Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Charlie White and the Crime of the Century...Not: Persecution of Secretary of State Rests on Shaky Foundation of Circumstantial Evidence

Charlie White committed the crime and the century and should be punished.  That is the sentiment out there...that White did something terrible and should resign.  Exactly what he did that was terrible is rarely specified because frankly most people pontificating about White's guilt have not a clue about the facts of the case.  When people do try to state the facts, they often get them wrong.  Whether White is convicted or not, the early decision to remain silent in the face of accusations was
a PR disaster resulting in  White being convicted in the court of public opinion.    For an elected official, that is usual fatal to one's reputation regardless of actual guilt or innocence.

Secretary of State Charlie White

A close examination of the facts reveal how much of a witchhunt the effort is to get Charlie White. It is a persecution, not a prosecution.  People who say it is not political, because Republicans have also called for his resignation, overlook the fact that something that is political doesn't have to be partisan. Of course, the Republican Governor would like to appoint the Secretary of State.  White wouldn't cooperate though and good for him.   He earned the position and shouldn't leave based on trumped up political charges.

About the facts of the case, they are actually simple. White lived in an apartment at 6994 Pintail Drive.    In 2010, he bought a condo at 13086 Overlook Drive with the plan of marrying his fiance, Michelle, and moving in.

Traveling the state to campaign for Secretary of State delayed the marriage. Michelle, who had been burned before in another relationship, did not want to live together before marriage. So while Michelle moved into the condo, White made other living arrangements, namely to live at his ex-wife's house at 7527 Broadleaf Drive pending the marriage and White's move into the condo.

Before the 2010 primary, White had his registration change from 6994 Pintail Drive (the apartment) address to 7527 Broadleaf Drive (the ex-wife's house where White's was living.   White did exactly what he should have done.  You register where you are living, not where you are to be living in the future.  The factual findings of the Election Commission was that White was living at his ex-wife's house and was properly registered.  The decision by Judge Rosenberg overruling the Commission did not find that White was not living at the ex-wife's house, but that it was a "temporary" residence and therefore he shouldn't have registered there. There was nothing in the opinion indicating out where else White could have been registered.)

Six of the seven felony charges lodged against Charlie White require that the jury reach a different conclusion than did the Election Commission, namely that White was living at the condo instead of at the ex-wife's house. Today I stopped by and heard the prosecution's first two witnesses.  It appears from those witnesses testimony that the prosecution's case with regard to those six charges is built on a shaky foundation of circumstantial evidence. The witnesses testified that White identified the condo address as his address on employment documents, for example.  But under cross-examination by White's counsel, Carl Brizzi, those witnesses admitted they had no idea whether White was living at the condo. 

Below is the summary of the charges included in the indictments:

Count 1. (Submission of a False, Fictitious or Fraudulent Registration Application, a Class D Felony) of the White indictment says that White by "knowingly or intentionally sending a voter registration change of address forms to the Hamilton county Board of Voter Registration representing his new address [as] 7527 Broad Leaf Lane, Fishes, Indiana, when he knew he was or would be living at 13086 Overview Drive, Fishers, Indiana, at the time of the next election (May Primary 2010))"
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.
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 located in Fishers, Fall Creek Township, Precinct 5.
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.

Carl Brizzi
That prosecutors were out to get White and looking for anything to use against him is evident from the fact that they obtained the newlywed couple's marriage application and thus White became probably the only person in the State's history charged with perjury based on an address put on a marriage application:

Count 6 (Perjury on a marriage application, Class D Felony) of the White indictment rests on the allegation that Charlie P. White did commit the offense of Perjury, to-wit: knowingly or intentionally making a false statement under oath or affirmation, knowing the statement to be false or not believing it to be true, to-wit: stating on his marriage license application to the Hamilton County Clerk's Office and made under affirmation of the truth thereof, that his residence was 7527 Broad Leaf Lane, Fishers, Indiana when it was 13086 Overview Drive, 5B, Fishers, Indiana.

But the persecutors, er prosecutors, weren't done yet.  They obtained a copy of White's documents he signed closing on his condo and found White signed the 30 day occupancy affidavit, thus leading to Count 3, the only Class C felony charged:

Count 3 (Fraud on a Financial Institution, Class C Felony) of the White indictment says that White "did commit the offense of Fraud on a Financial institution, to-wit: by knowingly or intentionally executing or attempting to execute a scheme or artifice to obtain money, funds or other property owned by or under the custody or control of a State or federally chartered or federally insured financial institution by means of false or fraudulent pretenses, representation or promises, to wit: representing in a real estate closing transaction that he intended to reside at 13086 Overview Drive, Fishers, Indiana within (30) days of February 26, 2010, and said misrepresentation was material to the said Charlie P. White obtaining the loan and more favorable interest rate."
There is no indication that White's lender ever complained White did not immediately move into the condo.  Rather this charge was completely a creation of the special prosecutors looking for anything to hang Charlie White with.   The problem with the charge though is that the affidavit deals with "intent" to occupy.  Unless the prosecutors can prove that it was not White's "intent" to occupy the condo when he signed the document, which would be nearly impossible, the jury should acquit.

White did exactly the right thing when he registered at his ex-wife's house, the only address at which he could have legally registered. 

Count 7 (Theft, Class D Felony) of the White indictment says that White "did commit the offense of Theft, to-wit: knowing or intentionally exerting unauthorized control over the property of the Town of Fishers, Indiana, with the intent to deprive the Town of Fishers of any part of the value and use, to-wit: taking his pay as a Council member for Fishers Council District 2 during the period of approximately November 5, 2009 through September 28, 2010, when he did not reside in said Fishers Town council district."

Even if White is found to have been living at his ex-wife house during the May 2010 primary, there was a period of time after he got married and moved into the condo later that year when White was outside the district in which he was elected.  That's what White admitted saying he made a mistake in doing.  But it is not clear that it was a mistake.  But Fishers town councilors, while elected from districts, serve at large.  Even if he had to resign, the suggestion that his accepting his token salary from the council for those few months is "theft" is a reach to say the least.  The fact is White continued to do his Fishers Town Council work even after he moved into the condo.  The fact White might have been disqualified as a councilor because he moved out of the district from which he as elected doesn't mean he somehow stole his salary. In fact counsel for the Fishers Town Council disagreed with White when he tried to return his salary for that period.

The persecution of White needs to be brought to an end.  If the jury acquits him, as it should, the question will be how White can restore his reputation.  That might prove to be the most difficult hurdle in the end.

Monday, January 30, 2012

Judge Carol Orbison Files to Run Against Marion County GOP Judicial Slate

As reported here, Marion County Judge Carol Orbison was targeted for defeat by GOP county leadership because she would not pledge to drop out if she was not endorsed at Saturday's slating convention.   Orbison lost at Saturday's convention, with four new candidates - Amy Jones, Clayton Graham, Jim Joven and Helen Marchal - slated to fill three vacancies and Orbison's spot.

Orbison today filed to run as a candidate against the slate according to the Secretary of State's Office.

Marion County Republican Party slating has had its credibility strained to the breaking point by the practice of party leaders using a large pool of appointed convention goers solely to vote the way leadership wants in slating contests.  That large pool of appointees can easily outvote the elected precinct committeepersons who do yeoman's work for the party.  As a result, candidates know the process is rigged from the beginning, and usually drop out if they don't receive the support of leadership.  That is reflected in the fact that candidates in sixteen of seventeen races decided at Saturday's GOP slating had no competition.

