Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Congressman Andre Carson Insults History, Makes Light of Lynchings and Jim Crow Experienced by African-Americans


I remember a Democratic friend of mine a few years ago who insisted George W. Bush was worse than Adolph Hitler, a man who imprisoned hundreds of millions of his fellow citizens in concentration camps and whose actions led to the deaths of tens of millions of Jews and others who he deemed undesirably.  I suggested to him he was exaggerating.  He wouldn't back off.  He continued to insist Bush was worse than Hitler.
Congressman Andre Carson

As a student of history, I don't take such comparisons lightly.  As much as people don't agree with what Bush did in office, to say he is worse than one of the worst mass murderers in history is to insult not only history, but the suffering of those who lived through the Holocaust.

Fast forward to Congressman Andre Carson's recent comments suggesting that tea party supporters, including some members of Congress, want to bring back a return to Jim Crow and would like to see blacks hanging from trees.   The comments made in front of a Black Caucus town hall meeting in Miami were met with cheering.

Carson's statements were pure nonsense.  No tea party leader has suggested a return to Jim Crow segregation laws which, ironically, were instituted and kept in place by Carson's own Democratic Party.  No tea party leader has suggested lynching of blacks.  In fact, one of the most popular presidential candidates in tea party circles is Herman Cain, an African-American businessman. 

I actually respect Andre Carson.  He is easily a better politician than his Democratic predecessors in that district, Julia Carson and Andy Jacobs.  Unlike Julia Carson and Jacobs, Andre Carson has run ahead of the Democratic base which means he is getting Republican-leaning votes. 

But even a good politician can do something stupid every now and then.  While hyperbole has its place even in politics, a politician should never go so far as to insult history and the memories of the people who lived through far more difficult times.   Yes, Carson should apologize to the tea partiers.   But  more importantly Carson should apologize to the those who were on the front line fighting for civil rights, some giving up their lives for the cause.  It is those people Carson insulted the most by his thoughtless comments.

Another ACS Parking Contract Trick; New Internet Political Show To Discuss Parking Meter Contract and Other Issues

Reviewing the ACS (i.e. "ParkIndy") parking contract with the City, I uncovered another trick.  The contract has it set up so the split is 30% for the City, 70% for ACS.  But when a certain monthly income is reached is reached it becomes a much more favorable 60%-40% split in favor of the City.  This was a factor that the Ballard administration used to sell the contract to a skeptical public.

The problem is if you look at the numbers closely, and examine the current parking meter revenue numbers, you would know the monthly threshold necessary to hit the favorable 60%-40% second tier will never be reached.

According to Schedule 2.1 of the contract, there must be a monthly parking meter revenue of  $583,333 to advance to the second tier 60-40 split.  (The 60-40 split only applies to revenue above the first tier.) The drafters of the contact used a monthly income of $825,000 to construct an example of how much the City would earn with the $583,333 first tier in place.

The estimate is misleading at best, phony at worst.   For the four months from March through June of 2011, the total reported revenue was $1,660,910 or an average of $415,227.50 monthly.  That figure is nowhere near the amount needed to reach the second tier. 

But as the rates increase, the second tier target will be hit, right?  Nope, it is a moving target. As of January 1, 2012 (conveniently after the election), parking rates will rise from $1.00 to $1.50 an hour.  At that point increases are tied to inflation increases as measured by the Consumer Price Index.  But the $583,333 monthly inflation first tier ceiling is also adjusted by the Index.  The 60-40 second tier split will almost certainly never be reached.

We will be discussing the parking meter contract and the issue of Internet taxation on a new Internet political discussion show to debut this weekend.  Below is some information on the show written by co-host Mark Small.  We are hoping to match the excitement of Indiana Week in Review.  (Said with tongue in cheek.)

*****

On September 4, “Civil Discourse Now” will premiere at 11 a.m. on the website civildiscoursenow.com. Indianapolis attorneys Mark Small and Paul Ogden will co-host panel
discussion on local, state, national, and international political and social topics with different guests each week.

This panel show will be different in several ways. First, no one will talk over anyone else. The
discourse, after all, will be civil. Second, the guests will not be quite what one may expect from
an Indy panel show. The first show’s guests will be Bill Levin, Libertarian Party candidate for City-County Council (and something of a Broad Ripple legend), and Jeff Cox, a lawyer with a
dry wit (sometimes misunderstood by Mother Jones). The topics will center on the parking meter
contract into which the City of Indianapolis has entered for management of that aspect of City
Life, and Amazon dot com’s (apparently successful) circumlocutions to avoid sales tax in the Hoosier State.

Mr. Ogden is a conservative Republican. Mr. Small most emphatically is not.

Satellite, Early Voting: A Fight Republicans Should Walk Away From

Today the Marion County Clerk will be a hearing on the establishment of early, satellite voting sites for the Fall municipal election.   Unlike voting centers which only operate on Election Day and which are an alternative to the precinct based voting locations, early voting sites allow people to vote early at a couple locations, generally one on the northside and southside of Indianapolis.  Regardless of whether satellite voting locations are established, people will still be able to vote early at the City-County Building.

While I'm a big fan of voting centers, I have mixed views on early voting.  I think there's something to be said about people coming together on one day - Election Day - to cast a ballot.  Republicans are correct that staffing the two satellite locations is expensive per vote and that overall turnout really isn't marginally increased.   There is also the political calculation that Republican party leaders make that, you make voting easier, the more Democrats will vote.  Lower turnout tends to favor Republicans.

But is this a fight we Republicans want to have?  Absolutely not.  People in this day and age, expect convenience.  It's suicidal for Republicans to be on the side of making voting more difficult, especially when we're talking a modest proposal of two satellite voting locations.  The locations have to be approved by a bipartisan, unanimous vote of the Election Board.  There could easily be a deal cut that the Democrats pick one location while Republicans pick another.

The two satellite locations will cost about $50,000.  In 2008, 39,000 people voted early.  While the numbers in 2011, will be much less - the cost of $50,000 is still a mere pittance compared to other wasteful spending measures this administration has engaged in. For example, according to the Department of Public Works, 543 of the Mayor's Drive Safely signs cost us $43,466.45, or $80 apiece. This supposed sudden concern about wasting taxpayer money by this administration is a little hard to swallow.

This is a fight Republicans should walk away from.  All they're doing is handing the Democrats an issue to bludgeon them with in the Fall.   People want and expect convenience in voting.  Let's not stand in the way of a modest proposal.

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

How Much Is The City Paying ACS for Closed Parking Spaces Downtown?; Councilor Rivera Gets Facts Wrong About City's Share of Parking Fees

A couple weeks or so ago, the City released figures that purport to show the city's parking meter revenue rose subtantially over a 3 month period compared to the same period during 2009 and 2010.  While on their face the numbers raised questions, my knowledge of the contract prompted even bigger questions.

What about all the closed parking spaces downtown?  According to the contract, when a parking space is closed for construction, it is considered a "temporary closure."  Under the contract, the City of Indianapolis owes $15 or $20 (depending on which zone the parking meter is in) for each day the parking meter is unavailable.

Under the contract, the Temporary Closure Fee is deducted from the City's revenue share.  So the City could claim it is receiving X amount of revenue, but that figure is actually before the City pays ACS the Temporary Closure Fee.

