Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Potholes: Indy Star Columnist Erika Smith Gets Facts Wrong ... Again

Indianapolis Star Erika Smith pens a column complaining about potholes and the failure of the Mayor and the Council to fix the roads:
It's the end of September. It hasn't snowed in months. Yet, most of the same potholes that
were there when our seemingly endless winter finally ended are still there today. And by now, most of them have turned into full-blown craters.

Some streets have been "repaired" — and I use that term loosely, given the way work crews have sloppily tossed a tarlike substance into so many potholes across the city. But many of those streets are just as rough on vehicles as the streets that haven't been touched. (Central Avenue just south of Fall Creek Parkway comes to mind.)

The idea that we are about to enter another winter with roads that are in just as bad a shape as they were at the end of last winter is ridiculous. Particularly because, according to weather forecasters, this winter could be as cold or colder than last winter.


Democrats on the City-County Council and Republican Mayor Greg Ballard's administration have spent months negotiating how to fund RebuidIndy 2, a Republican-backed plan to spend $300 million fixing roads, sidewalks and curbs. So long, in fact, that construction on those projects can't begin until 2015.

That means you should probably start saving money to replace damaged tires and rims over the next six months. Either that or check out IndyGo's schedule.

This is just one more sign of how dysfunctional and ineffective our city government has become.
Smith apparently doesn't know, or maybe doesn't care, that Rebuild Indy II is not about fixing potholes.  The proposal pushed forward by the Mayor was to borrow money over 30 years (to be spent in 3 years) for infrastructure improvements, including paving roads.  The $150 million proposal would have cost taxpayers nearly $300 million once the cost of interest on the money borrowed was calculated.  Does it really make sense to borrow money over 30 years to pave a road?  Democrats have acted as responsible stewards of the taxpayers money in questioning the Rebuild Indy II and demanding changes.

But Erika Smith does not concern herself with facts regarding Rebuild Indy II, including how the projects are financed.  Nowhere in her article is the size of the project mentioned or that those improvements we would enjoy today would be financed by leaving the bill for the next generation.

Worse yet, the Star's columnist seems to have totally confused Rebuild Indy II with the a separate "emergency" measure introduced to fix potholes.  There was some initial complaints that all council districts were not included, but changes were made and the pot hole proposal passed within 28 days of being introduced. 

But, of course, Erika Smith doesn't mention that fact either.

Saturday, September 27, 2014

Real Clear Politics Average of Polls Show Republicans Winning a Majority of U.S. Senate Seats

This evening I took a look at the Real Clear Politics average of polls for the various Senate races.  Right now the AOP show Republicans leading in eight states that are currently controlled by the Democrats.  Below I have listed those states and the Republican advantage:

West Virginia  19%
Montana  19%
South Dakota 13.3%
Louisiana 5.6%
Alaska  4.7%
Arkansas 3.6%
Iowa 2.2%
Colorado .8%

Republicans also have outside shots in:

North Carolina -3.6%
New Hampshire  -4.5%
Michigan  -4.7%

Kansas is the only state where a Republican incumbent is presently losing.  In that state, Senator Pat Roberts Republican has trailed Independent and former Democrat Greg Orman in the last four polls from 5% to 10%.  Orman is expected to caucus with the Democrats.

Republicans currently have 45 seats in the U.S. Senate.  Since the Democrats have the tiebreaking vote in the Senate with Vice President Biden, the Republicans need 51 seats to gain control.  If Republicans and Democrats hold serve, the Republicans will pick up 8 seats and lose 1, giving the GOP one more than the six net seats needed for the majority.

The Democrats appear to have two other shots at Republican seats, Georgia and Kentucky.  However, in those states the Republicans have a 3.4% and 5.25% lead respectively.

Obviously this election is close, though you have to give a slight edge to the Republicans simply because the Democrats are defending so many seats.

Thursday, September 25, 2014

Possible GOP Candidates if Indianapolis Mayor Greg Ballard Decides Not to Run for Re-Election

After hearing Mary Milz of WTHR's report on the Mayor's future plans, including his interest in a job at Cathedral High School (poor Cathedral), I am further persuaded that Ballard will not run for a third term.  I'm officially reducing the estimated 50% chance of his running to 35%.

