Monday, May 30, 2016

Trump Blasts "Mexican" Judge Presiding Over Trump University Fraud Lawsuit

I have no problem with public comments on a lawsuit.  The First Amendment protects the right of people to talk about a lawsuit, even one that is pending.  (Whether it is wise though is a different issue.)   A judge who can't handle public criticism, or allows it to affect his or her decisions, needs to find a new line of work.

But Donald Trump's rambling and disjointed commentary, quoted below, is alarming for numerous
Donald Trump
reason. First, it suggest the speaker is incapable of approaching issues logically and advancing arguments, pretty important qualities for a President. 

Second, the pedestrian language used in the rambling commentary indicate Trump, despite his constant bragging about his "very good brain," is not an intelligent man.    Not that one has to be a rocket scientist to be President.  But a minimum level of intelligence should be expected.  Liberals like to joke that President George W. Bush was a dummy and pointed to his frequent butchering of the English language as proof.  But for all his grammar faux pas, Bush had no problem making coherent arguments for public policy positions.  (Not saying people agreed with those policies, which is a different issue.)  You can't say the same for Donald Trump.

Third, Trump's comments contain a suggestion that his election as President would have an influence on the fraud case.  While he falls short of lodging a threat against the judge here, in the past he has indicated he would use the Office of the Presidency to settle political and personal scores.  Several commentators have written that a Trump Presidency would be "Nixon-on-Steroids," i.e. that a President Trump would use the agencies of government to target his enemies.  (Here is one such example.)  It's hard to believe exactly that as he has repeatedly said his enemies better watch out for retribution while on the campaign trail.

Fourth, what is the purpose of Trump even bringing up  the judge's supposed "Mexican" heritage?  (The judge was born in Indiana and went to Indiana University Law School.) Trump makes clear he loves Mexicans, a point which he makes while at the same time bringing up the judge's supposed ethnicity.)  It is clear that the only reason to do that is to bait the audience into a visceral response against the judge.

South Texas College of Law Professor Josh Blackman provides the transcription of Trump's comments on his blog.  (The full rally is on YouTube and is below.):
Does everybody have a little time? [cheers and applause] so I end up with a lawsuit, and it ends up in San Diego in federal court. It is a disgrace the way the federal court is acting, because it is a simple lawsuit. Everybody that took the so-called course. Trump University is in San Diego. The trial, they wanted it to start while I am running for president. The trial is going to take place sometime in November. There should be no trial. This should have been dismissed on summary judgment easily. Everybody says it, but I have a judge who is a hater of Donald Trump. He’s a hater. His name is Gonzalo Curial. And he is not doing the right thing. I figure what the hell? Why not talk about it for two minutes. Should I talk about it? Yes? [cheers and applause] so we should have won. . . .
But I am getting railroaded by a legal system, and frankly they should be ashamed. I will be here in November. Hey, if I win as president, it is a civil case. I could have settled this case numerous times. But I don’t want to settle cases when we are right. I don’t believe in it. When you start settling cases, do you know what happens? Everybody sues you because you get known as a settler. One thing about me, I am not known as the settler.
And people understand with this whole thing, with this whole deal with the lawyers, class action lawyers are the worst. It is a scam. Here is what happens. We are in front of a very hostile judge. The judge was appointed by by Barrack Obama – federal judge. [Boos]. Frankly he should recuse himself. He has given us ruling after ruling, negative, negative, negative. I have a top lawyer who said he has never seen anything like this before. So what happens is we get sued. We have a Magistrate named William Gallo who truly hates us.

The good news is it is a jury trial. We can even get a fully jury. We are entitled to a jury, and we want a jury of 12 people. And you are going to watch. First of all, it should be dismissed. Watch how we win it was I have been treated unfairly. Very much like with the veterans, where I raised all that money, but on Tuesday I am announcing all of the groups we are giving almost $6 million to. You turn things around. Here is the story. We have a law firm named Robin Skeller. It is the spin-off of two law firms. Two of those partners went to jail for an extended period of time for doing very bad things legally. This same group is the lawyers against. So what happens is the judge, who happens to be, we believe Mexican, which is great. I think that is fine. You know what? I think the Mexicans are going to end up loving Donald Trump when I give all these jobs. I think they are going to love it. I think they are going to love me. . . .
A lot of people said before you run you should settle. I said I don’t care. The people understand it. And they use it. So when I have 10,000 people, and when we have mostly unbelievable reviews, how do you settle? And in fact, when the case started originally, I said how can I settle when I have a review like this? Now I should have settled, but I am glad I didn’t. I will be seeing you in November either as president. And I will say this. I have all these great reviews, but I will say this. I think Judge Curiel should be ashamed of himself. I think it is a disgrace he is doing this. I look forward to going before a jury, not this judge, and we will win that trial. We will win that trial. Check it out. Check it out, folks. You know, I tell this to people.  November 28. I think it is scheduled for. It should not be a trial. It should be a summary judgment dismissal. . . .
It is a disgrace. It is a rigged system. I had a rigged system, except we won by so much. This court system, the judges in this court system, federal court. They ought to look into Judge Curiel because what Judge Curiel is doing is a total disgrace. Ok? But we will come back in November. Wouldn’t that be wild if I am president and come back and do a civil case? Where everybody likes it. Ok. This is called life, folks. . 
See also: "On Donald Trump and the Rule of Law" by Temple University Law Professor David Post.

Saturday, May 28, 2016

Will Libertarians (Finally) Be Competitive in the Presidential Race?

This weekend, Libertarians from across the country are meeting in Orlando to nominate a candidate for President.  No Libertarian presidential candidate since 1980 has broken 1% of the popular vote.  But this year, with the major parties nominating the two candidates who are the most unpopular presidential candidates ever, the Libertarians, with their fifty state ballot access, find themselves possible players in the presidential sweepstakes.

The leading candidate going into the Libertarian convention is former New Mexico Governor Gary Johnson who was the nominee last year.  Johnson though apparently committed a sin before the convention in picking as his running mate, William Weld, the former Republican governor of Massachusetts.  Johnson was booed at the convention for the unpopular choice of a card-carrying Republican as his VP. But Johnson is a former Republican himself. Apparently though Johnson has
Austin Petersen
been able to cleanse himself of his sin of being a GOP elected official.

My impression is that many Libertarians are not serious about winning elections.  Libertarian meetings too often seem about socializing and pontificating about political issues.  Many Libertarians seem to have a holier-than-thou attitude criticizing Republicans and Democrats, with the chief topic being criticizing people in the two parties for being philosophically inconsistent.  Yet the past couple years, the Libertarians displayed their own philosophical hypocrisy, rushing to embrace the Supreme Court decision mandating that the 50 states permit same sex marriage while apparently forgetting the party's long-time opposition to judicial activism and support of federalism.  Then many Libertarians showed that they only like certain parts of the Constitution, and that the Free Exercise Clause of the First Amendment was a provision they could live without.  Libertarians insisted they were okay with religious freedom in the Constitution, they just didn't support court decisions and laws that would actually protect and implement religious freedom.

