Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Indianapolis Mayor Greg Ballard Proposes Property Tax Increase and 9.25% Local Income Tax Increase to Fund Public Safety, Education Initiatives

After a long 6 1/2 years in office, I shouldn't be surprised by anything Indianapolis Mayor Greg Ballard does.  During his tenure he has never met a tax or fee he didn't advocate raising.  In this morning's big public safety announcement, Mayor Ballard continued to show why he is the most liberal mayor during my nearly four decades in Indianapolis.

As part of his big crime initiative this morning, Mayor Ballard announced:
  • Support for an end to the local homestead tax credit, resulting in property tax increases for most Indianapolis residents.
  • A 9.25% increase in the local income tax  (1.62% to 1.77%)
  • Increased tax revenue will be used to fund 280 more police officers.
  • Increased tax revenue will also be used to fund a $25 million pre-school scholarship program to be run by United Way of Central Indiana.

At 7:45 in the above 2007 video, Candidate Ballard chides Mayor Peterson for not hiring more police officers with the 65% tax increase (1% to 1.65%) in the local income tax pushed through that same year.  Yet when Ballard was elected in November of 2007, he did not push to repeal the tax increase and, like Peterson, did not increase the police force with new hires.  In fact, Ballard did far worse, presiding over a substantial reduction in the police force during his tenure, all the while profiting off the higher income tax which Ballard proposes raising again.  And taxpayers are supposed to believe Ballard?  If Ballard has shown one consistency in office it is that any additional tax revenue he gets goes to corporate welfare and the "downtown mafia" as Gary Welsh of Advance Indiana calls them, not basic city services.

In the Mayor's announcement this morning he said that the City would "explore" applying for the federal COPS grant if the Mayor got his tax increase.  The City had been receiving that grant for years to fund law enforcement officer salaries, but backed off on applying this year to gain leverage in negotiations with the council on the tax increase.

But the over 9% increase in the local option income tax wasn't enough for Mayor Ballard.  He also once again is supporting the elimination of the local homestead property tax credit which will mean tax increases for scores of Marion  County homeowners.

These additional dollars are set to fund a new initiative proposed by the Mayor, a scholarship program aimed to help impoverished families afford pre-school.  What is particularly appalling about this idea, besides the fact it won't make one dimes bit of difference in long term education achievement, is that Mayor Ballard proposes having the United Way of Central Indiana administer the program, handling millions of our tax dollars.  UWCI is run by a private board over which the taxpayers have zero say.  The United Way of Central Indiana, which acts as a charity clearinghouse, also has a history of paying its executives exorbitant salaries.  This is what I wrote about United Way of Central Indiana three years ago:
Last week United Way of Central Indiana CEO Ellen K. Annala penned a letter to the editor discussing poverty and urging people to contribute to the United Way.   
You can bet that poverty is not something Ms. Annala and her fellow United Way executives have to deal with in their personal lives.  Ms. Annala pulls in $251,720 in salary and benefits a year.  Angela Dabney, Sr. VP of Resource Development makes $168,458, Jay Gersey, Sr. VP Community Planning & Strategic Investment earns $169,100, Dale E. Depy, Assistant Treasurer, hauls in $170,275, and Nancy S. Ahlrichs, VP Workforce Development and Diversity makes $136,896.  In total, the organization paid out $7,489,393 in salaries and benefits in 2010 and reported net assets of $108,440,285.
You can bet the UWCI would break off a huge chunk of that $25 million in tax dollars for themselves before passing along the money in the form of scholarships.  That's how the United Way operates.  People are foolish to give money to the United Way instead of just giving the money to the charity of their choice.

To say Ballard's plan for Indianapolis taxpayers is bad would be an understatement.  But it is also a bad plan for Indianapolis Republicans.  Ballard won in 2007 when he beat an incumbent who pushed for a local option income tax increase and was saddled for responsibility for a property tax increase.  Now Ballard proposes, the year before the election, to raise the local income tax and property taxes.  If local Democrats are smart, and the jury is still out on that issue, they'll wrap those and Ballard's other tax and fee increases around his neck and take him down to sure defeat in 2015.

Did Grant County Officials Violate the Open Records Law By Charging $200 for Eight DVDs?

