Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Immigration Issue Sets Up Conflict between Governor Pence and Attorney General Zoeller Over Which Office Determines State's Legal Position

The Indianapolis Star reports:
President Barack Obama's decision to act on his own to address what to do about the millions of immigrants in the country illegally drew criticism Thursday from multiple
Gov. Mike Pence
public officials in Indiana. 
Gov. Mike Pence said he is looking into filing a lawsuit to stop the changes.
Pence, a Republican and potential presidential candidate, said Obama is not taking into account the fact that on Nov. 4, after the Senate bill passed, "the American people changed the majority in the Senate." Republicans will take control of the Senate in January.
"And so what the president ought to do," Pence said Wednesday at a gathering of Republican governors, "is to sit down in January with the new Republican majority in the Senate and the historically large new majority in the House and search for common ground."   
Pence's spokeswoman said Thursday the governor's office has had preliminary discussions with Attorney General Greg Zoeller's office about filing a lawsuit to stop Obama's action.
"After the executive order is issued, we will analyze it and determine the next steps for the state of Indiana," said spokeswoman Kara Brooks.
What has not been reported is that Attorney Zoeller and Governor Pence aren't exactly signing from the same page when it comes to illegal immigration.  Zoeller has in the past opposed any effort by the
Attorney General Greg Zoeller
State of Indiana to take on what he perceives as the strictly national issue of immigration and has refused to defend state immigration legislation in court, leading to some bitter conflicts with Republican state senators.

The key to the conflict between the state senators and potentially a conflict with Governor Pence is that Attorney General Greg Zoeller makes the absurd claim that he has the absolute authority to determine the state's legal position in court and on issues, that he is not only attorney, but he is also the client, i.e the Attorney General is the State of Indiana.  That claimed authority would trump the Governor. So even if Governor Pence, on behalf of the State of Indiana wants to sue the Obama administration, Attorney General Zoeller position's is that he can stop that effort.

What undercuts Zoeller's claim is that Indiana law already provides an opt-out provision, that when the Attorney General feels uncomfortable representing the State on and issue, outside counsel can be appointed to represent the State's position in court.  Zoeller's claimed absolute authority over the positions taken on behalf of the state of Indiana has made that opt-out provision superfluous.

For more Ogden on Politics on this issue:

Saturday, January 11, 2014, State Senate Bill Seeks to Check Power of Indiana Attorney General Greg Zoeller

Monday, December 30, 2013, Attorney General Zoeller Encroaches on Governor's Power as He Lobbies for More Federal Funding for School Resource Officers  

Tuesday, February 12, 2013, Bill Highlights Tension Between Indiana General Assembly and Attorney General

Saturday, September 8, 2012, Republican State Senators Spar with Attorney General Over Representation in Indiana Immigration Case; AG Zoeller Claims He is Both State's Attorney and Client

Also: Attorney Marcia Oddi, publisher of the Indiana Law Blog and who has had a long career in Indiana's executive and legislation branches, published an article titled "Ind. Gov't. - Who Speaks for Indiana at the Federal Level" on legislation that was introduced allowing the AG to place a deputy in Washington, D.C. with particular responsibilities.  Her article, which also contains links to stories she wrote in 2009, 2010 and 2012 on the subject of who speaks for the State of Indiana at the federal level.

For additional Ogden on Politics stories discussing this issues, see:

Thursday, July 3, 2014, Attorney General Greg Zoeller Right, But a Hypocrite, On Duty to Defend Indiana's Marriage Law

Tuesday, March 25, 2014, Attorney General Zoeller's Press Release on Duty to Defend Indiana's Marriage Law Ignores His History

Friday, October 18, 2013, State v. State?; Will Indiana's Attorney General Defend the Expungement Statute Against Challenge By Another State Official?

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

More Ballard Bait and Switch: New Justice Center Now Projected to Cost Taxpayers $2 Billion

Gary Welsh of Advance Indiana has an excellent article on the new proposed Justice Center which was originally portrayed as costing only $300 million to construct.   It turns out that was a lie.  Deputy Mayor Adam Collins now concedes that the administration had estimated from the beginning the construction cost would be $500 million.  Further, by using an outside contractor not only to construct but to own the building, the deal will cost taxpayers upwards of $2 billion over 35 years.  Welsh reports:
Indianapolis Deputy Mayor Adam Collins
When the Ballard administration unveiled its plan to use a P3 agreement to construct a new criminal justice center a year ago through the City's shadow government, the Greater Indianapolis Progress Committee, it placed the cost of the new facility at a little over $300 million. Now the administration claims it knew all along the construction cost would be $500 million after receiving bids from three foreign-led investment groups. Deputy Mayor Adam Collins told WTHR's Mary Milz yesterday afternoon the administration had "estimated from the very beginning this facility would cost $500 million."

The true cost is several times that $500 million figure because the City will be locked into making payments to the private developer for the next 35 years. The RFP the administration illegally refused to make public until yesterday pegged those annual fees at $50 million a year. Collins told yet another lie to Milz in explaining why the administration refused to at least acknowledge it had told the bidders the City placed a cap of $50 million on the annual payments. "The reason we kept quiet is we didn't want to prejudice the market and allow (the bidders) to think how much we were willing to spend on a particular facility," Adams told Milz. The only reason to keep it secret, along with the entire RFP in violation of law, was because the entire bidding process was nothing but a sham.
Welsh then took the opportunity to look closer at the deal and found the inflation adjustment provision in the deal which members of the mainstream media missed completely in estimating the deal at $50 million x 35 years for $1.75 million.
Anyone with a clue knows these deals always have cost-of-living allowances. Sure enough, the RFP provided a payment schedule where those $50 million payments would grow to more than $68 million during the life of the agreement. Total payments would approach $2 billion, not $1.75 billion, or about four times the actual cost.
Collins goes on to repeat the outrageous lie that using the third party vendor is cheaper for taxpayers than simply bonding the project and having the city be the owner.  Welsh points out why Collins repeats this tall tale:
Collins goes on to tell yet another lie to Milz by claiming the P3 arrangement is cheaper than if the City relied upon traditional bond financing to build the facility itself. "Even so, Collins said leasing a facility would be cheaper than the city building one itself." "We're confident that whichever bidder we choose will provide the taxpayer with a significant cost savings above and beyond our own estimates," he said. Anyone with a brain knows that the huge fees built into a P3 agreement to benefit the private developer wind up costing far more than traditional financing and self-management costs. The P3 costs are at least 40% to 50% higher. A P3 approach is preferred because the corrupt politicians don't want to do a straight up property tax-backed proposal that would be subject to voter approval at a referendum, and because there is a greater opportunity for more kickbacks to the political insiders to profit from a P3 deal. Let's be honest.
Unfortunately honest, transparent government won't be a legacy of the Ballard administration, the end of which can not come too quickly.

