with Page on the Elkhart deal, and “never saw a document” with Brizzi’s name on it.

“I have never been part of the ownership,” Bales wrote of the Elkhart property. “I do not and have never had an ownership interest in any property leased by the state.”

Bales, who has the exclusive contract to represent state agencies looking for office space, is one of Brizzi’s largest campaign donors and has partnered with the prosecutor on a handful of real estate deals, including a bank branch in Broad Ripple. They tried to raise $30 million in 2007 for a fund to buy distressed residential and commercial projects in Florida and Indiana, but the plan fizzled because of insufficient interest from investors.

Brizzi was preparing to take over as prosecutor in late 2002 when he met Bales, who had handled the department’s lease of 71,000 square feet in the 251 East Ohio building. As the pair began partnering on private real estate deals, Brizzi continued to direct more lucrative work to Bales, including three amendments to the original Prosecutor’s Office lease.

Asking questions

The FBI has been asking questions about Brizzi’s real estate and other business dealings while in office. Those include ventures with another friend and prolific Republican donor, Timothy Durham, the target of a securities fraud investigation. Durham was Brizzi’s finance chairman for his 2006 re-election campaign.

Brizzi, 41, also has faced criticism over $29,000 in campaign contributions he accepted from businessman Harrison Epperly at the same time an attorney for Epperly’s daughter was seeking her early release from prison. She had been sentenced to 110 years in 1991 in a murder-for-hire scheme.

Brizzi’s office supported the sentence modification, and Paula Epperly Willoughby was freed in July 2009. Brizzi later returned the contributions and said they were not a factor in his decision.

Brizzi, who also owns a 10-percent stake in the restaurant Harry & Izzy’s, has managed to build an impressive real estate portfolio without much money or extensive assets. He earns $125,000 a year as prosecutor. A 2009 divorce settlement shows Brizzi and his wife had three residences, each with first and second mortgages. He pays about $1,000 a month in child support for his four children.

The Indiana State Bar Association decided about 15 years ago that prosecutors and criminal defense attorneys are allowed to own office buildings together, said Stephen Johnson, executive director of the Indiana Prosecuting Attorneys Council.

“As long as it’s strictly a real estate deal,” Johnson said. “If one was the tenant and the other owed rent to the other, that would create a problem.”

Karlson isn’t convinced Brizzi’s Elkhart deal can even be considered a real estate investment, which typically would require some sort of economic contribution.

“It might appear to some that, in effect, the defense counsel—through this transaction—is funneling money to the prosecutor in the form of a bribe,” Karlson said. “I’m not saying it’s happening, but it is an appearance of evil.”
My immediate thought was whether the fair market value of this gift was reported by Brizzi on his federal income tax return. I have my doubts. At the bottom end a $50,000 gift like this would probably increase his federal taxes by $15,000 or so. If he didn't report the income, that could trigger major problems with the IRS.

I would also wonder why Brizzi is only paying $1,000 a month in child support for three children. His income is apparently a lot higher than his $120,000 or so annual prosecutor salary. The tax returns should have reflected a substantially higher income for Brizzi which should have triggered more child support. Did the tax returns not show the income or did Melanie's (Carl's now ex-wife) attorney and the judge for some reason only consider the Brizzi's governmental salary when figuring child support?

I found the comment of Stephen Johnson, executive director of the Indiana Prosecuting Attorney's Council to be interesting. He suggest that the the Indiana State Bar Association has said this kind of deal between prosecutors and defense attorneys is okay. Johnson has to know as well as anyone that, unlike in many other states, in Indiana an attorney bar association has absolutely no say in what is ethical or not ethical. Those are matters reserved exclusively to the Indiana Supreme Court which acts, at least initially, through its attorney and judicial disciplinary commissions. Legal ethics opinions by the Indiana State Bar Association are merely advisory and have in the past been ignored by the Disciplinary Commission when adjudging whether the conduct of attorneys is unethical and charges should be filed.

I think it very possible that the Disciplinary Commission will look at the various interactions Brizzi has had with defense attorneys, both on the investment and political contribution front (e.g. Epperly contributions), and decide they are so far over the line of creating an appearance of impropriety that charges against Brizzi are appropriate. I can definitely see the Indiana Supreme Court using the Brizzi matter to draw new tougher restrictions on the political and investment activities of county prosecutors. It is apparent from the Brizzi saga that a tightening of the ethical rules for prosecutors is much needed.