It's time for the State Republican organization to take a look at Marion County GOP slating and how party leaders use of the process has undermined the grass roots strength of the county organization.  The Marion County GOP grass roots will never be rebuilt as long as party leaders prefer using the party to consolidate their own power rather than give that power to party workers.

Civil Discourse Now Discusses Super Bowl Sign Ordinance with Guests Pat Andrews and Matt Stone

Part I Part II Part III

Why are Marion County Democrats Holding Their Slating Convention the Day After Deadline for Filing to Be a Candidate?

Marion County political party leadership historically takes a dim view of people who file to be candidates before slating has taken place.  The reasoning is that the early filing insults party workers who are supposed to be making the decision about who the candidates should be.

The deadline for candidates (for judge, state representatives, state senate, precinct committeemen, state delegate, county-wide offices, etc.) to file is noon on Friday, February 10th.  Why then are Marion County Democrats not holding their slating convention until Saturday, February 11th?

Many people assume that a candidate who is slated is an official candidate.  Not true.  Slating has no legal effect whatsoever. A person who is slated still has to file the proper paperwork by noon Friday, February 10th, or that person is not a candidate.   Again, that's the day before the local Democrats slate candidates.

If Democratic candidates-to-be wait to file until after slating, there is a vacancy on the ballot which I believe is unilaterally filed by the Democratic county chairman, i.e. Ed Treacy.

Sunday, January 29, 2012

Lack of Competition at Marion County GOP Slating Reveals How Rigged Process has Become; Leadership Has Undermined Legitimacy of Endorsements While Stripping Grass Roots Party Workers of Influence

Marion County Chairman Kyle Walker
Yesterday, Marion County Republicans held a county-wide convention at Ben Davis High School to endorse candidates for the upcoming election.  Those events used to attract a room full of party workers and scores of candidates working the crowd.  Many if not most races were contested with each candidate working weeks to personally meet with party workers to assure them he or she is the best candidate.

Since I became a precinct committeeman in 1986, the number of "mummy dummies," non-working party members who are appointed by the county chairman for the sole purpose of attending a slating and voting "the right way," i.e. the way leadership wants them to vote, has increased markedly.  Now the pool of mummy dummies is so large that party leaders, such as Marion County Chairman Kyle Walker and Hamilton County resident David Brooks have almost complete control over the process.  Party workers, those hard working men and women who are elected to represent their community as PCs, are completely outvoted by appointees of party bosses who have ensured their favorites will win.

Don't think the candidates haven't taken notice.  Candidates who used to spend months convincing PCs and Ward Chairmen to support them at slating, now drop out before slating if they don't have the support of the county chairman. The candidates know that they can't beat the system GOP leadership has rigged to render meaningless the actual party workers' vote in the slating process.

At the convention yesterday, 17 races were up for endorsement.  These include House Districts 86, 87, 88, 89, 90, 91, 92, 93, 97, 100, Senate Districts 30, 32, 35, and 36, county coroner, county treasurer, county surveyor and superior court judge.  Sixteen of the 17 were uncontested, with the only contest being for superior court judge. 

In the superior court race, 10 candidates were to be slated to fill the 10 places on the primary ballot.  The leadership had already picked the 10 they wanted and that list did not include Judge Carol Orbison.  The candidates were only allowed to give one minute speeches (how can you convince a crowd in one minute?).  Leadership also made doubly sure that Orbison wouldn't win by employing a rule that slating attendees had to vote for 10 candidates or their ballots wouldn't count.  That meant party workers who wanted to back Orbison but not the leadership-backed judicial candidates had no choice.  They could vote for Orbison, but the price was voting for 9 candidates the leadership wanted.

I don't blame Judge Orbison one bit if she decides to run in the primary in May.  After all, party leaders have stripped slating of all legitimacy.  The picks on Saturday do not reflect the wishes of party workers...they represent the wishes of party bosses who have so rigged slating that candidates aren't even participating in the process anymore.

The question is whether State GOP chairman Eric Holcomb will step in and address the problems with Marion County GOP slating.  The system, now completely dominated by leadership, leads to a weak party county organization which ultimately affects statewide GOP candidates.  That's not something that Holcomb should overlook.  The lack of a strong Marion County GOP organization is a weak link in the state GOP chain.

Friday, January 27, 2012

IBM Wins Judgment on Cancelled FSSA Contract; Conflicted Barnes and Thornburg Attorneys Cost Taxpayers Millions More

I don't have time to review the order, so I'll just publish the IBM press release.  It appears that the Barnes & Thornburg attorneys, who have an enormous and unwaivable conflict of interest in the case by its dual representation of the State of Indiana/FSSA and its current representation of ACS, which was an IBM subcontractor on the Medicaid privatization project, lost a key ruling in front of Marion County Superior Court Judge David Dreyer:
Indianapolis, IN...January 26, 2012...Indiana  Superior Court Judge David J. Dreyer has rendered a $40 million judgment in favor of IBM in its legal dispute with the State of Indiana over a Family Social Services Administration (FSSA) modernization of the State's welfare eligibility system. Judge Dreyer ruled Wednesday, January 25, that the State is required to compensate IBM after taking over its rights in connection with subcontracts associated with the project. Later Wednesday, the FSSA issued a press release regarding Judge Dreyer's rulings that was incomplete and misleading, ignoring the $40 million judgment in favor of IBM.  

"Judge Dreyer, contrary to what  the State's press release would have the citizens of Indiana believe, made a series of rulings in support of IBM's position in this case," said IBM spokesperson Clint Roswell. "This is just the latest attempt by the State to obfuscate what really happened in the project,  and we look forward to the scheduled February 27 start of the trial so we can finally spotlight the true facts of the modernization project."

In his ruling, Judge Dreyer:
  • Held that deferred Fees are to be litigated at trial. Contrary to the State’s press release, the Court did not reject IBM’s claim for $43 million in deferred fees, but ruled that this matter must be resolved at trial.  
  • Rejected the State’s request for judgment that IBM was in breach of the contract. In Judge Dryer's words: “The Court cannot find that IBM breached the agreement -- let alone that any breach was material.” (Order Denying the State’s Motion for Summary Judgment Regarding Its Claim for Breach of Contract, page 2.)  In fact, the Court found that “ State officials praised IBM's performance under the contract.” (Page 2)
  • Dismissed the State’s claim that IBM was unjustly enriched by the payments it received from the State. 
  • Limited the State’s damages claims, eliminating tens of millions of dollars of specific claims, capping the State’s remaining claims far below what it had  been seeking, and dismissing all State claims for punitive damages.
  • Found that the evidence supporting IBM on the State's claim of breach includes, in Judge Dryer's words: "statements by State officials contending that many of the problems arising with modernization were in fact attributable to matters beyond IBM’s (or anyone’s) control, such as the economic downturn compounded by a series of natural disasters." (Order Denying the State’s Motion for Summary Judgment Regarding Its Claim for Breach of Contract, page 3, Par. “Fourth.”)      
  • Retained IBM’s claim for payment of its equipment costs. Contrary to the State’s press release, the Court ruled only that IBM cannot seek return of its equipment.  IBM’s claim for over $9 million owed for that equipment will be resolved at trial.  
IBM has maintained that fulfillment of contractual obligations is the very essence of a successful business or organization. It maintains that the State's refusal to honor its contractual commitments endangers the State's business environment and will act as a deterrent for businesses considering moving to or expanding their operations IBM remains confident that the State of Indiana and its courts will respect the freedom of contract rights of companies that do business with the State of Indiana, and affirm that the State cannot confiscate private property without proper compensation.   
Other attorneys in the state have to follow the conflict of interest rules in the Rules of Professional Conduct.  Not the politically-connected Barnes & Thornburg, however.  Now we taxpayers are out more than Barnes outrageous legal fees.