Monday, November 24, 2014

Republican Challenger Enjoys Comfortable Lead over Louisiana Senator Mary Landrieu

Senator-Elect Bill Cassidy (R-LA)
There is still one U.S. Senate seat to be decided, Louisiana's.  That state's runoff election between Republican Challenger Bill Cassidy and Democratic incumbent Senator Mary Landrieu will be held on December 6th.

A Rasmussen poll released Sunday showed Cassidy with a
15 point lead.  Sen. Landrieu's failed effort to get the Senate to reconsider opposition to the Keystone pipeline does not appear to have helped the incumbent Senator.

The expected win in Louisiana would give the Republicans 54 seats in the new Senate.  In another race, the winner of which was not apparent until after Election Day, Alaskan Democratic Senator Mark Begich on November 17th conceded to Republican challenger Dan Sullivan. Sullivan led by less than 8,000 after all the votes were counted.

Thursday, November 20, 2014

Democratic and GOP Attorneys Pocket as Much as Half Million Dollars Asserting Alleged Frivolous Defense in Mulholland Case (w/correction)

If you want to find out how Marion County politics works, study the case of Zach Mulholland, the unslated candidate whose literature was seized during the May 2012 primary pursuant to a statute which makes it a crime to distribute a piece of literature that has more than one candidate named on it without the express written approval of all such candidates filed with the Election Board before the election.

Greg Hahn
In 2003, in a case in which yours truly was the lead plaintiff (Indiana Right to Life was the other plaintiff), the Marion County Election Board agreed the statute was unconstitutional and that the Board would not attempt to enforce it to seize non-slated candidates literature in the future.  In direct violation of the federal court judgment reached in that case, Ogden v. Marendt, the Board, with the unanimous vote of three attorneys, voted to enforce the order and seize Mulholland literature.  The Board later even went so far as to make a referral to the Marion County Prosecutor's Office to try to get Mulholland prosecuted for violating an unconstitutional law.

David Brooks
Of course, the Board was wrong and had no chance of winning the lawsuit Mulholland filed.  I would think any attorney doing his or her ethical duty would have strongly advised the Board to admit it was wrong and settle.  Maybe Hahn and Brooks did exactly that.  If the Board, immediately settled, the taxpayers would have only been on the hook for the nominal cost of Mulholland's literature and a few thousand in attorney's fees incurred by Mulholland's attorney.

But that's not the way politics works in this town.  The Board instead hired a Democratic and Republican attorney, Greg Hahn and David Brooks, respectively, who apparently saw the litigation as an opportunity to run up a huge bill on the taxpayers.  Jim Shella of WISH-TV reports that new Board Chairman Cody Kendall has pulled a plug on the lawsuit, which yesterday climaxed in a Mulholland Shella reports that Kendall says that $300,000 to $500,000 were incurred in defense costs.  Taxpayers will also have to pay Mulholland's legal costs which total about $80,000.  Which leads to the obvious question, why it costs as much as $500,000 for the defense attorneys yet only $80,000 for the plaintiffs' attorneys.  Could it be because defense attorneys padded the bill because taxpayers were paying?

Coby Kendall
Before kudos are extended to Kendall for doing the right thing, he has been in his position for probably a year and only pulled the plug when the federal district court judge told him the defense needed to be dropped and the law never be enforced again.  (Given there were absolutely no sanctions for violating the 2003 order, I wouldn't be surprised if the Election Board tries to enforce it again.  After all, the non-slated candidate has no remedy after the election and the taxpayers get stuck with the legal costs.)  Kendall also earlier had the Board consider a criminal referral for Mulholland violating a statute he knew perfectly well had been declared unconstitutional and couldn't be enforced.  The Board later decided against the referral.

Finally, it should be noted that while Jim Shella does quote Mulholland as saying that the Board spent "half a million dollars that ... defending a law that a first year law student could tell you is unenforceable," Shella completely omits providing context as to WHY there was an assertion that the Board had taken a frivolous position - namely that the Board in 2003 had admitted the statute was facially unconstitutional and agreed not to enforce it.

CORRECTION:  An earlier version of this story indicated Kendall had voted to make a criminal referral of Mulholland.  Actually the Board decided against this at a subsequent meeting.  However, given the fact that Board members actually contemplated making a criminal referral, despite the Board's own agreement in 2003 that the statute was unconstitutional and wouldn't be enforced, and after being slapped down by the 7th Circuit earlier this year, reflects very poorly on the attorneys on the Election Board, particularly Democrat Kendall and the Republican appointee, Vincent Perez.

Also, it should be noted that Marion County Clerk Beth White, while voting to have Mulholland's materials seized, did vote against turning the legal defense of the case over to partisan attorneys Hahn and Brooks.

By the way, here is my story on the Board's meeting following the 7th Circuit decision, the meeting at which they contemplated trying to have Mulholland prosecuted.

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Marion County Election Board Concedes, Again, Slating Statute is Unconstitutional and Agrees, Again, Not to Enforce It

Plaintiff Zach Mulholland, the unslated Democratic state representative who had his election materials seized at the polls in the primary of 2012 despite a 2003 federal court injunction against the Marion County Election Board enforcing the law, has prevailed in his lawsuit.  The ACLU of Indiana has just put out this press release:
Indianapolis--Political parties in Marion County cannot prevent the free speech activities of candidates they do not back for election, and county officials cannot enforce an unconstitutional law used to impede such speech, a federal judge affirmed today.

Judge Sarah Evans Barker of the U.S. District Court, Southern District of Indiana, in approving an agreed judgment filed by the parties, ruled that Indiana's "slating" statute -- Indiana Code § 3-14-1-2(a)(2) and (3) -- cannot be enforced. The order also provided that the Marion County Election Board cannot convene further hearings concerning the 2012 primary election or the plaintiff in the lawsuit, Zachary Mulholland, and required
Zach Mulholland
compensation and fees to be paid to Mulholland and to the American Civil Liberties Union of Indiana, who brought the case on his behalf.