Friday, March 19, 2010

Securatex Scandal Widens: Unsecure Property Room Investigated

Over at Welcome to My Tea Party, blogger Diana Vice has once again has scooped the mainstream media exposing more funny goings on with private security firm Securatex which provides security for the Washington Township Schools.

It seems the guards kept property confiscated from Washington Township schools in a building off of the North Central campus rather than turn them into the IMPD property room. That's a big no-no. Should any prosecutions arise as a result of the property confiscated the prosecutioni would have to establish a "chain of custody" to demonstrate that the property had not been tampered with.

After this situation was uncovered, Marion County Sheriff's Office, finally, did an investigation of the Securatex operation. The Marion County Sheriff's Department deputizes the Securatex guards and is supposed to provide oversight over their operation. As with the privatized jail operations though, Marion County Sheriff Frank Anderson takes the position that it is better not to know what is going on so no investigations are ever conducted. After the situation was uncovered though, the Marion County Sheriff's Office was finally forced into a position of investing the Securatex operation at Washington Township.

According to Diana Vice:

"Captains Reginald Roney and Bob Smith of the Marion County Sheriff's Department conducted the investigation in the presence of Steve Stalnaker, an employee of Securatex, which begs the question. If it was really a routine inspection, how did Stalnaker know to show up on that day?"

Below is the inventory report from the Indianapolis Metropolitan Police Department. Reportedly the report has now been removed the IMPD computers since the Welcome to My Tea Party blog published it

**********************


INDIANAPOLIS METROPOLITAN POLICE DEPARTMENT

FOR LAW ENFORCEMENT USE ONLY

**DO NOT RELEASE**

CASE REPORT: 10-0033604 - 0000



INCIDENT: 681 INVESTIGATION

LOCATION: 1605 E 86TH ST

GEO ZONE: 080035 AREA: MND BEAT: ND72

OCCURRED: 03/10/2010 16:00 TO

ARRESTS: 0 INJURED: 0 DEAD: 0 VEHICLE TOWED: 0



PERSON: 1

PERSON INVOLVEMENT: WIT WITNESS

PERSON NAME: RONEY,REGINALD

RACE: B BLACK SEX: M MALE

DATE OF BIRTH: AGE:

HEIGHT/WEIGHT: /

HAIR/EYES: /



PERSON: 2

PERSON INVOLVEMENT: WIT WITNESS

PERSON NAME: SMITH,BOB

RACE: W WHITE SEX: M MALE

DATE OF BIRTH: AGE:

HEIGHT/WEIGHT: /

HAIR/EYES: /



PERSON: 3

PERSON INVOLVEMENT: WIT WITNESS

PERSON NAME: STALNAKER,STEVE

RACE: W WHITE SEX: M MALE

DATE OF BIRTH: AGE:

HEIGHT/WEIGHT: /

HAIR/EYES: /



PROPERTY: 1

PROPERTY INVOLVEMENT: PER PERSONAL PROPERTY-FOUND

PROPERTY TYPE: ARTICLE

CATEGORY: S MISCELLANEOUS

ARTICLE: PIPE

PROPERTY DESCRIPTION: METAL PIPE W/RESIDUE



PROPERTY: 2

PROPERTY INVOLVEMENT: PER PERSONAL PROPERTY-FOUND

PROPERTY TYPE: ARTICLE

CATEGORY: S MISCELLANEOUS

ARTICLE: BULB

NUMBER OF PIECES: 1

PROPERTY DESCRIPTION: GLASS BULB W/RESIDUE



PROPERTY: 3

PROPERTY INVOLVEMENT: PER PERSONAL PROPERTY-FOUND

PROPERTY TYPE: ARTICLE

CATEGORY: S MISCELLANEOUS

ARTICLE: TEST

NUMBER OF PIECES: 1

PROPERTY DESCRIPTION: CHEMICAL TEST CONTAINER FOR MARIJUANA



PROPERTY: 4

PROPERTY INVOLVEMENT: PER PERSONAL PROPERTY-FOUND

PROPERTY TYPE: ARTICLE

CATEGORY: S MISCELLANEOUS

ARTICLE: BOX

NUMBER OF PIECES: 1

PROPERTY DESCRIPTION: METAL BOX W/FOUR CIGARETTES



PROPERTY: 5

PROPERTY INVOLVEMENT: PER PERSONAL PROPERTY-FOUND

PROPERTY TYPE: ARTICLE

CATEGORY: S MISCELLANEOUS

ARTICLE: MISC

NUMBER OF PIECES: 1

PROPERTY DESCRIPTION: PLASTIC BAG W/LEAFY GREEN MATTER AND NAPKIN



PROPERTY: 6

PROPERTY INVOLVEMENT: PER PERSONAL PROPERTY-FOUND

PROPERTY TYPE: ARTICLE

CATEGORY: G GUNS-FIREARMS

ARTICLE: BULLET

NUMBER OF PIECES: 1

PROPERTY DESCRIPTION: .40 CALIBER BULLET



PROPERTY: 7

PROPERTY INVOLVEMENT: PER PERSONAL PROPERTY-FOUND

PROPERTY TYPE: ARTICLE

CATEGORY: S MISCELLANEOUS

ARTICLE: PIPE

NUMBER OF PIECES: 1

PROPERTY DESCRIPTION: PIPE W/RESIDUE



PROPERTY: 8

PROPERTY INVOLVEMENT: PER PERSONAL PROPERTY-FOUND

PROPERTY TYPE: ARTICLE

CATEGORY: S MISCELLANEOUS

ARTICLE: BAG

NUMBER OF PIECES: 1

PROPERTY DESCRIPTION: BAG W/LEAFY SUBSTANCE



PROPERTY: 9

PROPERTY INVOLVEMENT: PER PERSONAL PROPERTY-FOUND

PROPERTY TYPE: DRUG

NUMBER OF PIECES: 13

PROPERTY DESCRIPTION: 13 PINK PILLS

NUMBER OF ITEMS: 0.000



PROPERTY: 10

PROPERTY INVOLVEMENT: PER PERSONAL PROPERTY-FOUND

PROPERTY TYPE: DRUG

NUMBER OF PIECES: 1

PROPERTY DESCRIPTION: BLUE PILL

NUMBER OF ITEMS: 0.000



PROPERTY: 11

PROPERTY INVOLVEMENT: PER PERSONAL PROPERTY-FOUND

PROPERTY TYPE: DRUG

NUMBER OF PIECES: 2

PROPERTY DESCRIPTION: LIGHT BLUE PILLS

NUMBER OF ITEMS: 0.000



PROPERTY: 12

PROPERTY INVOLVEMENT: PER PERSONAL PROPERTY-FOUND

PROPERTY TYPE: DRUG

NUMBER OF PIECES: 3

PROPERTY DESCRIPTION: THREE PINK PILLS

NUMBER OF ITEMS: 0.000



PROPERTY: 13

PROPERTY INVOLVEMENT: PER PERSONAL PROPERTY-FOUND

PROPERTY TYPE: DRUG

NUMBER OF PIECES: 1

PROPERTY DESCRIPTION: ONE WHITE PILL

NUMBER OF ITEMS: 0.000



PROPERTY: 14

PROPERTY INVOLVEMENT: PER PERSONAL PROPERTY-FOUND

PROPERTY TYPE: ARTICLE

CATEGORY: S MISCELLANEOUS

ARTICLE: PAPER

PROPERTY DESCRIPTION: PARTIALLY BURNT ROLLED PAPER



PROPERTY: 15

PROPERTY INVOLVEMENT: PER PERSONAL PROPERTY-FOUND

PROPERTY TYPE: ARTICLE

CATEGORY: S MISCELLANEOUS

ARTICLE: PIPES

NUMBER OF PIECES: 4

PROPERTY DESCRIPTION: FOUR PIPES W/RESIDUE