Still this election presents an historic opportunity for the Libertarians...if the party can get its collective act together.  While Johnson is favored to take home the nomination, another candidate, Austin Peterson, might prove to have broader appeal.   Peterson is founder of the libertarian movement news and commentary site Libertarian Republic.  He was also a staffer on Judge Napolitano's Fox Business News show Freedom Watch.  The problem though is that Peterson is very young, only 35, and obviously doesn't have the electoral experience of a former Governor.  Experience though didn't seem to mean too much to voters this election cycle, however.  I would imagine that Peterson, a conservative with a libertarian bit, a man whose philosophy is similar to Sen. Rand Paul, could pull in mainline conservatives unhappy with the GOP failure to nominate a conservative this cycle.  Peterson could also appeal to younger Sanders voters who want a fresh, anti-Establishment candidate.

The other candidate is John McAfee, founder of the virus software company.  During his convention speech, McAfee complained about Republicans taking over the party.

In recent polls, Johnson was polling at 10% and 11%.  Most of that undoubtedly is a protest vote against the two party's candidates. But regardless of how those votes come, if the Libertarian candidate can get to 15% in the polls that candidate will join the Trump and Clinton on the main stage. After that, all bets are off.

If the Libertarians can't be competitive in this year's presidential contest, the party will never be competitive.  I'm just not sure that Libertarians are serious about winning elections.  So what if many people casting a vote for the party are people who are voting against Trump and Clinton?  It is time for Libertarians to grow up and the party to become a major player in American politics.

Wednesday, May 25, 2016

Market Rate to Hire a Contract Attorney is $20 an Hour

A legal recruiting firm notifies me whenever contract attorney positions are available.  Yesterday, I received notice about a temporary contract attorney opening in Kansas City.  More on that in a second.

Work as a contract attorney usually involves sitting in a cubicle staring at a computer screen in order to review page after page of documents to determine which are relevant to a discovery request.  The
work is pure drudgery.  There are no benefits, no expenses paid.  The positions tend to last anywhere from a couple weeks to maybe as long as a couple months.  The work may be done at a law firm, at a company, or even in a warehouse.  The attorney is typically forbidden to talk to the employer during the assignment regarding employment opportunities afterward.

Earlier this year The American Lawyer had a lengthy piece on contract attorneys:
Figures are scarce on the staffing of document reviews at the high end of the profession, but in last year's survey of Am Law 200 leaders, 78 percent said they use contract lawyers. Of about 200 clients surveyed the prior year by the Magic Circle firm Allen & Overy, 63 percent employed temp lawyers, with higher numbers reported in the U.S., the U.K. and finance.
Document discovery remains essential to the high-stakes deals and cases that are the
bread and butter of Am Law 100 firms. Although technology has cut the number of eyes needed per document, the number of documents has multiplied. Quinn Emanuel Urquhart & Sullivan reports using up to 170 contract lawyers at a time, and that's not unusual. Beneath the base of the law firm pyramid a vast substratum has been built, out of sight and out of mind.
The finances of this hidden world aren't healthy. According to the Posse List, the national average rate for a contract lawyer has dropped from $38 per hour in 2005 to $27 today—a 40 percent decrease, accounting for inflation—while overtime pay has in many places gone from the standard to the exception. For a typical temp, that might translate into a $50,000 income, with $125,000 in student debt.
The Great Recession did more than create a lawyer glut. It also inspired legal clients to seek requests for proposals from temp agencies and e-discovery vendors. The result is a race to the bottom, with gigs ranging as low as $12 an hour. A McDonald's manager now does better than an average legal temp in Tennessee, according to Bufithis. A millennial Posse List member named Josephine Reimnitz says that, accounting for the cost of living, she did better as a nanny in Utah than as a $22 per hour contract attorney in Washington, D.C.
The focus of The American Lawyer is millennial attorneys, namely that many of their job opportunities for younger lawyers are limited to these contract positions.  But in reality even older attorneys face a job squeeze if they wish to change jobs.  The knowledge and experience an attorney has accumulated during his or her legal career should be highly valued...and compensated.   But those qualities are not.  Rather, the only thing the new law firm is interested in is whether the attorney, if hired, will bring a substantial book of business with him or her.

There is no purer demonstration of the legal job market than what contract attorneys are paid.  Talking to the recruiter last year, I was told that $23 is the market rate for contract attorneys in Kansas City. That $23 figure, sans benefits, is what employers have found to lure just enough unemployed and underemployed attorneys for a project.  The notice I received yesterday on the Kansas City job was for $20 to $21 an hour.  Although Indianapolis does not appear to have as many contract attorney jobs as Kansas City, I have heard of contract attorneys here paid as little as $15 an hour.

Is it wise to incur as much as $100,000 or more in student loan debt to become a lawyer and get paid $20 an hour?  I don't think so.

Tuesday, May 24, 2016

Indiana Public Access Counselor: IHSAA Meetings Should Be Open to the Public

Every since I was a high school athlete, long before the beginning of this century, I turned against the Indiana High School Athletic Association.   We baseball players one day decided to get together to practice.  That day we decided on was a Sunday.  Afterwards, I recall the stern warning we received that I we needed to keep quiet about what we did or we players, or the entire team, could be suspended by the IHSAA.  (I hope the statute of limitations has run out but with the IHSAA you're never quite sure.)  From that point on, I witnessed the IHSAA issue one arbitrary decisions after another with seemingly no accountability for the organization's actions.

As an attorney, I have had the opportunity to witness more closely how the IHSAA operates.  It is not pretty.  My original instincts about the IHSAA were absolutely correct.  It is an organization that operates in an arbitrary and capricious manner (which was the finding of a Marion County judge who looked at how the organization handles athletic transfers.) 

The IHSAA is utterly callous when it comes to how it deals with thousands of parents and children whose lives are impacted by its decisions.  For example, the organization enforces, in a very random
and uneven manner, transfer rules that are hopelessly antiquated in an era of open enrollment, charter schools, and private school vouchers.  But lest any parent dare challenge an IHSAA decision, the organization will aggressively drive up that parents' attorney bill and fight to recover its own fees. 

If parents are not adequately intimidated by the IHSAA's overly litigious nature and the prospect of having to pay huge attorney bills, the organization has another weapon in its arsenal.  If a school, pursuant to a court order, plays a student that the IHSAA originally found ineligible, that school faces forfeiture of games if a higher court later restores the original IHSAA decision.  To reiterate, even though a school follows a court order in playing the student, the IHSAA can still sanction it with forfeited games.  The practical effect is that few schools will want to play a student until the legal proceedings and appeals are completely exhausted, which almost certainly will be after the student graduates.