While Romney's Fortunes Rise in Florida, New Polls Show Gingrich Leading Nationally For First Time

Newt Gingrich
The last five polls out of Florida, released the last two days, show a consistent Mitt Romney lead in Florida of 7-9 points over South Carolina primary winner Newt Gingrich.

While Romney's boat has clearly risen in Florida, what is interesting is that he has for the first time since mid-December fallen behind in national polls.  A new NBC poll just released this morning from NBC News/Wall Street Journal shows Gingrich with a nine point, 37-28 lead among Republicans.  This comes on the heals of two other national polls released this week from Gallup and Rasmussen showing Gingrich, respectively, with a six and seven point lead respectively.

By the way, all this information can be found at www.realclearpolitics.com

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Polls Show Romney Going From Eight Points Down to Eight Points Ahead in Just Three Days

Mitt Romney
The polling in the Republican presidential nomination has now swung back the other way.  After his South Carolina win, Newt Gingrich almost immediately wiped out Mitt Romney's lead in Florida and moved several points ahead.   That lead faded almost overnight as polls show Romney regaining the lead.

The poll I found the most telling in terms of the recent trend in Florida is the last two Insider Advantage (IA) Florida polls.  In a 1/22 poll, IA's poll had Gingrich leading Romney 34-26.  In a poll conducted on 1/25, IA shows Romney leading 40-32.  While Gingrich only lost 2 points on his total, Romney gained 14 points.  Santorum and Paul were down 3 and 4 points respectively in the poll.  The remaining 5 point increase in Romney's numbers were undecideds breaking his way as the January 31st primary draws near.

Gingrich has a week to turn things around.  If he fails, Romney will have resurrected a campaign that was beginning to flounder.

City Begins Strong-Arming Local Merchants Over Failure to Get License Before Displaying Official Super Bowl Sign

Is anyone surprised? On Saturday Civil Discourse Now show we will discuss the Super Bowl sign ordinance and display our own political protest Super Bowl sign. Let's see if the City asks us to take it down.

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Gingrich Now Leads National Polls

Two national polls released today show former House Speaker Newt Gingrich has moved ahead of former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney.  Rasmussen has Gingrich over Romney 35-28, while Gallup Tracking has Gingrich ahead 31-27.

ACS Issues $20 Ticket With 51 Minutes Remaining on Parking Meter

This is the $20 parking ticket I received from the ACS police last Thursday.  I have also posted below a photo of the kiosk showing I had 22 minutes remaining on the meter when I returned to the car.   The meter was set to expire at 3:18.  The ticket was written at 2:27.   There was 51 minutes remaining on the meter when the ticket was written.

I want to thank City officials for voting to give away control of these parking meters and 70% of the revenue for the next 50 years.  Now with this asset in the hands of a politically-connected company, I know that I can complain and elected officials will hold ACS's feet to the fire. After all, ACS screws up and provides bad service, the City won't renew the company's contract in 2061.

Monday, January 23, 2012

Gallup Tracking Poll Shows Gingrich Within One Point of Romney Nationally

Mitt Romney
An updated tracking poll released by Gallup today shows Mitt Romney's national lead cut to one point.  A week ago, the Gallup tracking poll showed Romney with a 23 point lead on Newt Gingrich.   Romney's numbers appear to be in free fall.  Expect Romney to go bitterly negative against Gingrich as he tries to salvage his campaign.

Gingrich has skillfully figured out how to play the economic populist, outsider card. While Gingrich as a 20 year plus politician and lobbyist is hardly the ideal messenger for the tea partyesque cause of populism, he is far better suited than the uber-wealthy Romney.  The former Masssachusetts governor has yet to figure out that having a parade of insider, establishment figures announce their endorsement of him is not helpful when it comes to attracting voters looking for an outsider to take on the problems in Washington.

Indianapolis Mayor Ballard Ignores Former Tea Party Supporters, Endorses Lugar in Race Against Mourdock

Indianapolis Mayor Greg Ballard
Given he has governed as a RINO, I guess we shouldn't be surprised by Indianapolis Mayor Greg Ballard endorsing RINO Sen. Richard Lugar.  Still it is noteworth that Ballard actually began his political career as part of the movement that is now known as the Tea Party, a movement which strongly opposes Lugar and supports State Treasurer Richard Mourdock. Ballard has completed the sell out of those folks.  From Senator Lugar's press release announcing the endorsement.
INDIANAPOLIS (Jan. 23, 2012) - Indianapolis Mayor Greg Ballard this weekend endorsed U.S. Sen. Dick Lugar (R-IN) in his bid for re-election. Ballard made his endorsement official Saturday when introducing Lugar at the annual Lincoln Day Dinner in Wayne Township on Marion County's Westside.
"President Reagan said, 'Some people spend an entire lifetime wondering if they have made a difference in the world, but the Marines don't have that problem,'" Ballard said. "Everyone knows I'm a Marine. But we have with us tonight a Navy man who doesn't have to wonder if he's made a difference in the world. He is making an incredible difference. That man is Dick Lugar." 
Ballard said Lugar's leadership and vision on the local, state and national level have always been "decades ahead of its time."
To see the rest of the press release, click here.

I guess next we can expect Mayor Ballard will endorse Mitt Romney.

The Myth that Party Workers Actually Choose Judicial Candidates at Marion County Slating Conventions

One of the myths is that the slate of Marion County judicial candidates is decided by party workers at slating conventions.   Party leaders will insist that democracy is involved as these conventions are attended by working party precinct committeepersons elected at primaries.

What is not well-known is how party leaders manuever to eliminate, pre-slating convention, any choice these party workers may have.  First, you have a slating fee of $25,000 which knocks out a lot of lawyers who would be terrific judges.  (As noted previously, the slating fee is actually a violation  of the Code of Judicial Conduct.)  Second, you have the fact that the vast majority of people at the convention will be appointees of the county chairman.  Many of these people are appointed solely for the purpose of attending slating conventions and casting a vote the way the leadership in the party wants.  These people are the so-called "mummy dummies" as they're supposed to keep quiet and vote "the right way."  Sure elected PCs have a vote at the slating convention, but their votes are nullifed by the leadership appointments. that are there to outvote the elected PCs if need be.

The effect of the chairmen appointments means leadership can, before the slating convention begins, control the outcome.   Judicial candidates know this and as they learn they are not supported by leadership, they drop out before slating.  That's happened with respect to the Republicans.  Several judicial candidates who have put extensive time in seeking organization support have now dropped out because leadership told them they would not win slating.  Only 11 candidates now remain for 10 spots on the Republican slate.

