Wednesday, May 30, 2012

School Officials Overreact...Again; Second Grader Faces Expulsion for Bringing Beer to School

Seriously...how old is the kid, maybe 8 years old?  Expulsion seems unduly harsh for a kid who may well not know right from wrong.  Rather, maybe we should fire the school officials for being so stupid to think of expelling the boy.  Talk about overkill.  The Indianapolis Star reports:
A second-grade boy found at school with three unopened bottles of beer today at IPS School 55 was suspended and faces expulsion.

District spokeswoman Kim L. Hooper said the school’s principal happened to hear something clinking or jangling in the boy’s backpack as he and other students were leaving the school cafeteria after breakfast this morning.

The principal asked what he had in his backpack and when he didn’t respond, she looked inside the backpack to find three bottles of Budweiser.

The boy was taken to the principal’s office and acknowledged that he knew he had brought the bottles to school, but gave no explanation.

Students are prohibited from bringing alcohol and drugs to school, Hooper said.

Per procedure, the principal contact Child Protective Services to look into how a second-grader had access to alcohol, and the boy’s parent or guardian was called to pick him up from school. 
..

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

The Indianapolis Star Shows It Still Does Not Care About City's Revolving Door; Departing Ballard Administration Officials Use their Positions to Cash In

I remember a couple years ago, the Indianapolis Star shaming legislators who dared to accept a few thousand dollars in gifts from lobbyists.  More recently the Star criticized the IURC revolving door and, in particular Scott Storms, leaving the agency to work for Duke Energy.  Storms, a long-time IURC attorney, had been involved in enforcement actions against Duke.
David Sherman
But when it comes to the local revolving door, the Star shows its hypocrisy. While the Star is concerned about the state's revolving door, the paper's editors have no concern about the local revolving door which is far worse.  Individuals consistently shuffle from the private sector to positions in Indianapolis government and then back to the private sector, often with the very contractors they were working with when employed by the City.

Gary Welsh of Advance Indiana reports on the troubling cases of Chris Cotterill and Dave Sherman.  I agree with Gary that Sherman's new job is particularly troubling.
That Cotterill, an attorney, would take a job with a law firm comes as no surprise. It would have been worse if he had gone to work for his former employer, Barnes & Thornburg, since he steered millions of dollars in legal work to his firm while he worked for Ballard and participated in number of high-level decisions that greatly benefited several clients of the firm, including the parking meter privatization deal and the sale of the utilities to Citizens Energy. The biggest transaction undertaken while Cotterill worked for Ballard was the sale of the assets to Citizens Energy. The law firm that represented the city in that deal: Baker & Daniels. 
David Sherman's new job is particularly troubling. The folks at the Star who don't look at these things closely would have learned from its own newspaper's archive that Sherman previously worked for the City under Mayor Steve Goldsmith, who privatized the city's wastewater treatment operations. Sherman then went to work for United Water, the company that was awarded the contract to operate the sewer utilities. Now it looks like the Ballard administration is, in effect, paying Sherman's six-figure salary with his new employer through a new $160,000 contract the City is awarding it at a time the City is supposedly trying to fix a multi-million dollar hole in its current budget. ... 
To read the rest of the Advance Indiana article, click here.
I'd like to be at a meeting of the Star's editors and hear exactly what the paper's justification is for editorializing about the danger of the state's revolving door while consistently ignoring the local revolving door.

City to Hold Meetings to Teach Residents About Bike Lanes; Update on West 56th Street Bike Lanes

In the wake of substantial criticism about the design of the City's bike lanes, in particular the monstrosities on Broad Ripple Avenue and Illinois Street,  Jon Murray of the Indianapolis Star reports that City officials will be holding a series of public meetingson the topic.  The City's news release says the meetings are for the purpose of "teach[ing] residents how to use bike lanes, drive alongside bike lanes, safety tips, terms and signals for both bicycles and motorists, and how to read new bike lane signage and markings. Residents will learn how to plan their routes using the new bike lanes, greenways, and multi-use paths to get to their destinations.”

Let me translate.  "Residents you are stupid if you don't like our bike lanes.  Obviously you just don't understand  how to use them and we need to educate you."  The City apparently is not interested in residents' feedback on the bike lanes or input on how to design the bike lanes better for motorist and bicyclist alike. 

On a happier note, I am pleased to announce that the West 56th Street bike lanes, lanes which cover that stretch of road that run between Guion Street and Kessler Blvd, are some of the best designed bike lanes in the Indianapolis   The 56th Street bike lanes avoid the flaws which characterize so many of the City's poorly-designed bike lanes.  I have noted some of those flaws below:
  • High speed traffic on the road (40 mph plus)
  • Curbs frame the bike lanes cutting off a bicyclists' escape from a car drifting into the bike lanes.
  • Bike lanes zig-zag in and out of traffic
  • The bike lanes are insufficiently wide for bicyclists
  • The bike lanes have debris or standing water in them.
  • The bike lanes run by parked cars which leads to "dooring"
  • Traffic lanes are significantly narrowed or eliminated to produce the bike lanes.

Fox 59 Investigative Reporter Anne Yeager Leaves Station

Anne Yeager
It hasn't gotten any press that I know of, but Fox 59 investigative reporter Anne Yeager announced via Facebook that she is leaving the station to take a job reporting and teaching in her hometown of Columbus, Ohio.  Yeager's tenure at the station was brief, only about a year.  In the spring of 2011, she replaced award winning investigative reporter Kim King who took what was supposed to be her dream job in Dallas at Channel 5.  However, King left that position just a few months later in November 2011.  A Texas blog reported:

“Kimberly King made a difficult decision to leave NBC 5 because of a family matter,” an NBC 5 Station spokesperson told mikemcguff.com. “We respect her need to make her family a priority.”

That's a shame as I think Kim King is one of the sharpest reporters around.  I'm sure she regrets that the Lugar residency story I gave her was pulled at the last minute. Fox 59 would have been months ahead of a big story that ended up playing a major role in the downfall of a six term U.S. Senator.

As far as Anne Yeager, we will miss her.  One can speculate whether her eagerness to do ground-breaking, investigative stories conflicted with the Indianapolis news environment which is reluctant to take on the powerful local political and business establishment which runs this city.

Random Political Thoughts

Pence v. Gregg: All the talk about the lieutenant governor candidates won't amount to a hill of beans to the average general election voter come November. People don't vote for the Lt. Governor candidate. It only matters to the partisans. Nonetheless, I found it interesting though the response of Republican Sue Ellspermann when asked about her voting in the 2008 Democratic primary and Democrat Vi Simpson's response when a reporter inquired if she was added to add ideological balance to the ticket and to help with the party's base. Both candidates seemed caught off guard by the question and stumbled before coming up with a response. Those candidates should have known those questions were coming and had a response ready to go.

Mourdock v. Donnelly: I am not terribly troubled by the decision of Sen. Richard Lugar to not campaign for primary winner, Richard Mourdock. I think the expectation that a primary loser should go out and actively campaign for primary winners has always been unfair to the departed candidate who undoubtedly left everything on the table to win. Plus, having Lugar on the campaign trail would be a huge distraction to the Mourdock campaign as reporters would constantly be asking Lugar to contradict Mourdock on the issues. Nonetheless, the problem with Lugar's announcement is that it fits into the pre-primary perception that he campaigned as an arrogant incumbent who thought he had a lifetime entitlement to the seat. A little humility would have helped the Lugar campaign.

