Thursday, January 31, 2013

House Speaker Wants Hoosiers Who Helped Deer Pardoned; Will Governor Pence Take Golden Opportunity to Hit Easy Political Home Run?

Norman Cox of WRTV is reporting that House Speaker Brian Bosma wants the rescuers of Dani the Deer to be pardoned.  Before getting to Cox's story though, an Indianapolis Star article reprinted by USA Today provides us some background:
Dani the Deer

The case of Dani the deer and the couple who saved her — only to be prosecuted for breaking a law about keeping wild animals — has reached the governor.

The only question is what will Gov. Mike Pence, barely two weeks in office, do with an issue that is small compared to mass transit and tax cuts but seems to spark much more emotional resonance with a broad swath of the public since The Indianapolis Star report Monday.
Pence, a Republican seen as a champion of limited government, said at a news conference Wednesday that the state Department of Natural Resources seems to have "acted appropriately" in charging Jennifer and Jeff Counceller of Connersville, Ind., with a crime.
Speaker Brian Bosma
The charge — illegal possession of a white-tailed deer — is a a misdemeanor, but punished to the fullest it could cost the Councellers up to 60 days in jail and a $500 fine.
After nursing the wounded fawn back to health, the Councellers kept the deer penned up for nearly two years on their property about 55 miles east of Indianapolis with the idea they would release it into the wild once it was big enough to have a chance on its own.
Their plans were thwarted when a state conservation officer discovered the deer, sought to have it killed and then — after it mysteriously disappeared — filed a report that led to the misdemeanor criminal charges against the Councellers.
Cox's story updates us that Indiana Speaker of the House Brian Bosma is calling on Governor Mike Pence to pardon the Councellers.
INDIANAPOLIS - Indiana House Speaker Brian Bosma wants the governor to pardon a couple who face criminal charges after nursing an injured baby deer back to health. 
Bosma told reporters Thursday that Gov. Mike Pence should intervene in the case of Connersville police officer Jeff Counceller and his wife, Jennifer, who were charged this month with illegal possession of a white-tailed deer, a misdemeanor that carries up to 60 days in jail and a $500 fine. 
"Laws are imperfect and people are imperfect, so occasionally, a commutation of sentence or a pardon might be in order," Bosma said. "It seems to me that (the decision to prosecute) may not be the right direction."
I completely agree with Speaker Bosma.  The decision to prosecute the Councellers for an act of kindness is an exceedingly poor one  Prosecutors are given discretion exactly for reasons such as this.  I would also point out that there isn't a chance in a million that a prosecutor could get a conviction on these charges in front of a jury.  That should have led to the obvious decision to not pursue the charges.

I would also point out that when you beyond the federal and state heads of environmental agencies, their are cadres of career bureaucrats who are far left environmental extremists who are are not beyond abusing their considerable administrative powers to bully people.  I have previously written what my elderly uncle went through when federal and state agencies targeted him for moving a pile of dirt in a creek. Below is the story I wrote nearly two years ago on that issue, which I reprint below in its entirety. The DNR along with the Army Corp. of Engineers and other environmental agencies was also involved in that persecution:
My uncle, Paul Buchanan, is 83 years old and lives in Madison, Indiana. He owns a farm that is a few miles north of Madison, between China, Indiana and Manville
Paul is a heavy equipment operator, including a bulldozer that he uses occasionally.
 A creek named Dry Fork runs through my uncle's farm. True to its name, Dry Fork is completely dry, filling up only when it rains. As can be seen in these photos, the creek is extremely wide.
Late last spring, my uncle was concerned about the condition of the creek. A rock bed in the middle of the creek had been built up, forcing any water in the creek after a storm to the outside. The resulting erosion cut under part of his farm, leaving it to eventually collapse into the creek. On the other side, the water was beginning to erode the ground underneath the county road, which would eventually collapse. 
My uncle used his bulldozer to place three scoops of creek rocks against the eroding bank in an attempt to shore up the bank. Someone from the Army Corps of Engineers happened to be driving by while Paul was doing the work. Paul was cited for an environmental violation. 
The Army Corps of Engineers and a couple state agencies demanded he restore the creek to the way it was. Paul readily agreed to do that. However, before he could get back to the property, a 100 year storm hit, and the resulting tide of the water washed away the rocks he had pushed against the bank. The creek was back exactly the way it was before.
One would think that would be the end of that and for the state agencies it was. But for the feds, and specifically the Army Corps of Engineers, the Act of God in wiping away my uncle's work wasn't good enough. The agency issued a report claiming that my uncle had interfered in the "spawning of fish" in the creek, a patently absurd statement. Dry Fork is a dry creek with just puddles of water most of the time. The only "fish" in those puddles are tiny minnows. 
The Army Corp also alleged that Paul interfered with "vegetation" in the area, and demanded he engage in an extensive program to plant good vegetation while destroying bad vegetation growing in the area. My uncle didn't interfere with any vegetation in the area. By the way, the "vegetation" they are talking about is nothing more than what most people would call weeds. 
The Army Corps of Engineers demanded that the creek be "remediated" - that the creek be restored like it was before my uncle did the work. Pursuant to the Corps' demands, my uncle hired an environmentalist and engineers to put together studies and plans. The Corps continued to come up with new demands, including that my uncle hire a pilot to fly over the area to take pictures. They insisted he change the deed to his property to include a restriction that neither he nor anyone who owns the property after him could ever work in the creek again, even if they obtain the proper permit to do so. As a real estate attorney, I told him the deed restriction would lessen the value of the property when resold and not to agree to it. I was stunned at the chutzpah of these federal bureaucrats who would actually try to coerce a elderly property owner into putting a restriction on his deed. 
My uncle did the best he could to make the feds happy. He, as he was told to do, hired an environmentalist and engineers. He had a study done and put together a remedial plan for the area, even though, of course, there was nothing to remediate. My uncle, in just about 8 months, spent $25,000 trying to placate the Army Corps of Engineers. No matter what he did though the agency continued to move the target just out of his reach. 
A representative of the Corps had vowed from the beginning to "make an example" of my uncle for working in the creek. True to his word, he constantly badgered my elderly uncle with demands and threats. To give you an example, my uncle had an expensive remediation report prepared and emailed it to the representative. The representative replied within 5 minutes demanding that my uncle make changes to the report by 8 am the next day or face severe financial consequences.
Because of these threats, my uncle has had trouble sleeping at night and eating. He's lost weight because of the worry. He and his wife were terrified they are going to lose their farm. 
I write in the past tense, but the case is still going on. I took over representing my uncle and the case has been moved to the EPA. Initially, the EPA started out with more Army Corps-type threats of fines against my uncle saying that unless he remediated the creek for the work he did, the agency would sock him with tens of thousands of dollars of fines per day. Hopefully now cooler heads are prevailing. I've asked them to take a closer look at this case and they would find out that there is nothing to remediate
We have also asked for help from Paul's elected officials in southern Indiana. The State legislators were very responsive though they were limited in what they could do since the state agencies had long ago been satisfied and it was the feds still pushing the demands and making the threats. Congressman Baron Hill, whose district, includes the area, expressed an interest in finding out what is going on. Senator Evan Bayh's office also has written the EPA asking them for information about the case. 
The response from Sen. Richard Lugar's office, however, has been beyond worthless. A representative for the Senator claimed he couldn't get involved, told me that Paul was at fault, and that he should hire attorneys, environmentalists and engineers to prepare reports and plans. Sen. Lugar's representative had obviously not even bothered to look at the material that I sent him which showed my uncle had already done exactly that spending $25,000 to no avail. If this is the level of constituent service Senator Lugar is going to provide, hopefully he won't consider running again. 
I am deeply concerned at the strain that the federal government's continued threats against my 83 year old uncle will have on his health. He has never been in trouble a day in his life and now he is facing federal bureaucrats who are threatening to take away his farm and everything he has worked for. These folks who are abusing their power to "make an example" of my uncle should be ashamed of bullying an elderly man who they know who does not have the ability or the financial resources to fight back. They are nothing but thugs, pure and simple. 
Note: The reproduction of the photo for some reason enhanced any green in the pictures. The plants are not nearly as "lush" as the green in the photos indicate. 
Fortunately for my uncle, the environmental wackos targeting him finally dropped their persecution of him when, I, as his attorney, stood up to the bullies and said we wouldn't do anything else they were demanding.  We also had considerable help from former Rep. Dave Cheatham who took an interest in the case and the unfair treatment of my uncle.