A couple days ago WRTV super-reporter Kara Kenney did a story on a woman who died at the Grant County jail from an asthma attack.  It's an interesting story that touches upon an issue I've raised a few times on this blog, the failure of jail officials to provide proper medical care. 

But I write instead to highlight a particular part of Kenney's story that is very important to people who seek public records.  
Call 6 Investigator Kara Kenney filed a public records request with the Grant County Sheriff's Office on May 20 and May 27 to find out what happened with Kendra Shaw and to obtain jail policies.
When the sheriff’s office did not provide records, Kenney filed a formal complaint with the Indiana Public Access Counselor. 
On June 24, the sheriff’s office, through its attorney, issued an apology for not complying with the public records law and provided 42 pages of documents. 
Kenney also requested video from the jail showing Shaw. That video was released after RTV6 paid $200 for copies of eight DVDs.
$200 for eight DVDs?  The discs themselves can't be more than 50 cents apiece. 

IC 5-14-3-8(d) applies to local governments charging for public records:
(d) This subsection applies to a public agency that is not a state agency. The fiscal body (as defined in IC 36-1-2-6) of the public agency, or the governing body, if there is no fiscal body, shall establish a fee schedule for the certification or copying of documents. The fee for certification of documents may not exceed five dollars ($5) per document. The fee for copying documents may not exceed the greater of:
(1) ten cents ($0.10) per page for copies that are not color copies or twenty-five cents ($0.25) per page for color copies; or
(2) the actual cost to the agency of copying the document.  As used in this subsection, "actual cost" means the cost of paper and the per-page cost for use of copying or facsimile equipment and does not include labor costs or overhead costs. A fee established under this subsection must be uniform throughout the public agency and uniform to all purchasers.
Subsection (g) of IC 5-14-3-8 outlines allowable charges for electronic records:
(g) Except as provided by subsection (h), for providing a duplicate of a computer tape, computer disc, microfilm, or similar or analogous record system containing information owned by the public agency or entrusted to it, a public agency may charge a fee, uniform to all purchasers, that does not exceed the sum of the following:
(1) The agency's direct cost of supplying the information in that form.
(2) The standard cost for selling the same information to the public in the form of a publication if the agency has published the information and made the publication available for sale.
It would appear that the only charge that should have been made to WRTV was for the actual cost of the eight DVDs.  It's important to nip this practice in the bud, before other local governments start copying what Grant County is doing here.  Hopefully WRTV's attorneys will contact Grant County with the law in hand and demand a refund of the $200 charge above the cost of the DVDs.

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Indianapolis on Track to Set Low Temperature Record for July

The average temperature in Indianapolis thus far this July is 70.4 degrees.   If that figure holds, which it may because the forecast for the final three days of this month are daytime highs below 80 and nighttime lows in the 50s, that would set a record.  The current record average low July temperature for Indianapolis is 70.6 degrees in 1947 with the runner-up 70.9 degrees in 2009.

This comes just two years after Indianapolis set the record average high monthly July temperature at 84.0 in 2012 and a third place finisher of 82.0 in 2011.   So during the last six summers we in Indianapolis will have two of the hottest Julys on record and two of the coldest. 

What does that mean for global warming?  Not a damn thing.  It's weather, not climate.  You can't forecast long term changes in the climate based on changes in the weather.  Even the 140 plus years that official temperature records have been kept is a tiny, tiny fraction of time, a sampling of weather not of climate.  Long term warming and cooling trends last tens if not hundreds of thousands of years, if not longer.  You can't take a tiny segment of time (which is 140 years) and make accurate conclusions about climate trends.

My alarmist friends are the first to make the distinction between weather and climate when a climate realist points out colder than normal temperature records.  Yet they have no problem using hotter than normal weather when it works to support their global warming theory.  Remember all the articles and columns using the hotter than normal summer of 2012 as proof the alarmists were right, that the planet is getting warmer? 

Of course when the global warming theory developed holes a few years ago the alarmists cleverly tried to shift the debate to "climate change" instead.  Of course, that is a "heads I win, tails you lose theory" as the planet's climate has always been changing throughout its 4.5 billion year history.  If the climate on our dynamic planet suddenly stopped changing - now that would be something to worry about.