Mourdock v. Donnelly (take two): Mourdock is dead right on the ethanol subsidy, which although it formally went away as of the start of this year, now exists in the form of a mandate that our fuel have ethanol in it. Ethanol by any objective measure, is a failed technology. It's dirtier, less efficient, and results in food prices being substantially increased with the diversion of corn from food into our fuel tank. (Yes, it makes fuel cheaper, but since you get less miles per gallon when ethanol is mixed in, you don't end up ahead.) Environmentalists don't even support corn-based ethanol anymore. Ethanol though has been good to the pocketbooks of Indiana farmers, with now 40% of Hoosier farm crops going to ethanol and prices rising in accordance with the increased demand. Mourdock took a position on principle. Donnelly instead decided to take an intellectually unsound position in order to pander to Indiana farmers. Makes me proud to support Mourdock.

Obama v. Romney:  Rasmussen just released a poll showing Mitt Romney ahead of President Barack Obama by six points, 48-42.  (An earlier Howey-DePauw poll had pegged the margin at nine points.)When the Rasmussen poll came out a Republican activist Facebook was touting it, apparently thinking it is good news for Romney.  Frankly, I thought it was horrible news for Romney. I would have expected Romney to have a comfortable double digit lead in Indiana.  If Romney has to divert general election resources to win Indiana, he's in serious trouble.

Obama v. Romney (take two):   By nominating Romney, the Republicans gave up any chance of running a populist type campaign that could have reached average working men and women and reached beyond traditional politics.  But there is an alternative for a Romney win...that the economy is doing so poorly that people choose him to manage the economy over Obama.   But looking at the economic data this weekend in preparation for that topic on Civil Discourse Now, it looks like that option is fading.  While the GDP numbers aren't spectacular, the economy is growing, albeit slowly.  Unemployment meanwhile has dropped 2 points in just eighteen months.  It's now approximately where it was when Obama begin his term in office.  If people think the economy is heading in the right direction, Obama win.

Saturday, May 26, 2012

CIB and City Officials Lied to Public in 2010 About "Bridge Deal" Coverning Next Three Years of Pacers Basketball; Negotiations Begin for New Giveaway of Taxpayer Money

In July of 2010, there was a "bridge deal" struck between the City and the Pacers whereby the Capitol Improvement Board would pay the Pacers $10 million a year for the next three years to operate Conseco Fieldhouse with an additional $3.5 million going to improvements at the Fieldhouse.   Those $3.5 million worth of improvements turned out to be ribbon advertising at Conseco which produced additional revenue...for the Pacers, not taxpayers.  The Council approved the $33.5 million deal in the the Fall of 2010 when it approved the CIB's budget.
CIB President Ann Lathrop

To refresh people's memories, we taxpayers paid to build Conseco Fieldhouse with the deal being the Pacers would operate the facility and earn 100% of the Pacer and non-Pacer revenue from the facility. That sweetheart deal wasn't sweet enough for the Pacers when the Simons, the owners of the team, saw Jim Irsay get an even better deal at Lucas Oil Stadium. So in 2010, we agreed to pick up $10 million a year in operating expenses on the building for each of the next three years.

The impetus for the deal was the fact that the Pacers reached the half-way 1999 contract which allowed renegotiation after the tenth year. The CIB and City officials claimed that the Pacers could pick up and move under the contract and obtained a study from a hospitality group suggesting that the Pacers departing would devastate the City's economy. Interestingly they did not go to college-trained economists for such a study as almost all dispute the claim that professional sports teams significantly impact local economies, certainly not so much as to justify large public subsidies. Nonetheless, the threat to move was never real - the penalties under the 1999 contract for terminating the deal early were about $150 million in 2010.  (It decreases over time.) The Pacers were not going anywhere. City officials lied to the public when they suggested otherwise.

But that was not the only thing we were lied to about.  The Indianapolis Business Journal is reporting in a subscription only article that the last $10 million payment from the CIB to the Pacers was made in January 2012 and that negotiations are heating up for a new deal. Hmmm... really? The Pacers' fiscal year runs from 7/1 to 6/30. Let's count the years that were supposed to be covered by the July 2010 deal that wasn't approved by the Council until October of 2010.

7/1/2010 - 6/30/2011 First Payment
7/1/2011 - 6/30/2012 Second Payment
7/2/2012 - 6/30/2013 Third Payment

We should have another year on the deal. What the CIB and City officials did though was lie to the public, telling them the deal would cover the next three years when in fact it only covered the next two years of operations.  The first $10 million payment was in fact for a fiscal year (6/30/2009 to 7/1/2010) that was already over at the time of the deal.

Thursday, May 24, 2012

Will the Legalization of Same Sex Marriage End Domestic Partner Benefits?

Over at the Indy Daily Student blog, Matt Stone and I have been engaged in a discussion over domestic partner benefits.  It is a discussion that originated as a result of Indianapolis City-County Councilor Angela Mansfield's proposal to provide for domestic partner benefits for municipal and county employees.

I think it is fair to say we both see same sex marriage coming down the road, although it might be a longer road in Indiana's case.  Matt though thinks that once same sex marriage comes, domestic partner benefits will continue to be offered by companies.  I think otherwise.  I believe domestic partner benefits were adopted as a way to provide same sex couples some of the benefits companies offer to married couples. Once same sex marriage comes, the chief reason for those domestic partner benefits goes away.

Figuring out who is in a domestic partnership is not always an easy thing to do.  When those benefits are triggered by marriage, those problems of proof are no longer there.  Plus, society - both in government and out of government - has long been structured to encourage people to make the ultimate commitment two people can make - marriage - and rewarded that commitment with certain benefits.  Offering those same benefits to couples who are simply living together does not to encourage one to enter into marriage.

While the number of companies that offer domestic partner benefits is nowhere near a majority, many Fortune 500 companies do.

I actually heard one person who strongly supports same sex relationships actually express opposition to same sex marriage because of concern that domestic partner benefits will go away.  As someone who strongly supports the institution of marriage and think it is an important building block of society that should not be denied to same sex couples, I don't have a problem with companies reserving their awarding of certain benefits to those employees who make the marriage commitment.