Speaker Bosma is right to call for a pardon.  But this case should never have been filed in the first place. The DNR agent obviously filed the complaint with the prosecutor only after he got angry at the Councellers who he believes left the gate open rather than let him euthanize the animal.

Finally a note about legal procedure. News reports have indicated that the DNR agent could withdraw the complaint and the criminal charges would have to be dropped.  I don't think that's the case.  County prosecutors in Indiana have absolute discretion to pursue criminal charges.  Even without the DNR complaint, the special prosecutor could prosecute the Councellers.  The Governor cannot order the prosecutor not to prosecute. But Governor Pence could pardon the Councellers which would stop the prosecution.  Also the General Assembly could actually change the law the Councellers are being charged with violating and apply it retroactively to wipe out the legal basis for the prosecution.  (Ex post facto laws are allowed if they work for the benefit of the prosecutor.)  A more long shot method A much more questionable method might be for the General Assembly to pass a private bill that effectively clears the Councellers of criminal conduct.

In an Indianapolis Star article, political analyst Andrew Downs indicates that Governor Pence is in a no win situation because of the issue:
But to Andy Downs, director of the Mike Downs Center for Indiana Politics, the governor is in a no-win situation. 
“These are nightmare circumstances. There really is no right answer,” Downs said.

“You are either telling your employees to selectively enforce the laws and not do what they are paid to do, . . . or you are saying to people, ‘This wonderful thing you did, it violates the law, so we have to punish you for it.’ ”
I couldn't agree less with Downs. First of all, enforcement of the law doesn't mean one has to divest oneself of common sense.  An overzealous DNR agent filed a complaint out of anger. The prosecutor, who the law gives discretion to, should have had the good sense to throw the DNR complaint in the trash can rather than pursue criminal charges.

Most importantly though, contrary to Downs' suggestion, this issue is an easy home run for Governor Pence if handled the right way.  He has the chance to stand up for two Hoosiers who tried to show compassion toward a deer who apparently had been mauled by a coyote.  Then you have big, bad and powerful government officials trying to get the couple prosecuted for an act of kindness. Pence has been handed a golden opportunity in his first act to stand up for Hoosier common sense and against an overzealous state bureaucracy.  If he comes to the Councellers rescue by taking forceful action, he will be the darling of the news shows and gain national attention.  Governor Pence could not have a better way to introduce himself as Indiana's new Governor.

Is the US Economy Heading Toward Another Recession?

The standard definition of a recession is two quarters of negative growth.  While the economy has very slowly grown for the past three years, in particular for a recovery coming after a major recession, at least it has grown.  Recent reports show the economy during the last quarter of 2012 shrank for the first time since the Great Recession.  CNNMoney reports:
Gross domestic product, the broadest measure of the nation's economic growth, contracted at an annual rate of 0.1% from October to December, the Commerce Department said Wednesday. It was the first quarterly contraction since the second quarter of 2009, amid the Great Recession.

While a contraction is never encouraging, economists pointed to temporary effects that may have caused a one-time dip, and they see better growth ahead.

