Thursday, November 29, 2012

Indianapolis Council President Suggests "Bipartisan" Support for Multi-Million Dollar Taxpayer Giveaway to Pacers

The last three years, the City's taxpayers gave the Pacers $10 million per year, as well as spent $3.5 million to upgrade the Bankers Life Fieldhouse.   A recent Indianapolis Business Journal article though discusses the Pacers getting a $20 million "cash infusion" from the league as a result of the new collective bargaining agreement.
Bankers Life Fieldhouse

In the article, Capital Improvement Board President Ann Lathrop refused to comment.  However, the IBJ noted that in 2010, members of the CIB said that the $33.5 million was a "temporary fix," until local officials could see what would happen with the NBA's new revenue plan.

Now that the details of the deal are known, including that the Pacers will receive $20 million more, we taxpayers are off the hook for an extension of the three year deal, right? So our tax dollars spent on the Pacers can now be spent on such things as police officers, libraries, parks, etc., right?   Democrats who tend to favor more money spent on such services, will stand up for taxpayers against the billionaire owner of the Pacers who wants a handout, right?

If you think so, you don't know Indianapolis politics.  Both parties are in bed on the corporate welfare, pay-to-play nonsense that dominates the city's politics.  In the article, Council President Maggie Lewis indicates that the Pacers have "bipartisan support" and that they understand the "financial benefits" of the Pacers.

It is amazing how much smarter Indianapolis city-county councilors and others are than those economists who have studied the issue in detail and found little evidence the professional sports positively impacts local economies:

This is from a 2004 article on the subject:
Maggie Lewis, President,
Indpls City-County Council

CHAMPAIGN, Ill. — If you build it, they will come … with wallets bulging, eager to exchange greenbacks for peanuts, popcorn, hot dogs and beer, and T-shirts and ball caps with team logos.

At least that’s the theory embraced – time and time again – by mayors and city council members hoping to lure professional sports teams to their cities by promising to build new arenas for the teams. But one guy who’s not buying it is sports economist Brad Humphreys, a professor of recreation, sport and tourism at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.
That’s because Humphreys and colleague Dennis Coates, a professor of economics at the University of Maryland, Baltimore County, haven’t uncovered a single instance in which the presence of a professional sports team has been linked to a boost in the local economy.
“Our conclusion, and that of nearly all academic economists studying this issue, is that professional sports generally have little, if any, positive effect on a city’s economy,” Humphreys and Coates wrote in a report issued last month by the Cato Institute in Washington, D.C. The institute commissioned the professors to study the economic impact of a deal proposed by Anthony Williams, the mayor of Washington, D.C.; under terms of the agreement, the Major Baseball League would move the Montreal Expos to the nation’s capital in exchange for a new, city-built ballpark. 
The professors based their report on new data as well as previously published research in which they analyzed economic indicators from 37 major metropolitan areas with major-league baseball, football and basketball teams.
“The net economic impact of professional sports in Washington, D.C., and the 36 other cities that hosted professional sports teams over nearly 30 years, was a reduction in real per capita income over the entire metropolitan area,” Humphreys and Coates noted in the report.
The researchers found other patterns consistent with the presence of pro sports teams. Among them:

• a statistically significant negative impact on the retail and services sectors of the local economy, including an average net loss of 1,924 jobs;
• an increase in wages in the hotels and other lodgings sector (about $10 per worker year), but a reduction in wages in bars and restaurants (about $162 per worker per year). 
Those employed in the amusements and recreation sector appeared, at first glance, to benefit significantly from the presence of a pro team, with an average annual salary increase of $490 per worker, Humphreys said. However, he added, “this sector includes the professional athletes whose annual salaries certainly raise the average salary in this sector by an enormous amount. 
As it turns out, those workers most closely connected with the sports environment who were not professional athletes saw little improvement in their earnings as a result of the local professional sports environment.”
Numerous later studies earlier than this article and since say exactly the same thing.  Of course when the CIB had a study commissioned prior to the three year deal, it didn't hire a university economist who might have actually told the public the truth.  The CIB also didn't look at any studies previously done by academics.  Instead the Board hired a firm that promotes the hospitality industry to give a "homer" report saying what the CIB proposed doing was a good idea.

The dishonesty of the folks at the CIB know no limits.

The article continues:
"Though Pacers officials say the expense of operating Bankers Life Fieldhouse is an albatross, there is an upside for the franchise.  It gets to keep revenue from all events there, from concerts to ice shows.  Pacers officials decline to say how much those events generate, but they've said it's not enough to cover expenses for the 18,165 seat venue." 
Let's clarify what is going on..  We taxpayers own Bankers Life Fieldhouse.  We taxpayers subsidize the Pacers to the tune of $10 million a year to run that building.  The Pacers get to keep 100% of the revenue from the Fieldhouse.  The Pacers, however, refuse to tell the public how much it makes from events held at that building which we taxpayers own.  The Pacers though want us to accept that the team is losing money and we should give them tens of millions more in annual subsidies.  The CIB refuses to demand the Pacers give this information and simply accept that the Pacers are losing money and taxpayers should pay millions more to the billionaire team owner.  The City supports giving away the tax dollars even though we don't have money in the budget to pay for a new IMPD recruit class and are desperately short of police officers and crime is rising.

Only in Indianapolis.

Indianapolis Council Democrats Move Forward with Redistricting Plan

Jon Murray of the Indianapolis Star reports:
The City-County Council rules committee tonight approved the majority Democrats' redistricting plan, setting up a final vote Monday.
Committee members voted 5-1-1 along party lines, with GOP minority leader Michael McQuillen abstaining because the final public presentation on the plan had not yet occurred. That presentation is set for 5:30 p.m. Wednesday during the Municipal Corporations Committee meeting at Forest Manor Multi-Service Center, 5603 E. 38th St.
If the full council approves the proposed council district maps Monday, a veto by Indianapolis Mayor Greg Ballard is likely. The Republican mayor already has signed off on redrawn boundaries approved last December by the council's outgoing GOP majority. 
Democrats say they are required by state law to redraw the district boundaries this year, based on 2010 census data. The matter could end up in the courts next year as the parties fight out the issue. 
... 
As I've reported on these pages, Indiana law requires that the Indianapolis City-County Council redistrict in the second year after the census, i.e. 2012.  No one seems to dispute that.  However, that created a political problem for Republicans.  The GOP had the majority in 2011 on the Council.  But with the Democrats winning a majority on the Council in the November 2011 election, Republicans couldn't redistrict in 2012.  So they tried something clever.  The lame duck Republcian majority passed a redistricting plan in late December 2011, and had the re-elected Republican Mayor Greg Ballard sign it on 1/1/2012.

The problem for Republican is that the statute specifically talks about the council dividing the county into 25 districts, explicitly mandating that this process be done in 2012.
IC 36-3-4-3 
City-county legislative body; division of county into districts; composition of body; election; petition for division of county 
(a) The city-county legislative body shall, by ordinance,  divide the whole county into twenty-five (25) districts that:
(1) are compact, subject only to natural boundary lines (such as railroads, major highways, rivers, creeks, parks, and major industrial complexes);
(2) contain, as nearly as is possible, equal population; and
(3) do not cross precinct boundary lines.
This division shall be made during the second year after a year in which a federal decennial census is conducted and may also be made at any other time, subject to IC 3-11-1.5-32.
The proposed 2012 Democratic map, which indisputably meets the requirements under the statute that one be passed this year by the council, is likely to be vetoed by Mayor Ballard.  The Democrats are unlikely to muster the Republcian votes necessary to override that veto.