Should we really have party leaders picking our judges?
See also:

Update on Slating of Marion County GOP Judicial Candidates, Wedensday January 18, 2012 

Marion County Judicial Candidates Should Say "No" To Slating Fees, Monday, November 21, 2011

Code of Judicial Conduct Prohibits Marion County Judicial Candidates From Paying Slating Fee, Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Gingrich Almost Overnight Surges Past Romney in Florida (w/Update on Rasmussen Poll)

Newt Gingrich
The last several polls have showed Mitt Romney with a double-digit lead in Florida.  Those polls showed leads of 22, 24, 26 and 15. 

Yesterday, a day after the South Carolina, Insider Advantage did a poll of the Sunshine State.  The result showed Newt Gingrich with an eight point lead over Romney.

It appears the non-Romney's are coalescing behind the former Speaker. That spells trouble for Romney. If the former Massachusetts Governor can't win Florida, where he is supremely organized and has money to compete in the state's several media markets, then his nomination becomes doubtful.  The nomination could be over pretty quickly, but over with Gingrich as the nominee rather than Romney.

UPDATE:  Rasmussen also released a poll today confirming the Gingrich surge. That poll shows Gingrich with a nine point lead, a 31 point swing from a previous poll just 11 days ago showing Romney with a 22 point lead.

Does Indy's Super Bowl Clean Zone Violate Free Speech Clause of Indiana and U.S. Constitution?

Over at Civil Discourse Now, Mark Small raises the possible unconstitutionality of the "Clean Zone" an ordinance which sharply restricts any type of commercial signage within a mile of the stadium before and after the big game.  If you own a pizza shop and you put a sign in the window to offer a discount to the out of town visitors to our fair city, you're in violation of the City's clean zone ordinance and can be fined.

The "clean zone" is a restriction on commercial speech.  While the courts have allowed more restrictions on commercial than political speech under the First Amendment, Indy's Clean Zone is so restrictive and onerous, I'm not sure it could pass a constitutional challenge.  I could see a contrarian downtown merchant filing for an injunction to get the "clean zone" knocked out for Super Bowl week.

Clearly the clean zone ordinance does not apply to, nor could it, to political speech.  Merchants could erect signs complaining about the clean zone ordinance or the city's subsidies to the big game which now result in the Capital Improvement Board estimating it will lose $800,000.  Some analysts have suggested the figure will be higher.

See other articles I have written on the subject: 

Friday, July 1, 2011, City Decides Agreed-Upon Mile Radius Super Bowl "Clean Zone" Is Not Big Enough; Ordinance Would Grant Licensing Administrator Unlimited Power to Create Clean Zones
Saturday, July 11, 2011, Indianapolis Downtown Businesses: Beware the Super Bowl "Clean Zone" Ordinance

See Pat Andrews of Had Enough Indy's numerous articles on the subject:

Friday, July 1, 2011, Superbowl Ordinance Before City-County Council

Tuesday, July 19, 2011, Superbowl 2012 - What Are They Trying To Hide?

Wednesday, August 10, 2011, Superbowl Ordinance Back At Council Committee Tonight

Saturday, January 14, 2012, Super Bowl Ordinance Should Have Included Review Process

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Gallup Tracking Poll Documents 18 Point Drop in Romney Lead in Six Days

On January 15, 2012, Gallup released a tracking poll showing Mitt Romney leading nationwide by 23 points.  Today Gallup released an update on its tracking poll showing an 18 point drop in Romney's support, in just six days, making the spread 30-25 in favor of Romney.

Expect Newt Gingrich to almost completely close the gap in Florida polls early this week.

Why the Conventional Wisdom About Romney's Organization is Wrong; South Carolina Voters Disbelieve Romney is "Most Electable" Myth

Yesterday, Newt Gingrich won a huge victory in South Carolina's primary.  Gingrich finished with 40% of the vote while Mitt Romney had 27%.  The 13% spread reflected a more sizable Gingrich victory than even the latest polls were predicting.
Former Speaker Newt Gingrich

In a race for third place, Rick Santorum edged out Ron Paul, 17% to 13%.

A number of political analysts have suggested that this is the end of the road for the former House speaker, that Gingrich doesn't have the organization that Romney has and therefore won't be able to compete in the races ahead.  I don't buy that and here's why.  Romney can have a great organization in every state to come, the problem though is at the end of the day when voters go to vote and see a ballot with a Romney choice and a non-Romney choice .  Head-to-head, with a single anti-Romney, Romney loses.

An unpopular candidate can be rehabilitated if he or she is not well known.  But if the candidate is very well known by the electorate and disliked, all the organization and money the candidate has cannot fix that perception of the candidate.  Romney is strongly disliked by 2/3 of Republicans.  Even if he is lucky enough to get the nomination, the narrow band of establishment Republicans who support him will not provide enough of a foundation to win a general election.  Most people in this country, when asked an ideology refers to themselves as "conservative."  Nominating a Massachusetts liberal turned moderate turned pretend conservative isn't a way to win a general election.

Finally, an overlooked story out of South Carolina is that the voters of that state rejected the notion that Mitt Romney is the most electable.  Exit polls showed that of South Carolina voters who said "electability" was the key factor in their vote, 50% voted for Gingrich while Romney received 40%.   Romney's chief argument for his nomination from the beginning has been that he is the "most electable."  If voters in other states follow South Carolina's lead in viewing Gingrich as the most likely to beat President Obama, the case for nominating Romney is over.

Saturday, January 21, 2012

What Will Happen Today in South Carolina? Ogden on Politics Predicts

Newt Gingrich
Polls the last few days show former Speaker Newt Gingrich pulling ahead of former Mitt Romney in South Carolina.  It is a stunning development.  This past week, the former Massachusetts Governor went from having a big lead in the South Carolina and on the on the verge of going a solid 3 for 3 in state contests to being 1 for 3, with the only win being New Hampshire, a state where he has a home.

Romney claimed "electability" as his ace in the hole. Indeed that at times seemed to be the only argument for his nomination. But this week Romney proved himself to be a very flawed candidate, with a tin ear to the world in which people live paycheck to paycheck.   That Romney consistently was showed as the most "electable" in polls represented nothing more than people simply repeating to pollsters what the common perception was of Romney was.  There was no foundation behind the conclusion, no reason to believe a terribly flawed Romney, despised by his own party, would be a good general election candidate.

Further clouds are on the horizon.  If Rick Santorum finishes fourth, which is very possible, he may choose to drop out further consolidating the anti-Romney vote with Gingrich.

PREDICTION:  The finish today will be Gingrich, Romney, Paul and last Santorum. The third and fourth place finishers could flip but I'm predicting Paul eeks out a third place finish.

Friday, January 20, 2012

Ogden on Politics Endorses Ron Paul as Best to Carry Conservative Republican Banner

Ron Paul
For several week, nay months, I've been trying to figure out which Republican to support for President.  They all - well maybe not Mitt Romney - have an attraction for someone like myself who believes in limited government but also believes in personal freedom.  After much consideration, I have come to the conclusion that the polices Texas Congressman Ron Paul advocate most closely match what I believe in.  Paul thus receives the Ogden on Politics endorsement, which along with 3 bucks, will get you a cup of coffee at Starbucks.