PROPERTY: 16

PROPERTY INVOLVEMENT: PER PERSONAL PROPERTY-FOUND

PROPERTY TYPE: ARTICLE

CATEGORY: S MISCELLANEOUS

ARTICLE: BAG

NUMBER OF PIECES: 1

PROPERTY DESCRIPTION: ONE BAG W/LEAFY SUBSTANCE



PROPERTY: 17

PROPERTY INVOLVEMENT: PER PERSONAL PROPERTY-FOUND

PROPERTY TYPE: ARTICLE

CATEGORY: S MISCELLANEOUS

ARTICLE: PAPERS

NUMBER OF PIECES: 2

PROPERTY DESCRIPTION: TWO ROLLED PAPERS W/BAGGIES



PROPERTY: 18

PROPERTY INVOLVEMENT: PER PERSONAL PROPERTY-FOUND

PROPERTY TYPE: ARTICLE

CATEGORY: S MISCELLANEOUS

ARTICLE: PIPE

NUMBER OF PIECES: 1

PROPERTY DESCRIPTION: PIPE W/RESIDUE



PROPERTY: 19

PROPERTY INVOLVEMENT: PER PERSONAL PROPERTY-FOUND

PROPERTY TYPE: ARTICLE

CATEGORY: S MISCELLANEOUS

ARTICLE: RECEIP

NUMBER OF PIECES: 1

PROPERTY DESCRIPTION: RECEIPT IN BAGGIE



PROPERTY: 20

PROPERTY INVOLVEMENT: PER PERSONAL PROPERTY-FOUND

PROPERTY TYPE: ARTICLE

CATEGORY: S MISCELLANEOUS

ARTICLE: GRINDR

NUMBER OF PIECES: 2

PROPERTY DESCRIPTION: TWO GRINDERS



PROPERTY: 21

PROPERTY INVOLVEMENT: PER PERSONAL PROPERTY-FOUND

PROPERTY TYPE: ARTICLE

CATEGORY: S MISCELLANEOUS

ARTICLE: BOWL

NUMBER OF PIECES: 1

PROPERTY DESCRIPTION: BOWL W/PIPE



PROPERTY: 22

PROPERTY INVOLVEMENT: PER PERSONAL PROPERTY-FOUND

PROPERTY TYPE: ARTICLE

CATEGORY: S MISCELLANEOUS

ARTICLE: PIPE

NUMBER OF PIECES: 1

PROPERTY DESCRIPTION: BROWN PIPE



PROPERTY: 23

PROPERTY INVOLVEMENT: PER PERSONAL PROPERTY-FOUND

PROPERTY TYPE: ARTICLE

CATEGORY: S MISCELLANEOUS

ARTICLE: PAPER

NUMBER OF PIECES: 5

PROPERTY DESCRIPTION: PARTIALLY BURNT PAPER



PROPERTY: 24

PROPERTY INVOLVEMENT: PER PERSONAL PROPERTY-FOUND

PROPERTY TYPE: ARTICLE

CATEGORY: S MISCELLANEOUS

ARTICLE: CONTNR

PROPERTY DESCRIPTION: PURPLE CONTAINER W/GREEN LEAFY SUBSTANCE INSIDE



PROPERTY: 25

PROPERTY INVOLVEMENT: PER PERSONAL PROPERTY-FOUND

PROPERTY TYPE: ARTICLE

CATEGORY: S MISCELLANEOUS

ARTICLE: POWDER

NUMBER OF PIECES: 1

PROPERTY DESCRIPTION: BAG W/WHITE POWDER



PROPERTY: 26

PROPERTY INVOLVEMENT: PER PERSONAL PROPERTY-FOUND

PROPERTY TYPE: ARTICLE

CATEGORY: S MISCELLANEOUS

ARTICLE: BAGS

NUMBER OF PIECES: 2

PROPERTY DESCRIPTION: TWO BAGS W/LEAFY SUBSTANCE



PROPERTY: 27

PROPERTY INVOLVEMENT: PER PERSONAL PROPERTY-FOUND

PROPERTY TYPE: DRUG

PROPERTY DESCRIPTION: PRESCRIPTION BOTTLE W/24 WHOLE PILLS/2 HALF PILLS

NUMBER OF ITEMS: 0.000



NARRATIVE:

ON MARCH 10, 2010, DURING A ROUTINE INSPECTION OF SPECIAL DEPUTY

BEING CONDUCTED BY CPT REGGIE RONEY AND CPT BOB SMITH OF THE

MARION COUNTY SHERIFF'S DEPARTMENT, SEVERAL ITEMS WERE FOUND IN

LOCKED DRAWERS THAT HAD NOT BEEN TAKEN TO THE IMPD PROPERTY ROOM

FOR DISPOSAL. THOSE ITEMS HAD BEEN CONFISCATED FROM STUDENTS BUT

HAD NOT BEEN TRANSPORTED. THOSE ITEMS WERE INVENTORIED IN FRONT

OF CAPTAINS. THE CAPTAINS FROM THE SHERIFF'S DEPARTMENT AND MR.