It's "the best-looking contraction in U.S. GDP you'll ever see," Paul Ashworth, chief U.S. economist for Capital Economics said in a research note. "The drag from defense spending and inventories is a one-off. The rest of the report is all encouraging."

A large cut in federal spending, primarily on defense, was one of the biggest drags on growth. Defense spending contracted at a 22% annual rate.
Besides those cited above, the article is filled with additional excuses why this quarter was an anomaly.  While economists are generally predicting the slow 2% to 2.5% economic growth the U.S. has experienced during the recovery will resume next quarter, if it falls short alarm bells of a new recession will be set off.

Monday, January 28, 2013

As Governor Pence Leads State Towards Income Tax Cut, Indy Republicans Unite to Wipe Out Pence Tax Cut with Huge Tax Increases

Governor Mike Pence campaigned as a fiscal conservative, promoting a "road map" that called for a 10% income tax cut.  Once in office, Pence immediately lived up to that pledge calling for the tax cut despite some push back in his own party.  Governor Pence understands that to control spending you have to limit how much money government is taking from its citizen.  That is Republican Politics 101.
Governor Mike Pence

As Pence and his family settles into the Governor's Mansion in Indianapolis, he will find local elected Republicans not following his tax-cutting lead and, in fact, heading in completely the opposite direction.  The Mayor's Office and members of the Indianapolis City-County Council have united to push through a 50% increase in car rental tax and a 67% increase in the admissions tax on all events held at CIB facilities.  Instead of that money going to general revenues, 75% of it will go into the already-flush coffers of the Capital Improvement Board which runs the City's sports facilities and convention center. The CIB is expected to use the increased revenue to push for a publicly-funded downtown soccer facility which the CIB will no doubt pay to run while giving the profits to the private owners.  In addition, a administration-backed measure has been introduced in the Indianapolis City-County Council to repeal the local homestead tax credit.  Finally, a 19% increase in the local income tax for a major mass transit plan is being advocated..  A fiscal analysis of the plan already shows the local income tax being insufficient for the transit plan and would have to eventually be raised more. That's not to mention tax dollars that will be coming from the state and federal government, all of which tax dollars originate from taxpayers.  Taking the money from a different pocket of the taxpayer doesn't change the fact that the money is coming from the taxpayer.

Although many of the local Democrats support these massive local tax increases, the astonishing thing is that local Republicans have cast aside Pence-style fiscal conservatism to support these tax increases.  Few objecting voices are heard in the Republican caucus.  Northside Republican Councilor Christine Scales, one of the few fiscal conservatives on the council, may attempt to buck her caucus and oppose some of the tax increases.  But in the past her independent streak has only made her a target of party retaliation and resulted in her getting a well-funded Democratic opponent in 2011 who strangely campaigned against her on the basis she was not sufficiently supportive of Republican Mayor Ballard's tax/fee increases and spending on corporate welfare instead of city services.

Councilor Christine Scales
Republican Scales is not the only one targeted for speaking out for fiscal conservatism.  Michael Kalscheur, a Republican member of the Perry Township Board and 2011 candidate for at-large City-County Council was on his way to winning the vacancy left in District 23 when incumbent councilor Jeff Cardwell moved on to the Pence administration.  Prior to the caucus at which the vacancy was being filled, Kalscheur made the mistake of telling the truth - that as a fiscally conservative Republican he had a problem with the massive tax increases being proposed by Mayor Greg Ballard.   Faced with the possibility of a Republican being on the council who wouldn't support large tax increases, the local GOP establishment quickly recruited Jefferson Shreve a businessman and large political contributor, to replace Cardwell instead. Saturday Shreve won the caucus and immediately pledged to support the proposed tax increases.  It now appears that Shreve, a longtime resident of Bloomington, may very well not satisfy the two year residency requirement to sit on the council.

After graduating in 1986 from the Indiana University at Indianapolis Law School, Pence did the wise thing and moved back to his more rural roots.  In that environment, Pence built a political career by being a strong conservative, both on fiscal and social issues.  Pence, however, will find that the Indianapolis GOP establishment isn't fueled by conservatism   I remember in 1986 when I first started going to GOP meetings in Indianapolis.  I expected to find like-minded conservatives.  Instead I found people who had Pence-type conservative views were often ridiculed by Indianapolis GOP establishment types for their beliefs.  The view of the establishment was that government was about getting power for personal profit, not standing up for taxpayers or for conservative beliefs.

But conservatism makes the grass roots of a GOP strong.  Conservatism is what motivates most Republicans to become involved in the party and do the grunt work needed to help elect candidates and make the party successful.  Since my initial involvement in 1986, the formerly strong grass roots Marion County GOP organization has disintegrated.  The local GOP organization is now a shell of its former self, a top heavy organization that rules by controlling the slating process while ceding more and more elected offices to the Democrats.  You talk to local conservatives living in Marion County today and they are almost universally unhappy with the liberal direction of the local GOP.

Pence's fiscal conservatism, epitomized by his income tax cut proposal, is in a sharp contrast with the local GOP establishment clamoring to greatly increase local taxes to fuel more spending.  While Indiana's constitution calls for a great deal of home rule, there may be a point where Pence has to assert himself into Indianapolis GOP politics to stop the seemingly limitless liberal taxing and spending that threaten to undercut his conservative philosophy.