Under the law (not quoted above), any taxpayer or registered voter can challenge the failure of the council to pass a 2012 map.   That is almost a certainty, which means a trip back to court.   Although the Republicans have a weak legal argument that the statutory requirement of a 2012 redistricting by the council is met, that argument is not so bad as to summarily get thrown out of court.  Most likely you're talking expensive litigation fought out with overpriced politically-connected law firms.  The taxpayers will end up footing the bill for the litigation and very likely it will, once again, be the Indiana Supreme Court drawing the council maps.

Hopefully cooler heads will prevail in the Mayor's office and this expense to the taxpayers will be avoided by a reasonable compromise recognzing that, if the parties do not compromise, the decision to draw the maps will be taken away from by the courts.

Monday, November 26, 2012

The Future of the Tea Party Movement

During the election, Democrats heaped scathing criticism on the Tea Party.  Andre Carson, our local congressman, went so far as to suggest that the Tea Party members wanted to see blacks hanging from trees, a comment ironically made at about the same time that the Tea Party was enthusiastically supporting Herman Cain, an African-American, for the Republican presidential nomination.  Since the election, the criticism of the Tea Party has gotten even louder, with even some Republicans chiming in.  As one Democratic analyst candidly admitted, the Tea Party has become a lightning rod for every bad thing that people want to say about the Republican Party, whether true or not.  I would describe it as hyperbole, empty factual statements aimed at stirring a backlash to the Tea Party.

The blame for losing the grand prize, the presidency, has been laid at the feet of the Tea Party by some Republicans.  The irony is that Mitt Romney was the least Tea Party the Republicans could have possibly nominated.  Romney was a card-carrying member of the GOP establishment, the antithesis of what the populist Tea Party stood for.

That doesn't mean the Tea Party does not have work to do in refining its message.  The Tea Party was born as a populist movement, fighting against the debt with which our politicians are saddling future generations and corporate welfare.  One of the earliest targets of the Tea Party was the corporate bailouts.  Government put Wall Street ahead of Main Street.  People were outraged and took to the streets.  Populism on the right went the way of the Tea Party.  Populism on the left took the form of the Occupy Movement.  Ironically both had many of the same issues, although they often proposed starkly different resolutions to those issues.

In the 2010 election, the Tea Party enjoyed tremendous success nationwide.  But between 2010 and the 2012 election, the Tea Party began expanding its message tackling other conservative issues that didn't always fit the original populist underpinnings of the movement.  An example is the Tea Party's diversion into social issues, including the abortion issue and immigration..

As a Republican, I can appreciate that people who vote for the GOP are motivated by a wide variety of issues.  The Republican Party is a coalition.  For the party to successfully marry fiscal conservatives and social conservatives.  That's the 1980 Reagan formula and it has proven to be key to winning every national election since.    While fiscal conservatives in the party claim social conservatives are a burden, the fact is without voters motivated primarily by social conservative issues, the GOP is the 1964 party of Sen. Barry Goldwater, a distinctly minority party with no hope of winning elections.

Unfortunately I am seeing my Tea Party friends being unfairly criticized by establishment Republican types who want to make them the scapegoats for their own failures, in particular the failure caused by pushing forward a terribly flawed presidential candidate who had zero appeal to working men and women, the very type of people who were motivated to join the Tea Party because they thought the two parties did not represent them.

Historically movements succeed when they stay focused on a core philosophy while dealing with issues related to that philosophy. The Tea Party tried to do too much. Buoyed by its success in 2010, the Tea Party expanded its focus too far, addressing too many issues. In short, the Tea Party tried to do too much; it tried to be the Republican Party.

I am not saying that my Tea Party friends shouldn't be pro-life, against immigration reform, or even against same sex marriage.  Again, everyone has issues that bring them to the conservative table where Republicans sit.  What I am saying is that the work done in the name of Tea Party needs to be about its core and original philosophy, i.e. an aversion to public debt, opposition to government giveaways to the wealthy, and support for a limited federal government.  Expanding into other issues dilutes the core message of the Tea Party, making the movement weaker and vulnerable to bogus attacks from the left and Republican establishment types.

The leaders of the Tea Party are intelligent and more full of energy than any political activist I have ever seen.  With further electoral experience will come the political sophistication that leads the movement's leaders to refine their message and work with other conservative groups instead of trying to address all conservative issues under the Tea Party umbrella.  I have little doubt that the Tea Party will be a major player in the 2014 election and the elections that follow.

Thursday, November 22, 2012

The Myth that the 13th Amendment Ended Slavery

Radio commentator Paul Harvey used to have a segment of his news show entitled "The Rest of the Story."  In that segment, he would take something commonly known, such as a news event, and provide little known and interesting background about what had happened.  With the new Steven Spielberg movie "Lincoln" playing in the theatres this Thanksgiving, there has been some discussion of Lincoln's role involvement in the passage of the 13th Amendment is portrayed.  That made me think of "The Rest of the Story."

Photograph from PBS's Film "Slavery By Another Name"

Of course, we all learned in school that the 13th Amendment abolished slavery throughout the United States.  But did it really?  If you look closely at the wording of the 13th Amendment, you will find a loophole right there in the middle of the amendment, which loophole I have italicized:
Neither slavery nor involuntary servitude, except as a punishment for crime whereof the party shall have been duly convicted, shall exist within the United States, or any place subject to their jurisdiction.
Based on a book by Douglas A. Blackmon titled Slavery by Another Name: The Re-Enslavement of Black Americans from the Civil War to World War II, PBS earlier this year aired a documentary with the shortened name:  "Slavery By Another Name."  PBS describes the film:
Slavery by Another Name is a 90-minute documentary that challenges one of Americans’ most cherished assumptions: the belief that slavery in this country ended with the Emancipation Proclamation. The film tells how even as chattel slavery came to an end in the South in 1865, thousands of African Americans were pulled back into forced labor with shocking force and brutality. It was a system in which men, often guilty of no crime at all, were arrested, compelled to work without pay, repeatedly bought and sold, and coerced to do the bidding of masters. Tolerated by both the North and South, forced labor lasted well into the 20th century.
The description does not do justice to the film. Viewers will be shocked how African-Americans were locked up based on "pig laws" or "black codes" adopted in southern states, laws that made such things as being without a job a felony. (For a description of those types of laws, here is a link.) When they were incarcerated in prison, the states would then rent out the prisoners out to companies and others needing workers. As the film details, treatment of these African-Americans prison laborers under this new system was often worse than under slavery. Because these post-Civil War bosses were merely "renting" these workers, they did not have the "investment" in them that the slaveholders had in what they had considered their "property," i.e. their slaves.

The film can be viewed in its entirety by going to this link.