I think it is a conservative estimate that an average 150 downtown parking places have been kept closed this summer due to construction.  Let's split the difference on the zones and estimate a Temporary Closure penalty of $17.50 a day.   That is $2,625 a day the City is paying.  Let's say the construction that has kept those meters closed lasts for 120 days.    That's $315,000 the City owes ACS for that period.

I focused on a four month period because the City claimed it made $498,273 in "revenue" off of the parking meters from March through June of 2011, a four month period. That is exactly 30% of the $1,660,910 in total revenue.   But under the terms of the contract, the temporary closure fee is actually a deduction from the City's revenue share.  So the City could have claimed it got $498,273 in revenue while failing to disclose that that figure is actually reduced by $315,000 (my example) in temporary closure fees to just $183,273.

Here's another trick included in the contract.  In the central portion of downtown parking meters have to be fed from 7 am to 9 pm, 14 hours.  At full capacity, $1 an hour for a meter in that area generates $14.  Of that $14, we get 30% or $4.20 while ACS gets 70% or $9.80.  If the meter is closed, however, ACS gets $20 for the day for that closed meter while we get $0.   ACS makes twice as much money off the parking meter if it is not available for parking.

Councilor Angel Rivera
Unfortunately no one in the media has started asking questions about how much these closed parking spaces are costing the City.

****

On a related note, reportedly Republican at-large councilor Angel Rivera told the audience at a Decatur Township election forum that the City gets most of the parking revenue under the ACS 50 year contract.  Wrong, Angel.  We get just 30%.  From March through June of 2011, the City reported that the total revenue from the parking meters was $1,660,910, while the City's share owas $498,273.  That is exactly 30% which matches the 30% share the City is entitled to in Schedule 2.1 of the Contract.  Of course, even that figure is before deductions from the City's revenue share for things like temporary closures.

Monday, August 29, 2011

Unorthodox Libertarian At-Large Council Candidate Airs TV Commercial


Vote For Bill Levin (HQ) from Englehart Group on Vimeo.


The campaign of Libertarian Bill Levin issued the below press release last week in conjunction with the premier of a very interesting TV commercial (see abov.)  Others bloggers beat me to the punch in publishing it, so I thought I would wait until this week to cover it.
Levin is unorthodox to say the least.  While I don't agree with him on many issues, I really like that he is not afraid to ask the tough questions which questions aren't being asked by current councilors.  I wish all of our elected representatives took that approach.

Here is the press release:
INDIANAPOLIS – In what may be the most off-the-wall political video ever created for a candidate in Indianapolis, community visionary Bill Levin promotes job creation, the need for fair wages, and using pizza box tops to promote his candidacy. Levin is a Libertarian candidate for an at-large position on the Indianapolis-Marion County City-County Council.
For the past three decades, Levin has been a “force of nature” in Indianapolis, having worked for, owned or managed recording labels, record chains, concert halls, recording studios, bands, magazines, party buses, TV shows, restaurants and night clubs. He is a registered executive cannabis lobbyist with ReLegalize Indiana PAC and was formerly on the board of directors for Indiana NORML. Now he is going into politics, as a small business owner who speaks out with common-sense approaches.
For example, in this video, he proposes one simple solution for low- and middle-income families to make their voices heard in the political process: “…go out and get a family pizza. Take that pizza – when you’re done with the box top – and write ‘Vote for Bill
Levin’ on the box top and put it in your window...’Cause the bottom line here is – politicians ask for money from their constituents so we can send them a sign. Keep your mney, make your own sign.”

Levin considers himself to be the “real voice for the people’ future,” with a true concern for his fellow Indianapolis citizens.

To see his new video, go to http://www.vimeo.com/27363325.

To learn more about Bill Levin and his common-sense platform, visit voteforbilllevin.com.

Sunday, August 28, 2011

Mayor Ballard Deserves Criticism for Absymal Fiscal Record, Including 140 Tax and Fee Increases

Indianapolis Star
Columnist Matthew Tully
Once again, Indianapolis Star Matthew Tully gets it wrong.  In today's Star he pens a column suggesting that Democratic mayoral candidate Melina Kennedy is wrong for bringing up the 140 plus times Indianapolis Mayor Greg Ballard has raised taxes and fees:
First of all, the attorney in me would point out that it is "undisputed fact" that Ballard has raised taxes, rates and fees more than 140 times.  Neither Ballard or Tully disputes that fact. Tully though offers a defense:
Does Mayor Greg Ballard have a record of wildly raising taxes? No, not even close.


Still, his Democratic challenger in this year's mayoral campaign, Melina Kennedy, is trying to convince voters otherwise. In statements, interviews and press releases, she repeatedly has tagged Ballard as some sort of reckless pro-tax Republican.

"More than 140 taxes, rates and fees have been levied on the backs of our residents and our small businesses, stifling job creation," Kennedy said last week.

But for Kennedy -- a candidate whose ideas and vision have largely impressed me -- it's an ineffective and disappointing message that few voters will buy.
Really, Matt?  Few voters will buy that?  Not sure where Tully learned about campaign politics, but if I were advising a candidate who raised taxes and fees more than 140 times, a fact that can be easily be condensed into a TV commercial, I'd be worried.  Plus, with Ballard it strikes at the heart of his support. The majority of Republicans in Indianapolis vote for the GOP because of fiscal conservatism.  If the Ballard's poor fiscal record gets publicized, Ballard will have Republicans voting against him or staying home.  Unless Ballard loses say 20% of his Republican base, his goose is cooked.

At the outset Tully notes that Candidate Ballard did promise to lower the county option tax and failed to do.  Tully suggests this broken promise is okay because it was the Peterson administration that raised the tax and, well, the City needed the money.  In Tully's world, campaign promises shouldn't mean anything.

Tully proceeds to raise the issue of the utilities sale as faulty evidence of a tax increase asserted by Kennedy.  Once again, Tully flat out refuses to acknowledge the fact that the money generated by the sale comes from a thirty year loan that we the public, as the owners of Citizen's Energy, are obligated to pay back.  It's not found money, Matt.

Tully next turns to talking about the parking meter increase.  When the 50 year parking meter contract with a private vendor was proposed which would give away hundreds of millions of dollars to ACS, architect of Indiana's failed Medicaid privatization program, Tully declared it "made sense."  Giving away hundreds of millions of dollars in parking meter revenue, not being able to control future increases or parking for the next 50 years, that "makes sense?"  In Tully's world, yes.

Tully concludes his objection to Kennedy's claim:
Ultimately, though, the bulk of Kennedy's claim centers on a 2010 ordinance that raised more than 130 license fees to perform jobs such as massage therapist, trash hauler and taxi driver, as well as to receive various construction permits and for code violations.
The rates and fees hadn't changed in a generation, and the increases were so reasonable (an extra $3 to renew a building permit, for instance, and $60 more to be a pawn broker) that only two Democrats on the City-County Council opposed them. The increases have not stifled job creation, and the goal behind them was to shift the cost of regulating and inspecting specific industries from all taxpayers to the industries themselves.
So the goal was to make businesses pay the taxes, er "fees,"  instead of people?  That's funny because just a few weeks earlier, the Ballard administration strongly opposed requiring telecoms that use the City's rights of way from paying for that privilege, unlike other cities.  The reason offered was that the telecoms wouldn't pay the fees, people would.  I wonder why this philosophy suddenly shifted.  Could it have been that AT&T, a huge telecom, is represented by Barnes & Thornburg Partner Joe Loftus, who is also paid to advise the Mayor?    Anyway, I won't hold my breathe on the Tully column on this issue.

