Thursday, May 31, 2007

How Bad Is It?

A guy lives in a condo in the 400 block of Mass Avenue above Hoaglin To Go. He rises early race day Sunday to walk his dog about 4:00 a.m. before getting an early start at the track. He stumbles upon a guy preparing to spray paint graffiti on the call box at the front door. The vandal grabs him and slams his face on to the sidewalk, breaking out teeth and leaving a big gash on his forehead which required stitches. It's just another day in Mayor Peterson's Indianapolis. Do you feel safe?

Even Nuvo columnist David Hoppe, who is typically very pro-Peterson, is beginning to think crime may and should become a big issue in this campaign. He writes:

I don’t know about you, but I can’t think of a time when crime in this city has seemed so pervasive — and I’ve lived here close to 20 years.

It’s worth noting that we’re having an election this November. Campaigning was what Greg Ballard was trying to do on that afternoon a man was shot. Ballard is running for mayor against Bart Peterson, who is seeking his third term. Ballard held an impromptu press conference to say that crime in this city is out of hand, the police are stretched thin and that something needs to be done.

Some people probably thought holding a press conference at a crime scene was grandstanding. I thought Ballard had a point: Crime in this city ought to be an election issue.

Wednesday, May 30, 2007

Jim Bopp To The Rescue

Fort Wayne Observed reports that embattled Fort Wayne GOP candidate Matt Kelty has hired the religious right's go-to attorney, Jim Bopp, to defend him against charges he illegally failed to report six-figure loans from three individuals on his campaign finance disclosure statement prior to this May's primary, a race he narrowly won over the party's favorite, Nelson Peters. Most of the money in question came from Fred Rost, who heads Allen County Right to Life. Interestingly, Bopp has represented numerous Right to Life groups around the nation in challenging campaign finance laws and regulations he and the anti-abortion groups believe impede upon our free speech rights. One can't help but wonder if there is a Right to Life link between the Kelty campaign and Bopp's legal representation in this particular matter.

UPDATE: Jim Bopp landed in Fort Wayne earlier today to announce that Matt Kelty had done nothing wrong. WANE-TV reports:

An attorney hired by Matt Kelty said in a noon news conference that the Republican nominee for Fort Wayne mayor is in complete compliance with campaign finance laws. James Bopp is considered an expert in campaign finance law. He is based in Terre Haute, but is also well-known on the national level.

Bopp contends that Kelty has actually done more than is required by law and has done nothing wrong.

Last week, questions were raised concerning the origin of $158,000 in Kelty campaign funds. Initially, those contributions were listed as coming from him. But Kelty submitted new paperwork to the Allen County Election Board reflecting the funds in question were actually loans from members of his campaign staff. The election board has asked Kelty for further details before it can hold a public hearing on the matter to determine if anything illegal was done.

Allen County Democratic Chairman Kevin Knuth attended the news conference and NewsChannel 15 spoke to him afterwards. Knuth says despite what Bopp claims, there's still a question of ethics even if no laws were broken and that will be an issue with voters.

Let me get this straight. He didn't report $160,000 in loans he received from three individuals to finance his uphill battle against party favorite Nelson Peters, which constituted more than three-quarters of the money he raised during the primary. Instead, he said he loaned the money to his campaign from his own personal funds. A few party leaders catch wind of the actual source of the loans, tell him he broke the law and ask him to come clean. Kelty fesses up and amends his campaign report to reflect the true sources of the loans. And we're supposed to believe he didn't break the law because Jim Bopp says he didn't break the law? Don't forget that Bopp's testimony before the Indiana Senate concerning the effect of SJR-7 was contradicted by a prominent Reagan-appointed judge, J. Harvie Wilkinson, III. It seems to me that Right to Life has a lot of exposure here in this mess and Bopp is in full damage control mode.

Ballard To Peterson: Get Your Priorities Straight

Indianapolis GOP mayoral hopeful Greg Ballard thinks Mayor Bart Peterson (D) should devote his time and attention to the city's spiraling crime problem before devoting attention to another Super Bowl bid. Ballard takes aim at the recent revelation about the high number of vacancies existing in the ranks of the city's police officers. That story was broken last week by WXNT radio talk show host Abdul Hakim-Shabazz and picked up on by the Star this week. Ballard says in a press release:

“Mayor Peterson should drop his plans to seek a Super Bowl until he has solved the dangerous shortage of police officers in the new Indianapolis Metropolitan Police Department (IMPD).”

Ballard also renewed his call for Mayor Peterson, Sheriff Anderson and Monroe Gray, President of the City-Council, to reopen and adequately staff the police substation at 42nd and College Avenue, citing recent violent assaults against the elderly in the Butler-Tarkington neighborhood. Ballard added "This is just one tragic example of Mayor Peterson's shortcomings in fighting crime."

Local news media cited a department report that says the new IMPD is short 120 sworn officers and 57 civilian employees. Ballard said, “Eight years ago Bart Peterson ran on a pledge promising 200 new police officers. Here we are eight years later and we are 177 officers short—120 of these are sworn officers who should be on patrol in our neighborhoods.”

“Mayor Peterson knows this is a problem. That’s why he is already running campaign ads making even more political promises about his plans to address crime. But the citizens of Indianapolis aren’t going to be fooled by slick campaign ads. We don’t have enough police on the streets—that’s a fact. And so far, we don’t see any aggressive action by the mayor to solve this problem,” stated Ballard.

“Everyone likes the Super Bowl, but it makes no sense for the mayor to spend money, time, energy or political resources on a do-over on a failed Super Bowl bid when we have a serious police shortage and rising violent crime,” said Ballard. If anyone is still wondering why criminals are growing more brazen, I think today's Indianapolis Star article about police shortages should answer his or her questions.

Ballard makes a good point. It's sort of like making plans for the purchase of a new car when you're three months behind on the mortgage payment. Ballard also earns some media attention today from Star columnist Matt Tully in his pursuit of making crime the number one issue in this year's mayoral election. Tully introduces Star readers to the unknown Ballard:

Let's pause here to introduce Ballard. He's a Cathedral High graduate who returned to the city a few years ago after 23 years in the Marines. These days, he teaches a course at Indiana Business College and conducts leadership seminars. He looks and sounds more like a CEO than a Marine.

"I have the ability to look at things and say, 'Why aren't we doing it this way?' " the father of two said. "I've done that all the way through my career."

Ballard talked about his campaign as we walked through the Indianapolis Motor Speedway Hall of Fame Museum on Carb Day. He talked a bit about the cars but mostly about crime and Peterson's record.

"I find it a bit insulting that his first commercial is about crime," he said.

"This man has had eight years, and this city is heading in the wrong direction."

What would a Mayor Ballard do? First, he said, he would ask the legislature to put the mayor back in charge of police. That, he said, is leadership.

Ballard doesn't want to sound like a one-issue candidate, but, he said, "crime is the issue of the day," and it is tied to other core issues such as schools and economic development. Before Election Day, he hopes to introduce himself with TV ads. For now, I asked him what he wanted voters to know.

"I want people to know there is someone capable out here," he said. "Someone who can make a difference, someone who can do it and do it better."

Ballard has five months to sell himself. Whatever the outcome, five months of talking about issues will be good for all of us.

Tully is skeptical Ballard will be able to raise the money needed to become a viable candidate. "At this point, the 52-year-old Pike Township resident doesn't have enough campaign cash to rebut commercials being aired by his opponent, Mayor Bart Peterson, a Democrat," Tully opines. "The reality is Ballard might not ever have enough money to do so." But he qualifies that with the following: "The beauty of U.S. politics is politicians have to face voters every so often. Many deserve re-election -- and that might be the case with Peterson -- but if the press and public do their jobs, elections can put a spotlight on politicians' records and important issues, such as crime." I'm pleased to see Tully concede the press has a responsibility to put a spotlight on Peterson's record. Let's see how well they do their job in the coming months.

ATV Accidents The Talk Of The Valley

Before I attended my nephew's funeral this morning, I read the Terre Haute Tribune-Star, the morning fare at my parents home in Marshall, Illinois. "ATV Accidents On The Rise" blared the headline for a front-page story, which included a mention of my nephew's fatal accident Friday night, along with several other recent accidents. Deb McKee writes:

In the past week in the Wabash Valley, one man died and two were hospitalized with serious head injuries after unrelated accidents involving all-terrain vehicles.The deaths are indicative of a dramatic rise in the number of ATV accidents, which authorities say corresponds to an increase in sales of the vehicles.

Gary R. Cornwell, 59, of Georgetown, Ill., was seriously injured Saturday from head injuries after an accident at Mule Ridge ATV park on Indiana 63, near Hillsdale. Witnesses said he tried to climb a steep hill when the ATV tipped over backwards.

Brett A. Eitel, 22, of Marshall, Ill. died from injuries he suffered in an ATV crash Saturday on Livingston Road, near Marshall, Ill.

Wayne Smith, 49, of Jasonville was seriously injured May 22 when he lost control of his ATV while driving in Jasonville on a county road. The ATV rolled over him, according to a news release from Indiana Conservation Officer Max Winchell. Smith was carrying a passenger, 29-year-old Shad Robling, who was thrown off and suffered injuries to his hands, arms and face. Smith was taken to Wishard Hospital in Indianapolis by Air Evac helicopter, and later released.

Less than three weeks ago, a town marshal was killed in an ATV accident in Cayuga.Louis Beam, 68, of Cayuga, died in the evening hours of May 14 in Indianapolis’ Methodist Hospital after being airlifted with injuries suffered in a May 12 ATV accident. Beam and his wife Janice had been riding their ATV in a charity event when they rear-ended another ATV on Vermillion County Road 150 in Clinton.

