Saturday, May 31, 2014

Mayor Ballard's Cricket Fiasco Highlights His Character Flaw in Refusing to Admit Mistakes

Late yesterday, the City of Indianapolis announced it was canceling plans to host a national cricket championship this August.   The championship was to be part of the public unveiling of the new "World Sports Park" that Mayor Greg Ballard had unilaterally decided would be built with Rebuild Indy funds on the east side of the city.

For PR neophytes out there, when you want to kill an unfavorable story, you do it by releasing it on Friday afternoon. Reporters already have their stories done for the day and most are well on their way to checking out for the weekend, if not physically, mentally.  In terms of print journalism, Saturday is the least read newspaper of the week so a story appearing there is less likely to be read than any other tie of the week.  The story becomes "old news" even with minimal coverage.

I guess it would be impolite to say "I told you so" when it comes to the fate of the USACA cricket championships. For months, people warned the city that USACA's problems would likely derail the national tournament and Mayor Ballard refused to listen, steadfastly asserting through his spokesman that the planning for the event was going perfectly.

The whole cricket fiasco brought back a conversation I had with a top Ballard staffer early in his first term.  The staffer told me of troubling character flaws with which Mayor Ballard is afflicted, namely that Ballard will early on make a decision and refuse to consider alternative information suggesting the decision needs to be re-evaluated.  The staffer also said that those who dare to question the decision or ask that it be re-evaluated are viewed by the Mayor as being personally disloyal.   Those aren't leadership traits.   Leaders have to be able to listen, to make modifications in response to feedback, to be open to changing direction when things are not working.  Instead Ballard has a mid-level military administrator mindset, someone more used to taking orders and carrying them out than giving those orders.  Mayor Ballard simply has character flaws that prevent him from being an effective leader.

Even in the press release and letter to USACA, Mayor Ballard refused to admit he made a mistake and instead put the blame entirely on USACA leadership and recent developments with that organization.   But those weren't recent problems just recently uncovered. They've been problems for years, including before Mayor Ballard picked up a cricket wicket and declared it Indy's newest sports craze, so much so we needed to build a stadium to host the national cricket tournament.  As Democratic blogger Jon Easter points out if Mayor Ballard would have simply done a "Google" search he would have been privy to the same information others repeatedly pointed out to him was a warning that the cricket plans needed to be re-evaluated given USACA's history of problems.

But before the cricket issue fades away, which it surely will, there should be a more detailed examination of the downtown Indianapolis corporate "partners" that quickly lined up to enthusiastically support Ballard's cricket stadium and tournament ideas despite its obvious problems.   Last summer, I wrote an article talking about the "usual suspects" lining up behind Ballard's cricket idea.  Of course, the Star's Erika Smith, who has never seen a corporate welfare project she wouldn't support, penned a column supporting the venture.   Next time those folks suggest "investing" taxpayer money in sports as economic development, we should think twice about their credibility.

Thursday, May 29, 2014

Why Aren't the Democrats Trying to Win the 2015 Indianapolis Mayor's Race?

A couple weeks I had a chance to meet with a man who is a legend in Indiana Republican politics.  Our discussion turned to the Indianapolis Mayor's race.  His conclusion?  Ballard has no chance of re-election.  His reasoning was based on the numbers, i.e. that the GOP baseline in Marion County has so eroded that a Republican running countywide has no chance of winning. He spoke about recent election results that show fewer and fewer Republicans voting in Marion County.  Things for Marion County Republicans have declined since 2011.

Contrary to what a lot of people think, in partisan races candidates don't start out at the same starting line.  You have something called a baseline in politics.  That refers to the tendency of voters to cast Republican or Democratic ballots as measured by election results in low profile races.  (When voters don't know the candidates, their partisan default kicks in.)  Using our footrace analogy, imagine a race that is a lap around a racetrack with one athlete provided a lead over the other.  The Democratic nominee will start out 1/4 of a lap ahead of Ballard,  That should be enough for even a slow Democratic runner to win the race.

That is assuming the Democratic runner is actually trying to win.

It is astonishing that it is nearly June, the year before the election, and no Democratic mayoral campaign has started in earnest.   Why would the Democrats not more vigorously contest the race for Mayor?  It certainly isn't because the seat it is not winnable.  Rather it is more likely that the Democratic power brokers in the City are plenty happy with Mayor Ballard.

Ballard has placed the City's pay-to-play political structure on steroids.  Republican and Democratic politicians and their corporate benefactors are all doing fabulously from a partnership that has provided them with wealth beyond their imaginations. It's true that the public has not benefited from the City's support of corporate welfare, but the people who fund the politicians' campaigns have.  In Indianapolis' political culture that is all that matters.

Even absent an absent an active Democratic mayoral campaign, Democrats on the Council should be laying the groundwork for 2015.  Instead those Democratic council members astonishingly are on their way to ratify Mayor Ballard's proposals for higher property and/or income taxes ostensibly for public safety, despite the 2007 example of those tax increases being used by Ballard to score an upset over then Mayor Bart Peterson.

It is the same mindset that resulted in Republican independent-thinker Christine Scales facing a spirited challenge in 2011 from a Democrat who campaigned criticizing Scales for not sufficiently supporting the Republican Mayor's pay-to-play agenda.

The fact that the Democrats have thus far sat on their hands when it comes to the 2015 mayoral race is evident of how pervasive the pay-to-play culture is in Indianapolis.  We don't have a two party system in Indianapolis.

Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Crime and Injustice in Hamilton County; Prosecutor Buckingham's Reprehensible Treatment of Irsay's Criminal Charges

The Indianapolis Star writers Tim Evans and Mark Alexia pen an excellent article about Hamilton County Prosecutor D. Lee Buckingham decision to forego any serious prosecution of Indianapolis Colts owner Jim Irsay:
Hamilton County Prosecutor D. Lee Buckingham II has no legal obligation to explain why he didn't pursue preliminary drug charges against Indianapolis Colts owner Jim Irsay after a March 16 arrest
But the prosecutor's silence, coupled with the timing of that charging decision last week, did

Hamilton County Prosecutor Lee Buckingham
little to instill public confidence that Irsay — despite his position and wealth — was treated like anyone else.   
Irsay was charged Fridaywith operating a vehicle while intoxicated and operating a vehicle with a controlled substance in his body. Prosecutors allege he had oxycodone, hydrocodone or both in his system when a Carmel police officer pulled him over for driving erratically at 11:40 p.m. March 16. 
The prosecutor, however, did not pursue four preliminary charges of possession of a controlled substance that were recommended by police at the time of Irsay's arrest. 
Those felony charges — far more serious than the misdemeanor OWI counts — related to Schedule IV prescription drugs that police found in a briefcase and two laundry bags in Irsay's vehicle. Those types of drugs include Xanax, Darvocet, Valium, Ativan and Ambien. 
Star reporters Tim Evans and Mark Alesia, who did the story, then ask some questions:
• Why did it take more than two months to charge Irsay? 
• What happened to the drug charges? Did Irsay have prescriptions for the drugs?   
• Did the prosecutor hold off charging Irsay after the team owner helped the city make a bid last week to host the 2018 Super Bowl?
• And why were charges filed in the minutes before the courts closed for the long Memorial Day/Indianapolis 500 weekend?
Those are all excellent questions, though the answers to three of the four are obvious.  Buckingham held off on charging Irsay because of the pending Super Bowl bid.  As far as the timing of the filing of charges, Public Relations 101 is that if you want to kill a big story, release the information late on a Friday afternoon before a long holiday weekend. 

The question for which there is not an obvious answer is whether Irsay had prescriptions for all those drugs.  But then again, what if he did?   That doesn't mean he obtained those prescriptions legally or that others, perhaps prominent Indianapolis-area physicians didn't assist Irsay in getting prescription drugs he should have never received.

Another question I'd like to see asked is what happened to the cash in the vehicle, some $19,000 by news reports.  Was Irsay simply given the money back?    Anyone else that money would have been subject to civil forfeiture.

While Buckingham is silent as to his decisions with respect to Irsay, former Hamilton County Prosecutor Sonia Leerkamp offers a laughable defense:
Sonia Leerkamp, Buckingham's predecessor as Hamilton County prosecutor, said "the public is naturally curious and suspicious that favoritism might be shown" to someone with a high profile and the financial wherewithal of Irsay.   
Still, Leerkamp does not think Irsay was treated differently than anyone else would have been under the same circumstances. She said prosecutors must operate under strict ethical rules, which prohibit releasing information that could prejudice a case before it goes to trial.   
"I am familiar with the individuals in the position of making those judgments and determinations," Leerkamp said, "and, based upon my knowledge of those individuals and their character, I would never suspect any of them of showing favorable treatment based on (a suspect's) position in the community."
Sure, Sonia. After all, who would know better about a prosecutor showing favoritism to the wealthy and politically-connected since that is exactly what you did during your tenure as Hamilton County Prosecutor.

Anyone who might be inclined to believe Leerkamp should talk to defense attorneys who practice in the Hamilton County courts.  Defendants without Irsay's wealth and political connections would have been almost immediately charged with multiple felonies and had the cash in the vehicle seized.  Then at the end of the process the best deal that would have been offered is to have the client plead to a Class D felony with alternative misdemeanor sentencing.  Most certainly the prosecutor's office would never have upfront dropped charges to a misdemeanor.

One would hope the criminal law equally applies to everyone.  But in Hamilton County it doesn't apply to Jim Irsay.

Tuesday, May 27, 2014

The Tea Party is Alive and Well

One of the benefits of being older (and I added another year to my total yesterday), is that rarely do you see something new.  The same is true in politics.  After every election comes the inevitable stories about how the results signal a demise of a political party or faction.   After every election the prognosticator is proven to be wrong.

This time the prediction is about the Tea Party.   Supposedly the May primary which featured establishment Republican congressional incumbents beating tea party challengers across the country, signals the end of the Tea Party.  Ha, ha.  That's a good one.

First, most of those that are willing to announce the demise of the Tea Party, simply do not understand what it is.  Particularly those on the left take the simplistic, albeit not surprising, view that "Tea Party Republican" is just another term for "Extreme Republican."  But at the core of the Tea Party is a message that is much more lunch-pail and blue collar than the GOP establishment.  The Tea Party believes that powerful politicians, including Republicans, have rigged the system so that their friends can become richer in our capitalist system.  Tea party people regularly denounce corporate welfare, i.e. crony capitalism  Indeed the Tea Party first rose up as a response to corporate bailouts of the last decade that featured Joe and Jill Taxpayer being required to bail out the wealthy and politically-connected who had made bad economic bets. 

Even things like privatization is criticized by Tea Party people.  Why? Because they know it will become an excuse for politicians to transfer money from individual taxpayers to corporate interests who have bought influence.

A second feature of the Tea Party is libertarianism.  Go to a Tea Party meeting and you will consistently hear criticism of the government taking away people's civil liberties.  They regularly denounce NSA spying on Americans, civil forfeiture, longer prison sentences for non-violent offenders, even the War on Drugs.

But what about the Establishment GOP?  Don't the election results show that status quo is the way to go, that the Republican Party should be about rigging the system so that the GOP corporate friends can make yet more money?

Certainly taking such a position is profitable in terms of political contributions.  Big corporate interests want to keep the economic system rigged and are willing to pay big bucks to keep it that way.  Incumbents who take this position are going to be well-funded.  But in the end, Republican politicians supporting corporate welfare is political death.   There are no votes there.  What are the future winning GOP positions?  Populism and libertarianism, the message of the Tea Party.

The notion that these concepts - populism and libertarianism - is losing luster in Republican ranks is, well, laughable.  Those movements, which are reflected in the Tea Party, are the future of the Republican Party.  They are where the energy and the votes are.

