Thursday, July 31, 2008

Dan Carpenter Has No Sense Of History

Star columnist Dan Carpenter uses his column space today to fawn all over Sen. Barack Obama's rock star appearance before a large German crowd, which had actually assembled to hear one of Germany's most popular rock bands, when Obama stopped by and took the stage. Carpenter's complete lack of history shines through as he compares Obama's speech to speeches given by two former presidents (and I emphasize the word "president"), John F. Kennedy and Ronald Reagan. Carpenter says:

What's most interesting, in comparing Obama's moment with Kennedy's, Ronald Reagan's and Bill Clinton's before him, is the perspective.

Their clarion calls for freedom came from a standpoint of national superiority, even bellicosity in the Kennedy and Reagan cases. No less obviously than Obama, they were singing to the choir back home. The difference, I would suggest, is that Obama wasn't settling for only that audience; nor was he letting any audience settle for smug self-righteousness. His keeper quote, if you will, is the sort of moral challenge I had given up hearing from anyone who might reach the Oval Office: "The walls between the countries with the most and those with the least cannot stand. The walls between races and tribes, natives and immigrants, Christian and Muslim and Jew cannot stand. These now are the walls we must tear down."

So Carpenter thinks Kennedy's and Reagan's speeches were all about war-mongering and national superiority. Does he have no sense of what the old Soviet Union empire represented to the world and, more importantly, the European continent? Fortunately, there are still learned Americans who haven't forgotten already. Victor David Hanson puts it into perspective as he reacts to Obama's equating the United States to the tyrannical Soviet Union (on foreign soil I might add). “The two superpowers that faced each other across the wall of this city came too close too often to destroying all we have built and all that we love,” Obama said. Hanson retorts:

I would beg to differ again, and suggest instead that a mass-murdering Soviet tyranny came close to destroying the European continent (as it had, in fact, wiped out millions of its own people) and much beyond as well — and was checked only by an often lone and caricatured US superpower and its nuclear deterrence. When the Soviet Union collapsed, there was no danger to the world from American nuclear weapons “destroying all we have built” — while the inverse would not have been true, had nuclear and totalitarian communism prevailed. We sleep too lightly tonight not because democratic Israel has obtained nuclear weapons, but because a frightening Iran just might.

Kennedy and Reagan weren't speaking on behalf of the American people alone as Carpenter and Obama would have us believe. They spoke on behalf of freedom-loving people in Europe and elsewhere around the world who feared Soviet dominance would crush freedom in their country just like it had throughout Eastern Europe. Does Carpenter forget how many millions of Jews were killed at the hands of the Soviet dictators? I'm not surprised that Obama has no sense of American history, but I would expect better of Carpenter. And this is not an issue of liberal versus conservative.

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Ed Treacy: Return Of The Living Dead?

Marion County GOP Chairman Tom John reacts to the election of Ed Treacy by the Marion County Democrats as their new county chairman in a press release this evening:

"We have further evidence of the tired disarray in the Marion County Democrat Party. Tonight, in their own version of Night of the Living Dead, the Democrats chose to exhume former chairman Ed Treacy from the political graveyard. Rather than come up with fresh people or ideas, Treacy's return serves as further proof that Democrats have nothing new to offer Marion County."

With Friends Like Ludacris, Can Obama Win?

Grammy award-winning rapper Ludacris has a reputation for writing rap songs with sexually-explicit lyrics which promote violence and disrespect for women. He's apparently thought he could boost Sen. Barack Obama's presidential candidacy by writing a rap song about how Sen. Hillary Clinton is an "irrelevant bitch" and how "McCain don't belong in ANY chair unless he's paralyzed." "It's time to get out and vote! paint the White House black and I'm sure that's got 'em terrified." Wow! Yeah, that's going to help Obama out a lot. You can listen to the video by clicking here. Here are the lyrics to Ludacris' latest piece of work (Note how much they bring home the point I made in my previous post):

I'm back on it like I just signed my record dealyeah the best is here, the Bentley Coup paint is dripping wet, it got sex appeal never should have hated you never should've doubted him with a slot in the president's iPod Obama shattered 'em Said I handled his biz and I'm one of his favorite rappers Well give Luda a special pardon if I'm ever in the slammer Better yet put him in office, make me your vice president Hillary hated on you, so that b^$&%* is irrelevant Jesse talking slick and apologizing for what? if you said it then you meant it how you want it have a gut! and all you other politicians trying to hate on my man, watch us win a majority vote in every state on my man you can't stop what's bout to happen, we bout to make history the first black president is destined and it's meant to be the threats ain't fazing us, the nooses or the jokes so get off your ass, black people, it's time to get out and vote! paint the White House black and I'm sure that's got 'em terrified McCain don't belong in ANY chair unless he's paralyzed Yeah I said it cause Bush is mentally handicapped Ball up all of his speeches and I throw em like candy wrap cause what you talking I hear nothing even relevant and you the worst of all 43 presidents get out and vote or the end will be near the world is ready for change because Obama is here! cause Obama is here