Monday, November 19, 2012

Governor-Elect Mike Pence Needs to Build Political Coalition for 2016

When the votes were finally counted for Governor,  Republican Mike Pence's share of the popular vote had fallen below 50%.  Governor-elect Pence ended up with 49.6% of the vote, while Democrat John Gregg had 46.4% and Libertarian Rupert Boneham ended up with 4% of the vote.
Governor-Elect Mike Pence

Gregg may well have pulled out a victory had he gotten out of Sandborn earlier.  The hokey commercials made in his hometown didn't seem to work and offended some urban, professional Democrats who saw the commercials as portraying Hoosiers as a bunch of hicks.  When Gregg started running more polished and more serious commercials he seemed to do better.  Pence meanwhile might have sat on his lead a little too long, running out the clock.

But in politics, a win is a win.  It doesn't matter that it was close.  Pence has a unique opportunity to build a legacy that will not only put his stamp on the state but will position him for a much easier re-election in 2016.

Pence needs to immediately take steps to reach out to those people who did not vote for him in 2012.  He needs be willing to bring in people who did not support him to, not only to converse with those folks on issues but make them feel like the doors of a Pence administration will be open to them Pence would be wise to read "A Team of Rivals" by Doris Kearns Goodwin, a book that showed how Lincoln, in victory, sought to bring the country together by the  reaching out to opponents, even going so far as to making them part of his administration.

Pence supporters may scream foul, that the Governor-elect might have his goals usurped by people of a contrary message.  I don't buy it. While he is a very personable individual, Pence also has very strong, well-developed views.  He is not going to be suddenly swayed to change positions by reaching out to opponents and working with them on areas where they have common ground.    Make no mistake about it, there is a lot of common ground, issues on which Pence and those who failed to support him can work together. Pence would be wise to start reaching out to his opponent to find those issues, wise to start building bridges instead of burning them.  If Governor-elect Mike Pence does that, I have no doubt he will be a very popular governor well-situated to win re-election in 2016.

Sunday, November 18, 2012

Marion County Township Board Races: 2000 v. 2012

If one wants to see how far the townships have changes partisan wise, one need only look at the results of the township board elections 2000 v. 2012.  As way of background, every township in Marion County is divided up into seven districts, equal in population.  After each census, the party in power on the township board draws the maps to last, supposedly, until the districts are redrawn again after the next census.

In 2000, this was the results of the township board races:

Center:  0 Republicans, 7 Democrats
Decatur:  7 Republicans, 0 Democrats
Franklin:  7 Republicans, 0 Democrats
Lawrence 4 Republicans, 3 Democrats
Perry:  7 Republicans, 0 Democrats
Pike:  4 Republicans, 3 Democrats
Warren:  4 Republicans, 3 Democrats
Washington:  6 Republicans, 1 Democrat
Wayne:  6 Republicans, 1 Democrat

Even though the Republicans redrew the maps after that election, it didn't seem to help in Pike or Wayne.  Here is what happened in the 2004 election:

Center:  2 Republicans, 5 Democrats
Decatur: 7 Republicans, 0 Democrats
Franklin: 7 Republicans, 0 Democrats
Lawrence 5 Republicans, 2 Democrats
Perry: 7 Republicans, 0 Democrats
Pike:  1 Republican, 6 Democrats
Warren:  3 Republicans, 4 Democrats
Washington:  3 Republicans, 4 Democrats
Wayne:  5 Republicans, 2 Democrats

Then in 2008:

Center:  1 Republican, 6 Democrats
Decatur: 7 Republicans, 0 Democrats
Franklin: 7 Republicans, 0 Democrats
Lawrence 4 Republicans, 3 Democrats
Perry: 7 Republicans, 0 Democrats
Pike:  0 Republican, 7 Democrats
Warren:  4 Republicans, 3 Democrats
Washington:  4 Republicans, 3 Democrats
Wayne:  1 Republican, 6 Democrats

The party in control after that election redistricted leading to the result in the 2012 election:

Center: 1 Republican, 6 Democrats
Decatur: 7 Republicans, 0 Democrats
Franklin: 7 Republicans, 0 Democrats
Lawrence 4 Republicans, 3 Democrats
Perry:  6 Republicans, 1 Democrats
Pike: 0 Republican, 7 Democrats
Warren:  2 Republicans, 5 Democrats
Washington:  3 Republicans, 4 Democrats
Wayne: 1 Republican, 6 Democrats

Unfortunately earlier years were not available on-line.  If I would have been able to go back another few elections, I would have shown how Republicans were 7-0 on every township board, except for Center Township.  It is shocking how quickly things flipped in Marion County

What I find most interesting is Washington Township, which is now fairly heavily Democratic.  Township offices in Washington Township are no longer competitive.  Still the Republicans have held a majority on the township board for much of the time covered in my analysis and in 2012, came within a 154 votes of getting the fourth seat on the seven seat township board.  Both after the 2000 and 2010 census it was Republicans drawing the township board maps and apparently they drew them quite well.

Looking at the 2012 election, none of the Pike Township Board seats were competitive.  Some of the Wayne Township Board seats were reasonably competitive, but Republicans lost every one of them except one in which Republican Lisa Bentley prevailed by four votes.  Out in Warren Township, Republican Craig Cordi won a race by 38 votes or the only seat the Republicans would have won in on that township board would have been that held by Republican Jody Tilford who ran for re-election unopposed.  Lawrence continues to be a competitive township; Republicans won 4 of the 7 seats on the Lawrence Township Board.

Interestingly, in the only township board race in Perry where the Democrats fielded a candidate, the party won with Democrat Jason Fletcher beating Republican Joyce Warren.  This I believe is the first time the Democrats have held a township board seat in one of the southern townships (Franklin, Perry and Decatur.)  The Democrats did not field a township board candidate in Decatur or Franklin. Decatur is particularly interesting because 2008 results suggested the Democrats fielded an opponent in all seven Decatur districts and came reasonably close to winning a few of those seven seats.

Thursday, November 15, 2012

A State Lottery that Preys on the Poor?; Indiana to Expand Lottery Sales to Include Discount Retailers that Serve the Financially Disadvantaged

In the days leading up to the election, I missed an excellent article in the Indianapolis Star talking about the plans the private vendor anticipates for expanding the sale of Hoosier Lottery tickets:
The new private manager of the Hoosier Lottery, GTECH Corp., has a plan to dramatically boost revenue for Indiana government, but key details withheld by the state leave questions about whether the plan targets low-income residents.
The company's one-year plan for the lottery was recently released at the request of The Indianapolis Star, but portions were blacked out at GTECH's urging to protect trade secrets, according to lottery officials.
Among those details: The number of new lottery retailers GTECH plans to add, new games it plans to introduce, how much it will increase advertising and a diagram titled "retailer penetration targets by ZIP code."
Still, the  business plan does reveal some of the company's plans. One chart lists six corporate retail chains as potential targets for expansion -- most of which are discount retailers. The six companies are Dollar General, Family Dollar, Dollar Tree, Wal-Mart, CVS and Walgreens.
The new details -- and those that remain blacked out -- are drawing concerns about who GTECH plans to target in fulfilling its promise to boost lottery revenues by $500 million over the next five years.
"Everyone knows lotteries prey on low-income people," said Julia Vaughn, public policy director for Common Cause Indiana. "There aren't a whole lot of Dollar Generals up in Carmel." 
...
Studies have shown that while lower-income players already disproportionately fund the lottery, the state transfers lottery profits disproportionately to the wealthiest counties.
Much of the Hoosier Lottery's profits are returned to local governments based not on population or where tickets are purchased but instead on the value of motor vehicles in the county. In other words, the more valuable the cars, boats and RVs in your county, the more money you receive 
... 
"I believe it would be a mistake for the Indiana General Assembly to stand by while a private company attempts to target the lottery sales growth based on any particular socioeconomic pattern, especially those who are disadvantaged," [said state Sen. Brent Waltz, R-Greenwood.] "My guess would be, if you cross reference those ZIP codes (of retailers targeted for expansion) with the lowest income areas, you'll find they have a lot in common."
..
I would hope that the Indiana General Assembly and Governor Mike Pence takes a look at this issue come January.  A lot of voters, both conservatives and liberals, would not like the idea of lottery tickets being hawked in stores (such as Wal-Mart and the Dollar stores) that are heavily patronized by lower income residents.  Those people have enough trouble paying their bills.   Our government should not be using the lottery as a method of extracting precious dollars away from people who are being sold the long-shot dream of having their financial problems solved by buying lottery tickets.