That the Tea Party failed to knock off incumbent members of Congress in a Republican primary is hardly a surprise.  Those members of Congress running for re-election enjoy every advantage imaginable.  But the fact that so many people were willing to engage on that quixotic adventure and had armies of people lined up to assist show the incredible strength of Tea Party populism and libertarianism.  No, the Tea Party is not dead.   Not by a long shot.

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Indianapolis Star Article On Indy Losing Super Bowl Bid Omits Any Reference to Colts Owners Arrest, Touts Super Bowl as Great Investment

Sorry I haven't blogged more. Down here in Tampa on temporary work assignment, putting in 12 hour days.  I did spend a few moments to pick up the Indianapolis Star this morning (okay, the electronic version) and read about the Indianapolis Super Bowl bid team getting knocked out in the first round in completion for the 2018 Super Bowl.  Minneapolis was the winner.

Nowhere in Star writer Chris Sikilch's article was any mention of Colts owner Jim Irsay's arrest on what should easily be felony drug counts if the Hamilton County Prosecutor's Office ever gets around to doing its job.  Undoubtedly Irsay's involvement in the presentation played no small role in Indianapolis losing the bid.  Yet the Star didn't find it worth mentioning.

That didn't stop the Star though from mentioning what a great investment the Super Bowl is:
The Super Bowl means mega dollars for some local businesses. Organizers say the benefits of hosting a Super Bowl outweigh the significant public costs, pointing to an economic impact study of the 2012 game in Indianapolis that reported $152 million in increased local spending that originated from outside the Indianapolis area. The city, by comparison, spent about $1.3 million on public safety and event support.
Wow, a $152 million return on a $1.3 million investment!  Of course, every academic review of the economic impact of Super Bowls show that these return on investment numbers are pure fiction and that cities hosting Super Bowls at best break even and often lose money.  But we can't expect a local newspaper to mention that can we?

Wednesday, May 14, 2014

Analysis of New Indianapolis Council Districts Show Democrats Will Score Large Gains in 2015

Over at Indy Democrat, Jon Easter has put together some political analysis of the council maps drawn by Republican political operative David Brooks.  Easter suggests that the maps hold opportunities for the Democrats to eek out a majority. Jon lays out his conclusion early on:
A quick cursory look and a nod to the fact that Marion County continues to grow more blue by the day makes me believe that the Republican effort to draw districts favorable to them will be thwarted...but only by a few seats.
For once in Jon's life, he's being a conservative.    The race for a council majority in 2015 won't even be close.

I agree with Jon that under the new map the Democrats start out with 10 absolutely solid Democratic districts.  By my count, the Republicans meanwhile have just four that are solid GOP distrricts (20, 23, 24 & 25), all in the southern part of the county.

That makes 11 competitive seats.  Under the maps drawn by David Brooks, he projects that all 11 of these competitive districts, which as the figures show below are all highly competitive, will be won by Republicans.  Below I have listed the districts. In parenthesis is the district councilor(s) currently living in the newly-drawn district.  (Thanks to Jon Easter for doing that work.)  The first number after that is the 2010 baseline Republican number used by Brooks to project a Republican win.  The second number is the 2012 baseline number for that district.

District 2 (Gooden) 51.98, 48.85 
District 3 (Scales) 55.2, 50.38 
District 4 (Cain) 57.37, 51.47 
District 5 (McQuillen) 55.57, 50.71 
District 6 (McHenry) 52.38, 43.37 
District 15 (Pfisterer) 55.85 to 45.3 
District 16 (Miller & Shreve) 55.85, 45.3 
District 18 (Open) 60.82, 52.36
District 19 (Hunter) 52.09, 43.61
District 21 (Mascari) 50.43, 42.48

District 22 (Lutz) 55.69, 44.75

Of these 11 districts, the Democrats only have to win three to win a majority.  The 2012 baseline illustrates a huge drop off in the Republican vote in several of the districts from the 2010 to 2012 elections.

My use of 2012 baseline figures has been criticized because 2012, a presidential year, features a higher turnout, much higher than the municipal elections.  It is true that a higher turnout  in Marion County benefits Democrats and the 2010 mid-term turnout numbers will be closer to 2015 than will 2012.  .  

But using 2010 election results to establish the baseline is not without criticism either.  First, 2010 is further removed from the 2015 municipal elections than 2012.  Marion County continues to rapidly lose Republican voters, which loss is going to be better reflected in the later 2012 numbers.

But there is an even bigger reason to question a 2010 baseline.  2010 was not a typical election year.  It was a huge Republican year as Democrats stayed away from the polls in droves.

Most likely the true baseline is somewhere between the 2010 and 2012 numbers.  That spells trouble for the Republicans.  Rather than pick up just two or three of those 11 districts, the more likely scenario is that the Democrats pick up five or six or more.  If the conservative five is chosen, the Democrats would enjoy a 15-10 majority. But the split after the 2015 elections could easily be 17-8 or 18-7.

To those who know about drawing maps for partisan advantage, Brooks fell into the classic pitfall of cutting the GOP districts too close to desperately try to create a majority.  (Frankly I'm not sure he had a choice considering how Democratic the county has become and where those few Republicans left actually live.)  As a result, there is no cushion in any of the districts.  Thus if the Democrats have a halfway decent municipal election, they pick up not a few seats but a whole slew of them.

No, it won't be close.

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

Indianapolis Officials Refuse to Take Action to Stop Life-Threatening Potential Collapse of Circle Centre Parking Garage

Kara Kenney of WRTV reports:
A concerned citizen contacted the Call 6 Investigators back in March about the holes in the ceiling, asking if the concrete is falling and if the garage is safe to park in.

Kenney invited Indiana University-Purdue University Fort Wayne professor and structural engineer Mohammad Alhassan to take a first-hand look at the Moon garage.

"It's very concerning," said Alhassan. "This is a serious problem."

Alhassan said corrosion of the steel reinforcement bars is the likely culprit, and that can cause the concrete to spall, or break apart.

A pipe spewing water inside the garage also caught his attention.

"I'm very surprised people can still park here," said Alhassan. "I wouldn't park here."