In 2003 the Election Board conceded, in an approved judgment in a separate federal lawsuit, that Indiana's slating statute -- which made it a crime for a candidate in a primary election to publish election materials linking him with other candidates without prior permission and notice to the Board -- violated the First Amendment. Still, during the 2012 primary season, the Board enforced the statute against candidate Mulholland by seizing his campaign literature at polling sites on Election Day and demanding he appear for a hearing.

In March the ACLU of Indiana won an appeal in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit on behalf of Mulholland, a candidate for state representative, and the case was remanded to federal court for a final judgment. Seventh Circuit Court Judge David Hamilton wrote in the opinion that the Election Board's pursuit of action against Mulholland "shaves very close to harassment or bad faith prosecution."

"The Judge's decision today is a major victory for our plaintiff and for the First Amendment," said Kenneth J. Falk, ACLU of Indiana legal director, who argued the case with ACLU of Indiana senior staff attorney Gavin M. Rose. "Government agencies cannot enforce laws that have been declared unconstitutional, and the Election Board cannot prevent voters from receiving information about candidates for public office."

"We agree with the Seventh Circuit that this has been an outrageous misuse of power," said Jane Henegar, ACLU of Indiana executive director. "The Election Board has wasted hundreds of thousands of taxpayer dollars on private attorneys' fees in defense of actions that are indefensible. If the Board had admitted the unconstitutional nature of its behavior two years ago, the total cost to the taxpayers would have been a couple of hundred bucks, the cost of the seized pamphlets."

The decision, Zachary Mulholland v. Marion County Election Board, 1:12-CV-01502 SEB-MJD,was issued by the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Indiana, Indianapolis Division, on Nov. 18, 2014.
The Election Board's decision to seize Mulholland's literature in direct defiance of the 2003 consent decree, should have subjected the Board members, all of whom were attorneys and one a Marion County Superior judge as of January 1st, to sanctions for contempt of court. The non-Board attorneys who participated in the direct seizure of Mulholland's materials should also be brought before the court on contempt.  They all almost certainly knew about the 2003 consent decree in which the Election Board admitted the statute was unconstitutional and agreed not to enforce it.  Yet they  arrogantly decided to enforce it against Mulholland anyway.

Maybe a bigger outrage is the extraordinary amount of tax dollars that were spent to pay attorneys to defend the Election Board's completely indefensible position in this case.  That was identified in the press release and deserves repeating:
"The Election Board has wasted hundreds of thousands of taxpayer dollars on private attorneys' fees in defense of actions that are indefensible. If the Board had admitted the unconstitutional nature of its behavior two years ago, the total cost to the taxpayers would have been a couple of hundred bucks, the cost of the seized pamphlets."
It remains to be seen whether the Election Board will, a few years down the road, attempt to enforce the statute once again against an unslated candidate.   Unfortunately in this case there were zero consequences for those who directly defied a federal court order.  They got what they wanted - campaign literature taken away from a competitive non-slated candidate - and the only people who ended up paying a price were the taxpayers. 

Analysis Shows Democrats' Failure in 2014 Mid-Term Election Was Not Due to Failure to Turn Out Its Voters

Sean Trende of Real Clear Politics has authored an excellent article in which he takes the 2014 mid-term election and adjusts them so that the turnout demographically in 2014 matches those who turned out in 2012.  Trende found that Democrats were not doomed by their voters not turning out
but rather their voters voting against President Obama, and voting for Republicans:
A congealing conventional wisdom surrounding the 2014 elections is that Democrats had a long night because of an unfavorable Senate map and because Democratic constituencies failed to show up. One storyline growing out of this is that once Democrats can enjoy a “presidential electorate” rather than a “midterm electorate,” their fortunes will turn, and Democrats will run well.

This isn’t entirely correct.  The major factors driving the different results between 2012 and 2014 were not demographic.  The major difference was that in 2012 Barack Obama was a moderately popular president.  In 2014, he is an unpopular president.  If this does not change between now and 2016, demographic shifts alone will not save the Democratic nominee.

We can illustrate this best by borrowing a page from Harry Enten, and seeing what would have happened if the 2014 electorate had instead more closely resembled the 2012 electorate. That is to say, let’s keep whites voting 60-38 for Republicans, Hispanics voting 62-36 for Democrats, and so forth, as they all did in 2014, but alter their shares of the electorate to resemble 2012 (72 percent white, 10 percent Hispanic, and so forth) rather than 2014 (75 percent white, 8 percent Hispanic, and so forth). This allows us to isolate the effects of demographic change between 2012 and 2014.

The results are underwhelming: If the 2014 electorate had resembled the 2012 electorate in terms of race, the Republican vote share would shrink by just 1.97 percentage points.  In other words, in a 2012 electorate, Republicans would have won the popular vote for the House by 4.5 points, rather than 6.5 points.  That’s not nothing, as they say, but it still only explains a relatively small share of the difference between the 2012 and 2014 results. Put differently, if Obama had put up the same vote shares among racial groups in 2012 as Democrats ultimately did in 2014, he’d have lost.

Maybe a better way to see the differences is to look beyond demographic splits and instead compare the ideologies of the two electorates.  But if the 2014 electorate had consisted of the same proportions of liberals, moderates, and conservatives as the 2012 electorate, the Republican margin would have contracted by just three points.

No matter how you slice it, demographic changes in the midterm electorate account for a relatively small portion of the Democrats’ problems in 2014.  The real difference between 2012 and 2014 isn’t changes in the demographic makeup of the electorate.  It is changes in the way that demographic groups voted. This, in turn, has everything to do with the president’s job approval rating.

Monday, November 17, 2014

Valparaiso Law School Grad Wearing Only Diaper When Arrested for Stabbing; Did They Snap Because They Faced a Personal Financial Crisis?