Let's first dispose of the challengers.

Mitt Romney
Mitt Romney was never a serious option. He represents everything wrong with the establishment wing of the GOP, which wing mocks Republican voters who actually believe in the conservative values that they vote on.  Romney is the ultimate elitist running in the age of populism. He doesn't understand working men and women and, what's more, he does not seem to care about them.  He has flip-flopped on a number of social issues.  I have no problem with people's views evolving over time, but Romney changes his views to try to win votes.  He has no core values, except the fervent belief that he should be President.  Romney is the Republican equivalent of Evan Bayh.

Romney's ace in the hole, that he is somehow more electable than the other Republican candidates, is a myth.   When 2/3 of your own party can't stand you and will consider any alternative, no matter how flawed, those people are very likely to stay home or vote for the Democrat or third party in the Fall.
Newt Gingrich

Newt Gingrich is another option.  I've done enough divorce work to know to take an ex-spouse words with a grain of salt.  While Gingrich clearly has some troubling personal baggage, I do believe in redemption.  Maybe Gingrich has turned a new chapter in his personal life.  I'm far more troubled by Gingrich's professional baggage, such as his lobbying for Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac or whatever he was doing for them.  Gingrich seems to apply different rules to the conduct of other public officials than what he applies to himself.

Gingrich though is a terrific debater, the best of the bunch.  On the campaign trail he is the intellectual equivalent of Obama and more skilled with presidential camapign joust and parrying than the President.  While, like Romney, Gingrich has flip-flopped on issues, unlike with Romney, you get the sense Gingrich does have a conservative core.    I do like the fact that Gingrich is willing to be reasonable on immigration policy and open-minded on other issues.  But it's hard not to forget his participation in the "man is causing dangerous global warming" television commercial with Nancy Pelosi. 

Rick Santorum
Of the field, Iowa Caucus winner Rick Santorum, is probably the most likable on a personal level. I do like his commitment to the pro-life cause and that he is willing to live the philosophy regarding the sanctity of human life.  I think fiscally he's fairly solid, though he like virtually every member of Congress has earmark and other issues.  But I don't like Santorum's lack of tolerance when it comes to social issues. I realize the entire Republican field, sans Ron Paul, is against legalizing same sex marriage, Santorum though seems to take that position a step further, with his condemnation of homosexuality.  While it's not my cup of tea, I don't understand how allowing same sex marriage endanger the institution of marriage.  Even though many of us disagree with same sex marriage, we need to be more tolerant of homosexuality.

Rick Perry
Texas Governor Rick Perry was my original favorite.  I saw him as having a stellar record in Texas and someone who could unite the fiscal and social conservatives in the GOP.  But while Perry on paper was a strong candidate, he was a bust on the campaign trial.  Perry's poor performance in the debates killed him, though he at the end, too late, began to improve.  Further, Perry turned me off with his desperate and misguided play to religious conservatives by believing that religiosity equals intolerance.  The last straw for me though was Perry's debate declaration that we should send troops back into Iraq.  Ugh.

That brings me to Texas Congressman Ron Paul.   I didn't reflexively walk in to the Paul camp.  I have concerns. One issue that is hardly mentioned is age.  Ronald Reagan, at 69, is the oldest President ever elected.  Ron Paul is 76, almost as old as Reagan was when he left office.  But times have changed from the 1980s.  People are living longer, but more importantly, they are living healthier lives into their senior years.  Ron Paul is one of the brightest minds on the stage, the only intellectual rival to Gingrich.  I am over my concern about his age.

The biggest concern I had along the way was Paul's involvement with the well-publicized racist newsletters for which economic analysis.  In one of the media interviews I saw, Paul did the right thing.  He apologized and basically confessed he was negligent when it came to reviewing what others were writing in the newsletters.  I like it when people are willing to admit to mistakes.  More importantly though Paul went on to make an extremely compelling case that he is the most sensitive candidate when it comes to issues that disproportionally impact minorities and, in particular, African-Americans.  Paul talked about the failure of the War on Drugs and the high incarceration rates.  Further, Paul understands probably better than anyone that taking away civil liberties to fight crime, ultimately opens the door for the law-abiding to have their rights taken away.

On other issues, I often disagree with Paul.  On foreign policy, I agree with Paul that we shouldn't have gone into Iraq, or at the least not made a long-term project out of it.  But on Afghanistan, I disagree with the Texas congressman. We were right to go into Afghanistan because of the events of 9/11 and terrorism practiced by Al Quada.  I think Paul should be more concerned about terrorism and dangers such as Iran obtaining nuclear weapons.

Ron Paul
While a lot of Republicans talking heads fault Ron Paul for his isolationist policies, which I agree go too far, they are willing to support an interventionist foreign policy that is even more extreme.  We need a GOP nominee who will finally question the need for bases all over the world and the level of defense spending that eats up half of the nation's budget.  As far as the politics of foreign policy, the isolationist wing of the GOP is alive and well and growing larger every day.  Ron Paul though seems to be the only candidate who understand that.

Where I am most in sync with Ron Paul is on economic policy.  I think Ron Paul's focus on the budget deficit is long overdue.  But rather than just pay lip service to addressing the debt, Paul is the only one willing to seriously rethink the bloated role the federal government has assumed in our daily lives.  Cutting that role of government is frankly the only way the cuts necessary to be made can be made.

A Facebook friend faulted pro-life Ron Paul's for not being pro-life enough because he did not think the federal Constitution should be interpreted to ban abortion.  Ron Paul is exactly correct.  Roe v. Wade is an abomination because the constitution is silent as to when life begins and the right to an abortion.  The majority of justices simply invented an fundamental right to abortion based on another made up right, a general "right to privacy" which, by the way, also isn't mentioned in the Constitution.  To twist the language of the federal Constitution to ban abortion would be judicial activism every bit as bad as Roe v. Wade.   Two wrongs do not make a right.  Ron Paul believes not only in the Constitution, but that when that document is silent as to rights, the people, through their elected representatives have a right to decide what the best policy is.

My support of Ron Paul can be summed up as this.  While I often think the policies he advocates go too far, he is at least going in the right direction.  I can't say that for the other candidates.  I can't say that anyone on the Republican stage would actually reduce the size of our federal government or protect our hard-fought liberties like Ron Paul would. That's why Ogden on Politics is glad to endorse Ron Paul for President.  Don't forget to take this opinion along with your $3 for a Starbucks coffee.

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Gingrich Suddenly Leading in South Carolina; Romney Has Very Bad Day on Campaign Trail

Five South Carolina polls were released today.  Unbelievably former Speaker Newt Gingrich leads in three of them.  Before today, Mitt Romney had led in 10 straight South Carolina polls, including the last four by double digits.
Former Speaker Newt Gingrich.

The issue over Romney's 15% tax rate and his saying $374,327 plus to give 9 speeches was "not very much" income seems to be hurting Romney even within Republican ranks.

Meanwhile the news out of Iowa is that former Pennsylvania Senator Rick Santorum, and not Romney, actually won, the Iowa caucus. 

