Thursday, March 31, 2011

Ronald Reagan's 11th Commandment is Wrong; Republicans Should Critize Republicans Who Govern Like Liberal Democrats

During Ronald Reagan's political career, he popularized the so-called 11th Commandment:  "Thou shalt not speak ill of another Republican."

I don't often criticize Reagan but he was wrong on that one.

The notion is that criticizing Republicans could aid the Democrats in winning the general election. Therefore, one should never criticize a Republican.

Of course, Reagan spent most of his career running with little intra-party competition.  (Reagan's loss in 1976 to President Ford was an exception.)  It is easier to follow the 11th Commandment when you're the front-runner.

Regarding the 11th Commandment, what about situations where the Republican has abandoned all conservative principles and is acting like a Democrat?  A good example is Mayor Jim Brainard of Carmel.  Brainard's administration has spent and borrowed money like, well, a Democrat.  Should we Republicans overlook that spending because it is going chiefly to corporate welfare?   There is no money tree in Carmel.  The City has been able to keep spending at the rate it is because of annexations, increased commercial development and borrowing by the city and the redevelopment commission.   Eventually that debt will have to be repaid and when that day comes the city's finances will come crashing down.

Why shouldn't a Republican, someone who believes in conservative values, criticize one of the most liberal, big spending, big borrowing mayors in the entire State of Indiana?  The fact Mayor Brainard chose to put an (R) by his name is because of the political realities of Carmel, not because of conservative values which he clearly does not hold.  Obviously Brainard's challengers, City Councilman John Accetturo and Internet business owner Marnin Spigelman, have to make the case that the Brainard should not be re-elected.  That involves criticizing Brainard and challenging his record, i.e. breaking the 11th Commandment and .  If Accetturo and Spigelman truly believe Brainard has put the city on a disastrous long-term course (which I believe they are correct about), don't they have a responsibility to make that case not only as a Republican but as a resident of Carmel who cares about that community?

Then you have Indianapolis Mayor Greg Ballard.  Ballard was supported early on by tea party, anti-tax activists.  Immediately upon election, Ballard turned his back on those folks, and has pushed through scores of tax and fee increases.  He has also been a generous supporter of corporate welfare at the expense of Indianapolis taxpayers, despite the fact Ballard promised to bring an end to country club politics on Election night.

There is nothing about Ballard's governing these past three years that suggest he is a conservative or a Republican.  Unlike Brainard though, Candidate Ballard was more of an empty slate.  Upon his election a swarm of profiteering Republicans seized control of Ballard's administration and have never let go.  Ballard had a chance to position himself as a new kind of Republican, one that rejected the corporate welfare and insider dealing approach of previous Mayors such as Steve Goldsmith.  That would have endeared himself to the working men and women of Indianapolis and skewed the political equation.  Instead Mayor Ballard chose the Goldsmith model.  Goldsmith though had a solid majority Republican base in the county and thus did not need a populist approach to win.  Ballard though has a 45% Republican base in the county and cannot get to 50% through subtraction.

So we Indianapolis Republicans, betrayed by the man who sold out our principles, are supposed to just not say anything because Ballard chose an (R) label?   Why shouldn't we speak out when people around Ballard are using the Mayor to cash in and in the process inflicting long-term damage on the Marion County GOP?

Over on another blog, a frequent Republican critic of mine frequently suggests that intra-party disputes should always be handled behind closed doors.  I know from experience that does not work.  People like David Brooks and Joe Loftus thrive when the disputes are kept behind closed doors.  The only thing they fear is public exposure and the chance that other Republicans may discover they have sold out the future of the Marion County Republican Party for their own personal profit.

I truly believe the Marion County Republican Party can eventually emerge as a successful, more populist party...a  party which rejects corporate welfare and looks out for the best interests of the taxpayers. But that day will only come if we Republicans are publicly open and honest about our failures and insist on a new direction for our local party.

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Are Republicans on the Wrong Side of History?: Poll Shows Support For Same Sex Marriage Has Risen Sharply Over Past Five Years

Yesterday the Indiana Senate approved a constitutional amendment banning same sex marriage.  It is the first of a three step process on the road to making the amendment part of Indiana's Constitution.

While some Democrats supported the proposal, the amendment's supporters were overwhelmingly Republican.  I have long posted here that I don't see how same sex marriage undermines the institution of marriage. If marriage and family are fundamental building blocks of our society, which I believe, why would we want to exclude same sex couples?

Today I take a different angle...pure politics. A poll by the The Washington Post/ABC News last month shows that 53% of Americans now support same sex marriage. Five years ago, that same question showed only 31% support for same sex marriage.

I can't see the poll numbers reversing.   Republicans are stuck on the wrong side of history, marginalizing themselves on an issue that could define the party for generations into the future.   It's time to wake up and forget this constitutional amendment nonsense.

Monday, March 28, 2011

Is ACS Misappropriating City Property?

I read with interest this line from the Indianapolis Star's story on the increase in the parking meter rates as of today.

New Top Placed on
Rusty Parking Meter
ParkIndy has drawn criticism for leaving rusty meter poles and bases and replacing only the heads. Lou Gerig, a spokesman for ParkIndy, said that as pay boxes go in, leftover meter parts that are in good condition will be used to replace older hardware on remaining individual-space meters.

Over at Advance Indiana, Gary Welsh reports on the replacement of meters:
The multi-space pay boxes were the cornerstone of what councilors were sold when they approved the deal last year. ACS is installing the electronic meters on the poles for now, which are actually used meters that were removed from another city where they were previously used. By installing the older technology now, ACS is getting immediate access to revenues it will generate from the 50-year lease that includes the higher rates and extended hours. ACS will use those revenues to finance the cost of installing the more costly multi-space boxes over time for most but not all spaces. ACS plans to use newer poles already purchased by the city to put on the remaining parking spaces where it intends to use its used electronic meters. In other words, ACS and the Ballard administration flat out lied about how much money ACS would invest up front to install new parking meter technology.
Read closely the italicized information in the two quotes.   Am I reading that right, that ACS, er "ParkIndy," is going to appropriate city property as its own instead of supplying the hardware?  We taxpayers own those meters that they plan to cannibalize and use for parts for other meters. We taxpayers bought those poles.  Where in the contract did we as a city give that property to ParkIndy?  Wasn't the deal that the vendor was supposed to provide the hardware for the parking meters, not the taxpayers.

As a side note, it's interesting to hear IndyPark's spokesperson, Lou Gerig change from day to day the story about when ParkIndy is actually going to replace the parking meters.

Note:  Picture is from the Indianapolis Times story on the parking rate increase which can be found here.

Thinking Out Loud With Instant Communication: Another Republican Public Sector Attorney Resigns

Carlos Lam, a Johnson County deputy prosecutor, recently resigned over an email sent to the Wisconsin Governor, suggesting a "false flag" operation that would discredit union protests. This comes on the heels of a twitter comment by Deputy Attorney General Jeff Cox last month when Cox suggested live ammunition on protesters.  Cox was terminated by Attorney General Greg Zoeller.

I know Cox chiefly through eminent domain litigation I've been involved with.  We also have debated politics a bit.  I figured out pretty quickly that Cox likes to say outrageous things to provoke a response and stir debate.   It would be a mistake to take some of his pronouncements - such as using live ammunition on protesters - as serious.

Carlos Lam
I met Carlos Lam through Republican politics.  Carlos, who is a long-time Washington Township Republican party worker, is an "idea guy," a person who is constantly considering various ways of approaching issues from a conservative political viewpoint.  While many of Carlos' ideas are good, others like the "false flag" idea shouldn't see the light of day.