Kenney sent video and photos to concrete organizations, who agreed with Alhassan's concerns about corrosion inside the garage.

"Looks like a pretty significant corrosion problem to me in some areas," said Colin Lobo, of the National Ready Mixed Concrete Association, in an email to Kenney. "Very likely needs to be evaluated and repaired."

"It appears that water had been getting into the concrete and causing the reinforcement to rust," said Daniel DeGraaf, executive director of the Michigan Concrete Association, in an email to RTV6. "The source of the water needs to be determined and steps should be taken to stop the inflow."
Although Kenney's report is titled that the City took "immediate action" that is a generous assessment.
"We immediately put it in the queue," said DCE spokesman Adam Baker. "You never want to be too cautious about anything."
But apparently normal procedure was not followed. The complaint about the garage never showed up on DCE's searchable database. Nor too has any inspections showed up.  Instead, upon learning of the Kenney report, the City hired a contractor doing millions of dollars of business with the City to do an evaluation, apparently to justify the City's position that nothing was wrong.  But even that fell somewhat short.  Kenney's report continues:
"The deterioration is likely the result of water and chloride infiltration and freeze-thaw cycles," read the report from Janssen & Spaans. "Spalled concrete could fall, endangering
people and could damage vehicles."

[Department of Code Enforcement Adam ]Baker said the engineer found various areas that had spalling that could be a concern if they were not addressed.

The engineer also found evidence the garage's owners had been trying to address the problem.

"Deteriorated concrete has been removed and exposed reinforcing steel has been coated with a corrosion inhibitive coating in many of the areas," read the report. "Concrete delamination that could eventually spall was also detected. Exposed reinforcing steel that had been coated is showing evidence that corrosion has continued."

While the engineer's report did not comment directly on the safety of the garage, Baker said the city used its expertise to determine the garage is safe for drivers.

"There was no structural integrity concerns whatsoever," said Baker. "Aesthetically, it's not beautiful, but structurally it's safe."

Baker said in response to the city's inquiries, the garage's owners roped off areas to isolate and chip away any concrete that could fall.

An April 4 letter from the Department of Code Enforcement to Circle Centre Mall General Manager John Campbell said DCE visited the garage on March 18 and April 2.

"That subsequent visit revealed that conditions identified during their initial visit had been remediated, or that all loose concrete has been removed from degraded areas, hence, eliminating safety concerns," read the code enforcement letter.
Later in Kenney's report, Baker simply tries to pass off the problems in the garage as being ordinary wear and tear, like a pothole on a city street:
The garage can still operate," said Baker. "We want citizens to know you're safe."

The Department of Code Enforcement has no further plans to further inspect the garage and will leave it in the owner's hands unless they receive complaints from the public.


As for ending what's causing the corrosion in the first place, the city said the deterioration is normal.
"Potholes happen," said Baker.

Let me be clear.  The civil engineers all said the same thing and none of them support Baker's claim that it is ordinary wear and tear. What is happening is that water is getting into the sub-basement of the Moon Garage and causing the metal rebars to rust and expand which then causes the concrete encasing the rebars to break and fall off.  The civil engineers all said that for a concrete structure like this to stand, the concrete and metal rebars have to work together, the rebars providing the tensile strength that concrete doesn't have. Should one of them fail, the ceiling of the garage will eventually weaken to the point it will collapse. 

As far as Baker's claim of ordinary wear and tear, I would invite people to go to the Moon Garage  and look at the condition of the ceiling in the sub-basement. Throughout the floor you will see where there are scores and scores of large area where the concrete has broken away and there is exposed rusted metal rebar.  But you go up one floor, still a basement, and look up at the ceiling and there is no problem whatsoever. So why isn't there ordinary wear and tear on the basement ceiling there, Mr. Baker?

The reason why is, despite Baker's phony, disingenuous claim, what is happening to the Moon Garage sub-basement is not ordinary wear and tear.   Obviously water is getting into the Moon Garage at a subterranean level and causing damage to the ceiling of the lower most floor in the garage, the sub-basement.  Almost certainly the culprit is outside the garage, an engineering defect that is causing water to flow toward the garage.   My guess is the construction work that was done on Georgia Street.

As far as work the City claims was done on the garage, I was there fairly recently. The only work that apparently was done was chipping away loose concrete so it would not fall on cars. There has been no effort by Simons to reinforce the deteriorating ceiling of the Moon Garage sub-basement or to cordon off parts of the garage to parkers for being unsafe.  Apparently City officials won't require that of the Simons.  The roof of the sub-basement could collapse at any time and people could die in a preventable tragedy, a real possibility according to the civil engineers that is not necessarily years away but could happen at any time.  Yet our City officials do nothing to protect the public.

But isn't the image of Indianapolis more important than a few lost lives?  Apparently Indianapolis city officials think so.

Note:  I took the above photos with my cell phone.

Monday, May 12, 2014

Political Candidates Deserve Praise for Climbing into the Arena; Public Does Not Know the Sacrifices Involved in Being a Candidate

“It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who neither know victory nor defeat.”  --Teddy Roosevelt
Teddy Roosevelt could well have been talking about political candidates.  As a former candidate myself, I so admire people who are willing to climb into the arena and run for office.  Until people have been a candidate, they have no concept of the the extraordinary amount of personal and financial sacrifices that go along with running for office.  Many of these candidates, particularly in competitive races, put their jobs and family on hold for months in order to attend events and knock on doors.

Whether it is a David Stockdale or JD Minear running for Congress, a Mark Brown running for Sheriff or David Hennessy running for Marion County Superior Court judge, these people should all be applauded for stepping into the arena, putting their name on the line, making the sacrifices associated with being a candidate.  While these candidates were long-shots, their presence on the ballot was so important because they gives the voters a choice.

Yet does the public ever thank these candidates for putting their name on the line, for making the sacrifices associated with being a candidate?  On rare occasions people do, but for the most part they'd rather stay on the sidelines criticizing the candidates.