I would also point out that while the Ballard adminstration claims these increased business fees took the pressure off of ordinary taxpayers, the administration did not actually lower any taxes on those taxpayers to offset the increased revenue from the business fees.
Tully also mocks Kennedy for pointing to a "minor increase" in the hotel tax.  As is usual, with Tully he leaves out important details, such as that "minor" additional 1% increase  makes Indianapolis tied for the highest combined hotel/sales tax in the country, certainly not a good position to be in when marketing the city for conventions.  Plus Tully fails to note that the revenue was used to bail out the CIB.  When it came to bailing out the CIB Ballard supported raising the hotel tax, the rental car, the food and beverage tax, the alcohol tax, and the ticket tax.  Ballard had no problem asking for tax increases when it came to the CIB.  But when it came to asking that the CIB be accountable for what the Board had done and honest in the numbers the it publicly disclosed, Ballard was MIA.

Of course, here we've only focused on the tax and fee increases. Another part of Ballard's fiscal irresponsibility is reflected on the spending side.  Ballard gave $33.5 million to the Pacers.  Ballard put taxpayers on the hook for $100 million for the North of South project, a project no private lender would support because it was considered too risky.  Ballard is proposing that taxpayers put up $6.25 million to build a garage in Broad Ripple and then give that garage and the revenue it generates away to one of Ballard's largest contributor, Keystone Construction.  On all these matters, Tully remains silent or approves the move.  Of course Tully said nothing but any of this.  The only thing Tully loves more than tax and fee increases is the City handing out taxpayer money to wealthy insiders on the claim they'll do something good for the City.

Ballard has spent about 44 months proving beyond a shadow of a doubt that he is not a fiscal conservative and is not a good steward of our tax dollars.  Republicans who believe in fiscal responsibility would be foolish to vote for Ballard for another term.

Saturday, August 27, 2011

Random Unsolicited Political Advice

This morning I offer some unsolicited political advice for political parties and players:

DEMOCRATS:  Stop the name-calling of Republican candidates for President.  You think you're demonizing them somehow, but Republicans and Independents aren't listening and the only people being convinced by the name calling is other Democrats.  The name-calling rhetoric just gives Democrats a false sense of how the Republican is viewed by the voters.  Didn't you learn anything from two landslides following your calling Ronald Reagan as a reckless cowboy, someone not smart enough to be President?   Respect your opponent in politics or pay a price.

REPUBLICANS: President Barack Obama is an extremely talented politician.  He is very capable of coming across as a moderate,reasonable voice.  You may view him as a reckless liberal politician, but that's not how the average voter views him.   Defeating him will not be a cakewalk.

LIBERTARIANS:  If you're going to have hope to make a dent in the two party stranglehold on electoral politics, you need to have a bigger presence in the political system than being a name on the ballot in the General Election.  Yard signs should be a priority of the party because that's something the public sees and it signifies to voters you are a legitimate party. Working the polls as a libertarian would also give more of a presence. 

REPUBLICAN COUNCIL CANDIDATES:  Running for office is about putting together a coalition that gives you a plurality of the vote come Election Day.  Anyone who is in a majority-Democratic district is a fool for running as a rubberstamp of the Ballard record.  That candidate has to have Democratic votes to win and you can't there being a rubberstamp for the Republican administration.

MAYOR GREG BALLARD CAMPAIGN:    Winning votes in the African-American community involves the personal touch, building relationships over time.  If you think you're going to get black votes by running ads bragging about minority contracts, you're sorely mistaken.

MELINA KENNEDY CAMPAIGN:   I have no problem with so called negative campaigning (as long as it steers clear of being personal).  There is so much about Ballard's record after all that could be used in a negative ad, including a hundred plus tax/fee increases, misplaced budget priorities, foreign junkets, reckless corporate welfare spending, turning the administration over to profiteers, broken campaign promises, mortgaging the future, etc.)  However, I wouldn't have put education in the top 10 of Ballard's failures.  Not sure why that was the first negative ad of the season.

MIKE PENCE CAMPAIGN:  Treat Jim Wallace as a serious candidate and treat him with respect.  The best candidate is the one who runs scared.

REPUBLICANS:  Give the political rhetoric against same sex marriage a rest.  There is no proof it undermines traditional marriage and it is a matter of fundamental human decency.. We Republicans should want people to join together in monogamous, committed relationships.  Oh, and I should mention, the polls have turned sharply against those who oppose same sex marriage.  It's coming Republicans.  Let's be on the right side of history.

DEMOCRATS:  Showing a photo ID to vote is not some terrible burden. Nobody except a few extremists think that.  To compare Republicans advocacy of that to your shameful history of voting rights abuses in the South is disgraceful.

That's all I can think of now.

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Texas Governor Rick Perry Surges in Poll, Becomes Frontrunner for GOP Nomination

Texas Governor Rick Perry
The Washington Post reports:
As Romney returned to the campaign trail this week, he faced a new reality: He is no longer ahead of the pack in the race for the 2012 GOP presidential nomination. A Gallup poll released Wednesday showed Texas Gov. Rick Perry with a sizable lead over Romney among Republicans and GOP-leaning independents nationally, 29 percent to 17 percent.

The survey showed Rep. Ron Paul (Tex.) at 13 percent and Rep. Michele Bachmann (Minn.) slipping to 10 percent. No other candidate registered in the double digits
Rick Perry hits the economic and social issues better than any other candidate.  I have predicted and continue to predict that he will win the nomination, and if the economy continues to tank, he will be elected the next President of the United States.

City's Homicides Rise Sharply in August (w/Addenedum)

The now misnamed site, Bartlies, chronicles the City's homicides.  After a slow start to the summer, we have had 11 homicides in the last 2 weeks.  The total has hit 79, a pace to give us 122 homicides for the year.  See here for a list of 2011 homicides.  See here for a graph comparing the last six years.  I think it is great that Bartlies keeps this chart as administrations are prone to play fast and loose with the numbers.

I've never bought the argument that the Mayor or IMPD's policies actually have much of an effect on crime rates.  But when a Mayor claims credit for crime going down, he or she has to take the blame when crime goes up.  Candidate Ballard ripped Mayor Peterson for a high homicide rate, but when it comes to crime on his watch, he wants to use a more narrow category such as "criminal homicide" or "murder."

Note:  Another homicide was added by Bartlies this morning to bring the total to 80:
Averaging 1 homicide every 2.96 days
Expect 123 to die by year's end
■Aug 19, 2011 @ 9841 Gatewood Ct
Toddler dies of blunt force trauma. Coroner rules dead a homicide

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

The Failure of the Indianapolis to Collect Telecom Right of Way Fees, Higher Business Taxes, and Hypocrisy

Awhile back, Rick Maultra, then the head of the Indianapolis telecom agency, pointed out that Indianapolis is one of the few cities that does not charge fees from telecoms using the public right of way.  The Mayor's lobbyist and paid adviser happened to be, and still is, Barnes & Thornburg partner Joe Loftus who also lobbies for AT&T, which is very opposed to paying rights of way fees.  Tired of Maultra's persistence year after year, Loftus joined with B&T attorney Council President Ryan Vaughn, and two other former B&T attorneys working at City Legal, including the head of City Legal, Chris Cotterill, to have Maultra's position eliminated on behalf of a B&T client, AT&T.