The blog Above the Law follows up on the story of Alecia and Andrew Schmuhl, the husband and wife Virginia attorneys, and 2009 Valparaiso law school graduates, who are accused of stabbing and torturing the partner of Alecia's law firm, as well as the partner's wife, following her firing from the firm:
Last week, the legal world was rocked by allegations that Alecia and Andrew Schmuhl, married lawyers, went on a rampage following Alecia’s firing from Bean Kinney & Korman, a well-known Northern Virginia law firm. The Schmuhls were accused of forcing their way into the home of the firm’s managing partner, Leo Fisher, and viciously stabbing both Fisher and his wife, Susan Duncan. Both Fisher and Duncan remain hospitalized with serious injuries.
Since we last reported on the Schmuhls, additional details have come out about what happened during the alleged home invasion and what will happen to them as they’re prosecuted for this ruthless attack, but many questions still remain.   
For example, why on earth was Andrew Schmuhl wearing only a diaper at the time of his arrest? 
So what’s with the diaper? When he was arrested, Andrew Schmuhl was naked, covered in blood, and wearing only a bloody diaper, according to a report from WUSA9. Some sources believe that Andrew was so intent upon causing Fisher pain that he wore a diaper so he wouldn’t have to take a break at any time during the attack and risk Fisher’s escape. Other sources say that Andrew may have thought he and his wife would be involved in a long police chase after the attack, and wore the diaper as a precautionary measure. Either way, a lawyer wearing a diaper makes this case even more sensational than it already is.
Raymond F. Morrogh, the Fairfax County prosecutor on the case, described the night’s events as a “torture session.” According to Morrogh, Fisher was Tased repeatedly and then “brutally stabbed” in the face, head, and upper torso; Duncan was also Tased and stabbed repeatedly; and Andrew Schmuhl fired one bullet at Duncan, but missed. According to a note written by Fisher while at the hospital — which is now his only mode of communication thanks to the extent of his injuries — before leaving the scene of the crime, Andrew allegedly made this ominous promise: “I’m going to come back and finish this job.” 
Alecia Schmuhl, who claims she was scared of her husband, says that she was in the car throughout the duration of the attack (about three hours), and that she had no idea what her husband planned to do.... 
The blog also notes the incredibly changed appearance of the couple and suggest "depression" was to blame at least for Alecia's declining appearance.  But there may well be a reason for her depression and for the stabbings.  Valparaiso University Law School lists the total cost of tuition and expenses of
Alecia and Andrew Schmuhl in happier times
attending at $53,862.  As graduates of Valparaiso, a private law school, the young couple could easily have a combined  $250,000 in law school student loan debt, not even to mention what they carried over from four years of college.  While corporate lawyers are still generally paid well, it would take a heck of a salary to pay a $250,000 loan not to mention the other financial responsibilities of the young couple.

Mug shots of Alecia and Andrew Schmuhl
As far as Andrew Schmuhl, apparently he was unemployed.  He still has a LinkedIn page in which he says he is "Seeking employment opportunities in the Northern Virginia, District of Columbia, or Maryland area."  According to that page, Schmuhl last attorney job was working with the United States Army, but that ended in September of 2012.  Assuming he didn't have other positions since then, he would have been unemployed over two years.  With the couple deeply in debt, debt that's almost impossible to discharge in bankruptcy, one could see why Andrew might have been extremely angry at the law firm's partner for firing his wife.

Indianapolis Hasn't Installed a New Street Light in 33 Years: Failure Shows Misplaced Priorities of the Ballard Administration

Fox59 broadcast this most interesting story last Thursday:
Marion County has not installed a new street light since 1981, when a moratorium was put in place under former Mayor William Hudnut.

Indianapolis Street Light (from Fox59 Story)
The reason, says Stephanie Wilson with the Department of Public Works, was and remains funding. Marion County currently has 29,000 street lights, and their electric bills cost the city $5.1 million a year. Wilson says funding for street lights comes from the transportation budget.
That means adding more lights would result in less money for roads, sidewalks and bridges. When there is an area in need of more lighting, Wilson says existing lights are reallocated.  
“In conditions where there is either a dangerous area for pedestrians or for drivers, we work with public safety, with IMPD and IFD, and we listen to their recommendations. If it’s needed, we can repurpose existing street lights and place them in areas where they are more needed,” says Wilson.
If a new area is developed, street lights have to be paid for through private funds.
 The Mayor's Office admitted the importance of street lights to crime: 
Mark Lotter, Communications Director for Mayor Ballard’s office, says the city needs more street lights to cut down on crime rates and attract new residents as well.
“We understand that street lights and lighting of public streets and sidewalks is very important to making neighborhoods safer,” says Lotter. “It also makes them more inviting and better places to live.”
Lotter says that a "long term funding sources" have to be identified.  That's Ballard speak for residents needing to open up their wallet and pay higher taxes or fees if they want a city service funded.  That's been the history of Ballard's tenure as Mayor.  Existing revenue sources can always be found for corporate welfare for politically connected developers and  billionaire sports owners, but if residents want basic city services, they need to open their wallets and pay more.

Let's do some basic month.  The current 29,000 in street lights use $5.1 million in electricity every year. That is $175.86 for every street light.  So if the city added a 1000 street lights, that is only an added cost of $175,860 a year. We can't find that in the budget without raising taxes?
Further, the addition of new lights could be used to take advantage of new LED technology that would save on maintenance cost and offers substantial energy savings.  San Antonio converted its 20,000 street lights to LED in 2012.  Forbes last year reported on Los Angeles' retrofit of its street lights with LED illumination, the world's largest such project.  The Forbes article details not only savings, but has before and after pictures showing the LED lights providing much improved illumination.

A few weeks ago, the Ballard administration announced it was converting the city's fleet of cars over to alternative fuel vehicles by using a third party vendor from which the city would rent the vehicles.   As a result of this "green" initiative, the Ballard administration claimed taxpayers would save money, a claim that was easily refuted by anyone capable of doing sixth grade math.  But with LED conversion of street lights, the Ballard administration could actually adopt a green initiative that truly would save the taxpayers money.   Apparently though Mayor Ballard is only interested in things that make money for companies, not in proposals that save taxes.

It will be interesting to see if f Democratic mayoral candidate Joe Hogsett picks up on this story. It's an ideal campaign issue.  It's easy to explain the connection between street lights and Hogsett's signature issue, crime.  It illustrates the misplaced priorities of the Ballard administration. Using the LED technology, the conversion of street lights could also be sold as saving the taxpayers money.  It's a win, win, win.

Note:  A company named Leotek produces A Municipal Guide for Converting to LED Street Lighting that has useful information.