STEVE STALNAKER. THE CAPTAINS RETAINED A COPY OF THE INVENTORY

FOR THEIR RECORDS. THE ITEMS WERE INVENTORIED AND PLACED IN BAGS

FOR TRANSPORT AND SEALED. THE ITEMS WERE DELIVERED TO THE

PROPERTY ROOM FOR PROCESSING AS PER SHERIFF'S DEPARTMENT

POLICY.ALL THESE EVENTS OCCURRED IN INDIANAPOLIS, MARION COUNTY,

INDIANA.REPORTING OFFICER IS BRADLEY, S., ID B8218.

OFFICER: B8218 BRADLEY,STEPHEN F SDEP

OPERATOR: 03/11/2010 09:53 F1414D BROWN,TERESA DP

*************************************************************

Any prosecutions using that evidence have certainly been compromised by this mishandling of evidence. Obviously many questions are raised by these events. Did officials in the Washington Township School Administration know of this property room? Who at Securatex was responsible for establishing the room? Did evidence from the unofficial property room "walk off?" Was the Marion County Sheriff's Office negligent in its oversight over Securatex guards and failure to investigate? Who, if anyone, erased the IMPD report? Those are just a few of the questions I have.

Why CEO Salaries Are Out of Control



Blurb from the IBJ:

Simon Property Group Inc. has named former WellPoint Inc. leader Larry Glasscock to its board of directors, the Indianapolis-based real estate giant announced this week.

Glasscock served as chairman of the board at WellPoint, the Indianapolis-based health care insurance provider, from 2005 until this month. He was CEO of WellPoint from 2004 to 2007, and CEO of Anthem Inc. from 2001 to 2004.

Glasscock, 61, also serves as a director at Zimmer Holdings Inc. and Sprint Nextel Corp.

This illustrates the point I have been making, namely that corporate boards are filled with CEOs and highly paid executives of other companies who have no incentive to hold the line on CEO pay and bonuses. Those high-level executive types want higher pay not because it's good for stockholders but because increasing their fellow CEO pay means they too could see an increase. It is a "you scratch my back and I'll scratch yours" mentality when it comes to the CEO pay.

This is a point where I differ from my Libertarian friends. I think we need regulations in place to prevent CEO-types from sitting on other corporate boards. Depending on the stockholders to police this practice through their vote is not a realistic safeguard to the abuses that happen when boards are filled with the CEO's corporate friends.

Judge Young Gets "Do Over"; Avoids $1000 Fine for Late Campaign Finance Report


Regular readers of this blog know that I am in the middle of a legal challenge to Judge William Young's practice in Traffic Court of maxing out fines to punish people who ask for a trial on their traffic ticket and lose, which is virtually everyone as Judge Young sides with "his" police officers "99.9%" of the time.

People will be surprised that I have nothing personally against Judge Young. You seem him outside the court, he's an extremely personable, gracious person. Judge Young though has an extremely bizarre and offensive way of approaching the law and treating litigants who come before his court. That whole "innocent until proven guilty" thing goes out the window when motorists come to the Marion County Traffic Court. Police officers also are automatically given more credibility than the average citizen, because police officers are, well, police officers. That's a big no-no for a judge. Another Marion County Superior Court judge who had done criminal law told me police officers are some of the biggest liars that step foot in the courtroom and that people should not reflexively believe what they say because they are police officers.

Apparently Judge Young does not practice what he preaches. According to the Indianapolis Times, he went before the Marion County Election Board to face up to a $1000 fine for failing to file his campaign finance report. Judge Young said he didn't realize he had to file one and asked the Marion County Election Board for a "do-over." Inexplicably, the Board unanimously granted the request and didn't impose any fine. Not even a token fine? What kind of signal does that send to other candidates about filing their reports? I'm pretty sure the Election Board imposes token $50 fines on people who file a few minutes late. So I guess the lesson is that if your report is going to be late, simply don't file one and the fine will be forgiven, at least if you're a sitting judge.

Update on now Senate Enrolled Act 399: That bill, which is aimed squarely at Judge Young's practices and caps the discretion trial judges have to hand out fines for moving violations, is on the Governor's desk for signature. It's amazing how both sides of the aisle, Republican and Democrat, Liberal and Conservative, were united in their outrage over what is going on in the Marion County Traffic Court and wanted to put a stop to it.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

No Republicans in Pike Township?