It was all in all a very bad day for Mitt Romney.  The only saving grace was the airing of the interview with the second wife of Gingrich's where she suggested he wanted an "open marriage" if the relationship was to continue.  I doubt that will have much of an impact, given people tend to discount anything an ex-spouse says.  I could be wrong though.  After all, I did not foresee this enormous comeback by Gingrich in South Carolina.

How is State's Agreement with Amazon Not a Public Record? (w/Correction)

WRTV (Channel 6) reported that it tried to get a copy of the state's agreement with Amazon that the company would start collecting sales tax in 2014.  WRTV was told that by administration officials that the agreement was "confidential" citing IC 6-8.1-7-1.  The new public access counselor Joseph Hoage apparently backed up this position.

The relevant part of IC 6-8.1-7-1 reads:
(a) This subsection does not apply to the disclosure of information concerning a conviction on a tax evasion charge. Unless in accordance with a judicial order or as otherwise provided in this chapter, the department [of Revenue], its employees, former employees, counsel, agents, or any other person may not divulge the amount of tax paid by any taxpayer, terms of a settlement agreement executed between a taxpayer and the department, investigation records, investigation reports, or any other information disclosed by the reports filed under the provisions of the law relating to any of the listed taxes, including required information derived from a federal return, except to:
(1) members and employees of the department;
(2) the governor;
(3) the attorney general or any other legal representative of the state in any action in respect to the amount of tax due under the provisions of the law relating to any of the listed taxes; or
(4) any authorized officers of the United States;
when it is agreed that the information is to be confidential and to be used solely for official purposes.
The State is apparently claiming that this is a "settlement agreement" under the statute and thus a confidential public record. 

But wait a second.  "Settlement agreement" is a legal term of art.  It is an agreement reached to resolve pending or threatened litigation.  There was litigation that was pending against Amazon that was dropped following the agreement.  But the lawsuit was filed by the shopping mall magnate Simons against Amazon. Neither the Indiana Department of Revenue or any other state agency was a party to the lawsuit.  The statute clearly doesn't apply.  The agreement is not a "confidential" record under the statute.

Unfortunately, the PAC's office during the Daniels' administration has been a rubberstamp of administration decisions.  It should be more independent and aggressive.  WRTV should not take the PAC's decision as the final word and should pursue disclosure through the courts.  Transparency in government is an extremely important concept that should not be abandoned at the doorstep of the rubberstamp PAC.

CORRECTION:  The lawsuit was actually filed by Simons against the State of Indiana.  Still Amazon was not a named party to the litigation.  Therefore the agreement between the State and Amazon is not a "settlement agreement."   Any agreement between the Simons and the State to dismiss the lawsuit would be.

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Wishard Hospital's Bonds Downgraded by Rating Agency; Should Taxpayers Get Out Their Wallet?

Big news on the financial front. Fitch Ratings has downgraded the ratings of $218.8 million of tax general obligation bonds and $465 million in lease revenue bonds which were issued by the Indianapolis Local Public Improvement Bond Bank (Health and Hospital Corp. of Marion County).
New Wishard Hospital Groundbreaking

Remember these Wishard bonds were financed out of the income stream of HHC, supposedly without raising taxes.  Now it appears HHC will have to pay higher interest on the money borrowed to finance the facility.  Not to worry though...the referendum that passed in 2009 provided that we taxpayers would be on the hook if the HCC could not pay for the facility out of its cash flow generated from from higher-than-normal Medicaid payments for its extensive nursing home operation.
Here are some tidbits from the report:
HOSPITAL OPERATIONS RISK: The rating downgrades reflects Fitch's increased focus on the financial risk related to the operation of the hospital as outlined in the July 15, 2011 press release 'Fitch Refines Methodology for Rating Tax-Supported Debt of Public Enterprises', which is available at 'www.fitchratings.com'.     
CHALLENGED HOSPITAL FINANCIAL PERFORMANCE: HHC's Wishard Hospital financial operations are weak and vulnerable to changes to state and federal funding given the large number of Medicaid, Medicare and indigent patients. However, qualitative factors are strong, including an experienced management team.
STRONG SECURITY: Debt service on the bonds is secured by an unlimited ad valorem tax pledge of HHC, a component unit of the consolidated city of Indianapolis-Marion County.   (Comment:  we taxpayers are on the hook for the bonds to an unlimited amount.)
HHC is legally obligated to fund the annual debt service on the 2010 A and B bonds using a dedicated property tax if other revenues are not sufficient to fully pay the bonds in any given year; however, HHC currently funds 100% of the debt service for these bonds through operating revenues. In addition, HHC will contribute $150 million ($80 million to date) in accumulated reserves to the Wishard replacement project, leaving approximately $150 million in reserves, which Fitch considers an adequate operating cushion.   
To see the rest of the report, click here.

Update on Slating of Marion County GOP Judicial Candidates

While in court this morning, I was given an update on GOP slating for judges.  More on that in a second.  As way of background, in the May 2012 Primary, Republicans and Democrats will nominate 10 candidates each.  Twenty judges will be elected in the general election. So winning the primary is tantamount to winning the general election.

In Marion County the parties have "slating," a party endorsement process where party workers are supposed to meet and decide who to support going into the primary.  Candidates not "slated" are expected to drop out, leaving the parties' voters with no choice going into the primary.

The GOP judicial slating fee is about $25,000.   It used to be you received 80% of that back if not slated. Now I do believe they're giving a smaller percent back if not slated and nothing back if you run against the slate.  In 1992, the Judicial Qualifications Commission issued an advisory opinion that the payment of a slating fee (which back then was much less) by a judicial candidate violates the Code of Judicial Conduct.  When that opinion was issued, the Marion County party chairmen began claiming the judicial slating fees were "voluntary" and therefore did not violate the rule cited by the Commission. Some 110 judicial candidates have been slated since that 1992 opinion.  I am not aware of a single judicial candidate who has ever been slated without paying the slating fee.  If you do not pay the $25,000 slating fee, you can forget about getting slated.

When it comes to the slating process, party leaders tell hard-working precinct committeemen (PCs) that slating is their right to have input into the process and that any candidate who runs against the slate is personally insulting the work they do. What party leaders do not tell those PCs is that for every one one of them, the party leaders will have appointed at least two or more individuals as Ward Chairmen or to fill vacant PC positions.  Many of these people are just appointed for slating only, so-called "mummy dummies."    Mummy-dummies' only job is to show up at a slating convention and vote the right way, i.e. the way the party bosses who appointed them expect them to vote.  The party leaders make sure they have the votes to outvote actual working PCs who might have an independent though on who they want slated.

In theory slating conventions are attended by elected PCs who work hard and are rewarded by party leaders with the right to have a big influence on party endorsements. Instead slating has become a charade, a way party leaders can pick the parties' nominees while pretending that grass roots party workers are the ones making that choice.

Now to the update.  The gossip is that when asked at a party meeting whether she would consider running in the primary if not slated, Judge Carol Orbison (honestly) answered that she had not ruled out that option.  That response supposedly doomed her slating. 

According to my sources, slating set for January 28th is already over.  The four candidates that would fill Orbison's position and that of the three retiring GOP judges are Helen Marchal, Jim Joven, Amy Jones and Clayton Graham.  The rest of the judges will be reslated.  Apparently there is no reason to even show up for slating.  The GOP leadership has spoken.