Both Cox and Lam are very intelligent young men.  Unfortunately both are victims of the new media, the era of instant, twitter, Facebook, etc, in which thoughts can be quickly memorialized into writing,

In the "old days" if you had an idea you wanted to communicate you'd sit down and write a formal letter.  Crafting the letter takes time which allows for reflection.   Once you wrote the letter, you would still have to track down an address, affix postage, and take the envelope to the mailbox.  Those of us who remember writing formal letters - as opposed to email - have experienced times when we have, on further reflection, decided against sending the letter.  With email that time for reflection has been reduced to a fraction of what it used to be.  With twitter the bridge between thought and publication is an extremely short one.

While the advantages of instant communications are substantial, there is definitely a downside.  It reduces thoughts more quickly into the written word...which then be taken out of context and/or misrepresented and used against the writer.

God forbid that every thought that enters our head becomes published, a permanent record of our lives. Yet we are coming closer to that every day.

What bothers me most about the Cox and Lam incident is that both attorneys had comfortable public sector jobs with good salaries and benefits that they suddenly lost    Those jobs are highly sought after by attorneys.  It is no slam dunk that they can go into the private sector, oversatured with attorneys willing to work long hours for $35,000 a year and no benefits, and get a comparable job.

I certainly wish Carlos Lam and Jeff Cox the best as their careers move forward.  They're both good men whose life's work should not be judged on the basis of couple bad ideas made turned into public fodder.

Friday, March 25, 2011

Guest Press Release - Brandon Johnson Press Conference

Subject: Press Conference Brandon Johnson - Indy Does Not Deserve To Host Super Bowl

Tomorrow, Saturday there will be a press conference at Brandon Johnson's mother's home. We are asking the community to come and stand with the family. We are our brothers keeper. The specifics are as follows:

What: Press Conference
Where: Brandon's Johnson's home, 7758 Mountain Stream Way
When: Saturday, March 26, 2011, 1:30PM
Contact No.:  317-683-6808

Invitees: Pastor Stephen Clay Baptist Minister's Alliance, Rev. C.L. Day Concerned Clergy, Crystal Ratcliff NAACP, Joe Slash Urban League, Pastor Jeffrey Johnson Eastern Star, Bishop T.G. Benjamin Light Of The World, Pastor Charles Harrison Barnes UMC, Black Police Officers and more.

Documents To Be Distributed:

• Search Warrant

• Affidavit justifying the search warrant

We have obtained a legal opinion from three lawyers. All of the lawyers are of the same opinion that the warrant that justified the search of Brandon's mother's home is short of being legal!! At this press conference we will let the public know how we will proceed. With this type of behavior, Indianapolis does not deserve to host a Super Bowl.


No Substitute for Political Experience; Did Mayor Ballard's Performance in WRTV Jobs Committment Interview Portend Trouble for Ballard Campaign?

Virtually every Indianapolis political blogger, Republican and Democrat, has commented Indianapolis Mayor Greg Ballard interview with WRTV's Kara Kenney about the administration's job commitment claims.  Mayor Ballard, clearly looking annoyed at being confronted by Kenney, talked about the "paradigm" the administration "inherited" when it came to measuring job commitment claims. When Kenney shifted questions, Ballard continued giving the same "paradigm" answer.  Ballard finally walked off, clearly agitated by the confrontation, while Kenney was still asking questions.

I wanted to do a brief political analysis of what this confrontation says about Greg Ballard as a candidate.

Indianapolis Mayor Greg Ballard
Let's not forget, although Mayor Ballard is the incumbent, he is in many ways a campaign rookie.  Ballard has never had the traditional campaign experience of being attacked by opponents or facing tough questioning by the media as a candidate.  Ballard was elected by a late surge that let him avoid those campaign unpleasantries.

The confrontation with Kenney reveals a number of deficiencies with Candidate Ballard.  Kenney didn't ambush Ballard asking him about an obscure issue.  She asked questions about an issue that is central to the Mayor's re-election campaign - job commitments.  Yet Ballard would only respond with the bizarre "paradigm" comment, an answer that was totally non-responsive to the question.  Yet Ballard repeated it over and over again.  That shows the Mayor lacks some fundamental knowledge about a major campaign issue or that handlers are so concerned about his responses, that they have given him a line to say and told him to not go beyond that.

The Kenney confrontation also reveals that the Mayor has a short-fuse and easily gets offended when people challenge his policies.  Well that's only going to get worse the next several months.  The three year ride of non-confrontational media coverage of the Mayor has ended.

You will have to wonder when the attacks of the Mayor's come in earnest, and they will come, how Ballard is going to respond.  If he responds with a short-fuse, appears ill-tempered when asked legitimate questions, voters are going to be turned off and wonder if he's up for the job.

Ballard has always had a public image of being a nice, easygoing guy, a person who is very likable.  Politicos who have had dealings with Ballard often dispute this perception, complaining that he has a temper and is vindictive when he gets crossed.   With the exception of Jackie Nytes, Ballard apparently has refused to even meet with Democratic councilors or return calls.

Watching the Kenney video, the nice, likable Ballard is nowhere in sight.  Rather Ballard comes across as arrogant and angry...not at all like the public perception of the nice guy who became mayor.

I have long said that there is no substitute for campaign experience. Ballard lacks the experience of being under fire, having one's positions challenged.  But what is probably most distressing for the Ballard campaign has to be that the Mayor appears to lack the personal skills to be a successful politician.

It looks like it's going to be a long year for the Ballard campaign.

WRTV Found Indianapolis' Job Committment Claims Lack Support and Usually Are Not in Writing

WRTV's Investigative Reporter
Kara Kenney
WRTV aired a fine piece of investigative journalism by reporter Kara Kenney yesterday:
Indianapolis' job commitment claims may be more wishful thinking than reality after a six-week investigation of claims made in January by Mayor Greg Ballard and Develop Indy, the city’s economic development arm.

In January, the city announced that it had secured 8,737 new job commitments from 73 companies in 2010, touting the number as the highest number of new job commitments in a decade.

6News' Kara Kenney found that less than a quarter of the commitments are enforceable.

Twenty-two percent of the now 72 companies have a written agreement with Indianapolis to receive tax breaks, meaning that the city can hold the company accountable if the jobs don't come to fruition.

That means that 1,634 of the more than 8,700 job commitments have a written agreement with Indianapolis. Twenty-two of the 72 companies have no written agreement at all with the city or state.

Records indicated that nine of the 72 companies didn't promise new jobs, only jobs to be retained in Indianapolis.

Companies that have written agreements with the city have between two and 10 years to bring the job promises to fruition.


The mayor’s press office declined 6News requests to sit down with Mayor Greg Ballard to discuss job commitment figures, so 6News caught up with him at a public event Thursday.

Ballard defended the city's figures, saying he does not feel they are misleading.

"That's the paradigm we inherited. That's what the previous administration did. That's what the city has done for a long time," Ballard said.

Some of the city's listed job commitments have written agreements with the Indiana Economic Development Corporation, not the city, although both sides said they work together on bringing jobs to the area.

"Everything starts locally anyway. They're in the city of Indianapolis. We work with the state all the time," Ballard said. "Kara, it's the paradigm."

Ballard walked away before 6News could ask more questions, including how many jobs he feels realistically will come to fruition.

6News requested documentation showing what Develop Indy did to recruit those 72 companies.

Develop Indy provided a spreadsheet that said they’ve helped companies with grants, data analysis, workforce assistance, site selection and bonds.

Develop Indy representatives said providing any other documentation would be considered competitive information that could be used against the city when it comes to economic development.

[Morton Marcus, former director of the Indiana Business Research Center] predicts that about 30 percent of the 8,700 jobs will actually come through, citing the economy as one reason. Marion County has lost 35,000 jobs since December 2007.

To see the rest of the article and view the video, click here.  I would especially advise viewing the video.  The Mayor keeps repeating the "paradigm" talking point over and over again in response to Kenney's questions and then gets frustrated and walks away when Kenney won't accept that as an answer.

