Monday, June 30, 2008

McCain Treats Female Staffers More Equally Than Obama

For many weeks now, female supporters of Sen. Hillary Clinton have maintained that Sen. Barack Obama is a sexist who repeatedly disparaged Sen. Clinton based on her sex. An analysis of the employment practices of both Sen. Obama and his Republican opponent, Sen. John McCain, shows that women on Obama's staff are paid less than their male counterparts, whereas Sen. McCain paid female staffers slightly more than their male counterparts on average. According to the analysis prepared by Cybercast News Service, women on Obama's staff earn about $6,000 less than their male counterparts on average. By contrast, McCain pays women on his staff about $2,500 more on average than their male counterparts. Here are the numbers:

On average, women working in Obama's Senate office were paid at least $6,000 below the average man working for the Illinois senator. That's according to data calculated from the Report of the Secretary of the Senate, which covered the six-month period ending Sept. 30, 2007. Of the five people in Obama's Senate office who were paid $100,000 or more on an annual basis, only one -- Obama's administrative manager -- was a woman.

The average pay for the 33 men on Obama's staff (who earned more than $23,000, the lowest annual salary paid for non-intern employees) was $59,207. The average pay for the 31 women on Obama's staff who earned more than $23,000 per year was $48,729.91. (The average pay for all 36 male employees on Obama's staff was $55,962; and the average pay for all 31 female employees was $48,729. The report indicated that Obama had only one paid intern during the period, who was a male.)

McCain, an Arizona senator, employed a total of 69 people during the reporting period ending in the fall of 2007, but 23 of them were interns. Of his non-intern employees, 30 were women and 16 were men. After excluding interns, the average pay for the 30 women on McCain's staff was $59,104.51. The 16 non-intern males in McCain's office, by comparison, were paid an average of $56,628.83.

CNS News' Fred Lucas points to the hypocrisy in a recent speech by Sen. Obama wherein he criticized Sen. McCain for not supporting equal pay for women. Sen. Obama said:

"Mr. McCain is an honorable man, we respect his service. But when you look at our records and our plans on issues that matter to working women, the choice could not be clearer," Obama told the audience in New Mexico, a voter-swing state. "It starts with equal pay. Sixty-two percent of working women in America earn half or more than of their family's income. But women still earn 77 cents for every dollar earned by men in 2008. You'd think that Washington would be united it its determination to fight for equal pay."

He continued, saying that he is proud to have supported the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Restoration Act, which would extend the limit on how long an employee can wait before suing an employer for pay discrimination . . .

"Sen. McCain thinks the Supreme Court got it right," Obama said. "He opposed the Fair Pay Restoration Act. He suggested that the reason women don't have equal pay isn't discrimination on the job - it's because they need more education and training. That's just totally wrong."

Obama tries to make it seem like McCain opposes equal pay for women. The question in the Ledbetter case is what the appropriate statute of limitations should be for such claims. The Supreme Court's ruling, setting the time period for filing an equal wage complaint at 180 days, is based on the same time period for filing other claims under the Civil Rights Act of 1964. Obama wants to extend the time period for these claims beyond that provided for other civil rights claims. McCain thinks the current law is sufficient. In practice though, it is clear that Sen. McCain treats women who work for him more fairly than Sen. Obama treats women who work on his staff--at least in terms of pay.

Cybercast News service sought comment from the Obama campaign through the submission of written questions. The Obama campaign did not respond.

Pending Drug Cases In Jeopardy Because Of Arrest of Narcs

Marion Co. Prosecutor Carl Brizzi tells the Star's Vic Ryckaert that he is worried about the fate of pending drug cases after the recent arrests of four narcotics officers for the Indianapolis Metropolitan Police Department on a variety of criminal charges. “These officers were in this court several weeks ago testifying against defendants,” Prosecutor Carl Brizzi said after the hearing. “Now they are defendants.” "The arrests have damaged more than a dozen other pending cases and could lead to successful appeals for convicted drugs dealers who may have been sent to prison based on testimony from one of the tainted officers," Brizzi said. “Every other man and woman on the force is tarnished by this,” Brizzi said. “Every single case these officers were on becomes less strong.”

Sunday, June 29, 2008

Ketzenberger Notes Paul Ogden's Activism

Star business columnist John Ketzenberger takes a look at the "activist lawyer work" of Paul Ogden today. Judging from the content of the column, some of Ketzenberger's friends in the business community aren't too happy with Ogden's recent efforts. Ketzenberger writes:

What's gotten into local attorney Paul Ogden?

A Republican and former political candidate, he has the public-private partnerships long championed by power brokers of both parties squarely in his sights.

The 47-year-old associate with Roberts & Bishop isn't well known in the business community, but the effect of his work is being felt through his clients' lawsuits. Among them:

» In March he sued the Capital Improvement Board over plans to turn over proceeds from the auction of RCA Dome memorabilia to the Indiana Sports Corp. and the Indianapolis Colts Foundation. Ogden argued the money should be used to pay down the $75 million debt related to the dome.

The CIB last month settled the lawsuit and paid nearly $7,900 to cover attorney's fees. The case ended without settling key questions such as who owns the dome's turf.

» Two lawsuits against Corrections Corp. of America relate to the operation and conditions at Marion County Jail II. The first lawsuit, filed in January, alleges racial discrimination against six black nurses. The second, brought in April, raises questions about inmates' medical care.

To Ogden, who favors privatization, both lawsuits point up a weakness of such deals -- ineffective oversight of contractors.

So where does this activism come from?

"I spent years and years playing the Republican game," Ogden said. "It got me nowhere. I decided at some point to be who I am, to talk straight and do what I think is right."

It has won him friends -- and enemies. It's telling that calls to several people weren't returned. Those who did talk wouldn't comment for the record.

What's up next for Ogden? "[A] 22-year-old deal that made Pan Am Plaza possible," he tells Ketzenberger. Keep up the good work, Paul.

Church Endorses Obama?

This church at 38th & Sheridan in Indianapolis, First Christian Missionary Baptist, has endorsed the presidential candidacy of Sen. Barack Obama by the looks of this sign affixed to the church's permanent sign. Churches are prohibited under federal tax-exempt laws from engaging in partisan political activities.

Property Tax Cuts Better Than Expected

The Louisville Courier-Journal's Lesley Stedman Weidenbener's pens a column today opining that taxpayers in many counties are experiencing tax reductions better than expected from this year's property tax reform legislation. Weidenbener writes:

There are early signs that the property-tax cuts that go into effect on this year's bills could be greater than -- or certainly at least as large as -- originally projected.

Most counties -- especially many local ones -- are still weeks and even months away from sending their bills.

But a few counties in Southern Indiana have mailed them and a few more have sent enough information to the state to get an idea about the impact of the legislature's decision to raise the sales tax to cut property taxes, a move Gov. Mitch Daniels signed into law in March.

The columnist reports homeowner reductions in Ohio County of 57%, in Jefferson County it's 34% and in Dubois County it's 22%. State officials have enough data to report on 20 counties and in all cases the taxes are going down according to Weidenbener. This news could be helpful to Gov. Mitch Daniels' re-election campaign.

Star Botches Pence's Misstep On East Chicago RICO Case

A lot of us have wondered how the state's newspaper of record could allow the huge misstep of Democratic Attorney General candidate Linda Pence in criticizing Attorney General Steve Carter's Office for his handling of a RICO case against various East Chicago players without mentioning she represented one of the defendants in the case to go unreported. Today, the newspaper insults our intelligence by trivializing the matter by the way it reports on it in its weekly political gossip column, "Behind Closed Doors." This is how the column describes Pence's misstep:

When she announced her candidacy, Pence was asked by a reporter from The Times of Northwest Indiana whether she would continue the ongoing civil racketeering case against former East Chicago Mayor Robert Pastrick.

Pence said she'd have to review the case.

She didn't mention her client -- an omission that drew the attacks from the blogs and criticism from the Times editorial page.