The question then is which Republican(s) will run, if not Ballard?

First, of all, forget the big names.  Marion County is a Democratic County and increasingly so.  With the exception of Ballard, no Marion County Republican has won running countywide since 2006.   Ballard only squeaked by in 2007 and 2011 as because of the much lower turnout in municipal elections.  But even lower turnout elections have turned increasingly in favor of the Democrats.  Don't expect a IMS President Mark Miles, Speaker Brian Bosma, or former state senator and Lt.
Mike McQuillen
Governor candidate Murray Clark to take a shot.  They know that any Republican running in 2015 will be a longshot and will take a pass.  Instead look further down the bench.   Here are some possible candidates.

Michael McQuillen - the current minority leader on the council, McQuillen briefly thought about running for State Auditor. McQuillen's strength is his close association with Marion County GOP leadership which might back his candidacy.  McQullen's weakness is that he drank the Ballard Kool-Aid, fully supporting every tax, borrow and spend proposal put forth by the mayor.  McQuillen undoubtedly would run as Ballard II.  McQuillen's failure to distance himself would likely hurt him with many Republican voters turned off by the Ballard legacy.  But even if it didn't,  Republican can't win running on the GOP base in Marion County.  It's unlikely that McQullen would have any appeal whatsoever to independents or Democrats.
Carlos May

Carlos May - a former candidate for Congressional District #7 in Indianapolis, May would be an attractive candidate.  May is tireless campaigner and personable.  Although May is employed with the
Ballard administration as Director of Latino Affairs, May could probably distance himself enough from the Ballard agenda to bring back to the fold many of the fiscal conservatives that have become disillusioned by the Ballard tax and spend agenda.  While May would be a better candidate than McQuillen, it's unlikely he could skew the political equation enough to overcome the Democratic advantage in the county.

Christine Scales
Christine Scales - just mentioning the name of Councilor Scales as a mayoral candidate will probably set Marion County Republican Chairman Kyle Walker into a tirade.    After all, Walker has made defeating Scales in the 2015 primary his number one priority, much more important than a Republican winning the Mayor's office in 2015.    But the fierce independence and commitment to her constituents Scales has shown would also make her one of the stronger Republican candidates.  Any Republican who is going to have a chance in a general election is going to have to skew the political equation, taking Democratic and independent voters away from the opposition. While Scales has the potential to do that, Scales' problem though is that GOP organization leaders, including most notably Walker, would rather give the Mayor's Office to the Democrats than see Scales occupy the 25th Floor.  They would do everything they could to make sure she isn't slated and/or win the nomination at the primary.

Isaac "Ike" Randolph
Isaac (Ike) Randolph - the former northwest side councilor, indeed my councilor at one time, would be a strong Republican mayoral nominee.  Randolph, who like Mayor Ballard, resides in Pike Township, would bring sold Republican credentials to the table.  However, unlike McQuillen, Randolph seems to understand politics enough to know he would need to aggressively pursue non-traditional GOP constituencies in order to win a countywide election.  Randolph, who is an African-American, has made that a point of emphasis in his political career. Randolph also is likely to seek some independence from the country club Republicans who have dominated the Ballard administration.  But independence is not something the GOP party leaders see as a virtue.  They'd rather lose an election to the Democrats than elect a Republican who can't be "controlled."  I don't think Scales or Randolph would ever agree to being manipulated in office the way Ballard has been.

In summary, I think the best Republican candidate is someone who can hold the GOP base while aggressively pursuing Democrats and independents.   Of the four listed, Scales and Randolph would be the best at doing that.  May is also an attractive candidate.  But make no mistake about it, even the best Republican running a great campaign will have trouble winning in 2015.  The numbers just aren't there anymore.  And that, folks, is why Ballard may well not run for a third term.

Hollywood's Biggest Climate Hypocrite - Leonardo DiCaprio

The Daily Mail reports:
With his speech in front of the United Nations today, Leonardo DiCaprio cemented his reputation as one of the world's highest-profile activists on climate change.

'You can make history ...or be vilified by it,' he dramatically told world leaders.

After marching with 400,000 others on the streets of New York this weekend to demand tough regulations to cut the amount of CO2 being pumped into the air, DiCaprio opened a UN climate change summit by urging the world to crack down on polluters and 'put a price tag on carbon emissions.' 