When  asked about Maultra getting canned for speaking out about Indianapolis not collecting rights of way fees from telecoms, the Ballard administration and several Republican councilors, including Vaughn, answered that businesses don't pay taxes, people do, and that any right of way fees simply would be passed along to the telcom customers.

Okay, let's assume that's true. Why then did a couple months later the Ballard administration push increased fees on over 100 businesses, an effort supported by the majority Republican-controlled Council?  The stated reason was that the increased fees would make sure that the businesses were paying for the City's regulatory efforts and not the public.  But if telecoms can simply pass along their fees to the public, then why can't these businesses do the same thing?  If you are against the telecom taxes for the reason that they will simply be passed along, why not oppose the increased  business fees for the same reason?

I believe that's called hypocrisy.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Code of Judicial Conduct Prohibits Marion County Judicial Candidates From Paying Slating Fee

Former Justice Ted Boehm
Former Indiana Supreme Court Justice Ted Boehm stirred up an interesting debate about how judges are selected in Marion County.  WRTV reports:
A former Indiana Supreme Court justice is calling for changes to the way judges are elected in Marion County, saying they should be appointed, not elected.
In an article in the Indianapolis Business Journal, former Justice Ted Boehm, who retired last fall, called the process "downright screwy."
It comes on the heels of controversy over a campaign event flier circulated by Judge Becky Pierson-Treacy that seemed to offer favorable rulings in exchange for campaign contributions.

...
Boehm says judges shouldn't be elected but appointed by a select commission in a merit system, eliminating the need to campaign.

...
To get on the ballot, judges pay a suggested slating fee of about $12,000. Raising that money was the worst part of the job, said former Judge Gary Miller.

"It's very uncomfortable for judges. We go from being this very independent judicial officer, to being a very partisan, political creature," he said.

But Marion County Republican Party Chairman Kyle Walker disagrees with Boehm's push to revamp the process of naming judge, saying the system is fine just the way it is.

"What we have in Marion County is the best merit system. It's an endorsement process that has worked," he said. "Anytime you can put the opinions of hundreds of people over those 10 people (who slate candidates) that are handpicked by the governor and other folks, you're probably going to be better off."
As far as the selection process, I have mixed opinions.  I am not convinced that delegating the task to a judicial cmmission somehow eliminates politics.  Rather it often puts those politics behind closed doors, the worst kind of politics.  I've talked to people who h ave sat on judicial commission and their recounting of political deals and lobbying for candidates behind the scenes, lobbying not based on merit, are a bit disconcerting to say the least.  Then you have the fact big law firms will likely dominate any judicial commission and thus control the selection process.  We actually have a good mix of experience on the bench in the Marion County court system.  Most cases don't involve politics, but when politics does raise its head, that's where concern comes into play.  Remember several years ago when the Marion County superior court judges sat en banc on the legality of the Indianapolis council map drawn by the Republicans?  Democratic judges were all on one side, while Republicans were on the other.
 
Why, on a straight legal question, did the judges split by party lines?  Slating, that's why.  Marion County judges live in fear they won't get the endorsement of their respective party and things like the drawing of maps are very important to party bosses  To not get slated is almost always fatal.  Don't let anyone tell you slating is about party workers listening to the issues and making informed decisions.  Most voters at slating are appointees of the county chairman and they are there to do his bidding, not represent the party's electorate or even grass roots party workers.
 
The county chairmen love judicial slating.  A slating fee is about 10% of the judges annual salary or $12,000.  Multiple that by the 10-15 candidates that normally run, and you're talking about a lot of money. 
 
What is not well-known is that for a judicial candidate to solicit money to pay a slating fee or to pay a slating fee, is a violation of the Code of Judicial Conduct.  Rule 4.1(A)(4) states that judicial candidates may not "solicit funds for, pay an assessment to, or make a contribution to a political organization or a candidate for public office."

How do the Marion County Republican and Democratic chairmen get around the rule?  They claim the judicial slating fees are "voluntary contributions" to the party.   Yeah, right.  What are the odds that a judicial candidate who doesn't pay the county chairman this "voluntary contribution" gets the endorsement of his or her party.  None.  Absolutely none.

I'd be a lot more confident of the Marion County judicial selection process if it were truly voters picking the candidates instead of party bosses.    That might happen if the Commission enforced the "no slating fee" rule instead of going along with the ruse that these are "voluntary contributions" unrelated to endorsement.  Without the slating fee, the corrosive slating process likely would disappear and our judges would be freed from a lot of the partisan influences involved in the selection process.  Judicial candidates should not be required to violate the Judicial Code to curry favor with party bosses.

See Advance Indiana's take on the judicial selection process in Marion County.

Monday, August 22, 2011

CIB To Spend $8 Million on Super Bowl

The infamous Capital Improvement Board, which is one minute on the verge of bankruptcy pleading for more taxes and govenrment subsidies and the next minute handing out cash with reckless abandon, is back in the news.  MSNBC reports:
INDIANAPOLIS - The city's Capital Improvement Board is budgeting $8 million to cover some of the costs associated with hosting Super Bowl XLVI. The CIB runs the Convention Center and the city's sports venues, including Lucas Oil Stadium.


On Monday, the board approved a plan to cover private security as well as some of the other operational costs including staffing and utilities. Also included in that $8 million appropriation is $4 million for the city's Department of Public Safety. A spokesperson for Public Safety Director Frank Straub said it's earmarked to cover overtime for police and firefighters during the Super Bowl, noting 150 officers would be positioned inside the stadium alone.

CIB president Ann Lathrop said the board offered to help with the public safety expense knowing city was facing big budget challenges with a drop in property and income tax revenue. And unlike years past, the CIB is much better financial shape - in part because of more hospitality tax revenue coming in following the opening the convention center expansion and new JW Marriott Hotel earlier this year.

"I think, in general, we get the hospitality taxes that are going to be coming in due to the event," said Lathrop. "Given the significant, one-time-only impact this is going to have, we think it is the right thing to do as good corporate citizens."

Lathrop said the NFL has agreed to reimburse the CIB roughly $4.2 for specific gameday expenses including private security. She said the CIB hopes to recoup the remaining $4 million from the extra tax revenue generated during the Super Bowl.
As usual, Gary Welsh of Advance Indiana pulls the cover off the phoniness that is Ann Lathrop and the CIB:
In 2009, Bob Grand, President of the CIB pleaded for the Indiana
General Assembly to bail out the organization.  The legislature responded
with a loan and additional authority to raise taxes. The CIB then gave the
Pacers $33.5 million and is now spending $8 million on the Super Bowl.
Keep in mind this was the same CIB that claimed it was teetering on bankruptcy just a couple of years ago unless we bailed it out with a series of tax increases and a new state subsidy. Now the CIB is so cash rich that it has $33.5 million to give away to the Simon's Indiana Pacers and another $8 million to foot the bill for Super Bowl-related expenses. I will flat out claim and defend such claim until proven otherwise that Ann Lathrop and Bob Grand totally fabricated a financial crisis after they took over the CIB following Mayor Ballard's election in order to find money for the Simon's new public subsidies for their NBA basketball team and to finance the Super Bowl costs, the event that we were told would cost taxpayers nothing because all of the funds necessary to cover the expenses would be paid by contributions raised by the local host committee. There have been reports that the CIB is letting the NFL use space at the convention center during the Super Bowl free of charge. Further, the legislature passed an unprecedented tax exemption that covers the Super Bowl event so that the NFL doesn't have to pay any state or local taxes during the event.
No, Ann Lathrop, we will never recoup the losses from this event. And the claim that the Super Bowl will generate $450 million for the local economy repeatedly touted in local news media reports is complete and utter bullshit. No independent study of the Super Bowl has ever proven that it generates anything approaching that kind of economic impact. Independent analysts peg the economic impact at no more than $40 to $50 million at best. As for added tax benefits, look at how little sales tax revenues grew in the Arlington, Texas communities that hosted this year's Super Bowl. Look no further than Detroit for the definitive proof of just how little benefit the Super Bowl generates for the city at large. How stupid do they think people are? It is simply unconscionable to be spending tens of millions of dollars to put on a party for the nation's richest people while the common people are sinking by the day under the pressure of the worst economic crisis since the Great Depression. At the rate things are going, they're going to need a small army to simply keep out angry, rioting taxpayers who will share in none of the benefits of this party and who are struggling to find jobs and to put food on the table for their families.
Let's think about this realistically.  If the Super Bowl were such a great investment for a city, then why were there only three cities (Indy, Houston and Phoenix) that bid for the 2012 Super Bowl? The answer is that it is not a great investment.  When it comes to Indianapolis, the Super Bowl is about the elites making working men and women pay for them to have a chance to play.