My most recent observation in that regard has to do with candidate yard signs.  First, comes a complaint by a non-candidate about yard signs being in the right-of-way.  Candidates shouldn't do that according to the critic, they should only be in people's yards. But the law with regard to political signs in rights-of-way for generations has been universally ignored in the 30 days leading up to the election.  Candidates of all political stripes from Governor to township board have placed signs in rights of way.  It is a way of communicating with voters.  Given that the two parties in Marion County have taken to barring non-slated candidates from obtaining critical voter information, unslated candidates often have no other way of getting out the fact they are candidates other than through yard signs. Nonetheless, both slated and non-slated candidates post signs in the right-of-way.

A related complaint I hear, again almost always from those who have never run for office, is that candidate yard signs are not removed quickly enough after the election.  These people, for some reason, take personal offense if they drive down a road and see a candidate yard sign after the election. Even though for a county-wide candidate or congressional district candidate it might have taken weeks and a team of volunteers to put up those signs, those sideline critics expect the yard signs down almost immediately after the election and if that isn't done, well the candidate is just lazy and does not care about the community.  Apparently those critics are unaware that candidates, particularly losing ones, do not have the same team of volunteers helping them after the election that they had before the election.

Here's a suggestion to the critics.  If a post-election, right-of-way yard sign is bothering you, instead of contacting the candidate and complaining, do the candidate a favor and take it down yourself.    Trust me, a losing candidate is not going to be upset if the yard sign is tossed in the trash; they will expect that.  Most of those signs that have been out in the weather can't be reused anyway.   Picking up the sign will be a nice "thank you" to the candidate for his or her willingness to make the sacrifices of being a candidate.

To close, I want to give a big "thank you" to those candidates, both successful and unsuccessful, Republicans and Democrats, who decided to climb into the arena and run in the primary this May.  Our political system could not survive were it not for the sacrifices that you and other candidates are willing to make.

Saturday, May 10, 2014

International Cricket Council to Vote Next Month to Suspend USACA; Indy's National Cricket Tournament in Doubt

In an article behind a paywall, Anthony Schoette of the IBJ reports:
Turmoil within the USA Cricket Association could jeopardize the organization’s national championship set for Indianapolis’ new World Sports Park in August, though local officials remain confident the event will happen. 

Jamie Harrison, CEO of American Cricket Foundation
A string of events—including a tax filing showing USACA was $3 million in debt at the end of 2012; the sudden resignation of the organization’s CEO, Darren Beazley, who championed the event here; and a challenge from a rival association—threaten to kill not only the local event, but USACA itself.

The Dubai-based International Cricket Council next month is set to vote whether USACA should be suspended as an affiliate organization. If suspended, USACA would lose out on about $400,000 annually the ICC funnels into the Florida-based organization.

“Without the money from the ICC, I just don’t know how USACA is sustainable,” said Jamie Harrison, CEO of the rival American Cricket Federation.

Under ICC rules, membership is dependent upon a board's proving it is the sole recognized governing body for cricket in the country. More than half of U.S. cricket leagues have spurned USACA and joined ACF. Switzerland’s cricket governing body was suspended from the ICC in 2012 under similar circumstances.

Indianapolis cricket aficionado Jatin Patel said a national cricket championship in Indianapolis “would definitely help the city.” But, he added, “I have no idea where [the USACA national championship event] stands now.”

“The way things are, the event looks impossible,” said Patel, who lobbied Indianapolis mayors Bart Peterson and Greg Ballard in support of the World Sports Park and efforts to bring in a big-time event, but later joined ACF as a board member and national coaching director. “This is not a problem with the World Sports Park. It’s just that city officials are talking to USACA and no one else. They need to get the entire story of what’s happening in this sport.”
In a nutshell, that is the problem.  The article details Indianapolis officials who are imitating ostriches with their heads in the sand, stubbornly refusing to take into account developments that will undoubtedly affect the viability of the USACA-sponsored Indianapolis national tournament in August.  Harrison, CEO of the American Cricket Federation, says that even if the event is held in Indianapolis, it will not be a true national championship due to numerous American cricket leagues leaving USACA and moving to ACF:
“We now have twice as many leagues that belong to our organization as USACA has,” Harrison said. “We represent 10,000 [players] in the U.S. We’re coming together and stepping into the void.”

Friday, May 9, 2014

Democratic Challenger Exposes Marion County Sheriff John Layton's Electoral Weakness

Sheriff John Layton
I've seen a few reports glossing over the results of the Sheriff's race in the Marion County Democratic Primary, declaring that Sheriff John Layton easily defeated challenger Mark Brown.  End of story.  A win is a win.  But when I look at the numbers, 64% to 36%, I see a bigger story as well as opportunity for Republicans.

Last Tuesday featured historical low turnout of about 10%.  The people who came to the polls were hardcore Democratic partisans. Probably a good 90% of them or more knew Sheriff Layton.  Despite that tremendous name ID, over 36% of the hardcore Democratic voters deliberately cast a ballot against Sheriff Layton.

Contrast that with the 7th Congressional primary in which Democratic Congressman Andre Carson beat off three challengers while capturing over 89% of the vote.

In order for Republicans to win the 7th Congressional district, the GOP needs a lot of Democrats to cross over and vote against Carson. From the primary results, it doesn't look like the Democrats are inclined to do that.  On the other hand, the result in the Sheriff's race suggests Sheriff Layton has an electoral weakness that Republicans could exploit in the Fall.  While it will be a long shot, at least Republicans have some shot at the Sheriff's office.

Wednesday, May 7, 2014

Republican Indianapolis Council Map Prevails at the Indiana Supreme Court; However, GOP Unlikely to Win at Polls With Brooks-Drawn Districts

Today in a unanimous decision, the Indiana Supreme Court upheld the maps draw by the Indianapolis Council in 2011 and signed by the Mayor Ballard on January 1, 2012.  The Court seemed reluctant to tackle the legal issue whether this satisfied the statutory requirement that the districts be redrawn by the council in the second year after the census (which would be 2012), and instead focused on judicial reluctance to take over the job of drawing maps for legislative bodies.