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

NY Times Columnist Maureen Dowd Attacks Catholic Church, Says Government Should Decide Which Religious Views are Worthy of Protection under the First Amendment

Maureen Dowd
Today, Maureen Dowd pens a column in the New York Times about the Catholic lawsuit against the Obama policy that even religious institutions have to provide contraception coverage to their employees, even though artificial contraception is against the Church's tenets.  Here are some gems from that article:
One night at dinner with my mom, I ventured that the rhythm method had worked well for her, given that there were six years between my sister Peggy and my brother Kevin, and six more between Kevin and me. She arched an eyebrow. “Well, sometimes your father used something,” she said.  
After their first three kids, they sagely decided family planning was not soul-staining. So I wasn’t surprised to see the Gallup poll Tuesday showing that 82 percent of U.S. Catholics say birth control is morally acceptable. (Eighty-nine percent of all Americans and 90 percent of non-Catholics agreed.) ... 
...
The poll appeared on the same day as headlines about Catholic Church leaders fighting President Obama’s attempt to get insurance coverage for contraception for women who work or go to college at Catholic institutions. The church insists it’s an argument about religious freedom, not birth control. But, really, it’s about birth control, and women’s lower caste in the church. It’s about conservative bishops targeting Democratic candidates who support contraception and abortion rights as a matter of public policy. And it’s about a church that is obsessed with sex in ways it shouldn’t be, and not obsessed with sex in ways it should be.         
The bishops and the Vatican care passionately about putting women in chastity belts. Yet they let unchaste priests run wild for decades, unconcerned about the generations of children who were violated and raped and passed around like communion wine.    
...
The church leaders headed to court hope to undermine the president, but they may help him. Voters who think sex is only for procreation were not going to vote for Obama anyway. And the lawsuit reminds the rest that what the bishops portray as an attack on religion by the president is really an attack on women by the bishops. 
It seems contradictory that someone who so adamantly decries sexism in a newspaper column has no problem engaging in the worst sort of anti-Catholic bigotry in that same column.  But I digress.  The fact is that Dowd's argument, even if it is 100% accurate, is completely irrelevant to the merits of the  lawsuits.  It doesn't matter if the Catholic Church's belief regarding birth control and other issues might be considered sexist, it doesn't matter that most Catholics don't accept the Church's teaching on he artificial birth control, it doesn't matter that the Church has a supposed obsession about sex.  None of that affects the fact that religious beliefs are protected by the Free Exercise Clause of the First Amendment and that the Constitution requires government to make exceptions in its policies for those religious beliefs.  The Obama policy completely fails to do that.

Thank God, no pun intended, it is not the business of government to decide which religious views are acceptable, a position Dowd enthusiastically embraces.   Make no mistake about it, the Obama policy is an assault on religious freedom and the Catholic Church in particular.  Fortunately the First Amendment is on the side of the Church.

Monday, May 21, 2012

Catholic Diocese Sues Obama Administration for Violating First Amendment

Saw this lawsuit coming from a mile away.    I'd be shocked if the Diocese loses.  The law is pretty clear that the Constitution requires that government make exceptions for religious institutions in such situations.  The diocese's press release is below:
FORT WAYNE, INDIANA — On May 21st, the Diocese of Fort Wayne-South Bend, Catholic Charities of the diocese, Saint Anne Home and Retirement Community, Franciscan Alliance, the University of Saint Francis, and Our Sunday Visitor filed a lawsuit against various government defendants, seeking justice from U.S. District Court (Northern District of Indiana, Fort Wayne Division). The University of Notre Dame has filed a lawsuit in U.S. District Court (Northern District of Indiana, South Bend Division). We are in deep solidarity in our conviction that the government is not authorized to force us to violate our consciences, by making us provide, pay for and/or facilitate “services” that are contrary to our religious beliefs. “American history and tradition, embodied in the First Amendment to the United States Constitution and Religious Freedom Restoration Act, protect religious entities from such overbearing and oppressive governmental action.”
Religious freedom, protected in the U.S. Constitution and other laws and statutes, is rooted in the dignity of every human person. It is inherent in our humanity, a God-given right. It is a cornerstone of basic human rights and is necessary for the flourishing of a just society. We are obliged to defend it for ourselves and for others. We are asking in this lawsuit that this right be respected by our government.
The government has no place defining “religious employer” so narrowly that it only includes houses of worship. This reduces the freedom of religion to the freedom of worship. Religious liberty is about witness and action, as well as worship. The Health and Human Services exemption excludes most Catholic hospitals, schools, universities, and social service providers. They are “not religious enough,” according to the HHS mandate, to qualify for the exemption. Our diocese carries out our mission of service through our diocesan offices, parishes and schools, and through the work of our affiliated ministries. All of these institutions are guided by Catholic beliefs.
Today we ask people of all faith traditions, and all people of conscience to join us in our efforts to restore religious liberty to its rightful place: a cornerstone of our country, and our first, most cherished liberty.
Here is a copy of the complaint filed today.

Thanks to Advance Indiana for first publicizing this story.

Saturday, May 19, 2012

Will Mike Pence Make the Mutz Mistake?; Pence Needs to Distance Himself From Financial Errors Made by Gov. Daniels' Administration

There is no question that Governor Mitch Daniels is popular.  But I am reminded of the time when another popular Republican Governor, Bob Orr, reached the end of his eight years of service.  In 1988, John Mutz, then Lt. Governor, was running to replace Orr, basically promising four more years of Orr-type leadership.   Mutz was facing Secretary of State Evan Bayh in the general election.
Congressman Mike Pence (R-Indiana)

I'll never forget a poll a few months before the election asked if the State was going in the "right direction."  About 70% said yes.  The next question asked if Hoosiers should change direction.  About 70% said yes.  That spelled trouble for Mutz.

The fact is that Hoosiers occasionally like to change things.  Running as a Governor Daniels, Part II, would be a tremendous political mistake for Congressman Mike Pence.

Pence is up against a seasoned, skillful politician, former Indiana House Speaker John Gregg.  While overall Daniels is popular, there are aspects of the Governor's record that are easily exploitable.  Expect Gregg to try to hang around Pence's neck the Medicaid privatization fiasco, various agency scandals, the accounting errors that resulted in millions of dollars being lost in the state's couch cushions, and the Governor's recent comment suggesting that state agencies paying nearly $3 million in late fees over the past 2 years is just not a big deal.

In his quest to be Governor, Pence would be well advised to be his own person.  He needs to say that, while he admires Daniels, he has substantial differences with the Governor on how state government should be run.  He needs to say that he would take an active role in reigning in mismanagement within the agencies and that he finds it unacceptable for the state to misplace millions or for state agencies to spend $3 million on late fees because bills aren't being paid on time. He needs to say that the Governor is wrong that things couldn't be run better.

If Pence's political advisers want a model in what can go wrong for a Republican running to replace a popular outgoing Republican Governor, they might take a look at the Mutz-Bayh race of 1988.

Friday, May 18, 2012

WTHR Reports that State of Indiana Agencies Paid $2,878,765 in Late Fees Over Last Two Years

Yesterday WTHR's Sandra Chapman did an excellent report on the late fees that are being paid by state agencies for failing to pay bills on time.    It turns out that the state's agencies have accumulated nearly $2.9 million in late fees for paying their bills late.  Governor Daniels response in the story is  that the late fees are not a problem is frustrating.  He should have been outraged about the poor management of the agencies that resulted in these late fees and demanded accountability.    I have long said that Governor Daniels' Achilles heel is an unwillingness to exercise strong supervision over the agencies.  The story and the longer video report can be viewed by clicking here.

Below is a list of agencies that have incurred more than $20,000 in late fees over the last two years.  A complete list assembled by WTHR can be seen by clicking here.

