Thursday, April 30, 2015

Councilor Mascari Calls on Mayor Ballard to Abandon Vision Fleet Agreement for Failure to Comply with State Bidding Law

Mayor Greg Ballard
City of Indianapolis
200 E. Washington St., Suite 2500
Indianapolis, IN 46204

Dear Mayor Ballard:

I write you today in my capacity as City-County Councilor for District 20 to request that you immediately suspend all negotiations and contract execution procedures with Vision Fleet Capital,
Councilor Frank Mascari
LLC. The procurement process for the Master Fleet Agreement (Agreement) with this firm has violated Indiana Code § 5-22 and Indianapolis Marion County General Ordinance §§ 202-204 and 202-205.

The Master Fleet Agreement is a lease-purchase agreement for equipment – namely “energy saving vehicles” as identified in the Agreement. Any analysis that concludes otherwise is misleading and should be ignored. The Agreement is not merely a contract for “fleet management services” as the Agreement’s recitals suggest. The Agreement results in the city acquiring title to vehicles following the City’s payment of numerous “Rental” payments over time. Under any honest understanding, this constitutes a lease-purchase of vehicles.

The Department of Public Works is not authorized to unilaterally and without any authorized competitive process enter into a lease-purchase agreement for these vehicles. Such equipment must be procured by the “purchasing agent” of the City in accordance with competitive bidding practices outlined in Ind. Code §§ 5-22-7, 5-22-9, or other authorizing purchasing statute. G.O. Sec. 202-204 establishes the “Purchasing Division” of the Office of Finance and Management as the purchasing agency for the city and county. Because the Purchasing Division was not involved in this procurement and the procurement did not involve any competitive process under Indiana law, the resulting Agreement is not lawful, voidable, and should be abandoned immediately.

If you are unwilling to immediately cease negotiations and abandon the Agreement under the current procurement process, I will be forced to explore legal and procedural options to force your compliance. If you have further questions or concerns please call me...

Frank Mascari District 20
Indianapolis-Marion County Council
200 East Washington Street T-241
Indianapolis, Indiana 46204

Tuesday, April 28, 2015

Mayor Ballard's Plan to Divert Parking Meter Revenue to Electric Car Program May Violate Indiana Law

The Indianapolis Star reports:
The city and BlueIndy have reached an agreement to close a $13 million shortfall to get the stalled electric car-share service up and running.   
The city will pour more than $6 million from parking meter revenues to help construct charging stations and Bolloré, the company that owns the service, will pitch in another $6 million, bringing the company's commitment to more than $40 million.   
But the deal has angered a council leader, who said the administration of Mayor Greg 
Ballard is inappropriately using targeted infrastructure dollars for a "boondoggle."   
This is outrageous, this is the second time he's done this," said Public Works Committee Chairman Zach Adamson, referring to Ballard's spending $5 million in infrastructure money on an Eastside sports and cricket complex....
Adamson said parking meter dollars can be used only for infrastructure improvements in metered zones and said electric cars don't count as infrastructure.

Monday, April 27, 2015

Indianapolis Star Reader Uses Math to Blow Away Idea that Wind Power is Good for Consumers

The Indianapolis Star published a lengthy article yesterday about how wind turbines in Indiana could end up tripling due to new EPA rules:
New EPA rules coming down the pike will cut carbon emissions from coal and gas power plants for the first time and boost demand for clean power such as wind. One result: Indiana could see two or three times as many wind farms as it has now. 
In its latest projection of U.S. wind energy needs, the federal Department of Energy says only five other states are in line to boost their wind power sectors as much as or more than Indiana.
Indiana has a good shot at tripling its wind power capacity in the next decade or so, from the current 1,744 megawatts to 5,000 or more, says Sean Brady, Midwest policy manager for the wind power advocacy group Wind on the Wires.
That would require erecting 2,000 wind turbines to join the 1,031 that now dot the state's landscape north of Indianapolis. "Indiana has quite a large upside. It has a great opportunity for wind development," Brady said.     
Wind power, in addition, is expensive to install ($2 million or more per turbine) and controlled to a great extent by foreign companies, which doesn't bode well for winning a lot of public support.
Any growth in wind farms also would put more money in the hands of farmland owners, who rent the land needed for the turbines. Average rents in Indiana now run about $5,000 a year per turbine, which amounts to about $5 million a year in statewide turbine rent payments.
Still, pushback to wind persists at policymaking levels. And that opposition could harden as wind energy use spreads and utilities are forced to spend billions of dollars nationally building transmission lines to handle the increased flow of power from new wind farms, said Tom Tanton, director of science and technology assessment at the Energy & Environment Legal Institute in Washington, D.C. The group has done studies suggesting federal subsidies to wind energy don't make economic sense.     
Tanton said wind farm developers are able to push "hidden costs" of wind energy onto utilities and ratepayers. Those costs include gas turbine plants required to back up wind power and balance its fluctuating energy flows caused by intermittent wind, he said.
A calculation accompanying one of the illustrations to the story indicates that "[a]ccording to idustry figures, one turbine can create enough electricity to power 580 average American homes."

An alert reader noted the absurdity of the math:
So if you take an average homeowners electric bill of say, $1,000 per year, just the cost of ONE of these turbines will take up the revenue of two hundred customers for ten years. Since the article mentions adding possibly 2,000 more turbines, that would account for the revenue produced by 400,000 residential customers over the next ten years. That doesn't even take into account cost overruns, maintenance, and the actual power consumed by these customers. Now throw in the land rental fees for the turbines, and you "lose" the revenue generated by another 10,000 customers, each and every year.
And that is before you even consider the cost of the federal subsidies and the higher electricity prices to consumers who are required to pay for the higher cost of wind-generated electricity.

Sunday, April 26, 2015

Senate Democrats Turn Back on Civil Liberties in Supporting Civil Forfeiture Enthusiast for Attorney General

This weekend I had a chance to speak at the State Libertarian Party convention about civil asset forfeiture, a topic of great interest to me.  The political dynamics on the issue have shifted tremendously the past 10-15 years.  Libertarians have always strongly opposed civil forfeiture.  But increasingly Republicans have turned against civil forfeiture, in particular Tea Party Republicans who harbor a natural distrust of the over-reaching power of government.  On the other side, Democrats suddenly seem to have no problem with civil forfeiture, despite well-documented abuses.