The Mayor had to be cornered at a public event because the Mayor's press office refused to make him available to answer questions about the job commitment claims.  Develop Indy officials, meanwhile, for some reason, thinks they doesn't have to reveal public information showing what work it is actually doing for all the taxpayer dollars the non-profit receives.

It should also be noted that just because a job promise is in writing does not mean it is legally enforceable. To constitute a "contract" and thus be legally enforceable, there has to be an offer, acceptance and consideration.  I remember pointing out that the the ACS 200 job promise was intentionally put in a letter and not included in the parking contract.  Deputy Mayor Mike Huber said that was because it wasn't related to the parking meters.  It was total BS.  The contract already had stuff in it unrelated to parking (e.g. the battery recycling program).  A contract can include whatever the parties wish to contract about...there is no requirement that different subject matter requires a different written agreement.

The truth is the ACS parking contract has an incorporation clause saying there was no outside agreements between the City and ACS that was not in the contract. The 200 job promise by ACS in a separate letter, without any consideration, is completely unenforceable.  Don't think ACS and city officials didn't know that.

Even if the City could enforce a written job commitment, would they do it? The City has a host of written agreements with companies that the City has never sought to enforce.

What has always rankled me is that reporters so often simply accept as true whatever numbers they are spoon fed by politicians, and never question those numbers.  Fortunately in this case WRTV and Kenney were willing to go beyond simply repeating the numbers they were given and actually did some investigative journalism.  Terrific job.

Thursday, March 24, 2011

ACS Backs Off Of Promise to Replace Meters By The End of the Year; Councilor Ed Coleman Cites "Bait and Switch" Tactics, Asks that Contract Be Cancelled

Old Double Parking Meter (only the
 very top part is being replaced)
I blogged earlier about ACS's bait and switch tactics, showing city officials shiny new meters to replace the old meters during the debate over the contract last year, and then only replacing the very top of the meters with a card reader.  As a result, the shiny card readers now sit on rusty casings with often bent poles.

After my blog post, I received some feedback that the fix was temporary...just to get something in place until the new meters boxes could be installed which would be in by the end of the year.  A councilor looked into it and confirmed that fact.  That didn't make much sense to me though as it would seem to take just as long to install the tops and scrape off the labels as to actually install new parking meters or boxes if that was what they were going to do.

Councilor Ed Coleman
Now, it appears that ACS, er "ParkIndy", is backing off its promise to replace the meters by the end of the year..leaving us with the rusty, bent meters going into the Super Bowl.

Councilor Ed Coleman has asked that the contract be cancelled due to ACS not living up to the deal.  Unfortunately when I looked at the contract, I saw nothing spelled out which requires ACS to actually replace the entire meters.

As reported by WRTV, ACS, er ParkIndy, has apparently backed off its promise to replace the rusty, bent parking meters by the end of the year:
Lou Gerig, a representative for ParkIndy, said cosmetic changes aren't needed.

"Replacing an existing fully functional meter casing with a similar but new casing is unnecessary," Gerig said.

Gerig also said the new meters were demonstrated during technology previews and at public meetings.

"Later this year, new pay boxes will be installed, reducing the number of meters," Gerig said.
We were told we were getting shiny new meters to impress the out-of-towners coming to the 2012 Super Bowl.  Now read Gerig's words closely.  He says that it is "unnecessary" to replace the meters if they are functional. That is a definite change.

If you watch the video, Gerig, refused to appear on camera and answer questions.  Instead he sent a written release. So in the future when we have concerns about how ParkIndy is running the parking meter operation, we won't be able to get a live representative to answer questions?

Bait and switch.  Yep that appears to be it.

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

State Senator Mike Delph Does the Right Thing; Will Other Politicians Follow?

Yesterday Senator Mike Delph made headlines by being one of the first Republicans to agree to return campaign contributions from recently indicted Tim Durham.  Delph had received $10,000 from the embattled financier now accused of defrauding hundreds of investors to the tune of hundreds of millions of dollars.

State Senator Mike Delph
Actually the first was Marion County Sheriff candidate Tim Motsinger when learning of the accusations against Durham, immediately agreed to return the money even though doing so had the effect of ending his campaign. 

Still others stubbornly refuse.  Governor Daniels, who has received nearly $200,000, won't even consider returning the money saying it has been spent.  Former Marion County Prosecutor Carl Brizzi has refused to return his $200,000 as well even though his campaign committee recently filed showed him plenty capable of returning that money.  Attorney Greg Zoeller has indicated, pending the verdict, he's putting his Durham money in a "segregated account," whatever that means.  Democrats too also received contributions including former Mayor Bart Peterson who hasn't offered to return the money he received.

Republicans and Democrats should be moving heaven and Earth to find a way to return Durham contributions.  Although it will amount to only pennies on the dollar for those Fair Finance investors many of whom lost their life savings, it is the right thing to do not only on a personal level but politically as well.  If Gov. Daniels truly aspires to run for President, his refusal to return contributions from Durham will never go away as an issue.

Do the right thing, politicians.  Give the money back.

Monday, March 21, 2011

Yellowstone Supervolcano Ready to Blow? Now That is Something to Worry About

I have long argued that the "man is causing dangerous global warming that will doom the planet" is based on faulty, politicized science.  If people want a real threat to be worried about they should take a look at Wyoming.

In Wyoming Yellowstone Park is the world's largest super volcano.  It erupts every 600,000 years like clockwork.  Only this time, it's 40,000 years over due.  The ground above the volcano has been rising over recent years.  Earlier this year volcano "took a breath," yet another sign of troubling activity.  Of course predicting when a volcano is going to blow is an inexact science.  It could blow tomorrow, it could blow ten thousand years from now.  We do know the volcano will eventually erupt.

We do know from climate history what will happen when it blows.  When the volcano goes off everyone in a 100 mile radius will be immediately dead.  The volcano will dump as much as 10 feet of dangerous, noxious ash across the United States in about a 1000 mile radius of the blast.  It will kill crops in the United States and people will breath in the dust that cuts their lungs and eventually kills them.  The temperatures on the planet will plummet as much as 20 degrees, destroying crops worldwide.   Millions of people will die and probably half the United States will be inhabitable for decades, forcing millions of people to relocate to the east and south.  The United States will be crippled as a country.

What preparation has the United States taken for this event?  None.  At the very least, the U.S. should stock up on masks that would protect those out of the blast area from breathing the volcanic dust that will become a part of their daily lives.

While the earthquake and tsunami in Japan was a terrible thing, Mother Nature is capable of much, much greater devastation. That is something we should never forget.  We're visitors here on this planet and only stay at the mercy of Mother Nature.

Tully Praises Kennedy for "Bold" Initiative on Guns; Kennedy is Still to the Right of Mayor Ballard on Gun Rights Issues

Over the weekend, Matthew Tully had a column praising Democratic candidate for her initiative on guns:
Kennedy's plan centers on the loophole that allows people to buy guns without a background check from unlicensed sellers at places such as gun shows. If elected, she plans to join a coalition of U.S. mayors that has asked Congress to close the loophole.

She also plans to step up community education efforts, push for stronger penalties for illegal gun traffickers, and improve the process of making sure people who should not buy guns are entered into the federal background-check database.

Hoping to guide a calm discussion on the issue, she is stressing her support for gun rights and emphasizing that her plan is focused only on those who illegally possess guns.

If you're not a criminal and if you don't have a history of drug abuse or mental illness, you shouldn't be worried," Kennedy said.
Tully fell over himself praising this as a "bold" position.   Of course, there is  nothing bold about her position. Kennedy's  proposed reforms would not actually do anything.   How many guns used in crimes are bought at gun shows?  Besides, although I've never bought a gun at a gun show, I'm told the "loophole" doesn't exist.  As far as a "history of mental illness" being a deterrent, I always get a kick out of that one. There is no database of people with mental illness used for screening gun purchases. Rather it depends almost entirely on self-reporting.  It's pretty safe to say that Kennedy's suggestions aren't going to do anything to keep criminals from getting guns.