But the 39-year-old Hollywood star's own jetset lifestyle reveals a double-standard on the issue of climate change.
In his speech to the UN, he said: 'This disaster has grown beyond the choices that individuals make.'

MailOnline can report that DiCaprio took at least 20 trips across the nation and around the world this year alone - including numerous flights from New York to Los Angeles and back, a ski vacation to the French Alps, another vacation to the French Riviera, flights to London and Tokoyo to promote his film Wolf of Wall Street, two trips to Miami and trip to Brazil to watch the World Cup. 


Additionally, DiCaprio owns at least four homes: two apartments in New York and mansions in Hollywood and Palm Springs.

He also recently sold an estate in Malibu for $17million. 

And this summer, he spent his World Cup vacation on the fifth largest yacht in the world, a 482-foot behemoth owned by Mansour bin Zayed Al Nahyan - a billionaire oil tycoon from the UAE.

DiCaprio has tried to stay green in other parts of his life. He owns a $4million apartment in an eco-friendly apartment building in Battery Park City. 

He drives a Toyota Prius and a $100,000 Fisker electric sports car.  He's been spotted riding a bike around New York. 

In 2007, he produced and narrated the 11th Hour, a documentary about climate change and other threats to the planet. 

He also represents several environmental charities and has thrown his star power behind Formula E, a new racing circuit that uses electric cars, instead of roaring gasoline-powered vehicles. 

However, his jetsetting - both for business and pleasure - means that he he's producing a lot more CO2 than most people.

Even if he flew on a commercial jet for all of flights, his carbon footprint so far in 2014 would be a minimum of 40million metric tons of CO2 spewed into the atmosphere, more than twice the average American output for an entire year.

That figure only takes into account his flights and assumes that he flew exclusively on commercial airlines . The A-list star is worth an estimated $220million, according to CelebrityNetWorth.com, and it is known to frequently charter private jets.

Carbon emissions for private jets vary, but by some accounts are more than 37 times higher than flying commercial.


DiCaprio is one of those typical Hollywood celebrities, those who encourage working men and women, who are struggling to make ends meet, to pay more taxes and pay higher utility rates in a dubious quest to save the planet.  Meanwhile, they lead lavish lifestyles, imposing a far bigger carbon footprint than hundreds of those "little people" they demand make more sacrifices.

It's called being a hypocrite.

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Delaney v. Hogsett: Why Local Democrats Should Welcome a Primary Contest for Indianapolis Mayor

Do contested primaries hurt the candidates involved?  If you listen to most political activists, the answer is a definite "yes."  They claim nomination contests drain candidates that could be used in the general election.  An additional argument is that bruising primaries end up with candidates irreparable damaged as they move on to the next round.   Inevitably the fact that a party's nominee will be determined in a contested primary is celebrated with glee by partisans on the other side.

It's all a bunch of bunk.  I'm here to tell you that contested primaries can actually be a very good thing for a party and its nominee.  Case in point is the presidential election of 2008.

The Republicans settled on a nominee early, Arizona Senator John McCain.  Meanwhile the Democrats had a fiercely contested series of primary battles involving Illinois Senator Barack Obama and former First Lady and New York Senator Hillary Clinton.

Joe Hogsett
In 2008, Republicans celebrated that Democrats were pouring money into the Obama and Clinton campaigns, money that wouldn't be available to the Democratic nominee in the Fall.  GOP leaders were certain that this would lead to a lack of resources and a Democratic nominee permanently damaged by the bruising nomination fight.

It didn't happen.  The Democrats used the primary battle to register hundreds of thousands of new voters and to energize their base.  The Democratic candidates were able to sharpen their message and hone their campaign machinery.  

But what about primary candidates burning through money?  That money is not lost.  It is invested to raise the profile of candidates during the primary window, when people are paying attention.    Plus, people misunderstand the importance of money in a campaign. The focus should not necessarily be on who has more money, but whether the candidates' campaigns are adequately funded.  If $2 million does that in a particular race, then candidate X with $4 million only has a relatively small advantage of a candidate with $2 million.  In other words, a candidate having twice as much money when both campaigns are adequately funded, does equate to an exponential (x2) advantage in money.