Attorney General Loretta Lynch
This past week illustrated the shifting politics of the issue.  The Senate voted to confirm the Loretta Lynch, the U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of New York, as Attorney General. was one of the few media outlets that focused on the forfeiture issue during Lynch's confirmation process:
U.S. Attorney Loretta Lynch, nominated to replace Eric Holder as attorney general, sat before the Senate's Judiciary Committee to be asked questions (or sit through speeches from senators only vaguely approaching the concept of a question) about President Barack Obama's use of executive authority on immigration, waterboarding, prosecuting terrorists, marijuana legalization, Operation Chokepoint, gay marriage recognition, and a number of other issues. The hearings and speeches continue today.   
Sen. Mike Lee (R-Utah) yesterday brought up asset forfeiture to gauge Lynch's position. He wanted to know whether Lynch thought the way the Department of Justice in partnership with local law enforcement agencies handle criminal and more particularly civil asset forfeiture was "fair."
Lynch responded that "civil and criminal forfeiture are very important tools of the Department of Justice as well as our state and local counterparts." Speaking directly about civil asset forfeiture, she claimed that such forfeiture is  "done pursuant to supervision by a court, it is done pursuant to court order, and I believe the protections are there."
That would come as news to the three brothers of the Hirsch family in Long Island. In 2012, they saw $447,000 of their assets seized by the IRS and the Department of Justice over an allegation that their business Bi-County Distributors, which delivers snack foods to convenience stores, was deliberately depositing cash deposits in amounts smaller than $10,000 in order to avoid IRS reporting requirements.   
It was Lynch's office who handled this seizure and Lynch's office who kept the company's money for more than two years without ever setting a court date for the business to attempt to get its money back, nor was anybody in the family ever charged with any crime. The asset-forfeiture-fighting lawyers of the Institute for Justice (IJ) took on the Hirsch family's case, and just earlier this very month, Lynch's office agreed to give them their money back.
So, needless to say, Larry Salzman, the IJ attorney who represented the Hirsch family, did not agree with Lynch's statement that targets of DOJ asset forfeiture have necessary protections.   
"Her office in particular seized money under the civil forfeiture laws and held it for more than two and a half years without filing any sort of complaint in court," Salzman says, "without any hearing before a judge. That's the raw facts." 
Salzman says Lynch's office just ignored the Civil Asset Forfeiture Reform Act of 2000, which mandates deadlines for the DOJ to make its case for seizing property, or claimed it did not apply.
One would think Democrats, who claim to be for civil liberties and for the little guy, would have had grave reservations about Lynch's use and abuse of civil forfeiture.  Instead the Democrats in the Senate voted for her unanimously.

Friday, April 24, 2015

My Advice to Indiana Governor Mike Pence: Clean House and Start a Reform Agenda

I was out to breakfast last week discussing politics with a prominent conservative local academic.  He said he spoke to a Republican who knows Mike Pence and said one of the problems with the Governor is that he's surrounded himself not with the "B" team but with the "C" team.  I don't disagree though I would, and will later, expand on that observation.

I too know Mike Pence.  Our paths crossed briefly at Hanover College, but where I grew to know him
the best was at IU-Indianapolis Law School.  (I refuse to call it the McKinney Law School.)  Pence was a year ahead of me.  He drew cartoons for the Dictum, the newspaper for which I was editor my second year.  (He is a very talented cartoonist.)  Because Pence and I were both well-known at the school for our conservative views and were often targets of resident liberals, we often discussed political issues.

Governor Mike Pence
The Mike Pence I knew in law school was smart, very personable and open-minded to listening to other views.  While disagreeing with his conservative politics, even liberals at the school couldn't help but like him.  When I hear liberals today talk about Governor Pence being cold, heartless, and not very bright, I am disappointed. That is not the Mike Pence I know.  It is a shame that Pence has kept his warm, gregarious personality and his intelligence, bottled up.  I am baffled by the political strategy Pence's handlers are using in presenting Pence in such a way that he appears to be little more than a cold-hearted robot spouting empty slogans.   That strategy is clearly not working.

My friend is right.  Shortly after entering the Governor's Office, Pence surrounded himself not with the "B" team, but rather the "C" squad.   Political advisers are supposed to be schooled in the skills one associates with playing chess.  Anticipate what your opponent is going to do several moves ahead and be ready with a response.  How in the world could the Pence people have not prepped the Governor for the inevitable, albeit irrelevant, RFRA question George Stephanopolous asked about the Governor's support for LGBT rights?  How could they not have prepared the Governor for how RFRA might be misrepresented by opponents?  How could Pence's people not have anticipated that calling JustIn a separate news agency might spin into a public relations disaster?

Those PR failures are not the result of failing to anticipate four or five moves ahead. They are PR failures from not anticipating one move ahead.  One move.  The labeling of Pence's political advisers as the "C" team is spot on.

Unfortunately the problems with Pence's administration are not confined to a few remarkably unskilled political advisers.  Pence has also incredibly retained Governor Daniels retreads throughout his administration, many of whom are scandal-prone and have absolutely no loyalty to Pence.  Two and half years into the Pence administration, most of those Daniels' appointees remain.  Pence has also become surrounded by profiteers, people whose only interest in his administration is how they can use the Governor to make more money.  Those profiteers don't have any loyalty whatsoever to the Governor Pence and certainly have no commitment to conservative values.

The good news is there is time for Mike Pence to rehabilitate his political career.  But he needs to act quickly to clean house by giving the profiteers and Daniels retreads their walking papers.  He also needs to put the "A"  team in, political professionals who know their craft and who, while loyal to him, are unafraid to give the Governor brutally frank political advice. 

Sadly one of Pence's strengths - that he is actually a very nice guy - is also his weakness.  Taking control of his administration means doing some mean things like firing people and telling the leeches who surround him stuffing taxpayer money into their pockets to take a hike.

Pence needs to also push a reform agenda.  Here is what I would suggest that would advance worthy goals while putting increasing his popularity for re-election.
  • Work on reorganizing the state's bureaucracy that is filled with redundancy and waste.  See here.
  • Push for changes to Indiana's outdated media shield law.  See here.  Also, see here.
  • Push for improvements to the state's toothless whistleblowing law which has done nothing to protect state employees who wish to blow the whistle on wrongdoing.  See here.
  • Push for reforms to the Inspector General's Office so that it no longer operates to aggressively target minor offenses by politically powerless state employees while forgiving, and giving cover to, transgressions of politically-connected state officials.   See here.  Also, see here.
  • Push for changes to the Public Access Counselors' Office so that the PAC is actually an advocate for the public to obtain public records and has enforcement authority.  Also, insist on more government records being available on-line.  See here.
  • Push for election reforms like voting centers to make voting easier while improving the integrity of the ballot.  See here.
  • Push for no brainer campaign finance reform such as requiring that LLCs be treated like corporations when it comes to contribution limits.  Support more transparency in campaign reporting and an end of the increased use of third parties to shield the source of contributions and expenditures.
  • Push for limits on runaway corporate welfare, especially at the municipal level.  See here.
None of these proposals would diminish Pence's conservative credentials one bit and, in fact, would enhance them..  But they also would be very popular with voters and the media.