Sunday, November 16, 2014

Average Monthly Temperatures Since 2012 Show Markedly Lower Temperatures for the United States

I was in the process of possibly doing an article on how the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) has adjusted (manipulated?) older temperature readings in the official records, but I thought I'd write separately to set out some monthly temperature data that might be of interest.  I remember all too well the unusually warm temperatures of 2012, particularly the scorching hot summer that year, being repeatedly cited by the time by alarmists as proof positive of global warming.  In light of the alarmists focus on weather as proof of anthropogenic global warming I thought I'd set out how the monthly temperatures in 2013 and 2014 in the continental United States have ranked out of the 120 years of official records kept by NOAA.

Jan.  2013        31st warmest
Feb. 2013        48th
March 2013     73rd
April 2013       99th
May 2013        45th
June 2013        15th
July 2013         35th
Aug. 2013        28th
Sep. 2013           8th
Oct. 2013         85th
Nov. 2013        65th
Dec. 2013        91st
Jan. 2014         60th
Feb. 2014         84th
Mar. 2014        78th
April 2014       46th
May 2014        30th
June 2014        33rd
July 2014         75th
Aug. 2014        53rd
Sep. 2014         26th
Oct. 2014           4th

Nineteen of the last 22 months have not even broken into the top 20.  Nine months, in fact, have ranked in the bottom half.  Of course, alarmists will scream that this is weather and not climate. I totally agree.  But why is it okay for the alarmists to use weather events, like a hot day or hot summer, as proof of global warming, while decrying those who use colder weather to prove the contrary? The answer is that alarmists are hypocrites, more than willing to use weather when it advances their anthropogenic global warming theory.  That's also why they repacked their their from global warming to "climate change." That way any change, and the climate is always changing, proves the theory.

Thursday, November 13, 2014

Marion County GOP Leadershop Pledges to Campaign to the Left of Hogsett, Writes Off Fiscal Conservatives in Party

Yesterday former U.S. Attorney Joe Hogsett made it official.  He is a candidate for Indianapolis Mayor.  This triggered a snarky response from Marion County Republican Chairman Kyle Walker:
"Joe Hogsett has been rejected by voters three times and next year will be the fourth;
Marion County Republican
Chairman Kyle Walker
either in May or November. Hogsett's unwillingness to support pre-k for low-income families is one of the many reasons he is wrong for Indianapolis."
Gary Welsh of Advance Indiana has a good response to this statement:
Okay, so as a Republican the primary reason I should oppose Hogsett is because of his supposed lack of support for pre-K education for low-income families, something they've been offered for nearly 50 years under the federally-funded Head Start program? So that's your strategy to defeat Hogsett? Excuse me, but if people want to talk about education, then let them run for the school board. 
I would add, so we Republicans are supposed to be motivated to vote for the GOP brand because we'll support the creation of an entitlement program that's been shown not to offer any long-term benefits and is to be paid for with a tax increase?  Kyle Walker, have you decided to just write off fiscal conservatives in your own party completely?

If anyone doesn't think Hogsett knows how to run to the right of a Republican and draw enough conservative votes to win, they need to study what he did to former Mayor Bill Hudnut when they both ran for Secretary of State.

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Time for Indiana GOP Chairman to Show Leadership, Address Problems with Marion County Republican Party Organization

Following the election, Indiana State Republican Chairman Tim Berry wasted no time going on the offensive against Democratic State Superintendent of Public Instruction Glenda Ritz with an extremely tacky "Chairman's Corner.":

Tim BerryChairman's Corner
With Republicans nearly sweeping Election Day, one question remains.

Who was the biggest loser?

On the heels of Glenda Ritz's announcement about her plans to seek re-election, 20 of 23 Democratic candidates she publicly endorsed lost their respective races.

She made public appearances and recorded radio & TV ads for her friends, but her efforts received little fanfare.
Ritz's name wasn't on the ballot, but the education policies she supported were and voters responded.GlendaRitz_Endorsements_enews

The Indiana Democratic Party's efforts to paint us as the party that despises teachers, public education and even women - all FAILED. Voters saw through the antics and believe our education system and our state is in good hands under Republican leadership.

At the very least, there are some important insights we can gather from this election cycle including Ritz's faded star power and the lack of a Democratic message that resonates with Hoosiers.
There's no doubt that the next election will be different than the midterms, but Indiana's future is looking bright. 
Tim Berry
Indiana Republican Party
Paid for by the Indiana Republican State Committee.
Not authorized by any candidate or candidate committee.
Berry's "Chairman's Corner" was actually forwarded to me by Republicans who were upset with Berry's snarky post-election tone.  So much for winning with class and dignity  Kicking people when they're down, after an election is over, is considered to be highly improper.  

But local Republicans are upset with Berry for another reason.  In sharp contrast to GOP success in state legislative and statewide offices, the Republican organization in Marion County continues to be in rapid decline.  This election, Marion County GOP Chairman Kyle Walker didn't bother to field candidates in 8 of 15 house races, including three competitive house seats.   Democratic incumbents won two majority Republican house baseline districts, despite lower turnout that should have favored the Republican challengers.  Republicans locally didn't even bother to try to win the prosecutor's office and, for the first time in what must be at least 80 years if not more, the Marion County Republicans did not field a candidate for a county-wide office, Assessor.

On This Week in Indianapolis, Republican political consultant Jen Hallowell said that, regardless of which candidate the Republicans select for mayor, that candidate will benefit from the strong grass roots GOP organization Mayor Ballard built.  But while Ballard's 2007 upset election could have been used to rebuild the grass roots of the GOP, it mostly certainly wasn't.  Instead Ballard, Walker, who is Hallowell's husband, and former Marion County GOP Chairman Tom John were more interested in cashing in on the spoils of Ballard's victory than doing the work necessary to rebuild the once vaunted Marion County Republican machine.  The number of Republican elected officials in the county declined markedly during the Ballard-Walker-John era.  GOP leaders like Walker and John substantially increased their power while stripping precinct committeemen of virtually any cloud they had, including a meaningful vote in slating.  Without any incentives to do the grass roots work of the party, people were no longer interested in being active in the Marion County GOP.

Unfortunately, because of changes in the rules, the Marion County GOP chairman gets to pick the majority of the people who would be eligible to vote for his election.  Yes, Kyle Walker, like Tom John before him, gets to pick his own voters.  As a result, Marion County GOP PC elected by the Republican electorate can't fire Walker for being, obviously, derelict in his duties.  But his removal could come from another source, Berry calling for his removal.  It is unlikely that Walker would remain on in the face of opposition by the Indiana State GOP leadership.    