Bottom line, the climate alarmists are hypocrites. They want to use weather when it works for them, but to ignore it when it doesn't.  It's not an intellectually honest approach, but what the heck, the alarmist agenda has never been about saving the climate, it's been about promoting an environmental agenda using scare tactics.

Sunday, July 27, 2014

Burglary is Thwarted When "Victim" Breaking Into Indianapolis House is Shot and Killed

The Indianapolis Star is still developing this story:
Indianapolis police are investigating a fatal shooting on the Near Northside.   
Around 1 p.m. Sunday, police were called to a home in the 3100 block of College Avenue, according to Officer Christopher Wilburn of the Indianapolis Metropolitan Police Department.   
"When officers arrived they immediately did a protective sweep of the exterior and interior of the residence," Wilburn said in a news release. "Officers located an unresponsive unidentified male subject with apparent trauma. Investigators do not believe this individual is the homeowner."   
After locating the victim, officers detained a person of interest and transported him to the homicide office for questioning, Wilburn said. 
The shooting occurred during an attempted break-in, police said. Three people were trying to enter the home while the homeowner was inside. 
Gunfire was exchanged, and one of the people trying to break-in was shot, Wilburn said. 
Later on the Star again refers to the person who was shot while breaking into house as a "victim."  They might want to change that as the story is rewritten.  If you get shot while breaking into a house, you're not a victim.

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Will the NFL Suspend Tony Dungy for Comments About First Openly Gay NFL Player, Michael Sam?

Unless you're living in a cave, you know that ex-Indianapolis Colts coach Tony Dungy made comments about the first openly gay NFL player Michael Sam that have stirred up some controversy.  For those cave dwellers, the story was broken earlier this week by Tampa Tribune columnist Ira Kaufmann:
Tony Dungy
“I wouldn’t have taken him,’’ said former Bucs and Colts coach Tony Dungy, now an analyst for NBC. “Not because I don’t believe Michael Sam should have a chance to play,
but I wouldn’t want to deal with all of it.
“It’s not going to be totally smooth … things will happen.’’
The last couple days Dungy as tried to walk back those comments, explaining what he really meant.

Already calls are going out for the NFL to suspend Dungy.  Earlier this year the NBA imposed a lifetime suspension on Los Angeles Clippers owner Donald Sterling for racist comments he made during a private conversation he had with his girlfriend.   The past few years have seen a number o TV and radio hosts lose their jobs because of comments they made that were not politically correct.

The issue is not the legality of those actions.  Private entities are not bound by the dictates of the First Amendment.

But the fact that the First Amendment doe not technically apply does not mean that the principles of the Free Speech clause have no relevance in terms of what policy  those private entities should follow.  We cherish free speech in this country, and rightfully so because punishing someone for their politically incorrect opinions is a slippery slope to the censorship of all non-majority opinions.

Let me be one of the few to say it, the NBA way overreacted to Sterling's comments.  They could have given Sterling a brief suspension, consistent with similar speech offenses, and let his comments stand as a lesson about how wrong racism is.  A "teaching moment" as they say. The antidote to bad speech after all isn't suppressing that bad speech but rather good speech.   NBA Commissioner Adam Silver has been wrongly praised for how he handled the Sterling matter.  He kicked an 80 year old man with outdated racial views, who possibly suffers from dementia, when he was down.  Silver took the cheap, politically correct way out instead of setting a precedent that punished Sterling appropriately while recognizing that people should have some freedom to express their political and racial views, even when those views are unpopular.   Is what Sterling did the absolute worst thing an owner could have ever done?  If not, why is he getting the most severe punishment a Commissioner can impose on an owner?

It seems every week we hear about some celebrity or reality star saying something politically incorrect and losing their TV job.  Chilling unpopular speech by threats to people's livelihoods does not make us better.  Free speech makes us better.

Tony Dungy should have the freedom to express his views and people have a right to respond to those views, offering their own.  People have done that.  That exchange of ideas is what makes this country great.

Hopefully the silly talk of suspending Dungy will go nowhere.

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Turning the Clock Back to 1990: Hogsett Defeats Hudnut for Secretary of State

Recently I  was asked about Joe Hogsett's upset victory over Indianapolis Mayor William Hudnut iu the 1990 Secretary of State's class.  It is an important race to discuss now because it could provide the blueprint for the retiring U.S. Attorney to win the Indianapolis mayor's office.