Abdul Facebook Rumor Suggests Mayor Ballard Has Small Lead in Poll

I don't usually pass along rumors, but I found this one on Facebook to be interesting:
Abdul-Hakim Shabazz
Melina Kennedy campaign finally admits their polls have them running behind incumbent Mayor Greg Ballard. Campaign sources won't say by how much; general belief is 8 - 10 points
Of course, Kennedy is behind in the polls.  She has barely started her advertising and the negative barrage against Ballard hasn't even begun.  What I don't buy is the 8-10 point figure.  I figure Kennedy at this stage has to be at least 15 points down, possibly closer to 20.

Abdul is an enthusiastic supporter of the Mayor.  It's not a stretch to assume the 8-10 point figure was discussed with the Ballard campaign.  What I find surprising is that anyone who understands campaign politics would actually think an 8-10 point lead (which wouldn't even be outside a 5 point margin of error), would be something to brag about.  Kennedy, on the other hand, can't publicly talk about any poll which shows her behind when expectations about her campaign are high, especially in a county with a Democratic baseline of more than 55%.  In fact, if she's only 8-10 points out (again which I doubt) then her campaign is far ahead of schedule and she is well on her way to being the next Mayor.  Ballard needs to be up by at least 20 points going into the Labor Day weekend to stave off the inevitable tightening of the race.

A few weeks ago, I ran into one of Ballard's biggest supporters.   Outside of Frank Straub, the young man had nothing but good things to say about how Mayor Ballard has led the City.  Then our discussion turned to the campaign. His mood changed completely.  He said he was frustrated.  He tried to help out the Ballard campaign only to find the Mayor's political people had no idea what they are doing.   Yep, that is exactly right.  Political and strategic incompetence to the max.

Note:  Before people suggest I'm wrong on the margin of error comment, actually it is the media who gets the MOE wrong.  When you have a 5 point MOE, that means both sets of numbers can be off 5 points.  So if Candidate A polls at 55% and Candidate B is at 45%, that means Candidate A's numbers can be as high as 60% and as low as 50%.  Candidate B's numbers can be as high as 50% and as low as 40%.  Thus with a 5% MOE on a 55-45 poll, the race can be tied 50-50.

Mayor Ballard Does Not Understand That Many Indy Residents Cannot Afford To Go To Lucas Oil Stadium

Greg Ballard's upset victory in 2007 afforded the Mayor and the Marion County GOP the unique opportunity to become a more populist party, reaching out to working men and women in an attempt to make the GOP the majority party in the county. 

Immediately upon election, however,  Ballard's transition team was taken over by the country club, establishment wing of the party and the rest is history - a Mayor more interested in helping downtown elites, a person who can't relate to those who in this recession are struggling to pay bills.  Mayor Ballard doesn't understand why more Indy residents are not going to Lucas Oil Stadium.  Jon Easter of Indy Democrat reports:
I was listening to the Jersey Johnny Show on 1070, the Fan. Mayor Ballard is a frequent guest on the program, and he was on talking about the upcoming Super Bowl and other sporting events. Jersey Johnny brought up the fact that 64,000 seats were sold for the Colts Friday night preseason game against the professional football team from Washington, D.C. Johnny said that even though all the seats were sold that there were a lot of unoccupied seats for the preseason game. He suggested that someone give tickets that they weren't going to use to a neighbor kid and his family so that they could experience an NFL game. Great suggestion!

Mayor Ballard said that he enjoys going to Colts games, "I'm at every game," said the Mayor. He says that he often gives access to the city suite to those that, "wouldn't otherwise get to go to the game." Then, he dropped this knowledge on the city of Indianapolis.

"It always amazes me the number of people that have never been in Lucas Oil Stadium," said the Mayor.

Well, Mr. Mayor, let me educate you. It costs money to go to LOS. Money that some people just don't have in Marion County. I was there at a high school event on Saturday night for the Peyback Classic. Tickets were $10 (though I was there as a media member). Parking was $10, and I paid $9.25 for the smallest Diet Coke and the smallest popcorn I could buy. Had I paid for a ticket, I'm out $29.25. Multiply that times four. That's a hefty amount even for a non-Colts event where the cheapest ticket is $48 a seat.

The vast majority of the citizens of Indianapolis cannot afford to go to an event at Lucas Oil Stadium. When Lucas Oil Stadium was built, studies showed that almost 2/3 of the people that went to Colts games did not come from Marion County. These are your citizens, Mr. Mayor. Shouldn't you know that? I would think so.
Easter hits the nail on the head.  Ballard, having been showered by country club memberships, sporting tickets, free travel and other perks of his office, is completely out of touch with the plight of working men and women in this economy.  That Ballard chides people for not spending their money to go to Lucas Oil Stadium is outrageous.

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Libertarian Councilor Candidate Raises $65,000 in One Weekend; GOP Will Have to Defend Solidly Republican Turf

Libertarian Councilor
Ed Coleman
Big local news came out of the annual Libertarian National Committee meeting held the weekend in Columbus, Ohio. The campaign of Libertarian Councilor Ed Coleman came back $65,000 wealthier, buoyed by a $50,000 contribution from the national party and several smaller contributions.

Coleman, who was elected as a Republican at-large councilor in 2007, switched to the Republican Party because of a disagreement with how the Republican council majority was being run, including the backlash he faced in his own caucus when tried to ask questions about the Capital Improvement Board.  Coleman, who has always expressed libertarian-type views, said he felt more at home in the Libertarian Party.

In what was one of the shrewder political moves I've seen in awhile, Coleman opted to not run for re-election for a at-large position, but rather to concentrate on trying to win in h his southside district, District 24, a which leans heavily Republican.  The district is represented by Jack Sandlin who replaced Mike Speedy after he was elected to the General Assembly.  Sandlin came to his position though with baggage.  Sandlin lost badly to Gary Coons in the 2006 Republican primary after having served for years as Perry Township Trustee.  Animosity in the township, in particular among Perry Township firefighters, doomed Sandlin's re-election.

Coleman's efforts in District 24 have been aided by Marion County Democratic Chairman Ed Treacy who decided not to appoint a Democratic candidate to contest Sandlin's district, a move which could have caused anti-Sandlin vote from going to Coleman.