Liberal Blog Attempts to Mock Conservatives Over Difference Between Weather and Climate But Instead Reveals Alarmists' Hypocrisy

In its zeal to mock conservatives over the difference between weather and climate, AMERICAblog yesterday instead showed its hypocrisy:
This is the favorite time of the year for Fox News and their political class viewers.  Fox and climate deniers will all have a hearty laugh when it’s snowing somewhere in Minnesota or even Washington, DC in January, using that as proof that climate change is a joke. At the same time, they will ignore record heat temperatures elsewhere in the world. 
That’s mostly because Fox and their viewers barely understand that there’s a world outside of the US border — and facts and science confuse and scare them — but regardless, those individual temperatures aren’t important (you’ll always have outlier weather here and there). It’s the longer term changes and the extended periods of time that count.  Or in simpler terms, they’re talking weather, we’re talking climate....
So far, so good.  I 100% agree with their assessment that conservatives are talking about weather and not climate.  But then the argument turns to hypocrisy:
Hurricane Sandy went a long way to helping many appreciate the seriousness of climate change but we’re still playing catch-up and are far behind. Oh, and if you don’t think global warming is real — talk to America’s ski industry, a good portion of which may be wiped out by the end of this century.
Hello...that is still WEATHER. Short term warming and cooling cycles last tens if not hundreds of thousands of years. Long term warming and cooling cycles last millions of years.  You have to look at much, much longer period of time, spans even longer than the past 140 years of recorded temperatures to make estimates of warming and cooling trends.  And certainly a storm doesn't prove anything.  Funny thing though, last summer when we had a heat wave, alarmists, including AMERICAblog, had no problem claiming that the summer's heat wave was proof positive of global warming.

So this is how it works for alarmists. If temperature or some event doesn't support the global warming theory, it is "weather."  If temperature or some event is consistent with the global warming theory it is "climate."  When the data failed to sufficiently support the global warming theory, the alarmists simply changed the terminology from "global warming" to "climate change."  Of course, the planet's climate has been changing for 4.5 billion years and, thus, they know their theory that the climate is changing can never be proven incorrect.  How convenient.

Sunday, January 27, 2013

Republican Blogger Reports that New Councilor Did Not Register to Vote at Claimed Indiana Residence Until October 17, 2011

Gary Welsh of Advance Indiana has continued to update his blog on Jefferson Shreve, the newly appointed (via a vacancy caucus) councilor to represent Council District #23 in Perry Township.  Shreve defeated Michael Kalscheur, a current Perry Township Board Member and candidate for at-large council in 2011.

Welsh previously reported in detail that Shreve until very recently appeared very much to be a resident of Monroe County.  As I previously pointed out on my blog, under Indiana law Shreve is subject to the same two year residency requirement as those councilors who run for election.

This afternoon Welsh obtained voter registration records showing that Shreve apparently did not register in Marion County until 2011.  (As the indention option is not working, look for quotation marks for Welsh's material versus my commentary):

"Search Results
Voter Name: JEFFERSON SCOTT SHREVE County: MARION
Status: Registered Township: PERRY
Date Of Status: 10/17/2011 Precinct: PER 003
Additional Documentation Required: No Residential Address:
725 E Markwood Ave
Indianapolis IN
46227-1536"


According to Jefferson S. Shreve's voting registration (DOB 9/24/1965), he did not become a registered voter at 725 E. Markwood Avenue in Perry Township Precinct #3 until October 17, 2011, shortly before the 2011 municipal election but less than two years prior to his appointment to the council seat. In other words, Shreve was ineligible to become a candidate at Saturday's GOP caucus unless he can prove he became a resident of District #23 at least 9 months before the date of his voter registration. 


Of course it is possible that Shreve became a District 23 resident before January 26, 2011 and simply didn't bother to register until October 17, 2011.  It's just not very likely. Most political people are very quick to change their voter registration. Further, assuming Shreve was a Bloomington, not just a Monroe County, resident, he may very well have cast a vote in that municipal primary in 2011.  The act of voting in that Blooming primary would be an affirmation, under oath, that he was a resident of that city and not District 23, thus confirming he did not meet the two year residency requirement.

Welsh continues his original reporting with his discovery that, while Shreve owns three properties in Perry Township, he's delinquent in paying property taxes on all of them:

"Is Shreve delinquent in the payment of property taxes on the three residences he owns in Perry Township? It would appear so if the Marion Co. Treasurer's online property tax payment database is up-to-date:

...


SelectNameParcelTownshipLocationCurrent Amount Due


SHREVE, JEFFERSON5005259PERRY734 LAWRENCE AV$1,397.20
SHREVE, JEFFERSON SCOTT THIRD FLOOR5005273PERRY725 E MARKWOOD AV$825.37
SHREVE, JEFFERSON SCOTT 3RD FLOOR"5005684PERRY731 E MARKWOOD AV$1,732.20

As of 2013, this is the address the Marion County Treasurer uses to mail tax bills on Shreve's claimed Indianapolis home at725 E. Markwood Avenue:

Shreeve, Jefferson
530 E. Kirkwood Ave
Bloomington, IN   47408

Does the Newest Indianapolis Council Member Satisfy the Two Year Residency Requirement?

One would have thought that not being an election year we'd be spared another residency dispute. Think again.  Controversy has erupted on the southside of Marion County where a caucus of precinct committeemen picked Jefferson Shreve over Michael Kalscheur to fill the vacancy in District 23 which was created when Indianapolis City-County District Councilor Jeff Cardwell left to take a position in the Pence administration.  Kalscheur is a loyal Republican who serves on the Perry Township Board and ran for at-large City-County Council in 2011, logging countless hours on the campaign trail that year.  Kalscheur undoubtedly believed he earned the position as did many Marion County Republicans who have complained to this blogger.
Jefferson Shreve

First a statement about the process of filling a vacancy in Indiana to these types of elected positions.  When as here a Republican leaves office, the Republican county chairman is call a caucus of precinct committeemen (PCs) whose precincts are in the district being vacated. They meet and decide who to appoint to the vacancy.  The problem is that only about 20% of precincts are held by elected Republican PCs.  The rest are vacant and later filled by appointment of the county chairmen. Under Indiana law, a PC only has to be in his or her position for 30 days to vote.  There is no residency requirement for the appointed PCs.  So when a vacancy is about to occur a county chairmen fills any vacant positions with "mummy dummies" from all over the county (and sometimes out of the county).  These mummy dummies only "job" it is to go to the vacancy election and vote the way county chairman wants.  Needless to say Shreve was favored by County Chairman Kyle Walker and Mayor Greg Ballard.