It is time for Tim Berry to stand up and show some leadership.

Republicans Continue to Lose Township Offices in Marion County

I decided to take another look at the Marion County township election results, this time comparing those who will be in office in 2015 versus those who occupied those township offices following the 2000 elections.   What I found was a steady Republican decline.

In 2000, Republicans occupied every township-wide elected office in every township in Marion County except for Center where Democrats dominated and continue to dominate.  Republicans had majorities on every township board, except for Center and Washington, the latter which the Democrats had just recently won control.  Among the 90 elected township offices, Republicans controlled 66  or 73.3%.

Following the 2014 elections, Democrats will occupy every township-wide elected office in Marion County except for Marion County's three southern townships, Decatur, Perry and Franklin and the Trustee's Office in Wayne.  The Democrats also have a majority on the township board of the six northern most townships (Wayne, Center, Warren, Lawrence, Washington and Pike).  Of the 90 elected township offices, Republicans now only control 40 or 44.5%.

Township offices are important to look at because they more than any others races reflect how strong the grass roots of a party is.    Further, city-county council and state legislative candidates often come from the ranks of township elected officials. That does not bode well for the Marion County Republican Party.

Note:  Township assessor which was an elected position in 2000 but later eliminated by the state legislature, was not included in this analysis.

Monday, November 10, 2014

Supposedly Racist Tea Party Helps Elect Three Black Republicans To Congress

Mia Love
Last week saw the election of three black Republicans, all of which were supported by the supposedly racist Tea Party.

In Utah, Haitian-American and Mormon, Mia Love won an open House seat previously held by a Democrat who had narrowly defeated her in 2012.

Will Hurd
In Texas, African-American Will Hurd defeated a Democratic House incumbent.  Hurd, had defeated a more moderate establishment candidate in the primary.

Finally,  Tim Scott won his race for the U.S. Senate.  Scott was appointed
Sen. Tim Scott (R-SC)
in 2013 to replace Sen. Jim DeMint who vacated his position to become President of the Heritage Foundation..  Scott easily won the 2014 special election for his seat with over 61% of the vote.    In winning his race, Scott became the first African-American U.S. Senator elected from the South since Reconstruction.

All three candidates were strongly supported by the Tea Party.

Democrats will undoubtedly say that this doesn't prove anything as these candidates did not hold traditional Democratic views like most African-Americans. But that actually is an argument against the claim that the Tea Party is racist.  If the Tea Party is deciding whether to support black candidates based on the views they hold rather than their skin color that by definition means the Tea party is not racist.

Wednesday, November 5, 2014

My Take on the 2014 Mid-Term Election; Random Thoughts and Advice to the Two Parties

My take from last night elections.

I predicted Republicans would net 53 seats in the State Senate.  It looks like once all the returns are in and a run-off is conducted in Georgia, Republicans will have 54.  I got three Senate races wrong.  I picked Republican Scott Brown to upset Senator Jeanne Shaheen in New Hampshire and Senator Kay Hagan to win against Republican Thom Tillis in North Carolina.  Should have reversed them as Brown lost and Tillis won.  Meanwhile, I missed the Pat Roberts race in Kansas as the Senator was re-elected fairly comfortably.  I guess the rule that independents break for the challenger against the incumbent, doesn't apply when the challenger is an independent.

Republicans gained their largest majority in the House since at least the Truman administration, approximately 245 seats seats out of the 435 total.  Of course, one should remember that the Democrats had a majority in the House for approximately a 40 year period during the latter part of the 20th Century.

Probably the surprise of the night was Republicans doing very well in Governorships, with their only major loss being in Pennsylvania.

Now some random thoughts/advice for the two parties, first for the Republicans.  Winning a mid-term is a lot easier than winning a presidential election.  In a mid-term, the GOP was able to run as the outsider critic, not having an agenda except to say the other side needs to be punished for its misdeeds while in power.   But in a presidential election and especially since it now controls both legislative chambers, the GOP will be expected to set forth an agenda, a positive message about the nation's future. For example, instead of simply criticizing Obamacare, the GOP will be expected to put forth a plan to address the nation's health insurance problem.  Republicans haven't proved skilled at setting forth an agenda.

Republicans also need to learn to capture the growing populist sentiment of voters  Putting up venture capitalists (such as David Perdue in Georgia) as candidates doesn't appeal to working class men and women. Sure the GOP got away with in during the 2014 wave, but when the races are more competitive in the years that follow, Republicans need to recruit more populist candidates or face defeat.

Now some advice for Democrats.  Stop deluding yourself into believing the Republicans are in inevitable decline and can't adjust to changing demographics.  It would take more than my 10 fingers and 10 toes to count the times I've heard both parties declared to be in perpetual decline. They never are.  For the last 150 years, the Democratic and Republican have always successfully adjusted to whatever challenges have been thrown at them.

Democrats also need to stop converging on social media in an effort to convince themselves that every Republican is "crazy" and their ideas are all borne out of hatred for women, minorities, poor people, etc.   Believe it or not, Republicans and the people who support them, sometimes just have different values and beliefs than Democrats.  That doesn't make them evil, just possibly wrong.  Democrats need to do better job of respecting their political opponents and becoming more tolerant of views that don't reflect their own.

Finally, the Democrats need to knock off the "War on Women" nonsense.  Nobody believes it anymore and it was a drag on every candidate who tried it in 2014.  The fact is the Democrats have a gender gap problem far worse than the Republicans.  Democrats are losing male voters by an astonishing percentage, far higher than Republicans are losing women.  Democrats need to find a way to reach male voters.

What will happen in 2016?  I don't know. But I know that in politics, every victory sows the seeds of  defeat, while every defeat sows the seeds of victory.  The fact Republicans won big last night just made the road to victory in 2016 that much harder.

Marion County Results Show Democrats Continue to Make Gains; Republicans Lose Ground in 5 of 8 Townships

Today, the Marion County Democratic Party continued its now decade long domination of Marion County politics, sweeping all county wide races on the ballot. This includes the marquee race featuring Marion County Sheriff John Layton versus Republican challenger Emmett Carney, the sole Republican the local GOP decided to assist, dropping thousands of dollars in last minute negative mailing slamming Layton.   Carney feared poorly losing 59% to 41%.  Meanwhile Democratic Prosecutor Terry Curry won with over 61% of the vote  The Democrats also prevailed in two key house races as Democratic incumbents Christina Hale and Karlee Macer edged out Republican challengers though hampered by low Democratic turnout.