Republican Councilor
Jack Sandlin
With the $65,000 worth of contributions this weekend, Coleman will undoubtedly outraise Sandlin in District 24.  Sandlin reported just $4,516 cash on hand in his pre-primary April 2011 filing, raising $2,307 during the first 3 1/2 months of the year  With a district only being 1/25th the size of the county, Coleman will be able to concentrate his resources.  Now that the campaign is well-funded, the challenge for Coleman is to employ a well-crafted strategy that uses the money to target District 24 voters.  In that effort, he could take a page from Coons' well-executed 2006 campaign that ousted Sandlin.

Finally, I can't help but note how giddy the Democrats undoubtedly are at Coleman's fundraising success.   Now faced with an opponent funded to the tune of $65,000, the Republican Party will likely have to spend to defend an incumbent councilor who would have been in a safe seat. Given the number of close districts Republicans have to defend, this isn't good news for Republican Marion County Chairman Kyle Walker.

Thanks to Featherstone on Government for tipping me off to the story.

Hinkle Accuser Claims Craig's List Ad Was Just a Joke; Conflicting Versions of Events Leads to Skepticism

State Representative Phil Hinkle
Previously on this blog, I noted that the 18 year old accuser, Kamyron Gibson, had changed his story from that reported in the Indianapolis Star when he spoke to Channel 13 Reporter Kevin Rader on July 12, 2011.  What I didn't realize is that he gave another contradictory story to Channel 13 Reporter David McAnally that appeared that day.

According to the version given the Indianapolis Star, State Representative Phil Hinkle answered an ad placed by Gibson on Craig's List and set up a sexual rendezvous with the 18 year old (who advertised himself as being 20) at the downtown JW Marriott.  Supposedly while talking in the hotel room, Hinkle revealed himself to be a state legislator, which caused Kameryn to freak out and run into the bathroom phoning his sister, Megan Gibson, to come pick him up.   Supposedly Hinkle tried to keep the boy from leaving, and somehow the sister ended up with a $100, Hinkle's blackberry and I-pad.  Supposedly  Megan was so bothered by the fact that Hinkle is a state representative who was soliciting sex, and had offered her $10,000 to remain silent about that fact, she went to the media.

Before getting to the Channel 13 stories, I have other questions.  How was Hinkle ever in a position to meet the sister?  Why didn't the Kameryn simply leave the hotel and meet her downstairs?  Supposedly
Hinkle confined the young man and wouldn't let him go.  Hinkle is a diminutive 64 year old man.  Kameryn is a 18 year man who is obviously in good shape.  And we're supposed to believe Hinkle confined Kameryn refusing to let him out of the hotel room?  Of course, Kameryn also knew Phil Hinkle's complete name.  Yet we're supposed to believe he didn't google Hinkle's name before the clandestine meeting, that the young man was completely surprised to learn for the first time at the meeting Hinkle is an elected official?

When interviewed by Channel 13's Kevin Rader, the story changes. This time it wasn't just the fact that Hinkle is an elected official that freaks out Kameryn causing him to run into the bathroom, it's also the fact that Hinkle is old.  Wait a second, didn't Hinkle pick up the young man and take him to the hotel.  So he didn't know he was "old" until they got up together int he hotel room?  Anyway, Gibson told Rader that because he was older and a state legislator he "wanted out of the deal."

The story changes again, when Channel 13 Dave McAnally talks to Kameryn.  He says the Craig's List ad was just a big joke between he and his sister and there was no intent to trade cash for sex.  Kameryn never mentioned that it was just a joke to the Star or Channel 13's Kevin Rader.

Give the confusing, apparently self-serving account by the Gibsons, and Kameryn's continuing to change the story during interviews, it's hard to believe any of their statements that aren't backed up by the emails.  Of course, with Hinkle the only feedback we have is that there was a "shakedown" going on.

Assuming the emails weren't manufactured, it would be hard to deny their was a sexual rendezvous set up in the hotel at which there may have been an exchange of money.  However, I do not think it credible that Kameryn, a young man obviously experienced with computers, would not have googled the name "Phil Hinkle" before the meeting.  I think he and his sister knew exactly who he was. 

If Kameryn were in the business of trading sex for money, does it make sense that he would have ran away because the client is too "old."  Again, I would emphasize that Hinkle picked him up for the meeting so he knew how old he was before he went to the hotel room.

As far as the first story, that Kameryn was bothered by the fact Hinkle is an elected official, and decided to call things off because of that, the reason for that would be that he didn't want to do anything that could one day end up on the front page of the papers.  Yet, Kameryn later gave two interviews to Channel 13 and now suggests his speaking out was because of his feelings on gay rights issues.  Again, that doesn't make sense.

Even some gay rights bloggers are dubious of the 18 year old's factual claims.  Queerty.com had a story noting Kameryn's questionable version of events.

While there's nothing that excuses Phil Hinkle's decision to set up the I don't buy anything Kameryn and Megan Gibson are saying outside of the fact that a meeting took place.  I think they knew exactly who Hinkle is before the meeting.  I think it's also quite possible that they solicited the $10,000 from Hinkle and that they went public when Hinkle didn't come through with the money and to cover for the fact they could have been accused of a crime.

That issue came up on a previous post I had.  I've since found the statute that confirms it would be illegal to solicit Hinkle to pay $10,000 to not expose his sexual orientation and/or the rendezvous.  That is covered by the criminal intimidation statute, IC 35-45-2-1, which includes threats to expose someone to "hatred, contempt, disgrace, or ridicule" to get them to do something against their will, such as pay $10,000.  That statute is only a class A misdemeanor.  There may be other statutes involved as well.

Friday, August 19, 2011

Criticism of Need for Indiana Tech Law School Continues; Those Considering Law School Should Not Buy the Phony Argument Legal Education Opens the Door to Non-Legal Jobs

The Fort Wayne Journal-Gazette has an excellent update on Indiana Tech's plan for a new law school.  Here is just a portion of that story:
As soon as Indiana Tech announced its decision, critics pounced.

Staff writer Jennifer Nelson of TheIndianaLawyer.com, for example, noted that a recent study conducted by Economic Modeling Specialists Inc., a group that tracks employment statistics, seemed to suggest that Indiana does not have enough legal jobs for the recent law school graduates it already has.

According to the group’s study, Indiana will have about 399 jobs open in the legal field each year through 2015, while about 600 people will pass the bar each year.

“Tell me why then Indiana Tech thinks it’s a good idea to open up a law school?” Nelson wrote. “They claim their research tells them Indiana is actually underserved when it comes to lawyers.”

Most who follow employment trends in the legal industry agree it’s a rough time to be a law school graduate.

The Association for Legal Career Professionals, which tracks employment data, said the class of 2010 faced the toughest job market since 1996, and predicts the class of 2011 will have an even harder time landing legal jobs.

...
“There’s no shortage of attorneys in Indiana,” said Indiana University law professor William Henderson, who writes about law school education. “We do have too many law school students.”

In addition to worrying about job prospects, some critics are worried about the kind of debt Indiana Tech students will accumulate – and what effect that debt will have on their future.

Students without other financial resources, for example, would need to take out $85,500 in loans and likely more for living expenses.