But here is the problem:  The 47 year old Shreve has apparently lived his last 20 years or so in Monroe County.  As usual, Gary Welsh of Advance Indiana does the work for the mainstream press in digging through publicly available information that exposes Shreve's residency problem:
According to easily obtained public records, Shreve has identified himself as a Bloomington resident for nearly the past 20 years. Shreve, who has contributed generously to Republican and Democratic candidates alike, always listed a Bloomington address until he started making very generous campaign contributions this past campaign cycle to the Greater Indianapolis Republican Finance Committee ("GIRFCO), the fundraising arm of the Marion Co. GOP.

Shreve is the owner of Storage Express, a self-storage business based in Bloomington that operates 65 self-storage properties in five states. According to campaign finance reports, Shreve always provided a Bloomington address until the 2012 campaign election cycle when he started listing a southside residential address as his residence. The Bloomington Hospital website where Shreve's biography is listed as a member of the hospital's board of directors identifies him as "living in Bloomington for the past 19 years." When he joined the IU Alumni Association Board of Managers in Aug. 2011, he claimed to reside in both Bloomington and Indianapolis. A Bloomberg BusinessWeek profile similarly identifies him as a Bloomington resident for the past 19 years.
I was not at the caucus.  However, people at the the southside gathering indicate Shreve addressed the issue and stated he had been a resident of both Monroe and Marion Counties.  Indeed a 2011 press release from the IU Alumni Association Board of Manager states identifies Shreve of being "of Bloomington, Ind. and Indianapolis."  Another website identifies Shreve as being a resident of Monroe and Marion counties.   Shreve also apparently said at the caucus that he only recently moved to the southside where he owns rental property.  That would seem to contradict the claim he had some sort of dual residency.

Here is the thing though.  As any Hoosier politician who has been conscious during the last few years knows, there is no such thing as being a "resident" of two different places under Indiana law.   "Residency" is defined by the Indiana Code and case law.  You only have one legal residence under that definition.

Under IC 3-8-1-25:  "A candidate for membership on city-county council of a first class city must have resided in the district in which seeking election, if applicable, for at least two (2) years before the date of taking office."  IC 3-8-1-5.7 through IC 3-13-1-11 makes this 2 year residency requirement applicable to individuals who seek to fill a vacancy at a caucus of PCs.  It does not appear from the publicly available information obtained via the Internet that Shreve met the residency requirement to be elected Saturday to the Indianapolis City-County Council.

Undoubtedly once government offices open back up Monday, interested Republicans are going to make inquiries to the Monroe and Marion County voter registration offices to figure out where Shreve has been claiming to have been a resident for voting purposes the past few years.  Also, inquiries will also probably be made as to where Shreve might have been claiming a homestead. Both documents require an statement under oath as to where the person's residence is.  If Shreve is voting or claiming a homestead at a Monroe County address in the last two years, any claim he resided in District 23 for the requisite two years would seem to go up in smoke.

The question though remains why a Bloomington resident who apparently only recently moved to Indianapolis would be a favorite of the mayor and county chairman over a long-time local and loyal Republican   Welsh suggests Shreve's sizable political donations might have played a role:
The Indiana Election Division's website identifies campaign contributions Shreve has made to state and local candidates as far back as 2001. In the 2001-02 period, Shreve contributed $3,100 to the campaign of Democratic Mayor John Fernandez as a Bloomington resident. The only other candidate of either political party that he contributed more money to was Gov. Mitch Daniels, to whom he gave close to $3,500. Although most of the contributions Shreve has made have been to Republican candidates, he has not shied away from supporting Democrats. In 2009, he contributed $1,000 to Evan Bayh. He gave $250 to Democrat Linda Pence's losing 2008 campaign for Attorney General, a contribution he matched for Republican Greg Zoeller in 2012. This past year, Shreve donated $2,700 to GIRFCO and $2,500 to Richard Lugar's losing re-election bid. He also contributed $3,750 to the Indiana Republican State Committee this past year.
Shreve was listed as an alternate delegate for the 7th Congressional (Indianapolis) District at the 2012 Republican National Convention.  Interesting he is the only one of the six delegates and alternates from the 7th who is not identified as being from "Indianapolis" or "Marion County."

Congressional District 7 (Delegates) Congressional District 7 (Alternates)
Mayor Greg Ballard, Indianapolis
Jennifer Ping, Marion County
Jeff Cardwell, Indianapolis
Winnie Ballard, Indianapolis
Jefferson Shreve
Robert Vane, Indianapolis

Advance Indiana's take on this subject is a must read.

Thursday, January 24, 2013

Indiana Man Loses Copyright to "Harbowl" When NFL Lawyers Pounce

Apparently, the NFL owns not only "Superbowl" but also "bowl."  Legal scholar Jonathan Turley reports:
We have previously discussed how Congress and the White House have yielded to demand for increasing copyright and trademark restrictions, including criminal prosecutions of ordinary citizens. One of my longest complaints is how people and businesses now claim ownership of common symbols and phrases. (here and here). This week we have two parties in a fight to claim ownership over a common expression. Roy Fox of Pendleton, Indiana secured a copyright to the term “Harbowl” last year to make money off of a Superbowl with the Baltimore Ravens under coach John Harbaugh and San Francisco 49ers under coach Jim Harbaugh. ...


We have previously discussed the ludicrous ability of the NFL to claim ownership of the term “Superbowl” but an army of NFL lawyers continue to threaten and sue people over the term. ...The NFL was able to claim that even the use of the word “Bowl” was an infringement by a man who himself was claiming ownership of what is a common quip.