Here's another thing I would suggest.  Have the Governor go down to the employee cafeteria in the State Office Buildings and have an open dialogue with those who work in state government.  Listen to their gripes and ideas.  The Governor would learn so much about how state government operates, and doesn't operate, simply by listening to lower level employees who work in the trenches.

Listening to people, of course, shouldn't be confined to those in state government.  The Governor needs to get out to the public, listen to the people talk about their problems and concerns, even when they're saying things he doesn't want to hear.  So many politicians forget that listening, and occasionally taking abuse from opponents, is part of the job of a politician.  Doing so gains respect, a commodity of which Pence is in short supply.  And mixing with the public would provide the opportunity for Pence to finally show off his No. #1 political asset, a warm, engaging personality that leave even his opponents saying that, while they disagree with him politically, they like him personally.  That's the Mike Pence we all knew in law school.

Can Mike Pence make a political transformation and rescue his political career?  Absolutely.   Will he?  Frankly I think he might be too nice of a guy to do what needs to be done.

Thursday, April 23, 2015

NY Times Connects Clinton Foundation to Russian Efforts to Gain Control of Uranimum Mining in Canada, U.S.

In an expose, the New York Times this morning connects the dots between the Russians push for control of a Canadian uranium company and contributions to the Clinton foundation:
The headline in Pravda trumpeted President Vladimir V. Putin’s latest coup, its nationalistic fervor recalling an era when the newspaper served as the official mouthpiece of the Kremlin: “Russian Nuclear Energy Conquers the World.”
The article, in January 2013, detailed how the Russian atomic energy agency, Rosatom, had taken over a Canadian company with uranium-mining stakes stretching from Central Asia to the American West. The deal made Rosatom one of the world’s largest uranium producers and brought Mr. Putin closer to his goal of controlling much of the global uranium supply chain.  
But the untold story behind that story is one that involves not just the Russian president, but also a former American president and a woman who would like to be the next one. 
At the heart of the tale are several men, leaders of the Canadian mining industry, who have been major donors to the charitable endeavors of former President Bill Clinton and his family. Members of that group built, financed and eventually sold off to the Russians a company that would become known as Uranium One. 
Beyond mines in Kazakhstan that are among the most lucrative in the world, the sale gave the Russians control of one-fifth of all uranium production capacity in the United States. Since uranium is considered a strategic asset, with implications for national security, the deal had to be approved by a committee composed of representatives from a number of United States government agencies. Among the agencies that eventually signed off was the State Department, then headed by Mr. Clinton’s wife, Hillary Rodham Clinton
As the Russians gradually assumed control of Uranium One in three separate transactions from 2009 to 2013, Canadian records show, a flow of cash made its way to the Clinton Foundation. Uranium One’s chairman used his family foundation to make four donations totaling $2.35 million. Those contributions were not publicly disclosed by the Clintons, despite an agreement Mrs. Clinton had struck with the Obama White House to publicly identify all donors. Other people with ties to the company made donations as well. 
And shortly after the Russians announced their intention to acquire a majority stake in Uranium One, Mr. Clinton received $500,000 for a Moscow speech from a Russian investment bank with links to the Kremlin that was promoting Uranium One stock. 
The lengthy article also contains a table showing some of the donors to the Clinton Foundation and their ties to the Uranium deal:  
Frank Giustra 
$31.3 million and a pledge for $100 million more
He built a company that later merged with Uranium One.
Ian Telfer   
$2.35 million 
Mining investor who was chairman of Uranium One when an arm of the Russian government, Rosatom, acquired it.
Paul Reynolds
$1 million to $5 million  
Adviser on 2007 UrAsia-Uranium One merger. Later helped raise $260 million for the company. 
Frank Holmes  
$250,000 to $500,000
Chief Executive of U.S. Global Investors Inc., which held $4.7 million in Uranium One shares in the first quarter of 2011. 
Neil Woodyer
$50,000 to $100,000    
Adviser to Uranium One. Founded Endeavour Mining with Mr. Giustra.  
GMP Securities Ltd. 
Donating portion of profits 
Worked on debt issue that raised $260 million for Uranium One.
To see the rest of the lengthy article, click on, Cash Flowed to Clinton Foundation as Russians Pressed for Control of Uranium Company

See also companion article to the NYT piece

For Clintons, speech income shows how their wealth is intertwined with charity

Reuters today has a related story on the Clinton Foundation:

Exclusive: Clinton charities will refile tax returns, audit for other errors

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Hamilton County GOP Bosses Use Party Funds, Phony Endorsement to Assist Fishers Candidate in Primary Challenge

Peter Emigh, Hamilton County Republican Chairman
On February 28, 2015, the Indianapolis Star published an expose of Hamilton County GOP politics, showing how Hamilton County Republican Party Chairman Pete Emigh and Executive Director Andrew Greider formed private political action committees to steer money to specific primary candidates:
"That PAC money is often collected from the same people, businesses and organizations that contribute directly to the party and it usually goes to Republicans who support tax incentives to attract growth and development.   
Greider also manages certain primary campaigns, directly opposing other Republicans, a practice opposed by those GOP candidates not favored by party officials. 
Even more troubling to those outside the party's inner circle is the fact that Emigh personally profits from doing business with the three major
cities in the county, whose mayors he supports with that same PAC money. 
Andrew Greider, Executive
Director, Hamilton Co. GOP
As an independent broker for OneAmerica, the largest provider of 457 public retirement plans in the state, Emigh manages employee retirement accounts in Carmel, Noblesville and Westfield valued at nearly $70 million — all cities whose mayors he has backed financially through a PAC." 
Emigh and Greider's conduct was criticized by several Hamilton County Republican officials who believed the duo should not be using their positions in the party to favor one Republican over another. Emigh and Greider defended themselves claiming that "they [were] acting as private citizens, not as party officials using party resources, when backing candidates with the two PACs, or when Greider manages campaigns."