Over the years, the Indiana General Assembly has considered bills to reign in the IHSAA.  Very little has been done, however.  While the legislature did establish a Case Review Panel in the Indiana Department of Education that is supposed to give parents a more favorable forum to consider IHSAA transfer decisions before going to court, all that does is add another level of litigation for financially strapped parents facing the deep pockets of the IHSAA.

The transfer rules are just one set of rules that are poorly written, hopelessly outdated and randomly enforced by the IHSAA.  There are others. But at the core of the (lack of) accountability problem with the IHSAA is that the organization has been allowed to operate in almost complete secrecy.  The public is not allowed to see the IHSAA's records and its meetings, at which decisions are routinely made as to public school students and their parents, are completely closed to the public. 

The IHSAA operates in secrecy under the dubious theory that the organization is a private, voluntary organization.  The IHSAA is not private.  The schools which are members of the IHSAA are overwhelmingly public and the organization is funded with the public's money.  As far as being "voluntary," the IHSAA has a monopoly on high school athletics.  If an Indiana school wants to have an athletic program with any credibility, it has no choice but to join the IHSAA.

Earlier this year, I called about attending an IHSAA meeting and was told the organization's meetings are not open to the public.  I filed an Open Door Law complain with Indiana's Public Access Counselor.  I am happy to report that the PAC agreed with me that the IHSAA needs to open its door to the public, albeit not because it is public but because high school athletics "is inextricably intertwined with education" and it is the duty of the state to regulate education.

Here is relevant part of the PAC decision:
High school athletics in the State of Indiana is under the exclusive dominion of ISHAA’s procedures, rules and scrutiny. The State has outsourced the regulation of high school athletics to a non-profit entity. See Ind. Code § 20-26-14. When the State delegates one of its essential duties to a private entity, the private entity may become subject to the Open Door Law or Access to Public Records Act. While IHSAA is not directly established by statute, it has assumed the responsibility to enforce the state’s power.
The Indiana Court of Appeals recently addressed a similar issue in ESPN, Inc. v. Univ. of Notre Dame Sec. Police Dep't. The Court held the Notre Dame’s police department was subject to the APRA because the department “was acting as a governmental entity by exercising a governmental function.”
While police power and athletic oversight are mutually exclusive, the U.S. Supreme Court also determined the exercise of high school athletic regulation is akin to police power in Brentwood Academy, v. Tennessee Secondary School Athletic Association3. In that Opinion, Justice Souter stated:
The nominally private character of the Association is overborne by the pervasive entwinement of public institutions and public officials in its composition and workings, and there is no substantial reason to claim unfairness in applying constitutional standards to it.
The same holds true in the instant case in applying Ind. Code § 5-14-1.5-2(a)(1). The Education Clause, Article 8, Section 1, of the Indiana Constitution, states:
Knowledge and learning, generally diffused throughout a community, being essential to the preservation of a free government; it shall be the duty of the General Assembly to encourage, by all suitable means, moral, intellectual, scientific, and agricultural improvement; and to provide, by law, for a general and uniform system of Common Schools, wherein tuition shall be without charge, and equally open to all.
The Education Clause of the Indiana Constitution clearly shows it is the duty of the State to regulate education, up to a secondary school level, to its citizens. The act of providing education is not solely a state function – private school institutions would not be subject to the Open Door Law or Access to Public Records Act4 – however, the regulation of education is certainly a state function.   
And so it is with high school athletic competition, which, by ISHAA’s own admission, is inextricably intertwined with education. By creating rules and enforcing its regulations, IHSAA acts as the administrative, executive, legislative and judicial authority. The ISHAA lists the following activities as part of its mission statement:
• Regulates, supervises and administers interschool athletic activities among its member high schools as an integral part of the secondary education program. A tournament series is sanctioned in 21 sports, 10 for girls, 10 for boys and one co-ed (unified track and field). This school year, more than 160,000 students will compete in IHSAA-sanctioned tournaments. 
• Cooperates with all agencies vitally concerned with the health and educational welfare of secondary school students.
• Determines qualifications of individual contestants, coaches and officials.
• Provides written communications to facilitate athletic relations among member schools.
• Establishes standards for eligibility, competition and sportsmanship while providing protection against exploitation of schools or students.
Moreover, similar to the Brentwood case, the members of IHSAA’s Board of Directors and Executive Committee are high school administrators, coaches and employees, the majority of them from public high schools (“The Association is not an organization of natural persons acting on their own, but of schools” id.).
But for IHSAA, the regulation of organized high school athletics would not exist. Its membership is voluntary in name only as the IHSAA procedurally works as a clearinghouse for all official high school athletic competition. It is likely IHSAA avoids audit as their revenues are mainly comprised of ticket sales from events as opposed to membership dues paid out of public money coffers. Nonetheless, scores of governing bodies statewide do not have budgets, expenditures or appropriations, yet they are subject to the Open Door Law because they exercise a government function.
For the foregoing reasons, it is the Opinion of the Indiana Public Access Counselor that IHSAA exercises functions listed under Ind. Code § 5-14-1.5-2(a)(1) and should be considered a public entity subject to the Open Door Law.
I do believe the same principal that results in the application of the ODL to the IHSAA also governs the records of the organization, i.e. that the IHSAA is also subject to the open records law.

Monday, May 23, 2016

Will Candidates for Indiana Attorney General Continue the "Zoeller Doctrine" Giving AG Absolute Veto Power over State Laws?

Fresh out of law school, I had the opportunity to work as a Deputy Attorney General under then Attorney General Linley Pearson. During Pearson's tenure he pointed to a provision in Indiana law that says that if the Attorney General is uncomfortable representing a state party or defending a state law in court, the AG could defer to other legal counsel who then represents the state.  There were times Pearson used the law to defer legal representation to other counsel.

The tenure of Attorney General Greg Zoeller, which is set to conclude this year, brought for what I refer to as the "Zoeller Doctrine," the idea that when it comes to litigation, the Attorney General is in fact the attorney and the client, i.e. he doesn't have to do what the people he represents in court tells him to do.  I highlighted Zoeller's position in a story I wrote last year:
Attorney General Greg Zoelelr
Attorney General Zoeller has consistently taken the position that the Attorney General position is "unique" because of the need to "harmonize the law" among the several agencies and entities.  In doing so, he has claimed he has absolute authority when it comes to deciding how legal issues involving the State of Indiana are handled.  Thus, it doesn't matter if a state agency wants to settle a case, or whether the Governor wants to take a certain legal position or the General Assembly wants a law defended, the Attorney General, and only the Attorney General, gets to decide, on behalf of the State, what position will be taken.   This is a position that essentially makes the Attorney General not only the attorney for the State of Indiana, but also the client.