But while Republicans prevailed in court, there is a surprise awaiting them.  Although GOP operative David Brooks drew districts that are supposed to favor the Republican Party, a review of recent election results reveal that the Brooks-drawn maps actually favor the Democrats and significantly so.

Brooks drew a 15-10 Republican majority in order to sustain the likelihood of the Democrats winning all four at-large seats.  After the Brooks' map was drawn, the General Assembly eliminated the at-large seats.

However, when I studied the 2012 baselines in the GOP-drawn map, I did not see the Republicans winning 15 districts, not even close.  In column two is the 2010 GOP baseline numbers used by Brooks. (Due to reprecincting between 2010 and 2012, I couldn't confirm those 2010 district numbers.)  The third column is my analysis using 2012 baseline numbers.  The fourth column is my analysis of the district, i.e. strongly, moderately or leaning Democrat or Republican.

Granted it is not an apples to apples comparison. The 2012 numbers feature higher turnout than 2010 and higher turnout in Marion County typically favors Democrats.  But even taking that into consideration as well as the even lower turnout in a municipal election, it would not appear the numbers would move dramatically enough to give Republicans a majority of the 25 seats.

Only 8 of the 25 districts had a majority Republican baseline in 2012. The Republicans have to win all eight of those districts (and four of those are just barely leaning Republican) and five more majority Democratic districts. But there is only one leaning Democratic district and three moderately Democratic districts.  A strongly Democratic district would also have to flip to the Republicans.  The best candidates for that possibility are districts 16, 19, and 21, districts that appeared to have moved by an amazing 18-20 points in the Democrats' direction between 2010 and 2012. Of course, that assumes the Brooks' 2010 baseline numbers are accurate.
Dist 2010 GOP Pct 2012 GOP Pct Partisan Outlook
1 41.8 35.31 SD
2 51.98 48.85 LD
3 55.12 50.38 LR
4 57.37 51.47 LR
5 55.57 50.71 LR
6 52.38 43.37 MD
7 20.91 19.45 SD
8 23.98 19.53 SD
9 16.45 14.78 SD
10 22.35 17.75 SD
11 15.48 15.36 SD
12 42.42 33.96 SD
13 17.96 13.12 SD
14 23.25 16.29 SD
15 55.85 45.30 MD
16 51.55 41.20 SD
17 18.08 15.39 SD
18 60.82 52.36 LR
19 52.09 43.61 SD
20 65.79 59.12 SR
21 50.43 42.48 SD
22 55.69 44.75 MD
23 65.65 60.13 SR
24 64.18 58.87 SR
25 70.28 66.18 SR

Even though the Republicans ended up with the map they wanted, it doesn't appear they have much of a chance of winning a majority on the council in the 2015 municipal elections.

2014 Results Show An Alarming Drop in Republican Participation in Marion County Politics

This tidbit from the 2014 Marion County (Indianapolis) primary.  In 2014, 22,800 voters countywide participated in the Marion County Republican Primary.  This figure represents a remarkable 55% drop from the 51,053 who turned out in 2010.  For Marion County Democrats, 28,533 turned out yesterday while 36,291 went to the polls in 2010.  The drop was 21%.

Historically Marion County Republicans have outnumbered Democrats when it comes to participating in off-year primaries.  The fact that only 22,800 Republicans voted in a Republican primary in a county with nearly 648,000 registered voters does not forebode well for the upcoming municipal election.  Looking at it another way, only 3.5% of the registered voters showed up yesterday and took a Republican ballot.

As I've said before, the Marion County Republican Chairman needs to work on expanding and rebuilding that base of GOP voters in the county.  Instead Chairman Kyle Walker seems more interested in consolidating his own personal power.

As a side note, the Marion County Republican Party did not field a candidate for County Assessor in the primary.  How many years has it been since that has happened?  I'm going to guess a 100 years at least.

Marion County Democratic Judicial Slate Prevails

Angela Davis, Democratic
Candidate, Marion County
Superior Court
The eight slated candidates prevailed in the Marion County Democratic judge race.  The top three candidates were first time candidate Angela Davis (20,241), Judge Barbara Cook Crawford (19,773) and Judge Annie Christ-Garcia (18,774).  Finishing out of the running were David Hennessy (10,059) and Greg Bowes (8,549).  The lowest slated candidates were Judges James Osborne (15,512) and David Dreyer (16,227).

These results confirmed everything I have thought about these list type races where few voters know the candidates:
  • The party slate performs better in low turnout primaries such as mid-term elections when there is no presidential race on the ballot.
  • Female candidates have a huge edge on male candidates.  Not only on the Democratic side did women lead the field, on the Republican side, a woman, Judge Cynthia Ayres, finished first in the voting.
  • Having a common name is very helpful.  "Angela Davis" is a common name.  She had never been a candidate before.  I highly doubt 90% of the voters yesterday could have told you the first thing about Angela Davis.  Yet she led the field.
  • Being at the top of the ballot helps.
In short, if you are a female candidate, with a common name, at the top of the ballot in a presidential election year, you have a much, much better chance of beating the slate of judicial candidates.  An example of that is former Judge Kim Brown's victory over the slate in 2008.

Nonetheless, I expect that this election season probably marks the end of the Marion County system of selecting judges, including slating which involves judicial candidates paying tens of thousands of dollars in slating fees in contravention of the judicial ethics rules.

