Saturday, September 30, 2006

The Long And Short Of It

Fort Wayne Observed's Mitch Harper scores exclusive interviews with two of the Senate President Pro Tempore candidates, Sen. David Long (R-Ft. Wayne) and Sen. Tom Weatherwax (R-Logansport). It offers some clues to the upcoming race.

Sen. David Long sounds pretty confident of a win. In fact, he predicts that a clear front-runner will emerge within the next couple of weeks, which he no doubt believes will be him. He notes that there is no clear "roadmap" for the caucus to follow since it has been 26 years since the position had been open. He indicates that a number of the senators started making up their minds after Labor Day, but he thinks it would be premature for anyone to declare themselves a winner yet.

Sen. Weatherwax doesn't come across quite as confident as Long. He says that he's put a lot of miles on his car travelling the state campaigning for the position. He notes that he will have to step aside from his current, private executive position, if he is elected to the post. Weatherwax is pledging, if elected, to allow many items, which never saw the light of day in the past, to receive a hearing in the Senate. He wasn't specific on what those issues were. Remember, though, he is being supported by Brent Waltz and Jeff Drozda--that might offer some not so unsubtle clues. He also stated that he had not made any promises in an effort to win votes. AI wonders if it is actually possible to be elected to the President Pro Tempore's position without promising a few committee chairmanships or seats on committees.

A third candidate in the race, Sen. Brent Steele (R-Bedford), was not interviewed by Harper. Most observers think his chances have faded over the summer, leaving the real fight to be waged between Long and Weatherwax.

Ann's Little Secret

Awhile back, AI commented on how pathetic the Indiana Week In Review panel had become, and that a good house cleaning was in order. As AI put it at the time, "That means no lobbyists and no attorneys who are frequently asked to comment on matters which clearly pose a conflict of interest. That means both McDaniels and DeLaney have to go." AI picked up a little fact this weekend that brings that point home.

At the time AI made that post, one of the topics of discussion was the Carson-Dickerson race. Ann DeLaney, who ran unsuccessfully against Julia Carson in 1996 for the right to succeed retiring Rep. Andy Jacobs (D), a close friend and former boss of Carson's, was particularly outspoken in her defense of Carson and her attacks on Dickerson. She has also been dismissive of the whole issue of the "bar/private club" in the Julia Carson Government Center as if it's not a big deal.

Reading through the latest issue of the Indianapolis Business Journal this weekend, AI learns that DeLaney has been successful in her recent effort to raise much-needed funds for a cash-starved domestic violence shelter, The Julia Center, where DeLaney serves as executive director. Aiding DeLaney in her financial woes was none other than Center Township Trustee Carl Drummer. The IBJ's Tom Murphy writes:

The office of Center Township Trustee also started spending about $6,000 each week to help house qualified township residents there. The trustee, an elected position, provides care for the poor.

That's quite nice of Drummer to kick in an additional $312,000 a year to the domestic violence shelter, whose annual budget is about $3.1 million. Note that the timing of DeLaney's plea for help in August to address a budget shortfall came a short time before Marion Co. Democratic prosecutor candidate Melina Kennedy began attacking Carl Brizzi for allegedly having a poor record on prosecuting domestic violence cases. That helped explain why The Julian Center was experiencing a demand for services. DeLaney, in fact, blamed the center's budget shortfall, in part, on an explosion in the demand for space by battered women and their children. Kennedy's attacks were followed up very soon with Carson's false accusation to the Star's editorial staff that her Republican opponent had "beat up his wife to a pulp." It all fits together rather nicely doesn't it?

DeLaney, who earns $48,000 for her part-time job as the shelter's executive director, is also a bankruptcy trustee for the U.S. District bankruptcy court in Indianapolis and a partner in the family law firm with her daughter and husband. Sen. Evan Bayh (D) helped speed DeLaney's appointment as bankruptcy trustee through while President Bill Clinton was still in office. DeLaney had virtually no bankruptcy law experience compared to other more qualified candidates at the time. Her son-in-law was overheard to say at the time of her appointment that the part-time trustee's gig would generate at least $120,000 a year for DeLaney. Speaking of her trustee position, did anyone receive a solicitation in the mail this week from DeLaney on her bankruptcy trustee letterhead? Just asking.

Friday, September 29, 2006

Miller Continues Partisan Campaign For GOP Candidates

Ignoring federal tax law prohibitions that he and his organization not engage in partisan politics, Advance America's Eric Miller took his get-out-the-vote effort for GOP legislative candidates to Goshen, Indiana. The Elkhart Truth's Aleks Tapinsh reports:

Voting matters when it comes to the Nov. 7 general election, lobbyist Eric Miller told about 200 supporters Thursday night.

"Go vote and take someone else with you," said the founder of the group Advance America. "With freedom goes responsibility."

Miller said work remains on issues such as a constitutional amendment repealing property taxes, defining marriage, giving parents a choice where their children go to school and stopping mental-health testing of children.

The 2004 Republican candidate for governor criticized allowing local governments to establish additional local taxes to raise money to replace property taxes.

"That's been tried before," he said. "It doesn't work."

With two new justices on the U.S. Supreme Court, the court may leave it up to states to decide if abortion should be illegal. State representatives in the next General Assembly may have to decide, he said.

Issues dealing with benefits for homosexuals must be confronted, as well, he said. Lawmakers attending the meeting in Greencroft Senior Center were state Sen. arvin Riegsecker, R-Goshen, Reps. Jackie Walorski, R-Lakeville, John Ulmer, R-Goshen, Bill Ruppel, R-North Manchester, and Republican candidate Kevin Mitschelen, who is running against the Democratic minority leader, Rep. Patrick Bauer, D-South Bend.

Advance America counts 45,000 families, 3,700 churches and 1,500 businesses among its supporters.
As is the case with all events held by Advance America, only GOP office-holderss and candidates are present. The issues he touts at these events are issues supported by the candidates in attendance. Once again, homosexuals are a central part of the discussion. As we all know, the institution of marriage is at stake if we don't constitutionalize discrimination against gays and lesbians so says the twice-married and childless Miller.

On another front, Miller reports that "eighty (80) legislators and candidates, including both Republicans and Democrats, have signed on to support Eric's effort to repeal Indiana property taxes." Note that his communication says "Eric's effort" and not "Advance America's effort." I remain convinced that Miller is planning to take on Daniels in the 2008 GOP primary for governor, and the property tax repeal issue will be the central focus of his campaign, along with the gay marriage ban, of course.

Foley Self-Destructs In Congressional Page Scandal

Rep. Mark Foley (R-FL) abruptly resigned his seat in Congress today after ABC News yesterday disclosed inappropriate, sexual e-mail exchanges he had with a 16-year-old male congressional page and other male pages under the age of 18. Foley asked the boy what he wanted for his birthday and asked him to send a photo of himself among other things. The boy who received the e-mails from Foley described them as sick. Foley, a closeted gay man, was outed last year by Blogactive.com because he voted against gay rights measures in Congress.

Although the e-mail exchanges, which were initially disclosed yesterday between Foley and the 16-year-old page, were relatively tame, he apparently made much more explicit statements in other Internet postings. ABC News reports that Foley resigned shortly after he was read more explicit postings he had made:


Hours earlier, ABC News had read excerpts of instant messages provided by former male pages who said the congressman, under the AOL Instant Messenger screen nam Maf54, made repeated references to sexual organs and acts.


Blogactive.com has been alluding to Foley's interest in particularly young boys for some time now. In a statement, Foley said, "I am deeply sorry and I apologize for letting down my family and the people of Florida I have had the privilege to represent."Foley's departure from what had been a safe Republican seat will further complicate the Republicans struggle to hold their current 15-seat margin in the House.

Foley obviously had some serious issues. He never publicly admitted he was gay even after being outed by Blogactive.com. It is interesting to note that the age of consent in D.C. is 16 so Foley probably didn't break any laws. UPDATED: ABC News is now reporting that some lurid exchanges he had with under-age pages could get him prosecuted under a federal law he helped enact.

When I was in college, the congressman from my district in Illinois, Rep. Dan Crane (R) was caught having sex with a 16-year-old female page. While he could not be prosecuted in D.C., had he done the same thing in Illinois, he would have been prosecuted for statutory rape. Crane, the married father of seven young children, had campaigned on family values. I knew Dan very well at the time, having worked as a volunteer in his run for office in 1978. I was shocked by the disclosure at the time. He begged forgiveness from the district's voters, but he was narrowly defeated by his Democratic opponent in the next election. Ironically, Rep. Gerry Studds (D-MA) was caught at the same time having sex with a teen-aged male page. His district's voters re-elected him to several more terms in Congress. Both Crane and Studds were censured by the House for their actions.

UPDATE: Here's what Foley had to say about Clinton during the Moncia Lewinsky scandal: "It's vile," said Rep. Mark Foley, R-West Palm Beach. "It's more sad than anything else, to see someone with such potential throw it all down the drain because of a sexual addiction." And he would know. Speaker Dennis Hastert's mishandling of the Foley matter seems to be picking up traction now. House Majority Leader John Boehner tells the Washington Post that he knew about the problem last Spring and told Speaker Hastert about it. Boehner later claimed he wasn't sure if he told Hastert after Hastert's spokesman claimed he didn't know anything about it.