Zoeller's position regarding the authority of the Attorney General is certainly not shared by everyone.  In addition to the State Senators in this case, most of the attorneys I've talked to do not agree that the Attorney General has an unfettered right to decide the State of Indiana's legal position. Rather they see the Attorney General as the attorney for the State of Indiana with a duty to follow his state client's wishes as long as they are within the ethical boundaries of legal representation.   As far as multiple state agencies creating a mishmash of legal approaches, there is a singular boss of those agencies, the Governor of the State of Indiana.  The AG could always appeal to the Governor to bring a consistent approach to how the agencies approach litigation.
Last session, state senators Mike Delph, Brent Steele and Mike Delph introduced a bill requiring the Attorney General to step aside for legislators to employ other counsel when the AG wasn't adequately defending a statute in court. This was a reference to the dispute over Zoeller's refusal to defend Indiana's immigration bill.
While that bill did not pass, a bill has been introduced in the State Senate this session that takes direct aim at addressing Zoeller's claim that unlike every other attorney in the State of Indiana, he is not obligated to actually do what his government clients want.  The new language in Senate Bill 257, which is authored by Republican Delph and Steele and Democrat Timothy Lanane, states:
When the attorney general represents:
(1) the state;
(2) a state agency;
(3) a political subdivision; or
(4) any other party;

in a judicial or administrative proceeding, the attorney general owes the same obligations to that party that any other attorney owes to a client under the rules prescribed by the supreme court.
In 2013, when the Pence administration was in its infancy, Zoeller even had a bill introduced in the Indiana Senate which would have given the Attorney General an office in Washington, DC where an employee of his office could lobby Congress and federal agencies.  I wrote about that on my blog as well.  I wrote about it on my blog.
A similar dispute over who speaks for the State of Indiana at the national level appeared to be breaking out earlier this year.  Attorney Marcia Oddi, publisher of the Indiana Law Blog and who has had a long career in Indiana's executive and legislation branches, published an article titled "Ind. Gov't. - Who Speaks for Indiana at the Federal Level" on legislation that was introduced allowing the AG to place a deputy in Washington, D.C. with particular responsibilities.  Her article, which also contains links to stories she wrote in 2009, 2010 and 2012 on the subject of who speaks for the State of Indiana at the federal level, identifies Senate Bill 36 as one of the bills involved in establishing the D.C. based deputy.  That bill included this directive for what the responsibilities that this Deputy Attorney General would have:
1) Review and monitor legislation, regulations, administrative actions, and other activities of the federal government that may affect Indiana. 
(2) Take any action the attorney general finds necessary and appropriate to respond to, address, or influence any proposal, enactment, promulgation, action, order, adjudication, or activity described in subdivision (1).
My reading of the highlighted language of Senate Bill 36 opens up the possibility of having the Governor and Attorney General advocating, on behalf of the State of Indiana, completely different positions as to proposed federal legislation and the promulgation of federal rules.  However, this potential conflict appears to have been averted as the bill was amended in committee to eliminate the lobbying language contained in subparagraph #2 above.   SB 36 is now set for third reading in the Indiana Senate.
Four people have filed for the Republican nomination for Attorney General:  State Senator Randy Head, Elkhart County Prosecutor Curtis Hill, Former Attorney General Steve Carter, and Assistant Attorney General Abby Kuzma.  On the Democratic side, Lorenzo Arredondo, a retired circuit court judge and former teacher is running.  The question remains: will the next Attorney General promise to ensure that ALL the laws passed by the Indiana General Assembly are defended by legal counsel, contrary to what has happened during Attorney General Zoeller's tenure?

See also:

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

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

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

Saturday, May 21, 2016

Annoited New Marion County GOP Chairman Is Unlikely to Rebuild the Party

News came this week that Marion County Republican Chairwoman Jennifer Ping is resigning her position.  A new Indianapolis ethics ordinance forbids those who have appointment power from doing business with the city.  Ping is a principal with the Bose Public Affairs Group, which has contracts with the city and lobbies Indianapolis government on behalf of clients.  Rather than give up that gig, Ping chose to resign as party chair.  She had only been elected to her position in the party in December of 2015.

Of course that begs the question as to why in the world a lobbyist was picked (I hesitate to use the word "elected" given how the process is so easily rigged) to be a county chair in the first place.
Mike McQuillen

Unfortunately the next anointed county chair, Mike McQuillen, comes with a conflict of interest just as serious, if not more so, than Ping.  McQuillen is minority leader on the Indianapolis City-County Council.  While on the Council, McQuillen has demonstrated he has a tin ear when it comes to the animosity the GOP grass roots had toward the constant tax and fee increases and corporate welfare that marked Mayor Greg Ballard administration.  McQuillen was chief cheerleader of policies Republican Ballard pushed that he as chairman (and council minority leader) he will have to criticize when those polices are advocated by Democrat Mayor Joe Hogsett.  I am pretty sure local Democrats will not hesitate to point out McQuillen's hypocrisy. I doubt many grass roots Republicans will forget McQuillen's attacks on good conservatives like Christine Scales who pushed back against Ballard's tax and spend policies.

Long ago I put together an extensive memo on how to rebuild the grass roots of the Marion County Republican organization.  One of the suggestions was to ban elected officials, people like McQuillen, from serving in management positions in the party organization due to their inherent conflicts of interest. 

If the Marion County GOP organization is ever going to return to power, the leadership of the party needs to be willing to give up dictatorial power over the organization to restore that power to the grass roots workers.  They need to have opportunities to be appointed to key positions and to advance in the party leadership.  And the leadership of the Marion County GOP needs to understand that issues, not the benefits of pay-to-play corporate welfare, is what motivates the average Republican voter to go to the polls. 

I have seen nothing from McQuillen's tenure which suggests he has the foggiest idea of what is wrong with the Marion County Republican Party.  Or possibly he just doesn't care.   Either way don't expect the Marion County Republican organization to improve any time soon.  Instead expect the same dictatorial power structure within the organization to continue.

Friday, May 20, 2016

The Pence Re-Election Dilemma: "What About Donald?"

A recent poll shows Republican Gov. Mike Pence with a slight 4 point lead (well within the margin of error) in the Governor's race over Democrat John Gregg.  Democrats are celebrating the closeness of the poll.  They shouldn't be.  After all the fire the shots Pence has taken during his tenure, and the constant unflattering media coverage, Gregg should be ahead. Now we're moving into the paid media stage of the campaign which is likely to be more favorable to Pence.  The Governor should be able to polish and improve his image with plenty of 30 second spots touting his economic record and leadership.