Tuesday, May 6, 2014

Indiana Republican State Legislators Face Primary Challenges

Robert Behning
Having tilted against enough windmills during my political lifetime, I know the long odds of people taking on incumbents or, in Marion County, going up against slated candidates.  A victory for those outsiders is a long-shot.  But primaries can be revealing even if the outsiders do not prevail.  Let's look at some Republican state legislative primary races:

Races to watch locally are the Robert Behning-Michael Scott race in House District 91, which takes up part of the southwest portion of Marion County with about half of the district in Hendricks County.  Behning has tried to move to he right of Scott, a union electrician, by pointing out labor contributions.  Scott ran against Behning in 2012 and garnered nearly 37% of the vote, a huge number for a challenger to a long-time incumbent.  This time
Michael Scott
Scott is firing away again as a blue collar, lunch pail Republican who opposed the type of education reform, including charters, that Behning has led in the legislature.  For reasons I'm not quite sure, though I'm sure its not Behning's support of education reform which is mainstream Republican, there is a lot of dissatisfaction with Behning in that district.   With a district that is about 63% Republican, the Behning-Scott matchup will probably determine who wins that seat.

On the opposite side of Indianapolis, the Northeast, there is a battle taking place involving long-time Senator Jim Merritt and challenger Crystal LaMotte,   LaMotte is former spokeswoman for Crisis Pregnancy Centers and Right to Life of Indianapolis.  She has criticized Merritt for his votes to remove the civil union ban from the
Sen. Jim Merritt
proposed amendment which would have banned same-sex marriage.  On other issues, she faults Merritt for abandoning conservative principles.  While LaMotte has been undoubtedly funding-challenged, I think she could have challenged Merritt's fiscal conservative credentials, tying the Senator to his continued support of Indianapolis Mayor Greg Ballard's tax and spend policies.   Most of her focus seems to be on social issues.  While I don't expect LaMotte to win, anything north of 35% would represent a major rebuke to the sitting state senator.

Crystal LaMotte
In Carmel, Rep. Jerry Torr faces off against Don Meier.  Unions, which are still angry about Torr for his authorship of the Right to Work bill, have jointed together to support behind Meier, sending out mailings criticizing Torr for his support of a mass transit bill that would lead to large tax increases in the district.  While Torr is likely to prevail, it will be interesting to see whether his position in support of mass transit hurts him at the poll.

Probably the challenger with the best chance of an upset is Curt Nisly running in House District 22 which includes Kosciusko and Elkhart counties. Representative Rebecca Kubacki of Syracuse has drawn the angst of the tea party as well as religious conservatives.   Kubacki has been targeted by Indiana Family Action, the political action arm of the Indiana Family Institute.  Kubacki has been accused of flip-flopping on the marriage issue and has riled constituents with comments suggesting she would listen only to "education professionals" and not to constituents when it came to education reform issues.   Of the four, I think Nisly has the best chance of scoring an election upset today.

Monday, May 5, 2014

Will Marion County Prosecutor Terry Curry Ignore Possible Voter Fraud and Other Felonies Committed by His Democratic Party Chairman?

In conjunction with its duties, the Marion County Clerk's Office produces an "Official Marion County Democratic Ballot' for voters. The ballot lists all candidates.  As I posted earlier, Marion County Democratic Chairman Joel Miller sent out a mailing to voters suggesting that such a ballot is a "scam" and a "fake" and that he would be soon mailing the Democrats the "real" ballot.  Well the "real" ballot arrived in mailboxes this weekend. So let's compare the two:

Official Marion County Democratic Sample Ballot
provided by Clerk's Office

(Not) Official Marion County Democratic Sample Ballot
provided by Marion County Democratic Party Organization

You will notice the "official" sample ballot sent by Chairman Miller is virtually identical to the official sample ballot by the Clerk's Office.  Miller even copied the Clerk's Official seal on the document at the upper right hand part of the document.

Production of the fake "official" sample ballot could constitute counterfeiting, a Class D felony under
Marion County Democratic
Chairman Joel Miller
IC 35-43-5-2(a):
  A person who knowingly or intentionally:
        (1) makes or utters a written instrument in such a manner that it purports to have been made:
            (A) by another person;
            (B) at another time;
            (C) with different provisions; or
            (D) by authority of one who did not give authority; or
commits counterfeiting, a Class D felony.
Because the fake sample ballot went even further, using the seal of the Marion County Clerk's Office to give voters the inaccurate impression it was from a government source, producing the sample ballot could also be viewed as forgery, a Class C felony under IC 35-43-5-2(b):
      A person who, with intent to defraud, makes, utters, or possesses a written instrument in such a manner that it purports to have been made:
        (1) by another person;
        (2) at another time;
        (3) with different provisions; or
        (4) by authority of one who did not give authority;
commits forgery, a Class C felony.
 Finally, the ballot appears to constitute voter fraud under IC 3-14-2-19(a) which states: 
A person who knowingly:
 (1) forges or falsely makes the official endorsement of a ballot; or
(2) prints or circulates an imitation ballot;
 commits a Class D felony. 
Although subsection(b) of that statute refers to a couple statutes that provide exceptions, but neither appears to allow a county party chairman to falsely represent to voters that he is distributing an "Official Marion County Democratic Sample Ballot" when in fact he is doing nothing of the sort.

The question is will Marion County Prosecutor Terry Curry prosecute his own county chairman (and anyone else who was involved) for what appears to be clear legal violations constituting felonies?  I won't hold my breath. 

Sunday, May 4, 2014

Marion County GOP Leadership Refuses to Sell Reagan Dinner Ticket to Elected Republican Precinct Committeeman

Jocelyn-Tandy Adande
In a county in which the Democratic Party has gained an increasingly large majority, one would think the Marion County Republican Party would be reaching out to be inclusive, and, at the very least, not turning on its own members.   But that would give the local GOP leadership too much credit.  In the latest dumb move by party leadership, Bryce Carpenter, the Executive Director of the Marion County GOP sent Jocelyn-Tandy Adande, an elected Republican Committeeman, refused to sell her a $100 ticket to the annual Reagan dinner:
-----Original Message-----

From: Bryce Carpenter (
To: A
Sent: Fri, Mar 21, 2014 10:03 am

Subject: RE: Save the Date - 2014 Marion County Republican Party Reagan Dinner on April 10th
I received an email from you regarding purchasing a ticket to the 2014 Marion County Republican Party Reagan Dinner. I regret to inform you that we will not be issuing you a ticket as you are a candidate running against the slated team of Marion County Republican Candidates. These dinners are meant to highlight and celebrate the members and volunteers of the Republican Party and raise funds to support the candidates supported and endorsed by the Marion County Republican Organization.