Tully On Ike

Matt Tully weighs in on Isaac "Ike" Randolph's likely run for mayor next year. It's probably not the piece Randolph, or Republicans for that matter, wanted. Speaking on Randolph or any Republican candidates chances of beating Mayor Peterson next year, Tully writes:

Can anyone stop Peterson from winning again next year?

Probably not. There's likely just one way Peterson doesn't win a third term: That's if, despite his stated plans to run again, he decides not to.

Tully's take may have been true as recently as about six months ago, but the whole dynamic of the 2007 mayoral race has changed over the last several months. The explosion in violent crimes over the past year has many people concerned about public safety. The budget mess and rising taxes have created unease among voters and are providing extra incentives for people to move out of Marion County to better managed and safer suburban counties. And then there's that growing cloud of scandal surrounding several Marion Co. Democrats. If Tully doesn't think Peterson is vulnerable, he is living in another world.

One particular issue Tully raised about Randolph is one that is heard a lot, and it's not good news for Randolph. Tully writes:

Some, for instance, ask whether the 42-year-old Pike Township resident works as hard at policy and politicking as publicity. Others recall he stumbled badly last year in a bid to fill a vacant state Senate seat.

The publicity hound label has been firmly attached to Randolph, and he might have a difficult time shaking it. The daily replays on WIBC's Garrison have probably done him more harm than good. The image doesn't play well for him in Marion Co. Republican circles as became quite evident in his bid for Murray Clark's senate seat last year.

As an aside, I found it fascinating how quickly Democratic members of the city-county council, plus one oddity--Republican Jim Bradford, rallied to the defense of Councilor Ron Gibson, who has been charged by a Democratic special prosecutor from Monroe County with battery on a police officer, disorderly conduct and public intoxication. Many of these same folks thought it perfectly okay for Rep. Carson to try and convict a Republican African-American candidate, Eric Dickerson, for a 15-year-old, unproven charge even the alleged victim denies he's guilty of committing. And what's going on with Bradford? He appeared at Gibson's rally yesterday with a full beard and was sloppily attired--the complete opposite of how he typically looks and dresses.

Thursday, September 28, 2006

Is Dickerson Another Victim Of Democratic Racism Against Black Republicans?

An idea that became etched in my mind back in the early 1990s has been re-affirmed by recent political events here in Indianapolis in the Carson-Dickerson congressional race and in other states where African-American candidates are running for public office as Republicans: Democrats practice racism against black Republicans. Although African-Americans were traditionally Republicans because it was the party which freed the slaves, fought for the enactment of the 13th, 14th and 15th Amendments, integrated the armed services and supported the enactment of the first federal civil rights act, most blacks and Democrats today expect blacks to be Democrats. And if they are not, they are scorned, ridiculed and worse.

The defining moment for me on this point was the nomination of Clarence Thomas by President George H.W. Bush in 1991 to the Supreme Court and the ensuing efforts of Democrats to derail Thomas at all cost. Liberals made it clear from the outset of his nomination that they would “bork” him just like they did to Reagan’s controversial Supreme Court nominee, Judge Robert Bork. Unlike Bork, Thomas didn’t have a long paper trail to dissect, and when it became apparent that Thomas would win the support of enough moderate Democrats to win nomination, the Democrats resorted to the worst of smear campaigns to destroy Thomas.

Democrats would rely on a years’ old sexual harassment claim of Anita Hill, a former employee who worked under Thomas at the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission in their smear effort. Ignoring the fact that Thomas’ accuser was herself an EEOC lawyer who hadn’t bothered to follow any of the legal procedures over which she was supposed to be an expert to assert her claim in a timely manner, and that the only witness who could be produced to support Hill’s claim was a woman Thomas had fired because she called a fellow EEOC employee a “faggot” because he was gay, Democrats nonetheless pushed a claim which could never be legally proven as grounds for defeating his nomination. Thomas’ angry reaction to the Democrats’ witch hunt was understandable. He accurately described the effort against him to members of the Senate Judiciary Committee:


. . . as far as I'm concerned, it is a high-tech lynching for uppity blacks who in any way deign to think for themselves, to do for themselves, to have different ideas, and it is a message that unless you kowtow to an old order, this is what will happen to you. You will be lynched, destroyed, caricatured by a committee of the US Senate rather than hung from a tree . . .
Despite their best efforts to stop him, Thomas narrowly escaped defeat and was seated on the Supreme Court. For others it wasn’t over. In my home state of Illinois, a respected moderate Democrat, Senator Alan Dixon, was visited upon in the worst way for daring to support an African-American to the Supreme Court who did not “kowtow” to the “older order” of the ideal African-American. He lost in the Democratic primary to a State Representative Carol Mosely-Braun, an African-American Chicago legislator, who I knew from working at the Illinois House of Representatives as being both corrupt and dishonest. Dixon’s vote in support of Thomas’ nomination was attributed to his unexpected primary loss to Braun. Illinois voters figured this out and voted her out after her first term.

While candidates of both parties are known to sling mud at one another, it seems some of the worst is reserved for use against black Republican candidates. It’s happened in many past elections, and it is happening again this election year. In Maryland, Democrats are unleashing a ferocious attack against Lt Gov. Mike Steele, a black Republican who is seeking the Senate seat being vacated by Sen. Paul Sarbanes (D). Black Democratic leaders there claim the use of “racially tinged attacks” on Steele are justified because he is a “conservative Republican.” The Washington-Times reports:

Such attacks against the first black man to win a statewide election in Maryland include pelting him with Oreo cookies during a campaign appearance, calling him an "Uncle Tom" and depicting him as a black-faced minstrel on a liberal Web log.

Operatives for the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee (DSCC) also obtained a copy of his credit report -- the only Republican candidate so targeted.

But black Democrats say there is nothing wrong with "pointing out the obvious" . . .

This week, the News Blog -- a liberal Web log run by Steve Gilliard, a black New Yorker -- removed a doctored photo of Mr. Steele that depicted him as a black-faced minstrel.

However, the blog has kept its headline "Simple Sambo wants to move to the big house." A caption beneath a photo of the lieutenant governor reads: "I's Simple Sambo and I's running for the Big House" . . .


In neighboring Ohio, Democrats have been relentless in their personal attacks against Secretary of State Kenneth Blackwell, a Republican candidate for Governor in that state. They created a fake MySpace site for Blackwell which includes numerous racially tinged comments. The site says, “My nephews call me Tom.” “Help a brother out. I have court dues.” In reference to “Who [Ken] would like to meet”, the site reads: “Ohio voters and in particular the white female ones. Ted Strickland's belt buckle.” A picture of Blackwell with former First Lady Barbara Bush is captioned: “How’d she taste?” His favorite TV show is listed as “Amos & Andy.” His favorite book, not surprisingly, is listed as “Uncle Tom.”

And then there’s Indianapolis where Rep. Julia Carson (D) reserves her most ferocious attacks for her African-American Republican opponents. The respected Butler University professor Marvin Scott saw years’ old sexual harassment allegations ala Clarence Thomas dug up by Carson supporters late in the campaign to smear him. And this year, we have seen negative allegations raised directly by Rep. Carson about Eric Dickerson’s personal finances and a 15-year-old unproven charge that he beat his wife. The facts and circumstances indicate that Carson and her supporters will do just about anything to destroy Mr. Dickerson in her quest to make him the 6th opponent she has vanquished to win the right to continue representing the people of Indianapolis in Washington.

At this point, it is worth taking a look at what happened earlier this year in Mike Steele’s Senate campaign and comparing it to Carson’s campaign to smear Dickerson. A Democratic Senate Campaign Committee worker pleaded guilty to misrepresenting herself as Steele by using his social security number to obtain his personal credit report. As reported by the Washington Post:

The episode took place in July as both parties started investigating the backgrounds of candidates in Maryland's marquee races this year.

According to the prosecutor's statement, which Weiner said was accurate, she used Steele's Social Security number to access his credit report on a Web site designed to let people view their reports.

Weiner pretended that she was Steele, even creating an e-mail address -- gopsteele@yahoo.com -- needed to obtain the report, the statement said. She also agreed to the "terms of service" on the site, which included a warning "not to impersonate another person."

Observant AI readers will recall that when Carson operatives nefariously obtained the 15-year-old police report on Dickerson hidden away in files from public view from local law enforcement authorities, in their zeal to smear Dickerson, the report was posted up on the Internet via Taking Down Words site without bothering to redact the social security numbers of Dickerson and his wife from the report. Horrified that this information had been posted on the worldwide net for consumption, Dickerson was first alarmed that he and his wife might become the next victims of identity theft. He immediately contacted the local social security office, but he was advised that neither he nor his wife could change their social security numbers to protect themselves from identity theft; instead, he was advised to notify at least the three major credit reporting agencies to put them on alert.