Kennedy's move is primarily a political one aimed at solidifying her base which frankly doesn't like guns.

I note with interest what Tully reports as Mayor Greg Ballard's response when asked about the Kennedy iniative:
That explains why so many politicians cower in fear of the consequences of even talking about the issues that Kennedy brought up last week. It also likely explains why incumbent Mayor Greg Ballard's dance around the issue was so clumsy last week that I had little idea of what his real position was after 20 minutes of questioning him on the topic.
Ah... Ballard has finally awoken to the fact that Republicans, his base, tend to be very supportive of gun rights.  The problem for Ballard though is that he has spent three years ticking off gun rights supporters.  Here are five positions Ballard has taken with respect to gun rights:
  • Ballard has praised NYC style gun registration and suggested it should be used in Indianapolis.
  • Ballard has maintained the strictest gun return policy in the Midwest.  In Indianapolis, if a gun is wrongly taken from your home, Ballard's IMPD will not return it unless you're fingerprinted and the gun undergoes ballistics testing.
  • Ballard had taken the position that the City of Indianapolis does not have to comply with the Second Amendment, a position directly contrary to Attorney General Greg Zoeller.
  • Ballard has threatened to veto a city-county council measure allowing people with gun permits to take their guns into city parks.  This is despite laws that allow gun owners to take guns into state parks and into federal parks, the latter which was signed into law by President Obama.  Ballard is to the left of Obama on the issue.
  • Ballard appointed Frank Straub as public safety director despite Straub's long history of hostility to gunowners rights.
The fact is Ballard finds himself to the left of Melina Kennedy when it comes to gun rights, which is not a place where any Republican should want to be.  Now he (or his political advisers) have awoken to that fact, and Ballard is trying to find a way to get back to the right.  It's too late for that.

Saturday, March 19, 2011

Will Taxpayers Owe Because of $2 MIllion Repair Due to Leaky Pipes at Lucas Oil Stadium; Does CIB Owe Colts Compensation for Cancelled/Moved Events?

Lucas Oil Stadium
Recently it was reported that galvanized pipe at the 2 1/2 year old Lucas Oil Stadium was leaking and requires a $2 million fix. 

The pipes were installed by Frank E. Irish, who has gone out of business after filing bankruptcy.  Of course, an obvious question has to be asked as to why galvanized pipe is rusting and deteriorating after only two years.  Isn't the definition of galvanized pipe, pipe that has been manufactured not to rust or deteriorate quickly?  And why didn't inspectors catch problems with the pipes when they were installed?

According to a Channel 13 report, the stadium has been using 7 to 14 million gallons of water a month since last August, seven times the amount that the stadium should be using.

While John Klipsch, executive director of the Indiana Stadium Convention Center Building Authority seemed confident that insurance would pay the claim, I'm not so sure.  At the very least, the insurance company may contest paying for the repairs and extra water used because of the leaky pipes.

In the meantime, apparently several events at Lucas Oil Stadium will have to be moved or cancelled. Will the CIB have to pay the Colts for the cancelling or moving these events?  Remember the Colts get 50% of the non-Colts game revenue at the stadium.  Given Irsays position on concessions, I doubt he will accept losing one dime due to part of the stadium being closed to fix the pipes.

As noted by Indy Tax Dollars, two of these events that are being moved are a wedding and reception, and another is a wedding rehearsal dinner.  So you have to wonder what events they're scheduling at Lucas Oil Stadium to justify the expense of the stadium.  Once also has to wonder whether the stadium is generating income with these events or whether activities are simply being moved from one venue to another.

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Will Lt. Gov. Becky Skillman Get To Put "Governor" On Her Resume After All?; Would Gov. Daniels Resign To Run For President?

Awhile back I predicted that Governor Mitch Daniels would not run for President.  In the time since that prediction, I think the odds have increased substantially.  I am almost willing to say it's 50-50 at this point.  I still don't believe that Daniels has much of a chance of winning the nomination or the election.  His alienation of social conservatives and the charisma gap is likely to keep him from succeeding. But a good run though might land a VP spot on the Republican ticket, however.

Lt. Governor Becky Skillman
What is not talked about is what happens to GOVERNOR Daniels in the event of a presidential run.  Needless to say, running for President is a full-time job.  While the race has normally started by now, this year the presidential hopefuls are, smartly, waiting until later to announce for the primaries and caucuses that will hit very early next year.  That fits perfectly into Daniels announced plan to wait until after the legislative session to announce his presidential plans.

Let's say that that Governor Daniels does run for President.  Would he stay as as Governor while he's campaigning all over the country?  Given how contentious General Assembly sessions are in Indiana,  would he attempt to continue an active role in pushing legislation despite campaign obligations?

I frankly don't see it.  Gov. Daniels, like him or not, doesn't seem the type who would want to distance himself from being governor while campaigning In Iowa and New Hampshire.  Indiana, the 13th biggest state in the country, definitely presents full-time gubernatorial obligations.

Everyone seems to be talking about a Daniels presidential run.  What people should be talking about is the distinct possibility, if he does run for President, that he will resign propelling Lt. Gov. Becky Skillman into the Governor's Office.

Of course, Lt. Governor Skillman previously took herself out of running in 2012 for the top spot because of "minor health problems."  Could that have been because she knew she would have "Governor" on her resume due to Mitch Daniels leaving office before the end of his term?  Could it have been part of a deal between Daniels, Pence and Skillman to avoid a contested 2012 gubernatorial primary?

Political Analysis: What To Expect During the 2011 Indianapolis Municipal Campaign

March - May 2, 2011:  Democrat Melina Kennedy struggles to connect with black voters in the face of two African-American challengers, Ron Gibson and Sam Carson.  Meanwhile, Mayor Ballard's campaign puts on several well-made positive ads about the Mayor's accomplishments in office.

April 2011:  Head-to-head poll shows that Kennedy would lose to Ballard by 16 points, 58-42.  Pre-primary campaign finance reports shows Kennedy's ads have depleted much of her resources. Ballard's pre-primary report shows nearly $1 million in the bank, but still an alarming rate of spending on campaign overhead.

May 3, 2011 (Primary Day):  Democratic Melina Kennedy wins the primary with 57% of the vote.  Gibson and Carson split the rest of the vote. Republicans chide Kennedy for losing 43% of the Democratic primary vote.

May 15, 2011:  Post-primary, head-to-head poll show that Ballard has expanded his lead over Kennedy to 28 points, 64-36.  Abdul calls the lead "overwhelming" and declares the race over.

May 16, 2011:  Kennedy calls for a series of debates with Mayor Ballard. Ballard campaign refuses to debate and says the Mayor is too busy with running the city.

May 21, 2011:  With the beginning of summer, also begins Democratic Chairman Ed Treacy's assault on the Ballard record.  Mayor Ballard is hit on raising taxes/fees, the ACS parking deal, the Pacer deal, crime, job losses, etc.

June 15, 2011:  Democratic internal polling allegedly shows Ballard's positives have dropped as a result of the Treacy attacks and the race has narrowed.  Ballard campaign scoffs at the poll that Democrats refuse to release and suggests its internal polling shows no tightening and that Treacy ads have had no effect.

July 2011:  Media uncovers possible scandal in the Ballard administration involving a contractor.  Democrats call for an independent investigation.  Media has several days of negative headlines about lax oversight within the administration.

July 30, 2011:  Media poll shows that Ballard's lead has narrowed from 28 points to 16.  Ballard still refuses to debate.

August 2011:  After brief  respite, Treacy renews shelling of Ballard record.  Kennedy begins running positive ads letting Treacy do the negative attack ads.