Thank you and have a great day.

Bryce Carpenter

Executive Director
Marion County Republican Central Committee
47 South Pennsylvania Street
Suite 300
Indianapolis, IN 46204

(317) 635-8881 Office
(317) 504-6559 Cell
(317) 686-4173 Fax 
Jocelyn sent a reply via email that properly slammed Carpenter for the boneheaded move:

 Jocelyn-Tandy Adande
President, African American Republican Council of Marion County and
Republican Candidate
Marion County Clerk of the Circuit Court
“People shoot at eagles but they feed Pigeons!”

An Open Letter to Fellow Republicans

Don’t let Kyle Walker, Tom John, David Brooks and Bryce Carpenter fool you! As long as the Republican Party loses all of the local offices these RINOs can remain in power by design!

I am a true conservative just like former President Ronald Reagan who ran more than once for president, and did Nixon. I CAN WIN IN NOVEMBER!!!!

Yes, I volunteered to run for County Recorder in 2010, there was no candidate slated. This group sabotaged my race, sent out the same post card at the last minute, and allowed a white male democrat who voted in one Republican Primary run and be defeated in the 2010 General Election. The grass roots Republican supporters never met Ted Clements. He was not slated. Who picked him to run?

Time and time again these RHINOS have cost the Republican Party in Marion County all of the county offices except the office of mayor and a majority of the township offices.
Reason for the loss has been a weak precinct organization and a clear majority of "handpicked" appointed committeemen who have voted the will of the chairman at slating for these offices. Many of the candidates slated did not and could not win.

If Governor Pence had needed Marion County to win in 2012, he would have lost the governor's race!

Their poor record in Marion County indicates the margin of loss to Democrats by Republican candidates under their leadership. How can they be proud of their track record?  Yet, I am being attacked. I am not the County Chairman!

2012: President                                               79,827
          U.S. Senate                                          90,827
          Governor                                              80,618
          Attorney General                                   37,101
          Superintendent of Public Instruction       82,138
7thDistrict Congress                                66,294
          State Senate District 30                           4,963
          Senate Districts 33, 34, 94, 95, 98 vacant
State Representative District 87                    51
          State Representative District 92             1,813
          State Representative District 96             21,277
          State Representative District 99               5,765
          State Representative District 100              3,978
County Coroner                                     78,516
          Treasurer                                              67,703
          Surveyor                                               79,579
Township Boards (no candidates)
                    Center 3 of 7 districts vacant
                    Lawrence 2 of 7 districts vacant
                    Perry, District 2                                  47
                    Pike 1 of 7 districts vacant
                    Warren 1 of 7 districts vacant
                    Washington 1 of 7 districts vacant
                    Wayne                    2of 7 districts vacant
2011: 4 at-large city-County Council seats and a majority City Council
                              2,348 - 8,893 (5th to 8th position)

2010: U.S. Senate                                 25,070
Secretary of State                       20,672                   
          State Treasurer                           715                                 
          State Auditor                               4,274
          7th District                                   30,798
          County Prosecutor                      8,583
          County Sheriff                             26,895
          County Clerk                               20,609
          County Recorder                         22,839
          Township Offices:
                    Center Trustee                  12,041
                    Lawrence Trustee               1,421
                    Pike Trustee                       5,977
                    Warren Trustee                  2,788
                    Washington Trustee           6,816
          Numerous Vacant Township Board Positions and no candidates.

As a consultant, my resume reflects a number of candidates over the years I have worked for in both Political Parties. My support and participation in the Republican Party’s is based on the values in the Party’s Platform. In fact, my father, mother aunts and uncles were Republicans. Just like President Reagan, I am qualified, experienced and have the integrity to serve in each of the offices I have sought.

In March 2013, I was a candidate for Marion County Chairman of the Party against Kyle Walker who failed to give advance notice to the precinct committeemen that he had opposition for reelection. Yes, it was a stacked convention and later in a meeting with him informed me that if I ever ran for another office, he would guarantee that I would not be slated.

I did call county headquarters in November and requested a meeting with the County Chairman to discuss my candidacy for clerk.

I was informed by Bryce Carpenter that Kyle did not like me and he would have to check to see if he would grant me a meeting.

I told Bryce, “don’t bother, this is a courtesy call and that I would not be going through slating.” I was not willing to pay a large slating fee to the Party and get “screwed”. “Plus, they did not have a full slate of precinct committeemen to carry a slate countywide.” Look at past election results in the county and the results clearly indicate big losses to Democrats.

Bruce Carpenter sent me an email stating that I could not purchase a $100.00 ticket to the Reagan Dinner on April 10th...   I am one of the few elected precinct committeemen in the Party who was denied a ticket to the Reagan dinner

Over the weekend, I received a slick mail piece slamming Adande for having been a Democrat, with the last activity 15 years earlier.  The irony is that Reagan, who the Marion County GOP organization is celebrating with the dinner, used to be a Democrat before switching to the Republican party.

(Note:  I could not get my photographs of the mailer to download right, but I found these from 2011 on-line. They are identical to the 2014 slam piece with the exception that "Marion County Clerk" is substituted for "City-County Council at Large" on the second page and, of course, the ballot number is changed as well.)

 The anti-Adande piece appears to be employing an old trick of altering the candidate's photo to make him or her appear more sinister.  If my memory serves me correct, several years ago campaign strategist David Brooks altered a photo of Rep. Julia Carson and was skewered in the media for doing so.  In Adande's case her complexion appears to have been darkened to give her more of a sinister look.  They also altered my photograph on the negative mailing they sent out when I ran for judge in 2012.

It is outrageous that Marion County Chairman Kyle Walker is spending scarce money to defeat an unslated Clerk candidate in the primary when he has absolutely no intention of trying to win the Clerk's race in the Fall.  That is less resources Republicans have for winnable races in Marion County where they are competing against Democrats.