Regular AI readers will also be quite familiar with the daily musings of one of Rep. Carson’s most loyal political supporters and former Center Township Trustee clerk, Wilson Allen. For months now, Allen, in daily comments on this site and elsewhere, has dropped numerous items of a personal nature concerning Dickerson for public consumption. They’ve centered on a variety of topics, including other businesses, homes and property Dickerson allegedly owned besides his Buick dealership. Wilson often reminded Dickerson supporters of their candidate’s admonishment to “be nice” and not “beat up” on your opponent in the months prior to last week’s disclosure of the Dickerson police report. The Indianapolis Star confirmed it obtained the 15-year-old police report from a Carson volunteer. When Dickerson appeared on Abdul In The Morning to explain the 15-year-old incident a day after Carson told the Star’s editorial board that he “beat his wife to a pulp”, Wilson quickly posted this quip a full two hours before Taking Down Words posted the police report furnished by the Carson campaign volunteer:

BUT, Things are seldom what they seem, Skim milk masquerades as cream; ighlows
pass as patent leathers; Jackdaws strut in peacock's feathers. BUT. Black sheep dwell in every fold; All that glitters is not gold; Storks turn out to be but logs; Bulls are but inflated frogs.BUT, Drops the wind and stops the mill; Turbot is ambitious brill; Gild the farthing if you will, Yet it is a farthing still.

Is it not fair to ask if Ms. Carson’s campaign, which appears to have had possession of the Dickerson police report for months, with both Dickerson and his wife’s social security numbers on it, did what the Democratic staffer did in Steele's Maryland Senate race and use that information to obtain the Dickerson’s credit reports? I raised this issue with Mr. Dickerson in a telephone conversation I had with him earlier this week. Before the police report surfaced on the Internet with he and his wife’s social security number, he admitted to being taken aback by information bantered about concerning him on the Internet by Allen and other anonymous bloggers over the past several months, who claimed to have knowledge of his personal and business affairs. With the knowledge that these folks had his social security number for months, his suspicions have been raised as well. Given what happened in Maryland just a few months earlier, AI thinks U.S. Attorney Susan Brooks would be well-advised to investigate whether the Carson campaign, or someone acting on their behalf, illegally used the Dickersons’ social security number to obtain his confidential credit history.

Ms. Carson's racist campaign against Dickerson, like all the other racist campaigns mounted by Democrats across the country against black Republicans, must be called out for what it is. While the media is quick to jump on allegations that a white candidate, such as Senator George Allen (R-VA), is a racist because of statements he allegedly made decades ago as a college student, the current racist actions of Democrats against black Republicans is largely ignored. Rep. Carson is the first to scream racism whenever anyone attempts to criticize her. Well, turnabout is fair play Rep. Carson. Your campaign against Eric Dickerson is racist. And you should be ashamed.

Brizzi Unhappy With Kennedy Ads

As Democratic prosecutor candidate Melina Kennedy talked about her plan to restructure the prosecutor's office around a community-based prosecuting approach, Prosecutor Carl Brizzi's campaign questioned new ads Kennedy is running to tout her candidacy. The Star's Jon Murray writes:

A plan to be released today by the Democratic candidate for Marion County prosecutor calls for expanding the office's community outreach by linking prosecutors with neighborhoods.

Melina Kennedy, who is challenging Prosecutor Carl Brizzi's bid for re-election, said she would restructure the office's 168 deputy prosecutors into community-based teams. That would expand on Brizzi's community-based prosecution efforts.

"Every prosecutor will know their neighborhood, and every neighborhood will know their prosecutor," Kennedy said.

If her plan sounds familiar, that's because AI first reported on it after Kennedy made an appearance before the Indy Rainbow Chamber earlier this month. The idea actually makes a lot of sense. Murray also reports on Brizzi's campaign being upset about Kennedy lifting the mantra of his campaign "Experience. Tested. Tough":

Marion County Prosecutor Carl Brizzi's campaign ads have been using the mantra "Experienced. Tested. Tough."

Now he says Melina Kennedy stole the words for a new campaign ad that began airing Wednesday on local TV stations.

Brizzi figures those words tout his experience with criminal cases. In Kennedy's new ad, each word flashes on the screen in separate sections as a narrator talks about the Democrat's experience as a lawyer and as Indianapolis' deputy mayor.

The Marion County Republican Party called a news conference Wednesday to protest. It contends the first part, which shows Kennedy questioning a witness on the stand in a staged courtroom case, misleads viewers into thinking Kennedy has tried real cases.

"We're asking her to pull the ad now," said Ryan Vaughn, the county GOP's political director. A Brizzi campaign spokesman supported his call.

Kennedy defended the ad and said the Republicans' charge was false. She may not have tried criminal cases, she said, but she has participated in civil trials.

"I have questioned a witness under oath in front of a judge in court," Kennedy said.


Republicans might jump on Kennedy's defense of her experience, noting that she only claimed to have "questioned a witness . . . in court." Does that mean she's only done it once?

More Theft Cases Probed In Coroner's Office

Although Coroner Kenneth Ackles has maintained that the theft of $3,000 from a dead man last year by someone in his office was an isolated incident, Marion Co. Prosecutor Carl Brizzi tells the Star that there are more cases involving stealing from the dead under investigation. The Star's Brendan O'Shaughnessy reports today:

The Marion County prosecutor's investigation of the coroner's office includes the handling of a 70-year-old woman's death in a car crash, according to a court document released Wednesday. It also includes the death of Mooresville resident Brad A. Johnson, 29, in December 2004.

The document -- an affidavit filed in obtaining a search warrant -- doesn't shed further light on the Johnson case. Nor does it include any more than the name of Northside resident Dorothy McCain, who died in late August when her Nissan Maxima collided with a van at Grandview Drive and Horizon Lane on the Northside.

Prosecutor Carl Brizzi declined to say exactly what he was looking into in these cases. But he said they involve potential theft from corpses at the coroner's office and inadequate efforts to notify family members about the deaths of loved ones.

Brizzi's office has been investigating such allegations for the past few weeks, and until Tuesday, it was believed he was focusing primarily on two cases.

On Wednesday, Brizzi said his investigators had fielded calls from three or four more families with similar complaints since his office served the highly publicized search warrant on the coroner's office the day before.

O'Shaughnessy's report also notes that 3 of the 7 death investigations involve the premature babies who were accidentally overdosed with Heparin at Methodist Hospital. O'Shaughnessy says Ackles declined comment about allegations that property was stolen from other dead bodies.

Wednesday, September 27, 2006

Looking For Friends of Ike, Anyone There?

Indianapolis city-county councilor Isaac "Ike" Randolph has not been detoured by his unsuccessful party bid to succeed Murray Clark in the Indiana Senate last year. In fact, he's looking for Friends of Ike to assist him in a bid to become Indianapolis mayor next year. A friendly AI reader passes along an e-mail Ike sent out this week. It reads:

I think I'm ready to set the ball in motion for next year's mayoral race. Can you give me at least 10 names of that would like to join my team? I have a project I'm working on and need 100 or so people. Just have them e-mail me their contact info with "FOI" (friends of Ike) in the subject line.

I guess this shouldn't come as a surprise. Ike has pretty much become a permanent fixture on WIBC's "Garrison" talk show. Even "Abdul In The Morning" gives him more air time than the guy deserves. I've never understood how a full-time Indianapolis fireman has so much time to make appearances on radio talk shows, in addition to all the city council meetings and do-gooder events he attends. If Heather Bolejack's good friend hadn't double-crossed him, he would have also had a gig helping the Indiana Criminal Justice Institute waste taxpayers dollars.

It's a free country. Ike can run for whatever office he chooses, but I suspect the prospect of his mayoral candidacy will be met with no more favorably than his state senate bid last year. We'll learn soon enough.

UPDATE: Star political columnist Matt Tully blogs today that his Friday column will focus on Ike's likely bid for mayor next year. He notes that he recently filed an exploratory committee, although "nothing is definite." I'd be lying to you if I said I wouldn't be flattered to have the job," Randolph said. "I think people understand it's time for a change," he continued. "Crime is out of control. It's important to have somebody who is committed to making sure your kids can get home safe. As a firefighter I've learned not to run away from problems. You run into them. You arm yourself well. You do as much pre-planning as you can but you also adapt and overcome and you never give up."

Kudos to Matt for acknowledging that Advance Indiana scooped him on this story. Tully writes, "By the way, my hope was to save this story for Friday's paper. But the hard-working blog Advance Indiana has posted an e-mail Randolph sent to potential campaign supporters, so the news is out."

Let's hope Matt touches on the question many have been asking in the GLBT community for the past year. Why did you promise to support the HRO when you first ran for the council, then later renege on that promise and refuse to talk to anyone in the GLBT community about your change of heart?

Pre-Mid-Term Changes For Daniels

Gov. Mitch Daniels announced a reshuffling of leadership at four of his top agencies. BMV Commissioner Joe Silverman is out and Ron Stiver, commissioner of the Department of Workforce Development, is taking his place. Stiver's chief deputy, Andrew Penca, will take his place as commissioner. Mickey Maurer is leaving his post as Commerce Secretary by year's end. His chief deputy, Nate Feltman, will step into his shoes. Miguel Rivera leaves the Department of Labor as commissioner to make room for Lori Torres, a Greenwood attorney. And finally, his Chief of Staff Harry Gonso, will head back to Ice Miller before the year's end to make room for Earl Goode, his deputy chief of staff and former head of the Department of Administration.

If you're looking for a person to clean up the problems at the BMV, Stiver would not seem to be the choice. His short-sighted reorganization efforts at Workforce Development made quite a mess of things, causing unemployment beneficiaries to wait an unnecessarily long time to receive their benefits. The Department of Commerce has definitely had some successes, although I think they give away the store sometimes. Feltman makes sense if you're satisfied with the results. It would have been preferable for Daniels to have chosen a person with a background in labor to run the Department of Labor; she is, however, the only new face in the bunch. According to the Governor's press release, "her areas of expertise include real estate law, criminal law, bankruptcy practice, commercial law and litigation, probate and corporate law, as well as being a certified mediator." Penca worked previously as "an investment advisor for AG Edwards & Sons in Indianapolis and served in several product planning and market analysis positions for Honda R&D Americas, Inc., in Torrance, California" according to the press release. Again, he doesn't really have the appropriate background to do the job, but it's politics. Nobody ever seems to get hired in politics because they're the best candidate for the job.