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Election Results Show Marion County GOP Fared Very Poorly

I have long argued that the Indiana Republican Party Chairman needs to take a closer look at what is going on in the Marion County GOP leadership.  Marion County proved once again to be a drag on the statewide Republican Party.  This election cycle, statewide Republicans started their race 80,000 votes in the hole due to Marion County. 
Marion County GOP Chairman
Kyle Walker

The fact is Republican leaders in Marion County have no interest in conservative political philosophy, as epitomized by local GOP Chairman Kyle Walker calling the local homestead tax break a "taxpayer subsidy" in a press release the party issued right before the election.  Rather local party leaders, both Republicans and Democrats, are motivated by the perks of power, in particular continuing with a pay-to play-culture that dominates Indianapolis politics.  As a result, party leaders have tweaked rules so they, instead of elected precinct committeepersons and other party workers, exercise the real clout in the party, including picking the candidates at slating conventions.  Until the Marion County GOP leadership is willing to let go of some of that power and focus on rebuilding the organization, that 80,000 vote hole is only going to get bigger.  That could easily sink a Governor Mike Pence seeking a second term in 2016.

While statewide Republicans did well in house races going from holding 60 seats to holding 69 in the 100 seat legislative body, the underperformance of the Marion County GOP kept the number from being much larger.  Let's look at those House seats:

HD 87:  This Washington Township based district was held by Republican Cindy Noe who was opposed by Democrat Christina Hale.  After the 2010 redistricting, HD 87 had a baseline of 55.1% Republican.  On Election Day, Noe had 49.9% of the baseline, losing the seat by 49 votes.

HD 92:  This westside district, formerly held by Republican Phil Hinkle, was redrawn to slightly improve the Republican margin which had become razor thin at the end of the last redistricting cycle.  The new district (using the 2010 Marion County Recorder's Race) had a baseline of 55.4% Republican.  In the race, the Republican Tim Motsinger only received 46% of the vote.

HD 97:  This near southside district featured a faceoff between Republican AJ Feeney-Ruiz and Democrat Justin Moed.  Feeney-Ruiz in 2011 had been a candidate for the House.  While it was previously held by Democrat Mary Ann Sullivan, when the Republicans drew a map with a 52.4% Republican baseline, she decided to run (unsuccessfully) for a southside state senate district.  In the biggest legislative upset of the night, Moed won with 58.2% of the vote.  Feeney-Ruiz 41.8% performance fell more than 10 points behind the 52.4% baseline.

HD 100:  This district, formerly held by longtime legislator Democrat John Day, was a three way contest between Democrat Dan Forestal, Republican Scott Keller and Libertarian James Nease.  In the head-to-head baseline Democrats had an edge 56.8% to 43.2%, a difference of 13.5%.  On Election Day, the difference between the Republican and Democratic candidate was 20.8%, with Keller receiving 58.1% of the vote and Keller 37.3%.  Nease received the 4.6%, doing better than most Libertarians in such race.

In other Marion County house races that featured head-to-head matchups between the parties, Democrats ran ahead of their baselines.

HD 86:  Baseline 54.6% Democrat; incumbent Democrat Ed Delaney ran at 60.1%

HD 91:  Baseline 63.7% Republican; incumbent Republican Robert Behning received 59.7% of the vote.

HD 93:  Baseline 65.7% Republican; incumbent David Frizzell won 63.8% of the vote.

HD 96:  Baseline 83.9% Democrat; in a three way race, Democrat Greg Porter won with 83.2% of the vote, a spread of 70.2% over his Republican rival Karl Scharnberg who received 13% of the vote.  The spread on the baseline is 66.2%.  Libertarian Wesley Bishop received 3.2% of the vote.

HD 99:  Baseline 79.4 Democrat; incumbent Vanessa Summers ran at 83.3% despite facing the well-funded Republican Dr. David Blank.

The only house seat where I saw a Republican candidate running ahead of the 2010 baseline was House District held by House Speaker Brian Bosma.  That district, which is only partially contained in Marion County, had a Republican baseline of  63.2%.  Bosma received  64.4% of the vote.

While my focus has been on the Indiana House seats, I can't overlook the 7th Congressional District in Marion County.  After the 2010 redistricting the district was 58.1% Democrat.  (Some people tried to claim it was close to a 50-50 district after redistricting.  They were wrong.  It is only slightly less Democratic).  Incumbent Democrat Andre Carson ran at 62.8%, far ahead of the baseline and his energetic Republican opponent, Carlos May, who is widely hailed as an excellent candidate.

These races all show a weakening of the Marion County GOP, not only the organization and the electorate.  The problem is the local GOP party leaders are unwilling to give up the dictatorial power they currently wield in order to rebuild the party.  For example, the county chairman appoints over 80% of the voters who attend county-wide slating.     Lower level party workers (and voters) are increasingly figuring out that slating is about the chairman and his lieutenants taking the nomination of candidates away from party workers and primary voters.

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Why Tony Bennett Lost - The Folly of Beating Up Teachers for Public Education's Problems

Scott Elliott of the Indianapolis Star pens an article discussing five theories why Indiana Superintendent of Public Instruction lost.  They are excellent theories.  But rather than imply they are mutually exclusive, they are better labeled as "reasons."  Undoubtedly they all played a role in the demise of Bennett, despite the fact he was so much better known and funded than his opponent.
Superintendent of Public Instruction
Tony Bennett

I am a big believer in education reform.  But one thing I've never understood with the Bennett-brand of reform is the desire to go after public school teachers.  Could teachers be better trained?  Absolutely.  Could they have a better grasp of the subjects they teach?  Absolutely.  But on the list of things wrong with public education, those problems would be lucky to break the top 20.

I have taught at the college level for most of the past 25 years.  I have also been a substitute teacher in many of the public schools in Pike and Wayne Townships.  I have a strong interest in improving our public schools.   Trust me, from the quality of students I have seen at the college level since 1987, it needs improving.