Gov. Mike Pence (R-Indiana)
That's the good news for Republicans. The bad news is that Gregg has an ace card up his sleeve, the GOP candidate who will be at the top of the ticket, Donald Trump.

During the Indiana Republican primary, Pence walked a fine line endorsing traditional conservative Texas Senator Ted Cruz while also praising Donald Trump for bringing certain issues to the forefront.  Pence successfully straddled the fence, managing to make neither side angry in the contentious primary.

Now moving into the general election the "What About Donald" question becomes much more problematic for Pence.  If Pence distances himself from the controversial GOP nominee, he is likely to anger the Indiana Tea Party crowd which has fully (and strangely) enthusiastically embraced the liberal New York businessman.  Pence is not popular with the Tea Party and fully supporting Trump would shore up support among a constituency that is critical to his base of support.

But embracing "The Donald" carries enormous risk.  Trump has insulted women and Latinos, and is extremely unpopular with those two groups.  Trump's womanizing makes Bill Clinton's look like a rank amateur.  His mafia ties have also been exposed. Trump has mocked a disabled reporter and encouraged violence at his rallies.

Imagine every day on the campaign trail Pence being asked whether he agrees with a controversial thing that Trump said or did and whether the Indiana Governor still supports the GOP candidate. Trump thus far has been able to escape being held responsible for his words and deeds.  But Pence enjoys no such Trump Teflon.  He is likely to be tarnished with the fallout from "The Donald."  It won't help any that Indiana likely will be a general election battleground in the presidential contest. 

The Pence campaign faces a dilemma in figuring out how to deal with the Donald problem.  It seems like either choice will cost Pence votes.

Wednesday, May 18, 2016

Come Celebrate the Life of Gary Welsh

Gary Welsh
Please come and join us to remember and celebrate of the life of Advance Indiana blogger Gary Welsh. Additional information will be forthcoming, but pertinent information thus far is that the date, time and location of the event is as follows:

Thursday, June 2, 2016   6:30 - 8:00 p.m.
Northside Knights of Columbus

2100 E. 71st Street
Indianapolis, IN
(just west of the intersection of E. 71st Street and Keystone Avenue)

I would like to get a headcount so if you could RSVP to me on Facebook or at my email ( that would be great.

We will be asking that people who feel so moved to share a particular memory about Gary during the event.  We will also have a memorial table to share physical memories of Gary and his life.  Afterwards we will toast a beer (or other beverage) in thanks to all Gary did and in remembrance of a great person who left us far too early.

Monday, May 16, 2016

Indianapolis Residents Face Another Local Tax Increase, This Time For Expanded Bus Service

The Indianapolis Star reports on yet another possible local tax increase for Indy residents, this time for expanded bus service:
Transportation advocates will stress improvements to the entire city bus system rather than development of controversial bus rapid transit lines as they promote a voter referendum to raise taxes for mass transit.
The vast majority of the $56 million generated by the tax would fix traditional problems vexing basic bus service, such as long waits, short hours of operation and unreliability, rather than running the Red Line rapid transit route, said officials with IndyGo and the Indy Chamber, which will push for passage of the referendum on the November election ballot.
By 2021, buses on a dozen lines would run every 15 minutes daily, compared with two lines on weekdays now; service hours would increase 70 percent; and the number of routes that run every hour would be reduced. The buses would operate 20 hours a day, starting earlier and ending later, said Bryan Luellen, a spokesman for IndyGo.
Marion County voters will be asked to raise personal income taxes by 0.25 percent to improve bus service. The increase would cost a worker making $50,000 annually $130 a year and supplement IndyGo's budget, which was $69.8 million this year.   
The added revenue also would be used to operate the Red Line — the all-electric route with dedicated lanes stretching from Broad Ripple to the University of Indianapolis — and would fund sidewalk construction and shelters at bus stops.
This tax increase comes following the eight years of a Republican Mayor, Greg Ballard, who, by my count, attempted to raise taxes and fees (often successfully) more than 40 times.  Here is a partial list I put together seven years into Ballard's tenure.

Reporter John Tuohy's article goes on to discuss the opposition to the "$96 million Red Line, to be built with a $75 million federal grant and $21 million in local funds, [which] would be the linchpin of the reinvigorated bus system"  The biggest obstacle to Red Line centers on Broad Ripple, an area I travel to frequently.  The traffic congestion traveling to and through Broad Ripple is positively horrible now.  Broad Ripple opponents fear the Red Line would change intersections to make the traffic situation even worse and would also encourage "transit-oriented development" which would increase congestion in the Village even more.

Friday, May 13, 2016

White, Working Class Voters Won't Rescue Trump in Fall

Political analyst Stuart Rothenberg writing in Roll Call highlights the flaw with the notion that white working class workers are going to ride to Trump's rescue in the general election:
Trump’s problems start with the electorate’s demographics, though you wouldn’t know it given the chatter about his appeal with working-class white voters.
Trump has done well with working-class whites, and will continue to do so. But that’s not a game-changer in the general election because working-class whites are now a core Republican constituency, having fled the Democratic Party over the past three decades.
Donald Trump
Their realignment is why states like Kentucky, West Virginia, Arkansas and Louisiana are now GOP strongholds.
An excellent January Wall Street Journal piece documented the change. In 1992, whites without a college degree constituted 63 percent of all registered voters. But in 2015, they accounted for only 46 percent of registered voters. However, they were still a substantial 58 percent of GOP voters, which is why they had a more substantial impact in the Republican race than they will in November.
The NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll of April 10-14, 2016, asked registered voters whether they wanted the next president to be a Republican or a Democrat. They preferred a Democrat, though by only a single point, 46 percent to 45 percent. But whites with no college degree preferred a Republican, 59 percent to 31 percent.
The same survey matched Clinton against each of the three Republicans then in the race. Among whites without a college degree, Trump held a 57 percent to 33 percent lead over Clinton. But Ted Cruz’s 56 percent to 30 percent lead over Clinton was almost identical, and John Kasich slaughtered Clinton 63 percent to 24 percent among those same voters.
The bottom line is pretty  clear: most whites without a college degree are reliable Republicans, not a pool of new voters — or Democrats — for Trump to turn out in November. Trump’s appeal with those voters does not alter the election’s arithmetic.
After exploding the myth of working class white voters expanding Republican support in the Fall, Rothenberg goes on to address Trump's problems with several demographic groups, including Latinos and African-Americans.  He also notes that significant problem Trump will have with conservatives and other Republicans refusing to back the presumptive nominee.  Romney had 90% plus of Republicans voting for him.  Even with Hillary Clinton being so disliked, Trump, a lifelong liberal who has begun backing away from conservative positions since he became the presumptive nominee of the GOP, will be lucky to get 75% of Republicans backing him.