Department of Child Services$184,268.13$330,734.83$515,002.96
Indiana Dept of Transportation$135,055.11$341,478.60$476,533.71
FSSA Medicaid$24,309.09$286,525.69$310,834.78
Department of Correction$157,898.26$139,516.39$297,414.65
Prison Enterprises Network$111,047.78$76,401.92$187,449.70
Division of Family Resources$30,825.25$149,370.96$180,196.21
Adjutant General's Office$52,079.17$43,705.23$95,784.40
Department of Health$9,290.05$60,302.77$69,592.82
Div of Disability & Rehab Svcs$12,845.00$48,535.69$61,380.69
State Student Assistance$58,536.36$36.82$58,573.18
New Castle Correctional Facility$0.00$53,232.39$53,232.39
IN Dept of Homeland Security$15,043.31$37,388.18$52,431.49
Dept of Workforce Development$39,701.07$11,726.70$51,427.77
Dept. of Natural Resources$24,176.02$21,724.78$45,900.80
IN Dept of Aging Admin$590.57$40,342.24$40,932.81
Department of Insurance$3,660.08$20,520.68$24,180.76
Commission for Higher Ed$19,424.84$4,581.31$24,006.15
Office of Faith-Based and Comm$9,607.67$11,630.43$21,238.10

Department of Child Services$184,268.13$330,734.83$515,002.96
Indiana Dept of Transportation$135,055.11$341,478.60$476,533.71
FSSA Medicaid$24,309.09$286,525.69$310,834.78

Thursday, May 17, 2012

New Chief Justice "Concurs" with Governor Daniels that Marion County's Judicial Slating System is a "Travesty"

Chief Justice Brent Dickson
Following his elevation to the head of Indiana's judiciary, Chief Justice Brent Dickson was asked by Abdul about Marion County slating system, which the payment of tens of thousands of dollars per candidate ($12,000 for Republicans, $13,600 for Democrats) in "slating fees" in exchange for getting an endorsement by the party bosses.  Here is how CJ Dickson responded:
"I am delighted that Governor Daniels used a powerful adjective to say...the current Marion County selection system is a travesty.  I would concur with the Governor on that issue."
I would add that Governor Daniels also said payment of the slating fee for an endorsement amounts to having judgeships "purchased."

Chief Justice Dickson also talks about the Marion County small claims court during his brief interview.  The interview can be found at Indy Politics.

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Bike Lanes Come to My Neighborhood of West 56th Street

Over the last several weeks, pavement work has been done on West 56th street from Saddlebrook Golf Course Development (where the Mayor lives) to the intersection of 56th Street and Kessler Blvd/Cooper Road.  They appeared to be resurfacing the road and widening it. 56th Street was widened to four lanes from Guion Road to Eagle Creek Park a few years ago.  It's a beautiful stretch of roadway.  I was very much looking forward to when that stretch of 56th Street close to my home, which has become increasingly congested, would be widened to four lanes, or at least some turn lanes added which would help congestion.

Well it's not going to happen.  I drove through the area tonight.  On the aforementioned stretch of road which goes for .9 miles, there were 28 signs announcing, you guessed it, bike lanes!  The widening of the road was not to add traffic lanes to relieve traffic congestion but rather to add bike lanes.

Riding a bike on 56th Street in that area has always been hazardous.  The road is narrow, the pavement next to the edge of the road is often broken and the traffic is constant. While I can ride my bike easily from my house to downtown, riding east and west along 56th Street has always been very hazardous.  I would always avoid that area as did most bicyclists.

Will the bike lanes make bicycling in that area more safe?  It is hard to tell as the lanes are not yet marked.  I am afraid though we are looking at making that portion of 56th Street another Broad Ripple Avenue, a situation where traffic/turn lanes are narrowed or eliminated to add bike lanes.  That change has resulted in terrible congestion along the Broad Ripple Avenue, while very few bicyclists use the bike lanes.

Bullying: Is an Answer Teaching Self-Defense?

I haven't yet written on the bullying topic, but since it was in the news recently because the incident involving Darnell "Dynasty" Young and it will be a topic on Saturday's Civil Discourse Now, I thought I should devote at least a few lines to the subject.

I have to admit, I don't 100% understand the bullying subject.  Perhaps that is because I don't recall ever being  bullied in school, either physically or emotionally.  Although I was then more shy than I am today,  I was fairly popular in school and other students didn't tease me. While I wasn't tall, I lifted weights and was pretty strong.  Growing up on a farm with four brothers, I think I could have defended myself against virtually anyone in the school should I have been physically assaulted.  I can't imagine I would have ever tolerated bullying.  Rather than turn in the bullies, which even back then was frowned upon, I would have retaliated physically against anyone who attempted to bully me.  Being the son of a Marine, I would have been much more bothered not retaliating to bullying than anything that might have happened to me should I have tried to defend myself.

I am sure bullying went on around me, but I recall very little of it.  I do remember a quiet, nerdy type kid who rode the same school bus I did and how some of the other kids teased him.  I made a point to befriend the boy, sitting by him on the bus and talking to him.  The others saw me befriend him and the teasing stopped.  He eventually came out of his shell.  Looking back, that was one of the things I am most proud of.

In college, I remember a trio of thugs who lived in one of the dorm room who everyone was scared of.  One of them had been in the military and another supposedly kept a gun in his dorm room.  They tore up the the bathroom on our floor one evening and the dorm apportioned damages to everyone who lived on the floor.  I didn't have a lot of money and was really ticked that I was being asked to pay for their damage.  Everyone was scared of the thugs, but I,  in a fit of insanity, went to their room and told them in no uncertain terms that I wasn't going to pay for their damage to the bathrooms.  Looking back, that confrontation was probably not the smartest thing I ever did.  But when it came time to pay the damage bill, I was the only one who did not have to shell out any money.  The thugs paid my bill.

I know my experience is probably not the norm and that others had it tougher than I did.  I wonder though if taking the possibility of retaliation away makes the bullies more likely to commit their bad acts.  Maybe we should be teaching people to defend themselves and not punish them when they choose to do so?  From my Internet research (a dangerous phrase post Rep. Morris), it seems like I'm not alone in the thought that teaching children self-defense techniques can be a way of stopping bullying.

Monday, May 14, 2012

Same Sex Marriage: Understanding the Conservative Opposition

Saturday on Civil Discourse Now we discussed same sex marriage. Our guest, Republican attorney Jeff Cox, argued in favor of the legalization of same sex marriage while Republican Pike ward chairman Anthony Simons offered the opposing view.  I especially appreciate Simons coming on the show and tackling the topic, especially given the panel leaned in the other direction.  With all due defense to Simons, I do not understand my fellow conservatives' opposition to same sex marriage.

First of all, let me say I don't buy for a second the Libertarian position that government shouldn't be involved in sanctioning marriage. Marriage is a crucial building block of society and helps provide stability.  The notion that couples can just enter into detailed private "contracts" between each other in terms of property, child rearing, child support, etc. is utter fantasy.  Such an approach would unleash complex litigation that would profit only attorneys.  There is a reason why 50 out of 50 states sanction marriage.  Government is never going to get out of the business of sanctioning marriage.