In Spencer County in southern Indiana, a 7-year-old boy died Sunday when the ATV he was riding flipped over on his father’s property.

The growing popularity of ATVs is attributed to the skyrocketing number of accidents according to McKee's story. “There were more than 136,000 emergency-room visits [in 2005] in the U.S. because of ATV accidents. And there were 748 deaths,” Indiana Conservation Officer Max Winchell said. "That number dwarfs figures reported 10 years earlier," Winchell said. "He says the reason is that more and more people are becoming fans of the recreational vehicles." A safety expert thinks the ATVs provide the drivers with a false sense of security:

All-terrain vehicles, weighing anywhere from 300 to 700 pounds, according to Delong, often provide the rider with a false sense of security.“They have four wheels, compared to an off-road motorcycle, but people tend not to realize [ATVs] have a real short wheel base,” he added.In addition, the vehicles are “rider active,” Delong said, meaning “wherever your body is on that machine dictates how that machine is going to handle.” The most important safety concerns for riding an ATV include wearing the right equipment (including a helmet with a mouth guard and goggles, and a chest protector); riding single; avoiding alcohol and prescription drugs while operating the vehicle; and knowing your limits, Delong said.
When I was growing up, 3-wheelers were the craze. I bought my Honda ATC-90 when I was 13. I flipped it over the first week I had it. Fortunately, I wasn't seriously injured. There is something to the false sense of security argument. Because it had three wheels, you felt like it was safer than a motorcycle. In reality, the 3-wheelers were very difficult to steer and very unstable on anything less than a flat surface. After a nationwide effort to outlaw 3-wheelers, manufacturers stopped making them and replaced them with the 4-wheelers that are now so popular. Something I learned this weekend, which surprised me, is that many ATVs are operated without brakes. After extended use, particularly in the water, the brakes are quickly worn out. An ATV like the one my nephew operated can easily reach speeds of 50 MPH or more.

I'm sure there will be efforts to ban the 4-wheelers just like there was with the 3-wheelers, but there will always be something else to take their place. Most ATV enthusiasts are thrill-seekers and naturally like living life dangerously. Skateboarding looks pretty dangerous to me, and it doesn't even require a motor.

The photo above is the ATV my nephew was riding last Friday night when he struck a tree and was fatally injured from internal injuries he suffered. Unfortunately, a lifeline helicopter was not available the night of my nephew's accident. Bad weather prevented him from being airlifted to Methodist Hospital from Terre Haute's Union Hospital where he died a few hours after he was transported there. And thanks again to all of you for your expressions of support. The outpouring of support for my sister's family in the community has been overwhelming. More than 1,200 attended the visitation services last night and there was SRO in the church today for the funeral. He was laid to rest next to his grandfather, who was buried just weeks ago.

Tuesday, May 29, 2007

Indy Bowl Bid Loss Rare

Indianapolis is the first city in 20 years which built a new stadium tailored to meet the NFL's rigorous demands for a Super Bowl bid and lose in its first bid to host the event according to the Star's Karen Esbacher. Even when Tampa lost its first bid to host the 2000 Super Bowl, the NFL awarded it the 2001 game on the spot rather than making them wait and rebid. And while NFL Commissioner Paul Tagliabue didn't come right out and promise a bowl event, his words of assurances were more than enough to convince Indianapolis leaders they would win the bid based upon recent history. Esbacher writes:

Indianapolis was never promised a Super Bowl in exchange for building a stadium, but the NFL did dangle the possibility as lawmakers debated new restaurant, hotel and car rental taxes to help pay for the venue.

During a visit to Indianapolis in March 2005, then-Commissioner Paul Tagliabue said a new facility would make Indianapolis a "strong candidate to host a Super Bowl."

While those words were far from a guarantee, Indianapolis should be celebrating right now if history is a guide.

In the past two decades, eight stadiums have been built that are eligible to host the Super Bowl under NFL rules, meaning they are enclosed or in warm climates.

Only one -- St. Louis' Edward Jones Dome -- hasn't hosted the big event. And that city never bid, a Rams spokesman said.

Of the seven others, none had to ask twice.

Six of the cities -- Miami, Atlanta, Jacksonville, Fla., Houston, Detroit and Phoenix -- were awarded the Super Bowl the first time they bid after building new stadiums, NFL spokesman Brian McCarthy said.

Tampa, Fla., which opened Raymond James Stadium in 1998, wanted to host the 2000 Super Bowl but lost in something of an upset. Yet rather than leave city officials empty-handed, NFL owners awarded them the 2001 game on the spot, even though the owners weren't set to choose a location for the game that year.

Why wasn't Indianapolis extended the same courtesy?

"It had been made very clear to all interested communities that we were specifically voting on 2011, and we weren't going to award others at this time," McCarthy said.

Asked why, McCarthy said: "To ensure focus on 2011. It would not have been fair to other potential cities that would want to bid for 2012."

Deputy Mayor Steve Campbell, who worked with the group that put together Indy's Super Bowl bid, said he and others involved in the effort aren't bitter that the NFL didn't give Indianapolis a consolation Super Bowl.

"It's their league, and they get to make the rules as far as whether they do it one or two or three at a time," he said.

Still, Glass said, he was disappointed that the new stadium wasn't more of a factor.

"We were next in line in terms of when our stadium started and when it will come online," he said. "I'm very disappointed that they (Dallas) jumped in front of us in the queue."

So it really was a slap in the face to Indianapolis for the NFL not to award the city the bid this year. If city leaders are insistent upon bidding again next year, not one more dime should be invested in the effort. By all indications, the proposal Indianapolis put together represented the single-greatest effort than any city before it had put out to win the Super Bowl. If city leaders want to take the same proposal off the shelf and re-present it next year, that's fine. But they shouldn't go to any extra effort to make any further public commitment on the part of the city to what has to be the greediest group of super wealthy men in the United States.

Monday, May 28, 2007

Dario And Ashley Enjoy Top Honors

Dario Franchitti had his "Day In The Rain" as today's Star put it. It was his fifth attempt at winning the race. His wife Ashley Judd seemed to enjoy the victory more than Dario. The entire Andretti-Green racing team seemed genuinely happy with his overdue victory, notwithstanding Michael's and Marco's and Tony Kanaan's disappointing finishes. Click photo to enlarge.

Peyton Is Still The Star Of The Town

Nobody has more star power in Indianapolis than Peyton Manning and he plays the part well. That was self-evident throughout this weekend's 500 festivities. People at the parade were more excited to see him than anyone else, he earned a mention in the prayer before the start of the 500 race and he waved the green flag to kick off the race. Click on photo to enlarge.

The Advantage Of Being Indianapolis Mayor

If you aren't the Governor of Indiana or the Mayor of Indianapolis, it is next to impossible as a politician to win a spot in the Indianapolis 500 Festival Parade. Mayor Goldsmith and Mayor Hudnut used to walk the parade route and shake hands with folks along the parade route. Mayor Bart Peterson opted for the safety of the backseat of one of the Hulman family's classic antique cars. Click to enlarge photo.

Is He Lucky To Be Alive?

Watching the replays of the spectacular wreck near the end of yesterday's Indianapolis 500 during which Marco Andretti's car flipped, it is amazing he walked away without as much as a scratch. It is a real testament to the emphasis the racing industry has placed on driver safety in recent years. Little did he know when this picture was taken during Saturday's 500 Festival Parade that he would experience the wildest ride of his life. Click on the photo to enlarge.

What's He Thinking About?

Governor Daniels rode his Harley in the 500 Festival Parade for the second year in a row. I'm curious what people think of this from a public relations standpoint. Does it humanize him? Is it too out of character? I can't really make up my mind about it. What do you think? Click on the photo to enlarge.

Saturday, May 26, 2007

In Loving Memory

A phone call at 3:30 in the morning never brings good news. My nephew, Brett, passed away early this morning. He died from injuries he suffered in a 4-wheeler accident after leaving a party celebrating his 22nd birthday with his friends. His grandfather on his father's side died a few short weeks ago. My sister is comforted knowing he is now in a better place with him.

Kelty Can't Keep His Stories Straight

Both of Fort Wayne's major newspapers take GOP mayoral candidate Matt Kelty to task for misrepresenting the source of $160,000 in loans to his campaign prior to the May primary. The News-Sentinel has a particularly strong editorial retracing Kelty's pattern of deceit throughout his campaign to date, including the following: sending out absentee ballots which didn't follow the law; claiming a Zogby poll paid for by Fred Rost was not done on behalf of his campaign, only to later acknowledge it as an in-kind contribution; reporting $160,000 in loans from Rost and another Fort Wayne company as a personal loan and belatedly amending his campaign finance reports to acknowledge the loans true source after he was pressured by local GOP leaders to come clean; and my personal favorite, claiming to be a walk-on player for Notre Dame's football team (school records disagree). Referring to his latest campaign law violation, the News-Sentinel writes, "Kelty should sweep away this suspicion and uncertainty - or make room for another Republican candidate for mayor."

The Fort Wayne Journal Gazette wants to know more about Kelty's "curious contributions." "His evasive response to questions raised by Republican officials casts suspicion on the candidate’s integrity," the editors write. "It is disingenuous for Kelty to suggest Indiana law is “unclear” with regard to disclosure of campaign contributions." "The law defines a contribution as 'cash, checks, gifts of property or services, loans, in-kind contributions, or any other things received by the committee that have value.'”

The Allen County GOP needs to end this bleeding soon. The only way to do that is to tell Kelty to step aside in favor of the man who is more well-suited and qualified for the job--Nelson Peters. Otherwise, the party stands a good chance of failing this year in its efforts to win back the Fort Wayne mayor's office.