The supporters of Donald Trump like to portray the New York businessman as a unique type of candidate who has crossover appeal who will flip several states from blue (Democrat) to red (Republican.)  The polling though currently shows Trump to be a worse candidate than the 2012 Republican nominee, Mitt Romney.

Head-to-head polling with Trump compared to the likely Democratic nominee, Hillary Clinton, has been conducted in 26 states.  Of those states, Trump is doing worse than Romney did in 18 of the states:

State Poll 2012 Winner Margin
Arizona -3.5 Romney 9.06
California -25.6 Obama 23.12
Florida -4.3 Obama 0.88
Georgia 5 Romney 7.72
Illinois -21.5 Obama 16.87
Indiana 7.5 Romney 10.2
Maryland -34.6 Obama 26.07
Massachusetts -30 Obama 22.9
Mississippi 3 Romney 11.5
Missouri 7 Romney 9.38
New Hampshire -9.8 Obama 5.58
North Carolina -3.3 Romney 2.04
Ohio -3 Obama 2.98
Pennsylvania -7 Obama 5.38
Texas 2 Romney 15.79
Utah -2 Romney 48.04
Virginia -13 Obama 3.88
Wisconsin -10.7 Obama 6.94

States Romney won that Trump would put into play according to the polling include Arizona, Georgia, Mississippi, North Carolina, Ohio, Texas and Utah.  Even Republican states like Indiana and Missouri are in reach of Clinton and are likely targets in November.

Now let's look at the 8 states where Trump outperforms Romney.

State Poll Winner    Margin
Oregon 11 Obama 12.1
West Virginia 27 Romney 26.76
Connecticut -7.5 Obama 17.33
Iowa -5 Obama 5.81
Michigan -8.6 Obama 9.5
Minnesota -2.3 Obama 17.69
New Jersey -14 Obama 17.79
New York -21.2 Obama 28.18

While 7 of those 8 states are blue, Trump only has a shot at picking up Minnesota and possibly Iowa.  The other states are out of reach.

Some of the Trump supporters now fixate on a recent national poll by Rasmussen showing Trump leading Hillary Clinton by two points in a head-to-head matchup.  Three polls released since the Rasmussen poll all show Clinton leading that match-up, with one, the CNN poll, showing the former Secretary of State leading Trump by 13 points.  There have been 22 national Trump v. Clinton polls conducted since March 1st. Trump leads in only one of them, the Rasmussen poll.

Rothenberg is exactly right.  White, working class voters are already a reliable Republican constituency.  Trump is not expanding the electorate in the general election by getting those folks to the polls. If he were, the expansion of the Republican electorate would be showing up in the head-to-head polling.  It is not.

Friday, May 6, 2016

New Polling Shows Electoral Mountain Trump Must Climb to Win General Election

A new CNN poll just released shows Donald Trump trailing Hillary Clinton by 13 points.  (That poll showed Ohio Governor John Kasich beating Hillary Clinton by 7 points.)  Of the 27 head-to-head polls conducted since February, Trump leads in only two of them. 

A look at other polling reveals the obstacles to Trump ever improving his fortunes much.  The Roper Center and IBD/TPP examined polling on the popularity of the two leading candidates and compared it to the other major party nominees and found shocking results

That survey looked at whether potential voters whether they had a view toward the candidates that was “strongly favorable,” “somewhat favorable,” “somewhat unfavorable” or “strongly unfavorable.”  53% of those polled said they had a strongly unfavorable opinion of Donald Trump.  Harry Enton of FiveThirtyEight reports on the polling:
Clinton’s average “strongly unfavorable” rating in probability sample polls from late March to late April, 37 percent, is about 5 percentage points higher than the previous high between 19803 and 2012. Trump, though, is on another planet. Trump’s average “strongly unfavorable” rating, 53 percent, is 20 percentage points higher than every candidate’s rating besides Clinton’s. Trump is less disliked than David Duke was when Duke ran for the presidency in 1992, but Duke never came close to winning the nomination. In fact, I’ve seen never anything like Trump’s numbers heading into a general election for someone who is supposed to be competitive.
The table below shows the candidates strongly unfavorable numbers:


But what about the possibility that, although Trump has hard core opposition to his candidacy, he has a considerable following that offsets that? Well, if that were true, it would show up it the "net strong favorability," a measurement that combines a candidates strongly favorable with his or her strongly unfavorable numbers.   Dating back to Reagan, no presidential candidate had had a negative net strong favorability rating in the double figures.  The good news for Republicans is that Clinton broke that string with a net strong unfavorability rating of -20%.  The bad news is that Trump's numbers are twice as bad as Hillary's, coming in with a -40% rating. 

This table highlights the numbers:


The polling belies the notion that Trump will get record number of independents and Democrats to vote for him.  Contrary to the common assumption, most polling showed the other Republican candidates as being more popular with independent voters and Democrats than Trump.

Trump's only saving grace is the unpopularity of Hillary Clinton.  But if he goes on the attack to drive Clinton's numbers even higher, it will further cement his own unpopularity.  The rule of campaign politics is that attacking one's opponent might drive up his or her negatives, but it will also drive up your own.

Thursday, May 5, 2016

With General Election Now in his Sights, Trump Reverses His Position on Minimum Wage, Taxes; Says He Will Consider A Democrat for VP