Trying to deterimine baseline numbers for the county was difficult this election as, is unusual, the results in the low profile countywide races varied wildly, which is very unusual.  I decided to use the County Auditor race to form the baseline.  Using those election results, the Republican baseline continued to fall in the county, although by only .32% compared to 2010.

Looking at township races though, it looks even worse for Republicans.  Lawrence Township, once a bastion of Republican votes, appears to have flipped completely with the Democrats winning every township race by a comfortable margin.  The GOP vote in that township dropped 4.36% from 2010.  The Republican vote in Warren and Washington Township dropped by 3.35% and 2.8% respectively from four years earlier.

Although Republican Andy Harris won an impressive, albeit narrow in win in his re-election bid as Wayne Township Trustee, Wayne lost its judge and constable races by 3.5% or more.  The Wayne Township GOP baseline appeared to drop from 50.06% in 2010 to 48.16% in 2014.

Even Perry Township faced declining Republican vote with its baseline slipping from 68.57% in 2010 to 65.41% four years later.

Republican bright spots?  Well Center Township stayed about the same, increasingly slightly from 24.64% in 2010 to 25.06%.  Meanwhile, Decatur was up from 63.14% in 2010 to 68.61% in 2014. The surprise of the night though was Pike which saw its Republican baseline increase from 34.8% in 2010 to 37.07% in 2014.    In 2010, there was 6.8% separating Pike, the second most Democratic township, with Washington Township, the third most.  After the 2014 election, that margin had been cut to 1.73%.  I've been saying that Democratic gains in Pike, my home township, were nearing an end.  I think after 20 years of consistent Democratic gains, it may have finally happened.

By the way, for the township baseline races I used the judge races in those townships and where there wasn't a D-R judge race, I looked at the Trustee's race.  I couldn't analyze Franklin as the Democrats did not field a candidate in that township.

Once the figures are available, I may try to redo the township baseline numbers looking at countywide races within the townships.

Tuesday, November 4, 2014

More Political Malpractice: Marion County GOP Chairman Fails to Recruit County Assessor Candidate

Kyle Walker, Marion County
Republican Chairman
This afternoon I picked up the ballot and was shocked to find out that the Marion County Assessor's race was being contested this year.  I had heard nothing about the contest, quite probably because there is no contest.  Inexplicably the Republicans had failed to put up a candidate against incumbent Joseph O'Connor.

As I've said before, the No. 1 job of a county chairman is to recruit candidates.  2014 is likely to feature depressed Democratic turnout leading to a good Republican year.  Marion County is a 45% Republican county during mid-term elections.  It's still a competitive county, especially during non-presidential years.  Yet the Republicans don't field a candidate for a county-wide office?  Unbelievable.

That failure comes the same year that Marion County Republican Kyle Walker failing to recruit a candidate in 8 of 15 house districts, including three that are competitive.

That's called political malpractice.

Sunday, November 2, 2014

Sheriff Candidate Emmitt Carney a Victim of Poor Strategy Employed by Republican County Chairman

Days before the election, local politicos have began suggesting that the race for Marion County Sheriff is tight. Abdul reports that Marion County Democratic Chairman Joel Miller was snarky toward him at a Democratic rally and concludes this has to do with supposed internal Layton polls showing Republican Emmitt Carney in a statistical dead heat.  Abdul and Indianapolis Star columnist Matt Tully (via Twitter) offer up more proof of a close race, that Layton has started running a negative ad against Carney.

Emmitt Carney
As far as the Layton-Carney race being close, well that's a bunch of nonsense.  It may be closer than the two other county races, but close?  Hardly.

One thing I learned about Marion County politics is that within the last week before the election it is a tradition for candidates who have comfortable leads to lie to their followers saying internal polls show the race is very close.   A similar tradition is, for candidates who are well behind, to lie to party workers that internal polls show the race has tightened.  Candidates do this to motivate the grass roots workers.  If Layton announced that he had the election in the bag, would Democrats be motivated to help him on Tuesday?  Not nearly as much.  So when Abdul talks about Layton "internal polls" showing a close race, I have no doubt that's exactly what Democratic grass roots workers are being told. But it is a gross exaggeration of the status of the race.

Abdul also mentions that Carney is "showing up in places a lot of Republicans don’t usually go i.e. urban neighborhoods, and he has been well received.  Carney has also had billboards up in predominantly black neighborhoods.  (He’s African-American by the way)."   This goes back to the Establishment GOP theory that if Republicans put an African-American on the ballot he or she will automatically get black votes.  In my 28 years of being involved in Marion County politics, I've seen that tried numerous times and not one time has it worked.

As far as the "negative" television ad that Layton began running just recently, that Layton ad was in direct response to brutal direct mail pieces attacking him put out by the local Republican party.  Politics 101 says you have to respond to negative attacks.  To not respond as a candidate when you're sitting on a big pile of money would have been political malpractice.  Layton's response ad accused Carney of making false claims (without getting much into  details) and suggested he was running a dirty, negative campaign.   I remember a friend in politics once telling me that the candidate who first accuses the other of going negative always wins the election. There is a lot of truth to that.

Now let me address specifically the Carney strategy, or more accurately, the strategy of Marion County Republican Chairman Kyle Walker.  Knocking off Sheriff Layton required the implementation of a well-orchestrated campaign.  Politics 101 says you divide races up into stages.  Here is a basic format:
Stage 1 - Introduction:  Candidate's biography and qualifications are laid out for the voters.
State 2 -  Plan:  Candidate sets out his or her plan for what the candidate wants to do if elected.
Stage 3 - Compare and Contrast:  Candidate sets out why voters should not vote for opponent. This is especially needed when running against an incumbent.  This stage often features "negative" ads.
Stage 4 - Positive: The last week of the campaign, the candidate pivots away from negative, contrast pieces and goes back to feel-good biographical ads and hit the theme of the campaign.   The candidate wants the last impression the voter has before going to the polls to be a positive one.
Stage 5 - Turnout:  The last few days of the campaign, the focus is on turning out the party's voters.
While Carney might have been engaging voters in neighborhood meetings, Marion County's population is so large there is no substitute for doing #1 and #2 via the media or direct mail.  But Walker didn't do that.  He instead went directly to Stage #3, sending out highly negative, slick direct mail pieces attacking Layton.  Carney has not been introduced to the voters.  His plan for running the office has not been presented. The first impression voters will have of Carney is to associate him with brutally negative attacks on Layton. 