August 15, 2011:  Poll shows Ballard lead now 12 points.  Ballard still refuses to debate.

Early September 2011: Media poll shows further tightening of the race with Ballard's lead slipping to 8%

Mid September 2011:  After a quiet summer, Republican council candidates suddenly find themselves under attack with coordinated direct mail pieces sponsored by the state and county Democratic Party. The ads attack Republicans for raising taxes/fees and their vote on the ACS parking meter deal, the Pacers $33.5 million subsidy and scores of other unpopular votes.

Late September 2011:  Media poll shows Ballard's lead dropping to 4 pts within polls margin of error.  Ballard finally agrees to engage Kennedy in three debates.

Early October 2011: Beleaguered Council Republican candidates demand assistance from the local county GOP party but are told that all the party's resources will be devoted to the re-election of Mayor Ballard.   Chairman Kyle Walker argues that their races depend on the success of Mayor Ballard re-election.  Council candidates grumble about the strategy.

Early October 2011:  Democrats claim to have an internal poll showing the race dead even.  Later media poll confirms that the race is now a toss-up.

Mid October 2011:  Marion County GOP abandons positive message and attacks Kennedy in a series of negative ads linking her to the Peterson administration.

Late October 2011:  Media poll shows that Kennedy now has 6 point lead over Mayor Ballard.

November 8, 2011:  Due to Democrats' superior get out the vote effort, Kennedy wins easily 56-42 over Mayor Ballard.  The Libertarian candidate gets 2%.  Republicans badly lose all at-large seats and other district incumbents. Come 2012, the Democrats will have a 19-10 majority on the council.

Mid-November 2011:   Marion County Chairman Kyle Walker undergoes criticism for his decision to abandon council Republicans to pour all party resources into re-electing Mayor Ballard.  The Ballard campaign itself will be sharply criticized for the 44 point swing from the highwater mark of the campaign in mid-May to the Mayor's poor performance on election night.

December 2011:  State Republican chairman Eric Holcomb cites Marion County GOP as the weakest link in the Republican chain and decides to review the operations of the organization.

Democratic State Chairman Dan Parker Calls for Return of Durham Political Contributions

On the heels of yesterday's indictment of businessman Timothy Durham comes a renewed call by Indiana State Democratic Chairman Dan Parker for Republican candidates to return campaign contributions they received from Durham.   While some have returned the money, others such as Speaker Brian Bosma and Gov. Mitch Daniels have refused.  They argue that the money was received years ago and has been spent. 

It is not an argument wholly without merit.  But appearances mean everything in politics and to those folks who lost their life savings investing in Durham's alleged Ponzi scheme, the sight of officeholders making excuses to not return the Durham cash is particularly galling.  Right now it is an Ohio issue, where the majority of investors are located, but Parker may succeed in making it an Indiana issue. 

When faced with news of the Durham fraud, Republican Marion County Sheriff candidate Tim Motsinger,
immediately decided to return the Durham money even though it meant the end of his campaign.  People like Daniels and Bosma have active campaign finance accounts with substantial cash.  The money could and should be returned.   It is the right thing to do.

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

CIB and Colts Settle Concession Dispute; CIB Agrees to Pay 150% on Concession Sales

It was announced today that the Capital Improvement Board and the Indianapolis Colts had settled their dispute over concession revenues inside Lucas Oil Stadium.
Lucas Oil Stadium

Presently the Colts receive 100% of the profits from game day concessions.  During negotiations, the Colts demanded 200% of the revenue and threaten to terminate their contract and relocate the team if the CIB didn't accept the deal.  After what CIB President Anne Lathrop describes as "hardball negotiations," the CIB agreed to give the Colts 150% of the concession revenue.

Both parties described the deal as a "win-win."  Lathrop remarked that "the importance of the Colts to the economic vitality of Indianapolis cannot be disputed because we paid for a study that would say exactly that.  We can't have the Colts moving to Los Angeles or some other venue where the team can make more money."

Jim Irsay, the owner of the Colts, said he was happy with the 150% deal.  "While we never threatened to move the team, we were glad when the CIB suddenly contacted us and offered to pay us more concession revenue," the Colts owner said. "That was very generous of the CIB."

As a result of the deal, when a patron buys an $8 beer, the CIB will have to kick in an additional $4 to the Colts.

Mayor Greg Ballard emphasized the importance of keeping the Colts happy.  "Years ago the city's leaders built downtown a certain way.  Every piece is critical.  You take away a piece, like the Colts, and the whole economic engine could collapse."   At that point, Mayor Ballard said concessions stands should offer Chinese food and that if the Super Bowl gets cancelled, the city could put on a cricket tournament instead.

Meanwhile the Pacers have announced that the team would demand a similar concession contract from the CIB.  In response, Lathrop threatened that the CIB would be a tough negotiator.  "Let me just warn the Pacers that we take the responsibility of stewards of taxpayer money very seriously.  The Pacers can expect the same tough negotiations last year when we agreed to pay only $30 million to the team to run a building it gets 100% of the profit on."

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

The Mendenhall Chronicles: Part V (The Trial)

Today we return to the Mendenhall Chronicles.   I had intended to write about the trial using transcripts or eye witness accounts of what happened.  However, due to separation of witness and the length of the trial, acquiring the transcripts were cost prohibitive and the accounts provided by witnesses were incomplete as they missed several days.  As a result, I'll report things in more summary fashion, striving as always for accuracy.

Following the altercation reported in Part IV, Augustus "Gus" Mendenhall was charged with attempted murder, robbery, aggravated battery, resisting law enforcement and criminal confinement.   Jack Crawford, a former prosecutor and well-known defense attorney, was hired as Mendenhall's counsel.  The strategy that Crawford decided on was an insanity defense.  Crawford attempted to demonstrate to the jury that Mendenhall's actions that day in supposedly exacting revenge on Delaney made no sense.  In carrying out that strategy, Delaney was necessarily cast in a very positive light, as someone who was simply doing his job when he pursued Gus Mendenhall's father in a civil action some quarter of century earlier. Given that strategy, obviously it wouldn't have made sense to connect the Delaney civil litigation against Burke Mendenhall to Delaney possibly enlisting the support of Goldsmith to go after Burke using civil forfeiture. 

Despite mental health witnesses, the jury didn't completely bite on the  Crawford strategy.  It returned a verdict of guilty but mentally ill.  Found guilty of attempted murder, Judge William Hughes gave Mendenhall a sentence of 40 years in jail, which he said he increased after Mendenhall gave a speech at the sentencing hearing in which he supposedly didn't show remorse.

On March 4, 2010, the court held a hearing on the defense's Motion to Correct Errors. The two errors were first that a police officer committed a Doyle violation by testifying that Mendenhall said he wanted to talk to counsel, a statement which could imply Mendenhall was sane and knew what was going on.  The second error was that the prosecution put Ed Delaney back on the stand after the expert medical witnesses had testified regarding Mendenhall's sanity.  As the insanity portion of the trial is supposed to be separate, the defense cited this as error.

At the MCE hearing, Judge Hughes noted the problem wasn't that Delaney went back on the stand and testified.  He indicated that he thought Delaney was being called to provide rebuttal evidence.  Instead, according to the Judge, Delaney gave a tearful, rambling speech in which he covered an assortment of topics including John McCain and service in Vietnam.   Judge Hughes was very critical of the prosecution for putting on Delaney at that point and suggested that it had to be done for the purpose of trying to prejudice the jury.  Judge Hughes said that under some circumstances, such a presentation could be seen as harmless error, but given the nature of the speech and what was said, that it could have risen to fundamental error status, thus overcoming waiver should Crawford have failed to object.  (Crawford said he thought he did; the prosecutor on the case said he didn't.)