In late 1995 through early 1996, I worked on education issues for the Rex Early for Governor campaign.   Of course, Rex lost to Indianapolis Mayor Steve Goldsmith, who lost the general election to Frank O'Bannon.  During the primary campaign, we actively met with teachers and tried to make them partners in education reform. One thing you learn very quickly is that there is an enormous gulf between classroom teachers and administrators.  We chiefly saw administrators as obstructionists, while teachers were more than willing to try new things if given the flexibility to do so.

When Tony Bennett was elected four years ago, I was puzzled when he made classroom teachers a primary target.  I didn't think that part of his reform philosophy was correct.  As it turns out targeting classroom teachers is also bad politics.  Teachers are great at networking and voting as a coalition.  Unlike what many conservatives think, however, many teachers are, in fact, Republican.

My Democratic friends though are going to be pretty disappointed when they find out that electing Glenda Ritz Superintendent of Public Instruction is unlikely to stop the pace of education reform in this state.  Education reform is driven primarily by the Governor and the Indiana General Assembly.  Working around Ritz will be a piece of cake.  In fact, an untold story is that Bennett's abrasive style and reluctance to listen to input from others had actually started alienating supporters of education reform, including Republican state legislators.

Sunday, November 11, 2012

How Can Republicans Win National Elections Again?

Sorry I haven't written on my blog lately.  I left the country on vacation immediately after last Tuesday's election.  It is not true that I left the country because of the election result.  While on vacation I had little access to the Internet. But I had a whole lot of access to CNN International and have watched numerous post-mortems on the Romney loss.  I thought I would offer my own as well as my suggestions of how the GOP can recover from this loss.

First, as I have said numerous times on these pages, Romney was simply not a strong candidate.  In an age of populism, in an age in which people want a President, more than ever, to understand their lives and the challenges they face as they live through the end (hopefully) of the Great Recession, the Republicans nominated the least populist presidential candidate on the planet.  Romney never represented traditional conservative Republican values and he never represented the much demonized tea party.  Both groups came to claim Romney as their own after reaching the end of the primary road with only one candidate standing in a weak field.  But in the end, being against the other guy, is not sufficient motivation for Republicans and conservatives to go out and vote.  Nobody was enthused about the choices this general election but President Obama offered more of what people wanted.

Now my ideas on the future of the Republican Party:

  • DON'T OVERSTATE THE PROBLEM:  While the Republican Party has problems, it is important to not overstate the problem.  In 2010, the Republicans won an enormous mid-term election, sweeping races the party had never won before.  The much demonized Tea Party was the energy behind that election. While the Tea Party could stand to modify its tactics, the populist message is still appealing.  While Democrats rebounded in 2012, the victory was not nearly what it is being spun as.  President Obama's winning margin was down significantly from 2008 as was his vote totals.  It's hard to claim an overwhelming mandate when the winning candidate received 50.4% of the vote in what was essentially a two person race.  Republicans are not that far away from winning the Presidency again. 

  • REPUBLICANS NEED TO REACH OUT TO MINORITIES, ESPECIALLY HISPANICS:   Romney did especially well with white voters.  The trouble for the GOP is that there are relatively fewer of us today than there were during the days  of Reagan.    While African-Americans understandably coalesced behind the first ever African-American President, the GOP can do so much more in reaching that demographic in the future..  Same to with Hispanics.  IN 2004, George Bush, II managed to get 44% of the Hispanic vote.  Just two elections later the Republican nominee is down to 27%, a swing of 34% in a rapidly expanding demographic.   There are plenty of African-Americans and Latinos who are conservative and to whom the Republican philosophy should appeal.  With regard to Latinos, while they vote primarily on other things than immigration, the immigration issue has important symbolic meaning.  That meaning was that Latinos are not welcome in the GOP.  Supporting comprehensive immigration reform and compassion on the issue would go miles toward eliminating animosity many Latinos feel about the GOP.  Bottom line is Republicans cannot win unless they learn to craft their message to attract non-minority voters.  I am confident they can do it.    

  • REPUBLICANS NEED TO STOP BEING THE PARTY OF NO:  Republicans were steadfastly against Obamacare and rightfully so.  But they failed to put forth any plan that would take its place. Everyone knows health care insurance is screwed up in this country.  Instead of putting forth a credible plan that encouraged much needed competition that would lead to lower premiums and better coverage,Republicans instead chose to confine their message to criticism of Obamacare.  And it is not just health insurance.  Republicans across the board failed to put forth a positive agenda for America's future, not just criticize the Democrats.  Republicans can win on ideas.  They can't win on criticism.

  • EMBRACE POPULISM:  The early tea party was popular in part because of its message against corporate welfare and the bailouts.  There is a lot of anger about the taxpayer's money being given to corporate fat cats in the form of taxpayer subsidies and corporate bailouts.  Instead of nominating someone who could appeal to working class men and women, the GOP nominated the very epitome of wealth and privilege.  Voters today want a President that they can sit down and have a beer with. While President Obama is not the ultimate candidate in that regard, he is light years ahead of Mitt Romney.

  • DON'T GET CAUGHT ON THE WRONG SIDE OF HISTORY; SUPPORT SAME SEX MARRIAGE:  Republicans are on the wrong side of history on this issue.  The percent of voters in support of allowing same sex marriage is rapidly increasing.  Further, it is a generational time bomb. Younger people in overwhelming numbers support allowing same sex marriage.  In 25 years, maybe less,opposition to same sex marriage will be seen the same as opposition to interracial marriage is seen today.  Republicans, the party of civil rights, should not be on the wrong side of this civil rights issue.

  • REPUBLICANS NEED TO BE THE PARTY OF LIBERTY:  The GOP needs to be the party of liberty, the party that supports the principles of freedom. While Republicans certainly should not abandon the socially conservative issues that are so appealing to a large segment of the GOP coalition, there is plenty of room to support freedom, especially when that freedom does not directly affect others. The decriminalization/legalization of marijuana is coming.  The GOP should lead the way in realizing the problems criminalization of cannabis has caused and support treating it like alcohol.  Likewise the Republicans should take the lead in pointing out the failure of the War on Drugs and stopping the abuses of things like civil forfeiture and the Patriot Act.

  • REPUBLICANS NEED TO GET BACK TO MAKING THE ABORTION ISSUE ABOUT LIFE:   For over 30 years the abortion issue has been a winning issue for Republicans.  Today the polling shows pro-life position is stronger than it has ever been in the polls.  Perhaps too strong because GOP primaries have pushed Republican candidates into taking absolutist positions that don't make exceptions for rape, incest, life of the mother.  One can certainly argue that there is a philosophical inconsistency with being pro-life, but then supporting the exceptions.  But there is no doubt that if Democrats can succeed in making the abortion issue about whether to have rape and incest exceptions, which unlike abortion on demand mandated by current law, are very popular.  Republicans and their pro-life supporters are foolish for risking losing the public debate on abortion because they won't budge on exceptions that don't make up 1% of the abortions done in this country.  99% of a loaf of bread is better than none of it. 