Ron Gibson Charged In Scuffle With Police Officer

WTHR-TV is reporting that an arrest warrant has been issued to city-county councilor Ron Gibson in connection with a scuffle he had during Black Expo this summer outside the Blu lounge with a Marion County sheriff's deputy. He has been charged with battery, disorderly conduct and public intoxication. WTHR reports:

City-County Councilor Ron Gibson faces charges stemming from what happened outside a downtown nightclub in July.

Gibson (D) faces charges of battery against a police officer, disorderly conduct and public intoxication.

On July 16, a disturbance was reported at the entrance of the Blu Lounge at 232 S. Meridian. The officer who responded to the scene, Detective Jean Burkert, saw crowds of people trying to get inside and though someone might get hurt. Some of the people in the crowd were told by the officer to back up.

According to the probable cause affidavit, Ron Gibson was among those in the crowd being told to hold off. The officer said Gibson, who was demanding to be let into the club because he was next in line, showed signs of being drunk. Det. Burkert told him he wasn't going inside. Gibson shouted at her and pushed her with both hands. He left after being told to leave the area.

Former Monroe County Prosecutor Barry Brown was appointed special prosecutor to look into the case after Marion County Prosecutor Carl Brizzi requested it.

Gibson has not been arrested, and no arrangements have been made for him to turn himself in. If convicted on all charges, he could face up to a year in jail.


Marion Co. Prosecutor Carl Brizzi's office turned the investigatation over to a Monroe County prosecutor to conduct an independent investigation. If Gibson is convicted, he faces up to one year in jail. This could have serious repercussions for his efforts to be re-slated by Democrats next year for his at-large council seat. Kudos to Indy Undercover, which was the first to report on the warrant being issued for Gibson's arrest. Gibson had also been touted as a possible successor to Rep. Julia Carson.

Tuesday, September 26, 2006

First Republicans Emerge From Darkness

Last May, AI commented on the disappearing act that the First Republicans Forum did after it was launched a year earlier with the mission of restoring the Republican Party to its traditional roots. AI is happy to report that the group has re-emerged, with a set of principles, hoping to impact the direction of the Indiana Republican Party. In a press release issued this week, the group says:

A growing Indiana Republican political organization released today a set of 14 principles they believe represent the ideals of the moderate wing of the Republican Party. First Republicans Forum was formed in response to divisive opinions within the party on several social issues, and kicked off with an event last year at which Christine Todd Whitman was keynote speaker. Whitman, former governor of New Jersey, also served as Director for the Environmental Protection Agency during the first term of President George W. Bush. She resigned over disagreement with the president regarding US policy on global warming.

“We are not a single issue organization, nor do we all agree on every issue,” said Syd Steele, an Indianapolis attorney who serves as chairman of First Republicans Forum. “Our name says that we are first of all, Republicans, because we are fiscal conservatives. The name was chosen also because of our strong affinity for the ideals of the early Republican Party that Abraham Lincoln helped start,” he added.

Two important principles of the First Republicans Forum read as follows:

“First Republicans believe that government derives its power and authority from the individual, and that each person’s ability, dignity, culture, religion and freedom must be honored.

First Republicans believe in equal rights, equal protection, equal justice, equal opportunity and equal responsibilities for all people, regardless of race, religion, creed, age, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity, disability or national origin.”

“Having our board of directors reach agreement on these issues is big.” said Chris Douglas, a member of the group who participated in drafting the principles. “Moderates are not usually very vocal or assertive when it comes to politics. Working to put these principles on paper helped members articulate how we want our policy makers and elected officials to govern.

“Generally speaking, moderates also want more civility, tolerance and statesman-like behavior during campaigns. “Looking over someone’s record of votes or achievements is one thing. Outright character assassination is another,” he added.

First Republicans Forum has established a blog (http://www.firstrepublicans.typepad.com/) to promote its perspective on politics and government. The group intends to poll current federal, state and local candidates, using the principles as a measure, before issuing endorsements prior to the upcoming November election. One principle the group anticipates may be perceived as essential is a candidate’s agreement or disagreement with one of the principles that concerns separation of church and state. It reads:

First Republicans believe the separation of church and state enables people of all faiths and beliefs to coexist peacefully and religion to flourish in America, freeing us from religious strife and affording us domestic tranquility that is enduring and historically unprecedented. Religious principles must not be legislated.

“Our forefathers knew firsthand the struggles that ensued when one religious group worked to dominate policy or –even, each other. The fact that we do not have a national religion is no mistake,” said Melissa Martin, president of a local public policy marketing and advertising firm that has long been involved with the Republican Party.

“There are a lot of people out there who say they are independent, who are fiscal conservatives and social moderates. They may not have been able to figure out where they belong. They belong with us.” She added.
AI likes what the First Republicans Forum stands for. It is, afterall, what has been advocated on this site for the past eighteen months. It is encouraging that House Speaker Brian Bosma's law partner, Syd Steele, is chairing the group's efforts. If only Steele could get Bosma to understand how wrong-headed his determination to enact a constitutional amendment banning gay marriages and other benefits to unmarried couples is, that would be a good start for the group. Unfortunately, it's too late to make a difference in this election. Also, if the group is to succeed, it must be willing to reach out to a much broader group of people than the very small group it currently consists of. That is what inclusion is all about, isn't it? Otherwise, it will go away like another similar group, Republicans for a Better Way, did about a decade ago.

Ackles Speaks: Search Warrant Was Unnecessary

After hiding in his chiropractic office all day, Ackles finally opened his door to tell WRTV that the search warrant Marion Co. Prosecutor Carl Brizzi served on his office today was "unnecessary", and that he thought Brizzi was politicizing matters in his office. Ackles attempted to deflect attention away from the investigation of his office's conduct by shifting the discussion to the accidental deaths of the infants and Brizzi's intention to examine those deaths. WRTV reports:

The Marion County coroner on Tuesday criticized the county prosecutor's decision to obtain and serve a search warrant at the coroner's office, saying he already was cooperating with the prosecutor's probe into possible mismanagement of bodies, records and property.

Prosecutor Carl Brizzi, accompanied by his investigators, delivered the search warrant to the coroner's office Tuesday. A grand jury is looking into seven cases, including one in which the coroner's office identified a body but failed to tell his family or police. The dead man's family reported him missing, but they said they didn't learn about his death until after the coroner's office had a funeral home cremate the body.

Brizzi also wants a review of the cases of three premature infants who died this month from overdoses of an anti-clotting drug administered at Methodist Hospital.
The coroner's office deemed those deaths to be accidental.

The investigators accompanying Brizzi seized records from the coroner's office. Afterward, Coroner Kenneth Ackles said in a news release that he was surprised that Brizzi had used a search warrant.

"This process, we felt, was unnecessary, especially in light of our office turning over file materials whenever requested by members of law enforcement agencies," Ackles said. Ackles also addressed the cases of the three infants and implied that they were being turned into a "political issue."

"Based upon our review of the infants, medical records (and) investigations, we agreed that the death was accidental," Ackles said. "We routinely rely upon physicians to determine the cause of death in hospital settings. We do not believe that the deaths of three young children should become a political issue."

Brizzi said he has been examining issues relating to the coroner's office for at least five weeks. Before Ackles' statement was released, Brizzi talked about why he sought the search warrant. "There have been allegations about the mishandling of bodies, missing documents (and) missing cash," Brizzi said. "As opposed to doing a regular subpoena, because of the nature of those allegations, because there are missing documents, we thought that the search warrant was the best way to get the documents that we need and preserve the integrity of the investigation." Among the issues being examined by the grand jury are allegations that more than $3,000 in cash and property belonging to a deceased man was stolen.

Brizzi indicates that his office launched the investigation about 5 weeks ago according to this report, which would be the last week of August.

UPDATED: The Star's Brendan O'Shaughnessy, who has been doing a great job getting the facts out about the ongoing scandal in the coroner's office, sees his page one story relegated to the back-page of the Metro-State section today. Hmmm. His article also depicts Ackles as trying to deflect attention away from the problems in his office by criticizing Brizzi for politicizing the matter by serving a search warrant on his office. In particular, Brizzi has reason to question the motives of the coroner's office, particularly with respect to the death of Carl Southern. That's the case where the coroner's office failed to notify Southern's family or police after it identified him; instead it cremated his body. On this matter, O'Shaughnessy writes:

"These are serious allegations about mishandling of bodies and documents," Brizzi said. "This body could have been the city's 117th homicide (this year). We don't know, because we never got a chance to do an autopsy."

Brizzi said his investigation has been in the works for about five weeks. Details about the investigation were first reported earlier this month after it was learned that money stolen from Wright's body in October led a police detective to question the security of evidence and property at the coroner's office.