I've learned through 26 years of practice that you should never try to guess how a judge will rule based on reactions in the court.  However, Judge Hughes seemed very much against the prosecution and favorable to the request for the defense to throw out the verdict and set a new trial.

The Motion to Correct Errors must be ruled on within 30 days.

Other Mendenhall Chronicle posts:

Monday, January 10, 2011,  The Mendenhall Chronicles: Part IV (The Confrontation)

Thursday, January 6, 2011, The Mendenhall Chronicles: Part III

Wednesday, January 5, 2011, The Mendenhall Chronicles: Part II

Tuesday, January 4, 2011, The Mendenhall Chronicles: Part I

Monday, January 3, 2011, The Mendenhall Chronicles: Prologue

Photo of Gun Leads Youth To Be Charged With Misdemeanor "Dangerous Possession of A Gun"

To follow up a previous post, Brandon Johnson, the youth involved in an alleged police beating, and who was recently arrested following a search warrant executed at the house where lives with his mother and brothers, has now had all charges (including one involving "gang activity") dropped except for one, "danagerous possession of a firearm."

The basis for this lone remaining charge?  A photograph of a gun found on Johnson's cell phone.  I kid you not.  The Marion County Prosecutor's office has filed a charge against Johnson that having possession of a picture of a gun is apparently the same thing as actually having a gun.

The prosecutor's office can't be serious.  The judge should immediately throw out the charge and hold the prosecutor's office in contempt for bringing such an obviously baseless charge.

Monday, March 14, 2011

Libertarian At-Large Councilor Ed Coleman to Take on Republican Jack Sandlin

It has been assumed that Libertarian at-large councilor Ed Coleman would run for re-election as an at-large councilor.  Coleman, who hails from the south side of Indianapolis, has thrown a curve ball at the political establishment with the public revelation that he would run for council from the 24th District challenging incumbent Republican councilor Jack Sandlin.

Councilor Ed Coleman
This is one of the shrewdest political moves I've seen in quite some time.  It would have been next to impossible for Coleman to get his name out to a sufficient number of people to overcome the major parties in an at-large race. Instead Coleman will be able to target his limited Libertarian resources on a district 1/25th the size of Indianapolis.  The district is small enough that his supporters can walk it, do multiple lit-drops, and phone likely voters.

Sandlin won't necessarily be able to simply rely on the Republican base in District 24.  As the long-time elected Trustee of Perry Township, Sandlin lost his position due in large part due to a falling out he had with the township fire department.  Those wounds are still fresh in Perry Township and could be exploited by Coleman who has strong public safety contacts.  Sandlin's chances will be further complicated by his support of the unpopular 50 year parking meter contract with ACS and his backing of Public Safety Director Frank Straub, who is almost universally opposed by police officers.

It is not clear whether the Democrats will field a candidate in the district.  If the Democrats don't, Coleman might be able to unite the Democratic vote and Republican who support him or dislike Sandlin, to pull off an election upset.

Looking at the base vote in 2010 in the council districts it appears that as many as 20 districts have Democratic majorities or are races where the Democrats are within striking distance, i.e. districts in which Democrats had more than 40% of the vote in 2010.  Five of the 25 appear to be safe seats for Republicans, mostly on the south side of the city. Now Libertarian Ed Coleman appears to have put a district into play that will force the Republicans to at the very least spend substantial money to defend.  2011 is not looking to be a good year for Marion County Republicans.

Sunday, March 13, 2011

Second in Command at Secretary of State's Office Resigns

The Indianapolis Star reports that Secretary of State Charlie White's second in command at the office has resigned.
Sean Keefer
Sean Keefer, White's campaign manager, held the position as Deputy Secretary of State and Chief of Staff played a critical role in supervising the office's four division and seven employees.

Reading the comments to the story, one would have thought Keefer has made a move based on integrity, that he didn't want to be part of an unethical Charlie White administration.  I'm not sure of Keefer's reason for resigning, which reason may be made more clear with a formal announcement tomorrow.  But is the pat on the back Keefer receiving or his assumed motivations actually earned?

First, there is no allegation whatsoever that Charlie White has somehow corrupted the duties and responsibilities of the Secretary of State's office or that anyone on White's SOS staff is doing anything wrong. The legal challenges Charlie White faces are totally based on pre-election events.

The duties and responsibilities of the Secretary of State's Office, critical to Hoosiers, continue on despite what is going on in a Hamilton County courthouse.  White has every right to fight the charges.  In the meantime, regardless of whether White steps down temporarily or not, the office needs strong leadership and guidance, which is an important task served by the Deputy Secretary of State/Chief of Staff.

When I was head of the Title Insurance Division at the Department of Insurance, I had a number of dealings with Todd Rokita's Secretary of Office.  I was impressed by the people who worked in the office.   You are talking about 70 or so people who are undoubtedly dedicated to their jobs, simply trying to make it through a difficult time.  Just because White is facing legal challenges doesn't mean that the office cannot continue to function at a very high level. 

While I never will criticize someone for considering his or her own welfare in career decisions, the laudatory praise being given Keefer for stepping down, probably is far, far overblown.  Walking away from the No. 2 job probably was a decision based more on Keefer's self-interest rather than what is best for people of Indiana.

Friday, March 11, 2011

Execution of Search Warrant on Brandon Johnson's Home Raises Troubling Questions

When I first saw that Brandon Johnson was claiming that his arrest was part of an IMPD "vendetta," my reaction was "Yeah, right."  Then when I started reading the Indianapolis Star article more closely, troubling questions emerged:
Brandon Johnson
A teenager at the center of a police brutality investigation last year has been arrested and accused of gang activity and drug possession.

However, a Marion County deputy prosecutor said the gang charge sought by police against Brandon Johnson likely will be dropped, and the youth's attorney described the police investigation as a vendetta.

"There's been a pattern of harassment against him and his family," attorney Stephen Wagner said. "Had they (the police) done this to any other family, it would be considered outrageous."

Indianapolis Metropolitan Police Department officers arrested Johnson, 16, and two older brothers on preliminary drug, gang and weapons charges during a raid Wednesday night in their Eastside home in the 7700 block of Mountain Stream Way.

Johnson and Miketavious Jackson, 19, were charged preliminarily with felony and misdemeanor possession of marijuana and felony criminal gang activity, according to a police report.

Terrell Jackson, 18, was preliminarily charged with felony criminal gang activity and misdemeanor dangerous possession of a firearm.

Police said they seized an undisclosed amount of marijuana; a .357-caliber revolver; 14 bullets for the gun; a T-shirt and hooded sweatshirt with gang insignia; gang photos and paperwork; a police scanner; and a wooden plaque with a gang symbol.

Fourteen IMPD officers conducted the raid and made the arrests. None of them was involved in Johnson's arrest in May on a disorderly conduct charge, when his face was bloodied and bruised.
First, fourteen officers were involved in executing a search warrant?  That's seems more than a little excessive.

Now let's look at what was seized.  It was claimed that the gun was the mother's.  She supposedly has a hand gun license, although even that is not even necessary for her to have a gun in her home. One of her children though was charged with "misdemeanor dangerous possession of a firearm."

Then you have a T-shirt and hooded sweatshirt with gang insignia, gang photos an paperwork and a wooden plaque with a gang symbol.  It is not illegal to be in a gang nor is having items suggesting you are in a gang a crime.  I feel fairly certain that any half-way experienced police officer would have known that, which makes it strange that Brandon Johnson was initially charged with felony gang activity, a charge the prosecutor's office now has to immediately and embarrassingly  drop.

The only item in the house that was illegal (assuming it was the mother's gun) that was confiscated was the "undisclosed amount of marijuana." 

The items that were actually seized - with the exception of the marijuana - were not evidence of a crime.  So what items were identified in the search warrant that justified its issuance? 

All very strange.