  • STOP DRINKING THE KOOL-AID:  Many on the right were shocked by the election result.  That's because they listened almost exclusively to right-wing television and radio in which people told them what they wanted to hear...that the polls weren't right, that there was a lot of support for Mitt Romney, and, in fact, he would win by a landslide.   Republicans need to get out more.  Turn the TV from FoxNews to CNN, even MSNBC.  Listen to what the other side is saying.  If Republicans want a stronger party, they need to venture out into the world.  The right-wing media often is telling people want they want to hear, which isn't always necessarily the truth.   The truth is President Obama is not the devil.  He is a reasonably popular President who gives every appearance of being a competent and moderate leader.   Meanwhile they saw Romney as being the leader of the party of angry white men.  Republicans should have shown President Obama more respect, not just for being President but also as a skilled politician.  The number one mistake in electoral politics is to underestimate your opponent.  Democrats did it twice with Reagan and the Republicans did it with President Obama this past election.

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Who is Responsible for Romney Loss?

By virtually sweeping all the battleground states, President Obama was re-elected yesterday to another four years.

I don't have time now to write a lengthy dissertation on why Republican nominee Mitt Romney lost.  Suffice it to say I thought he was a terrible choice from the beginning.  In an age of populism, the GOP nominated probably the most establishment, least populist candidate on the planet. 

The irony is that the establishment is going to try to pin this loss on the tea party or the fiscal and social conservatives foot soldiers who provide the energy for the party.  But the loss belongs solely to the establishment GOP types who shoved Romney down our throats until many of us actually became convinced he was a good choice.  He wasn't and the results last night proved that.

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Will "Vote No" Campaign on Justice David's Retention Show New Social Media Can Replace Traditional Political Advertising?

One race I'll watch with interest on Tuesday is the retention vote involving Indiana Supreme Court Justice Steven David.

Decades ago, Indiana adopted the Missouri Plan system for selecting appellate judges. That system involves gubernatorial selection of the judge from a list of three pre-screened nominees.  After the selection, the judge appears on the next election's ballot for a retention vote, a vote "Yes" or "No" to retain the person in office.  After the initial retention vote, the appellate judge only appears on the ballot every 10 years.  Here is an article that discusses the Missouri Plan used by Indiana.
Justice Seven David

In the forty years that the Missouri Plan has been in place, no appellate judge has ever come close to losing a retention vote.  If memory serves me correctly, most retention questions result in an "Yes" vote that is typically in the range of 75%.  At the worst, again if I'm remembering correctly, the lowest percent has been around 65%.  It seems that when people don't know the judge their default" is to vote "Yes." I suppose if people haven't heard anything bad about the judge, they assume he or she deserves to stay on the bench.

While removal via a retention loss has never happened in Indiana, it has happened in other states, albeit rarely.  These retention losses though always involved highly-funded, well-organized efforts. The effort to get people to "Vote No" on Justice David's retention is unique in that it exists almost entirely in the social media, e.g. Facebook, emails, blogs, etc.  Can a campaign that exists almost exclusively in the social media, a campaign that does not use direct mail and media advertising, actually prevail? 

My guess social media is not yet there and that a campaign can't succeed without traditional advertising.  hile I expect that Justice David's retention vote totals will be historically low, I also expect the "Yes" votes will still exceed 60%, a 20% victory.  But if I'm wrong, it would represent a dramatic shift in the political landscape, a leveling of the playing field brought about by social media.

Election Predictions: Marion County House Races

Here are my predictions for the Marion County Indiana House races:

District 86:  This northside district features legislative veteran Edward Delaney, a Democrat, defending his seat against Republican Luke Bosso.  If it were an open seat, Republicans likely would have sunk money into trying to pick up the marginally Democratic northside seat.  Without an opponent with money, Delaney has a decided advantage.  Delaney should win without about 60% of the vote.

Representative Cindy Noe
District 87:  This is the second of the Washington Township based districts.  This one though features a Republican Cindy Noe defending her seat against a well-funding challenger Democrat Christina Hale.  The district is similar to the Schneider-Delaney race in that an unabashed conservative Republican is seeking a re-election against a much more liberal Democrat. Noe though has slightly better numbers to work with and should edge out this race.

District 88:  House Speaker Brian Bosma not surprisingly landed in a safe Republican district.  He should prevail easily over Brandon Perry.

Districts 89 and 90:  Two Republican indcumbents, Cindy Kirchhofer and Mike Speedy are unopposed in southside districts.

District 91:   Long-time Republican incumbent Robert Behning squares off against Democrat Michal Blinn.  Behning should prevail in this westside district with over 60% of the vote.

Tim Motsinger
District 92:  This is an open seat vacated by Republican Phil Hinkle.  Tim Motsinger won a highly contested primary and faces a well-funded Democrat Karlee Macer.  Motsinger should edge Macer out.  This is a district, however, that is likely to trend more Democratic later in the decade.

District 93:  Republican David Frizzell faces Democrat Ryan Guillory in this southside district.  The seat is a safe one for Frizzell.

District 94:  Democrat Cherish Pryor's only competition is Socialist Ronald Haldeman.  It will be interesting seeing what percent Haldeman gets.  I'm thinking as much as 15%.    Still that leaves Prior with 85% and an easy win.

District 95:  Democratic incumbent John Bartlett is unopposed.

District 96:  Democratic incumbent Greg Porter faces Republican Karl Schamberg and Libertrain Wesley Bishop.  While Porter drew two challengers, the central Indianapolis district is the most heavily Democratic house district in Marion County with a baseline of 83%.   Porter wins easily.

AJ Feeney-Ruiz
District 97:  In what should be the closest race in the county, Republican AJ Feeney-Ruiz squares off against Demcorat Justin Moed.  This near southside district which includes southern Center Township and northern Perry Township is one of the few areas of the county that has grown more Republican. That gave mapmakers the chance to tip the district against Democratic incumbent Mary Ann Sullivan who chose to run for the State Senate instead.  With a Republican baseline of 52.4%, Feeney-Ruiz can't afford to lose many voters.  My guess is Feeney-Ruiz wins a squeaker, thanks in no small part to pro-Romney vote in that district.

District 98:  Democrat Robin Shakleford has no opponent in her race for this open seat.

Dan Forestal
District 99:  Democratic incumbent Vanessa Summers faces Republican challenger David Blank.  Blank, who is a physician, appears to have a well-funded operation.  He has yard signs throughout the district, billboards, and numerous internet ads  The problem though is that it is an 80% Democratic district. Blank's efforts can move the voters some, but the most gifted politician ever couldn't move 30% of the electorate.  Summers wins easily.  I personally hope that Dr. Blank doesn't burn himself and his supporters out running in these unwinnable districts.   This is the second unwinnable district he's run in.

District 100:  This open seat, formerly held by John Day, is a possible pickup for Republicans.  Democrat Dan Forestal faces Republican Scott Keller, a former City-County Councilor, and Libertarian James Nease.  Keller is an energetic campaigner who undoubtedly has canvassed much of the district.  However, Foprestal also has a strong grass roots operation.  This near southside seat, like District 97, is turning more Republican.  The GOP probably will have a better shot at it in 2014 and in later elections.

Monday, November 5, 2012

2012 Election Predictions - Civil Discourse Now

The Panel of five "experts" - Mark Small, Jon Easter, Matt Stone, Jeff Cox and Paul Ogden - offer their predictions for Tuesday's election.

Election Predictions - Part 1 (President) Election Predictions - Part 2 (President and U.S. Senate) Election Predictions - Part 3 (U.S. Senate, U.S. House, State Legislature)

Pike Township School Board Needs New Blood Such as Eric Huffine and David Copher; Rubber Stamp Incumbents Need to Be Sent Packing

Amidst all the bigger elections taking place on Tuesday, there is one on the ballot that should be of concern for my fellow Pike Township residents - Pike Township School Board.