Yes, her omission did draw attacks from the blogs. The blogs were the first to report that Pence represented one of the defendants in the case, Reith-Reilly. The company settled out of court with the Attorney General's Office in 2007, agreeing to repay taxpayers $625,000. After reading the reports on the blogs, Patrick Guinane of the Northwest Indiana Times did what a good reporter would do and checked out the facts. What he learned was that Pence's client's $625,000 payment was the largest to date of the $1.3 million in settlements recovered by the Attorney General in the case. He also got Pence to concede that she might be required to refer the case to outside counsel for review because of her conflict of interest. Guinane wrote:

Pence said she would be willing to entrust the East Chicago case to subordinates or outside counsel if her review identified a potential conflict of interest.

Although Rieth-Riley admitted no wrongdoing in its 2006 settlement, the state had accused the company of playing a central role in a scheme to help East Chicago officials legitimize the paving bonanza that preceded Pastrick's 1999 re-election. The original civil lawsuit said the company signed off on a phony contract after other contractors already had helped pour free driveways, patios and sidewalks for city voters.

In 2005, Pence filed a countersuit in the case, contending that Rieth-Riley's contract with the city contained a clause protecting the company from liability if any part of the pact was deemed "contrary to the law." A year later the company forged a settlement that included a pledge to cooperate with investigators."

Of the $1.3 million recovered in the RICO case, Rieth-Riley paid a significant settlement of $625,000, which is the largest to date and represents twice the amount paid to outside counsel," Carter spokeswoman Staci Schneider said Thursday.

In the Star's "Behind Closed Doors" column, Pence says she is indignant at the notion she was trying to hide anything. "I never hid anything in my life," she said indignantly. She tries to minimize the seriousness of the matter by noting it is a civil and not a criminal case. "Pence said she could not discuss details because of attorney-client privilege but said companies often settle cases not because they have done something wrong but because it's less expensive to put the matter to rest than to litigate," the column says. "I had no involvement in the criminal case," she said. Again, the point is that she did comment on the case when asked a question about it and never mentioned her obvious conflict of interest in the matter. She knocked the Attorney General for using costly outside counsel without noting the counsel had more than paid for his fees through the settlements he collected from her client and others. Nor does Pence mention she made big bucks working as outside counsel for the State of Indiana in the past. She makes matters worse by this arrogant response in the column. "If it's a good case, my guess is I could do it better," said Pence, who formerly worked for the U.S. Department of Justice. "I'll make sure everything is done ethically. My whole life is ethics," Pence said. "If anybody says I believe in corruption, that's just a flat-out lie." No, Ms. Pence, you will not have a thing to do with this case if you are elected Attorney General because you have a conflict of interest. And if your "whole life is ethics", you wouldn't have to be reminded of that fact.

The Star's treatment of this matter is a complete embarrassment and disgrace to journalism. It is obvious there are people at the newspaper who are tight with Pence and who set out with this lightweight piece of journalism with the intention of glossing over Pence's huge misstep at the outset of her campaign by making it a mere trivial matter for discussion in its political gossip column. The Northwest Indiana Times and its editorial writers get it. The Star's reporters and editors need a good kick in the ass on this one.

Saturday, June 28, 2008

Hatfill Collects $5.8 Million From Government For Botched Investigation

The Justice Department denies it did anything wrong in its investigation of former U.S. Army scientist Steven Hatfill in connection with the 2001 anthrax attacks following the 9/11 attacks, but it has agreed to pay him $5.8 million to settle a lawsuit he brought against the government alleging his privacy rights were violated when government investigators identified him to the news media. "Our government failed us, not only by failing to catch the anthrax mailers but by seeking to conceal that failure," Hatfill's lawyers said in a statement. "Our government did this by leaking gossip, speculation, and misinformation to a handful of credulous reporters." "The United States does not admit to any violation of the Privacy Act and continues to deny all liability in connection with Dr. Hatfill's claims," Justice Department spokesman Brian Roehrkasse said in response to the settlement.

Friday, June 27, 2008

Another IMPD Narc Busted

Another narcotics officer for the Indianapolis Metropolitan Police Department, Jason Barber, has been arrested on criminal charges. Barber is accused of selling a handgun to a felon and official misconduct. His arrest is reported to be unrelated to the arrest of three other narcotics officers for drug dealing and other related charges, although Barber worked with two of those officers, Jason Edwards and Robert Long. Officer James Davis was also charged with Edwards and Long.

Levine Rolled For Government After Being Linked To Male Prostitutes

The government's key witness in the corruption trial of long-time Obama pal and political supporter, Tony Rezko, decided to become a witness for the government after federal investigators linked him to male prostitutes. That's in addition to the information gleamed from unsealed documents in the case, which revealed that prosecutors had originally planned to play up Rezko's illegal fundraising activities on behalf of Sen. Barack Obama. The Chicago Tribune discusses Stuart Levine's link to male prostitutes in today's edition:

Rezko was convicted of using Stuart Levine, a member of a state pension board as well as a board that regulated hospitals in Illinois, to rig decisions in exchange for kickbacks.Levine was the government's star witness against Rezko, but a newly unsealed defense filing alleges that Levine only agreed to cooperate after realizing that the government had learned that he frequented male prostitutes.

During the trial, jurors heard unsavory details about all-night drug binges that Levine had engaged in with a regular group of male friends, but St. Eve had barred any testimony about Levine's sexual habits.
Earlier this year, the Sun-Times ran a story discussing the all-night drug parties Stuart Levine was known to host at the infamous Purple Hotel in Chicago's Lincolnwood neighborhood and occasionally in Springfield. Although these parties were sometimes described as being all-male parties, news accounts skirted the issue of gay sex activities at these parties, and the judge in Rezko's case barred any testimony about his sexual orientation. Levine, who is married with children, is shown at at what is purported to be photo of him with Obama at Gene & Georgetti, a popular Chicago restaurant. The photo of Obama and Levine was discoverd hanging on the wall of the restaurant earlier this year and was uploaded to the Internet.
=>For a humorous take on Obama's "Strange Bedfellows", check out this video.
=>Also, it's Gay Pride weekend in Chicago. The HillBuzz blog has a post pondering the question of whether Obama will be a no-show at this year's Pride parade in his hometown as in year's past. "I'm sure there are tons of people in Chicago Obama hasn't seen in years, and it seems like everyone comes out for the parade, so who knows, Obama could run into all kinds of old friends, which would, I'm sure, make him very, very happy (who doesn't love seeing old friends, or fellow church goers, or whomever)," Sebastian Gray writes at HillBuzz. "Later, they could all retire to the Obama Mansion in Hyde Park to play some Scrabble with Michelle (bet she's a whiz with the triple-word-score! So smart and classy! Yet, surprisingly not that into Pride)."

Obama's Future Haunted By Corrupt Chicago Ties

If Sen. Barack Obama and his supporters thought his old ties to convicted political fixer Tony Rezko were just going to fade away, they better think again. Federal court documents just unsealed from the corruption trial of Obama's long-time friend and political supporter indicate that federal prosecutors were holding back on Rezko's ties to Obama. Those documents show that Judge Amy St. Eve had given a green light to prosecutors to offer testimony about Rezko's illegal fundraising efforts on behalf of Obama, but in the end, federal prosecutors never mentioned Obama's name, although defense lawyers did on a few occasions. The Sun-Times Natasha Korecki writes:

Newly unsealed documents show that prosecutors sought to call witnesses to testify about Rezko's ties to Obama, the presumptive Democratic nominee for president.

The Illinois senator was the recipient of "straw" campaign contributions made by others on behalf of Rezko -- money that Obama has since given to charities.

The documents indicate that prosecutors considered offering witnesses to explore why Rezko used others to contribute to Obama and also to Blagojevich, and U.S. District Judge Amy J. St. Eve ruled that they could. But they did not end up offering any such testimony during the trial.

"Witnesses will testify that Rezko was a long-standing supporter and fund-raiser of Barack Obama," prosecutors wrote.

Obama seemed to have anticipated this bad news a couple of days ago when he made this outlandish claim that he had avoided city and state corruption in Illinois. The Sun-Times' Abadon Pallasch quotes Obama:

"You will recall that for my entire political career here, I was not the the endorsed candidate of any political organization here," the Democratic presidential hopeful said at the Westin Hotel downtown. "I didn't go around wielding a bunch of clout. My reputation in Springfield was as an independent. There is no doubt I had friends and continue to have friends who come out of the more traditional school of Chicago politics but that's not what launched my political career and that's not what I've ever depended on to get elected, and I would challenge any Chicago reporter to dispute that basic fact."