Snyder acknowledges it’s unlikely that Indiana Tech students will go on to earn six-figure salaries. According to the school’s own feasibility study, most beginning lawyers in Indiana can expect to make between $35,000 and $65,000. [Editor's note, $35,000, without more than token benefits, is the more realistic estimate.  $65,000 is a pipe dream unless you land at one of the biggest firms.  Worse still many new attorneys are commission only...they don't receive any salary.]
With that salary, paying off student loans can be a challenge.

Above the Law, a national law blog that follows industry news, was also critical of Indiana Tech’s law school plans.

“Does somebody have to die? Does somebody have to commit suicide? Does somebody have to leave a suicide note that reads, ‘I just couldn’t go on paying off the debts I incurred from going to this law school.’ What is it going to take before somebody, some organization, some kind of regulatory authority steps in and prevents universities from opening up debt-generation shops under the guise of providing legal education?” Above the Law blogger Elie Mystal wrote in May.

“You’re not supposed to lead prospective students to financial ruin just because they’re stupid enough to follow you.”
A big selling point for Indiana Tech is that even though legal jobs will not be available for its law school graduates, a law degree opens your door up to many non-legal jobs.  That couldn't be more wrong. What a legal education does is pigeonhole you as an attorney and closes doors to non-lawyer jobs.

I ran across a blog titled "Rose Covered Glasses," an attorney who writes about her experience looking for non-lawyer jobs:
But perhaps I can turn this into a job-search journal. I have been applying for non-legal jobs for three weeks now. In that time I have had two interviews. (Two and a half if you count a phone interview that lasted about a minute.) Perhaps I will post more about those later, but the real take-away from all three is what I (along with many others) have been saying all along. A law degree is NOT an asset in any field but law. The law degree scares people away. A position that you are fully qualified for and could perform well in will be out of reach because the employer will be scared that you will leave for a "$100,000 law job."


Plenty of people go to law school not knowing what the practice of law entails, and therefore not knowing that they might not like it. That is bad enough, but what really pains me is to hear about people who plan on getting a law degree *knowing* that they have no desire to practice, thinking that they can "do anything" with a law degree. The employers I spoke with beg to differ.
That is exactly my experience.  One of the reasons I went to law school was that I thought it would open up doors to non-legal jobs.   What I found is that it actually closed doors.  While it is true a legal education is useful for the world of business, for example,  the fact is you are never going to get a chance to get the job. The employer will pigeonhole you as a lawyer who will leave the company the minute that six figure attorney job comes open. (People outside of law still believe all lawyers have six figure salaries awaiting them after law school.)  At one point, I even took my legal education off my resume so I could get interviews for non-legal jobs.


To Indiana Tech's credit one thing that is outlined in the Journal-Gazette article is that the school will look at a better way to educate lawyers-to-be.  That though is an argument for reforming how the state's current four law schools operate their schools.  It does not give Indiana Tech a pass for taking nearly $80,000 in tuition to train students for jobs that don't exist and for an education that will close out the chances those students will have of getting many non-legal jobs.

NOTE:  In a previous post on Indiana Tech I misidentified the school as a for profit institution.  Actually it is a non-profit.  Of course, regular readers of this blog note that I don't see much of a distinction between for profit and not-for-profit corporations.  Instead of paying out profits, non-profits simply disguise those profits as salaries and benefits to directors, managers and employees.

NOTE 2:  Just ran across the blog "Restoring Dignity to the Law" blog that takes apart piece by piece the phony argument Indiana Tech is using for the supposed need for a new law school. I may blog on it later.

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Colts Owner and Cheapskate Jim Irsay to Give $1 Per Ticket Sold at Pre-Season Game to Fair Fund, Wants Each Fan to Contribute $10

Colts Owner Jim Irsay
I remember one spring a few years ago when the eastside of Indianapolis experienced a tornado and southern Indiana experienced sever flooding. The twin catastrophes caused hundreds millions of dollars in damage.  So what did the Colts' owner Jim Irsay, who taxpayers' subsidies of the Colts turned Irsay from being an ordinary millionaire to a billionaire, contribute to the cause?  $50,000...if the fans would match it.

Now Indianapolis Colts owner Jim Irsay has announced that he will contribute to the fund that will support victims' families of the Indiana State Fair stage collapse.

According to a press release, Irsay will donate a whole $1 to the Indiana State Fair Remembrance Fund for every ticket distributed to the Colts preseason game against the Washington Redskins Friday.

The Colts meanwhile will encourage each of those fans who bought those very expensive tickets to contribute $10.

I'm sorry, but I'm not going to applaud Irsay for this "charitable" move. Irsay shakes down Indianapolis taxpayers for hundreds of millions of dollars, then when has a chance to do something for the community, he hands out change.  Disgusting.  The minute Peyton Manning is gone and the franchise starts losing, this cheapskate owner who has nothing but contempt for the people of Indianapolis, will be run out of the City on a rail.

Pro-Brainard Carmel Newspaper First Conducted Investigation of Libman; Newspaper Turned Over Findings to Mayor's Office for Further Investigation Which Resulted in "Confrontation"




Carmel residents know "The Current" as a local newspaper devoted to promoting Mayor Jim Brainard and his agenda.  The paper's executive vice president is Steve Greenberg, Brainard's former campaign manager.  In a recent edition, the newspaper details how how it worked with Mayor Brainard to trap Carmel's Center for the Arts CEO Steven Libman in a Cheaters style scandal:
The first domino fell in mid-May when, on the heels of the April 30 issues of Current, which broke news of high-profile acts coming to the Palladium, Libman instructed his staff not to speak to or provide information to Current. This action was later confirmed via e-mail by the center’s public relations manager, John Hughey.
“(Current Executive Vice President Steve Greenberg) and I thought that showed a flaw in judgment,” Current President Brian Kelly said. “How could the only medium to reach every address in the center’s own hometown be denied the opportunity to report the center’s news on the same footing with other media? We were appalled, and we wrote about the injustice Libman’s decision perpetrated on our readers.”
Steven Libman, Former CEO of Carmel's Performing Arts Center
Current long had heard unverified allegations of aggressive accounting and excessive spending of the center’s funds, but the financial information of the nonprofit charged with running the center, Carmel Performing Arts Foundation, is not available to the public. When it became clear Libman likely would request a greater subsidy for 2012 – perhaps up to $4 million in taxpayer money –Current hired a freelancer to investigate the center’s leadership and spending.

However, that investigation revealed a possible entirely different problem: Libman was, purportedly, having a romantic relationship with his assistant, a move which could put both the city and foundation at risk of lawsuits stemming from potential state and federal Equal Employment Opportunity Commission violations. (Current is not publishing the woman’s name, because it does not reveal the identities of persons who may be victims of sexual crimes.)
 
Two months after launching its investigation, Current had “reached the end of its rather limited legal expertise,” according to Kelly. Concerned about the negative impact of running an as-yet incomplete story, Kelly and Greenberg decided to present the findings to the city.

“We never considered turning the information over to the city until we realized the damage that could be done to taxpayers and the center by running it prior to a more thorough investigation,” Kelly said. “Additionally, Steve and I had great concerns that criminal laws might have been violated and felt we had a legal obligation to turn over our information to appropriate city officials.
“We’ve always been extremely supportive of the center, and we always look for ways to protect our fellow taxpayers.”
Carmel Mayor Jim Brainard
So much for journalistic ethics and objectivity.  The article continues:
According to Brainard, once the investigation reached a point “where there was absolutely no question that all the key facts had been confirmed,” he presented the findings to the foundation’s board, which immediately brought its executive committee together to discuss the issues.