Thursday, May 24, 2007

Kelty Misrepresented Source of Campaign Loan

A $148,000 loan Fort Wayne GOP mayoral candidate Matt Kelty earlier reported as making himself to his campaign in fact came from three other close friends and supporters of Kelty. The Fort Wayne News-Sentinel reports that Kelty will amend his campaign reports to reveal the loan actually came from Fred Rost of Allen County Right to Life and Steve and Glenna Jehl. You may recall that prior to the primary Kelty was pressured to disclose that a Zogby poll was commissioned by Rost on behalf of Kelty's campaign. The Allen County Election Board is scheduled to meet next week to consider whether Kelty broke the law by misrepresenting the true source of the loan. The News-Sentinel reports:

The Allen County Election Board will meet as soon as next week to decide whether Republican mayoral candidate Matt Kelty broke the law when he reported making a personal loan of $148,000 to his own campaign.

In fact, a report to be filed as soon as today will show the money came from Frederick Rost and Steve and Glenna Jehl. Rost is a friend who also paid $4,450 for the Zogby International poll the Kelty campaign released during the primary. Steve Jehl is a real estate developer, and his wife, Glenna, is Kelty’s campaign manager.

Although initial campaign finance reports listed the $148,000 as a loan from Kelty’s personal account, the candidate said today he does not believe the filing was misleading or illegal. The loans were secured by promissory notes and reviewed by attorneys.

But the Election Board will have to decide whether the source of the loans should have been included on earlier reports, and whether the money should have been listed as a contribution to the Kelty campaign, not as a personal loan.

Allen County Republican Chairman Steve Shine said he met with Kelty this week after several prominent Republicans expressed concern about the issue. Shine praised Kelty for coming forward quickly to clarify the source of the income, and said it is too soon to determine what damage – if any – the news will do to Kelty’s campaign against Democratic former City Councilman Tom Henry.

Kelty would be ineligible to run for office if convicted of a felony. The party could not remove him from the ballot even if it wanted to, and Shine said it is too early to say whether Kelty would be asked to withdraw so another candidate could be selected. “We’ll wait to see what the Election Board says,” Shine said. “I commend Matt for being proactive.”

Kelty, meanwhile, said he is confident he did not break the law. “This will be more political than legal,” he said.

I don't know folks. It looks like a clear violation of the law to me. If I steal money from my boss and later tell him I did so, it doesn't excuse my earlier wrongdoing. Perhaps it will mean the judge will go easy on me when sentencing me for my crime, but it shouldn't excuse me from punishment for committing the illegal act. Kelty needs to do the right thing and step down as the Fort Wayne GOP mayoral candidate and seek the forgiveness of his Lord Jesus Christ he speaks of so often. This is the second time Kelty has been caught trying to deceive the public about the source of his campaign's funding. He doesn't deserve another chance.

UPDATE: Fort Wayne Observed has provided a link to the amended documents Kelty filed with the Allen Co. Election Board, which more fully explain what transpired. Kelty actually received 4 separate loans totalling $160,000 in amount of $140,000, $8,000, $8,000 and $2,000, respectively. Kelty explains he didn't believe he needed to disclose the source of the funds he borrowed to loan to his campaign. In fact, he says he and his counsel concluded that providing the source of the loans was not required, but he decided to disclose the source of the loans "in the interest of the absolute transparency of [his] campaign and the strength of my integrity." Kelty reported he received a $150,000 personal loan from Fred Rost, which he in turn used to make two separate loans in the amount of $140,000 and $8,000, respectively. Kelty also received a $10,000 loan from Glenna and Steve Jehl from which he used to loan his campaign $2,000 and $8,000, respectively.

It is beyond me how Kelty's counsel could conclude he was not legally required to disclose the source of the loans if the funds originated from a source other than Kelty's own personal funds, which his initial disclosure statement clearly gave the impression was the source of the loans. It is analagous to me giving $2,000 to an employee, who in turn contributes the $2,000 to the candidate. It's nothing more than a way of circumventing our campaign finance laws. A person who knowingly files a fraudulent report commits a Class D felony and is subject to a $10,000 fine, three years imprisonment, or both. (IC 3-14-1-13)

ISU Lobbyist May Challenge Ellsworth

ISU lobbyist and former congressional aide Greg Goode might challenge U.S. Rep. Brad Ellsworth (D) in his first bid for re-election next year. Goode is a former aide to two former lawmakers, U.S. Rep. Ed Pease (R) and his successor, U.S. Rep. Brian Kerns (R). The AP reports:

A former Republican congressional aide who is now a lobbyist for Indiana State University said he was considering a campaign to challenge Democratic U.S. Rep. Brad Ellsworth.

Greg Goode, Indiana State's executive assistant to the president for external affairs, said he had been asked by others to run against Ellsworth, who won the seat last year by defeating longtime Republican Rep. John Hostettler.

Goode has been attending Lincoln Day Dinners and other GOP events in southwestern Indiana's 8th District in recent months.

"I think he'd be an excellent candidate. I'd love to see him run," Vigo County Republican Party Chairman Bill Treadway said. "He's a first-rate guy and does a great job at ISU."

Goode, 34, is the university's liaison in dealings with the state Legislature, Commission for Higher Education, city officials and the Indiana congressional delegation. He was a legislative assistant to U.S. Rep. Ed Pease during 1997-2001 and was chief of staff to U.S. Rep. Brian Kerns, who was in Congress during 2001-03.

Ellsworth had been the Vanderburgh County sheriff for eight years before he received about 61 percent of the vote to defeat Hostettler in last November's election. He was among three Democratic candidates to unseat incumbent Republican congressmen in Indiana as Democrats won control of the U.S. House for
the first time since 1994.

Wednesday, May 23, 2007

Morris Warns GOP On Failure To Support Immigration Bill

Political pundit Dick Morris has this dire warning for the Republican Party if it fails to embrace the bipartisan immigration reform bill brokered by Sen. Saxby Chambliss (R-GA) and Sen. Edward Kennedy (D-MA): You will self-destruct. Morris writes:

The hopes of the entire Latino community are pinned to immigration reform and, if the GOP is seen as blocking it, the consequences for the indefinite future will be horrific. The Republican Party will lose Hispanics as surely as they lost blacks when Barry Goldwater ran in 1964 against the civil rights bill (even though a higher percentage of Republicans than Democrats backed the bill in each house).

If the Hispanics are not massively turned off by a Republican rejection of immigration reform, they will drift into an increasingly pro-Republican orientation just as Irish and Italian Catholics did before them. Already Protestant evangelicalism has converted a third of the American Latino population, a clear precursor of GOP political support.

Hispanics now account for 13 percent of the U.S. population (blacks are 12 percent) and will constitute 20 percent of our population by 2020 regardless of whether immigration reform passes or not. Key red states like Texas and Florida hang in the balance, depending on the voting intention of their burgeoning Latino populations.

The reform compromise proposed in the Senate postpones, in my opinion wrongly, granting citizenship and voting rights to immigrants now in the U.S. for at least a decade. While they get legal status immediately on payment of a $5,000 fine, they must return to their country of origin and wait their turn in line for a valid green card to return legally. Only then can they become citizens. Given the seven- to eight-year wait for green cards, they would not be a potent political force until well into the next decade.

In the meantime, the GOP base should note that the bill commits the Democrats to the border fence and a major increase in border guards. It also will require tamper-proof identification cards, a key element in blocking further illegal immigration.

But the political stakes are largely in the symbolism of the bill. Whichever party is seen as supporting reform will gain a huge vote share among Hispanics, and the opponents will lose accordingly.

Had the Republicans gotten it together to pass such a bill while they ran Congress, they would have gotten unambiguous credit for the achievement. This history would have made it possible to switch Latinos into Republican voters. Surely, two-thirds of Latinos would not have voted Democrat as they did, in their disappointment with the lack of a bill, in 2006.

In fact, the Republican Party could well have held onto the Senate with a few Latino switches in key states like Georgia and Missouri.

Now the GOP will have to share credit with the Democrats, but the signature on the bill will still read “George W. Bush,” a fact that Latinos are not going to forget.

But if the Republicans kill the bill, driven by their own irreconcilable base, they will leave it to the next president — very probably a Democrat — and two Democratic houses of Congress to pass the liberating legislation. The GOP will have delivered the largest minority group in America right into the hands of its adversaries.

The compromise requires English skills, payment of a fine, and a good work history for an illegal immigrant to get citizenship. It also requires that he “touch back” in Mexico and wait his turn. The bill also puts border enforcement before the granting of rights.

Democrats want Hispanics to vote but don’t want them to work and compete with their labor union allies for jobs.

Republicans want them to work (since the employers are mostly Republican) but don’t want them to vote.

This bill, unfortunately, allows current illegal immigrants to work immediately but defers giving them the franchise for almost a decade. It’s a bill a Republican should love.

Morris makes a lot of sense. Listen up, GOP lawmakers.

Another Strange Twist In Aaron Hall Hate Crime Murder Case

Jackson Circuit Court Judge Bill Vance continued a bail hearing for Coleman King, an 18-year-old Crothersville man accused of brutally beating to death Aaron "Shorty" Hall on April 12 after Hall allegedly touched King's crotch area and asked for oral sex. That bail is even being considered in this case is an outrage in an of itself. King, along with another accused accomplice, Garrett Gray, is charged with murder and voluntary manslaughter. He and Gray were taken into police custody nearly 10 days after Hall was killed. According to a probable cause affidavit, both Gray and King implicated themselves in Hall's death during police questioning.