Obama's claims of not being a part of the organization in Illinois are laughable. His bids for public office in Illinois have enjoyed support from Mayor Richard Daley and Obama is close to Senate President Pro Tempore Emil Jones and Gov. Rod Blagojevich. Top Obama advisers, including Valerie Jarrett and Marti Nesbitt, have also held key positions in Daley's city administration. Speaking of Blagojevich, he claims the government's witnesses lied to jurors in Rezko's trial about conversations he had with the witnesses concerning how business for the investment of the state's pension funds were determined, and he was interviewed by federal agents extensively about those conversations. On that subject, it appears that Obama's former law partner and close friend, Allison Davis, took advantage of his position as a state pension board member. This Sun-Times story explains this latest development:

In July 2004, state pension board member Allison S. Davis voted to turn over as much as $100 million in state workers' retirement cash to an investment management firm.

Months after it won the lucrative deal at Davis' urging, that investment firm hired Davis.

RREEF America REIT II Inc. agreed to pay the Chicago developer $30,000 a year to take a part-time post on its board of directors, even as Davis continued to serve on the Illinois State Board of Investment.

There were questions about the legality of the dual roles. According to Illinois law, "No member of the board shall have any interest in any brokerage fee, commission or other profit or gain arising out of any investment made by the board." But the state board got a legal opinion that Davis could hold both posts as long as he didn't vote on any future state deals for RREEF, a real estate investment trust.

Davis is a 67-year-old lawyer and real estate developer with long ties to Mayor Daley and Sen. Barack Obama, as well as to the governor.

He served on the Chicago Plan Commission and, with his former law firm, Davis Miner Barnhill & Galland, was a boss to Obama early in the presidential hopeful's career.

Davis was appointed to the unpaid post on the state pension board Feb. 13, 2003. On July 22, 2004, he recommended that the agency give RREEF up to $100 million to invest. RREEF was already handling $55 million for the board.

The next day, Davis voted to approve RREEF's deal.

In February 2005, RREEF agreed to put Davis on its board. He began working as a paid board member that April, state records show.

Obama's ties to the pension board scandal aren't limited to Davis. John Rodgers is chief finance director for Obama's campaign and identified as one of his closest presidential campaign advisers. He is the founder of Ariel Investment. As a state senator, Obama appeared before the state pension board to urge the use of more minority-owned businesses, including Ariel. After Obama's pitch, state pension assets managed by Ariel grew substantially. After U.S. Attorney Patrick Fitzgerald began investigating Rezko and other sleazebag influence peddlers for using corrupt influence to affect the awarding of investments through kickbacks, the Illinois Teacher Retirement System severed its ties with Ariel, citing insufficient returns on investments.

Thursday, June 26, 2008

Judge William Lawrence Confirmed

Judge William T. Lawrence has been confirmed by the U.S. Senate today on a 97-0 vote to fill the federal district judge vacancy for the Southern District of Indiana left behind when Judge John Tender joined the 7th Circuit Court of Appeals. Sen. Richard Lugar thanked Senate Judiciary Chairman Pat Leahy, Ranking Member Arlen Specter, the respective Leaders, and Senator Bayh for their important work to facilitate timely consideration of Judge Lawrence's nomination. "I have known Bill for many years, and I have always been impressed with his high energy, resolute integrity, and remarkable dedication to public service," Lugar said today in a statement released by his office. "Throughout Bill’s career, his reputation for personal courtesy, fairness, decency and integrity was equally well-earned and widespread among colleagues and opposing counsel alike and on both sides of the political aisle."

Second Amendment Is Still Viable

In a 5-4 decision written by Justice Antonin Scalia, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled to strike down a D.C. ordinance banning the possession of handguns as a violation of an individual's right to bear arms under the Second Amendment. Justice Scalia emphasized in his ruling that today's decision does not prevent government from regulating sales of guns, prohibiting their possession by felons and the mentally ill or possession of concealed weapons. "In interpreting this text, we are guided by the principle that '[t]he Constitution was written to be understood by the voters; its words and phrases were used in their normal and ordinary as distinguished from technical
meaning,'” Scalia writes. "A constitutional guarantee subject to future judges’ assessments of its usefulness is no constitutional guarantee at all. Constitutional rights are enshrined with the scope they were understood to have when the people adopted them, whether or not future legislatures or (yes) even future judges think that scope too broad."

In the dissenting opinion written by Justice Stevens, four justices take a strikingly hostile view that the Second Amendment only protects an individual's right to possess a gun in connection with service in the militia. This decision makes this year's presidential election critical to gun owners. The bottom line is that through a single appointment to the Supreme Court, Sen. Barack Obama will be able to shift the balance and strike down an individual's right to bear arms. Sen. McCain has said he will appoint judges like Scalia and Chief Justice Roberts, who both sided with the majority in today's opinion. Sen. Obama has spoken approvingly of Justices Souter, Ginsberg and Breyer, each of whom voted to take away your right to bear arms today. Now, that would be the action of an activist judge. As Scalia put it, it's "the power to decide on a case-by-case basis whether the right is really worth insisting upon."

UPDATE: Sen. Barack Obama is already flip-flopping on his position on handgun bans. Last year, he told the Chicago Tribune he believed the D.C. ordinance, which is similar to a handgun ban in the City of Chicago, was constitutional:

But the campaign of Democratic presidential hopeful Barack Obama said that he '...believes that we can recognize and respect the rights of law-abiding gun owners and the right of local communities to enact common sense laws to combat violence and save lives. Obama believes the D.C. handgun law is constitutional.'
After today's ruling, Obama is changing his position. The so-called constitutional scholar is now saying that his statement last year commenting on the constitutionality of the D.C. ordinance was "inartful." ABC News reports:

[T]he Obama campaign is disavowing what it calls an "inartful" statement to the Chicago Tribune last year in which an unnamed aide characterized Sen. Barack Obama, D-Ill., as believing that the DC ban was constitutional.

"That statement was obviously an inartful attempt to explain the Senator's consistent position," Obama spokesman Bill Burton tells ABC News.

The statement which Burton describes as an inaccurate representation of the senator's views was made to the Chicago Tribune on Nov. 20, 2007.

In a story entitled, "Court to Hear Gun Case," the Chicago Tribune's James Oliphant and Michael J. Higgins wrote ". . . the campaign of Democratic presidential hopeful Barack Obama said that he '...believes that we can recognize and respect the rights of law-abiding gun owners and the right of local communities to enact common sense
laws to combat violence and save lives. Obama believes the D.C. handgun law is constitutional . . .

Asked by ABC News' Charlie Gibson if he considers the D.C. law to be consistent with an individual's right to bear arms at ABC's April 16, 2008, debate in Philadelphia, Obama said, "Well, Charlie, I confess I obviously haven't listened to the briefs and looked at all the evidence."

Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., by contrast, has been forthcoming when it comes to the D.C. gun law. He signed an amicus brief in the District of Columbia v. Heller case, signaling not only his belief in the Second Amendment but also his view that the DC gun ban is incompatible with it.

Another Figure Settles In East Chicago Corruption Case

With the promise to cooperate in the corruption case against former East Chicago Mayor Robert Pastrick and his top associates, Joel Markovich, a former president of the Lake County Council and East Chicago contractor, has entered into a settlement agreement with Attorney General Steve Carter in the government's RICO case. Markovich was joined by Pedro Perras, a city engineer. Both were earlier imprisoned for their roles in the 1999 sidewalks-for-votes scandal.

The Attorney General has recovered $1.3 million from the settlements he has reached to date in the RICO case. According to the Northwest Indiana Times' Joe Carlson, Carter's office plans to go to trial against just three of the defendants in the case, including Pastrick and his top two aides, Jim Fyfe and Timothy Raykovich. The case may become an issue in this year's election for Attorney General. Democratic candidate Linda Pence criticized Carter and her opponent, Chief Deputy Attorney General Greg Zoeller, for their handling of the RICO when she announced her candidacy a few weeks back. Pence neglected at the time to disclose she had personally represented one of the defendants in the case, a city contractor, which settled last year out of court.