It is sometimes argued that marriage is about procreation and raising children, and since same sex couples can't by themselves procreate, marriage should not be available to them.  Years after my father passed away, my mother met a wonderful man and married him.  She was long past child-bearing age and her children were all grown and gone from the nest.  Should she should have been able to get married?  After all, her reason for getting married - making a formal, legal commitment to a partner she wants to spend the rest of her life with - is exactly the same reason same sex couples want to get married.

The ability to get married encourages many individuals to seek out monogamous, lifetime commitments with other human beings.  Isn't that something we want to encourage among both heterosexuals and homosexuals? 

When individuals marry, they acquire certain rights with respect to each other, such as the right to take against a will, a right to hold property as joint tenants with rights of entirities and the right to make medical decisions as to a incapicated spouse.  Those rights are not available when you can't get married.

In preparation for the show, I talked to a representative of a group that supports traditional marriage, i.e. that marriage remain between a man and a woman.  He indicated that groups that support same sex marriage often don't support the institution of marriage at all.  Perhaps there is some of that, but I don't doubt the sincerity of most people who support same sex marriage.  I think most yearn for the same right to make the ultimate commitment to another human being.

On another ground, I think the representative had a better argument.  He talked about how same sex marriage would be the camel's nose under the tent, the slippery slope to switch metaphors, to government involving itself in religion, saying what practices are acceptable.  Many religions hold homosexual activity to be a sin,    Once same sex marriage becomes legal, are we going to demand that religious organizations provide employees who are in same sex marriages the same benefits as those employees who are in traditional marriages?  Are we going to revoke the tax favored status of religious institutions that don't recognize same sex marriages as valid?

That government would get involved in dictating to religions which beliefs are acceptable is not an abstract fear.  During the contraception debate we were treated time and time again with liberal commentators who said the Catholic Church needed to provide insurance coverage for contraception because for the Church's employees because, well, contraception is a good thing and besides most Catholics don't agree with the Church's position against artificial birth control.  (Let's forget the concept of religious freedom and the requirement under the Free Exercise Clause that government must accommodate religious beliefs and practices by making exceptions in the law.)  When I raised this concern on the panel, host Mark Small (who is a big fan of the Establishment Clause but who can't seem to find the Free Exercise Clause anywhere in the First Amendment) dismissed the contraception debate as something that could be addressed with socialism, i.e. a single payer health care system.  Of course, that misses my bigger point that those same liberals who had no problem imposing its view in contravention of the Church's religious beliefs regarding contraception, on the Church's own employees, might also use the legalization of same sex marriage to undermine religious beliefs.

At the end of the day, that slippery slope argument regarding intrusion on religious beliefs is a concern.  But on balance I do not think it is not enough to deny same sex couples the right to get married.

Sunday, May 13, 2012

Astronauts and NASA Scientists Tell Agency Chief to Stop Publishing Unproven Claims that Man-Made Carbon Dioxide is Causing Global Warming

The Washington Examiner reports:
Administrator of the National
Aeronautics and Space Administration

In an unprecedented slap at NASA’s endorsement of global warming science, nearly 50 former astronauts and scientists--including the ex-boss of the Johnson Space Center--claim the agency is on the wrong side of science and must change course or ruin the reputation of the world’s top space agency. 
Challenging statements from NASA that man is causing climate change, the former NASA executives demanded in a letter to Administrator Charles Bolden that he and the agency “refrain from including unproven remarks” supporting global warming in the media.

“We feel that NASA’s advocacy of an extreme position, prior to a thorough study of the possible overwhelming impact of natural climate drivers is inappropriate,” they wrote. “At risk is damage to the exemplary reputation of NASA, NASA’s current or former scientists and employees, and even the reputation of science itself.”

The letter was signed by seven Apollo astronauts, a deputy associate administrator, several scientists, and even the deputy director of the space shuttle program.

..

In their letter, the group said that thousands of years of data challenge modern-day claims that man-made carbon dioxide is causing climate change. “With hundreds of well-known climate scientists and tens of thousands of other scientists publicly declaring their disbelief in the catastrophic forecasts, coming particularly from (NASA’s) Goddard Institute for Space Studies leadership, it is clear that the science is NOT settled,” they wrote.

NASA’s website is filled with stories about the impact of climate change on the earth, animals, and ecosystems. Most administration officials agree with the position NASA has taken.

“The unbridled advocacy of CO2 being the major cause of climate change is unbecoming of NASA’s history of making an objective assessment of all available scientific data prior to making decision or public statements,” the critics added.

... 
Here is a full copy of the letter:

March 28, 2012

The Honorable Charles Bolden, Jr.
NASA Administrator
NASA Headquarters
Washington, D.C. 20546-0001
Dear Charlie,We, the undersigned, respectfully request that NASA and the Goddard Institute for Space Studies (GISS) refrain from including unproven remarks in public releases and websites. We believe the claims by NASA and GISS, that man-made carbon dioxide is having a catastrophic impact on global climate change are not substantiated, especially when considering thousands of years of empirical data. With hundreds of well-known climate scientists and tens of thousands of other scientists publicly declaring their disbelief in the catastrophic forecasts, coming particularly from the GISS leadership, it is clear that the science is NOT settled.
The unbridled advocacy of CO2 being the major cause of climate change is unbecoming of NASA’s history of making an objective assessment of all available scientific data prior to making decisions or public statements.
As former NASA employees, we feel that NASA’s advocacy of an extreme position, prior to a thorough study of the possible overwhelming impact of natural climate drivers is inappropriate. We request that NASA refrain from including unproven and unsupported remarks in its future releases and websites on this subject. At risk is damage to the exemplary reputation of NASA, NASA’s current or former scientists and employees, and even the reputation of science itself. 
For additional information regarding the science behind our concern, we recommend that you contact Harrison Schmitt or Walter Cunningham, or others they can recommend to you.
Thank you for considering this request.
Sincerely,
(Attached signatures)
CC: Mr. John Grunsfeld, Associate Administrator for Science  
CC: Mr. Chris Scolese, Director, Goddard Space Flight Center 
Ref: Letter to NASA Administrator Charles Bolden, dated 3-26-12, regarding a request for NASA to refrain from making unsubstantiated claims that human produced CO2 is having a catastrophic impact on climate change.