Would it be impolite to tell the Trump supporters, "I told you so?"  MSNBC reports:
Two days into his general election campaign, Donald Trump has already signaled he may abandon his positions on two major policy issues: a minimum wage increase and tax cuts for the rich.
Trump has never been known for his consistency: He took multiple positions on abortion in several days last month, and more recently shifted from promising to erase America’s $19 trillion debt in eight years to arguing it was actually a good time to borrow. Even on his signature issue of immigration, he’s flipped back and forth – sometimes in the same
Donald Trump
 – on whether he supports certain visas for legal workers.    
Trump’s willingness to blithely abandon past positions has made conservative activists deeply skeptical, but it also presents a general election challenge for Democrats: How do you hold a candidate accountable for his positions after he has looked Americans in the eyes during a debate and, with a straight face, denied he ever held contrary views?
Take taxes. Trump put out a tax plan last year that included major cuts to income, estate and business taxes for the ultra-wealthy along with far less generous cuts for the middle class. The nonpartisan Tax Policy Center estimated his plan would cut the tax bill for the top 1 percent of earners by about $275,000 a year on average and for the top 0.1 percent by $1.3 million. The overall cost would be $9.5 trillion over a decade. 
It’s important to note that these disproportionately large cuts for the rich aren’t a minor side feature of his plan, they’re the heart of it. A whopping 67 percent of the overall cost of his individual tax cuts would go to the top 20 percent of earners and 35 percent of it would go to the top 1 percent, according to the Tax Policy Center’s analysis.
Trump’s abrupt dismissal of his own tax plan, which he regularly cited on the campaign trail, came a day after he signaled a possible willingness to raise the federal minimum wage, which would be a major reversal from his stance in the primaries.
“I am open to doing something with it, because I don’t like that,” Trump told CNN on Wednesday after being asked if he thought the $7.25 minimum wage should be increased.
Trump added that “you have to have something that you can live on” and that his willingness to entertain a wage increase showed he was “very different from most Republicans.” At the same time, he said he would prefer to try to raise wages through economic growth. 
This was, to put it mildly, a complete flip flop from his position in the primaries. He repeatedly argued that raising the minimum would move jobs to countries like China. Speaking in the cold language of a businessman looking at his bottom line, Trump even seemed to indicate overall American wages, regardless of the law, were too generous already.  
“Taxes too high, wages too high, we’re not going to be able to compete against the world,” Trump said in a November debate hosted by Fox Business. 
Trump clarified afterwards that he did not believe American wages were too high, but he did make crystal clear he was fundamentally opposed to a minimum wage increase.
“We were talking about the minimum wage, and they said, ‘Should we increase the minimum wage?’ ” Trump told Fox News after the debate. “And I’m saying that if we’re going to compete with other countries we can’t do that because the wages would be too high.”
Of course, Trump will deny he ever took positions on the other side of the issues. Even when you have him on videotape stating a contrary position,Trump will brand anyone as a "liar" anyone who points out the evidence he changed his position.

This comes at the same time as the news breaks that Trump might consider a Democrat for Vice-President.

Expect the next policy flip to be an announcement that Trump has now converted back to his previous pro-choice position and wants to continue funding Planned Parenthood.

Information on Gary Welsh's Service Today

Sorry I haven't posted this earlier, though I did share it on Facebook. I've been busy with a death in my family, my step-father.

I think a lot of the Indy folks would like to get together to have their own remembrance of the man.  Perhaps in the next couple weeks?  Gary always like to have a beer after political events.  A bar with all his friends getting together would seem like the perfect venue.


220 N 3Rd St
West Terre Haute, IN 47885
(812) 533-3324
Thursday, May. 5, 2016
3:00 PM - 6:00 PM
Fitzpatrick Funeral Home
220 N 3Rd St
West Terre Haute, IN 47885
Celebration of Life
Thursday, May. 5, 2016
6:00 PM
Fitzpatrick Funeral Home
220 N 3Rd St
West Terre Haute, IN 47885

Below is his obituary.

Gary Welsh
November 30, 1962 - May 1, 2016. Well known attorney and political blogger Gary Ray Welsh, 53, of Indianapolis, Indiana pass away Sunday May 1, 2016 at his residence in Indianapolis, Indiana. He was born in Terre Haute, Indiana on November 30, 1962 to Ray A. and Beverly J. Welsh.He is survived by his mother Beverly Welsh, brothers David Welsh (Karen), Terry Welsh (Lisa), sisters Debbie Hoopingarner (Bob), Janet Eitel (Fred) all of Marshall, Illinois; and special friend Michael Litmer. He is also survived by  several nieces and nephews. He was preceded in death by his father Ray A. Welsh, and nephews Joshua D. Welsh and Brett Eitel.

Gary grew up on his family's farm in rural Marshall, Illinois, graduating from Marshall High School in 1980.

Welsh attended Eastern Illinois University where he earned a Bechelor of Arts degree (cum laude) in 1984, and later attended Indiana University School Of Law - Indianapolis, earning a Juris Doctorate degree (magna cum laude) in 1993.

Welsh maintained a private law practice in Indianapolis from October 1993 to present, and was associated with the law firm of Bingham Summers Welsh and Spellman for five years (1993 - 1998) where he provided general business and government relations services.

Welsh served as General Counsel for Novanis, an information technology company in Carmel, Indiana from 1998 - 2002.

Prior to practicing law, Gary worked for the Illinois General Assembly where he served six years as an assistant to Illinois House Republican Leader Lee A. Daniels, and staffed the House Revenue Committee.

Welsh was a member of the Indiana Bar Association, Indianapolis Bar Association and American Immigration Lawyers Association and served as Province President for the Phi Delta Phi International Legal Fraternity for the State of Indiana.

He was a member of the Lockerbie People's Club, and served on the board of the Lockerbie Glove Condominimum Association. He was an elected precinct committeeman for the Marion County Republican Party in Center Township.

Welsh was the author of a popular political blog, "Advance Indiana" which started as a pastime, but quickly became his passion, attracting thousands of followers.

Visitation will be at the Fitzpatrick Funeral Home, 220 N. 3rd St., West Terre Haute on Thursday May 5, from 3:00 p.m.  to 6:00 p.m. EST with a Celebration of Life immediately following at 6:00 p.m. EST. Private burial will be in Dunlap Cemetery. The family suggests that if friends so desire, memorial contributions may be made to the Armstrong United Methodist Church or the Dunlap Cemetery Association, or the Terre Haute Humane Society with envelopes available in the funeral home. - See more at:

Tuesday, May 3, 2016

Expect Trump Victory in Indiana Today

The two most recent Indiana polls show Donald Trump leading Ted Cruz by 15 and 17 points.  It appears that today's Indiana primary, seen as a must win in most political circles, has gotten away from Cruz.  The one thing that the Texas Senator has going for him is superior organization in the
Donald Trump
state.  That probably won't overcome the Trump momentum which is propelling the New York businessman to the nomination.

I don't expect a 15% plus victory for Trump in the state.  But I do expect a Trump victory in the upper single digits, maybe 8% or 9%.  While there is a remote possibility that Cruz pulls off an upset in today's primary, such a victory would be so close that the division of the 57 delegates won't favor him by much when he really needs to walk away with a sizable majority of Indiana delegates. Then you have the  California primary looming on the horizon.  That state has gotten away from Cruz as well with Trump's polling edge ballooning to more than 30 points in the Golden State. 

As a card carrying member of the #NeverTrump club, it is like watching helplessly as your family members join a cult led by a charismatic leader.  You try to reason with them, you try to put out facts that the leader is a charlatan, a phony, but nothing works. 

On the Senate side, I expect the battle of the Republican congressmen to be won by Todd Young, a solid double figure win over his colleague Marlin Stutzman.

Monday, May 2, 2016

Indiana Loses Citizen Journalist Giant with Passing of Gary Welsh

I will always remember that bitterly cold, late fall day in December of 2008.  With my law office only a block or two from the City-County building, I would often make quick dashes to the courts eschewing wearing suit coat which had become ragged with wear.  On this day, I was set to "dash back" to my law office after a messy divorce hearing when a stranger wearing a brown jacket and gray stocking cap interrupted my journey.