In 1990, Hogsett was Secretary of State, having been appointed to fill out the rest of his term of Evan Bayh who had left that office early when elected governor in the 1988 election.  He had decided to seek election in his own right, but Hudnut, a popular mayor serving out his fourth and final term, also announced he would run for the office.

Initial polls showed Hogsett had no chance to win.  I believe the polls showed Hudnut with a 30 point lead or more.  A Hudnut victory was so certain, rumor has it, that a Hudnut campaign worker went to the Secretary of State's Office to measure the windows for new drapes.

I remember the race well because I was teaching a campaign strategy class at IUPUI and used the race as an example.  I asked my students what they thought of Hogsett's chances.  Every last one of them thought Hogsett had no chance. They were convinced that Hudnut promoting the "Indianapolis Miracle" on the campaign trail would resonate with audiences outside of Indianapolis. I told my class that people outside of Indianapolis did not view the city in the same way that people living inside the city do.  I said that people outside Indianapolis often thinks the city gets special treatment ,particularly by the legislature.  Having lived in southeast Indiana, I knew that an Indianapolis mayor running for state office would be viewed with skepticism.  The students though were not buying any of what I was selling.

Next, we talked strategy Hogsett could pursue.  They thought possibly Hogsett could brag about his work as Secretary of State.  I told the students that 30 points down, Hogsett had to go after his opponent.  How would he do that?  The students struggled to come up with a winning Hogsett strategy.  I asked them about areas where Hudnut was vulnerable.  I wrote on the board Hudnut's tripling of the local income tax, pushing my students to consider Hogsett going after Hudnut as a tax and spend Republican, effectively running to the right of Hudnut as a fiscal conservative.  The class was skeptical.  The tax increases were justified they said and besides look at how well the City was doing.  They just didn't believe that Hogsett could get any traction attacking Hudnut's record.

When a candidate attacks another for raising taxes, the response explaining what the taxes were used for and why they were justified takes too long given the modern sound bite and people's short attention spans.  Plus the explanation justifying tax increases reemphasizes the fact that taxes were increased and leaves the tax raising candidate on the defensive. While tax increases can be defended at election time, doing so is very tricky and often fails when a skillful candidate is on the other side.

What strategy did Hogsett employ during that 1990 election?  He ran to the right of Hudnut, slamming the Mayor repeatedly for being a tax and spend liberal.  Hudnut's tripling of the local income tax was a major feature of Hogsett's campaign.  Hudnut's strategists were caught flat-footed finding themselves having to defend the Mayor's record rather than promote it.  Hudnut's support among Republicans collapsed as many GOP voters saw Hogsett as a more conservative alternative to the Indianapolis Mayor.  Hogsett made up the 30 point deficit, winning the election 52-48.

In 1992, Hogsett ran against Dan Coats for Senate and lost badly, scoring only 41% of the vote. Two years later in an excellent Republican year he ran for Congress and did better, losing to David McIntosh 54-46. 

What was the difference between those races and the one Hogsett ran against Hudnut in 1990? Well, in those later races, Hogsett faced Republicans who were strong fiscal conservatives.  Hogsett could not run to the right of them.

If Hogsett were to run for Mayor in 2015, could he employ his 1990 strategy, running as a more fiscally conservative alternative, someone who highlights Mayor Ballard's never-ending support for tax and fee increases and Ballard's extremely poor spending priorities that place corporate welfare ahead of basic city services such as public safety?  You betcha.  The only difference between the two races would be that the pool of fiscally conservative, Republican-leaning voters in Indianapolis is less as a percent, than statewide.  But since Ballard only received 51% of the vote in 2011, any erosion of his Republican support would fatal.  Hogsett scaled a mountain to win in 1990.  In 2015, to win the Mayor's office he would have to climb a mole hill.

Sunday, July 13, 2014

Numbers Show Democrat Should Win Indianapolis Mayor's Office in 2015; Would Hogsett Candidacy Result in Ballard Not Seeking Re-Election?

Quick question for my fellow politicos, who received the most votes in the Indianapolis municipal elections:  Republican Greg Ballard in 2007, Democrat Bart Peterson in 2007, or Melina Kennedy in 2011.