Interestingly, the Star seemed more determined to give equal coverage to a press conference by Democratic candidate Melina Kennedy charging that the prosecutor's office's mishandling of a case last year led to another murder in the city. You can read the facts for yourself, but I think the facts in this case do not support Kennedy's claim in the least bit. More evidence needed to be acquired in the case in order to hold the accused in jail--it's called due process.

Meanwhile, Sen. Pat Miller tells O'Shaughnessy that she will try to pass legislation next year to increase training requirements and their employees. There is little she can do, however, because the Indiana Constitution dictates the qualifications for the coroner, which allows just about anyone living and breathing to hold the office.

300 East Bar Owner Charged In DUI


Center Township Trustee Carl Drummer assured Star readers last Sunday that alcohol would be served in moderation at the proposed 300 East "private club/bar" space he turned over to political insiders earlier this year without a lease, or without following zoning and building code regulations. But Indy Undercover reports that the man who is supposed to be in charge of the proposed bar, Lacy Johnson, III, who is the son of one of the investors, was arrested recently for driving while intoxicated. Indy Undercover reports:

Indyu was in the CCC today and guess what Indyu found? A DUI arrest for Lacy Johnson, Jr. Not only is he the son of Lacy Johnson, Sr., but also one of the registered owners of 300 East, that bar in the government building. Apparently Johnson's case is playing musical judges right now. Indyu will not make fun and point out the total irony of the owner of a bar in a government building is arrested for DUI, but you LEOs can. Have at it. By the way, he's also applying for the liquor license in the Carson Center as well.

If he is found guilty, demonstrating that one of the principals of the proposed bar in the government center can't drink and drive responsibly, how can we expect any better of the patrons served at the establishment. Julia Carson, shut down this bar before it's too late. Big hat tip to Indy Undercover for catching this one.

Abdul talks about this "Odd DUI" over at Indiana Barrister.

Prosecutor's Office Descends On Coroner's Office



The Star's Jon Murray brings breaking news about investigators from Marion County Prosecutor Carl Brizzi's office descending on the scandal-plagued Coroner's office this morning, with Brizzi himself, armed with search warrants. Murray writes:

Investigators with the Marion County prosecutor's office served a search warrant at the office of the county coroner this morning.

About a half-dozen men and women, including Prosecutor Carl Brizzi, went into the office. They declined to comment on the search warrant, but said the office would issue a statement later today.

About a half-dozen men and women, including Prosecutor Carl Brizzi, went into the office.Brizzi said they were reviewing seven death investigations by the Marion County coroner.

Grand jury investigators served the search warrants because “there have been some questions about the integrity of record-keeping in the office.” He did not elaborate.

Coroner Kenneth Ackles was not at the morgue, 521 W. McCarty Street, during the sweep.

The prosecutor's office has had an ongoing investigation into the coroner's office over allegations of mismanagement. In a report written in February, a police detective said he found a lack of computer security that allowed nearly three-dozen employees to alter property receipts without detection. That lapse has raised concerns that evidence could be corrupted.

The memo, dated Feb. 9, also reported that several thousand dollars worth of county equipment was missing and concluded that the coroner's office, "at least on the administrative level, is incompetent and careless."

Not surprisingly, Coroner Kenneth Ackles, who earns a living as a chiropractor, was not around when the investigators arrived. Advance Indiana began writing about the crisis in Ackles' office earlier this month. When the Star first wrote about the mess, among other things, we asked about the missing property. The Star later confirmed the problem of missing property, as well as its botched efforts to notify the family of a missing man, who may have been murdered, and then cremating his body. Brizzi's office is alarmed by these discoveries because of their potential to compromise future prosecutions by his office. Brizzi's office reportedly backed up a truck at the coroner's office early this morning and hauled away a load of documents from the coroner's office.

WTHR adds to the intrigue, reporting that the prosecutor's office is looking into possible obstruction of justice charges. Ackles has been in hiding all day at his chiropractic office, but he issued this statement to WTHR late today: "We do not necessarily believe that any current employee of the Coroner's office has misplaced any personal items or property. If I find, or it is determined, that anyone in our office has been careless or violated the public trust in any way, they will be dealt with swiftly and appropriately." We do not "necessarily believe" that Ackles thinks his employees are innocent.

Making Sense Of Endorsements

The Star's Mary Beth Schneider tries to make sense of the Greater Indianapolis Chamber of Commerce's list of endorsements, but it's not an easy challenge. Apparently, the Chamber wanted to make a statement about its support for government consolidation in Marion County and those who stood in the way. She writes:

Merely voting "no" against the Indy Works government consolidation plan wasn't enough for a legislator to lose the endorsement of the Greater Indianapolis Chamber of Commerce.

Shouting no, though, was.

"The more vocal opponents did not receive our support," said Mark Fisher, business advocacy manager for the Chamber.

This meant that Rep. Phil Hinkle (R), the chief author who controlled the consolidation legislation, and Rep. Mike Murphy (R), county GOP chairman, did not get an endorsement. But the man who really calls the shots in the House, House Speaker Brian Bosma (R), and who could have used the power of his leadership position to force the consolidation legislation through the House but did not, got the Chamber's endorsement and a check for $1,000. All other Marion Co. Republican legislators also got the Chamber's endorsement, even though they too voted against the consolidation legislation. The local chamber did not endorse any challengers, including Hinkle's and Murphy's, only incumbent legislators.

The Indiana Chamber of Commerce was equally as perplexed by the local chamber's endorsements, which also included an endorsement of Bosma's fiercest foe, Rep. Pat Bauer (D), who is in line to become Speaker once again if the Democrats recapture the House as most observers now expect will happen. Schneider writes:

"Are you shocked?" Bauer asked with a laugh.

The Indiana Chamber of Commerce was.

Michael Davis, vice president of political affairs for the state Chamber, said the Democratic leader votes against the Chamber's agenda more than 75 percent of the time.

"He's not even close to being eligible for an endorsement."

Fisher, with the Greater Indianapolis Chamber, said Bauer was endorsed because "we respect the position."

If Democrats win the House, he said, "he will have influence over who sits on what committee and what issues get heard."

In other endorsement news, Senate Democratic candidate Russell Brown picks up an endorsement from the state AFL-CIO, a federation of more than 800 local unions throughout Indiana. "I am so pleased to have earned the endorsement of the Indiana State AFL-CIO," said Brown, "The working men and women of the AFL-CIO are the backbone of our communities and to have their support means a great deal." In addition to the support of the AFL-CIO, Brown has also been endorsed by the International Brotherhood of Teamsters Local 135, United Steelworkers Local 1999 and the United Autoworkers Region 3. Brown is opposing Sen. Jim Merritt (R).

Monday, September 25, 2006

Gun-Carrying Legislators

The Star's Vic Ryckaert has a story today on the State's decision to finally beef up security at the State House with the installation of metal detectors. The story notes that Hoosiers will have to check their guns at the door if they want to enter, but the gun ban won't apply to legislators and judges with permits to carry concealed guns on their person. This part of the story shocked me:

But lawmakers and judges are a different matter. Legislators have been carrying guns into the Capitol for years, exercising what they say is their Second Amendment right to bear arms. Twenty-five of Indiana's 150 senators and representatives had permits to carry concealed weapons in 2003, according to a study published by The Journal Gazette of Fort Wayne.

Sen. Brent Waltz is among the elected officials licensed to carry a sidearm under his coat. He supports the security measures and does not plan to bring his gun to the office after the new steps are implemented.

"I'd probably check it at the door," Waltz said. "I think it is not a bad thing to have fewer firearms in the Capitol."

Waltz, R-Greenwood, said he is not worried about his safety inside the Statehouse, but his trip to and from the building sometimes makes him a little nervous.

Lawmakers, Waltz said, vote on emotionally charged issues -- such as proposals to ban gay marriage or abortion -- and occasionally receive death threats from those who disagree with their positions.

"Certainly there's a level of risk anyone involved in public life takes," Waltz said. "It's important for government to try to reduce those risks as much as possible."

One out of every six legislators carries a gun! For what? Most people don't even have a clue who their state representative is. And Waltz is armed with a gun because he cast a vote to ban gay marriage? Presumbably, since he voted for a ban on gay marriage, he thinks some crazed homosexual is going to use him for target practice. That's really funny Brent. You do protest too much.

Hate Crimes And Family Values

Advance Indiana has doggedly advocated the enactment of a hate crimes law, which would allow prosecutors to seek enhanced sentencing of criminals who commit crimes against persons and property because of prejudice based on a person’s race, religion, sexual orientation or other form of bias. Both candidates for Marion County prosecutor support such a law. Prosecutor Carl Brizzi tried to get legislators to introduce legislation this year, but he was told it wasn’t going to happen in a short session. Democratic candidate Melina Kennedy says she’s embarrassed that Indiana hasn’t enacted a law. Only four other states—Arkansas, Georgia, South Carolina and Wyoming—don’t have such a law.

Opponents of such a law claim that you are punishing people for thought rather than the act they committed. But what the law really accomplishes is tougher punishment based on the person’s intent. People committing crimes against a person because of their race, or because they are gay, have accepted a dehumanized image of their victim. This perception in the criminal's mind makes the crime justified because civil laws apply only to “normal” human beings, not sub-humans or animals.

In its worst form it results in such things as the 1930 Marion, Indiana lynching, where local residents dragged accused, innocent black men from their jail cells and hung them as a large crowd approvingly watched. In 1998, the nation was shocked when two Wyoming men robbed, severely beat Matthew Shepard, tied him to a fence and left him to die. The attackers used the so-called gay panic defense to justify their crimes—he allegedly made sexual advances toward them. They were not, however, charged with a hate crime because Wyoming did not and does not to this day have such a law.