Last election cycle we reviewed the votes of the Pike Township School Board. Throughout the years of records that were available, we found that every vote of the Pike School Board had been unanimous.   Not a single dissenting vote was heard. Every proposal offered by Pike Superintendent Nathaniel Jones was rubber stamped by the school board.  Jones is a protege of IPS Superintendent Eugene White, and he is working heard to bring the Pike Township schools down to the level of IPS.  The recent report card from the Department of Education demonstrate how some of the Pike schools are beginning to resemble IPS schools:

Pike Schools 2012 2011 2010
Fishback Creek Public Aca C D A
Deer Run Elementary C C C
Pike High School C C F
College Park Elem Sch D C C
Lincoln Middle School F F C
Guion Creek Middle School F F D
Central Elementary School D C C
Eagle Creek Elementary School A A A
Eastbrook Elementary School D D A
Guion Creek Elementary School B A A

Pike is an at-large school board.  Four of the seven seats are up for re-election this cycle.  Three of the incumbents - Nancy Poore, Ricky Hence, and Larry Metzler - are seeking re-election. None of them deserve it.  They have been on the Board for a considerable period of time and had a chance to exercise some oversight over the administration and have utterly failed to do so.   These board members support the administration's plan to tear down elementary school buildings in the district only a few decades old to build new buildings, which of course leads to higher taxes.


Eric Huffine
The fact is the incumbents refuse to acknowledge any problems with Pike schools and believe their sole role on the Board is to be cheerleaders.  I'll never forget the conversation with Mr. Hence in which he denied there were gangs in Pike schools.  I also met with Pike Township School employees who wanted to report things that were going on and found the school board members refused to even listen to their concerns.

When I ran, unsuccessfully, for the Pike Township School Board in 2010, I met Eric Huffine and David Copher who both ran during that cycle.  Both are dedicated to the improvement of Pike Township schools. Both believe school board members should hold the administration accountable and demand transparency.  While that seems like a no brainer, the fact is Poore, Hence and Metzler have not even demanded that from the Pike Township School District administration.

Huffine and Copher would be a breath of fresh air on the Pike Township School Board. I wholeheartedly endorse them.  Here is Eric Huffine's election webpage. If I find one for David Copher, I will update this post to provide a link.

Sunday, November 4, 2012

Is Superintendent Tony Bennett's Re-Election in Jeopardy?

State Superintendent of
Public Instruction Tony Bennett
For me the biggest surprise in the Howey-DePauw poll was not the Mourdock-Donnelly-Horning result, but the finding that incumbent Republican Superintendent of Public Instruction Tony Bennett only leads challenger Democrat Glenda Ritz by 40-36, with 24% undecided.

If those figures are correct, Bennett is in serious trouble.  Undecided voters typically break by about a 2/3 margin for the challenger in a race in a race involving an incumbent.   That would mean Ritz wins 52-48 on election day.

While I'm a big believer in the science of polling, I have serious reservations about the Howey poll.  For example, according to the cross tabs only 9% of the people polled voted in the GOP primary.   I would think that possibly a misprint, but I haven't seen any correction.

While I think the Bennett-Ritz race will be below the GOP statewide baseline, I expect that Bennett will cross the winners line with about 53% of the vote on election day.  That is actually signficantly better than his 51-49 victory in 2008.

Predictions: Marion County State Senate Districts

Marion County features some close state senate races.  Let's review them.

SENATE DISTRICT 30 (most of Washington Township, parts of Carmel and Fishers in Hamilton County) 

This northside race features State Senator Scott Schneider who very impressively won his seat in a vacancy caucus of Republican precinct committeemen in 2009 against then councilor Ryan Vaughn who had the support of virtually every party insider. Schneider is facing newcomer attorney Tim Delaney, whose father, Ed Delaney, is a state representative also from the northside.   Fred (F.C.) Peterson, a Libertarian is also running.  Peterson's appearance in the race could be critical.


State Senator
Scott Schneider
Both Schneider and Delaney come from long-time political families active in Washington Township.  The race features a stark philosophical divide, with liberal Delaney trying to link conservative Schneider to U.S. Senate candidate Richard Mourdock.  Schneider meanwhile has been hammering Delaney for his opposition to the constitutional amendment imposing property tax caps. 

From what I've been told, this is a 50-50 district.  I have known Scott Schneider for a number of years.  He is a very personable and intelligent candidate, who understands retail politics.  Delaney, who is probably in his early 30s (can't find his age on line) but looks younger, may be perceived by voters as a few years away from being ready.  I was told once that voters don't take you seriously as a candidate until you have gray hair or are going bald.  Delaney is 0 for 2 in that regard.

Libertarian's Peterson's presence though is problematic, especially for Schneider.  Republicans unhappy with their nominee often "default" by voting Libertarian.  If Peterson pulls in several hundred Republican votes that otherwise would go to Schneider, it might tip the balance to Delaney.  Still though, on balance, I am going with Schneider.

SENATE DISTRICT 32: includes the southern part of Warren Township, all of Franklin Township and portions of eastern Center and Perry Townships)
Senator Pat Miller
This district is now entirely contained in Marion County. Incumbent and long-time legislator Republican Pat Miller faces former Democratic state representative John Barnes whose former house district includes some of the new Senate District 32.

Barnes is a strong candidate. He has been attempting to portray Senator Miller as too conservative for the district. I expect Barnes to come within about 5% or 6% of Miller on election night. This district will likely be even more competitive in 2016 and 2020.

SENATE DISTRICT 35 (includes Speedway, southern Wayne Township, southern 1/3 of Hendricks County including Plainfield and Clayton)

This district features a battle between incumbent and long-time legislator Republican Mike Young and Democratic attorney Mark Waterfill.While the Marion County area of the district is Democratic, the Hendricks County area tips the district to the Republicans.   

Senator R. Michael Young

I went to junior high with Mark Waterfill down in Madison, Indiana. Our paths crossed at Hanover College to for a year. I also know Senator Mike Young from various campaigns. Senator Young is a very independent-minded Republican with solid conservative credentials. But Young has proven very adept at getting legislation passed to address problems his constituents have or to address wrongs. Senator Young authored the legislation aimed at stopping the Marion County Traffic Court from fining people simply for asking for a trial. He also authored the bill aimed at limiting the abuse of public intoxication law to arrest people who had done nothing wrong but be intoxicated in a public place. He also was author of the legislation dealing with the fallout from the Barnes v. State illegal entry case.

In Waterfill, the Democrats recruited an excellent candidate. Having lived in the Hendricks County portion of the district for years, he may be able to blunt Young's appeal to Republicans in that county. But Young is a smart politico and his involvement in drawing the Senate maps means its unlikely this district is poised for a Democratic pickup. Maybe down the road, but not this year.