Fishers City Councilor
Selina Stoller
Emigh and Greider apparently concluded that using "independent" PACs to bypass the obvious impropriety of favoring Republican primary candidates over others wasn't fooling anyone.  As evidenced by their support of GOP candidate Selina Stoller, Emigh and Greider are now opting for a more direct approach.   

In the Fishers City Council Race, Northwest District, Stoller is squaring off against Mike Colby in a rematch.  Stoller beat Colby in the 2014 primary for that seat by just 12 votes.  A recent Stoller mailer touting her experience includes the disclaimer that it is "Paid for by the Hamilton County Republican Party."  So Emigh and Greider are now explicitly using party resources to favor one Republican candidate over another in the primary.

To further insult Hamilton County GOP party officials and workers, the mailer claims that Stoller is the "Endorsed Candidate" of the "Hamilton County Republican Party."  This was done despite the fact that the Hamilton County GOP does not have a primary endorsement process.  Apparently,Emigh and Greider have grown so arrogant and out-of-touch that they believe they are the party.  I'm sure most Hamilton County Republicans would disagree.

The mailing also claims Stoller is "Endorsed by the Fishers Firefighters" even though that organization apparently has not endorsed anyone in the Stoller-Colby race.

The disclaimer on the mailer notes that it was "authorized" by Stoller's political committee.  Stoller's 2015 pre-primary report, however, does not show any contribution from the Hamilton County GOP that would account for the primary mailer.  Stoller's 2014 annual report though shows an 11/4/2014 in-kind contribution of $5,712 for advertising from the Hamilton County Republican Party.

Monday, April 20, 2015

United Kingdom TV Viewers May Not Be Able to View Scientology Documentary "Going Clear"

The Guardian reports:
Plans to broadcast HBO’s Church of Scientology exposé, Going Clear, have been shelved by Sky Atlantic in a virtual repeat of events two years ago, when UK publishers abandoned publication of the book on which the hard-hitting new TV documentary is based.
Sky originally indicated that the Alex Gibney-directed film, which alleges abusive practices at the religion’s US headquarters, would be transmitted in the UK earlier this month in step with its American release.
However, the Observer has learned that because Northern Ireland is not subject to the 2013 Defamation Act, the broadcaster could be exposed to libel claims from David Miscavige, the leader of the church, or others. This appears to have caused the company to postpone transmission, if not to cancel it entirely.
For technical reasons, Sky is unable to differentiate its signal between regions, rendering the same programme potentially exposed to pre-reform libel laws in Northern Ireland, but shielded in Britain where, among free-speech safeguards and reforms designed to limit frivolous claims or “libel tourism”, people or organisations must now show “serious harm” to reputation. Sky called the decision a delay rather than a cancellation, but did not deny it was taken for legal reasons. “At present, Sky’s transmission date for Going Clear has not been confirmed,” a spokesman said.
From its Los Angeles HQ, the church has denounced the film as a “one-sided, bigoted propaganda built on falsehoods” and informed by former members –whom it calls “misfits”. It is understood to have instructed solicitors in the UK to warn Sky it faces legal action if Going Clear is broadcast.
The church said in a statement: “The Church of Scientology will be entitled to seek the protection of both UK and Irish libel laws in the event that any false or defamatory content in this film is broadcast within these jurisdictions.”
Americans should be extremely grateful that they have a First Amendment that provides protections for documentarians who seek to produce films exposing of wrongdoing by the rich and powerful who might otherwise try to use the legal system to prevent such exposure.  I saw the film this weekend.  The Huffington Post has "16 Shocking Allegations from the documentary.

Thursday, April 16, 2015

Bill Oesterle as Governor or GOP Savior? No, Hell No

Bill Oesterle, CEO, Angie's List
The Gannett Star is jumping at the chance to promote departing Angie's List CEO Bill Oesterle as a primary challenger to Governor Mike Pence, or if not, at least a force to rebrand Indiana's Republican Party.  Oesterle, of course, was one of the outspoken opponents of the Religious Freedom Restoration Act (RFRA) and supposedly withdrew his plans for downtown Indianapolis expansion (and turned down $18.5 million in tax dollars) because of the law.  Of course, nobody except a few reporters seriously believes Oesterle's claim that his decision had anything to do with RFRA.  Almost certainly it was because of the strong possibility that the $18.5 million subsidy that would help fund the expansion wouldn't have passed the council and that there will be an attempt to sell the company.  Oesterle's resignation only highlights that speculation, especially in light of Amazon's expansion into Angie's List territory.

The notion that the Indiana GOP is in turmoil and has to be "saved" by Oesterle is absurd.  The GOP has every statewide office, except one U.S. Senate seat, and has supermajorities in the Senate and House.   Yet the media can't help themselves in asserting that Indiana Republicans are on the wrong track and need a new governor and/or a savior.

Up steps Bill Oesterle.

Oesterle for Governor?  Give me a break.  He wouldn't get any of the social conservative vote in a Republican Party primary, which is a significant chunk of the GOP electorate.  As far as fiscal conservatives go, why would they vote for the CEO of a company who in 20 years never was able to turn a profit?  Not only that, Oesterle's has twice in the last four years come forward demanding that state and local officials give his company tens of millions of dollars.  Oesterle expected taxpayers to subsidize his failures as CEO.

Of course, you also have the pending shareholder and consumer fraud lawsuits against Oesterle.  Warnings have exited for years about Angie's List business model, not only that it was hopelessly outdated, but that it relies on shaking down contractors for money.  Certainly fingers are pointing at Oesterle in those lawsuits. 

Oesterle has no chance whatsoever to beat Governor Mike Pence in a primary.  We are more likely to get a snowstorm in July.  What is the point of being able to raise money if you have no voters to attract?

I'm sure Republicans will welcome Oesterle to be part of the always ongoing debate about the future of the GOP.   Republicans are, after all, a welcoming bunch.  But Oesterle as Governor or savior of the party?  No, hell no.