Fox caved after the NFL threatened to take him to court. There is no good party in this fight. The question is how long it will take to take the American people to demand action and bar such claims. The Obama Administration has long been criticized for being in the pocket of “copyright hawks” and Congress has shown a consistent willingness to give lobbyists anything that they want in this area. The result is that we are stifling creativity and criminalizing everyday day. 
...

I couldn't agree more with Turley.  You cannot copyright ordinary words like "bowl."  What the NFL lawyers do every year is nothing short of thuggery using SLAPP-type lawsuits.   Judges with backbone need to start slapping the NFL down and making them pay fees for their frivolous legal antics.

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Politically-Connected Developer Receives Noise Ordinance Exemption for Construction of Broad Ripple Parking Garage

WRTV reports that Keystone Construction has received an exception to the noise ordinance to work on the Broad Ripple Parking Garage late at night.
Artists rendering of Broad Ripple Parking Garage under construction
INDIANAPOLIS - Overnight construction at a parking garage in Broad Ripple is angering residents who live nearby, Call 6 Investigator Kara Kenney reports:

...

“All I really want is to be able to sleep undisturbed at night,” wrote [Resident Stacey} Merrill in an email to the Call 6 Investigators. “I don’t think that’s too much to ask. It baffles me this is allowed in an area that has so many residences surrounding the site.”

Dean used a handheld camera to shoot video between 1:15 a.m. and 2:30 a.m. on Jan. 17 and captured banging, scraping, and beeping noises from the construction.

The city’s noise ordinance limits construction between the hours of 7 pm and 7 am, but Kenney obtained a document that showed Keystone Construction, the company building the garage, received an exemption from Dec. 10 through Jan. 28.

...

A statement from the Keystone Group said they’re working at night for safety reasons.

"We have placed a high priority on the safety of our workers and passers-by while dealing with the challenge of constructing this project,” read the statement from Paul Okeson, vice president with the Keystone Group. ...

...

By way of background, Keystone Construction, is the same company that, along with its minor partners, received $6.35 from the City to build the Broad Ripple Parking Garage.  After construction, Keystone, and its partners, get 100% ownership of the garage, 100% of the parking revenue and 100% of the commercial rents from the facility.  (The garage is now planned to have 20% commercial space.)  The public gets nothing.  Ersal Ozdemir, the owner of Keystone Construction, recently purchased a minor league soccer franchise and is angling to get a downtown stadium for the team, which stadium would most likely be build and operated using public funds.  Finally it should be noted that the Paul Okeson mentioned in the story is the former Chief of Staff for Indianapolis Mayor Greg Ballard.

Were Rules Violated When Councilor Replaced Another on Committee Considering CIB Tax Increases? (w/Update)

Before blogging on this, I have been inquiring to everyone who knows how the Indianapolis City-County Council operates to find out how this could have legally been done.    No one has an answer.

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On January 15, 2013, the Council's Administrative and Finance Council heard and passed a proposed 50% rental car tax increase and the 67% increase in admissions tax, Councilor Jeff Miller showed up and said he would be sitting in for Councilor Marilyn Pfisterer who could not make the meeting. Miller then proceeded as if he were a regular member of the committee voting just like everyone else on the committee.

 The rules allow for council members who are not members of the committee to show up and participate in discussions but not vote. The council rules don't allow proxies and I am not aware of any rule that allows council members to simply substitute for an absent councilor on committees.

My guess is that this extraordinary move was done in case the CIB tax increase votes were close and Pfisterer/Miller's vote was needed to put it over the top. The taxes passed unanimously by voice vote, though it was later reported that there was one "no" vote on one of the taxes. Several Democratic members of the committee though said they were leaning against the taxes but voted for them to simply move the issue to the full council.  Unfortunately all the Republican councilors on the committee indicated they supported the large increases in taxes, 75% of which increased revenue will end up in the coffers of the CIB to use for "operations."

UPDATE:  I was contacted by a City-County Councilor who said he believes that there was a Committee on the Committee meeting beforehand to appoint Miller to fill in for Pfisterer on the committee. That would make legal what was done.  However, that begs the question even more why there was a need to take the extraordinary step of appointing someone as a replacement for for a single committee meeting.  Undoubtedly it was due to leadership on both sides of the aisle wanting to make sure the CIB tax increases were passed.

Monday, January 21, 2013

Members of Indianapolis Council Committee Fail to Demand Answers for Taxpayers About 50% and 67% Increase in Local Taxes

I watched the rest of the Indianapolis Council's Administration and Finance Committee meeting this morning.  Listening to an eastside councilor ask detailed questions of an Enterprise Rent-A Car representative, then criticizing him when he couldn't answer all of them was almost unbearable.  That same councilor never bothers to extensively question people continually coming before the council with their hands out wanting our tax dollars.  He's not alone.  City leaders are spinning the 50% increase in the car rental tax and 67% increase in the admissions tax as being for "public safety" and to balance the city's budget, while completely ignoring the fact that 75% of the money from the tax increases goes to the Capital Improvement Board which is flush with cash.   Gary Welsh of Advance Indiana states it best:
First of all, if the purpose of these tax increases is to fill a budget gap, why is the council proposing tax increases that will give three out of every four dollars raised to the Capital Improvement Board? After all, it's the city-county budget, not the CIB's budget, that faces a structural imbalance of $46 million. The original council-approved budget vetoed by the mayor provided an additional $15 million for the city-county budget for public safety that would have been payable from the CIB's $65 million in cash reserves. Why are we giving millions more annually to the CIB, while asking other city-county agencies to cut their budgets by 5%?
Welsh continues:
... When CIB officials were asked the purpose of the millions in additional revenues, the answer was simply that it would be used for operations. Nobody asked if giving annual subsidies of $10 million a year to billionaire Herb Simon's Indiana Pacers, which was not included in the council-adopted budget, constitutes an operations expenditure.