Although the probable cause affidavit indicates that King and Gray beat Hall over a several hour period before they dumped his naked body in a ditch along a secluded farm road, the prosecutor charged King and Gray with both murder and voluntary manslaughter. The latter charge requires the accused to have acted under a sudden heat. Indiana's criminal law says that a person charged with murder cannot be offered bail when the proof is evident or the presumption strong.

Chief Deputy Prosecutor Amy Travis attempted to offer at Tuesday's hearing videotaped statements both King and Gray gave to police as evidence opposing King's request for bail. Even though King's attorney asked for and got a speedy trial setting his client's jury trial date for June 21, less than a month away and no more than 60 days from the date of his client's arrest, King's attorney had not yet seen this videotape evidence. This led Judge Vance to continue the bail hearing until June 4. As Aubrey Woods of the Seymour Tribune reports on this week's hearing:

Jackson Circuit Court Judge Bill Vance continued a bail hearing Tuesday morning for an 18-year-old man accused of beating a Crothersville man to death in April.

That delay was created after county Chief Deputy Prosecutor Amy Travis attempted to present videotapes into evidence as part of her case for why Vance should not set bail for Coleman M. King. The videotapes were recorded by police during interviews with King, Garret L. Gray and James Robert Hendricks.

King is accused of beating Aaron C. “Shorty” Hall to death on the night of April 12 or in the early morning hours of April 13. The two men had been drinking beer and whiskey at the home of Gray, 19, at 6420 S. 1025E, Crothersville, according to court documents. Both King and Gray face murder and voluntary manslaughter charges. Hendricks, 21, Paris Crossing, is accused of helping dump Hall’s body in a ditch south of Crothersville.

King’s attorney, Joe Payne of Austin, told Vance he had not seen any of the tapes.

Travis said she just received the videotapes on Monday and had not had time to make copies for Payne but would do so.

Vance agreed to review the tapes of the interviews of Gray and Hendricks and said he would review the tape of Coleman’s interview if Payne has no objection once Payne has a chance to review it.

Vance also agreed to resume the hearing at 8 a.m. June 4.

Coleman’s jury trial is set to begin at 8:30 a.m. June 21 after Payne earlier requested a speedy trial for his client.

Gray faces a jury trial at 8:30 a.m. Oct. 16 in circuit court and is being held without bond, and Hendricks remains in jail as well on a $25,000 bond.

I can't help but ask these questions:

  • Why did King's attorney request an early trial date of June 21 when he hasn't even yet seen critical evidence which will be offered--namely the videotaped statement his client gave to police?
  • Why is King's attorney attempting to bail him out of jail when he is scheduled to go to trial on murder charges less than a month away?
  • Why are King and Coleman being tried separately?
  • Why did the prosecutor even charge King and Coleman with voluntary manslaughter when the police's own probable cause affidavit doesn't support a "sudden heat" killing?
  • Why wasn't Hendricks charged as an accomplice rather than aiding a criminal when the probable cause affidavit states: he watched the beating take place over several hours while King and Gray took camera phone photos of themselves with a badly beaten Hall and text messaged them to a friend; called another man to discuss the beating while it was happening; he assisted Hall and Gray in dumping Hall's naked body in a ditch while he was still grasping for life; he returned to the crime scene a day later to confirm Hall was dead and to retrieve a camouflage jacket of Hall's he wanted for himself; and said nothing to police until the police were tipped off by someone else many days later?
  • Have police questioned Terry Gray, Gray's father and Jackson County Deputy Coroner about what he knew and when he knew it? According to the probable cause affidavit, the beating of Hall took place in Terry Gray's home, and a detached garage at his home was where Gray's son and King hid Hall's body and where it was later discovered by police nearly 10 days after Hall's killing.
  • And finally, why is this case failing to garner serious media coverage beyond Jackson County?

Tuesday, May 22, 2007

Indy Loses Super Bowl Bid To Arlington

Shortly after the NFL announced this afternoon that it had chosen Arlington, Texas for the site of the 2011 Super Bowl over Indianapolis and Phoenix, GOP mayoral hopeful Greg Ballard fired off a press release blaming Indianapolis' rising crime rate for the NFL owners' decision. Ballard's press release reads, in part:

While many factors were considered by team owners in determining the site of the future event, Republican Mayoral Candidate Greg Ballard believes the massive increase in Indianapolis crime tipped the scales toward Dallas. “I am disappointed, but not surprised,” said Ballard. “Indianapolis is seeing record levels of violent crime in the past year, which must certainly weigh heavy in the minds of those selecting a Super Bowl site.”

According to the most recent FBI statistics, the murder rate in Indianapolis shot up nearly 55% between 2005 and 2006. In the same period, the murder rate in Dallas decreased nearly 5%. Similarly, Indianapolis showed an increase in nearly every crime statistic- violent crime, property crime, burglary, theft, and auto theft – while Dallas showed significant decreases.

Ballard concluded, “We are building a $675 million stadium. The Colts won a Super Bowl. But we will not be hosting the Super Bowl, an event that would pump more than $260 million into our local economy, because Mayor Peterson’s lack of leadership and poor planning has led to an epidemic of crime in Indianapolis."

Personally, I think it is preposterous to think Indy's crime rate had anything to do with today's decision by the NFL owners. And I would remind Ballard that it is Arlington, Texas and not Dallas which will be hosting the 2011 Super Bowl. Dallas officials, in fact, almost refused to back Arlington's bid to host the Super Bowl at the Cowboys' new stadium because of hard feelings over Cowboys' owner Jerry Jones' decision to accept a stadium deal in Arlington instead of Dallas. The NFL owners, in a backhanded way, may have actually been doing us a big favor choosing Arlington. Perhaps this may serve as a wake up call to city leaders to get their priorities straight. You have to ask why the mayor and every major city leader have been working day and night for the past several months raising money and developing plans for an event four years off when the city is being ravaged by crime and is teetering on bankruptcy from decades of accumulated debt it has no clue how it's going to repay?

The consensus seems to be that money made the difference. The new stadium in Arlington will hold nearly 100,000 compared to the 70,000 Lucas Oil Stadium will hold. That equated to an additional $16 million off the top in ticket sales, plus the Texas stadium has far more suites than Lucas Oil Stadium. So are we already back to where we started with the RCA Dome? Remember how we were told we could never host a Super Bowl because the dome just wasn't big enough and didn't have enough luxury suites?

Let's also take another stroll down memory lane. Remember when former NFL Commissioner Paul Tagliabue came into town to wine and dine Indiana lawmakers to convince them to approve the $675 million publicly-financed stadium for the Colts? And remember his assurances that Indianapolis would be given an opportunity to host a future Super Bowl if the new stadium was approved? Did that promise die with his departure as NFL Commissioner? As Field of Schemes observed at the time of Tagliabue's visit to the city:

If you were wondering how much it costs to buy an Indiana legislator, apparently the price is one $40 ribeye steak. The Indianapolis Star reports that when NFL commissioner Paul Tagliabue breezed through town to pump for Colts stadium subsidies last week, he took in a late-night dinner at the cleverly titled Mo's - A Place for Ribs with some special guests: Colts coach Tony Dungy, city stadium booster Fred Glass, and state legislators Brian Bosma, Jeff Espich, Robert Garton, Robert Meeks and Luke Kenley. The tab for the dinner, which a Mo's owner bragged was in a "completely private" room that hosts "a lot of celebrities," was paid by the Colts. What, no movie?

To be fair, we don't know if the steaks - or even the $7.75 "Joey's 'Ol Fashion' Old Fashioneds" - actually helped buy any stadium votes from Bosma & Co. But it certainly doesn't hurt, and it's not the kind of access that average citizens are likely to avail themselves of. If you doubt this, just try ringing up your state assemblyperson and asking them out for surf 'n' turf to discuss legislation you'd like passed - say, a $700 million extension to your sun porch - and wait for
the reaction

It would be interesting to hear Glass, Dungy or any of the others who met with Tagliabue to honestly relate what assurances he gave the lawmakers in attendance at that dinner about a future Super Bowl bid. One look at the long faces of Glass and Dungy today made it clear they were shocked by today's decision. I suspect if they were to be candid with us, they would concede they believe the city was double-crossed by the NFL.

Council Approves $66 Million Public Subsidy For Billionaire White

Billionaire Dean White and his White Lodging Services won approval for a $66 million public subsidy for his 1,000-room, J.W. Marriott Hotel next to the Indiana Convention Center at last night's city-county council meeting. Only two members voted against the proposal. Councilor Patrice Abduallah voted against it because he thinks White Lodging discriminates against Muslims. According to the Star's Brendan O'Shaughnessy, Abduallah wanted a written assurance from White Lodging there would be no discrimination. "Female Muslim workers in Louisville, Ky., said the company would not allow them to wear a traditional head scarf, called a hijab, at work," O'Shaughnessy wrote. The article doesn't name the other no vote on the council.

A comment by Republican councilor Marilyn Pfisterer caught my attention. She "said the project probably would go forward whether the city offered its help or not. But she said it wouldn't have the features that the city wants." The primary feature she speaks of is the large ballroom. Anyone familiar with our current convention center knows it has a large ballroom. In fact, it's the only part of the convention center that is regularly used by area residents for high school proms, charity fundraising events, class reunions, etc. Apparently seeing no benefit in having a facility for use by local residents, the Capital Improvement Board of Managers decided to eliminate the ballroom despite its several-hundred million dollar expansion planned on the site of the current RCA Dome scheduled to be demolished. That decision precipitated the need for a hotel with a large ballroom to replace the ballroom being eliminated in the expanded convention center design.