Over at the curious Indy's Political Stock Exchange website, I ran across a discussion of my home township and the absence of Republican candidates. Here is that article in part:
OBSERVATIONS: We've held this posting for a while because quite quite frankly we couldn't believe it. So what is it?

Well apparently a few GOP foot soldiers feel that Chairman Tom John (TOJO) has deliberately decided not to field any candidates for township races in Pike Township in the northwest portion of the County and even skipped a few offices in Washington and Warren Township as well.

In frustration they are wondering how can the Republican Party mount a successful countywide race Mark Massa-(MMAS) for Prosecutor and Dennis Fishburn-(DFISH) for Sheriff without creating grassroots synergy that comes from local slating candidates that could support at least tangentially, their GOP countywide cohorts. Conversely, this leaves Democrat candidates in Pike Township without opponents and allows them to turn their volunteers and monetary resources toward their countywide candidates. We are forced to agree with our reader that Tom's decision provides a great boost for Democrats running for countywide offices and as a Chairman have some questioning his judgement and/or loyalty to the Party and even Massa's campaign.

Now maybe Chairman John has a brilliant masterplan that will totally confound and confuse his counterpart Ed Treacy (ETRY). We have no idea, however we believe that the lack of a full compliment of candidates for the upcoming general election in a county that each year trends more and more Democratic just doesn't make any sense and should raise eyebrows.

According to a our sources democrats couldn't be more pleased at this outcome as Pike Township while certainly Democrat friendly has its share of Independent voters who now only have one choice and Republicans none. Perhaps its just a fundamental aspect of one Party playing to win instead of not to lose. So is the local party merely a shell company for the Democrats? We'll let you decide.
To see the rest of the article click here.

I don't know if I agree with the argument that the lack of Pike Township candidates lets the Democrats divert their resources elsewhere. Nor can I bring myself to think this lack of Pike candidates is some sort of devious plan by Marion County GOP Chairman Tom John to help out the Democrats. I highly doubt the Democrats would have invested more than nominal resources in Pike Township (home of Mayor Ballard who lives within a couple golf shots of yours truly) anyway. If the D's are losing Pike, they're in serious trouble. Nonetheless, it is good for the long-term benefit of the Pike Republican Party that there be candidates at least appear on the ballot. That's easier said than done. Running in races where you have a one in a hundred chance of winning is demoralizing and gets you labeled as a "loser."

Nonetheless, I'm reminded of a perpetual "loser" in Pike, a guy named Joe Turner who ran year after year for the trustee and got slaughtered year after year. The numbers in Pike eventually turned, however. Turner, a great guy liked by Democrats and Republicans, is now the Pike Trustee and is running unopposed. My have time changed.

Pike has undergone a major transformation in short period of time. When I started in the Pike GOP organization in 1986, the 8 outside townships in Marion County were all solidly Republican. Center was the only township the Democrats controlled.

Pike was 2-1 Republican in 1986. Those numbers held until about the middle 1990s when the township underwent a rapid transformation. My memory is that the last year Republicans won in Pike Township was 1998. Joe McAtee won as constable that year - yep he went from being Sheriff to being Pike Township constable. I don't think a single Republican candidate, including Lugar or Daniels, has carried Pike Township since.

Nonetheless, as a long-time resident of Pike, conceding the township to the Democrats without even having "paper candidates" is a dangerous long term strategy. Pike is the third wealthiest township after Washington and Lawrence. It is home to incredible diversity. Pike has for the last few decades been an attractive community for upper-middle class, professional African-Americans and other minorities. According to an article I read several years ago, Pike Township has more mixed marriages than any other community in the United States. Having lived her for 25 years, I believe it.

Unlike other places in the county, the more upper income minority residents of Pike are reachable. Where in Center Township, African-Americans give about 98% of their votes to Democrats, my experience at the polls tells me that it is "only" about 80-20 in Pike. You move that 20% to 30% or 35%, Republicans could be within striking distance of winning Pike again. That's a long term project that starts with candidates who now may only be "paper candidates," sort of like Trustee Joe Turner was years ago when Republicans ruled the township.

Not sure if the transformation back to a Republican township will happen for Pike. But I'm confident that the Republican numbers in the township have bottomed out. Now there is nowhere for Republicans to go in Pike but up.