 Third, why isn't the council demanding answers from the Indiana Pacers about their need for annual subsidies to operate Banker's Life Fieldhouse?...
Not only are those good questions, those are OBVIOUS questions to ask.   Yet, of course, our Indianapolis City-County Councilors can't seem to muster up the courage to ask questions that might make the recipients of our tax dollars a bit uncomfortable when it comes to explaining what they're going to do with our money.  If Councilors are not going to do their jobs in protecting our tax dollars, they should do the public a favor and resign.

This is an important point to reiterate.  The administration and the council is trying to tell the public that the 50% increase in car rental tax and 67% increase in admissions tax is about public safety and plugging a budget shortfall.  It is all a slight of hand trick.  They want you to focus on that, rather than the fact they are giving away 75% of the new revenue from the tax increases to the CIB which is flush with cash.  To make things worse, the deal caps the amount the City can receive so that if revenues from the tax increases reach a certain threshold the CIB gets 100% of the tax increase money. 

The Advance Indiana article can be found here.

Sunday, January 20, 2013

Ogden on Politics' Ten Predictions for 2013


I had to work extra hard in coming up with these since there are no elections here in Indiana in 2013.  In no particular order:

1.  THE RITZ-REPUBLICAN ALLIANCE:  Expect the new Superintendent of Public Instruction, Democrat Glenda Ritz and Republican legislators and the Republican governor to develop a very cordial and productive working relationship.   What is not well reported is that relations between previous Superintendent Tony Bennett and Republican legislators and education reformers had soured by the end of Bennett's term.  The complaint was that Republican Bennett was stubborn and would not accept their input.  Because Bennett was the face of education reform, there was little that those dissatisfied Republicans and education reformers could do except complain behind the scenes.  Republicans are already talking about the ISTA-funded Ritz being a welcome change.  Go figure.

2.  THE FBI COMES (BACK) TO TOWN:  They year 2012 saw the conviction of my former law school classmate Tim Durham for his role in running a Ponzi-type investment scheme.  Indianapolis attorney Paul Page recently pled guilty due to his role along with real estate broker John Bales in the purchase and ownership of a building in Elkhart.  Bales, the alleged master mind behind the Elkhart deal, is set for trial this year and there is apparently an ongoing federal investigation of former Marion County Prosecutor Carl Brizzi.  But Bales had friends at very high levels of state government who aided him when other state officials started asking question about his real estate dealings on behalf of the state, especially his brokerage fees.  I expect the FBI's probe of the Bales' operation, and possible indictments, to go much further than anyone now realizes.   In unrelated (or maybe related) matters, I also expect that news will surface of an FBI probe into Indianapolis well-honed pay-to-play political environment.  Don't be surprised if some big named government contractors and politicos are identified in the probe.

3.  COLTS FALL BACK TO REALITY:  Andrew Luck is going to find out that the sophomore year is almost always the hardest.  After beating all expectations this year by going 11-5, you can count on the Colts' record being considerably worse in 2013.  It doesn't help the team that the Colts will have a tougher schedule in 2013 due to their success in 2012.  Bet on 8-8 and being eliminated from the playoffs in the last few weeks of the season.

4.  MAHERN MARGINALIZED?:  Expect efforts to continue within Democratic ranks to marginalize Brian Mahern.  Indianapolis Councilor Mahern has led the effort to oppose corporate welfare, tax increases and the diversion of revenue from needed city services to politically-connected developers.  While those are enormously popular positions with voters, they are not popular positions with Establishment Democrats (and Establishment Republicans) who want to see Indianapolis pay-to-play political structure continue regardless of which party occupies the Mayor's office or controls the Council.  Local Democrats have already proven they are more than willing to lose a mayoral election by foregoing the issues Mahern raises in order to preserve Indy's pay-to-play political structure.  There is concern that Mahern will eventually become too politically popular for the Democratic Establishment to stop his nomination and election in 2015.  Expect local Democrats to try to marginalize Mahern now before his popularity makes control of him beyond their ability.

5.  INDIANAPOLIS COUNCIL DEMOCRATS DEMAND MORE CONFRONTATIONAL APPROACH:  While the leadership of Indianapolis Council Democrats was cutting a deal with the Republican Ballard administration regarding the CIB tax increase, public safety and other budgetary matters, advocates for the administration were several blocks west of the City-County Building urging the introduction of a bill that would strengthen the powers of the Mayor at the expense of the Council.   Ironically the bill that was introduced would make such a compromise unnecessary because of increased mayoral powers.  In short, Council President Maggie Lewis and other Democratic leaders on the Council got snookered.   Democrats don't have the numbers in the state legislature to stop measures that politically hurt Indianapolis Democrats. Their only clout is that they have a majority on the Indianapolis City-County Council.  If Council President Lewis doesn't get more aggressive in using that leverage, expect challenges to her leadership to step forward.

6.  SOCCER ANYONE?Expect City leaders to push forward quickly to build a new downtown stadium for the minor soccer team purchased by the Ersal Ozdemir, owner of Keystone Construction.  Ozdemir, a big contributor to the Mayor's campaigns, have received a number of construction contracts under the Ballard administration, most notably the no bid contract to build the Broad Ripple Parking Garage using $6.5 million of public money.  Upon completion, the ownership of the Broad Ripple Garage as well as all future profits from parking and commercial rents at the facility, is simply being given to Keystone and its partners.  Do not be surprised if the location of the new soccer stadium is the old Market Square Arena grounds and that the deal includes commercial development around the new soccer stadium.  Taxpayers will undoubtedly be asked to pay for the stadium, and even pay for its day-to-day operations, while revenue from the building and commercial site will be given away to the Ozdemir and the other owners of the soccer team.  The claim will be that so much economic activity is created by the project that the increased sales and property tax revenue (the property is actually in the downtown TIF) will be worth giving away the revenue stream from the publicly-funded project.  On a related note, it is now crystal clear the real reason for the proposed 50% increase in rental car tax and 67% increase in the admissions tax is so that the Capital Improvement Board has more tax dollars to subsidize the professional soccer venture.