If you answered Melina Kennedy, you'd be correct. 

U.S. Attorney Joe Hogsett
But didn't Melina Kennedy run far worse than Peterson as Mayor Ballard capitalized on his popularity in the 2011 election?  Peterson had 47.2% of the vote in 2007.  Kennedy captured 47.1% of the vote in 2011.  Ballard's percent increased in 2011, but only .9% compared to 2007, 50.4% compared to 51.3%. Much of the difference was the Libertarian vote decreasing by 1100 votes, 2.3% in 2007 which was down to 1.5% in 2011.  The apparent Libertarian strategy of that year also running a candidate with the last name "Peterson" (Fred not Bart) to confuse voters into voting Libertarian worked to some degree.

The bottom line is the narrative that Mayor Greg Ballard easily won re-election based on his popularity is wrong.  Melina Kennedy, who steadfastly refused to address populist issues which would have raised Ballard's negatives, still almost pulled off the victory.
How has Indianapolis politics changed since the 2011 election?  The Republican base has continued to erode.  In the 2012 general election, the Democrats won the baseline vote 62% to 38%.   In the 2014 mid-term primary, only 22,802 Marion County Republican voters went to the polls.

Now four years later, there are more issues to use against Mayor Ballard.  Nonetheless, most Democratic council members including Council President Maggie Lewis, inexplicably, don't seem to want to use their majority to drive up the Mayor's negatives, instead choosing to compromise with the Mayor.  The lack of a coherent political strategy has resulted in the Democrats taking issues like the Mayor's tax increases, excessive borrowing and reckless spending off the table, issues that could drive many of the increasingly fewer Republicans in the county into the Democratic camp.

Then you have the issue of voter fatigue.  I always tell people about the a poll that was done during the 1988 gubernatorial election contest between Lt. Governor John Mutz and Secretary of State Evan Bayh.  The pollster asked whether voters were happy with the direction of the state under Republican leadership.  70% said yes.  The next question was whether voters wanted a change of direction?  70% said yes.  The Republican domination of the Governor's office had effectively cooked Mutz's goose.

Despite an almost complete lack of off-year strategy to define the Mayor, Indianapolis Democrats would have to screw up royally to lose the Indianapolis Mayor's office in 2015.  Yet Democrats are working to come up with such a losing strategy, unbelievably inexplicably floundering to find a candidate despite the fact that the party's nominee is likely to be the favorite to win the Mayor's office in 2015.

The two names still out there are Washington Township Frank Short and state representative Ed Delaney.  Of the two, Delaney is probably the stronger candidate but his plan to run for re-election and Mayor at the same time is a thoroughly horrible idea.  I think former state Democratic chairman Dan Parker would have been a more aggressive candidate, which the Democrats desperately need, but he's taken himself out of the running.

But a better Democratic candidate may be on the horizon.  U.S. Attorney Joe Hogsett's name has recently resurfaced as a possible candidate despite an earlier announcement in which he ad taken himself out of the race.  Hogsett can't partake in partisan politics in his current position and would have to quit his position to run for office. That might explain his reluctance to dip his toe into the political waters.  Certainly though one of the big downtown law firms would be more than willing to put Hogsett up in a corner office, paying him a nice salary in the hopes of being rewarded with city legal contracts after the election.

Hogsett would clear the Democratic field.  But you heard it here first, I think Hogsett would clear the Republican field also  Yes, I think if Hogsett announces, Ballard will opt out of running for a third term. Ballard would be smart not to run against a candidate like Hogsett in an increasingly solid Democratic county.   But then again, the adjective "smart" is rarely used to describe anything Greg Ballard has done.

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

As Republicans Embrace Populism, Democrats Step Into Void to Support Crony Capitalism

One reason third parties do not take hold in the United States is that the views of the two major parties, the Democratic and Republican parties, are constantly evolving, absorbing political shifts inside of those parties and outside among the general population.  As a result, third parties advocating political views that gain popularity can never gain traction.

In the last 20 years, I've seen dramatic changes in the Republican Party.  The GOP is a much more libertarian party today than it was in the early 1990s.  You'll even find Republicans on the front lines of the marijuana legalization fight.  That was unheard of two decades ago.