IFD Batallion Chief Double Dips on the Public Payroll


Previously in this blog, I wrote about double dipper Gary Coons who in addition to being Perry Township Trustee, had a full-time job with the City. I also wrote about Hank Bosworth, who did Coons one better by having three public payrolls jobs - a highly paid full-time position in the Marion County Sheriff's Office, head of the Homecroft Police Department and a security job with Indianapolis Downtown, a non-profit corporation subsidized with milllions of dollars of taxpayer money.

Today's blog brings us the remarkable story of Stephen F. Bradley who holds down a full-time battalion chief position in the Indianapolis Fire Department, with an office located in Perry Township, as well as a full-time job as head of security for the Washington Township Schools. The jobs provide plenty of perks. In addition to benefits, Bradley gets the use of a take-home vehicle on both cars. Remarkably, despite working 80 hour weeks, Bradley has time to drive from his home in the Geist area to Perry Township and then back up to his Washington Township job. Of course, he probably needs two jobs to afford the house in Geist.

Diana Vice of Welcome to My Tea Party reported on the situation last week:

The list of disgruntled current and former Securatex employees appears to grow longer with each passing day as additional information about the growing school-related controversy continues to emerge.

Questions have now been raised about the legitimacy of the security operation at Washington Township in addition to whether the position of "police chief" is full-time or part-time.

According to inside sources, the superintendent hired Steve Bradley to a full-time position to oversee security operations at a salary of just under $60,000 (plus benefits) per year; however, officers allege that the security department has been supervised on a part-time basis since Bradley also serves as Battalion Chief for the Indianapolis Fire Department at a salary of over $80,000 per year.

"The primary question is doesn't the school system need a full-time chief to manage the security operations instead of a full-time fireman?" asked one insider.

Bradley, who reportedly works 24 hour shifts every third day for the Indianapolis Fire Department, would not be available in the event of a security emergency within the school district say insiders.

Some are also questioning the way Bradley is running the department.

"The main objective that Chief Bradley tells his officers is to make the school administration happy and make no waves," said one insider. "Disregard the rules and laws and word reports to keep the media attention to a minimum," he continued.

Many officers believe that the safety of school children and teachers is being compromised because of this type of attitude.

In addition, sources say the school district also employs an assistant chief who also works as a security guard for a private employer. Questions have also been raised about whether or not time cards reflect actual work performed for the school district. Both supervisors oversee about 20 security officers according to insiders.

The legitimacy of the school township police has also been questioned and insiders would like for the school board to address these concerns at the school board meeting tomorrow.

"The school police in Washington Township is not a police department," said one insider.

Some say that the marked cars with an official police emblem, along with uniformed officers carrying guns, presents an image that Washington Township has a legitimate police force with arresting powers when that may not be the case at all since officers are employed by a private security firm and not an official police department.

"Several of these school officers have no police powers, but do wear a police uniform and carry a gun along with driving a fully marked police car," said one insider.

According to insiders, some officers with no police powers are driving official police cars and have access to police radios, computers, and police incident files.

"When it comes to police cars at Washington Township, individual officers who lease their cars to the township own several of these cars," one insider stated. "Then along
comes the Marion Co. Sheriff who wants all the school's cars leased to [the Sheriff's Department]."

Insiders say that these cars were leased to the sheriff with the stipulation that no one who is not a special deputy with EVOC training are authorized to drive the police vehicles.

"The Sheriff doesn't know... that these officers own several cars are now leased to the sheriff," said the insider. "This means the sheriff in reality is leasing personally owned cars and many times these cars are driven by unauthorized personnel including non-empowered security guards, school cadets, and outside police agencies."

Questions were also raised about tax dollars funding expenses such as fuel, maintenance and insurance. In addition, it was alleged that some of the police cars are driven outside of Marion County in violation of the Sheriff's policy.

These are serious issues for the school board to address, and we can only hope that they take their responsibilities seriously rather than allow the superintendent to continue to call the shots. I hope they realize that it was mismanagement that helped create such a monumental mess, but the legal liability rests with the duly elected governing board.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

First Nomination for Classless Twitter Post of 2010

...is Abdul mocking Gary Welsh just a day or so after he returned after spending a lengthy stint in the hospital literally fighting for his life. See twitter exchange below.