The decision to eliminate the ballroom in the convention center is inexcusable. That decision was nothing more than a ruse to provide an excuse for providing this huge subsidy for a hotel even the proponents agree was going to be built with or without a public subsidy. And the self-serving convention industry assures us the city will win more conventions as a result of the expansion--a promise made every time the convention center was expanded in the past. The problem is that our city's expansions cannot keep pace with the expansions in cities like Orlando, Las Vegas and Chicago.

"This is so much more than a Super Bowl hotel," declared Jackie Nytes. I agree, but the words I would use to describe it I would prefer not to print.

Monroe Gray Continues To Disappoint

Abdul Hakim Shabazz is talking about it this morning on his WXNT radio program, and a couple of AI readers have sent e-mails expressing their concern about it. During the Pledge of Allegiance at last night's city-county council meeting, City-County Council President Monroe Gray, not known for his sense of decorum, remained seated during the Pledge of Allegiance. As one AI reader expressed it:

I was at the CCC meeting, and was flabbergasted as President Monroe Gray sat on his BUTT during the Pledge of Allegiance.

Several times tonight Veterans were honored or mentioned and being a veteran himself, Gray knows protocol.

During boot camp the protocol is drummed into your head, then you practice it daily. You NEVER forget it.

Gray is not only a Veteran, he also attended Fire Fighters School. I’m sure the same protocol is expressed there.

Any grade school kid knows to stand when the Pledge of Allegiance is spoken. This man is a disgrace. He needs to make a public apology.

The press was all over the room... where’s the outcry?

An update on the Star's website this afternoon indicates Gray has issued an apology about the Pledge of Allegiance flap after the issue was first raised on local blogs, calling it an "innocent mistake.: The report reads:

Indianapolis City-County Council President Monroe Gray said his failure to stand during the recitation of the Pledge of Allegiance at last night's council meeting was an "honest mistake."

Gray, a veteran of the U.S. Army 82nd Airborne Division, said he meant no disrespect toward the flag or country and didn't realize his mistake until someone confronted him about it after the meeting.

"I just got caught up in the moment, preparing for the meeting," Gray said. "I had sat down thinking we were going on to the next thing on the agenda (after the prayer)."

Commentators on several local blogs immediately ripped Gray for failing to follow a basic expectation of respect for the flag. Gray said some critics attend the meetings just to find a reason to attack him. He said he apologized to the man who confronted him and said it would not happen again. "I wasn't even conscious of it," Gray said. "It was an innocent mistake."

Monday, May 21, 2007

City No Longer Safe For The Elderly

If you're a multi-millionaire looking for a handout from the government for your latest business venture, you couldn't find a better city in America in which to do business than Indianapolis. But if you're a retired person living on a fixed income, you couldn't find a city where you're more likely to lose your home due to rising property taxes or, even worse, become the latest victim of the city's spiraling crime problem. The Star's Vic Ryckaert summarizes the growing number of elderly who have become the city's latest crime victims:

Over the past two years in Marion County, people older than 65 have been victims of more than 350 robberies, seven rapes, eight shootings and three homicides, according to data from the Indianapolis Metropolitan Police Department.

And those crimes have occurred in every part of the city and county, involving whites and blacks, according to a Star analysis of the data. Other findings include:

The oldest crime victim was a 97-year-old rape victim, one of three rape victims in 2005 and 2006 who were in their 90s.

Among homicide cases, one victim was 91.

Of the robbery victims, 68 percent were white and 30 percent black, and they were evenly split between men and women. Sixty-six percent were older than 70.

Earlier this month, a 76-year-old woman was raped in her Near-Eastside home by a man who followed her as she walked home from the Interim Central Library.

Although crime rates against seniors have been declining slightly over the past 10 years, according to the U.S. Bureau of Justice Statistics, recent incidents are causing renewed concern in Indianapolis, especially on the Northside.

Three other seniors have been beaten and robbed in the Butler-Tarkington area since March 31, according to police reports.

On April 26, attackers beat 84-year-old Harold Ward when he walked in as they were burglarizing his home in the 300 block of Harvard Place. Ward, police said, suffered cuts to his head and face and a swollen right eye.

On April 16, an attacker beat Lancaster Price, 83, and his wife, Ida, 80, at the couple's home in the 4100 block of Boulevard Place. Price had a bruised left eye and scratches on his face; his wife suffered a swollen right eye.

When a 97-year-old woman has to worry about being raped in this city, you know just how bad things have gotten. Meanwhile, Mayor Peterson's attention is focused on the rich and famous as usual. His emissaries are off to Nashville with "a few tricks up their sleeves" to help win the 2011 Super Bowl bid for the city. If the city is successful in winning the bid, at the rate we're going, the city will have to block off a green zone in the one-mile square around the downtown to protect the wealthy elitists who can afford to attend the Super Bowl, and to keep out the thugs who rule our city's streets.

GOP's Anti-Immigrant Position Bad Politics

A bipartisan immigration reform bill supported by President Bush is meeting with lots of resistance within the ranks of the GOP in Congress. Unfortunately, the more unreasonable the party becomes on the issue of immigration reform, the more harm that is being done to the party in reaching out to minorities, particularly the Hispanic community. Columnist Robert Novak has this item about a discussion at a recent House Republican Study Committee meeting:

At a recent internal debate by the conservative House Republican Study Committee, Rep. Bob Inglis of South Carolina warned that the GOP ran the risk of looking like the racist National Party of South Africa on the immigration issue. Inglis' comment was made at a closed-door 'retreat' of the Study Committee held at the Heritage Foundation in Washington. The bitter debate reflected the split over immigration in conservative ranks. Supporters of President Bush's proposed moderate immigration reforms blamed last year's defeat of Republican Representatives J.D. Hayworth in Arizona and John Hostettler in Indiana on their immigration hard line. But at the retreat, the response from the majority was that Hayworth and Hostettler were not hard enough.

I think most political observers in Indiana would disagree that Hostettler lost because of the immigration debate, although there is no question Rep. Brad Ellsworth (D) has been much more outspoken against providing any reasonable relief for the 12 million undocumented aliens in this country. While Hostettler took a leadership role chairing a subcommittee which studied the issue, the bigger issue was how much time he was spending away from the district and not at home campaigning for his own re-election. I would observe that Rep. Ellsworth has made some extremely anti-immigrant statements since being elected which, if spoken from the mouth of Hostettler, would have raised a lot of eyebrows. Coming from the media darling Ellsworth, his embarrassing statements earned little attention.

After originally playing with the idea of moderating his position on immigration reform last year, Rep. Mike Pence (R) has clearly retrenched to his typical anti-immigrant position. "The president's willingness to accept the granting of amnesty to millions of illegal immigrants has sent a harmful message to Republican voters around the country," Pence told the Washington Time's Stephen Dinan. "But I also believe that'll sort itself out in the primaries of 2008. At the end of the day, this is an issue where I find myself focusing less on politics than what policy I think is in the best interests of the American people."

Would these anti-immigrant politicians prefer we round up every one of the 12 million undocumented aliens and deport them from the country? Can you imagine the shock that would have on the American economy, not to mention the countless numbers of families who would be broken up and left without a breadwinner to support their American-born children?

Hat tip to the Indiana Daily Insight.

Saturday, May 19, 2007

Ballard Wants North District Police Station Reopened

Indianapolis GOP mayoral hopeful Greg Ballard pens an opinion piece in today's Star calling for the reinstatement of the North District police station at 42nd and College Street. He believes the closing of this police station has been followed by the big uptick in crime in Butler-Tarkington, Meridian-Kessler and surrounding neighborhoods. He sees Mayor Peterson's efforts to date as being counterproductive. Ballard writes:

Our city is on pace to break the current murder record. We have seen a recent escalation in carjackings, and just recently an innocent bystander was shot in broad daylight at 38th and Meridian streets.

This trend, as well as the recent violent attacks against elderly citizens in the Butler-Tarkington neighborhood, is why I am calling on Mayor Peterson to reinstate the former North District police station at 42nd Street and College Avenue. It is increasingly evident that the loss of this station has had a negative impact on public safety in Butler-Tarkington, Meridian-Kessler and surrounding neighborhoods.

While the police are doing the best they can to be proactive, the mayor's actions are counterproductive to those efforts, and criminals are becoming more and more brazen. The right thing to do, the smart thing to do, is to put this site back in operation so that this area has the protection it enjoyed before the mayor's public safety merger.

I travel that street so rarely that I hadn't even noticed the police station at 42nd and College had been closed. I know I was very happy with the rapid police response I received about 15 years ago when I was the victim of a hit-and-run at 32nd and Central. My car was pushed up on a sidewalk and struck a pedestrian, causing her injury. When I got out of my car, a group of teen-aged thugs began beating me as if the accident was my fault. If the police hadn't arrived so quickly, I might have been more seriously injured or even killed. Police were also quick to capture the driver of the hit-and-run car.

Lawmaker Claims Lake Co. Sheriff Illegally Fired Her

State Rep. Mara Candelaria Reardon (D-Munster) worked for the Lake Co. Sheriff's office for the past three years until she was fired by Sheriff Roy Dominguez last December while the legislature was in session. Both Reardon and House Speaker Pat Bauer believe Dominguez' refusal to rehire her to her position as director of the Lake County Drug Free Alliance at the conclusion of the General Assembly this year violates a state law protecting the jobs of legislators according to a story in today's Gary Post-Tribune by John Byrne. Byrne reports:

Lake County Sheriff Roy Dominguez terminated Reardon in December, after three years running the agency that spearheads the county's anti-drug agenda. To Reardon, Dominguez violated a state law prohibiting employers from firing members of the General Assembly for missing work because of legislative duties.