7.  PENCE AND PUBLIC TRANSPORTATION:  In his first year, the most challenging issue for new Governor Michael Pence will be turn out to be how to handle the proposal for public transportation in Indianapolis and its metro area.   Pence will almost assuredly be philosophically opposed to the project, including the .3% increase in local income taxes (which is undoubtedly only the beginning of the tax dollars that will be needed for the project), and see it as a likely white elephant that will heavily drain tax dollars for public transportation few will use.  Still Governor Pence will face enormous pressure from Central Indiana Republicans to support the project.  My guess is he will compromise - not endorsing the project, but agreeing to support a referendum in 2014 if the legislature chooses to pass the bill making that happen.

8.  REPUBLICANS RECHARGE THEIR BATTERIES:  The physics principle of "for every action, there is a reaction" applies to politics.  The Democrats were seen as being big winners (which actually is an exaggeration) in the 2012 election.  That means in 2014 the Republicans are poised for a comeback.   The year 2013 will involve the party sorting out the issues for the 2014 elections.  Long-term the issue so much isn't whether the Republicans will stage a comeback in 2014 congressional elections (they will), but whether the party falls into the 2012 trap of assuming that the issues in a successful mid-term election (2010) will work in the general.  The Republicans need a more positive agenda to win the 2016 presidential election.

9.  MOST GUN LEGISLATION FAILS:  While some states will adopt additional restrictions on guns and ammunition, don't expect sweeping changes, including at the federal level.  Democrats have found out in previous elections that the issue is poison at the voting booth.  Gun rights supporters are tremendous at mobilizing and voting when they believe their rights are being threatened.  Even though little will be done in terms of gun legislation, the perception of Democrats being against gun rights will be an issue that hits the party hard in the 2014 mid-term elections.

10.  SUPREME COURT REFUSES TO STRIKE DOWN STATE LAWS PROHIBITING SAME SEX MARRIAGE:  Many of my friends are hoping for the Supreme Court to strike down state marriage laws that prohibit same sex marriage.  It is wishful thinking.  Forty years ago, the Supreme Court handed down Roe v. Wade, a decision that invalidated the abortion laws in virtually every state in the country.  That decision has left the country bitterly divided.   Even liberal Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, a Clinton appointee and supporter of abortion rights, recognizes that Roe v. Wade was a mistake, that the Court should have let the issue play out in the political branches waiting at least for more political consensus to develop.  The Court is extremely unlikely to do Roe v. Wade II.  Although same sex marriage advocates will agonize over that part of the decision, they will be happy with another part of the Court's decision.  Expect the Court to strike down a part of the Defense of Marriage Act which prohibits same sex couples, who are legally married in states allowing those marriages, from receiving federal benefits that are afforded to other married couples.  Ironically, the very same legal principles (federal government encroaching on the power of state governments) which the court will cite in refusing to strike down state marriage laws, will be used to overturn this provision of the DOMA.

Oakland Cuts Police Force by One-Fourth While Continuing Payments to Football Team; Meanwhile City Considers Building New Stadium As Team Threatens to Leave

A reader sent me an article which linked to an excellent Bloomberg article on what is happening in Oakland and the cost of the subsidization of professional sports to communities:
Oakland, California, the fifth-most crime ridden city in America, faced a $32 million budget deficit last year. It closed the gap by dismissing a fourth of its police force, more than 200 officers.
Untouched was the $17.3 million that the city pays to stage 10 games a season for the National Football League’s Oakland Raiders and to host Major League Baseball's Athletics in the O.co Coliseum. The funds cover debt financing and operations and are supplemented by $13.3 million from surrounding Alameda County, based on data compiled by Bloomberg from public records. 
...

Now the city is under pressure to replace the 46-year-old structure to keep the Raiders. The team’s owners may move to nearby Santa Clara and share an under-construction, $1.2 billion venue with the San Francisco 49ers, or to Los Angeles, where the City Council has backed a $1.5 billion stadium hoping to lure the NFL. Losing the Raiders would leave Oakland with about $145 million in debt, which originated 17 years ago in part to bring the team back from Los Angeles.
...

Publicly financed stadiums for all U.S. major-league sports, including soccer, cost taxpayers about $10 billion more than forecast when accounting for the costs of land, infrastructure, operations and lost property taxes, according to a study of all 121 facilities in use during 2010 by Judith Grant Long, who teaches urban planning at Harvard University.  The NFL has the highest public price tag, with taxpayers putting up about 87 percent of the expenses for NFL stadiums, she writes in her 2012 book, “Public/Private Partnerships for Major League Sports Facilities.” 

...

The $18.6 billion of taxpayer subsidies to the NFL reflect costs and investments since 1986, when a new era of publicly funded stadium construction began in response to new laws on the use of municipal bonds for professional sports....

The total includes $7.1 billion for stadium construction, $6.5 billion in forgone property taxes and $4.3 billion for interest costs. Land acquisition and infrastructure expenses beyond those wrapped up in the stadiums account for the rest. The data don’t account for revenue that flows back to cities or states from the buildings, covering some costs. Long estimates the average state or city receives net payments after expenses of about $9 million over a 30-year lease for all stadiums and arenas -- or about $300,000 a year.

“There is never a good reason for taxpayer monies to subsidize for-profit entertainment businesses, especially extremely high-profit entertainment or sports businesses that are largely unaffordable to the vast majority of citizens,” said Leo Hindery Jr., managing partner of InterMedia Partners LP and founder of the YES Network, a regional sports cable television channel in New York controlled by the Yankees. “I don’t believe in state-sponsored finance of private enterprise at all.”