Further, when it's a high profile race, the candidates are going to receive an enormous amount of "earned media," free publicity simply because of the nature of the race. There was little chance that voters going into the voting booth in the fall of 2008 wouldn't know the major candidates for president.

As far as candidates being irreparably hurt by bruising primary exchanges, voters have a short memory when it comes to such matters.   They also take such exchanges with a grain of salt.  Finally,
Rep. Ed Delaney
those early primary attacks allow negative allegations about the candidates to be exposed and turned into old news before the general election rolls around.

This discussion about contested primaries is relevant because it looks like Indianapolis will see a contested Democratic primary for mayor in 2015.  State Representative Ed Delaney is the only declared candidate thus far.  However, former U.S. Attorney Joe Hogsett is waiting in the wings having filed an exploratory campaign.  Delaney will probably run as the more traditional liberal, while Hogsett might brush off a strategy he employed as a campaign manager for former Governor Evan Bayh and his own campaign for Secretary of State by using a more fiscal conservative message to pick off Republican voters.  Of course, that's more of a general election strategy not one that would necessarily work with Democratic primary voters.  But a campaign challenging Mayor Ballard's priorities in office would likely resonate with Democratic voters in a primary and also be a strategy that could be used in a general election.

A hotly contested mayoral primary could be the best thing that happens to the local Democratic party.  It would energize the Democratic party base resulting in increased registration and turnout.  Having party leaders pick the candidates through the slating process, as both local parties do, actually hurts the process of building a strong party electorate and recruiting the hordes of grass roots workers needed to win campaigns.

No, local Marion County Republicans should not be celebrating a primary battle between Ed Delaney and Joe Hogsett. They should be worried...very worried.

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Liberal Brookings Institute Concludes "Best Available Evidence" Shows Pre-K Doesn't Provide Benefits Touted by Proponents

Earlier this year the liberal Brookings Institute did a report evaluating tpre-K studies and reached the conclusion that most suffered from serious methodology flaws and concluded that the evidence was not there that pre-K offered the benefits suggested by proponents.  Below is the conclusion from that report:

What does the research say?

The previous tables and descriptions refer to 13 separate studies (including 3 similar studies of district programs and two similar studies of statewide programs in Oklahoma and Georgia).  Of these 13, six report enduring and meaningful impacts beyond the pre-k pre-k year, and three do not report findings beyond the pre-k year.
year, four report null, negative, or very small positive impacts beyond the
It would be easy for someone without the training to carefully evaluate these studies or someone with a strong motive to advocate for the expansion of publicly funded pre-k to summarize this research by saying that the preponderance of evidence supports universal pre-k for four-year-olds. After all, of the 10 studies I’ve reviewed that have long-term follow-up, 60 percent report substantive positive outcomes.[xiii]  Libby Doggett, the Obama administration’s point person on Preschool for All, has been singing exactly this song at every opportunity:
You have to look at the preponderance of the evidence. Better high school graduation rates, social and emotional stability, less crime and other results speak for themselves.[xiv]
But results do not speak for themselves.  Rather, it is the combination of results and the research designs that produce them that do the speaking.  And some of the combinations speak a lot louder than others.

Not one of the studies that has suggested long-term positive impacts of center-based early childhood programs has been based on a well-implemented and appropriately analyzed randomized trial, and nearly all have serious limitations in external validity.  In contrast, the only two studies in the list with both high internal and external validity (Head Start Impact and Tennessee) find null or negative impacts, and all of the studies that point to very small, null, or negative effects have high external validity.  In general, a finding of meaningful long-term outcomes of an early childhood intervention is more likely when the program is old, or small, or a multi-year intervention, and evaluated with something other than a well-implemented RCT.  In contrast, as the program being evaluated becomes closer to universal pre-k for four-year-olds and the evaluation design is an RCT, the outcomes beyond the pre-k year diminish to nothing.

I conclude that the best available evidence raises serious doubts that a large public investment in the expansion of pre-k for four-year-olds will have the long-term effects that advocates tout.  

This doesn’t mean that we ought not to spend public money to help families with limited financial resources access good childcare for their young children.  After all, we spend tax dollars on national parks, symphony orchestras, and Amtrak because they make the lives of those who use them better today.  Why not childcare? 