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

Indianapolis Chamber of Commerce, Again, Thumbs Nose at Taxpayers, Endorses $1.75 Billion Justice Center

The Indianapolis Business Journal reports that the Indy Chamber of Commerce has endorsed Mayor Ballard's public-private partnership plan for a new Justice Center.
The Indy Chamber and a west-side neighborhood group are urging the City-County Council to approve a new criminal justice center, which they see as a catalyst for redevelopment.
"The need for Indy's new justice center is unquestionable, and we encourage the City-
Michael Huber, Indy Chamber of Commerce
County Council to support this plan as it will have a transformational impact on our city's urban core,” Indy Chamber CEO Michael Huber said in a prepared statement released Tuesday morning.
"Throughout the debate, the Indy Chamber has echoed the call for swift, yet thoughtful action to move forward and spur much needed investment in and redevelopment of the brownfield site of the former GM Stamping Plant as well as downtown's near east side,” Huber said. “The proposed justice center does just that while focusing on the importance of increasing the quality of life for residents and consolidating critical public safety services." 
The IBJ fails to mention that Huber served as three years as Deputy Mayor for Economic Development under Mayor Ballard, leaving that position in September 2012.  During that time he aggressively pushed Mayor Ballard's privatization and corporate welfare proposals which often led to tax and fee increases.

A fiscal feasibility study commissioned by the Indianapolis City-County Council has concluded that funding for the $1.75 billion facility will fall $37 million short the first eight years, necessitating budget cuts or a tax increase.  The independent study also found that utilizing a private company to build and operate the Justice Center for 35 years, with the City as a renter, would cost taxpayer $516 million more than the City simply building, owning and maintaining the facility itself.

That the Chamber supports the Justice Center, which has been exposed as crony capitalism at its worst, shows how far the organization has strayed for its original mission of being an ally for business.  Rather than help medium and small sized businesses in Indianapolis by advocating for lower taxes and less government, the Chamber has instead become a shill advocating for more corporate welfare for a handful of politically-connected developers, contractors and other businesses, many of which aren't even located in Indianapolis.

Note:  Gary Welsh of Advance Indiana has written extensively on this subject, including analysis of the independent study which can be found here.

Monday, April 13, 2015

NYC Cab Driver Objects to Two Women Making Out in His Cab, Ordered to Pay $15,000

In a story picked up by Huffington Post, New York Daily News and others:
CHELSEA — A taxi driver must pay a lesbian couple $10,000 for telling them to either stop smooching in the backseat of his cab or kiss their ride goodbye, a city administrative judge ruled last month. 
Kassie Thornton and Christy Spitzer
Yellow cab hack Mohammed Dahbi was accused of discriminating against the couple over their sexual orientation by ordering them to "keep that [behavior] for the bedroom or get out of the cab."   Dahbi also gave the passengers, Christy Spitzer and Kassie Thornton, some lip, calling them "b-----s," "c---s" and "whores" when they got out of the cab without paying, according to Judge John Spooner's decision.
Spooner, who oversaw Dahbi's trial at the city's Office of Administrative Trials and Hearings, also ordered him to attend anti-discrimination training and to pay a $5,000 civil penalty to the city. The city's Commission on Human Rights, which brought the complaint against Dahbi on behalf of Spitzer and Thornton, still must approve Spooner's decision.
Dahbi claimed during the hearing that he couldn't keep his eyes on the road because Spitzer and Thornton were kissing "heavily" and "touching all over each other." Dahbi told the judge that he found their behavior "distracting" and feared it would make him have an accident.   
Spitzer and Thornton both testified at the trial that they had just kissed each other with a "peck on the lips." 
Thornton told the judge that after that comment she didn't feel comfortable, so she got out of the cab, grabbed her luggage and left. Spitzer followed shortly after with her dog, according to the decision.
When the women refused to pay him the fare to that point, he hurled expletives at them and sped away.     
Dahbi's lawyer, Ali Najmi, told DNAinfo New York his client never once said anything about Spitzer and Thornton's sexuality.
"Mr. Dahbi has a standard of decency that he asks all riders in his cab to follow," Najmi said. "He has asked straight couples to stop engaging in similar behavior. It can be very distracting for a driver if people are getting hot and heavy in the taxi." 
However, the judge disagreed.
"The more likely reason for [Dahbi] stopping the taxicab and directing Ms. Spitzer and Ms. Thornton to stop kissing was, not that he objected to all kissing, but that he was uncomfortable with two women sharing a romantic kiss," Spooner said his decision.
Najmi, Dhabi's lawyer, said they plan to appeal the decision.
"My client never once mentioned anything about their sexuality and never threw them out of the taxi," he said. "In fact, the complaint doesn't even allege that he used any derogatory language about their sexuality and the two women testified that they are the ones who decided to exit the taxi. He wanted to take them to their final destination." 
Assuming the story is accurate, and this is by far the most detailed account I could find, the judge simply assumed, without any evidence, that the cabbie had made his demand that they cut out the PDA because the couple are lesbians.   So we're simply assuming discriminatory motives now?

Friday, April 10, 2015

Poll Shows Republicans Drawing Even or Ahead of Hillary Clinton in 2 of 3 Swing States

A Quinnipiac Poll released yesterday shows expected Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton struggling in head-to-head matchups with Republican candidates.  The three states polled were Colorado, Iowa and Virginia.   According to the narrative in the report:
Former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton's lead is wilting against leading Republican presidential candidates in three critical swing states, Colorado, Iowa and Virginia, and she finds herself in a close race with U.S. Sen. Rand Paul of Kentucky in each state, according to a Quinnipiac University Swing State Poll released today. In head-to-head 
Former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton
matchups, every Republican candidate effectively ties her in Colorado and almost all Republicans effectively tie her in Iowa. 
Secretary Clinton has lost ground in almost every matchup in Colorado and Iowa since a February 18 Swing State Poll by the independent Quinnipiac University. The Swing State Poll focuses on key states in the presidential election.  
One bright spot for Clinton is Virginia, the largest of the three states, where she leads all Republicans, including 47 - 40 percent over Bush, compared to a 42 - 42 percent tie in February.   
Voters in each state say Clinton is not honest and trustworthy. Her overall favorability has dropped significantly in Colorado and Iowa, while Virginia is unchanged. Favorability ratings for the Republicans are lackluster, at best.
"Ominous for Hillary Clinton is the broad scope of the movement today compared to her showing in Quinnipiac University's mid-February survey. It isn't just one or two Republicans who are stepping up; it's virtually the entire GOP field that is running better against her.
"That's why it is difficult to see Secretary Clinton's slippage as anything other than a further toll on her image from the furor over her e-mail."
"In all three of these states, more, and in Colorado many more, registered voters say she is not honest and trustworthy," Brown added. "Voters do think she is a strong leader - a key metric - but unless she can change the honesty perception, running as a competent but dishonest candidate has serious potential problems."
Below, I list how the margins between the GOP candidates in their polling matchups with Hillary Clinton:

Paul  +3
Rubio +1
Walker +1
Huckabee  Even
Cruz -1
Christie -2
Bush -3

Paul +1
Rubio  +1
Huckabee  Even
Bush  -1
Christie -2
Cruz  -3
Walker -4

Paul  -4
Walker -7
Bush -7
Christie -7
Rubio -8
Huckabee -8
Cruz -10

Thursday, April 9, 2015

Indiana ACLU Disingenously Claims Victory in Its Pointless Fight Against the RFRA

Jane Henegar web
Jane Henegar, Executive Director,
American Civil Liberties Union of Indiana
Jane Henegar, Executive  Director of the American Civil Liberties Union of Indiana, today issued a statement disingenuously claiming victory in the RFRA debate:
What a difference a week makes. Last week, we and others were engaged in negotiations to "fix" Indiana's just-passed Religious Freedom Restoration Act, or RFRA. Today, we can say that while the situation in our state is far from perfect, we ended up in a place that is both historic and significant.   
We are grateful to the corporate community, which was instrumental in rolling back some damaging components of RFRA, and which has stated its commitment to statewide protections for gay and transgender people. 
For the first time in our history, Indiana now recognizes protections based on sexual orientation and gender identity — even if they currently exist in only a few local human rights ordinances.  For the first time in our history, Indiana now recognizes protections based on sexual orientation and gender identity — even if they currently exist in only a few local human rights ordinances. And the passage of RFRA here, and the resulting backlash, has brought about a startling transformation that has advanced the cause of LGBT equality all across the country....
Henegar spouts nothing but political spin in an attempt to assure supporters that the organization's absurd attacks on the RFRA, a law the ACLU used to enthusiastically support, actually helped gain ground in the drive for LGBT rights.  An examination of the RFRA "fix" shows how utterly absurd Henegar's statement is.

There have been 22 years of case law under the federal RFRA and the 19 states that have their own versions of the law.   Before that, more precisely before the United States Supreme Court in 1990 handed down Employment Division v. Smith that gutted the Free Exercise Clause, we had 30 years of litigation under the old Sherbert compelling interest test which was reinstated by the RFRA.  That is 52 years of litigation.  Not once in those 52 years has there ever been a case handed down in which the RFRA or the Sherbert test ever overturned the application of an anti-discrimination every case courts have held that there is a compelling government interest for those types of laws. 

Section 1 of the "fix" simply includes in the RFRA the conclusion of 52 years of case law.  Certainly no ground gained there.

Section 2 of the "fix" actually for the first time mandates that any current or future local human rights ordinances carve out an exception for religious organizations.  That is certainly not a victory for LGBT rights.  The section is completely unattached to the RFRA, yet it is now the law of the state of Indiana because groups like the ACLU insisted that RFRA be "fixed."

Henegar is not being honest.  The truth is, instead of advancing LGBT rights by arguing in a positive manner for a statewide anti-discrimination law that includes sexual orientation, the ACLU and allies like Freedom Indiana chose to engage in an unprecedented campaign of demagoguery and distortion that set LGBT rights back years.  If Henegar thinks intentionally misrepresenting what a bill does, engaging in name calling against legislators and the Governor, and applauding extortion threats from corporate allies is a way to win at the Indiana General Assembly, she is in for a rude awakening next session.   There is a big difference between stopping legislation and getting legislation passed. Henegar is about to learn that lesson.

Reds Win at 1:45 A.M. Exposes MLB's Problem with Lengthy Rain Delays

I have an issue that Major League Baseball's new commissioner Rob Manfred can address.  Lengthy rain delays that push back the time of games to unreasonable times.

Yesterday, the Cincinnati Reds won a thrilling victory 5-4 over the Pittsburgh Pirates as first baseman
Joey Votto singled in the bottom of the 11th inning.  The Reds shortstop Zach Cozart scored on the hit, narrowly avoiding the swipe tag by the Pirates catcher in his slide.

Exciting?  You betcha.  Too bad only a handful of fans got to see the finish.  See, the winning run scored at 1:45 am.  Most fans had long ago left the stadium.  Most TV viewers had long ago went to bed.

The game, which lasted four hours, started 2 1/2 hours late due to a rain delay.  Most major league baseball games last about 2 1/2 hours.

These type of lengthy rain delays are becoming more and more common.

I know why baseball officials are reluctant to postpone games. They don't want be on the hook for refunding the gate that's already been collected for the game.  But that is short term thinking that has plagued the long term viability of the sport.  It's the sort of thing Commissioner Manfred needs to address.

Wednesday, April 8, 2015

Republican Mayoral Candidate Chuck Brewer Refuses to Stand Up for Indianapolis Taxpayers in Justice Center Debacle

The Indianapolis Star reports on the growing division between Council Republicans and Democrats over whether to proceed with $1.75 billion project to build a new Justice Center utilizing a third party to build the facility and to act as landlord for 35 years:
,,, Democrats are coalescing around a report that questions whether the project is affordable. It projects a $37.7 million shortfall over the first nine years of the contract.
Chuck Brewer
On Wednesday, former U.S. Attorney Joe Hogsett, the Democrats' slated mayoral candidate, added his voice to those urging the county to put the current proposal on ice, calling it "unwise" to approve it in the wake of the report's findings.
"The very real prospect that the city will not have enough money to make annual payments to the project's private developer — at least in the early years of the decades-long deal — is troubling," Hogsett wrote in an op-ed piece submitted to The Star. "And under no circumstances could I support a public project that puts Indianapolis taxpayers in jeopardy of experiencing a shortfall to pay for it."
His potential Republican opponent, Chuck Brewer, fired back with a statement in support of the project.
"We cannot afford to continue kicking the can down the road," Brewer said. "I believe it's evident that the benefits outweigh the concerns, but unfortunately, as is the case in too many issues, politics is getting in the way."
Chuck Brewer had a chance to show real leadership, to stand up for taxpayers and against the absurdity of utilizing a third party to construct the facility and act as landlord, with the city being merely a tenant for 35 years in a building built with taxpayer money.  Brewer chose not to do so.  Further, Brewer not only has failed to criticize the millions of dollars in consulting contracts let by the Ballard administration on the project, illegally without council approval mind you, he also has refused to criticize the administration's practice of paying firms to bid on the project.