While we are fortunate enough to have some quality judges in Marion County, it is despite the slating system, not because of it.  Whether it is the requirement that judges pay slating fees that violate the Code of Judicial Conduct or a slating process dominated by party leaders, clearly the Marion County slating process is not conducive to an independent judiciary.

See also: 

Marion County Judicial Candidates Should Say "No" To Slating Fees, Monday, November 21, 2011

Code of Judicial Conduct Prohibits Marion County Judicial Candidates From Paying Slating Fee, Tuesday, August 23, 2011

New Poll Shows Gingrich Making Huge Gains Nationally, Within Three Points of Romney

Just when you thought it was over, a new national poll is released showing Newt Gingrich with a huge gain and only three points behind Mitt Romney.  Rasmussen reports:
Former Speaker Newt Gingrich
The race for the Republican presidential nomination is now nearly even with Mitt Romney still on top but Newt Gingrich just three points apart.
The latest Rasmussen Reports national telephone survey of Likely Republican Primary Voters nationwide shows Romney with 30% support and Gingrich with 27% of the vote. Former U.S. Senator Rick Santorum, who was running second two weeks ago, has now dropped to 15%.  Texas Congressman Ron Paul captures 13% support from likely primary voters, and Texas Governor Rick Perry remains in last place with four percent (4%). Another four percent (4%) like some other candidate in the race, and seven percent (7%) are undecided. (To see survey question wording, click here.)  
But the story in the new numbers, taken Tuesday night, is Gingrich’s jump 11 points from 16% two weeks ago. Romney’s support is essentially unchanged from 29% at that time, while Santorum is down six points from 21%. Paul’s and Perry’s support is also unchanged. Former Utah Governor Jon Huntsman earned four percent (4%) of the vote at the start of the month but dropped out of the race this week. This suggests that many voters are still looking for an alternative to Romney and currently see Gingrich as that candidate.
At some point though Gingrich has to win a state primary or caucus.  If the non-Romney vote continues to be divided, that is unlikely to happen.

Romney Makes Campaign Gaff, Says $374,372 to Give Eight Speeches is Not Much Money

Under pressure to release his tax returns, yesterday on the campaign trail Mitt Romney said that his effective tax rate was about 15%, a rate much lower than many working men and women, but is a rate that reflects long term investments.
Mitt Romney
Fortunately for ex-Massachusetts Governor, the focus on his tax returns and the tax rate he pays is diverting attention from a far more damaging statement.  Romney said that, in addition to investment income, he also gets "speaker’s fees from time to time, but not very much.”   In fact, in the most recent year, Romney made $374,327.62 in speaker’s fees, at an average of $41,592 per speech, according to his public financial disclosure reports.

Americans have no problem electing wealthy men and women to office. What they balk at though is electing candidates who they believe do not understand the plight of average Americans, especially when the country remains mired in a recession.  Romney with one speech makes just under the median American household income of $46,326.  With just eight speeches he matches several years of income for ordinary folks.  Yet he considers that to be "not very much" money?

For a smart man, Mitt Romney can be incredibly stupid at times.  He might get a pass in Republican circles for such ill-advised comments.  But when he goes to the general election round, his tin ear when it comes to the economic plight of average Americans will be an albatross hanging around the nominee's neck.  As I've said, Romney

He's unlikely to get a pass from the American people when he is the nominee and is squaring off against President Barack Obama.

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Civil Discourse Now Discusses Right to Work

Civil Discourse Now discusses Right to Work with guests, labor lawyer William Groth and Indianapolis attorney Jeff Cox.

Part 1

Part 2

Part 3

Part 4

Monday, January 16, 2012

Celebrating the Progress We Have Made in Race Relations

Today we celebrate the life of civil rights leader Martin Luther King, Jr.   King, a leader of the civil rights movement for much of the 50's and 60's, was assassinated on April 4, 1968.
When it comes to race relations, people like to focus on the negative.  To hear some of those who decry racism, we have not made any progress in this country...American society is embedded with racism as bad as ever.  Whenever I hear such claims, I wonder if those people are simply ignorant of history or are hell-bent on using racism as a political issue.

Although I was just a six year old child when King died in 1968, I do though know something of civil rights history, When King's movement started in the 1950s, many places, including Indianapolis, had racially segregated schools.  Several states had miscegenation laws that criminalized marriages between people of different races.  (Virginia's law persisted until 1967 when it was struck down by the Supreme Court.) In some communities, blacks were required to use different restrooms, not allowed to eat at "white" restaurants, and had to ride at the back of buses.  On the political front, there were many counties in the south, where few if any blacks were registered despite the fact African-Americans made up a majority of the county.

Today, racial segregation, mandated by law, is a thing of the past.  Forty years after King's death, Americans elected Barack Obama, an African-American as President.  Even the one political group (falsely) labeled as racist, the tea party, last year enthusiastically embraced Herman Cain, an African-American business man, as a presidential candidate.  On a relationship level, people in Indianapolis do not even bat an eye at seeing a mixed race couple.  Indeed at one point, where I live, Pike Township, was deemed to have the highest percent of mixed marriages in the country.

My recounting of these successes is not meant to diminish the very real racism that still exists. But I think if King were alive today he would be quite proud of the racial progress we have made in this country.  Today, as we celebrate his life, we should also pat ourselves on the back. We've come a long way.

Sunday, January 15, 2012

Minority Leader Lacks "Clean Hands" to Challenge Unfair Partisan Moves by Indianapolis Council Democrats

MIke McQuillen
Jon Murray in the Indianapolis Star blog "Deep Fried Politics" reports on the committee flareup that sparked Minority Leaders Mike McQuillen's loud protest this past week.
After meeting today, City-County Council leaders from both parties ironed out committee assignments, three days later than planned. In the end, Republican Minority Leader Michael McQuillen didn’t get what he wanted — a return to one-vote margins between the parties on most committees — but he was able to keep each committee stocked with no fewer than three minority party members. (Except on Rules and Public Policy, which Majority Leader Vernon Brown and President Maggie Lewis had already voted to give just two Republicans Monday night.)
The upshot: Most committees will now have a margin of five Democrats to three Republicans, a supermajority for the majority party. That was accomplished by adding one Democratic member to what previously were seven-member committees. The deviations are on Public Safety, with six Democrats and three Republicans; the Rules committee, with six Democrats and two Republicans; and Ethics, which by law has three members from each party. The overall party split on the council is 16 Democrats and 13 Republicans.
To clarify, what Brown was trying to do was to change the normal majority-minority ratio so that the Republican had less of a minority presence on the committees.  McQuillen is of course right to have complained.  Brown was trying to change a practice that has existed for several council reorganizations.
McQuillen's problem is that he does not have "clean hands" to go very far challenging the Democrats' integrity when it comes to such issues.  He supported the ourtageous $225,000 contract given by former Council President Ryan Vaughn gave to Hamilton County resident and Marion County GOP hatchetman David Brooks.  (Brooks was one of Vaughn's key supporters during his bid for the Senate.)  Then McQuillen voted for the 2011 lame duck redistricting map even though the law requires the council to redistrict in 2012.

You can be a partisan yet still treat the other side with fairness.  Let's hope McQuillen takes that approach during the next four years.