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Supreme Court Chips Away At Death Penalty Cases

A divided U.S. Supreme Court today ruled in a 5-4 decision that the execution of an adult for raping a child is "cruel and unusual punishment" under the Eighth Amendment of the U.S. Constitution. Previously, the high court outlawed execution as a form of punishment for the rape of an adult by another adult in a 1977 decision, Coker v. Georgia. Justice Anthony Kennedy, writing for the majority in Kennedy v. Louisiana, said the broad declaration that death sentences should be reserved “for crimes that take the life of the victim” will apply to crimes against individuals — thus leaving intact, for example, a possible death sentence for treason. “When the law punishes by death, it risks its own sudden descent into brutality, transgressing the constitutional commitment to decency and restraint,” Kennedy said.

In a dissenting opinion by Justice Samuel Alito, joined by Chief Justice John Roberts and Justices Clarence Thomas and Antonin Scalia, Alito dismissed Kennedy's evolving standards of justice rationale upon which the majority opinion rested. Kennedy noted that many states have done away with the death penalty or curtailed the types of cases to which it applies. Alito observed that many legislatures had scaled back death penalty cases because of a whole line of Supreme Court cases over the past several decades which make it difficult and costly to carry out sentences by execution.

Both presidential candidates criticized today's decision. Here's Sen. John McCain's statement:

As a father, I believe there is no more sacred responsibility in American society than that of protecting the innocence of our children. I have spent over twenty-five years in Congress fighting for stronger criminal sentences for those who exploit and harm our children. Today's Supreme Court ruling is an assault on law enforcement's efforts to punish these heinous felons for the most despicable crime. That there is a judge anywhere in America who does not believe that the rape of a child represents the most heinous of crimes, which is deserving of the most serious of punishments, is profoundly disturbing.

Sen. Barack Obama issued a similar statement:

I have said repeatedly that I think that the death penalty should be applied in very narrow circumstances for the most egregious of crimes," Obama said at a news conference. "I think that the rape of a small child, 6 or 8 years old, is a heinous crime and if a state makes a decision that under narrow, limited, well-defined circumstances the death penalty is at least potentially applicable that that does not violate our Constitution.

Ironically, the type of judges Obama has said he would appoint to the Supreme Court are more likely to side with the five justices who wrote today's opinion outlawing the death penalty for child rapists. McCain has identified Chief Justice John Roberts and Alito as the type of conservative jurists he would appoint to the Supreme Court.

Israel Insider: Obama Birth Certificate A Photoshopped Fake

The birth certificate of Sen. Barack Obama is a photoshopped fake. That's the conclusion reached by the Israel Insider, which has been investigating the authenticity of the birth certificate the campaign of Sen. Barack Obama produced to put to bed rumors that he is not a natural born citizen eligible to hold the office of President of the United States. The issue was the buzz of Internet blogs just weeks ago but seemed to fade away once the campaign produced a Hawaiian birth certificate, which first appeared on the Daily Kos blog and later the Fight The Smears site established by the Obama campaign to counter anti-Obama rumors on the Internet. The Israel Insider became suspicious of the birth certificate's authenticity when various versions of the same document appeared in Photobucket, including one listing Obama's birthplace as Antarctica with another showing North Korea as his birthplace. But the information the news site obtained from the Hawaii Department of Health led it to conclude the purported Obama birth certificate is a fake. That includes the following:

  • An authentic Hawaiian birth certificate includes an embossed official seal and an authoritative registrar signature coming from the back side of the document. The Obama certificate is missing both.
  • The state does not issue electronic versions of a birth certificate under any circumstances according to Janice Okubo, the Director of Communications for the Department of Health.
  • The certificate number which would allow the document to be traced to confirm its authenticity is shown as redacted.
  • The Obama certificate has the notation "filed by registrar." Other official birth certificates obtained from Hawaii show the notation, "accepted by the registrar."

The Israel Insider takes note of the fact that the Obama campaign has flaunted this suspect document:

The Obama campaign, however, continues to flaunt the unstamped, unsealed, uncertified document -- notably in very low resolution -- on its "Fight the Smears" website, with campaign officials vowing that it's authentic, sending the image around as "proof" to reporters, and inviting supporters to refer to it as they battle against supposed distortions and calumnies against their candidate. However, the campaign refuses to produce an authentic original birth certificate from the year of Obama's birth, or even a paper version with seal and signature of the "Certification of Live Birth."

Nor has it even published an electronic copy with the requisite embossed seal and signature. The failure of the Obama campaign to do so, and its willingness instead to put up an invalid, uncertified image -- what now appears to be a crude forgery -- raises the dramatic question of why the presumptive Democratic presidential candidate might have to hide.

The Israel Insider speculates that Obama may be hiding something bigger here--the possibility his mother gave birth to him in another country. She was a teen-age mother at the time and it's been reported she was in the State of Washington with her new baby just weeks after she gave birth to him, even though her family lived in Hawaii at the time. Because of her age at the time of Obama's birth, the fact that his father was a citizen of Kenya and the fact that she re-married and moved to Indonesia when Obama was only six, there are circumstances under which Obama would not have been deemed a natural born citizen if he was born abroad, notwithstanding his mother was a U.S. citizen. "Because if Barack Hussein Obama II does not produce definitive proof of his "natural born" American citizenship with original, verifiable documents, he will be setting the stage for a very public battle over his personal credibility, the basic legitimacy of his candidacy, and its possible criminality," the Israel Insider writes.

An aspect raised by another blogger, Texas Darlin, is why the purported birth certificate for Obama was not acquired until June, 2007, reportedly because the original had been lost. It seems unlikely Obama would not have had a need to acquire a certified birth certificate before this time. She uncovers even more discrepancies. She writes:

A reader who was born in 1963 at Kapioloni Medical Center, the same place where Obama says he was born, sent me a scan of her “Certificate of Birth,” which the Vital Records Office sent to her in 1997, according to the date stamp on back. Her document includes significantly more detail than Obama’s, such as the age, race, birth place, occupation, and address of both parents, the signatures of both parents, signature of the attending physician, name of hospital, and other information. Her document also includes an embossed seal and a separate stamp/signature from the VR office that certifies the birth, just like Patricia Decosta’s Certification of Birth, which we have been using for comparison.

This entire matter is really reaching the absurdity level. Why is a foreign newspaper doing the research which the mainstream media in the U.S. should be doing on Obama's birth? How can a person be poised to become president of the U.S. and, yet, the American people have still not been provided definitive proof he is any more eligible to be president than Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger? Why do we impose tougher vetting requirements on a federal employee seeking national security clearance than we do a potential president? Once again, the Obama campaign has only itself to blame for this issue by producing a suspect document. As Reagan said of the Russians, "Trust but verify." That's all we're asking of Sen. Obama. Please, verify your "natural born" status as required by the U.S. Constitution.

Ray Irvin To Seek 7th District GOP Nod

A former Indianapolis city councilor and the father of sorts of the City's Monon Trail, Ray Irvin, tells Brian Howey that he plans to ask GOP committeepersons to pick him to fill the 7th District congressional candidate vacancy created by the departure of Jon Elrod from the race. Irvin served one term on the Indianapolis city-county council before joining the administration of Mayor Steve Goldsmith. He is best known for authoring the ordinance creating the Indianapolis Greenways and most notably, the Monon Trail. Irvin continued on in the administration of Mayor Bart Peterson before joining the Indiana Department of Administration under Gov. Mitch Daniels. Irvin, a veteran of the Vietnam War, served in the Air Force as a pilot. A caucus will take place in early July. The only other candidate publicly expressing an interest in the race is Gabrielle Campo, who lost to Elrod at the 7th District slating earlier this year.

Star: "No Comment" From McNeil-Minton Won't Cut It

A Star editorial today takes aim at City-County Councilor Doris Minton-McNeil's arrest for battery on a law enforcement officer and resisting law enforcement and her terse response to questions about it, "No comment." The editorial also whacks council Democrats for holding a behind-closed-doors meeting with the arrested councilor. Here's part of what it says:

Minton-McNeill is accused of shoving Indianapolis Metropolitan Police Department officer Emily Perkins, who, along with other IMPD officers, responded to a 911 call that the councilwoman placed from her home Sunday. Perkins fell and suffered a minor wrist injury during the incident.