Whether it is the lynching in Indiana or Shepard’s gay beating death in Wyoming, the problem lies in the prejudices people are taught early in life. As Shepard’s mother Judy has said:

Matt is no longer with us today because the men who killed him learned to hate. Somehow and somewhere they received the message that the lives of gay people are not as worthy of respect, dignity and honor as the lives of other people.
Unfortunately, these are not just isolated incidents. While hates crimes committed because of a person’s race have been on the decline, reported crimes committed against a person because of their sexual orientation have been rising. One of the worst such incidents happened right here in Marion County after the Shepard crime in 1999, and the crime was committed by none other than the grandson of Rep. Julia Carson (D), who has publicly advocated positions in support of gay civil rights. Jamie Carson, then-18, broke into the home of two gay men with two accomplices, forced them to perform sex acts on each other at gunpoint, burned them with a steam iron, tied them together and taunted them with homophobic remarks. One of the men was forced to drink a mixture of urine and bleach. Vic Ryckaert of the Star reported on Carson’s victims in April 13, 2002 edition:

An Indianapolis man was found guilty of brutalizing two men during a 1999 robbery in an attack a prosecutor called a hate crime.

After a one-day trial Friday in Marion Superior Court, Judge Patricia Gifford convicted Jamie C. Carson, 20, of six felony charges and one misdemeanor in connection with the October 28, 1999, sexual assault and torture of two men in a Northwest side apartment.

“In this particular case, it happened because they were homosexual,” said Deputy Prosecutor Richard Plath. “There’s no question that this is a hate crime, and we are going to push for that at sentencing.”

Indiana does not have a law that addresses hate crimes, Plath said, but such acts can be used to justify tougher sentences.

Carson is scheduled to be sentenced May 10. Plath said the charges carried a maximum penalty of 240 years in prison.

Police say Carson and two accomplices forced the men at gunpoint to perform sex acts on each other. The victims were tied up and burned with a steam iron. One was forced to drink a mixture of bleach and urine.

Carson’s fingerprint was found on the steam iron. Carson, who was allowed to act as his own co-counsel with the assistance of public defender Bob Hill, claimed the evidence was planted by police.

The judge said she did not believe his argument.

“The fact that the defendant’s fingerprint was found on one of the items used to torture these men is extremely telling,” Gifford said.

One victim, Eric Heyob, testified that the horrific events replay over and over in his
mind.

“The pain is indescribable,” Heyob, 26, said after the verdict. “Now, here today, the verdict is a sigh of relief.”

Heyob agreed to be identified. The Indianapolis Star does not normally identify sexual assault victims without their permission.

Carson, the grandson of U.S. Rep. Julia Carson, was convicted of robbery, attempted robbery, two counts of criminal deviate conduct and two counts of criminal confinement. He also was convicted of the misdemeanor of carrying a handgun without a license.

The congresswoman, a Democrat who represents parts of Indianapolis, was not in court Friday. When contacted after the trial, Julia Carson’s staff said she was not available to comment on the case . . .
In an earlier report at a bond hearing in the November 6, 1999 edition of the Star, Jamie Carson, who was also charged with several other homes invasions, the Star reported that “members of both the Hispanic and gay community showed up in court to make it known they wanted Carson in jail.” The Star added, “Many of the victims in the robberies are Hispanic, and police believe they were targeted in part because most of them do not speak English and would have problems communicating about the attacks.”

Carson’s grandson committed these crimes at the age of 18. The deep-seated prejudices he held towards gays and Hispanics were no doubt learned at home. While Carson boasts of her record on gay and minority issues, she was noticeably silent when her grandson was charged and convicted. She offered no explanations and no apologies on behalf of her family. Even worse, she was never publicly questioned by the GLBT or Hispanic community, or asked to apologize to the victims and the affected minority communities.

Carson was very quick this past week, however, to drag out an unproven, 15-year-old charge against her Republican opponent, Eric Dickerson. “He beat his wife to a pulp,” she claimed. Although both Dickerson and his wife, the alleged victim, denied the charge, Carson justified raising the issue because she says her mother was a victim of domestic violence and Dickerson was pretending to be “Mr. Righteous”. Carson, whose has had her own tumultuous, broken marriages, was careful not to claim to be a victim of such abuse herself. She knew better. If her broken marriages, failed businesses, self-dealing and scofflaw ways were laid bare the same way she opened one day in Mr. Dickerson’s life up to scrutiny fifteen years ago, she would be run out of town.

While some in the gay community have criticized Advance Indiana for raising questions about Carson because of her past support for GLBT issues, it is impossible to separate the private actions from her public life. A person’s private actions often speak louder than their public actions, and that is the case with Rep. Carson. She screams racism and negative campaigning whenever she is asked legitimate questions about her actions in public office. At the same time, she has proven in campaign after campaign a willingness to drag up old charges against her political opponents, which play on people’s prejudices. When her opponents are African-American-males, she and her campaign operatives drag up charges that play to white people’s worst stereotypes of black men. When her opponent is a gay man, she and her operatives drag up charges to play on straight people’s worst stereotypes of gay men. These are the values she teaches her family, and her political operatives.

Yes, Indiana needs a hate crime law. We need a hate crime law because when Carson-like “family values” are taught to our children, we are forced to live in a community that shuns diversity and promotes fear and hatred towards those who are different than us. But we also need leaders who reflect true “family values”. Look at Rep. Carson and her family, and then take a look at Eric Dickerson’s life-time achievements, service to his country and, most importantly, his "unbroken" family. Whose children were taught true "family values"? Whose family would you want your family to be like?

UPDATE: An Advocate story about one of Carson's victims came to my attention today. Joshua Runnels tells the Advocate in 2002 of his nightmare ordeal. The article begins: "It took three years, but Indiana resident Joshua Runnels finally got justice on May 10 when Jamie Carson, the ringleader of three men who broke into his house and tortured him and his roommate in an antigay attack, was sentenced to 120 years in prison. Carson, 20, is the grandson of U.S. representative Julia Carson, an Indiana Democrat." To continue reading, click here.

Uncovering Indy Undercover

Indy Undercover has been making quite a presence in Indy's blogosphere since it arrived on the scene last month. The self-described law enforcement officer using the pseudoname Sgt. Joe "Just the Facts" Friday of "Dragnet" fame has been putting Sheriff Frank Anderson and Mayor Bart Peterson on edge with his insider look at Indy's law enforcement efforts, or lack thereof. As he describes his purpose:

With crime on the rise and only a fraction of the stories being reported in the media, this is a site dedicated to discussing crime and related issues from a Law Enforcement Officer's point-of-view. This site is dedicated to all LEOs on the frontline in Indianapolis Marion County and Central Indiana.


While the identity of this LEO has remained largely a mystery, his cover will be removed on October 1 according to a post he made this past weekend. He writes:

Indyu is told the powers that be are putting pressure on LEOs to reveal Indyu's identity. As Indyu has no desire to see officers put under any duress by the administration, Indyu will reveal its identity on October 1st. You may feel free to speculate as to who you think Indyu is, but the answer will come 8 days from now.

A lot of folks will be watching with baited breath for this announcement. The recent post has already drawn dozens of posts with a wide variety of speculating going on. Many commenters urge the LEO to reconsider his decision to uncover himelf.

A Democrat Who Wants To Work With Daniels

Today's Star has some interesting political items. Mary Beth Schneider's rundown of the race to succeed Sen. Robert Garton (R) is revealing. Democrat Terry Coriden recently purchased a $150 ticket to a fundraiser in Columbus which raised money for Gov. Mitch Daniels' political action committee. Coriden's Republican opponent Greg Walker did not attend the event at which Daniels appeared. "I wanted to send a clear message that I want to work with this governor," Schneider quoted Coriden.

Although Coriden claims to have the support of many Republicans, Walker tells Schneider there is no split in the party and the district is heavily Republican. Walker tells Schneider he doesn't even think the race is competitive. Schneider notes the third party candidate in the race, Libertarian Kenn Gividen. "I'm not so much running against Greg as I'm running against that Republican button on the voting machine," Gividen told Schneider. She writes, "If elected, he said, he'd caucus with the Republicans and would even consider becoming one, if he got 'the blessing of Libertarians.'"

And there's this other very interesting item in today's Star. If Indiana Republicans weren't worried about this election before, they should be after reading the story about how MicroVote's voting machines' software has a flaw which does not permit voters to cast a straight party vote. Jason Thomas writes:

Without the fix, voters wouldn't be able to cast straight-party votes on MicroVote General Corp.'s Infinity voting machines. The machines are used in 47 counties, including Hamilton, Hendricks, Morgan and Shelby.

The Indianapolis-based voting machine vendor is used in a lot of big Republican counties, including most of the Republican-rich counties surrounding Marion County. Making matters worse is the fact that the vendor didn't bother to alert state election officials of the flaw. Thomas writes:

MicroVote discovered a software problem on its Infinity system days before the primary election and disabled the system's straight-ticket function so its machines could be certified for the primary. MicroVote did so without telling the Indiana Election Commission, the four-member state board that certifies voting equipment.