It does mean that we need public debate that recognizes the mixed nature of the research findings rather than a rush to judgment based on one-sided and misleading appeals to the preponderance of the evidence. 

 To read the entire Brookings report, click here.

Monday, September 22, 2014

Mayoral Candidate Ed Delaney Issues Press Release on Indianapolis Recycling

For Immediate Release Contact: Anastasia Foster
September 15, 2014 317-413-7497  

Why is the Mayor in a Rush to Hurt Recycling of Our City's Waste?

INDIANAPOLIS - The City has been sued in state court over a rushed agreement with Covanta that will set back recycling for years. The lawsuit is based on apparent violations of
Rep. Ed Delaney
proper bidding procedures. The plaintiffs, which include buyers of recycled materials, raise two important questions. The first being, why do we want to reduce our recycling efforts by going backwards and mixing glass and cardboard with trash as we did in the past? And secondly, what was the rush?

I have recycled for years and am happy to do so. I was raised to be frugal and to care of the environment. I know it costs me money and takes a bit of time. But I feel a sense of civic duty, something we hear too little about. The possibility of a contract extension offered the City a chance to have an informed conversation about recycling and how to do it effectively. The Mayor's rush has replaced a conversation with a lawsuit. Surely, he saw that coming. In his rush, he reduced our hopes for the environment and our confidence in his administration.

I am particularly troubled by the fact that the Mayor has acted without City-County Council support. This seems to be a pattern: grab power and move fast. If the Mayor wants to sign long-term contracts the least he could do is to permit an informed discussion. I will commit to doing that starting November of 2015.

Seven Years of Tax and Fee Increases Proposed by Indianapolis Mayor Greg Ballard


Indianapolis Mayor Greg Ballard has supported numerous tax increases during his seven years in office.   This list no doubt omits some of them.

Indianapolis Mayor Greg Ballard
Lodging (Hotel) Tax
--Ballard supported a 10% increase (from 9% to 10%) at the legislature

Car Rental Tax
--Ballard supported a 50% increase in local car rental tax from 4% to 6%.

Admission's Tax
--Ballard pushed for a 67% increase in the admission's tax from 6% to 10%.

Alcohol Tax (tax on beer wine and liquor purchased in Marion County)
-- Ballard supported a 100% increase in the alcohol tax in the county.

Property Taxes
--Ballard supported an increase in the residents property tax through the elimination of the local homestead tax credit.

Food and Beverage Tax
--Ballard supported a 13% increase in the local food and beverage tax (2% to 2.25%) to bail out CIB.

Wheel Tax
--Ballard supported moving the sunset on the tax from 2011 to 2019.

Vehicle Excise Tax

 --Ballard supported moving the sunset on the tax from 2011 to 2019.

Personal Income Tax
--Ballard opposed a cut in the tax proposed by Governor Pence.

Property Taxes
--Ballard supported an increase in IMPD district to include outside old city limits, raising property taxes for residents who live in those areas.

Local Option Income Tax
-Ballard pushed for 18.5% increase from from 1.62% to 1.92% for extended bus service.  This tax increase is currently on hold depending on the mass transit referendum.

Vehicle Excise Tax
--Ballard supported removal of 2019 sunset

Wheel Tax
---Ballard supported removal of 2019 sunset

Public Safety Tax
--Ballard pushed through a 43% increase (.35 to .50)

Property Taxes
--Ballard is again trying to increase property taxes by eliminating the local homestead tax credit.

New Wheel Tax
--Ballard wants out of county residents working in Marion County subject to a new wheel tax.


Mayor Ballard has also supported directly and indirectly scores of fee and rate increases on Indianapolis residents and local businesses.

Parking Meter Rates - 100% increase in parking meter rates from 75 cents an hour to $1.50 in less than 2 years allowed via 50 year contract signed with ACS. 

Creation of Fire Inspection Fee from $50 to $150.  Also, added "self-inspection" fee of $25. 

Taxicabs: $100 to $471.

Taxicab drivers: $20 to $283.

Sidewalk cafes: $169 to $591.

Pet shops and kennels: $25 to $559.

Trash haulers: $20 to $479.

Hotels: $20 to $603.

Pay telephones: $52 to $114.

Transient merchants: $20 to $213.