Friday, January 13, 2012

Senator Lugar Falsified Residence in Presidential Candidacy Declaration

Sen. Richard Lugar
When Sen. Richard Lugar goes to vote, he signs documents under oath that he lives at 3200 Highwoods Court, Indianapolis.  As I noted last year, the Marion County Recorder's office shows the house at 3200 Highwoods Court, Indianapolis was deeded from a family named Gootee to David and Elizabeth Hughes in 1989.  Lugars' deeding of the property had to have taken place before the 1989 Gootee deed, most likely well before that.  I would have gotten those records when I researched the issue, but the Lugar transaction were paper only and preceded the computerized records in the office.  Nonetheless, Lugar admits he hasn't lived at the 3200 Highwoods Courts' house in decades. 

I am not sure what statute in the Indiana Code allows a sitting U.S. Senator and his wife to sign under oath they are living at someone's house in order to cast a ballot.  An investigation by Greg Wright, who filed a complaint with the State Election Commission against the Lugars for voting fraud, also uncovered that the Lugars have used the 3200 Highwoods Court address as their address with the Indiana Bureau of Motor Vehicles and that BMV mail to that address was returned.

Now, Wright has uncovered more legal violations by Sen. Lugar.  In Lugar's 1995 Statement of Candidacy he signed when he ran for President, he stated that his address was 3200 Highwoods Court in Indianapolis. The document was signed with the warning that there could be penalties under federal law for submitting false information. Where is the exception in the federal law that allows Lugar to claim someone else's address as his own when running for President?

Mitt Romney's Treatment of Family Dog Shows Candidate Has Unpresidential Character Flaw

Photograph of since departed Seamus
I am not one to usually watch Rachel Maddow of MSNBC, whose views I generally find repugnant.  But recently I ran across her detailing the story of Mitt Romney and his dog Seamus which I found interesting.  Below she quotes a 2007 Boston Globe story by Neils Swidey and Stephanie Ebbert:
The white Chevy station wagon with the wood paneling was overstuffed with suitcases, supplies, and sons when Mitt Romney climbed behind the wheel to begin the annual 12-hour family trek from Boston to Ontario … Before beginning the drive, Mitt Romney put Seamus, the family’s hulking Irish setter, in a dog carrier and attached it to the station wagon’s roof rack. He’d built a windshield for the carrier, to make the ride more comfortable for the dog.
As the oldest son, Tagg Romney commandeered the way-back of the wagon, keeping his eyes fixed out the rear window, where he glimpsed the first sign of trouble. ”Dad!” he yelled. ”Gross!” A brown liquid was dripping down the back window, payback from an Irish setter who’d been riding on the roof in the wind for hours. As the rest of the boys joined in the howls of disgust, Romney coolly pulled off the highway and into a service station. There, he borrowed a hose, washed down Seamus and the car, then hopped back onto the highway. It was a tiny preview of a trait he would grow famous for in business: emotion-free crisis management.
A couple days ago, Swidey published an update to that 2007 article in light of Romney's opponent's making an issue of the dog story:
To me, Romney’s critics have focused on the wrong part of the anecdote. It’s not that Romney put his dog on the roof. Remember how different standards were in 1983. Back then, I was a kid sloshing around in the cargo section of my family’s station wagon, competing with my equally unbuckled younger sister to see how many passing truck drivers we could get to pull their horns. I’ll take the Romneys at their word that Seamus loved his alfresco rides. Hell, my dog loves doing all kinds of things I don’t, chief among them luxuriating in the stink of other dogs’ duffs. What is beyond debate, though, is that this far into this particular trip, Seamus had ceased enjoying his ride. Faced with such irrefutable evidence, most people, I suspect, would have relented and let the ailing dog cram into the back of the wagon, even if logic dictated that cleaning up a repeat episode of his gastric distress would be a whole lot messier than if he were returned to the roof.
I totally agree with that assessment.  The problem is Romney saw an animal in distress and instead of putting the dog in the station wagon with the family, he chose to put the dog back in exactly the situation that caused that distress.  It says a lot about Romney's cold, heartless, unsympathetic character...not good traits for someone running for President in the midst of the worst economic downturn since the Great Depression.

Columnist Notes How Ron Paul's Libertarian Support is Changing Republican Party

Ron Paul is quietly changing the GOP in ways that many Republicans do not presently understand.  All I can say is "ditto" to this excellent Washington Post column by Charles Krauthammer that recognizes the transformation.  Click on the link to read the whole article:
Congressman Ron Paul (R-Texas)
There are two stories coming out of New Hampshire. The big story is Mitt Romney. The bigger one is Ron Paul.
Romney won a major victory with nearly 40 percent of the vote, 16 points ahead of No. 2. The split among his challengers made the outcome even more decisive....  
But the bigger winner was Ron Paul. He got 21 percent in Iowa, 23 in New Hampshire, the only candidate other than Romney to do well with two very different electorates, one more evangelical and socially conservative, the other more moderate and fiscally conservative.
Paul commands a strong, energetic, highly committed following. And he is unlike any of the other candidates. They’re out to win. He admits he doesn’t see himself in the Oval Office. They’re one-time self-contained enterprises aiming for the White House. Paul is out there to build a movement that will long outlive this campaign.
Paul is less a candidate than a “cause,” to cite his election-night New Hampshire speech. Which is why that speech was the only one by a losing candidate that was sincerely, almost giddily joyous. The other candidates had to pretend they were happy with their results. 
Paul was genuinely delighted with his, because, after a quarter-century in the wilderness, he’s within reach of putting his cherished cause on the map. Libertarianism will have gone from the fringes — those hopeless, pathetic third-party runs — to a position of prominence in a major party.
Look at him now. He’s getting prime-time air, interviews everywhere and, most important, respect for defeating every Republican candidate but one. His goal is to make himself leader of the opposition — within the Republican Party. 
Paul won’t quit before the Republican convention in Tampa. He probably will not do well in South Carolina or Florida, but with volunteers even in the more neglected caucus states, he will be relentlessly collecting delegates until Tampa. His goal is to have the second-most delegates, a position of leverage from which to influence the platform and demand a prime-time speaking slot — before deigning to support the nominee at the end. The early days of the convention, otherwise devoid of drama, could very well be all about Paul.
.. The Republican convention could conceivably feature a major address by Paul calling for the abolition of the Fed, FEMA and the CIA; American withdrawal from everywhere; acquiescence to the Iranian bomb — and perhaps even Paul’s opposition to a border fence lest it be used to keep Americans in. Not exactly the steady, measured, reassuring message a Republican convention might wish to convey. For libertarianism, however, it would be a historic moment: mainstream recognition at last.
Put aside your own view of libertarianism or of Paul himself. I see libertarianism as an important critique of the Leviathan state, not a governing philosophy. As for Paul himself, I find him a principled, somewhat wacky, highly engaging eccentric. But regardless of my feelings or yours, the plain fact is that Paul is nurturing his movement toward visibility and legitimacy.
Paul is 76. He knows he’ll never enter the promised land. But he’s clearing the path for son Rand, his better placed (Senate vs. House), more moderate, more articulate successor.
And it matters not whether you find amusement in libertarians practicing dynastic succession. What Paul has already wrought is a signal achievement, the biggest story yet of this presidential campaign.