MicroVote's action -- discovered weeks after the company filed to make an upgrade in August -- has shaken the commission's trust.

"I am disturbed by their lack of candor, and the commission is disturbed by their lack of candor," said commission Chairman Tom Wheeler, who sent a three-page letter to every county election official using MicroVote's Infinity system.

The company is now hustling to upgrade the software used by nearly 5,000 machines in Indiana to ensure the straight party feature required by law is functioning by election day. The voting systems were utilized in this year's May primary without the feature. Although the feature is not needed in a primary election, the feature was required for the system's use notes Election Commission lawyer Brad King.

Sunday, September 24, 2006

Democrats Misfire In Effort To Smear Brizzi

Marion County Democrats are feeling a little uneasy these days with skyrocketing crime in the city and major scandals developing in the sheriff's department, the coroner's office and the Center Township Trustee's office--all offices under their management. They thought they were going to have a one-two punch, starting with Rep. Julia Carson's false accusation that her Republican opponent "beat his wife to a pulp," but the second punch really blew up in their face.

It seems Democrats tried in a press release this week to accuse Marion County Prosecutor Carl Brizzi's office of doling out legal work to House Speaker Brian Bosma's law firm without a contract, and they demanded that an independent audit of his office be conducted. As it turned out, a 10-year contract the office had prior to Brizzi taking office was actually terminated last year. Tucked away in today's "Behind Closed Doors" column in the Star is this little tidbit:

Marion County Democrats nailed Prosecutor Carl Brizzi this past week -- or thought they did. In a news release headlined "Carl Brizzi takes care of his friends," Terry Burns, the party's executive director, blasted Brizzi for paying a politically connected law firm without a contract. More than $60,000 was paid from 2003 to 2005 to Kroger, Gardis and Regas, a firm that includes Indiana House Speaker Brian C. Bosma, R-Indianapolis.

The Democrats, who called for an independent audit of the office's finances, got the information from a public records request.

But Brizzi, a Republican running for re-election against Democrat Melina Kennedy, said they asked for the wrong information.

The Democrats requested any written agreements with the firm. The prosecutor's office replied that it "has no contract or agreement or letter of engagement with this law firm."

Not that it never did.

"We took it to mean current contracts," Brizzi said. His office had a written agreement for the firm to provide guardianship work but terminated it last year, he said. The office hires a handful of outside law firms for some work, and Brizzi said Bosma's firm had worked with the prosecutor's office for 10 years.

"We can only go with what the prosecutor's office tells us," said Burns, adding that he still thought an audit of the office was needed.

Instead of accepting blame for the misfire, the Marion Co. Democrats blame Brizzi's office for providing them inaccurate information. Note that no one in the Democratic Party has called for an independent audit of the Center Township Trustee's office after the Star revealed that Marion Co. Trustee Carl Drummer handed over government-owned space to political insiders to construct a bar illegally without entering into a lease. Note also that the Star relegated this item to its weekly gossip column--no editorials and no newstory. To have done so would have shown the Democrats to have eggs on their face.

Out With Drummer, In With Ivey

If any voter in Center Township wanted to see the contrasting views of the two candidates for Center Township Trustee, you need look no further than today's Star editorial page. On the one hand, you have current Center Township Trustee Carl Drummer defending the "private club/bar" he allowed political cronies to construct in the Julia Carson Government Center without following appropriate legal safeguards as an upscale [establishment] to reflect the upscale standards of its well-dressed clientele." On the other hand, you have Drummer's Republican challenger, Linda Ivey, reminding us that the primary purpose of the Center Township Trustee is to "provide service to the poor and needy", not "spend[ing] millions on buildings."

Drummer's defense of the "private club/bar" would be laughable if it weren't so serious. His entire focus is on how upscale and nice it is, making no attempt to explain why he didn't require the political cronies to enter into a formal lease or abide by zoning and building code regulations to construct it. His obsession with the establishment's appearance is quite telling. He writes:

With its wireless connections, high-tech video screens, well-polished windows and neat d├ęcor, it is suitable for hosting corporate events in a smoke-free environment. By conscious design, the 2,200-square-foot facility is upscale to reflect the upscale standards of its well-dressed clientele. Step inside, tables and chairs are neatly arranged, positioned alongside a few pieces of furniture to make for a slightly more relaxed setting.


Contradicting all of his earlier public pronouncements on the subject, Drummer asserts that 300 East is not a bar or lounge, although he concedes alcohol will be served in the "2,200-square-foot-facility", not the 900-square-feet-area described in an earlier Star report. As he puts it, "Alcohol will be served, albeit in moderation, as a complement to a menu of freshly prepared food items." Drummer's prior description of it being only for "African-American professionals" is wisely omitted from his defense. Trying to deceive us on neighborhood support for the facility, however, he says, "The Mapleton-Fall Creek CDC is opening its arms to welcome the new establishment." It is overwhelmingly in support of this endeavor," he adds. Anyone familiar with CDCs in this town know that they are run by political appointees of the mayor and do not always act in the best interests of the neighborhoods they are meant to serve.

Drummer devotes considerable time to defending his efforts to find alternative uses for the vacant space in the building. He tried unsuccessfully to lease it to McDonald's and Starbucks, but he was turned down by both. He writes:

Efforts included listing space for lease with Summit Realty for more than a year and frequent self-directed inquiries into the business community. In its commitment to maximize the economic return on township assets, management evaluated and agreed that the recent proposal to invest more then $500,000 by a group of respected community members, now known as 300 East, was a prudent decision.

Remember, the Julia Carson Government Center is a government office building first and foremost. What Drummer doesn't mention is his refusal to move the Center Township Small Claims Court out of the city-county building and into the government center. Instead, he accused County Auditor Marty Womacks of engaging in partisan politics when she attempted to move the court out to make room for newly-added county courts. In fact, Center Township is the only township which had ever been allowed to maintain its small claims court in city-owned property rent-free. Drummer decided he would rather start paying the county more than $12,000 a year in rent for the space rather than utilizing the empty space the township already had in the Julia Carson Government Center.

While Drummer has obviously misapprehended what his official duties as trustee are, his Republican opponent has not. As she explains, "The real story about Polin Park and the bar at the Julia Carson Government Center is being overlooked." She writes:

The real story is that the Center Township trustee spends millions on buildings instead of people. Redeveloping the neighborhood is not the same as feeding, clothing and sheltering the most vulnerable among us.

The Julia Carson Center was bought for about $400,000 and more than $5 million was spent renovating it. Only one of its seven floors is used for township administration purposes. Any operations in the center could be housed in the Massachusetts Avenue building because the top floor and basement are empty. The annex building behind it is also empty.

The latest Center Township purchase, the old Fall Creek YMCA, also has questionable utility. The sport facilities are leased to a members-only health club. Most of its 100 dormitory rooms and apartments remain empty. But there are great plans: $1.8 million was appropriated in the 2006 budget to move the sewer lines (the whole facility cost only $1.5 million). The purpose is to create space for new development: A bank and a fast-food restaurant are envisioned.

Ivey hits the nail on the head. Just when did it become the duty of the Center Township Trustee to buy up buildings and spend millions of taxpayers dollars to develop them for private use? "Under the law and by principle, the primary goal of the trustee must be to provide service to the poor and needy of Center Township," Ivey writes. She continues, "Trustee Carl Drummer seems to believe owning buildings will do this. If elected, I will make sure tax dollars go to help pay for medical care, clothing, utilities and transportation. Our poor relief tax dollars should heat homes, not office buildings and bars."

Linda Ivey gets what the Center Township Trustee is supposed to do. It's time for the voters of Center Township to send Drummer packing. He should have no problem finding employment from one of the political cronies he's gone out of his way to help ahead of the needy people he was elected to help. He'll be more comfortable working under their "upscale standards" with their "upscale clientele."

UPDATE: RiShawn Biddle has added his thoughts on Carl over at Expresso. He finds him to be quite a riot. Here's a sample:

The funniest part about this latest bit of public relations work this government leader is performing on behalf of the proposed bar's investors is what he leaves out: The fact that he allowed the investment group to build out the space without signing them to a lease, a practice most "business people" wouldn't tolerate by half. The attempt -- with the acquiesence of Indy Parks czar Joe Wynns -- to transform part of nearby Al E. Polin Park into a parking lot. The original plan to make the bar a private club for himself and his pals.

Drummer is so funny that he should take his act to Crackers or Morty's; even better, he can start his own comedy tour. That way, he can get out of his current gig of serving Center Township's citizens -- which he's proven to be quite inept at handling -- and let someone else take a crack at doing the job right.

Saturday, September 23, 2006

Airport Project For Sale

The Indianapolis Business Journal's Jennifer Whitson reports that "three developers are vying for the chance to build a four-story, 250-to 300-room hotel connected to the new $974 million midfield terminal and garage at the Indianapolis International Airport." And who are the bidders? Whitson reports:


Indianapolis-based Mansur Real Estate Services wants to build a 300-room Westin. Locally based KMI Realty Advisors Inc. would develop a 254-room Hilton to be owned by local developer Al Kite . . . And Merrillville-based White Lodging Services Corp. pitched a 250-room Marriott . . .

Partial funding or low-cost financing from the Airport Authority may prove crucial to the deal's feasibility," said [hospitality consultant Rob] Hunden . .
.

Airport Authority staff hope to make a recommendation to the board on a favorite design in the next 30 to 45 days, according to Jay McQueen, who is supervising the bidding for the authority.