McCain Campaign Picks Up On Obama's Celebrity Status

The campaign of GOP presidential candidate Sen. John McCain may have picked up on a theme which will resonate with middle America. Sen. Obama's campaign is all about being a celebrity. When you peel away the facade, there's no substance underneath. McCain campaign manager Rick Davis calls Obama the "biggest celebrity in the world, comparable to Tom Cruise, Britney Spears and Paris Hilton." One particular statement following Obama's foreign trip is biting him hard and re-enforcing the perception of him as a narcissistic, egotist. Obama told a group in Washington after his trip that he is the "symbol" for the world's aspirations for America and that we are now at "the moment … that the world is waiting for." Yes, it's the arrival of the new messiah. Davis says:

Only a celebrity of Barack Obama's magnitude could attract 200,000 fans in Berlin who gathered for the mere opportunity to be in his presence. These are not supporters or even voters, but fans fawning over The One. Only celebrities like Barack Obama go to the gym three times a day, demand "MET-RX chocolate roasted-peanut protein bars and bottles of a hard-to-find organic brew -- Black Forest Berry Honest Tea" and worry about the price of arugula.

Yet, despite all of the fans, paparazzi and media adoration, the American people still have questions: Is Barack Obama prepared to lead? Is being famous the same as being a credible commander in chief?

Like most worldwide celebrities, this status has fueled a certain arrogance. As The Washington Post reported this morning, Barack Obama has gone from his party's presumptive nominee to "its presumptuous nominee." His advisers are constantly reminded that their candidate is not actually the President of the United States, despite the "presidential" seal. On his plane, his chair reads "President."

The arrogance of a man with so few accomplishments is really hard to stomach when you think about it. The man has been a U.S. Senator for 3 years and has been campaigning for president for more than half of that time. He was an undistinguished member of the Illinois Senate where he engaged in "politics as usual", lining the pockets of his political contributors with government contracts and jobs. The Washington Post's Richard Cohen hit one out of the ballpark today with this simple question to those fawning over Obama's candidacy:

"'Just tell me one thing Barack Obama has done that you admire,' I asked a prominent Democrat. He paused and then said that he admired Obama's speech to the Democratic convention in 2004. I agreed. It was a hell of a speech, but it was just a speech. On the other hand, I continued, I could cite four or five actions -- not speeches -- that John McCain has taken that elicit my admiration, even my awe."

McCain's campaign manager has Obama pegged. "As the world's biggest celebrity, Barack Obama has the entourage and all the trappings of fame," Davis says. "Today, his campaign is more about advancing Barack Obama and less about solving the challenges facing our country." In my view, Obama epitomizes everything I abhor about my generation. People of my generation expect everything without working for anything. They look down upon and disrespect people who've found their place through hard, honest work. They hate their parents for what they aren't. They admire people who trample all over others resorting to any means, legal or otherwise, to get that 5,000 square-feet home with a 3-car garage to fit their Lexus and BMW automobiles. Ronald Reagan used to look at our country and say confidently that the best days for America are still ahead of us. Does anyone really believe that anymore? Does the Obama generation really have any respect for a 70-plus year-old former prisoner of war who demonstrated unselfish valor in service to his country? Sadly, I think not.

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Who Worked For The Russell Foundation?

Some of the subjects of an investigation into the misspent funds of the Russell Foundation believe the news media and the blogs have been unfair in their reporting of the bankrupt foundation. WRTV's Jack Rinehart broke the story first on the scandal surrounding the foundation almost two weeks ago. He reported that a grand jury investigation was being conducted to learn how as much as $1.5 million in funds may have been misspent by key persons involved in the foundation. Rinehart reported:

According to the bankruptcy declaration obtained by 6News Friday, the foundation had racked up more than $2.5 million worth of debt.

Records show the foundation's financial officers signed off on credit card bills of $106,000, including $36,000 for office rugs.

The foundation also owned 17 vehicles, including a $50,000 Cadillac Escalade, and maintained offices in a southeast side business park on lakefront property.

Authorities are also investigating missing funds that could total as much as $1.5 million, according to court records, Rinehart reported.