I think Walker probably does know basic campaign strategy outlined above.   Rather, his last minute attacks on Layton seems not about helping Carney, but more about trying to convince others that he's doing his job to get Republicans elected in Marion County.  Certainly eyebrows have to be raised that Walker didn't bother to field candidates in 8 of 15 house races in Marion County, including in three districts that are at least mildly competitive.  Instead of being focused on 2014, Walker has spent his time obsessed with settling a political score by recruiting a candidate to run in the primary against Councilor Christine Scales in May 2015

The person I feel for the most though is Emmitt Carney.  He is a very impressive candidate who undoubtedly thought Walker and other local Republican leaders were sincere in wanting to get him elected.  Instead Carney is being used by party officials who wanted a highly-qualified African-American candidate to lead the county ticket for appearances sake, but who weren't actually willing to do what was necessary to get Carney elected.

For another good take on this race, see Jon Easter's Indy Democrat blog.

Saturday, November 1, 2014

"Handcuffed Man" Mailing Crosses Ethical Line, Could Well Cost Democratic Rep. Karlee Macer Her Seat

Many homeowners on the west side of Indianapolis this week received a slick mail piece saying that Democratic Rep. Karlee Macer's "opponent" has a lengthy criminal record and is currently in jail.  Once side of the mailing featured a closeup of a person in handcuffs with the reverse side showing his criminal history.  Only if you look at the fine print on the criminal history do you see that the person's name is John Crouch.  But Crouch is the INDEPENDENT in the race, not the Republican, Bradford Moulton.  Of course, none of this information is included on the mailing.

Believe it or not, there are a few ethical lines you don't cross in politics and this mailing, sent by Marion County Democratic Chairman Joel Miller managed to cross one of them.  Voters recoil at this type of stuff and when it came out, as it definitely would, that Miller was trying to trick voters into believing that Crouch criminal record (which includes allegations of stalking Macer) actually belonged to Moulton, there will be even a stronger backlash against Macer.

Macer has said that she didn't know about the mailer until after it had been sent. The public won't believe that for a second, but as a former candidate, I can affirm that that may well be true.  When I ran for the House on the northwest side of Indianapolis in 2000, polling showed I was running dead even with first term incumbent Jeb Bardon.  (Bardon later moved to another district.)  The state party got involved and started sending out negative mailings slamming Bardon, including one particularly offensive slick mail piece that depicted a man lurking outside of playground which said Bardon supported child molesting because of something contained in the pages of the budget bill the representative had supported.  

The state party never told me in advance what mailings they were doing.  When I saw the child molesting mailing and when I learned about it I strenuously objected to what they had done. The fact is very often parties and political organizations send out these negative mailings intentionally not telling candidates so they can disassociate themselves with the negative attack. 

I watched Indiana Week in Review expecting a spirited review of the mailings.  Instead I was treated to a bland discussion that suggested the mailing was not that big of a deal.  But it is a big deal, a huge deal in fact..  The panelists seemed to completely miss the fact that the mailing will hurt Macer terribly in that race and I think quite likely will cost her that district.  Only Democrat Ann Delaney hinted at that when she said she wouldn't have done the mailing.  Of course, Jim Shella failed to follow up to ask her why.  The reason why is that the mailing won't work, it will turn voters against Macer who will be perceived as having sent, or at least authorized, the piece

Originally, I thought Miller just made a dumb mistake with the mailing.  But what if Miller knew the mailing would hurt Macer and that is exactly what he intended?   It has been suggested to me by a Democratic activist in that district that Macer is not Macer's favorite and, that since the Democrats are already in the minority in the House and have little power, giving Macer's seat to the Republicans in the 2014 election would allow Miller to be rid of Macer.  Then in 2016, when the numbers better favor Democrats due to higher turnout in the district, Miller could install a Democrat more to his liking.
One thing that gives credence to this theory is that usually it is the state parties sending out mailings for state representative candidates in targeted districts, not the Marion County political parties which are typically strapped for cash.  I find it very odd that the county organization sent the mailing.

Whether it was a boneheaded move by Miller, or Miller was intentionally sabotaging her, Macer deserved better.

Days Before the Election Political Parties Attempt to Shame Non-Voters into Voting

Political parties are increasingly turning to a very unpopular tactic to increasing turnout:  mailers to voters telling them that their voting history is being monitored by the parties and other organization and that, if they fail to vote this failure, will be public record.  In other words, they're trying to shame likely non-voters into voting by outing their conduct.  The Wall Street Journal reports:
Democratic Party postcards and letters sent to more than 800,000 New Yorkers this week gave them grades based on how often they had voted and told them their voting records in 2014 would be watched.
Political observers, both partisan and not, said the mailers were akin to a pre-Halloween scare.

But so-called voter shaming has become standard nationwide, with recent examples in Alaska, North Carolina and Virginia, Democratic Party officials say. The mailers have proven particularly effective in competitive races, increasing voter turnout by as much as eight percentage points, according to a Yale University study in 2008.

The language used in the mailers bothered some Democratic Party officials. The end of one of the letters reads: “If you do not vote this year, we will be interested to hear why not.”

“I think that last line has a threatening tone to it,” said Jay Jacobs, chairman of the Nassau County Democratic Committee in Long Island, where some of the mailers were sent. “I don’t think that’s the way we go about it.” 

Analysts said the mailers could backfire.

“It’s just dumb,” said Gerald Benjamin,a professor of political science at SUNY-New Paltz. “Citizens rightly believe their vote is a private matter and this could cause some voters to see this as an excessive scrutiny of their behavior.”
A Google search reveals numerous incidents of vote shaming across the country.  While most efforts are by Democrats, Republicans have increasingly become engaged in the practice.  Here is but a very small example of stories on the subject.

Alaskans Furious Over 'Vote-Shaming' Letters Sent By Super PAC

GOP To Iowans: Your Neighbors Will Know If You Don’t Vote Republican

Note:  The picture above is from a story on vote shaming in the Daily Banter blog.