You'll also find Republicans to be much more isolationist than the party was two decades ago.   Much of the grumbling about possibly going back to Iraq is coming from conservatives who support the United States taking a reduced role in the world's affairs, certainly much more so when it involves the introduction of military troops.  An increasing number of conservatives are even arguing for cutting the military budget.

Where are the "law and order" Republicans who dominated GOP politics in the 1980s?  Well the new generation of Republicans is arguing for reduced jail time for non-violent offenders and alternative sentencing?

On the Democratic side, Bill Clinton in the early 1990s pushed the Democratic Party to be more respective of those whose lives are guided by religious faith.  It was a brilliant political move, having the effect of picking off enough religious conservatives to tip the balance to the Democrats, who will have occupied the White House for 16 years since that strategy was initiated.  Democrats though have increasingly eschewed the Clinton strategy turning up the rhetoric against religious, most recently with a foolish, overblown reaction to the Hobby Lobby decision.

Timothy Carney of The Washington Examiner pens an article about how, as Republicans turn more populist and more opposed to crony capitalism or corporate welfare, the Democrats are stepping into the void arguing for more taxpayer support of business.  Carney hits the nail on the head with his summation of the politics of the issue:
There's nothing new about the Left favoring corporate welfare in general, and Ex-Im in particular. Even under President George W. Bush, many more Republicans than Democrats opposed Ex-Im renewal in Congress: 50 House Republicans voted against Ex-Im in 2002, compared to only 26 Democrats.
What’s new is that there is a strong anti-corporatist streak on the Right and even within the upper reaches of the GOP. 
When both parties were thoroughly corporatist, Democrats could sprinkle a few tax hikes into their policy stew of subsidies and mandates and claim the populist mantle—and the media would believe them.
Now, with the GOP opposing (some) corporate welfare, the Democrats’ corporatism is laid bare.
Guys like Schumer and Israel probably figure that if they can’t pretend to be fighting for the little guys anymore, they may as well more aggressively fundraise from the big guys they’re subsidizing.   
Instead of scrambling to keep the love of Big Business, Republicans should accept Schumer’s framing: The Democrats are the party of Big Business and Big Government. 
Let’s see how that works on Election Day.

Tuesday, July 8, 2014

My Experience With Tampa's Red Light Cameras

Over the years, the Indiana General Assembly has toyed with the idea of authorizing local communities to adopt red light cameras, those eyes at the intersection which capture the image of a vehicle that run a red light.  Fortunately, and perhaps surprisingly, our legislature has not gone down that path despite the substantial contributions red light camera companies have contributed to politicians in the hopes of their cause gaining favor.

Florida though has authorized local government to adopt red light cameras.  In Tampa, the program splits the money between city, state and, of course, the private company, American Traffic Solutions, which runs the program.  Although red light cameras are not wildly popular here, their use has been expanded and this summer ATS contract was extended.

In communities that have red light cameras, numerous stories have been done by local media about the "short yellow light" that snares drivers into committing violations.   Some stories have exposed red light camera companies for deliberately shortening those yellow lights resulting in more tickets and revenue for the private companies.

But having experienced traffic and red light traffic cameras in Tampa, I'm convinced that the yellow light controversy is a magician's misdirection. The problem isn't the length of the yellow lights. The problem is the length of the green and red lights.

Tampa has the longest traffic lights of any community I have ever visited.  You hit a red light, even on a major road, you can end up waiting three minutes for the light to turn.  If you want to make a left hand turn, you might have to wait four minutes.  The average Tampa traffic light is probably twice as long as Indianapolis'. 

Tampa stop lights are also not timed as Indianapolis' lights are in many place.  Thus, even though driving on a major road in Tampa, you might clear a light, drive a tenth of a mile and hit another light.

I think the reason people were (and still are) running stop lights in Tampa is driver frustration. Drivers here  know if they hit a light it will delay their trip not by a minute, but several minutes due to Tampa's lengthy traffic lights.  Let's say you're late for work.  You are about to hit a light which will cost you 75 seconds on your trip.  But let's say instead you know if you hit the light it will delay you another three minutes, 180 seconds  Which light are you more likely to run?  Clearly the latter.

One has to wonder whether Tampa would have had a problem with people running red lights if the city had simply shortened traffic lights and timed those lights?