IWURuss: @AttyAbdul have you heard from Gary Welsh recently? He seems to have gone off the radar.
2 days ago from HootSuite

AttyAbdul: @IWURuss He's back and still emotionally unbalanced.
2 days ago from web

Abdul won the 2009 Classless Twitter Award when he twittered from his wife's office Christmas Party unrelentingly mocking the appearance of his wife's co-workers for everyone to read about on the internet. His favorite derogatory term for the co-workers he saw that day? "Mouthbreather." Not sure where he came up with that one. It's a wonder his wife didn't divorce him after that stunt.

Miscellaneous Thoughts (and Predictions) on Local Politicians

Carl Brizzi - Political career is over. I think there is about a 60% chance the FBI or IRS goes after him.

Mayor Greg Ballard - I don't think it is 100% certain he runs for a second term. Regardless, unless the Democrats put up a person who commits a major felony during the course of a campaign, Ballard easily loses any re-election bid. He's given the D's so much powerful ammunition to use against him, the problem will be choosing which issues to use.

Mark Massa - Talk about the right guy in the wrong place at the wrong time. He'll end up paying the price for Brizzi's sins.

Dennis Fishburn - He has no idea that the highlight for his race was slating...that Tom John, David Brooks and gang used him to deny McAtee slating not because they planned on helping Fishburn win in May, but because McAtee had stood up to them and they didn't like it. Fishburn's goose is cooked.

Bart McAtee - I think he'll not only win against Fishburn in May, he will win easily. It is a tossup whether McAtee or Massa is the Republican candidate's best change to win this Fall. Both of them have uphill battles. McAtee, even though he's working in the administration of Sheriff Frank Anderson, may not have to carry the incumbent's baggage up the hill like Massa will have to.

Carlos May - Good, energetic candidate for Congress. His approach to running reminds me of the energy and enthusiasm I had as a young man when I started working in the GOP organization in 1986. Unfortunately the Marion County GOP has a way of eating its young If I had a nickel for every talented, hard-working Republican who left the Marion County GOP organization because leadership is so corrupt and uninterested in typical Republican issues, I'd be rich.

4th District Race - In the poll weeks back, Todd Rokita was at 40% while his next closest competitor State Senator Mike Young was at 10%. Outgoing Congressman Buyer's endorsed candidate Senator Brandt Herschman was at 8%. I thought the Rokita 40% was surprisingly low. His 40% is based strictly on name ID. There is plenty of chance for Young or Herschman to close the gap on this one.

Greg Bowes - I would not write Marion County Assessor Greg Bowes in the contest for prosecutor. He has much better name ID than slated Terry Curry which is worth quite a bit of money. If Bowes could find a way to capitalize on the issue of going after white collar crime and political corruption, and Curry ignored the issue, Bowes could get within striking distance of Curry.

Melina Kennedy, Brian Williams, Jose Evans, Ron Gibson - I would think that Melina Kennedy would have the edge in the Democratic mayor race with Brian Williams second. While Kennedy normally would have negatives to exploit given her role in some of the questionable Peterson corporate welfare, Williams isn't in a position to take advantage of that. Neither is Ballard either as his corporate welfare, insider dealing policies in office have mirrored those pursued by former Mayor Peterson and Kennedy.

Carmel Mayor James Brainard - Thankfully people are finally starting to wake up to this big spending RINO.

Ryan Vaughn - If Ryan is politically savvy, which I have not yet seen evidence of, he would start laying the political groundwork now to move to another county as many Marion County Republican politicians have done. Come 2011 the Marion County GOP Establishment Republicans who love corporate welfare and don't particularly care for the issues and conservative philosophy that unite Republicans, people like Vaughn, are likely to be on the run. I could see a Carmel Councilor Ryan Vaughn working with Mayor Brainard, trying to find ways to take money away from taxpayers and subsidize various business ventures cooked up by Brainard. I could see a Ryan Vaughn running for Hamilton County Prosecutor. I don't think Vaughn is the type of candidate who would be good in a competitive district that involves a lot of retail campaigning. He's better sucking up to powerful people and running in safe Republican districts.

Like Mayor Ballard, I don't think it's a lock that Vaughn runs for re-election. He could take some time off, make some money lobbying and relocate his family to Hamilton County which offers more promising GOP opportunities.

Tom John - Expect a contingent of high powered Republicans to come to his office after the disastrous 2011 municipal election to ask for his resignation.