Massage parlors: $250 to $559.

Massage therapists, escorts and nude models: $25 to $92.

Installation of new water heater in home or business: $25 to $153 (if venting or fuel type is changed).

Scrap dealers: $200 to $823.

Vendor cart renewals:
$100 to $273.

Block parties or other special events with a street closing: $25 to $113-$683 (higher fee for events with multiple street closures, food, entertainment and security.)

Horse-drawn carriages:
$20 to $77.

General construction inspections:
$40-$50 to $107.

Zoning variance to change permitted use of homes:
$200 to $579.

Zoning variance of use for a business: $900 to $1,999.

Sewer bill increases (increased for consumers in conjunction with sale of utilities to Citizen's Energy)

Water bill increases (increased for consumers conjunction with sale of utilities to Citizen's Energy)

Electrical bill increases  (Ballard supported having consumers subsidize his electric car program by run by a private company)

State GOP Chairman Writes Column Calling Indy Democrats Opposition to Property Tax Increase "Bad Politics"

In his "Chairman's Corner" column in the ironically titled publication "The Party Line," Indiana State Chairman GOP Chairman Tim Berry writes:
Tim BerryChairman's Corner
If anyone should have a say in decisions being made about a child's education, it's parents.
Unfortunately, this week Indianapolis Democrats stomped out the voices of parents, children and others who were in favor of a Republican-led effort to expand preschool programs for low-income children.
Parents, many with children in tow, showed up to the City-County Council's Administration and Finance Committee meeting Tuesday to participate in a debate on Mayor Greg Ballard's pre-K expansion plan. But instead of taking part in their citizen government, parents got schooled on politics. Politics_Enews_Gfx2

The Democrat-led committee immediately moved the debate from the front of the agenda to the back. So those intent on testifying waited three hours to share their opinions, but at the end of the meeting the issue was quickly tabled.

This is a great example of how Democrats let their own agendas overshadow the rights of parents, and in this case, common decency. It's interesting that the party which claims to be filled with Robin Hoods, robbed the voices from the very people they claim to so closely represent.

The bottom line is that parents' voices should be heard instead of the annoying blare of bad politics. While the Democrats may believe they have the upper hand in this case, it's at the expense of children, families and communities.

Our Party has long supported empowering parents to make decisions on what's best for their child including school choice. It's our fundamental belief that all children should have an equal opportunity to succeed no matter their background or family's income level. Let's be sure to send a strong message to Democrats this November that we are united and determined to keep Indiana red and our children's education first.

Ps. Click here to read an Indianapolis Star opinion column by Matthew Tully regarding Tuesday's meeting or click here for a letter to the editor by Indianapolis City-County Councillor Mike McQuillen.
Tim Berry
Indiana Republican Party
What Berry is writing in support of is yet another attempt by Indianapolis Mayor Greg Ballard to increase Indianapolis residents' property taxes by eliminating the homestead tax credit.  Although Berry said the measure is about the Mayor's pre-K initiative, the measure that was tabled didn't mention that. While Ballard has claimed the revenue from the property tax increase would be spent on a pre-K program, the administration wouldn't have been prohibited from using the property tax increase for other purposes.  In fact, Mayor Ballard just pushed through a 43% increase in the Indy's public safety tax under the guise the money would go to hire new police officers.  Just days after that vote we find out that only 14% will go for that purpose.

Berry fails to mention that the Ballard's earlier efforts to raise our property taxes have been heard and rejected after public testimony.

Even if the resolution tabled was about pre-K, since when are Republicans in favor of new entitlement programs, including one for municipal governments which neither by constitution or by statute have any responsibility for education?  This is especially true for pre-K which has been shown not to have any positive long term effects. For example, see the Vanderbilt study from last year.

I understand that it is the job of the State Republican Chair to support Republican candidates.  But there need to be limits such as when a candidate consistently pushes policies that are against basic Republican philosophy.  Mayor Ballard, with his never-ending push for higher taxes and fees during his long seven years in office, fits that category.  Berry should not be taking an active role, supposedly speaking for all Republicans in the state, in supporting higher taxes in Indianapolis.