According to a police report, Minton-McNeill, who wanted a man removed from her house, shouted profanities at officers and accused them of racism for not meeting her demands. She also, according to the report, told the police to contact high-ranking officers and top city officials and tried to hand the officers her council business cards . . .

But Minton-McNeill's refusal on Monday to answer reporters' questions about the incident is troubling. Also disappointing is council Democrats' decision to conduct a closed-door meeting to discuss the arrest. Indianapolis residents deserve to hear from Minton-McNeill her version of what happened, whether she regrets anything she did or said, and how she plans to proceed. The secretive, ask-me-no-questions approach that she has thus far adopted is unacceptable given that she serves in public office, especially one that has budgetary and policy oversight for IMPD.

The council's Democratic leaders also need to explain how they plan to address the situation. So far, they've rallied around Minton-McNeill, but they have a larger responsibility to the community to ensure that this matter is handled with fairness for all involved, including the IMPD officers.

Democratic members hurt themselves last year in mishandling then-council President Monroe Gray's ethical problems. They need to respond this time in a manner that clearly shows they're placing the public's best interests above personal and partisan concerns.

A serious accusation has been made against an officeholder. Those involved can't hide behind a shield of no comment.

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

New Indiana Sex Offender Registry Law Declared Unconstiutional

U.S. District Court Judge David Hamilton of the Southern District of Indiana declared a provision enacted by the Indiana legislature this past session pertaining to registered sex offenders unconstitutional as a violation of the Fourth Amendment right against unreasonable searches and seizures. The new law requires anyone subject to Indiana's sex offender registry to consent to the search of their personal computers or other devices with Internet capability at any time and consent to the installation of tracking devices, at their expense, to monitor their Internet usage. The new law even applies to persons who have fulfilled their sentences and who are no longer on probation, parole or any other form of court supervision. Failure to comply with the new law's Internet usage requirements is a Class D felony. With respect to the class of persons who have served out the punishment for their past crimes, Judge Hamilton reminds us that they have rights under the Fourth Amendment. "The State may not force them to waive those rights under threat of criminal prosecution for failing or refusing to do so," Hamilton said.

This new law is just another case of state lawmakers singling out a disfavored class of persons for unfavorable treatment under the law without regard to their constitutional rights simply to score political points. That's why the framers of our constitution placed certain fundamental rights of the individual beyond the reach of a popularly-elected legislative body. Tyranny of the majority is the phrase de Tocqueville coined as a potential weakness of American democracy. The need for the courts to step in and enforce the Bill of Rights is essential if we are to protect unfavored minority groups from the tyranny of the ruling majority. In this case, the ACLU of Indiana brought the suit on behalf of the affected sex offenders. Judge Hamilton's decision declaring the statute unconstitutional is not the work of an activist judge as some folks will no doubt soon be declaring it; rather, his decision is based on sound Fourth Amendment jurisprudence. Who was the sponsor of this new law you might ask? Sen. John Waterman, a conservative Republican and former county sheriff who is seeking to run as a third party candidate for governor under the Taxpayer Party banner.

Sylvia Smith Says Liberal Bloggers Did Sinclair A Favor

Sylvia Smith, Washington correspondent for the Fort Wayne Journal-Gazette and president of the National Press Club, used a recent column to defend the NPC's decision to allow Larry Sinclair to rent NPC space for a press conference at which he detailed his sex and drug allegations against Sen. Barack Obama. Smith blasted liberal bloggers for their disregard of the First Amendment:

After a week of relentless e-mails and phone calls from people who were outraged at the prospect of a guy scheduling a press conference to make allegations about Barack Obama, I’m not sure extreme CPR could resuscitate the idea of free speech in some Americans’ minds.

The message they sent was that the guy is a crackpot and a felon and therefore should be prevented from speaking . . .

Hundreds of phone calls and e-mails poured in to my NPC office from people who saw Sinclair’s rental agreement as evidence that the national media condoned his allegations.

Had Sinclair paid a PR firm $150,000, he wouldn’t have gotten nearly this much attention.

“It’s dumbfounding,” one caller said about the idea that the NPC would allow someone “to make an outlandish statement.”

I don’t for a minute think the people who called shouldn’t have. But I was astounded at the conviction the callers expressed that someone who has something nasty to say should be silenced.

The First Amendment was created to prevent the government from butting into Americans’ ability to have an uninhibited, robust and wide-open debate about the nooks and crannies of society. It doesn’t give individual people the right to say anything about anybody. There are laws against slander, after all. But the underlying notion is that people can speak their minds and that sunshine is the best disinfectant.

So all the protesting of Sinclair's right to free speech by the liberal bloggers totally backfired and actually brought more attention to him than if he paid a PR firm $150,000 to get his story out Smith tells us. Meanwhile, I doubt Sinclair feels the same way about the liberal bloggers doing him a big favor. Sinclair, who was arrested on an outstanding warrant for his arrest in the state of Delaware immediately following the press conference last week, has been freed from jail, at least for now. Sinclair laments the fact that he was held in a D.C. jail for four straight days and denied access to his prescription drugs and medical treatment while awaiting an opportunity to learn what the Delaware charges were all about. After being picked up by Delaware police on Monday and taken before a judge there, Sinclair still doesn't know what the charges are all about. Sinclair explains why he believes he was improperly taken into custody and held for this extended period:

I was ordered held for Delaware which I waived extradition, and I was held in the DC Jail [from 6-19-08 until approximately 10:30am Monday June 23, 2008] and deny access to phone, medication, and medical treatment. When picked up on Monday June 23, 2008 by Delaware officials, I asked why there would be a “Fugitive from Justice” warrant for my arrest. I was informed that there was no such warrant issued by Delaware, but that in fact DC had made that charge against me in order for them to arrest me on the “Rule 9″ warrant that was pending from a Delaware “SEALED” Grand Jury warrant. I was told that what DC should have done was advise me to report to Delaware. This rule 9 warrant was explained to me as being nothing that anyone could call me a “Fugitive from Justice” on because I had never been served the notice, taken into custody or formally charged on as yet.

Upon my return to Delaware, I appeared before a Superior Court Judge at 2:30 pm at which time I was released on PR bond and released. I will say that the charge is questionable at best and after speaking with my Attorney I will allow him/her decide what can and cannot be posted here.

Perhaps more troubling is a claim by Sinclair that federal agents had identified a D.C. man who threatened to kill him, his attorney and his mother but told Sinclair no charges would be brought against the man and declined to identify the man to Sinclair. Bloggers who support Sinclair are already raising questions about the role of Delaware Attorney General Joe Biden, III in what they believe to be trumped up charges against Sinclair. He is the son of Sen. Joe Biden (D-DE). As I reported earlier, two pro-Obama bloggers in Paris, France took credit for contacting the officials in Delaware and D.C. to arrange for Sinclair's arrest last week.

Monday, June 23, 2008

Tit For Tat Council Politics

Republicans on the City-County Council are blaming Democrats for killing an opportunity to hear Proposal 326 at tonight's council meeting, which would have allowed taxpayers to pay their 2007 reconciliation bill in installment payments. An expedited hearing before the full council, according to Councilor Ryan Vaughn, was necessary in order to beat the due date for the reconciliation bill. Minority Leader Joanne Sanders and other Democrats insisted the proposal was unnecessary because there is already a statutory procedure in place for taxpayers who have incurred large increases in their property taxes to make application with the county treasurer to make installment payments. Republicans think all taxpayers should be afforded the installment option, not just those limited by the current statute. Marion Co. GOP Chairman had this criticism for Democrats who blocked a hearing tonight on Proposal 326:

"Tonight's vote against hearing discussion on Proposal 326 is yet another example of a woefully disturbing trend we've seen in council democrats: they are always ready to raise a tax, but will stifle a discussion on property tax relief at every turn. Last year, Council Democrats locked taxpayers out of council meetings and halted debate to steam roll the way for the largest income tax increase in Marion County history. Tonight, the Council Democrats continued their unwillingness to hear meaningful proposals on property tax relief: relief that helps all Indianapolis residents, not just a select few. Tonight, Democrats chose to protect insiders like Treasurer Mike Rodman and Beth White, rather than help taxpayers. I wish I could say I am shocked or surprised, but we have seen this sad act before."