/s/ Jack Barneburg, Jack – JSC, Space Shuttle Structures, Engineering Directorate, 34 years  
/s/ Larry Bell – JSC, Mgr. Crew Systems Div., Engineering Directorate, 32 years 
/s/ Dr. Donald Bogard – JSC, Principal Investigator, Science Directorate, 41 years 
/s/ Jerry C. Bostick – JSC, Principal Investigator, Science Directorate, 23 years 
/s/ Dr. Phillip K. Chapman – JSC, Scientist – astronaut, 5 years 
/s/ Michael F. Collins, JSC, Chief, Flight Design and Dynamics Division, MOD, 41 years 
/s/ Dr. Kenneth Cox – JSC, Chief Flight Dynamics Div., Engr. Directorate, 40 years 
/s/ Walter Cunningham – JSC, Astronaut, Apollo 7, 8 years 
/s/ Dr. Donald M. Curry – JSC, Mgr. Shuttle Leading Edge, Thermal Protection Sys., Engr. Dir., 44 years 
/s/ Leroy Day – Hdq. Deputy Director, Space Shuttle Program, 19 years 
/s/ Dr. Henry P. Decell, Jr. – JSC, Chief, Theory & Analysis Office, 5 years 
/s/Charles F. Deiterich – JSC, Mgr., Flight Operations Integration, MOD, 30 years 
/s/ Dr. Harold Doiron – JSC, Chairman, Shuttle Pogo Prevention Panel, 16 years 
/s/ Charles Duke – JSC, Astronaut, Apollo 16, 10 years 
/s/ Anita Gale 
/s/ Grace Germany – JSC, Program Analyst, 35 years 
/s/ Ed Gibson – JSC, Astronaut Skylab 4, 14 years 
/s/ Richard Gordon – JSC, Astronaut, Gemini Xi, Apollo 12, 9 years 
/s/ Gerald C. Griffin – JSC, Apollo Flight Director, and Director of Johnson Space Center, 22 years 
/s/ Thomas M. Grubbs – JSC, Chief, Aircraft Maintenance and Engineering Branch, 31 years 
/s/ Thomas J. Harmon 
/s/ David W. Heath – JSC, Reentry Specialist, MOD, 30 years 
/s/ Miguel A. Hernandez, Jr. – JSC, Flight crew training and operations, 3 years 
/s/ James R. Roundtree – JSC Branch Chief, 26 years 
/s/ Enoch Jones – JSC, Mgr. SE&I, Shuttle Program Office, 26 years 
/s/ Dr. Joseph Kerwin – JSC, Astronaut, Skylab 2, Director of Space and Life Sciences, 22 years 
/s/ Jack Knight – JSC, Chief, Advanced Operations and Development Division, MOD, 40 years 
/s/ Dr. Christopher C. Kraft – JSC, Apollo Flight Director and Director of Johnson Space Center, 24 years 
/s/ Paul C. Kramer – JSC, Ass.t for Planning Aeroscience and Flight Mechanics Div., Egr. Dir., 34 years 
/s/ Alex (Skip) Larsen 
/s/ Dr. Lubert Leger – JSC, Ass’t. Chief Materials Division, Engr. Directorate, 30 years 
/s/ Dr. Humbolt C. Mandell – JSC, Mgr. Shuttle Program Control and Advance Programs, 40 years 
/s/ Donald K. McCutchen – JSC, Project Engineer – Space Shuttle and ISS Program Offices, 33 years 
/s/ Thomas L. (Tom) Moser – Hdq. Dep. Assoc. Admin. & Director, Space Station Program, 28 years 
/s/ Dr. George Mueller – Hdq., Assoc. Adm., Office of Space Flight, 6 years 
/s/ Tom Ohesorge 
/s/ James Peacock – JSC, Apollo and Shuttle Program Office, 21 years 
/s/ Richard McFarland – JSC, Mgr. Motion Simulators, 28 years 
/s/ Joseph E. Rogers – JSC, Chief, Structures and Dynamics Branch, Engr. Directorate,40 years 
/s/ Bernard J. Rosenbaum – JSC, Chief Engineer, Propulsion and Power Division, Engr. Dir., 48 years 
/s/ Dr. Harrison (Jack) Schmitt – JSC, Astronaut Apollo 17, 10 years 
/s/ Gerard C. Shows – JSC, Asst. Manager, Quality Assurance, 30 years 
/s/ Kenneth Suit – JSC, Ass’t Mgr., Systems Integration, Space Shuttle, 37 years 
/s/ Robert F. Thompson – JSC, Program Manager, Space Shuttle, 44 years 
/s/ Frank Van Rennselaer – Hdq., Mgr. Shuttle Solid Rocket Boosters, 15 years 
/s/ Dr. James Visentine – JSC Materials Branch, Engineering Directorate, 30 years 
/s/ Manfred (Dutch) von Ehrenfried – JSC, Flight Controller; Mercury, Gemini & Apollo, MOD, 10 years

Friday, May 11, 2012

The End to Marion County Judicial Slating?; Mourdock Defeats Lugar in 90 of Indiana's 92 Counties

Trying to get back to blogging.   Needless to say I'm a little burned out on politics.  Although the losing unslated candidates - Greg Bowes, Mark King, Judge Orbison and myself - were unsuccessful in challenging the system through the ballot box, I think the attention we drew to the situation will be a major factor in bringing an end to judicial slating in Marion County. The days of, as Governor Daniels described it, candidates purchasing judicial endorsements with $12,000 ($13,600 for Democrats) in slating fees are,  I suspect, near the end.  I wouldn't be terribly surprised if there isn't an extensive investigation of all the circumstances surrounding the Marion County parties' endorsement of the judicial candidates this cycle, including the candidates' payment of slating fees and whether those payments violated the ethics rules.  It could well be an investigatory panel similar to the one that investigated the Marion County's small claims court.  Call it a hunch...

Regarding the big race of the day, the scope of Mourdock's victory was shocking.  Mourdock not only won by 20 points, 60-40, he won 90 of 92 counties.  Lugar pulled out narrow victories in only two counties, Marion and Boone.  Not even the wildest prediction guessed the scope of Mourdock's win.  Just chalking the win up to the tea party's success here, overlooks Lugar's own failures.  The seeds of Lugar's demise was actually sown a long time ago when the Senator stopped coming back to the state for Republican events and refused to support Republican candidates in their election efforts.  His failure to build and maintain Republican bridges in the state meant that when things started going south, there was no safety net...hence the 20 point loss.

Monday, May 7, 2012

Reminder: Anti-Slate Law Was Determined to Be Unconstitutional in Ogden v. Marendt

I was asked about this the other day.  Indiana has a law on the books which is aimed at limiting the ability of candidates (or their supporters) to pass out literature in support of multiple candidates at the polls.   The law is designed to limit the ability of non-sated candidates to challenge the official slate in Marion County.  That law states:

IC 3-14-1-2
Printing, publishing, or distributing of slate during primary campaign without authority
Sec. 2. (a) A person who:
(1) prints, publishes, or distributes a slate during a primary election campaign without authority from and:
(A) over the name of an organization of voters, including the name of the organization and its officers; or
(B) if it is not an organized group of voters, over the names of at least ten (10) voters in the political subdivision in which the primary election is being held;
together with the name of the printer who printed the slate;
(2) prints on a slate during a primary election campaign the
name or number of a candidate without the candidate's written consent; or
(3) prints, publishes, or distributes a slate during a primary election campaign unless at least five (5) days before it is printed and published the written consent of the voters over whose names it is published and the written consent of the candidates in whose behalf it is distributed are filed in the office of the county election board in each county where the election is held;
commits a Class A misdemeanor.
(b) As used in this section, "slate" means a sample ballot, reproduction of an official ballot, or a listing of candidates:
(1) having the names or numbers of more than one (1) candidate for nomination at a primary election; and
(2) that expresses support for more than one (1) of the candidates set forth on the ballot or list.
As added by P.L.5-1986, SEC.10. Amended by P.L.3-1987, SEC.463; P.L.10-1988, SEC.205; P.L.3-1997, SEC.399.