Thursday, September 18, 2014

An Update on U.S. Senate Races

An update on the U. S. Senate elections.  Cook Political Report lists two Democratic senate seats held by retiring incumbents Walsh (Montana) and Johnson (South Dakota) as being "likely Republican."  He also identifies retiring Rockefeller's West Virginia's Senate Senate as "leaning Republican."  Those states have polled solidly for Republicans all summer.

Cook lists seven Democratic Senate seats as being tossups:  Begich (Alaska), Pryor (Arkansas), Udall (CO), Harkin (Iowa), Landreiu (Louisiana), Levin (Michigan) and Hagan (North Carolina).
Add caption

Recent polls have shown Republican challengers moving ahead in Alaska and Colorado, two states where they had previously trailed.  I would disagree with Cook on Michigan and North Carolina. They have polled solidly for the Democrats, albeit not by huge numbers, all summer.  I would put them in the lean Democratic column instead of in the tossup.

One seat that Cook lists in the lean Democratic column is Shaheen of New Hampshire.  A poll just released show former Massachusetts Senator Scott Brown drawing even in that state.  I think that state may be moving to the tossup category.

As far as the Democrats picking up Republican seats, Kentucky is still listed as a tossup state.  But Republican Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has consistently enjoyed a small lead in virtually every poll.  The race shows no sign of tightening.  I think it should be moved to the lean Republican category.

The Democrats probably best shot at a Republican seat is in Georgia where the polling has been all over the place, though generally in favor of the Republican Perdue over Democrat Nunn in the battle for an open seat.  Also, the Democrats have a shot at knocking off Kansas Senator Pat Roberts who is in a neck-and-neck competition with a left-of-center independent who is likely to caucus with the Democrats.

I would put it at about 65% that the Republicans will gain the net six seats needed for the majority.  If pushed to make individual state predictions, I would guess Republicans will pick up seats in Montana, South Dakota, West Virgina, Louisiana, Arkansas, Iowa and Alaska, the seven seats necessary for the majority.  I doubt that, at the end of the day, the Democrats can pull off upsets in Kentucky, Georgia or Kansas.

Marion County GOP Chairman Issues Press Release Decrying Indy Council Democrats for Not Raising Property Taxes

Kyle Walker, Chairman
Marion  County Republican Party
I never thought I'd see the day when a Marion County Republican Chairman would use my party's platform to push for higher taxes.  Yet, Chairman Kyle Walker never fails to disappoint.  This week Walker has issued a press release criticizing the Democrats for blocking the Mayor's proposed property tax increase to pay for a dubious pre-K program.  This isn't Walker's first use of his position to support higher taxes...it is only his most recent.

The Indy Democrat blog published by Jon Easter has the details on Walker's press release as well as this comment Easter obtained from committee chairman Angela Mansfield:
"First of all this was not a pre-k proposal that was tabled. The proposal was to eliminate the homestead credit, period. There was absolutely no guarantee where the money would be spent that if the proposal had passed. In fact several Republicans have stated that they do not want to support pre-k with these funds. Some made such statements during the last council meeting or in interviews later. 
A similar proposal to eliminate the homestead credit was previously heard in the public safety committee with a full hearing and public comment just a few weeks ago. The proposal was amended to remove the language re the elimination of the homestead credit. To have another committee meeting discussion on the same issue was redundant. This was reminiscent of last year when the mayor put the same proposal before us multiple times."
Councilor Angela Mansfield
So Mansfield points out that there is no guarantee that the revenue received by the city from higher property taxes would actually go to the pre-K program?  Agreed.  However, wasn't that also the problem with the public safety tax increase - there is no guarantee the money would actually be used to hire more police officers.  After all, the last income tax increase was also claimed to be for that purpose yet  we ended up with fewer officers.  To her credit, Mansfield also voted against that tax increase.

In her emailed comment to Easter, Mansfield goes on to dispute Walker's claim regarding public testimony.  She then makes this pointed comment about property tax increases that residents have already faced:
"From my own personal point of view, my constituents experienced a tax increase this year due to the expansion of the special police district. My own taxes went up almost 16% and I have a very modest house. The vast majority of my constituents receive a benefit of the homestead credit substantially greater than the average $22 the mayor continues to tout. Many are $50 - $150."
Yeah, I don't buy the $22 a house claim either.  The math just doesn't work.