Dominguez declined to discuss why he fired Reardon, except to say politics played no part in his decision. A letter Dominguez sent to Reardon this week denying her request to return to the alliance indicates he was not satisfied with her work. "(Y)our work performance reflected that you were not qualified to retain your previous position; and circumstances have changed so as to make it unreasonable to re-employ you in said position," the sheriff's letter states.

The law protecting legislators' jobs stipulates they must be qualified to return to their positions. But House Speaker Pat Bauer, D-South Bend, said the sheriff's actions break the law.

"It's a violation of the law, and I'm very disappointed in that sheriff for violating the law," Bauer said.

"He's a lame duck sheriff, so I suppose he doesn't think he has to worry about that anymore," the speaker said.

"That's a shame, because all people should be people of good will. This is a part-time job. It's a difficult job," he said.

House Democratic Caucus Supervising Attorney Patrick Cunningham said he sent Dominguez a letter informing him of the law.

"Now it's up to (Reardon) to decide how she wants to proceed," Cunningham said.

If you examine the statute in question, it appears Reardon has a pretty strong leg to stand on in being reinstated to her former job. Indiana Code 2-3-3-1 reads:

Any person being a member of the general assembly of the state of Indiana who, in order to perform the duties as a member of the general assembly of the state of Indiana by attendance at any session of the general assembly, or attendance at any duly called committee meeting, conference, or legislative study committee meeting of which he is a member, has left or leaves a position or employment, other than a temporary position or employment, in the employ of any employer and is still qualified to perform the duties of his employment and makes application for reemployment within ten (10) days after the close of any such session, or meeting, of the general assembly shall be restored by his employer to such position or employment at not less than the same pay or to a similar position or employment and pay unless the employer's circumstances have so changed as to make it impossible or unreasonable to do so. When a member of the general assembly is restored to his employment it shall be done without discrimination, nor shall the member be caused to suffer inconvenience or any other adverse action by his employer, as a result of any action taken while serving as a legislator.

I read this statute as pretty much tying the hands of an employer from firing a legislator while the legislator is on leave from their job during the legislative session as appears to be the case with Reardon. If Dominguez had rehired Reardon and waited a few weeks to fire her and relied on reasons other than her absence from work during the legislative session, he would have probably been on safe legal ground.

It is interesting to note that Byrne's article notes that Reardon formally worked for U.S. Rep. Pete Visclosky before he eliminated her position, which seems out of the ordinary. The article also raises a serious conflict of interest issue respecting Reardon's employment and her legislative duties. "Reardon sponsored a bill this session that brought more funding to the alliance," Byrne writes.

Friday, May 18, 2007

Izzy Running For Something Else?

WISH-TV's Jim Shella observes that Marion Co. Prosecutor Carl Brizzi is holding a fundraiser during race weekend. Tickets for the event cost between $250 and $5,000. The fundraiser is raising eyebrows because Brizzi was just re-elected to his second term. Shella quotes the two respective county chairmen speculating on Brizzi's intentions:

"It's a bit unusual," said Mike O'Connor, Marion County Democratic Chairman.

"But I think he's a person who looks forward to other, other service than just the prosecutor's office," said O'Connor.

"Obviously his name gets thrown around for mayor, possibly for 2011 or for other things. Carl's a very good officeholder," said Tom John, Marion County GOP Chairman.

"I expect him to do what he needs to do which is raise money to be prepared for the future for himself," said John.

Shella indicates there is some speculation Brizzi may be interested in running for Congress. Brizzi's office isn't saying what his intentions are other than he has "to raise money to remain viable." Nobody expects Rep. Julia Carson to seek re-election, particularly after serious questions have been raised about her continued ability to serve out the remainder of her two-year term, let alone run for office again. According to the most recent federal election reports, she has raised virtually no funds since winning another term last November. Melina Kennedy is one potential Democratic candidate who could run for Carson's seat. Could we see another Brizzi-Kennedy matchup?

Thursday, May 17, 2007

ACLU & Democrats To Appeal To Supreme Court On Voter ID

The opponents of Indiana's Voter ID law prove themselves to be the hypocrites they are. They will appeal the 7th Circuit decision upholding the constitutionality of Indiana's Voter ID law, while they pretend the unprecedented disenfranchisement of Marion County voters in last week's municipal primary election never happened. Rick Hasen of the Election Law Blog reports on the decision of the ACLU of Indiana and the Indiana Democratic Party to file a petition for cert. Hasen writes:

Via email comes news that the ACLU-represented plaintiffs, and the Indiana Democratic Party, will be filing separate but complementary cert petitions in the litigation challenging 7th Circuit opinion in the Indiana photo ID law. I recently posted on the election law listserv some thoughts on why this case is certworthy. Here are my thoughts:

...I think there are a few reasons why the Supreme Court should grant cert in Crawford, should plaintiffs decide to petition for it:1. Error correction. Judge Posner's opinion is at best sloppy, and at worst pernicious, in its treatment of empirical evidence and how it bears on this controversy (even under a relatively low standard of review). Given Judge Posner's reputation, this opinion is likely to have ill effects far beyond the Seventh Circuit. Taking the case will also give the Court a chance to correct its own errors as to the proper balancing in voter id cases that it set forth in Purcell v. Gonzalez. (I take both of these arguments in great detail here so I won't rehash them now.) Though error correction is not a usual reason for the Court to take a case, voter id controversies are going to continue to attract great attention and controversy as they are passed by legislatures and decided by the courts. The Court can correct error and give guidance on the proper balancing in these cases.

2. Reexamination of the Burdick standard. Chris's excellent article shows that what the Court says Burdick sliding scale review does and what the Court actually does in these balancing cases are different. Chris urges lower courts to follow what the Supreme Court has done, and not what it says. This is a hard course for lower courts to take. To the extent the Court can shed light on how lower courts should apply the Burdick standard, especially in light of Bush v. Gore (I've argued (in "After the Storm: The Uses, Normative Implications, and Unintended Consequences of Voting Reform Research in Post-Bush v. Gore Equal Protection Challenges," in Rethinking the Vote (Oxford University Press, Ann Crigler, Marion Just, and Edward McCaffery eds., 2004)) that Bush v. Gore may have changed the Burdick standard), that would be helpful. Chris also sets forth a test in his article that raises the level of strict scrutiny based on a showing improper legislative motivation. That''s not a test I would advocate, but plaintiffs might ask the Court to consider it in this case. (I'd argue, contrary to Chris, that Burdick should be replaced with a test that calls for more rigorous scrutiny the empirical evidence, which goes back to my first point as to why this case should be taken.The evidence of voter fraud presented in Crawford, as I've argued, simply does not provide any support for a voter id law under anything more than a rational basis review.)Indeed, if the plaintiffs ask for cert. on grounds of clarifying/changing the Burdick test, they might suggest and grant and hold until the Lopez Torres and Washington Primary cases are decided next term.

3. Implied conflict in the circuits.There is not a direct conflict in the circuits between Crawford and other voter id cases, but there is at least an implicit tension on the poll tax issue. Judge Posner assumes in Crawford that the indigency exemption takes care of any poll tax issues. (Chris and I also disagree on the poll tax question, though Chris notes below that the Indiana procedure likely flunks any rational basis plus review.) Here's an excerpt from the latest version of my draft discussing Crawford (this version is not yet on ssrn, footnotes omitted):

In Indiana, contrast, poor voters are allowed to cast a provisional ballot without producing photo identification, if they later appear before an elections official to sign an indigency affidavit. It is unclear how much this alternative requirement would deter voting by indigents. Even putting aside the stigmatic effect of seeking a declaration of indigency,the indigent voter must cast a provisional ballot and then at a later time present to a circuit court clerk or ounty election board an affidavit affirming under penalty of perjury that the applicant is indigent and is unable to obtain an identification without the payment of a fee (or has a religious objection to being photographed). For example, an indigent voter in Gary Indiana who does not drive and cannot afford a car would have to travel by taxior private car (because there is no public transportation) from Gary to the County seat of Crown Point, at least 30 minutes away.

Indiana law provides for a way for indigents to vote without producing a photo identification. Though such an approach in theory should obviate a poll tax argument against voter identification requirements as accepted in the Georgia case, see supra note 143, it is not so clear upon closer inspection that the Indiana law removes the poll tax problem.

To take advantage of the indigency exception, a voter must cast a provisional ballot at the polling place and then show up at another time and place to fill out an affidavit of indigency. Tese affidavits are not available at the polling place; instead, the indigent person must make a separate trip to appear before a clerk or election board to sign an affidavit under penalty of perjury that one does not possess a photo identification and that indigency prevents getting one (or that there are religious reasons for not having one's picture taken).

This procedure seems to be a pretty onerous burden on the poor, especially those who have to travel back a second time to see an elections official. A less onerous requirement would allow the affidavit to be filled out at the polling place, ora single time with a voter's registration form.

There's also a conflict over how to balance any "feelings of disenfranchisement" with actual disenfranchisement. (Compare Crawford, picking up on this unfortunate language from Purcell, and the Missouri Supreme Court's treatment of the issue in Weinschenk v. State, 203 S.W. 3d 301 (Mo. 2006).)

There may be strategic reasons (voiced by Dan Tokaji and others) for plaintiffs not to bring this suit to the Supreme Court. But if the plaintiffs do petition for cert, I very much hope the Court will grant it.I'd add now that the case is also noteworthy because of the troubling partisan split among both the 7th Circuit panel and the vote on whether or not to take the case en banc.