This law was held to be unconstitutional in Ogden v. Marendt, 264 F. Supp. 2d 785 (SD Ind. 2003).  The legislature has not formally repealed the law though and it remains part of the Indiana Code.  However, there is a permanent injunction against its enforcement.  I bring this up because of the large number of unslated candidates running in Marion County, there may be an attempt to by the party bosses to enforce this unconstitutional law.

Sunday, May 6, 2012

Marion County Slating System Comes Under Full Assault

The continued erosion of the credibility of Marion County slating is reflected by the shockingly number of quality challenges to the so-called "endorsed" candidates.  On the judge races, both sides feature 12 candidates running for 10 spots.  I can say that all four unslated candidates (Greg Bowes, Mark King, Judge Carol Orbison and myself) are more qualified to be judge than many if not most of the slated candidates.  All four unslated judicial candidates have run spirited, albeit low dollar campaigns.
Tim Motsinger

But those aren't the only challenges to the slate.  YR activist Daniel Kinnamon is challenging Sen. Michael Young in Senate District 35.  While admittedly I don't understand Kinnamon's problem with Sen. Young, who is one of the more independent-minded Marion County legislators we have, there is no denying that Kinnamon has raised money and worked his tail off and for that he should be applauded.    While Sen. Young crows about his Marion County slating endorsement, Kinnamon is not persuaded as to its importance.  Further, after redistricting, the district now includes two Hendricks County townships, including the City of Plainfield.

An even bigger westside challenge to the slate is taking place in the House.  Long-time Wayne Township GOP activist and IMPD officer, Tim Motsinger is seeking to replace retiring Phil Hinkle in House District 92, which is entirely in Marion County.  Motsinger had been a candidate for Sheriff in 2010 and had received a large contribution from now indicted Tim Durham.  To Motsinger's credit, he immediately returned all the money he had received from Durham, unlike many Republican elected officials.

Brad Rider
Motsinger was endorsed at the Marion County slating convention.  Liquor store owner Brad Rider, however, wasn't persuaded by the significance of slating.  Rider is extremely well-financed and  reportedly has the support of people in the state party in his endeavors.  As far as Motsinger's touting his endorsement, Rider has cleverly turned that against the IMPD officer, calling Motsinger a "machine politician."

District 92 also features a battle on the Democratic side. Slated candidate Karlee D. Macer is facing two very active opponents in Brian M. Cooper and Tyjuan Garrett. 

Then you have another Democratic battle in House District 100, a district which stretches from Irvington to the near south side.  Mulholland went to slating and paid the fee, which entitled him to a list of those eligible to vote at slating.  It turns out though that half the people on the slating list were relatives of Dan Forestal who had been appointed to go to slating and anoint Forestal.  Mulholland though chose to go ahead and run anyway.  He appears to be well-financed and is extremely well-organized.

Beating the slate is always difficult. This time around thought the party chairmen, fearing the number of strong challenges to the slate, decided that the bogus claim of a party endorsement was not enough.  They decided to further rig the system against the unslated candidates by denying them the right to obtain list of the primary voters and contact information, information readily available to all the slated candidates.

Perhaps this tactic will work for now.  I know it made my campaign very difficult.  My efforts at going door-to-door was certainly crippled by the fact I did not know which homeowners are Republican.  I also wasn't able to do a mailing because I don't have a list of Republicans, information the slated candidates receive.  You have to be able to target your efforts in a primary.  If you can't target, the time and cost of campaigning multiplies ten-fold.

Nonetheless, the field of strong candidates against the slate suggest the so-called "endorsement" process is losing credibility.  Older voters who used to blindly vote the slate, are dying off, being being replaced by younger voters who are more likely to see slating as nothing more than corrupt machine politics.   But a lot of slating's demise is the result of greedy county chairmen who preferred rigging the system so they can pick the slated candidates instead of party workers.  For all his faults, long-time GOP County Chairman John Sweezy understood that the credibility of slating depended on party workers, and not party bosses, dominating the process.  While the system was often manipulated in Sweezy's day by powerful township chairmen, we did have spirited slating contests because the outcome was not pre-ordained by the county chairman.  In fact, Sweezy had a policy of staying out of slating battles and with few exceptions, steadfastly lived up to that policy.

Friday, May 4, 2012

Did Marion County Slated Candidates Violate Code of Judicial Conduct by Paying $12,000 for Endorsement?; Judicial Qualifications Commission Updates Its 1992 Opinion on Paying Slating Fees

Recently I received a response to my request that the Judicial Qualifications Commission update its January 1992 opinion that found paying slating fees for a party endorsement to be a violation of Rule 4.1(A)(4) of the Code of Judicial ConductIn that 1992 opinion, the Commission found that judicial candidates, however, can make voluntary contributions to political parties.  Since that ruling the Marion County Republican and Democratic Chairmen, have exploited the loophole, claiming that the slating fees, which last election were $12,000 apiece for Republican judge candidates, were simply voluntary contributions made by the candidates. 

It should be noted that since 1992, not a single judicial candidate, Republican or Democrat, have ever been slated without paying the fee.  Former Marion County judges, once out of the system, have all said the slating fees were mandatory when they were running.

In its 2012 opinion, the Commission provided some guidance to shed light on the practice, perhaps to end the ruse of simply calling the fees "voluntary" to get around the rules.  I quote from the opinion letter:
While not an exhaustive list, some of the factors the Commission believes are important to evaluate when considering whether a payment is voluntary include the timing of the payment, particularly if it must be paid by a certain time, such as before a slating convention, whether anyone from the political party communicated to the judicial candidate that the payment is expected, and whether the amount contributed by all judicial candidates during an election cycle is the same (assuming o further explanation for the coincidence.

Let's apply those factors to the slated Marion County Republican judicial candidates to see if they violated the Code of Judicial Conduct:
  • All of the endorsed candidates paid a $12,000 slating fee
  • All paid the slating fee before the slating convention.
  • The party communicated to the candidates the amount of the slating fee before the slating convention. 
  • Judicial candidates, like candidates for other offices, were not provided a list of voters at the slating convention until the slating fee was paid.
  • The slating fee equals 10% of a judges annual salary. Slating fees always are 10% of the annual salary of the office that is sought.
  • The party, like with all slating contests, refunds 80% of the slating fee for judges if they're not slated and do not run in the primary.  If they run in the primary, the party keeps 100% of the $12,000.  If it were a voluntary political contribution, why would they ever refund the money?
The evidence is overwhelming that these "endorsed" judicial candidates are violating the Code of Judicial Conduct.  However, no attorney wants to personally turn them in for two reasons.  First, attorneys expose their current and future clients to risk by angering a significant portion of the local judiciary by filing an ethics complaint against them. Second, there are some excellent judges among those who are violating the Code of Judicial Conduct. Unfortunately they have chosen for the benefit of their career to go along with the current unethical system than challenge it.

Howey/Depauw Poll Shows Mourdock up 10 Points on Lugar

State Treasurer Richard Mourdock
The much anticipated Howey/DePauw poll on the Indiana Senate race was released this morning.  It shows State Treasurer Richard Mourdock leading Senator Richard Lugar 48% to 38%.   A previous Howey/DePauw conducted March 26-27, had Lugar ahead 42% to 35%.  That's a 17 point swing in the election in just 5 weeks.  Given the undecideds break at least 2-1 in favor of the challenger on Election Day, we're looking at a double digit election day victory by Mourdock over 36 year incumbent Lugar.