In my post yesterday, I showed how public support for the Marion County Republican Party has continued to erode.  Walker seems totally oblivious to the fact that his advocating more taxes, more borrowing, more spending, isn't a good way to attract conservative-leaning voters to the Republican cause.

Meanwhile, the Marion County GOP has issued an invite to its Fall Reception.  The cost?  $5,000 to host, $2,500 to co-host, and $1,000 to sponsor.  If you're just a rank and file Republican toiling in the trenches, the cost of attending this Republican dinner is "only" $100.  Of course, the money will be used by Walker to push for more tax increases and to target Republicans who stand up for conservative values.

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Will GOP Downward Slide in Indianapolis-Marion County County Continue in 2014?

One race I will be watching closely on election night is the Marion County Recorder's race. Why?  Because that race more than any of the others, best establishes the new baseline for the political parties.  With no offense to the candidates involved in the race - Republican Terry Dove and Democrat Kate Sweeney Bell - their race is a default race. Because only a tiny percentage of voters will actually know the candidates, voters tend to "default" to their party preference when casting a ballot on that race.  Low profile races such as recorder are used to establish the parties "baseline vote."

I have been tracking the declining GOP base in Marion County.   November will be an off-year election. While Republicans in Marion County do better in off-years, the Republican base has continued to erode for the last several elections.  See graph.  It should be noted that 2010 was an excellent Republican year and, nonetheless, the Democrats still trimmed off nearly two more points from the Republican base.

This November's election will more closely approximate the turnout in the municipal elections in 2015.  If the GOP baseline vote comes in at 42% or less, that will push the county beyond being what is seen by most analysts as competitive.  Such a result might also cause Indianapolis Republican Mayor Greg Ballard to opt out of running for a third term as the partisan hill will have become too steep to climb. 

I would add that Marion County Republicans do substantially worse in presidential elections when there is a much higher turnout.  My analysis shows the GOP base vote has dropped from 50.09% in 2000 to 38.21% in 2012.

Monday, September 15, 2014

Tornadoes and the Myth of an Increase in Extreme Weather

A couple weeks ago, I had the opportunity to view the movie, Into the Storm.  From the summary of the flick, I thought it was about an Oklahoma town being hit by a tornado and how it changed everyone's lives.  That was a compelling story to me as I had lived through a tornado in 1974 that wrecked my hometown of Madison, Indiana, and certainly changed our lives.

Unfortunately the movie turned out to be nothing about a before and after picture of the tornado-ravaged community. Rather it was about a ridiculous scenario in which the town is hammered by three sets of tornadoes in just a few hours, including one mega tornado.  While the film did have impressive special effects, it was devoid of any realism regarding tornadoes.  That lack of realism though didn't prevent the film though from suggesting that the tornado disaster that had set upon the town was because of global warming/climate change, albeit never mentioning those terms probably because they would have been a box office turn-off.

I have already addressed the issue of hurricanes - that a 100 year study shows we're actually having fewer hurricanes.  But what about tornadoes?  Are we having more of them?  Have they become more extreme?  The answer is no and no.

This is from the National Climatic Data Center operated by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration:
With increased National Doppler radar coverage, increasing population, and greater attention to tornado reporting, there has been an increase in the number of tornado reports over the past several decades. This can create a misleading appearance of an increasing trend in tornado frequency. To better understand the variability and trend in tornado frequency in the United States, the total number of EF-1 and stronger, as well as strong to violent tornadoes (EF-3 to EF-5 category on the Enhanced Fujita scale) can be analyzed. These tornadoes would have likely been reported even during the decades before Doppler radar use became widespread and practices resulted in increasing tornado reports. The bar charts below indicate there has been little trend in the frequency of the stronger tornadoes over the past 55 years. 
Below is a table of E-1+ tornadoes since 1954 as well as strong tornadoes E-3+ also since 1954.  We're not having more tornadoes and those we're not having are not stronger than in the past.  What we're seeing is better and more extensive reporting on tornadoes and other weather events.


What I find surprising is that people who know the truth, i.e. that we're not having more extreme weather, continue to repeat the lie because it fits their political agenda.

See also:   

Sunday, December 30, 2012, Research Meteorologist Finds No Increase In Atlantic Hurricane Activity Despite Claims of Global Warming