The Democrats caught the Republicans asleep at the switch early in the meeting when Councilor Vernon Brown moved to add to tonight's calendar a proposal he introduced to reduce last year's county option income tax increase by one-third, or approximately $30 million. That proposal had earlier been tabled by Republicans in committee, who argued there wasn't enough information known about the proposal's fiscal impact to consider it at this time. Without hearing any objections, Council President Robert Cochrum gaveled Brown's motion approved and placed it on tonight's calendar. When Republican members figured out what had just happened, they moved for a divided vote on the question. Brown objected and Council President Cochrum agreed the vote had already been taken. Later in the meeting when the proposal came up for action, Republicans moved to send it back to committee without action.

Again, Republicans insisted that there were too many unanswered questions about the fiscal impact of Brown's proposal. Brown reminded Republican councilors that they had voted against last year's increase, and that the portion of the tax used for debt service on the pension liability was no longer needed after the state agreed to pick up the state's unfunded pension liability. The Republicans' argument of too much uncertainty rings hollow with me. I'm getting the distinct impression that their appetite for spending is greater than their appetite for reducing taxes and government spending. The Council's Counsel, Bob Elrod, noted there was a conflict in the Indiana Code, with one section seeming to allow a rollback of the tax while another section seemed to prohibit it. Assuming the Council approved a rollback, who is going to take the City to court to oppose the tax reduction? Councilor Marilyn Pfisterer said she intended to hear Brown's proposal but declined to offer any assurances on a specific date for a hearing on it.

Not McNeil-Minton's First Arrest

City-County Councilor Doris Minton-McNeil's arrest yesterday evening for battery on a law enforcement officer and resisting arrest is not the first time she's had a brush with the law. WTHR reports that she had a 1992 arrest for conversion. Mainstream news coverage of Minton-McNeil's arrest has been highly sanitized based upon the contents of the IMPD police incident report filed in the case. Blogger Chris Spangle offers this raw and uncensored narrative of its contents. To listen to Minton-McNeil's bizarre 911 call, click here.

Marion Co. Democratic Chairman Mike O'Connor is not prepared to join Marion Co. GOP Chairman Tom John's call for Minton-McNeil's resignation. "It is important that the process be allowed to work without any outside interference or partisan distractions. Councillor Minton-McNeill deserves the same consideration as anyone facing a similar situation," O'Conner said in a statement released to the media today.

O'Connor's days as the county chairman appear to be numbered. Advance Indiana has learned more about the effort to return former Democratic Chairman Ed Treacy to power. An informed source says the Mahern family has been upset with O'Connor over Dane Mahern's loss at the slating convention for the 97the House District seat to Mary Ann Sullivan, who O'Connor backed. Once Treacy is returned to the chairmanship with the support of the Mahern clan, Dane Mahern is rumored to be in line to replace John Riordan as the Democratic member of the voter registration board, a full-time job paying $60,000 a year. State Rep. Vanessa Sommers is rumored to be in line to take the vice-chair position, replacing Billie Breaux.

Sunday, June 22, 2008

Councilor Doris Minton-McNeil Arrested For Battery And Resisting Law Enforcement Officer

The woman Marion County Democrats recently appointed to take the place of Andre Carson on the City-County Council, Doris Minton-McNeil, has been arrested for battery and resisting arrest. The incident happened after police repsonded to a 911 call to her home about an alleged child abuser. WTHR has this breaking news report:

A City-County Council member was arrested for battery and resisting law enforcement Sunday evening.

Councilwoman Doris Minton-McNeill was arrested outside her home on Medford Avenue around 5:30 pm. Police were called to the home after a woman called 911 about a child abuser at her home that she wanted to leave. When officers arrived, Minton-McNeill confronted them in front of the house, stating the person was no longer there. She then charged one of the officers for an unknown reason and injured her wrist.

As officers were taking the woman into custody, she identified herself as the councilwoman. She was taken to jail for battery and resisting law enforcement. Officers also observed that Minton-McNeill had been drinking.

Minton-McNeill took the place of Andre Carson when he was elected to the U.S. House of Representatives in March.
A source tells Advance Indiana that Minton-McNeill was so intoxicated she urinated herself in the police cruiser while in route to the jail. Minton-McNeill became the third councilor for the 15th District in less than a year. Patrice Abduallah was forced to resign after Advance Indiana first reported he did not live in his council district. That resulted in the appointment of Andre Carson, who was elected to a full four-year term last November. Carson resigned the seat in March after he was elected to fill the unexpired term of his grandmother, the late U.S. Rep. Julia Carson.

UPDATE: Marion Co. GOP Chairman Tom John released a statement this evening calling for Minton-McNeil's resignation from the council. Here's his statement:

"We are deeply saddened that once again a Democrat member of the City-County Council has shown such public comtempt for law enforcement and disregard for the laws of our great city and the State of Indiana. The citizens of Indianapolis demand leaders who are servants of the law, not people who think they are above it. Doris Minton-McNeill should immediately resign her seat on the City-County Council. I also call upon Democrat leaders such as Minority Leader Joanne Sanders and Marion County Treasurer Mike Rodman to join us in our call for Minton-McNeill to resign. They failed to act before when people like Monroe Gray felt they were above the law. I sincerely hope they act now that such a situation is unfortunately occurring once again."

Saturday, June 21, 2008

UAW Dumps On Thompson's Unity Convention

Wow. One of the state's largest labor unions, the United Auto Workers, met at the Indiana Democratic Convention today and voted not to endorse Jill Long Thompson for governor. Brian Howey of Howey Politics writes:

The United Auto Workers have refused to endorse the gubernatorial campaign of Jill Long Thompson. According to Danny Ernstes, chairman of the Marion County UAW CAP Council, the UAW met at the Indiana Democratic Convention this morning and voted not to endorse the Democratic nominee. While Thompson has said she would reinstitute collective bargaining, has has refused a UAW request for retroactive action that would give power back to UAW locals. The UAW vote could be a blow to the Thompson-Oxley ticket because it has a network of field operations vital to any Democratic gubernatorial nominee. The Democrats needed to come away from today’s convention with the perception of unity. The UAW played an integral part of the field operations of the Jim Schellinger gubernatorial campaign as well as for past Democratic nominees.

Several unions, including the FOP, firefighters and sheet metal workers, have already endorsed Gov. Mitch Daniels for re-election. The failure of Thompson to win the backing of the UAW is a big setback for her uphill campaign. And the theme of the Democrats' convention today was unity.

Larry Sinclair, Meet Brett Kimberlin

As bloggers on the Left celebrated the arrest of Larry Sinclair, the man who alleges he used drugs and had sex with then-State Sen. Barack Obama in the back of a limousine in Chicago in November, 1999, I couldn't help but think back to the 1988 presidential election when it was Indiana Senator Dan Quayle who was put on the hot seat by a convicted terrorist bomber and perjurer over Quayle's alleged drug use with the man. Sinclair had just concluded a press conference at the National Press Club this past Wednesday, which was packed with reporters and where he detailed his sex and drug allegations and his own sordid criminal history, only to be whisked away by U.S. marshals for an outstanding arrest warrant supposedly in the state of Delaware. In 1988, it was a man known simply as the Speedway Bomber, who grabbed national media attention when he made drug allegations against George H.W. Bush's vice-presidential running mate, Indiana's own Dan Quayle. In his book, "Standing Firm", Quayle described his disdain for the inordinate amount of attention the mainstream media afforded to the Speedway Bomber's allegations just weeks before the critical 1988 presidential election. Quayle writes:

[T]he press felt there had to be some drug story about the first boomer candidate, and in the last weeks of the campaign a convicted felon bent on exploiting the system cooked up just the story some of them wanted. Brett Kimberlin was a perjurer doing a fifty-one year federal prison sentence for terrorizing the town of Speedway, Indiana, by planting eight bombs in seven days. The explosions maimed several people, including a Vietnam veteran, the father of two young children, who lost his leg. Suddenly, just before the election, he was claiming to have regularly sold me marijuana. He said he wanted to show how "hypocritical" my anti-drug positions were.