I'm actually delighted that the plaintiffs are seeking cert. I hope the Supreme Court accepts cert, and I'm very confident there are at least five members of the Supreme Court who will support the concept of election integrity and uphold Indiana' Voter ID law. The real question is why the plaintiffs don't give a damn about the election integrity Marion County Clerk Beth White tossed out the window in last week's municipal election. I guess "actual disenfranchisement" isn't so important to these folks after all.

Aaron Hall Killer Seeks Bail

One of the two men charged in the brutal hate crime killing of Aaron Hall in Crothersville last month has been held in a Jackson County jail without bond after he was charged with murder and voluntary manslaughter, but that could change. Judge Bill Vance has ordered a bail hearing for 18-year-old Coleman King next Monday, May 21, 2007 at 11:30 a.m. in Jackson Circuit Court at the request of King's attorney, Joseph Leone Payne of Austin.

King is also seeking a very speedy trial according to the report in the Seymour Tribune. Vance originally scheduled his trial for October 23, but he agreed to move it to June 21 at 8:30 a.m. His final pre-trial conference is scheduled for May 29 at 3:00 p.m. Strangely, authorities have yet to release the results of an autopsy report after Hall's body was sent to a Louisville medical examiner last month.

According to a probable cause affidavit filed in the case, King began beating 35-year-old Aaron Hall after Hall grabbed King in the crotch area and asked for oral sex. King and his friend, Garrett Gray allegedly beat Hall over a several hour period. At one point, King allegedly struck Hall with his boot about 75 times. The two, with the assistance of a third man, James Hendricks, dragged Hall out of Gray's home and loaded him into the back of a pickup truck. Hall was driven to a secluded farm road where he was further beaten and his naked body dumped in a ditch. According to King, he and Gray later returned to the scene and Gray fired two shots from a shotgun. King did not know whether Gray shot Hall, and the autopsy results have not yet been revealed by authorities. The following day, Hendricks and a fourth man, John Hodge, discovered Hall's dead body in a nearby field. Gray and King later retrieved Hall's body by rolling it up in a tarp and hiding it in a detached garage at Gray's house where it was discovered by police 10 days later.

Gray's father, Terry Gray, is a deputy coroner in Jackson County and has publicly stated that his son did not intentionally kill Hall.

Wednesday, May 16, 2007

The Jerry Falwell Story: Mistaken For An Assassin

I didn't plan to write about the Rev. Jerry Falwell's passing until I received an e-mail from an old friend sharing his memorable encounter with Falwell while he was a student at Southern Illinois University back in the early 1980s. I've known Gordon Wayman since I was in high school when I was active in the Teen-Age Republicans. By way of introduction, Gordon is one of the few people I met growing up who was more of a political junkie than I was. He was a huge Richard Nixon fan post-Watergate, which made him a bit of a rarity in those days. Nixon was so impressed by Gordon's loyalty he invited him to visit him at his home in San Clemente at a time when he had remained in seclusion from the rest of the outside world after resigning the presidency. Gordon's visit with Nixon made headlines across the country at the time.

Back to Gordon's Falwell story, it is absolutely hilarious as it involves Gordon being mistaken for an assassin. Gordon is a very non-threatening, slightly-built person, which makes the story all the more funny. The following is an excerpt from Gordon's book, "While You Do Your Business: A Bathroom Reader That Makes You Laugh In All The Right Places," which you can purchase on, relating Gordon's unforgettable encounter with Falwell.

Well, do I seem like the kind of person who would be mistaken for an assassin? When I was in college, I almost got killed in the “line of fire.”

It all started at Southern Illinois University in Carbondale, Illinois. I was active in politics. I was even the president of the SIU College Republicans. Jerry Falwell, the TV minister from the Old Time Gospel Hour, was at that time president of a political organization called, “The Moral Majority.” He was very well known and very controversial. He was scheduled to be on campus and speak at a dinner. A local business group sponsored the event.

One of the sponsors was a friend of mine and gave me a ticket. I had plans to attend the 7 p.m. event. However, that afternoon I was in the student center study lounge on the second floor reading. Jerry Falwell had arrived on campus early and was on the same floor doing various interviews with the press. Outside the student center were hundreds of liberal, left wing groups demonstrating against Falwell and his organization. In fact, I learned later that there were even threats against his life.

Around 5 p.m. I left the study lounge to go to my apartment to change clothes for the event that evening. While I was leaving, I walked down the hall, and to my surprise, Jerry Falwell was coming right at me. He was surrounded by a group of bodyguards followed by several others. I thought that this was my opportunity to promote our SIU College Republican Club. We had these buttons, like the old time political campaign buttons, that said “SIU College Republicans.”

So, as Mr. Falwell was approaching, I reached into my jacket pocket to pull out a button to give him. Yes, you guessed it. His bodyguard thought that I was pulling out a gun from my pocket. One of the guards, about 6 feet tall and over 200 pounds, knocked me down, pulled out his gun, and Jerry Falwell was rushed to the next room. I was pushed and I slid on the floor a good six feet. A gun was in my face. My face turned three shades of red. I said, “All I wanted to do was give him this button!”

Well, the story isn’t over yet. That evening shortly after I arrived to the dinner, I heard my name over the speaker system. “Would Gordon Wayman please report to the information desk in the lobby?” I thought, “What in God’s name have I done now. It was only a button!” Apparently, the friend that gave me the ticket to the dinner was one of the people walking behind Jerry when the incident in the student center had occurred. He had told Jerry who I was. I was brought back stage. Mr. Falwell wanted to meet me and apologize for the actions of his security guards.

Mr. Falwell was real nice about the whole thing. He even gave me a nice gift, a “Jesus First” gold lapel pen, which I have to this day. We chatted for a couple of minutes, and I gave him my SIU College Republican button, which I am sure he does not have to this day.

After the dinner and speech, Mr. Falwell worked the crowd and shook hands with people by table. I was sitting with a group of friends, however, I had not had time to tell them about the incident. When Falwell came to our table, he patted me on the back and said, “Gordon, my Republican friend!” My friends looked at me with big eyes and said, “Do you know Jerry Falwell?” I said, “Oh, we go way back!”

Has Nuvo Lost Its Way?

I picked up this week's edition of Nuvo anxious to read the alternative newspaper's take on last Tuesday's election debacle in Marion County. Because the paper has been so vocal about past transgressions of the most recent Republican occupant of the Marion County Clerk's office and the state's Voter ID law, I assumed the actual disenfranchisement of over 3,000 voters would be particularly newsworthy to it. I figured wrong. The election story rated only a small mention in the "Thumbsup Thumbsdown" column, and then only to tells us things were just as bad under Beth White's predecessor. The paper writes:

This year's primary elections were a total failure. And while it's easy to blame Democratic Marion County Clerk Beth White, who now admits her office did not adequately prepare for the primary, Republican Doris Ann Sadler, who previously held the office, had just as many problems. Maybe it's time we blame the elected officials who control the budgets and pass laws concerning elections--Republicans and Democrats.

Sadler had just as many problems? Let's blame Republicans and Democrats? Please do us a favor, Nuvo, and never publish another story on the state's Voter ID law. Nobody has been disenfranchised because of Voter ID. Plenty of people were disenfranchised last Tuesday because Beth White "did not adequately prepare for the primary" as you put it. I'm surprised your paper doesn't care about that fact.

Ballard Will Get No Help From MSM

In case the GOP nominee for Indianapolis mayor Greg Ballard hasn't figured it out yet, he won't be getting any help from our city's mainstream media in unseating the worst mayor the city has had in decades. Matt Tully's column in today's Star is typical of what he can expect from the slackers who dominate local political coverage.

Tully begins today by telling us Mayor Peterson has as much of a chance of losing his job this year as Peyton Manning's chance of losing his job. Tully bases this conclusion on the mayor's supposed ability to "connect." "Regardless of whether you vote for the guy, you have to admit Peterson knows how to connect," Tully writes. What? Are you kidding? This man doesn't relate to average folks in this city in the least bit. He can't stand average joes. This man was born with a silver spoon in his mouth, and he could give a damn less about anyone who isn't a millionaire like him. Give me break, Tully. Get your head out of your ass.

So what about Greg Ballard? Oh, yeah, he's just the "forgotten man" Tully tells us. "Lost amid the wreckage of last week's primary debacle was news that Indianapolis Republicans have nominated a candidate for mayor," Tully writes. "Ballard kicked off his campaign in the typical style of underfunded, little-known challengers -- by criticizing the incumbent," Tully added.

I just don't get it when it comes to the way local politicos like Tully cover our political races. The last thing I want to see as an astute political observer is for anyone to get a free ride. A horse race is much more fun to cover than a landslide. Instead of giving challengers like Ballard a chance against entrenched incumbents like Peterson, guys like Tully disparage their candidacies to help ensure their early predictions of defeat become a self-fulfilling prophecy.

Hear this, Greg Ballard. If you hold any chance of winning this year's election, you need to figure out fast you need to work around the MSM. You have to reach out to bloggers and use the Internet to build grassroots support for your campaign. I've heard absolutely nothing from anyone connected with your campaign. As a Republican and a voter who will support you over Peterson, that's not very reassuring. I would have hoped that Tom John and the folks who work for him over at the GOP headquarters would have explained this to you, but he has apparently not based upon what I've seen to date. I hope the Marion County GOP truly wants you to win this race. Four years ago, they were doing everything possible to make sure Greg Jordan lost.