"You are Paul Ogden, aren't you?" he asked.

Now, as the CCB is the location of many pan-handlers and those seeking free legal advice, attorneys
are called upon to make a quick judgment on anyone who accosts them in and around the building.  The man's clothing didn't suggest he was bumming for money and his closely cropped beard indicated he was engaging in regular hygiene.  Because of that, and the fact he knew my name, I answered "Yes."

Gary Welsh
That was the last word I would say for the next 20 minutes.  The stranger immediately launched into the most extraordinary detailing of the workings of Indianapolis government I had ever heard.  As I stood shivering just outside the CCB's doors on Delaware Street, with only my thin suit coat protecting me from the below freezing temperature, I listened to the unknown man not able to get a word in edgeways.   I decided to spend the last few minutes before the onset of hypothermia trying to figure out the identity of the person.  Finally it dawned on me.  The stranger before me was none other than the local legendary blogger, Gary Welsh.

Because of my frustration with the continued broken promises of Republican Mayor Greg Ballard, I had turned to blogging in August of that year.  I needed an outlet.  Writing letters to the editor was no longer satisfactory.  Neither were private emails or on-line comments to articles. My interest turned to the relatively new medium of blogging.  The gold standard for political blogs was Gary Welsh's Advance Indiana.  Gary, like me, was an independent-minded Republican who believed so-called conservatives who betray their campaign promises should be called out on that betrayal.  Gary often posted several articles a day, many of which included extensive research and original material.  While I knew I could never match the time and energy Gary put into blogging, my hope was to emulate to a degree his approach.

From that point forward, Gary and I communicated on a fairly regular basis, chiefly via email.  We had a lot in common.  Besides our shared political philosophy, we were both had worked extensively in government, including in the state legislature, he Illinois and me Indiana.  We were both two middle aged attorneys who had grown dissatisfied with the limited opportunities provided by the profession.

In addition to emails, Gary and I appeared at numerous political events, often as part of a panel discussion.  Having Gary on the panel meant my opportunities to speak would be limited.  Gary loved to talk.  He had this way of speaking in which he would take a breath in the middle of a sentence instead of at its completion, a technique that made it very difficult to take the floor from him.  But while Gary loved to talk, he did not ramble.  He had an astonishing encyclopedic knowledge of politics, government, and history.  He would talk in detail about things that happened in Indianapolis 50 years ago, as if he were there and witnessed the event.  It always fascinated me how he could retain such incredibly detailed knowledge when I struggle to figure out where I left my car keys.

Probably my best memories of Gary were meeting with him and others for a beer after attending political events together.  Gary was always at the center of the conversation, dominating the discussion with his exhaustive knowledge on every subject the group happened to be talking about.  I wish those who talked poorly of Gary would have had a beer with him.  Gary's caustic prose often belied what a gracious, tolerant person he actually was when he stepped away from blogging.

But what Gary will be known best for is that blogging.  He had, I think unquestionably, the best read political blog in the state.  Every day, and often several times in a day, people would check in to see what Gary had written.  Politicians looking to see if their name was mentioned and media types hustling for stories, all had Advance Indiana bookmarked.   Over a blogging career spanning nearly 11 years,  Welsh published 9,718 articles. When he began in 2005, most of Gary's stories were pro-LGBT rights, anti-religion, but traditional conservative on most other issues.  Welch's posts in more recent years suggest he became disenchanted with the LGBT movement and more tolerant(my description not his) of religion.

Where Welch really made his mark blogging though was outing political corruption and wrongdoing.   Welch was particularly critical of Indianapolis pay-to-play political culture which dominates local politics, regardless of which party controls the Mayor's Office or the Council.  One cannot begin to summarize all the schemes that Welch uncovered and published on his blog. Gary also loved to discuss conspiracies.  While that no doubt expanded his blogging audience, it detracted from his more serious reporting of local, state and national events.  But since Gary's inside information was so often right on his traditional stories, you were always left wondering if there might be something to the conspiracies Gary reported.

I do not know the demons that caused Gary to decide to end his life.  I know Gary was deeply dissatisfied with the practice of law.  Having saw Gary in action as an attorney, I can confirm he was a brilliant litigator, one of the best I have ever seen. But, as I have mentioned in other forums, being a good attorney is not enough for financial success or professional satisfaction.  You have to be given the right opportunity.  Law firms are simply not interested in hiring older, experienced attorneys unless they can be a rainmaker, i.e. bring big corporate clients to the firm.   That you are a good attorney with extensive knowledge of the law and experience in the courtroom, means absolutely nothing to them.  I know too Gary had tried to escape the law but found the doors to non-law jobs closed.  It is a phenomenon law schools do not tell you about - your legal degree and accompanying experience as an attorney may make you better able to do a particular non-legal job, but you will never get that job because the employer will view you as being overqualified.

Gary was also frustrated with his blogging.  Gary spent several hours a day blogging, maybe as many as 6-7 hours.  Every day he would review various news sources, and conduct investigations.   Gary complained that he received little compensation for his work.  Occasionally readers would donate, but that was a rarity.  Gary's blog had advertising, but the compensation from those ads was undoubtedly minimal.

Gary's chief complaint about blogging though was not the lack of compensation, but his belief nobody cared about the things he reported and what he wrote did not change policies.  Gary was also a target for personal attacks for reporting things some in power did not want reported took its toll.  Gary had a surprisingly thin skin for someone so willing to confront the misdeeds of powerful people, regardless of whether they are wearing a Democrat or Republican jersey.

On the latter, I told Gary that if we bloggers are going to stick our heads out of the foxhole, we need to expect they will shoot at us.  And as far as the personal attacks, they only do that when they know you are afraid your message is getting out.

On the former, Gary could not be any more wrong.  Gary's writing did make a difference.  His columns inspired media investigations, exposed wrongdoing, changed policies and held public officials accountable.  The problem with Gary was the measuring stick he used to judge his success.  If there was not immediate and complete change in response to one of his columns, Gary considered himself and his efforts a failure.  Public policy reform simply does not change that easily.  Often you have to pound on the door of reform for a long time before it is opened.

I wish Gary were around today to see what I have seen during the last 24 hours.  Maybe he would have changed his mind about his importance.  He touched so many lives.  His columns were daily reading material for thousands of people.  The accolades for what he did - the invaluable service he provided - cross party and ideological lines.  Even people Gary skewered in his columns praise him for what he did for this community.  Gary was loved and admired so much more than he ever could grasp.  If he understood that, I doubt he would have taken his life.

You will be so missed, Gary.  May you rest in peace.