There was not a shred of truth to his bizarre accusation, nor a single witness to back it up, and if anyone could have less credibility I have a hard time imagining who it would be. (CBS's "60 Minutes" would eventually spend two years looking into this story before deciding that there was nothing there.) But the media in the frantic final days of the campaign didn't care about facts and ran with the story anyway. On the Friday before the election Kimberlin scheduled a press conference. Before he could manage to hold it, the Federal Bureau of Prisons put him into administrative detention. He was in and out of solitary for the next ten days, partly for violating prison rules and partly, according to the bureau director, out of concern for his personal safety. There was a controversy, inevitably, over whether the Reagan administration or the Bush campaign pulled some strings to keep him quiet until the election was over. Whether they did overact and exert pressure, I don't know, but Kimberlin's story was so ridiculous that it should never have made its way into the mainstream media. Even assuming the worst, I'll let Larry Sabato have the last even-handed word about this incident. In "Feeding Frenzy" he says that "the responsible federal officials, if not the Bush/Quayle campaign itself, have only themselves to blame for elevating Kimberlin to martyr status. But there is also a pitiful quality to the way in which the press let itself be manipulated by an apparently publicity-hungry federal prisoner guilty of heinous crimes."

Like Kimberlin, Sinclair may simply be publicity hungry as media critic Larry Sabato described Kimberlin in his book, "Feeding Freny." Unlike Kimberlin, however, Sinclair has never been found guilty of heinous crimes and makes no apologies for his drug-using/trafficking, check forging and credit card fraud past. It is worth noting the striking difference in the willingness of the mainstream media to report on Kimberlin's sensational charges, while they, for the most part, have completely ignored Sinclair's allegations against Obama. There is clearly a double-standard at play here within the MSM as there is in every election in this country.

As to the arrest of Sinclair being celebrated by supporters of Obama, I have to ask if the Obama supporters are unwittingly elevating Sinclair to martyr status like Kimberlin was after he was isolated from reporters by federal prison officials? Two pro-Obama bloggers from Paris, France of all places, took credit for securing the arrest of Sinclair by making sure the appropriate authorities knew of his specific whereabouts on the day of his press conference. Citizen Wells blogger has already put up a post at Sinclair's blog depicting him as a "political prisoner." Sinclair is disabled due to chronic health problems and relies on a social security disability check for his livelihood. His family and friends worry for his safety and whether he is being allowed to take the medications prescribed to him by his doctors. Their concerns may be valid. After Jim McDougal was sentenced to three years in an Arkansas federal prison for his Whitewater-related crimes, federal prison officials placed McDougal in isolation because the old and ailing inmate was incontinent and unable to produce urine samples for drug testing on demand. McDougal, who was reportedly cooperating with Special Prosecutor Ken Starr in the investigation of President Clinton, fell very ill in isolation after prescription drugs for heart-related problems were withheld from him. He was pronounced dead after being rushed to a local hospital.

If you wish to view Sinclair's National Press Club conference in full, you can view it by clicking here.

Councilors Brown & Gray Have A Good Idea

This might just be a first, but I find a proposal being offered by Councilors Vernon Brown and Monroe Gray to be a good idea. It also happens to be an idea that I suggested to Mayor Ballard this past March. It seeks to address a big scam going on with our police officers. Private security firms employ our police officers for off-duty security work. Those officers are often required to wear their police uniforms, use their city-owned police cruiser and other city-furnished equipment. These private security firms rake in millions using uniformed police officers and their city-owned equipment. The City gets absolutely nothing in exchange. Many other cities, including New York, Detroit and Atlanta, have turned the off-duty services of their police officers into a multi-million dollar revenue generator. That's exactly what Gray and Brown want to do here in the City of Indianapolis. Here's how the Star's Brendan O'Shaughnessy explains the councilors' idea:

Businesses that employ uniformed off-duty Indianapolis metropolitan police officers and city firefighters would have to pay a significant fee under a proposal sponsored by two firefighters on the City-County Council.

The plan would create a "Secondary Employment Unit" in the Public Safety Department that would assign uniformed officers to off-duty jobs.

Companies that want to hire such officers for jobs such as tavern security -- a common second job for police officers in places such as Broad Ripple -- would pay the city, which would pay the officers at a set rate per hour.

On top of the hourly salary, employers would have to pay the city $5 per hour for the use of a uniformed officer or $10 per hour if the work requires the use of a city-owned vehicle.

Councilor Brown notes several benefits to the plan: it helps the city offset the use of its police officers and equipment for off-duty work; it provides equal opportunity for all police officers to engage in off-duty work; and it will increase Mayor Ballard's control over the police department. Anyone with common sense would immediately understand the value of Brown's and Gray's proposal. Right? Well, guess again. Republican Councilor Ben Hunter, a police officer, opposes the plan and said the FOP will fight it as well. He claims officers will lose off-duty security work if the City controls it. Note that the union even shot down an effort by Mayor Peterson a couple of years ago to recover the fuel costs these off-duty police officers incur for the benefit of their private employment, although Hunter nows says he is prepared to offer a similar plan as proposed by Mayor Peterson.

Currently, these private security firms are controlled by people like former Marion Co. Sheriff Jack Cottey. As Brown states in the story, it's a very chummy process who gets the lucrative off-duty work. Even Chief Michael Spears works off-duty security for the Indianapolis Colts, which has created a huge conflict of interest for him in handling criminal matters involving Colts players and personnel. It is an outrage that these firms and the police officers are allowed to sock away big bucks using the city-furnished uniforms, equipment and fuel. You can bet that the private security firms will adjust their pricing structure to absorb these costs if the plan is implemented. It will not deny off-duty work opportunities to police officers overall as Hunter suggests; rather, it will provide equal opportunity to all police officers to do off-duty security work in uniform. It will not impact thoses officers who work security out of uniform and without police cruisers.

If Mayor Ballard and the Republican-controlled council is serious about efforts to relieve the burden on Marion County/Indianapolis taxpayers, they will implement this plan. Furthermore, it's about time for Mayor Ballard to demonstrate to the FOP that he is in charge of the police department, not the union. When I recommended this idea to Mayor Ballard in March, he immediately dismissed it. It sent a strong signal to me that he is unwilling to do anything to buck the FOP, even if it means saving millions for the taxpayers. For the record, the person who first suggested the idea to me is a hard-working and dedicated member of the Indianapolis Metropolitan Police Department. Rank and file police officers know this is the right thing to do. It's the people making off like bandits at the taxpayers' expense who want to see this proposal die.

Friday, June 20, 2008

Chicago Tribune Responds To Obama T-Shirt For Subscription Flap

In fairness to the Chicago Tribune, I'm providing this response I received from Michael Dizon, Communications Manager for the newspaper, explaining how it came to be that Obama T-shirts were being offered in consideration for new newspaper subscriptions. Dizon says a contractor made the T-shirt offer without first obtaining permission from the newspaper. Dizon writes:

"Recently, several websites have reported that a Chicago Tribune contractor had been offering Obama T-Shirts . . . as an incentive to purchase a newspaper subscription. This was not a company-authorized promotion and was inappropriate. All subscription premiums must be approved by the Tribune in advance, and these weren't. The newspaper maintains a non-partisan position in its reporting as well as promotions. Chicago Tribune have (sic) reprimanded the contractors and regrets any confusion this might have caused for readers."
Dizon said the contractor also offered McCain T-shirts, although they weren't visible in the photo taken of the contractor's sales efforts. This embarrassing flap for the Tribune goes back to former Star columnist Ruth Holladay's complaint against the Gannett newspaper chain and other newspapers for increasingly outsourcing newspaper functions to outside contractors.

Daniels Advances State Funds To Local Governments

Gov. Mitch Daniels is sending out $620 million early to local governments statewide to assist them financially in flood and storm disaster assistance. These funds come from monies which the state is raising from the increased sales tax to pay for property tax relief. Marion County's share of the advance funds is nearly $100 million. Daniels explains his decision:

"As I traveled around the state, many mayors, town board presidents and other officials told me that the flooding has really caused them some cash problems. They have things they need to do in the near term. This is a way we can get $620 million of cash to the counties and then to the localities of the state so they don't have to borrow money to deal with the immediate needs," Daniels said.