Thursday, July 3, 2014

Attorney General Greg Zoeller Right, But a Hypocrite, On Duty to Defend Indiana's Marriage Law

All over the social media, liberals are screaming at Indiana Attorney General Greg Zoeller for his decisions to appeal federal Judge Richard Young's decision that Indiana's marriage law limiting the institution to a man and woman violates the United States Constitution.  To which, Zoeller responds with a letter published in the Indianapolis Star, a letter in which he says his job is to defend Indiana's laws:
Though I don’t make state laws, I take seriously my obligation to defend the statutes the legislature passes from challenges plaintiffs’ lawyers file, both in trial court and on appeal. We can’t abandon our state clients or fail to defend the statute, duties that some editorials have not grasped.   
... The women and men who serve in the Attorney General’s Office and who have a duty to represent our state in court — whether the state prevails or not — are simply fulfilling their obligations as public servants.   
... Our adversarial system of justice ensures both sides of a controversy are fully aired and that a decision is not made until both sides have had the opportunity to advocate their viewpoints zealously.
Zoeller comments are exactly on the mark.  Those who favor Zoeller not defending the law on court, need to be aware that what they are saying is that the Attorney General should be able to veto laws passed by our General Assembly by not defending those laws in court, a veto much more powerful than what our Governor has by the way.   I don't think they really want the AG bestowed with that type of power.  Yet that's exactly what they're arguing for when they suggest the Attorney General should not defend the law before the 7th Circuit.

Zoeller's problem is that he's a hypocrite when it comes to his office's powers and obligations. Contrary to the sentiments above, Zoeller has also claimed that he has an absolute right to choose to defend, or not defend, state laws in court.  Zoeller refused to defend Indiana's expungement law when it was subject to a constitutional challenge oddly by a state official, the Morgan County prosecutor.

Republican Zoeller has also refused to defend Indiana's immigration law in court, a position that has so riled Republican state senators that they have in the last two legislative sessions introduced a bill to give the General Assembly the right to appoint an attorney to defend a law that the AG refuses to defend.  In response to that bill, Zoeller in the Fall of 2012 penned a letter in which he defended his decision to not defend that state's immigration law"
Sometimes my state clients mistakenly believe they are responsible for making legal decisions about a case, as a private client who hires a private lawyer might be. In fact that responsibility rests not with the client but solely with the attorney general. Part of the AG’s job description is to reconcile conflicting legal views of multiple officials and harmonize our state’s legal position before the courts, so that we don’t have competing viewpoints creating chaos for judges in choosing which voice to listen to. Ultimately, my true client is our system of justice and the people of Indiana, rather than individuals who hold government positions.
Here's what I wrote back in 2012 about that position:
Let me spell out in English what the Attorney General is saying. Zoeller takes the position that he is not only the attorney for the State of Indiana, he is also the State of Indiana. Zoeller takes the position he is not only the attorney, he is also the client.  According to Zoeller, it does not matter if Governor Mitch Daniels calls him up and says he wants to settle a case involving the State.  Zoeller's position is that he, and he alone, decides whether to settle a case...the Governor's position does not matter. 
The argument that because state government consists of many different entities, the AG has complete authority over state officials and agencies when it comes to litigation and doesn't have to listen to "clients" is nonsensical.  Almost all of the numerous executive agencies fall directly under the administrative authority of the Governor.   If the AG is unhappy that a recalcitrant agency chief won't follow his sage advice on litigation, the AG can always call the Governor and ask that the agency director be overruled.  The AG mistakenly thinks he has the power to overrule his own clients and take positions contrary to their wishes, while doing so in their name in court. 
It is the same thing with agencies in the other branches.  There are individuals who supervise those agencies. They are the ultimate clients of the Attorney General.   The Attorney General is not the client. 
Zoeller's position, taken to its logical conclusion, would give him extraordinary authority in our government system.  He could overrule the Governor and the Indiana General Assembly.  Fortunately, our system of government is not set up like that. 
Same sex marriage advocates are dead wrong on criticizing Zoeller for defending Indiana's marriage laws,  He's only doing his job and to argue otherwise is to argue for the AG to have a veto over state laws.  On the other hand, Zoeller is definitely a hypocrite when it comes to his office's responsibility to defend the laws of the State of Indiana.