Ballard Administration Hits Taxpayers for $80 Per "Drive Safely" Sign; Contractor Makes Out While Taxpayers Foot the Hefty Bill

For some time I've wondered about how much the "Drive Safely" signs posted around the city was costing Indianapolis taxpayers.  Having ordered signs for political campaigns, I was somewhat familiar with what sign companies charge. In 2002, I ordered about 3,000 signs when I ran for Marion County Clerk, spending no more than $5,000. 

The one-sided Drive Safely signs though are a little different from traditional yard signs.  They are made out of hard plastic which stand the weather better than the various materials used for traditional yard signs.

I consulted with a person who had been in the sign business for years about the Ballard Drive Safely signs.  He was familiar with the signs.  He said that even though the material was different than traditional yard signs, the pricing wouldn't be that different.  He said the key cost was how many times they wouold have to set up and tear down the machine.  The fact that the signs are of at least two, possible three different sizes would drive up the price a bit as they would have to reset the machine that inks the signs.  My sign expert concluded that there was no way the 543 signs DPW said was produced could cost more than $10 each.

Try $80 apiece.

According to the Department of Public Works, the City contracted with Firehouse [Image Center] for the signs.  (I can't find the contract in the city's database and didn't receive an answer when I asked why it wasn't there.)  There was 543 signs ordered at a price of $43,466.45.  That's an astonishing $80 a sign.

Most of the signs are simply attached to current traffic signs.  (Which is undoubtedly illegal.)  Others are placed on crudely constructed wooden frames.  I was told that providing wood and the erection of the signs were done by contractors as part of the deal.  (Firehouse probably would have contracted this out since it appears to just be a graphics company.)  Still the wood and the work putting up the signs still would get it to nowhere near $80 apiece unless the workers are using limos to ride around town erecting signs while drinking champagne.

The contract was apparently not put up for bid.  According to the Department of Public Works, Firehouse "was chosen because they are the only local firm able to meet the City's need."  My sign expert laughed when he heard that claim.  He said there were sign companies all over the city who could have produced the signs at a much, much cheaper price.  DPW did point out that the company is a certified WBE, with Sally Corman as President.  Terry Corman is listed as the CEO.

We taxpayers paid $80 each for signs that at best cost $10, signs, by the way, that were completely unnecessary.   If Mayor Greg Ballard is truly watching out for taxpayers, as he claims, why would his administration enter into such a bad deal?

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Time to Pull the Plug on PBS

Currently there is a debate in Congress over whether to continue funding PBS. Much of that debate has focused on the alleged left-wing nature of PBS' news content. I don't need to get to that issue...PBS simply has outlived its purpose.

The Public Broadcasting Service was founded in October of 1970 to provide programming diversity at a time when there were only three privately owned national networks broadcasting.  It brought cultural and educational programming to the dial.  I remember well growing up when there was just the local CBS, NBC and ABC stations and PBS.

The situation has changed drastically since the 1970s. Today's television viewers, thanks to cable and satellite, have an enormous amount of cultural and educational programming to choose from.  Here are but a few of those choices:
History Channel, Travel Channel, Discovery Network, The Learning Channel, Animal Planet, House and Garden, Food Network, Military Channel, A&E, History Channel, the Education Channel, Discovery Health Network, C-SPAN 1, 2 and 3, National Geographic, Science Channel, the Green Channel, BBC, Biography, History International, and DIY (Do It Yourself) Network. As far as news choices, I have CNN, Fox News, MSNBC, CNBC to name just a few.
I am a huge fan of the content that PBS produces.  I love Ken Burns' work and consider his Civil War documentary probably the best thing ever on television.  But it is no longer the case that only PBS provides this content.   There is no grounds for forcing taxpayers to pay of PBS programming when it's duplicated by scores of commercial networks.

It's time to pull the plug on PBS.

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Poking Holes in the Lugar Legal Argument; Why the Constitution and Statute Does Not Create a Loophole on Residency for Senator Lugar

Senator Richard Lugar
 In support of the claim that Lugar claimed residency at an address he hasn't lived at for years, Lugar's staff and others are citing to Article 2, Section 4 of the Constitution which is outlined in IC 3-5-5-5:

Absence due to state or federal business

Sec. 5. As provided in Article 2, Section 4 of the Constitution of the State of Indiana, a person is not considered to have lost residence in a precinct in Indiana by reason of the person's absence on the business of:
                                 (1) the state of Indiana; or
                                 (2) the United States.
Read the emboldened provision closely.  Lugar did not lose his residency at 3200 Highwoods Court because he was absent serving in the U.S. Senate.  Lugar lost his residency at 3200 Highwoods Court because he sold the home, moved out and another family moved in.  The provision does not apply.

Lugar can't claim 3200 Highwoods Court as his residence as he has been doing for the last 41 years. When he goes in and votes and signs absentee ballot applications claiming that address as his residence, he is committing a felony each time.

Comparing Charlie White's Indictment to Senator Richard Lugar's Voting Practices; Did the Senior Senator Commit 24 Felonies?

People still are confusing the issue of Sen. Richard Lugar's residency to be U.S. Senator with the Charlie White type voting offenses he appears to committed.  So I thought I would do a side by side comparison using White's actual indictment posted by the Indiana Legal Blog.

Secretary of State Charlie White
Count 1 (submission of a false voter registration), Count 3 (fraud on a financial institution regarding a claim of residency), Count 6 (perjury with regard to White's marriage application) and Count 7 (theft with regard to receiving pay as a member of the Fishers Town Board) are inapplicable to possible Lugar legal violations.  Let's examine the rest.

Count 2 (Perjury a Class D Felony, IC 35-44-2-1(a)(1)) of the White indictment says that he executed a form changing his 6994 Pintail Drive to 7527 Broad Leaf Lane, when he knew at the time of the statement he was residing at 13086 Overview Drive.

The details of Lugar's possible offense would be slightly different. When he submitted applications for absentee ballots, there is a perjury affidavit saying that he attests to the accuracy of the information on the form, including that he resides at 3200 Highwoods Court.

The statute of limitations on perjury, a Class D Felony is five years.  Lugar cast seven absentee ballots in the last five years, starting with the Mayor 2006 primary.  That means he would have committed seven separate acts of perjury during that time...assuming of course he doesn't actually live at 3200 Highwoods Court, which possibility is summarized below and was discussed in a previous blog post.

Count 4 (Voting in Other Precinct, a Class D Felony, IC 3-14-2-11) of the White indictment says that he committed the offense of "voting in Other Precinct, to wit: knowingly or intentionally voting in Delaware Township Precinct 12 indicating his residence was 7527 Broad Leaf Lane, Fishers, Indiana, when in fact he resided at the time at 13086 Overview Drive, Unit 5-B, Fishers, Indiana, which is locat3ed in Fishers, Fall Creek Township, Precinct 5.

Senator Richard Lugar
The statute of limitations on that felony is also five years.  Since May of 2006, Lugar voted 10 times using the 3200 Highwoods Court address, where he doesn't appear to have lived for decades.  That's 10 separate and distinct felonies.

Count 5 (Procuring, Casting or Tabulating a False, Fictitious or Fraudulent Ballot, a Class D Felony, IC 3-14-3-1.1(2)) of the White indictment says that he knowingly cast a vote in Delaware Township, Precinct 12 when he in fact lived in an address at 13086 Overview Drive which put him in Fall Creek Township, Precinct 5.

White used a residence he didn't live at to procure a ballot.  I checked...the law also applies to absentee ballots.  Unlike White who did it once, Lugar appears to have done it seven times during the 5 year applicable statute of limitations.

The final count:  7 + 10 + 7 = 24 felonies our senior senator would have committed if he does not live at his claimed residence of 3200 Highwoods Court listed on his voter registration form. As noted in a previous blog post, that is an address Lugar claimed on his registration form in 1969. For the past 41 years he has continued to vote using that house's address even though it appears to have been deeded away years ago, is currently owned by someone else, and there is another family registered at the address.