After meeting with the executive committee of the board, Libman’s resignation was effective.  But then the Current is run by Steve Greenberg, the Mayor's former campaign manager.

The Confrontation

Libman and his now-former assistant were bound for Chicago on the morning of July 29, according to one of Current’s sources, when a caller from the executive board asked him to return to Carmel for a meeting. Libman then was confronted with evidence the city had collected in its investigation. He tendered his resignation shortly after 2:30 p.m.
I found the subheading used in the article to be curious.  Anyone who has watched the show "Cheaters," knows the climax of each episode is when the video surveillance is finally displayed to confirm the sexual affair.  The teaser used for that portion of the episode is called "The Confrontation."

The article goes to great efforts to discredit Libman's resume:
But Libman’s resignation in Carmel wasn’t his first. He now has resigned from three top executive positions with performing arts centers since 2004, and the reasons for his leaving previous employers are not entirely clear.
Talk about spin.  Libman's worked at  the Pittsburgh Ballet Theatre from 1987-2004.  Working seventeen years employment with one employer is hardly the sign of an unstable and unwanted employee.  The Current though found an anonymous source who discredited Libman.
... a source from the area with knowledge of Libman’s tenure with the PBT said he had conflicts with personnel, too.

“There were financial and personal missteps along the way that led to his resignation,” said the source, who agreed to speak only on the condition of complete anonymity.
The man has been gone for seven years and they could find a single source willing to speak on the record?

At the other employment discussed in the article, as director of the La Jolla Playhouse, Libman worked for three years, (2006-2008), which is not a short tenure for someone in that type of leadership position.  Libman's stated reason for stepping down was to pursue an expanded consulting practice.  The Current though suspects his resignation must have been due to his being a bad manager.
 
Surprisingly the Current, even using sources that insist on "complete anonymity," couldn't even come up with another case of sexual misconduct by Libman in one of this other jobs.  People who have affairs in the workplace and/or commit sexual harassment usually display a pattern of such behavior. 

Clearly the Current, the Mayor's newspaper, engaged in tactics that smack of those used by Rupert Murdoch's News of the World publication.  Like that publication, questions need to be asked if the Current's reporters and editors broke the law in conducting its investigation of Libman.  After all, how did the newspaper obtain photographs or video of Libman and his alleged paramour that suggested a sexual affair was taking place, as sexual acts normally take place in private?  As noted in a previous post, video surveillance of a private area would be a crime.

Trustee Receives $2 Fine and Home Detention for Stealing $10,000

WRTV reports:
NASHVILLE, Ind. -- A former Indiana township trustee was fined $2 and sentenced to 70 days of house arrest after admitting she used township money to pay for a vacation to the Smoky Mountains.

The Herald-Times of Bloomington reported that Nettie Walls, 66, has paid back the money she used from Van Buren Township's $10,000 line of credit.

Walls pleaded guilty this month to conversion and official misconduct, both misdemeanors. A felony theft charge was dismissed as part of a plea agreement
The case reminded me of one I looked at from Clay County from the early 1990s.  A deputy sheriff and candidate for sheriff was convicted of official misconduct for having sex with a jail inmate.  His sentence was a $5 fine (much cheaper than a prostitute) and sentenced to home detention.  He was allowed to keep his job...at the jail.

Is it wonder we have so much misconduct by public officials when we don't take seriously the actions of those who get caught?  What message is sent when people convicted of abusing their offices are fined $2 and $5?

Were Surveillance Cameras Used Illegally in the Carmel Investigation of Libman?

Steven Libman, Former CEO
of Carmel's Performing Arts Center

Yesterday, WRTV's Joanne Massee followed up the investigation into the firing of Steven Libman, former CEO of the Carmel's Center for the Performing Arts.  She attempted to interview Libman without success. She is then shown interviewing Mayor Brainard who says that Libman was fired for having an affair and misusing city money in conjunction with that affair. Here is a portion of the written on-line story:
 ..Brainard said investigators believe the trips were actually to cover for Libman's expensive dates with the woman, who he said was promoted over the course of the affair.
"Mr. Libman traveled a great number of places with his assistant, and it just didn't seem to make any sense that he would need secretarial help on these kinds of trips," Brainard told Massee.
What is not in the written story, but is in the video clip accompanying the story is the following exchange between Massee and Mayor Brainard:
MASEE:  "No chance that they were just friends."
Carmel Mayor Jim Brainard
BRAINARD:  "The investigation showed otherwise."
My question would be HOW did the investigation show "otherwise?"  How did the investigation acquire information that showed that these two were not friends, but in fact had a sexual relationship?

As far as I know, neither Libman or the woman admitted to having an affair. Exactly how then did International Investigators, working on behalf of the City, acquire confirmation as to a sexual affair, as sex normally happens behind closed doors?

If the investigation involved confirming a sexual affair by placing cameras in Libman's condo or in a hotel room, the people who ordered and installed those surveillance cameras could be in big trouble.  It doesn't matter that the Carmel Redevelopment Commission owns the condo where Libman lived.  It doesn't matter than Libman was only a guest in a hotel owned by someone else.   The rule in most jurisdictions, including Indiana, is that where a person has an expectation of privacy, that privacy cannot be invaded with surveillance equipment.  For example, a camera in the lobby or parking lot or even a hallway of a hotel is perfectly acceptable.  A video camera in the rooms would not be permitted.

The issue of the hotel room would of course be governed by whatever state that hotel is in.  But since Indiana's law would apply to any video surveillance of Libman's condo, let's take a look at that:

IC 35-45-4-5  Voyeurism; public voyeurism

(a) The following definitions apply throughout this section:

(1) "Camera" means a camera, a video camera, a device that captures a digital image, or any other type of video recording device.
(2) "Peep" means any looking of a clandestine, surreptitious, prying, or secretive nature.
(3) "Private area" means the naked or undergarment clad genitals, pubic area, or buttocks of an individual.
(b) A person:
(1) who knowingly or intentionally:
(A) peeps; or
(B) goes upon the land of another with the intent to peep;
into an occupied dwelling of another person; or
(2) who knowingly or intentionally peeps into an area where an occupant of the area reasonably can be expected to disrobe, including:
(A) restrooms;
(B) baths;
(C) showers; and
(D) dressing rooms;
without the consent of the other person, commits voyeurism, a Class B misdemeanor.

(c) However, the offense under subsection (b) is a Class D felony if:

(1) it is knowingly or intentionally committed by means of a camera; or
(2) the person who commits the offense has a prior unrelated conviction:
The crime would be voyeurism, and if done with surveillance cameras, it would be a felony.

Carmel officials could throw the private investigators under the bus, claiming they did not authorize video surveillance of Libman's condo or the hotel rooms he stayed in.  You'd have to wonder though how credible that defense would be though.  Surely at some point Mayor Brainard or City Attorney Doug Haney would have become aware of any illegal video surveillance in the course of reviewing the ongoing investigation.  The minute they know and don't put a stop to it, they open themselves up to possibly being accessories to a crime or at the least expose the city to liability for a civil lawsuit.
I would caution that this post is based purely on speculation, albeit speculation spawned by Mayor Brainard's curious suggestion that the investigation confirmed a sexual affair. That comment, as I noted above, leads to my wondering exactly how that information was acquired..  As of yet, no evidence yet has surfaced of any video surveillance, illegal or otherwise.  Only rumors thus far.