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

Carmel Junior High School Turns Paris Hilton

Last night I caught an old episode of South Park where Paris Hilton comes to town to open her new line of stores, "Stupid Spoiled Whore" at the local mall. All the little girls in South Park want to be just like Paris Hilton, except little Wendy. Even the parents want their little girls to be stupid whores just like Paris Hilton because they want them to be popular. During one scene in the episode during a party thrown by one of South Park's young girls, boys take turns going into a closet to have a sex act performed on them by one of the girls. Apparently the Paris Hilton bug has been caught by the girls at Clay Middle School in Carmel. Four 7th-grade girls from the school were captured on a video camera at a weekend party having sex. The video images were being shared with students around the school via e-mail, causing school officials to step in and send a letter to parents. WTHR reports:

The cell phone is often a powerful and helpful communication tool with its video, picture and text capabilities, but it's a cell phone that has a handful of students at Clay Middle school in trouble, and police investigating what they allegedly did.

"We just received information about an alleged misuse of a cell phone in our school of video images," said Clay Middle School Principal Gary Middleston. The school confirms that a phone image brought to school by a student was confiscated, and now an investigation is underway.

School administrators are sending vague letters to parents regarding a setting outside of school where a small number of students created inappropriate images on cell phones. Parents and students say that the images of four female seventh grade students engaged in sex acts were recorded at a weekend party with a cell phone, and the video was e-mailed to other students.

The school won't relay what exactly was on the phone confiscated from a student at school last week. They also won't say how many students are involved, or if they've been disciplined.

Carmel Police didn't want to go on camera, but a spokesman did say the school called them. Detectives are looking into the events and plan to forward their findings to the prosecutor.

"We're going to deal with the one student who brought the information in. If the police determine other boys or girls were involved, we'll look at that individually, and take it from there," said Huddleston.

The school and police clearly are not saying what was found, but according to students and parents, there's no getting past the alleged video images of seventh grade students engaged in sex acts and apparently e-mailed to an unknown number of people.
I don't know how much further we will continue to decline as a society before people say enough is enough. It seems that Bill Clinton and Monica Lewinsky ushered in a whole new era in America where trash rules. Every day we're bombarded in the media with the slutty antics of Paris Hilton, Britney Spears and Lindsay Lohan. The trashier they become, the more media coverage that is bestowed upon them. Club owners shell out $50,000-$100,000 a pop to have one of these sluts show up at their club sans panties to get drunk and expose themselves. And sleazy Internet website operators enter into multi-million dollar agreements with these sluts to peddle their latest, "accidentally-leaked" sex tapes.

Once upon a time, these pseudo-celebrities wouldn't see the light of day in mainstream media coverage. They would have been frowned upon and excluded from the gossip columns of major newspapers and television network programming. Now we can't escape their filthy smut. Until people start demanding better role models from major media organizations, our young people will continue to emulate the worst our pop culture has to offer. God help us all.

$50 Million Not Good Enough For Billionaire White So Bart Throws Him Another $16 Million

Mayor Bart Peterson (D) earlier pledged nearly $50 million in public subsidies to Dean White's White Lodging Services to build a 1000-room hotel next to the Indiana Convention Center in time for the 2011 Super Bowl. Peterson seems confident the City will win its bid for a Super Bowl after pledging $25 million in private contributions and an unprecedented income and sales tax exemption for the super wealthy professional football team owners. Now, Mayor Peterson plans to borrow at least $66 million to subsidize the billionaire Dean White's brand new, $250 million J.W. Marriott Hotel.

As it always is, the working men and women are asked to bend over and take another one for one of Mayor Peterson's super wealthy friends. Never mind that your property taxes will climb more than 25% this year on average and your local income tax will be doubled on top of all the other tax increases you've endured over the past 8 years so Mayor Peterson could hand out more than $1 billion in public subsidies to the state's wealthiest citizens. This man must be stopped. We must take back our city government this year. We can't afford another 4 years of Bart Peterson.

Bloomberg Could Alter 2008 Presidential Landscape

The WashingtonTimes is reporting today that New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg is planning to run as an independent in the 2008 presidential election and has set aside $1 billion of his personal fortune to spend on his campaign. "Bloomberg is H. Ross Perot on steroids," said former Federal Election Commission Chairman Michael Toner. "He could turn the political landscape of this election upside down, spend as much money as he wanted and proceed directly to the general election. He would have resources to hire an army of petition-gatherers in those states where thousands of petitions are required to qualify a third-party presidential candidate to be on the ballot."

Accoding to the Washington Times, both Democratic and Republican leaders are taking the Bloomberg threat seriously. One Bloomberg adviser reports that consultants now working for Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) are ready to jump ship and help Bloomberg if he runs. Observers note that Bloomberg would have more money to spend than either of the two major party candidates if he commits the $1 billion. Social conservatives in the party have primarily been worried about Mayor Rudy Guiliani winning the GOP nomination. Bloomberg's candidacy might actually hurt Guiliani's bid if moderates join forces behind Bloomberg. Bloomberg could then run in the center alone against a more conservative GOP candidate like Mitt Romney and a more liberal candidate like Sen. Hillary Clinton (D-NY).

Now Gary Wants A Land-Based Casino

Well, that didn't take long. Just days after Gov. Mitch Daniels signed into law legislation allowing the state's two horse race tracks in Anderson and Shelbyville to purchase franchises to operate what amounts to land-based casinos at their tracks, a push is on to allow a new, land-based casino in Gary. "Rep. Vernon Smith, D-Gary, said lawmakers should go back to the drawing board in the next session and allow land-based gambling in the city," writes Steve Walsh of the Gary Post-Tribune.

Gary originally had two, separately-owned riverboat licenses until Donald Trump sold his license to Don Barden, the other license holder, two years ago. Gary officials are upset because the consolidation of the two licenses has led to a loss of jobs in the city. They want the Indiana Gaming Commission to rebid the second license. It seems to me that's something the local officials should have thought about when they stood by and allowed the Commission to approve Barden's purchase of the Trump license.

Barden's Majestic Star casino is none too happy about the position now taken by local officials. A comment by the casino's general manager David Schugar isn't likely to sit well with some. "We think that what is good for Don Barden is good for the city," Schugar told Walsh. "We wish the city would get behind us," Schugar added.

Barden wants to build one, large barge casino to replace the existing riverboats. The Commission is expected to vote in June on a renewal of both licenses for a 3-year period for Barden.

Monday, May 14, 2007

Daniels' Trade Mission To Europe

Governor Mitch Daniels is leading a 32-member trade delegation to Germany and the United Kingdom this week as part of an "effort to bring jobs and investment to Indiana and strengthen relationships with companies that employ Hoosiers in their Indiana operations." While I believe these trade missions can be beneficial to our state, they too often become nothing more than junkets for political insiders and cronies. One look at the makeup of this delegation confirms it is more of a junket than a serious trade mission.

Ten of the delegation members are members of Daniels' administration, including the governor. Of course Nate Feltman, the head of the IEDC, is on the trade trip. That is to be expected. He also drags along four other members of the IEDC staff, including Chad Sweeney, Stephen Akard, Edita Ubartaite and Michael Kruger. Daniels is bringing along two members of his personal staff, including his press spokesman Jane Jankowski and aide Ben Ledo. Two members of the governor's security detail are also on the trip, as well as Tom Dusing from Carefree Travel. His commissioner of Agriculture, Andy Miller, joined the trip, and he brought his assistant, Beth Bechdol.

It wouldn't be a true junket unless members of the legislature were along for the ride. Four lawmakers take this honor, including Sen. Sue Landske (R), Sen. James Lewis (D), Rep. Matt Whetstone (R) and Rep. Dennis Oxley (D). Notice the even split between Rs and Ds. This helps insulate the trip from partisan criticism.

Two members of the business and community delegates on the trip have close ties to the IEDC's Nate Feltman. His uncle, Ed Simcox, is along for the trip as the lobbyist in chief for the Indiana Electric Association. Melissa Reese is a partner at Ice Miller, the same law firm where Feltman was a partner before joining the administration. According to her bio at the firm's website, she concentrates her practice in employee benefits. I'm not sure how her work relates to this trip.

Simcox also managed to get a couple of his fellow utility industry friends on the trip as well, including NIPSCO's Don Babcock and Duke Energy's Marie Christine Pence. Kyle Hupfer, the former DNR commissioner for Daniels and now an executive with ProLiance Energy, also made the trip.

Matrix Global Partners' Terry Anker is on the trip. His company was the beneficiary of a $1.2 million from the state's 21st Century Research and Technology Fund. The Reimbursement Group's Michael Duff, a GOP contributor, is on the trip. Ray Moistner and David Bramlage, representing Indiana's harwood lumber industry, are both on the trip.

Frank Hoffman, a real estate attorney for Krieg DeVault with strong GOP ties, is on the trip. Kenneth Yerkes is the head of Barnes & Thornburg's labor and employment practice and that earned him a seat on the trip. And Christine Keck of Old National Bank joined the group.

Several local economic development folks are on the trip, including Wayne County's Jim Dinkle, Washington County's Bill Nolting, Lawrence County's Eugene McCracken and the Northeast Indiana Regional Marketing Partnership's John Sampson. And the final person on the list might keep an otherwise hostile blogger to the Daniels' administration from commenting on this trade mission. Gordon Hendry, husband of Taking Down Words' Jen Wagner, made the trip on behalf of the Indy Partnership. Also, Sven Schumaker of Lutheran Child and Family Services is accompanying the group as a volunteer for IEDC.

“We select trade mission trips based on where we think the chance of return is highest,” said Daniels. “We’ll talk about the welcoming climate in Indiana and what we’re doing to make our state an even more attractive place to do business." One has to wonder, though, whether that same criteria carries through to the persons selected to participate in these trips based on some of the participants on this trade mission.