The legacy of Mayor Greg Ballard is his consistent support of higher taxes and fees in order to hand out more taxpayer money in an endless parade of corporate welfare schemes.  Brewer apparently holds the same disdain for Indianapolis taxpayers as Greg Ballard.  There is no reason why a conservative Republican should support Chuck Brewer for Mayor.

Tuesday, April 7, 2015

Announcement: Pike Township Meeting on Digital Billboard Proposal on Wednesday

7:00 PM

Monday, April 6, 2015

Indiana Libertarian Party Abandons Principle, Constitution and Freedom in RFRA Debate

On its website, the Indiana Libertarian Party bills itself as "The Party of Principle."  In the debate over the adoption of the Religious Freedom Restoration Act the Libertarians set aside that slogan as well as the party's longstanding commitment to fighting for the Constitution and liberty.

In 1990, the United States Supreme Court handed down Employment Division v. Smith, a case in which the Court, in an opinion written by Justice Antonin Scalia, went way beyond the facts of the
case to fashion a new rule - that any challenges to statutes brought under the free exercise (of religion) clause would fail if government simply showed that the it had a reason to adopt the law and that it applied to everyone. The old Sherbert test, which required that government show a compelling interest in any law substantially burdening religion, was tossed out.

Scalia's pronouncement was opposed by the likes of Justices Brennan, Marshall, and Blackmun, the latter writing the dissent arguing that the Sherbert test be kept to protect religion.

The decision sparked outrage across the country.  Liberal and conservative groups joined together to push for the adoption of a national Religious Freedom Restoration Act which would restore the Sherbert compelling interest test.  In support of the RFRA, the American Civil Liberties Union stated:
For two centuries, the guarantees of the First Amendment has proven to be the boldest and most successful experiment in religious liberty the world has known," Peck added. "A disastrous and erroneous decision by the Supreme Court three years ago has threatened to derail that experiment and make religious freedom a matter of legislative grace. Such an approach is inconsistent with our constitutional heritage and the level of protection the courts afford all other fundamental rights."
In Employment Division v. Smith (1990), the U.S. Supreme Court rejected the traditional tests for evaluating infringements of religious liberty and effectively read the Free Exercise Clause out of the First Amendment. As Justice Blackmun's dissent correctly put it, the Court's "holding dramatically departs from well-settled First Amendment jurisprudence . . . and is incompatible with our Nation's fundamental commitment to individual religious liberty."  The Religious Freedom Restoration Act attempts to restore the previous status quo, under which religious practices must be accommodated unless a compelling governmental interest can be demonstrated and advanced in the least restrictive manner.
In 1997, the Supreme Court held that federalism principles prevented the RFRA's application to free exercise challenges to state laws unless states adopt their own RFRA.   So several states began that task.  Indiana was late to the game, not getting around to it until this year.

Certainly the Libertarian Party, which claims to be a defender of the Constitution, does not think that religious freedom enshrined in that document should be a "matter of legislative grace?"  Well, at least here in Indiana, the answer is a definite "yes."

In response to the firestorm following Governor Pence signing RFRA, Dan Drexler, Chairman of the Indiana Libertarian Party declared in a press release that the "law needs to be repealed."  In support for this declaration, Drexler stated:
When a state’s governor goes on national television and explains that a bill he just signed into law needs clarification, you know the bill is a troubled piece of legislation.
When state legislative leaders from that same governor’s party hold a press conference to explain that the legislation they just recently passed needs to be revisited and clarified, you know the bill is a troubled piece of legislation. 
Drexler does not point to anything in the original RFRA that needed clarification.  Scores of law professors had stepped forward explaining what the bill does, why it is needed and that it doesn't "license discrimination."  (Here is one example.)   Drexler ignores all that, simply assuming that the firestorm against the bill and stated need for clarification must have been legitimate rather than what it actually was - a response to a highly successful campaign of demagoguery and disinformation.

Drexler continues:
Unfortunately, Indiana’s GOP legislative majority authored a bill that slants the “two-way tolerance” Governor Pence sought solidly in one direction.  In doing so, [the majority] jeopardized what otherwise could have been a bill celebrated by all.
Really?  How does the bill slant tolerance "solidly in one direction?"  Once again Drexler doesn't explain what he means.   Instead of judging the bill on its merits, and putting principle above politics, Drexler and other Libertarians chose to jump on the bogus "license to discriminate"  bandwagon to bash the Governor and the Republican majority in the legislature for supporting a bill that actually protects religious freedom.

While I always had differences with the Libertarian Party, I have long admired that the party stood up for the Constitution and liberty, even when it was not popular to do so.  Now I find out that when it comes to the religious freedom enshrined in the Constitution, Libertarians are quite comfortable picking politics over principle, the Constitution, and liberty.

Sunday, April 5, 2015

California Governor Jerry Brown Ignores Climate Scientists in Claiming His State's Drought is Due to "Climate Change"

California Governor Jerry Brown on ABC "This Week" declared that the drought hitting his state is proof positive of "climate change:"
“I can tell you, from California, climate change is not a hoax,” he said on ABC’s “This
California Governor Jerry Brown
Week.” “We’re dealing with it, and it’s damn serious.”
A study of the drought by climate scientists at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration says otherwise.  Mother Jones reports:
Climate scientists have warned for years that rising greenhouse gas concentrations will lead to more frequent and severe droughts in many parts of the world. Although it's generally very difficult to attribute any one weather event to the broader global warming trend, over the last couple of years a body of research has emerged to assess the link between man-made climate change and the current California drought. There are signs that rising temperatures (so far, 2014 is the hottest year on record both for California and globally) and long-term declines in soil moisture, both linked to greenhouse gas emissions, may have made the impact of the drought worse. 
But according to new research by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, California's drought was primarily produced by a lack of precipitation driven by natural atmospheric cycles that are unrelated to man-made climate change. In other words, climate change may have worsened the impacts of the drought, but it isn't the underlying cause. 
"The preponderance of evidence is that the events of the last three winters [when California gets the majority of its precipitation] were the product of natural variability," said lead author Richard Seager, a Columbia University oceanographer.
Over the last three years, Seager said, unpredictable atmospheric circulation patterns, combined with La Niña, formed high-pressure systems in winter over the West Coast, blocking storms from the Pacific that would have brought rain to California. The result has been the second-lowest three-year winter precipitation total since record-keeping began in 1895. But that pattern doesn't match what models predict as an outcome of climate change, said Seager. In fact, the study's models indicate that as global warming proceeds, winter precipitation in California is actually predicted to increase, thanks to an increased likelihood of low-pressure systems that allow winter storms to pass from the ocean to the mainland.