I am no fan of Charlie White.  Never met the man in my life.  But is it not important that our laws apply equally to people who are presently unpopular (Charlie White) as those who are presently popular (Richard Lugar)?  There is a term called the "rule of law" which applies to our judicial system.  It says that that the law should not be enforced differently depending on the person but that it should apply equally to all of us, regardless of whether we are rich or poor, famous or infamous.  It is an extremely important legal principle that I think we should all demand be upheld.

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Did Sen. Richard Lugar Commit Voter Fraud?; Senator Claims Residency At Home He Doesn't Appear to Have Owned for Years (w/Update)

As those who have been following the Charlie White matter know, voting someplace you don't live is voter fraud, a felony.  When I read the story where Lugar aide Mark Helmke said that Lugar lived in hotels when he returned to Indianapolis, my ears perked up.

"Residence" is where one lives.  While living in a hotel is perfectly fine for having a residence in Indana to qualify to serve as U.S. Senator, the problem is the voting.  You still can't vote from someplace you don't reside.  If you're residing in a hotel, that hotel's precinct is where you have to vote.

Indiana Senator Richard Lugar
 I decided to look into Lugar's residency claim for voting purposes and this is what I found out from his voter registration record.  In 1953, Lugar registered as a 21 year old using the address 3520 Washington Blvd.  In 1960, he changed his residence to 3333 Highwoods Drive.  Then in 1969, he changed his registration to 3200 Highwoods Court.

That's been listed as his residence ever since and is still currently listed as his residence on voter registration records.  That's not a mistake. If you google that address you will find that Lugar often lists that it as his residence in Indianapolis. 

But does he own the house on Highwoods Court?  Does he actually reside there to qualify to vote in that precinct as he's been doing for apparently the last 41 years?  I went to the County Assessor's Office.  That house at 3200 Highwoods Court is shown as being built in 1969 and is listed as being owned by Elizabeth Hughes.  The county recorder's office shows it quitclaimed from David Hughes to Elizabeth in 2003.  The County Recorder's Office shows the property as being deeded from a family named Gootee to the Hughes couple in 1989.  It wasn't clear who deeded the property to the Gootees as those are paper records buried in the Recorder's Office that would take hours to search.  It is safe to speculate the the Lugars did own the property in 1969 and deeded it away to the Gootees or to someone else and the property was eventually deeded to the Gootees.

According to information obtained from a source with access to the Voter Vault, Richard and Char Lugar are registered at 3200 Highwoods, but so too is David Hughes, Elizabeth Hughes and Joseph Hughes. 

The house is located just off of Kessler Avenue, just south of 38th Street on the NW side.  I went and looked at it.  The houses in the neighborhood are average ranch style homes, running from $98K to $138K according to valuation sources on the Internet.  In an average middle-class neighborhood, the somewhat isolated two story home is the best in the area with an estimated value of $216,000.   Information on line says it is 4,000 square feet plus, with four bedrooms and 2 1/2 baths.  While in 1969 the area was undoubtedly very nice, since the crime and decline of nearby areas have undoubtedly dragged down this neighborhood.

While admittedly it is possible that I overlooked something, I could not find any records showing Sen. Richard Lugar owns the home at 3200 Highwoods Court.  Of course, one doesn't have to own the property...he or she only has to reside at the property listed in the voting registration records in order to vote using that address. Still, after my research, I have substantial doubt that Lugar lives in the 3200 Highwoods home now or has for many, many years.  I'll leave it up though to the investigative reporters to look further into this matter if they so choose.

UPDATE:  Usually Lugar votes absentee.  In the 10 elections that took place between 2006 and 2010, Lugar voted in person only three times, the 2006 General Election (when he was up for re-election) and the 2008 primary and general elections. 

NOTE:   For those of you asking, Lugar has never listed his Decatur Township farm as his residence.  I have added a link to Lugar's registration record above.  Also, I origally referred to Lugar's aide as "Mark Lubbers" when I meant "Mark Helmke."  That has been corrected.

ACS's Bait and Switch; Company Only Providing City With Parking Meter Tops

Last year Indianapolis residents were told by the Ballard administration that, in return for the estimated one billion dollars of revenue that city residents will be paying to Texas-based ACS over the next 50 years, ACS would be providing the City with the hardware, i.e. shiny new parking meters to replace our bent and rusty ones that only took only change.  We were promised that these would impress those coming to our fair city in 2012 for the Super Bowl.

Think again.   Our city leaders apparently only bought the tops of the meters.

Existing Indianapolis Parking Meter
Just The Very Top Above the Coin Slot is Being Replaced
Kim King of Fox 59 recently reported on the installation of meter tops by ACS.  She explains that only the part of the meters just above the coin slot is being replaced.   If you watch the video closely you'll see tops that are placed on rusty meters.  In her report she seems to pass over the significance of that.

All over the city we have rusty and bent parking meters.  The brand new credit card tops placed on old, rust and bent parking meters are going to look ridiculous and will not impress anyone. 

Looking over the contract, I didn't see where it was clearly spelled out what hardware ACS would have to provide.  One would think that the city's negotiators, wanting the city to look nice for the Super Bowl, would have demanded that ACS replace meters not just provide the credit card device which is installed on top of the meters.    But then again, I think all ACS cares about is making money off Indianapolis resident, not making our city look better.

Note:  I provide a photograph of a double meter to give readers an idea of what is being replaced.  This double meter though is relatively new.  Many of the older single meters are rusted.

Monday, March 7, 2011

Should Republicans Support a RINO For Re-Election, i.e. Indianapolis Mayor Greg Ballard?

I've heard the argument that we Republicans should overlook Indianapolis Mayor Greg Ballard's liberal big taxing, big spending policies, and support him for re-election because, quite frankly, he's an incumbent and he's on our team.  In other words, by putting on the red jersey emblazoned with a big "R" on the chest, Ballard is deserving of our support, regardless of the broken campaign promises and the way he's acted in office.

Indianapolis Mayor Greg Ballard Announces for Re-Election
Believe it or not, it's not an argument I discard lightly. I am a big fan of loyalty and there is something to be said about sticking by the people who are on your team.

But on the other hand, simply slipping on the red "R" jersey should not give a Republican a license to betray the fiscally conservative principles he stood for in the campaign as well as the people who supported him.  "Betrayal" - it may seem a harsh characterization, but for most of those who stood with Ballard during the 2007 campaign, that pejorative term is what is most frequently used to describe how former supporters now feel toward the Mayor.

Since I have become active in local Republican politics in 1986, Ballard is the most liberal Marion County Republican elected official, with the possible exception of State Senator Virginia Blankenbaker.  It was never clear why Virginia Blankenbaker, who was both a fiscal and social liberal., chose to be a Republican, with except that her northside district would never elect someone with a "D" by his or her name.  Blankenbaker was a Republican In Name Only, aka a RINO.

Ballard has never met a tax or fee he wouldn't raise, spends taxpayer money recklessly, chiefly through handouts to politically-connected companies who donate money to his campaign, and has mortgaged the future for short term benefits. He has also handed the keys to his administration to profiteers.  There is nothing about Mayor Ballard's resume that even remotely speaks of fiscal responsibility.  When given the chance to at least be a conservative on non-fiscal issues, Ballard always opts for the liberal position.  A classic example is Mayor Ballard's continued hostility to gun rights.

Should Republicans vote for a RINO like Ballard?  The question is if you do, and Ballard succeeds, what have you won in the end?   You end up with a person who claims to be on your side while selling out your values.  There are some things worse than losing the 2011 election.  One of those things would be winning with a RINO like Indianapolis Mayor Greg Ballard.