Observant AI readers will recall that the Airport Authority's president is Lacy Johnson, an Ice Miller partner, lobbyist, and close political confidante of Rep. Julia Carson (D). While the Airport Authority contracts with BAA to operate the airport, Johnson is the guy really calling the shots. The winner of this latest deal will no doubt be decided by Johnson as the board's president.

A couple of years ago the Star reported about a lawsuit the former airport director for BAA, David Roberts, brought after he was forced out of his job because he allegedly didn't follow Johnson's orders. The Star wrote on June 4, 2004:


The former airport director at Indianapolis International Airport alleges he was fired last year for calling attention to "political opportunism" in airport hiring and contracts by an influential Democrat that Mayor Bart Peterson named as airport board president in 2000.

Indianapolis Airport Authority board President Lacy Johnson and board members attempted to influence airport staff to hire political favorites of Johnson, including an embalmer for whom there were no suitable job openings, according to a five-page notice of the former director's intention to file a lawsuit, which was recorded with the state and obtained by the Indianapolis Star.

"Johnson attempted to influence employment of minorities, unionization of employees, allocation of space to airlines and concessionaires . . . engagement of favored contractors and suggested removal of BAA employees who were considered politically too Republican.

The former airport director, David Roberts, claims that in 2001 Johnson asked him to employ a "female state representative who was unqualified as an embalmer and who was a protege of Mr. Johnson's godmother."

The godmother "is also a Congresswoman," the complaint states, in an apparent reference to Indiana's only congresswoman--Julia Carson, a Democrat who represents Indianapolis.

When Mr. Roberts told Mr. Johnson there were no suitable vacancies, Mr. Johnson said, "Other companies do this," according to the complaint.

Johnson, an attorney at prominent Indianapolis firm Ice Miller, was out of the office and could not be reached for comment Thursday . . .

AI is told that the lawsuit was quietly settled to avoid embarrassment to the Peterson administration. The Indianapolis FBI office apparently missed this one as well. A lot of federal dollars are pouring into the work out at the airport and somebody should be checking up on how the dollars are being doled out.

Johnson has long been rumored to have a financial interest in various minority firms which have participated in government contracting opportunities elsewhere. As the president of the Indianapolis Airport Authority, he should be required to fully disclose every single business in which he has any financial interest, and that disclosure should be made publicly available. Until that is done, we have every reason to be suspicious of what is transpiring out at the airport under his leadership based upon the assertions of Roberts and Johnson's penchant for getting rich off insider deals--his latest deal--300 East at the Julia Carson Government Center. Absolutely no business in which Johnson has an ownership interest, or which is represented by his law firm, should be allowed to do busines with the airport authority.

Team Carson

I'm providing in this post a list of the people on the payroll of Rep. Julia Carson (D), indicating their positions and respective salaries based upon the latest publicly available data.

Alfreda Carter, Staff Assistant ($30,266.64)
Kyle Chapman, Intern ($20,833.32)
Chad Chitwood, Press Secretary ($34,000)
Mya Clarkson, Legislative Aide ($40,666.64)
Jarnell Craig, District Director ($47,819.96)
Martha Doneghy, Legislative Director ($55,666.64)
Dani Dotson, Staff Assistant ($35,320)
Charles Ford, Jr., Staff Assistant ($11,640.00)
Adairius Gardner, Communications Director ($43,955.52)
Daniella Gratale, Legislative Assistant ($32,333.32)
Chris Goldfarb, Staff Assistant ($32,257,78)
John McNulty, Staff Assistant ($25,255.52)
Arati Nayak, Executive Assistant ($48,044.48)
Catherine Noe, Staff Assistant ($10,333.32)
Michael Snavely, Legislative Assistant ($48,044.48)
Clydonna Surrett, Staff Assistant ($30,266.64)
Hilary Swab, Staff Assistant ($32,466.64)
Sarg Visher, Chief of Staff ($85,333.32)
Sara Williams, Staff Assistant ($40,666.64)

A few of them seem to have a lot of time on their hands to troll the blogosphere and post comments on behalf of Rep. Carson's re-election campaign.

Friday, September 22, 2006

Bowell's Guilty Plea

Earlier this week AI commented on how quickly Marion Co. Prosecutor Carl Brizzi's office was able to obtain a guilty plea from former Marion County Public Library board member Mark Bowell under the state's conflict-of-interest statute after the Star's Kevin Corcoran's initial report earlier this summer. I ran into Carl Brizzi last night at the Lambda Legal dinner, and he wanted to correct the impression I left that his office's investigation was triggered by Corcoran's investigative story.

Brizzi explained to me that his office began investigating Bowell's relationship with Turner Construction nearly a year and a half ago, long before Corcoran began asking any questions. He further indulged me to understand that these types of investigations often take a long time, and that his office takes public corruption cases very seriously. I was encouraged by Brizzi's comments.

Why Isn't This Happening Here?

You might call it politics as usual in Chicago, but at least there's some attempt to hold people accountable there. From the front-page of today's Chicago Sun-Times:

FBI agents raided at least seven Cook County offices Thursday morning looking for evidence that officials were illegally doctoring tests or otherwise cheating to give government jobs and promotions to politically connected applicants.

"Step away from the computers," one of the 25 FBI agents who massed at the county's Human Resources Department told employees. The agents arrived at 9 a.m. and stayed long past dark poring through records, taking some with them.

The raids came a month after a Sun-Times story quoted county department heads as saying former Cook County Board President John Stroger's patronage chief Gerald Nichols pressured them to hire clouted people for jobs in which political hiring was prohibited. And the raids followed several years of news reports detailing alleged corruption, mismanagement and patronage hiring in county agencies.

FBI agents also appeared at Stroger Hospital, Oak Forest Hospital, the downtown Cook County Forest Preserve offices, Provident Hospital, Cermak Hospital and the Cook County Juvenile Detention Center to serve subpoenas for records.

Does anyone at the Indianapolis office of the FBI actually notice what's happening under their own noses? They might want to start by doing what their Chicago counterparts are doing at the Center Township Trustee's office, the Indianapolis Airport Authority and Rep. Julia Carson's office to name just a few. And by the way, how many people in Carson's congressional office actually perform legitimate congressional work? It seems some Carson staffers have nothing to do but log on from their www.house.gov web server to play politics by monitoring what's happening on the blogosphere and hiding behind anonymous comments to spin their pathetic message.

Thursday, September 21, 2006

My Daily Constitution

As a reminder, the My Daily Constitution event on GLBT rights is tomorrow, Friday, at the Out Word Bound bookstore on East Street next to Aesop's Tables from 8:00 p.m. to 10:00 p.m. The constitutional cafe will give participants an opportunity to discuss liberty and equality for GLBT citizens under our constitution. Please come out for the event. The discussion promises to be thought-provoking and will involve a great deal of audience participation.

Posting Comments

Due to the unfortunate mischief of some disturbed individuals who have nothing better to do than spam this site, extra hoops will have to be jumped through to post comments, at least for the time being. Sorry for the inconvenience, but the uncivil leave me no other choice.

In Her Own Words

Following the arrest of her husband more than 15 years ago on domestic abuse charges, Paula Dickerson wrote to prosecutors within days of the incident to urge them to drop the charges against her husband. She followed up with another letter later on after prosecutors continued to pursue the case over her objection. You won't find this part of the story in the Indianapolis Star or on any of the reports on the television news stations around town. You read and you decide whether Eric Dickerson criminally abused his wife 15 years ago on one occasion. Here's what she had to say a few days after the arrest on August 31, 1991, in her own words:

During this past week I have spoken with various people both in your office and with the police department who have claimed that I am a "battered woman living in a violent situation."

I appreciate laws that have been legislated to protect women who are being abused. However, these laws are instituted to help women, not to destroy marriages or the family structure.

This past weekend my husband, Eric Dickerson, was arrested. I have been read the police report over the phone and have found instances of assumption made on the police officer's part who filed the report.

I am not a battered woman; I am not living in an abusive environment; nor are any of my children neglected or abused.

One incident has taken place last weekend that has catapulted our whole family into a category where legally we do not fit, or belong.

I have been told that an "angry touch" constitutes not only battery, but abuse.

Be for real! If that were the case, every husband and wife would be behind bars at one time or another. And not only that, but the public school systems would be closed down due to gross amounts of profanity and abusive behavior directed against students and teachers alike.

This is a sick society we are living in and it becomes nauseating when a woman is told that she is a "state's victim" for the prosecution against her husband of 20 years who is a good husband to her and good father unto their children.

I am writing this letter to let you know that I am not a battered wife and am not going to promote you or any police officer who was called to the scene, not by myself, because of a situation that got out of hand and because angry words were spoken between my husband and myself. Neither am I going to testify as "state's witness" against my husband for him "touching me" while angry.

Both Eric and I will be showing up in Municipal Court , Room #16, September 16, 1991 at 9:00 a.m. as husband and wife and we both will be leaving as husband and wife.

You can find this letter and another letter Paula Dickerson wrote, along with what remains of the court file over at Taking Down Words, which is apparently turning this incident into a crusade against domestic violence. Fits right in with Melina's charge that Brizzi's soft on domestic violence. That's fine. Let's just see if Taking Down Words will have the same point of view when similar reports surface having to do with Democratic party office-holders and candidates.