SENATE DISTRICT 36:  (includes a good chunk of Center Township, Perry Township, and a tiny bit of Johnson County)
Representative
Mary Ann Sullivan
This race features Republican Senator Brent Waltz running against Democratic Representative Mary Ann Sullivan.  The newly drawn district only goes into Johnson County now to pick up Waltz's residence. Otherwise much of the district is new territory for Waltz.  While the district is slightly more Republican than Senate District 30, I don't believe Waltz is quite the retail politician Schneider is.  Further, Sullivan is an experienced legislator who has carved out an independent path, in particular when it comes to education reform.  I'm going to predict Sullivan wins this race.

SENATE DISTRICT 33 and 34:  These Marion County districts are currently held by Democrats Greg Taylor and Jean Breaux respectively.   Senator Taylor is opposed by Libertarian Gena Martinez.  Senator Breaux's only opposition is an independent write-in candidate Eric "The Nobody" Scott.  Senators Taylor and Breaux will be re-elected.

Saturday, November 3, 2012

Storm Sandy Gives President Obama a Second Term; Obama Set to Narrowly Win Electoral College Victory While Losing Popular Vote

A week ago, the trend lines in the battleground states were going Mitt Romney's way.  But a few days ago, in conjunction with Storm Sandy hitting east coast, President Obama numbers began rebounding every so slightly in those states that will decide the election.  In the end, I think that will make the difference on Election Day.
Ogden on Politics predicts a second
term for President Barack Obama

I predict President Obama will squeek out a win in the Electoral College 281-257, while losing the nationwide popular vote by a very narrow margin.  A lot of people (not me) will be bothered that and reforming the Electoral College will be become cause célèbre for many conservatives. 

Here is my map.

Let's look at some battleground states:

ATLANTIC BATTLEGROUND:  From the beginning I've said that Romney wins Virginia (13 Electoral Votes), North Carolina (11) and Florida (29).  I still believe that today and most of the polls concur, by very narrow margins, that Romney wins those states. Right now, Virgina of the three looks to be the closest.  Romney can't afford to lose any of them and I don't think he will.

THE ISLAND IN THE NORTHEAST:  Polling has long shown that Romney had a solid shot at winning New Hampshire (4), a state in which Romney has one of this many homes.  In fact, my undecided vote analysis I discussed earlier on my blog put this state in the Romney column.  But polls recently have showed President Obama nudging across the 50% threshold.  I put this state in the President's Column.

THE WESTERN BATTLEGROUND STATES:  I've long thought Colorado (9) would be in the Romney column.  Some recent polls though show some doubt about that. Still I think he'll win that state. The polls in Nevada (6), the other western battleground state, however, have shown President Obama with a consistent lead, but a lead well within the margin of error.  I have to give Nevada to President Obama.

THE BATTLEGROUND WANNABEES:  Some states flirted with being battlegrounds this election cycle.  Minnesota (10), Michigan (16) and Pennsylvania (20) all fall into that category.  Polling even showed the lead in Oregon (7) narrowing to 6 points. While changing partisanship holds opportunity for Republicans down the road to win these states, I just don't think it's going to happen this time.  I predict the polling showing President Obama with a small lead in those states holds up on Election Day.

THE BIG TEN BATTLEGROUND STATES:  I said from the beginning that the election would be won or lost in some of the states that have universities in the Big Ten.  I stand by that.  In particular, these states include Wisconsin (10), Iowa (6) and Ohio (18.).  Romney can win the election by prevailing in Ohio.  Or he can win by putting pulling off victories in Wisconsin and Iowa.  Of those states, Romney has the best chance to win Iowa with Ohio a narrow second.  I am guessing he'll be 0 for 3, however.

TIE SCENARIO:  If I'm wrong and Romney wins Iowa and Nevada, and I'm right on the other 48 states, there is an electoral college vote tie of 269-269.  Romney's chance of winning Nevada though has diminished.

ELECTION IS NOT OVER:  Although Obama's numbers improved after Storm Sandy, there is nothing to say that Romney's numbers won't bounce back this weekend and on Monday.  He's not out of the running at all.  Just a slight surge in the battleground states could tip the election to the challenger.  Anyone who says that President Barack Obama or Mitt Romney have this election wrapped up is certifiable and should be reported to the authorities.

MY BATTING AVERAGE IS GOING DOWN:  I fully expect there to be Election Day surprises considering how close the polling is.  In 2004, I predicted 49 of 50 states correctly.  In 2008, I was right on 48 of 50 states, including Indiana.  I don't expect my batting average of .970 to go anywhere but down after this election.

Friday, November 2, 2012

Marion County GOP Chairman Calls Property Tax Break a "Wasteful Taxpayer Subsidy"

Marion County Republican Chairman Kyle Walker
I thought only Democrats considered taxpayer dollars money the government's money instead of the people's.  I was wrong.  Apparently Marion County GOP Chairman Kyle Walker thinks that people paying less in property taxes is government subsidizing those taxpayers.  After lambasting Walker's press release supporting corporate welfare to the Pacers over public safety, blogger Gary Welsh of Advance Indiana turns to Walker's complete abandonment of all conservative Republican principles:
Now, if that isn't enough to turn your stomach, wait until you see what Chairman Walker had to say about the homestead property tax credit that Mayor Ballard and the Republican-controlled council is hell bent on eliminating. "Council Democrats refused to eliminate an antiquated, wasteful tax subsidy that costs taxpayers $9 million per year--money that was budgeted for public safety," Walker said. A property tax break for middle-income homeowners is "an antiquated, wasteful tax subsidy that costs taxpayer $9 million per year?" What does that make the $33.5 million subsidy the Mayor supported giving to billionaire Herb Simon's Indiana Pacers? Or what about the $6.5 million that Mayor Ballard gave to his favorite pay-to-play city contractor, Ersal Ozdemir, to construct a parking garage in Broad Ripple that he alone will own and from which he will receive all of the income? The audacity to equate a tax increase on ordinary taxpayers to a "wasteful tax subsidy" is simply beyond reproach and exhibits a hostility towards the taxpayers that I would never have dreamed I would live to see coming from the mouth of a Republican leader. As a life-long Republican, I am shocked and dismayed by the utter contempt this administration and this county leadership have towards taxpayers. What they are telling me is that they are less concerned about the tax burden of ordinary taxpayers than their concern for having money to give away to the billionaire sports team owners who lavish them with campaign contributions and free tickets to sporting events.
To hear Walker describe it, the Democratic-passed budget that takes $15 million away from the CIB to fund public safety is "robbing Peter to pay Paul." No, Kyle, it's more like robbing Joe Sixpack to pay Herb Simon. You and Mayor Ballard want to raise taxes on working families by eliminating the homestead property tax credit and leaving the money in the hands of the cash-flush CIB. Mayor Ballard's claim that the Democratic-passed budget created a $35 million structural budget gap is no more true than the budget gap that exists under his proposed budget....
Can you believe Chairman Walker had the gall to send out literature this spring saying my blog is "anti-Republican?"   Walker purports to speak for Republicans who live in Marion County.  Apparently though Walker believes all Republicans that live in this county are chomping at the bit for higher taxes and more giveaways of our tax dollars to billionaires and politically-connected developers.  His press release demonstrates he does not have a fiscally conservative bone in his body. 

Walker's press release is an embarrassment, an abdication of all conservative principles the GOP stands for.  He should resign rather than continue to misrepresent the position of tens if not hundreds of thousands of Marion County Republicans he claims to represent as Chairman of the party