Saturday, April 4, 2015

LGBT Community Gets Played by Freedom Indiana, Led Into Costly Battle Irrelevant to Advancing Cause of Anti-Discrimination

At the end of this week, Freedom Indiana claimed victory as Governor Mike Pence and the Republican supermajorities in the legislature backed down and adopted a "fix" to the Religious Freedom Restoration Act, which was signed into the law by the Governor just days before.  Freedom Indiana declared it a "step in the right direction" and that the RFRA "harm had been lessened."

LGBT supporters should now be sobering up to the realization that
Freedom Indiana Campaign Manager Katie Blair who
is also "Advocacy Coordinator" for the Indiana ACLU
they were led into a bitter political fight by Freedom Indiana undoubtedly for the purpose of gaining attention and contributions to the organization.  It was a fight though which did not advance LGBT rights one inch and, in fact, set them back.

The fix which the LGBT community is celebrating doesn't actually do anything.  All it does is say that the RFRA doesn't invalidate the application of an anti-discrimination law.  We have had 22 years of federal and state RFRAs.  We had 30 years under the older Sherbert test reinstated by the RFRA.    Not once in those 52 years has a court found that religious objections invalidated an anti-discrimination law.  All Indiana's fix does is incorporate that concept into the statute.

Freedom Indiana's battle against RFRA was pointless.  Scores of law professors told opponents that the law did not in any way affect the cause of anti-discrimination, but the organizations leaders refused to listen preferring instead to fan the flames of demagoguery.  Instead of working for a cause that would truly advance LGBT rights - such as the adoption of an statewide anti-discrimination law - Freedom Indiana engaged in vile and personal attacks against the governor, legislators and even people of faith who dared to support the law.

Freedom Indiana has now fought two battles to stop laws.  The first battle against the marriage amendment was waged using a positive approach, tactics that won the organization the grudging support of many on the other side of the aisle.  However, in the battle against the RFRA, Freedom Indiana's employed threats, misinformation and demagoguery, the most vile and reprehensible  political campaign I have seen in my lifetime.

One thing you learn in politics is that stopping a law and passing one requires a completely different approach.   Threats might stop legislation but threats do not get legislation passed.  Legislation is passed by building relationships with legislators, providing assurances about what the proposed law does and doesn't do, and building coalitions that include those who might otherwise oppose the law. 

If Freedom Indiana had been truly interested in advancing the cause of LGBT rights, what the organization should have been doing this session is working behind the scenes to get a statewide anti-discrimination law that includes sexual orientation passed.  It wouldn't have gotten the organization attention or much in contributions, but it would have laid the groundwork for getting an anti-discrimination law passed.  Instead it chose to bitterly attack the RFRA and its supporters, again a law that had no impact on LGBT rights.  In the process, Freedom Indiana permanently alienated scores of legislators and RFRA supporters who otherwise might have supported the cause of LGBT rights or at least not fervently opposed those rights.   

Bottom line, LGBT community you got played by Freedom Indiana.  Freedom Indiana leaders are  clearly more interested in drawing attention to the organization and raising contributions than they are in advancing the cause of LGBT rights.

Thursday, April 2, 2015

Growing Religious Intolerance and Death Threats Force Small Town Pizzeria to Close

When I was a student at Ball State University, decades ago, every day around noon a street preacher would begin delivering a sermon on the sidewalk near the so-called scramble light, the busiest part of campus.  He would lecture about the evils of fornication, masturbation, and homosexuality.  He told my fellow students that we were condemned to hell for living a sinful life.

You know how we reacted?  Most people ignored the preacher, or if they stopped to listen, they did so in respectful silence.  A few students would crack a joke every now and then, but it was a brief moment of levity, certainly not an attempt to in any way prevent the sermon from proceeding. After all, we understood that that preacher had every right to speak his mind on that public university, and we had no right to interfere with that preacher's speech.  Although few on campus supported the minister's extreme beliefs and how he expressed them, we nonetheless were tolerant of his religious beliefs and his right to express those views publicly.

The other day I entered into a discussion with a colleague about tolerance.  I expressed my opinion that people are much more tolerant today and talked about how attitudes have changed in a positive direction when it comes to race, national origin, and certainly sexual orientation.  But later I was wrong. There is one area where people today are much less tolerant than they were when I was a college student:  people's attitudes toward religion.

That same street preacher appearing on a college campus today would face a barrage of students shouting and insults.  He may well be physically attacked or have the materials and equipment he brought with him stolen.  When it comes to religion, the attitude of people today is incredible intolerance toward people expressing their religious beliefs.  If you don't think so, view this video of street preacher Jesse Morrell who was assaulted and had his camera stolen during his sermon on a college campus..

Just days ago, an enterprising TV reporter decided to gauge local businesses' owners response to Indiana's Religious Freedom Restoration Act.  The owner of "Memories Pizza" in Walkerton expressed support for religious freedom and said that while she would gladly serve LGBT customers, she would refuse to cater a same sex wedding.  NBC reports:
"If a gay couple came in and wanted us to provide pizzas for their wedding, we would have to say no," Crystal O'Connor, who described the business as a "Christian establishment," told ABC57.        
The owner of a pizzeria in Indiana said Wednesday he was surprised by the backlash online following comments he and his family made in support of the state's much-discussed Religious Freedom Restoration Act. 
The O'Connor family, who owns Memories Pizza in Walkerton, told a local TV station Tuesday they wouldn't cater a gay wedding.    
She added, "We're not discriminating against anyone, that's just our belief and anyone has the right to believe in anything."
It is a shame that Ms. O'Connor confused the RFRA with the issue of her refusing to cater a same sex wedding.  She can refuse to cater that same sex wedding because Indiana does not have a statewide anti-discrimination law covering sexual orientation, which is completely unrelated to the RFRA.
After the story broke, opponents took to Yelp to trash the restaurant.  According to NBC: 
In reaction, hundreds took to the restaurant's Yelp page and flooded it with negative comments, one-star ratings and photographs of scantily clad men. Yelp has vowed to take down the negative comments unrelated to actual reviews of the restaurant. 
But the unbridled thuggery went even further.  According to the Elkhart Truth, a coach at Concord High School took to Twitter, asking that people join her in burning down the restaurant. 

Just this morning, the O'Connor family announced they would have to close the restaurant due to death threats they had been receiving.

Yes, intolerance, religious intolerance, is alive and well in Indiana.