Clearly there is an anti-establishment mood out there in the Republican electorate.  I have doubts it translates much in Marion County, the hotbed of Republican establishment politics, but it could.  There are several slating contests where candidates are taking on the hand-picked choices of the county chairman, not just on the Republican side but also on the Democratic ballot.  The fact that so-called "endorsed" Marion County candidates have flagged such stiff competition this election cycle shows a breakdown in credibility for the slating system.



Thursday, May 3, 2012

GOP Chairman Kyle Walker Sends Out Contemptible Mailer Attacking Republican Judicial Candidates

At least my criticism of the slating process, where phony judicial endorsements are decided by county chairman and handed out for $12,000 apiece, is 100% true. GOP County Chairman Kyle Walker, however, doesn't have any problem misrepresenting details to slander an opponent. Witness the slam piece on Judge Orbison and myself. If there needs to be any more evidence that the Supreme Court should step in and put an end to Marion County Party Chairmen hand picking local judges, Walker provides it with this piece.



Of course the 18% judicial rating is a joke.   I was called out of the blue to get information for the Indianapolis Bar Association's website.  It was only after I submitted it that, it was suddenly announced that the information would be used to conduct a survey...two months after the deadline had passed for the surveys.  I knew right away I had been set up.  I had criticized big law firms like Barnes & Thornburg and Krieg Devault which regularly do business with the city and bilk taxpayers with inflated legal bills.   Now all they had to do was vote as a bloc in my survey and I'd get a bad rating, especially given the inevitable low return rate of a post-survey survey.  The IBA attorney who ordered the late survey be done was none other than C. Joseph Russell, a Krieg Devault partner.  Russell and Walker screwed up though, stacking the deck against me so much that they ended up getting an incredulous 18% rating.   Does anyone actually think that given my 25 years legal experience litigating cases in both civil and criminal courts, my clerkship at the Indiana Court of Appeals, my work in all three branches of government, that I'm only 1/3 as qualified as the non-judges Amy Jones, Helen Marschal and Clayton Graham?  It's disgusting that the IBA has allowed itself to be immersed in judicial campaigns through survey results that are easily manipulated for political reasons.

I am certainly not an "anti-Republican" blogger.  I do criticize Republicans who betray their conservative principles or are corrupt.  I guess that bothers Kyle Walker.  Too bad.  I am more of a Republican than Kyle Walker ever thought of being.

Fired from the Indiana Department of Insurance?  Uh, yeah, for WHISTLEBLOWING.  I tried to report a supervisor who was misappropriating funds from the title insurance division I headed.  I wrote a memo on that and other legal violations and was immediately fired for doing so.  Apparently Kyle Walker has no problem with people in state government misappropriating money.  I do.

A gadfly attorney?  You betcha.   Indianapolis attorneys were complaining about Judge Young fining people $400 or $500 for daring to ask for a trial in Traffic Court, a direct violation of their constitutional rights.  While others attorneys complained, I did something by filing a lawsuit.    As a result both the Indiana General Assembly and the Indiana Supreme Court stepped in to put a stop to the practice.  I also stood up to prosecutors across the state who were illegally pocketing forfeiture proceeds instead of giving the money to the state's schools. Apparently Kyle Walker has no problem with public officials who violate the law.  I do.   And I don't care if they are Republican or Democrat.

Not endorsed by the Republican Party?  Correct.  There isn't a single candidate on the ballot who has been endorsed by the Republican Party.  Party endorsements happen on May 8th.  There have been 10 judicial candidates who have been endorsed by appointees of the county chairmen after paying $12,000 apiece.  The Judicial Commission has said that is a violation of the ethics rules for pay a slating fee for an endorsement.  Governor Daniels has said that Walker's slating system is a travesty and the $12,000 fee amounts to purchasing judgeships.  I refuse to violate the ethics rules to pay a county chairman for an endorsement.  Period.

By this unconscionable mailing attacking fellow Republicans, Kyle Walker showed he is man without honor or integrity.

New Ogden for Judge Commercial Addresses So-Called Judicial Endorsements and the Party Bosses Telling Voters They Must "Say No to the Os"

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Ron Paul Supporters Manuever Behind the Scenes to Take Over GOP State Party Organizations and Dominate National Convention

Not a fan of Rachel Maddow, but she does an excellent story here about how Ron Paul supporters are maneuvering behind the scenes to take over some state GOP organizations as well as dominate the national convention to be held this summer in Tampa.  There is certainly irony that GOP establishment types, who used insider rules to shove moderate Mitt Romney down the throats of a conservative-leaning GOP electorate who did not want him, are now having those same rules used against them by the Paulites.

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Analysis Shows 82% of People Eligible to Vote at Republican County-Wide Slating Convention This January Were Appointees of the County Chairman

Marion County party chairmen like to sell the slating (pre-primary endorsement) process as being about grassroots party workers deciding who to support at the primary.  They tell party workers are that voting at slating is their reward for their hard work in the precinct.  When a candidate dares to run against the slate, these party workers are told the candidate is running against them personally. That's line is nothing but BS and let me explain why.

Marion County Republican
Chairman Kyle Walker
Precinct committeemen (PC) are elected at a party primary every four years.  Whenever there is a vacancy in a PC position, that vacancy is filled by appointment of the county chairmen.  Unlike with a PC who is elected, an appointed PC does not have to live in the neighborhood at all and sometimes does not even live in the county.  Unlike an elected PC, an appointed PC can be removed at will by the county chairman.

At slating, PCs, and their immediate supervisors in the party organization, ward chairmen (WC) are eligible to vote.  All WCs are appointed by the county chairman. With the 590 precincts and the approximate 90 WC slots, there are approximately 680 votes at a county-wide slating convention.

How many of those 680 votes at slating are appointees who are under the control of the county chairman?   In 2008, the Republicans elected 168 PCs.  Let's assume a 10% annual attrition rate on the elected PCs (probably a low rate) that means there are just 123 elected PCs left after three years into the cycle leaving 467 appointed PC slots.  Add that to the 90 WCs and that means 557 of the 680 votes at slating at appointees of the county chairman.  Translation:  the county chairman controls 82% of the votes at a county-wide slating.

In determining whether slating is "rigged" too much attention is given to whether people are told at slating who to cast a vote for.  That's not how these contests are rigged.  They are rigged by a system that allow party bosses to appoint "mummy dummies" as PCs whose only job is to go to slating and vote the way party bosses want them to vote.  The outcomes are decided before the slating convention. That's why 16 of 17 slating contests were uncontested this year.

To say the candidates, such as the judicial slate, were "endorsed" by the Republican Party is blatantly inaccurate.  After all, the GOP is not is not just the party chairman and his appointees, but rather the collection of individuals who vote in the primary.  But it is also wrong to say "party workers" endorsed the slated candidates.  Slated candidates are endorsed by appointees of the county chairman, certainly not by party workers elected by their neighbors.  An "endorsement" from a party boss is nothing to brag about.