Daniels' fiscal policies the past four years are a reversal of what they were for nearly 16 years under Democratic governors, who often withheld payments due to local governments to help balance the state's budget. That equated to borrowing from local governments and contributed to the problem of rising property taxes.

There's news today on the repairs at Columbus Regional Hospital, which was badly damaged due to flooding. There were erroneous reports earlier that the hospital would have to be rebuilt. Although that isn't the case, repairs will still cost nearly $125 million. Fortunately, the hospital just happened to have $130 million sitting in a savings account to pay for the repairs. Hmmm. The hospital hopes to reopen in August. All employees are being paid as if the hospital was fully operational.

Tully Gets It Half Right

The Star's Matt Tully takes up two timely political issues in his column today: State Sen. John Waterman's quixotic independent bid for governor and Jon Elrod's decision to run for re-election to his House seat rather than run for the 7th District congressional seat. Tully hits the nail on the head with his reaction to Waterman's campaign. Unfortunately, he buys into the Democratic talking points hook, line and sinker with respect to Elrod.

Tully's description of Waterman pretty much sums up what a goof this man is:

Let's start with Waterman, a former Southern Indiana sheriff known for wearing camouflage suits, raging about "homosexuals" and mumbling almost incoherently. Standing in front of a home on Indianapolis' Northside on Tuesday, Waterman wore a short-sleeve shirt, a clip-on tie and a confused expression.

The lawmaker announced he would be running as a member of the Taxpayers Party, a protest group that is the brainchild of attorney John Price, who tried to lure other conservative Republican senators into the race before settling on Waterman.

Waterman didn't say much, other than briefly criticizing property taxes and ISTEP, and complaining that fellow Republican Gov. Mitch Daniels' office did not cater enough to him. "I would have a lot better open-door policy to legislators," Waterman said as a neighborhood cat plopped down on the sidewalk by his feet.

As for Elrod, Tully sees his decision as nothing more than the "opportunistic" politician who is "desperately seeking whatever office he can win." Contradicting himself, Tully says Elrod's decision was "a smart political move." Yet, he says the Democrats "mockery" of Elrod is "fair." Tully seems to forget, or perhaps he simply doesn't know, that Elrod's opponent, Mary Ann Sullivan, is now seeking her second public office in just the past ten months. She ran for the vacant city-county council seat of Patrice Abduallah, losing to Andre Carson and finishing third with just two votes. She had also already started laying the groundwork to run for state representative, even before she sought the vacant council seat. I also don't recall Tully knocking Carson after he picked up and ran for Congress just months after being appointed to the council and before he was even sworn in for a full term after winning election unopposed.

Thursday, June 19, 2008

Chicago Tribune Has Lost Its Way

Totally devoid of any journalistic integrity, the Chicago Tribune is hocking Obama teeshirts for subscriptions to the struggling newspaper. This comes as no surprise. The newspaper was instrumental in serving as a tool of Obama's U.S. Senate campaign in 2004, digging up dirt on his chief rivals in both the Democratic primary and the general election to sink their candidacies. The newspaper has always gone soft in its coverage of Obama, ignoring his ties to terrorist William Ayers, extremist religious leaders like Rev. Jeremiah Wright and Louis Farrakhan and corrupt influence peddlers like Tony Rezko. Obama's media guru, David Axelrod, is a former political writer and City Hall bureau chief for the newspaper, with close ties to Mayor Richard Daley. The Tribune's parent company, which also owns the LA Times, is facing default on billions of dollars in loans due to declining advertising revenue and fewer subscribers. Col. Robert McCormick, the conservative Republican who once owned the Tribune and turned it into one of the nation's largest newspapers, is rolling over in his grave at what has become of his old newspaper.

Indiana Floods Bring Worst Ag Disaster In State's History

More than one million acres of Indiana croplands have been adversely affected by recent flooding. Indiana farmers are looking at losses topping $800 million according to Indiana Agriculture Director Andy Miller. It's the worst agriculture disaster in Indiana history reports WTHR. "We have roughly 9 percent of the state's crops that is flooded, both corn and beans," Miller said. "Crops are affected, livestock was affected, farmhouses were affected. Machinery was affected and the land was affected," he said.

Elrod Numbers In 97th District Looking Good

An American Viewpoint poll recently conducted in House District 97 provides good reason for State Rep. Jon Elrod to seek re-election to his House seat instead of running in the 7th District congressional race against U.S. Rep. Andre Carson. Widely known to voters in the 97th District, Elrod is viewed favorably among voters by a 61%-16% margin, compared to his Democratic opponent's favorability numbers of 16%-4%.

Elrod's number also stack up well against Andre Carson's 45%-40% favorable rating, Mayor Greg Ballard's 55%-16% favorable rating, Gov. Mitch Daniels' 60%-31% favorable rating and Sen. Richard Lugar's 71%-15% favorable rating. When asked if they approved of the job Elrod has done representing the district, 62% answered in the affirmative and only 15% disapproved of the job he has done. Just over half, 51%, favored Elrod's re-election compared to only 28% who want a new person.

In the all important head-to-head match up against Sullivan, Elrod holds a commanding 23-point lead of 55%-32% in this marginal district. At the same time, Sen. Barack Obama is leading Sen. John McCain in the presidential race in the 97th District by 45%-38% margin. Gov. Daniels holds a small lead of 49%-42% over Democrat Jill Long Thompson in the gubernatorial race.

Tim Russert's Rainbow Connection

"Surreal' is how one person described this scenic rainbow which appeared over D.C. just as the funeral services for Tim Russert concluded, which included a rendition of "Somewhere Over The Rainbow". In the photographer's words:

This is probably one of the most surreal experiences I have ever had in my life. 10 minutes after the memorial at the Kennedy Center ended and the acoustic version of "Somewhere Over the Rainbow" came on as people were leaving, I heard people outside of my apartment in DC on their balconies. I ran out to discover this full rainbow over the National Cathedral! It had to have covered the entire city of DC. There is no doubt in my mind that it was from Tim Russert himself. The weird thing is it didn't rain all day and then it rained for about 3 minutes after the memorial ended only to stop and create this beautiful scene. I want NBC to share this with EVERYONE!

Sullivan's And Democrat's Hypocrisy On Jon Elrod Move

Mary Ann Sullivan is feeling embittered after Jon Elrod decided to seek another term as state representative of the 97th District, denying her a free ride in November. She and Marion Co. Chairman Mike O'Connor immediately began accusing Elrod of being an opportunistic flip-flopper because he decided to offer voters a choice in this November's election. The Star's Brendan O'Shaughnessy quotes the hypocritical duo:

Sullivan issued a statement that Elrod seems unclear about which constituents he wants to represent. She said voters in the 97th District don't deserve "someone who looks at each campaign as a steppingstone to the next elected office."

"I think people have a right to question him," said Michael O'Connor, the county Democratic Party chairman. "To say, 'I'd like to represent you in the Statehouse' is pretty disingenuous."

O'Connor said Elrod's "flip-flop" was part of a larger trend of Republicans abandoning all but the most winnable races in a year when polls show more people identifying with the Democratic Party.

Less than ten months ago, Mary Ann Sullivan had her sights set on becoming a city-county councilor. She competed against Andre Carson to fill the city-county council vacancy of Patrice Abduallah. Sullivan finished third in a 3-person race, receiving just 2 votes from Democratic precinct committeepersons. Sullivan, who has never held elective office, was talking about running for state representative before she even sought the city-county council seat. She was clearly seeking the city-county council seat as a stepping stone to running for state representative this year.

As for O'Connor, isn't this the same guy who was putting out a press release the other day accusing Mayor Ballard of not visiting storm-damaged areas of the city? On that note, Marion Co. Prosecutor Carl Brizzi offers this great retort: "The only disaster area Mayor Ballard hasn't toured in recent weeks has been the Marion Co. Democratic headquarters." UPDATE: Whoops, I mistakenly attributed that quote to Brizzi, who emceed last night's GOP fundraising dinner. I should have attributed it to Robert Vane, who introduced Mayor Ballard at the dinner. Sorry, Robert.