Rinehart's report, quoting Russell Foundation President Bishop Michael Russell, said Russell himself had initiated the bankruptcy filing and the reporting of the alleged missing funds to the prosecutor's office. "The Russell Foundation and Bishop Michael Russell welcome the investigation by authorities into the disappearance of hundreds of thousands of dollars from Foundation bank accounts during 2006 and 2007," the statement from Russell's attorney read. "The Foundation initiated the request that this matter be fully investigated, and will continue to provide full cooperation with the investigators assigned to the case." Rinehart's report indicated that search warrants had been executed on City-County Councilor Paul Bateman and Manuel Gonzalez by the grand jury. In a later report by the Star's Jon Murray, Bateman claimed he had been set up as a scapegoat and had done nothing wrong. Bateman appeared to point the finger at Russell. "The bottom line is the guy used Jesus Christ to pull us all in," Bateman said. "In the end, it was all a lie."

Although the bankruptcy filing lists Russell as the President of the foundation, a telephone directory on the foundation's website omits his name. The phone directory, however, contains a staggering 26 names of persons holding positions with the foundation and identified as having a telephone extension at the foundation's headquarters at 4455 Southport Crossing Way in Indianapolis, which is now closed. That list includes Bateman and Gonazales, who held key positions with the organization, but both claimed to work for the foundation only as volunteers. You can bet most of the 26 people listed had no clue what was going on with the spending and wish their names never appeared on the foundation's website. With all of the important titles people were assigned, it's hard to understand why there wasn't at least one person who provided a check and balance role in the foundation's spending to avoid the $2.5 million bankruptcy the organization now faces. If Bateman and Gonzalez were just volunteers, then who was actually employed by the foundation and had responsibility for its day-to-day operations? The names and titles of the persons listed on the foundation's telephone directory, include the following:

Patricia Anderson, Director of Funding Disbursement Compliance
Paul Bateman, Chief Corporate Officer
Darryl Borders, Corporate Financial Officer
Heather Bupp, Secretary/Receptionist
Patricia DeWalt, Director of Accounting
A.C. Ellis, Chief Structural Engineer
Janice Focht, Executive Secretary
Erika Fowler, Executive Secretary
Ron Franklin, Chief Corporate Director
Manuel Gonzalez, Chief Financial Advisor
Jennifer Greene, Office Manager
Dr. James Hill, Chief Grant Manager
Kelvin Jarrett, Director of Program Management
Elaine Johnson, Director of Human Resources
Dr. Kevin Jones, Chief Administrative Officer
Dr. Gloria King, Chief of Latino Affairs
Velveeta Knox, Chief Operations Officer
Dr. Roger Knutson, Chief of Technological Research
Kaiser Lowe, Corporate Counsel
Dr. Randall Sheppard, Director of Church Support Grants
Kenneth Torrance, Director of Cost Reimbursement & RF Program Grants
Dr. Elaine Walters, Chief Corporate Liaison
Monica Webster-Lowe, Corporate Counsel
Carline Wilkes, Accounting Manager
Andrea Womack, Director of Human/Social Service Grants
Catherine Zakrajsek

Does Size Matter?

A couple of Democratic blogs are featuring a video of Gov. Mitch Daniels entitled, "Don't Want No Short Man Mitch." The photos give one the impression the knock is on Gov. Daniels' short stature. Those familiar with the original song by Gillette entitled, "Don't Want No Short Dick Man", understand what size means and it has nothing to do with a man's height. The uncensored version of the song makes that abundantly clear, if the title doesn't.

Sam Carson A Volunteer For Mitch Daniels

Jim Shella blogs about how Sam Carson, son of the late U.S. Rep. Julia Carson (D), is a volunteer for Mitch Daniels' re-election campaign. Sam Carson, the first cousin of U.S. Rep. Andre Carson and son of Sam (the Daniels' volunteer), first announced last week and then almost as quickly withdrew his candidacy for Marion Co. Democratic chairman against Ed Treacy. This comes as no surprise to me. Perhaps no other person in the state of Indiana has made more money off the Daniels administration than lobbyist Lacy Johnson, a powerful force behind the Carson political machine. Recall that Johnson helped bring about businessman Bill Mays as a major backer of Daniels in the African-American community four years ago. Johnson also successfully lobbied Sen. Earline Rogers and Sen. Glenn Howard to back his Major Moves program, which has made lots of money for Johnson's law firm, Ice Miller. Some believe that the Daniels administration assigned former excise police officer Andre Carson to the Department of Homeland Security to boost his credentials a year ahead of his planned run for Congress this year. Also, Daniels' support for Jon Elrod in the special election was a bit hard to detect. Think about it. If Sam Carson had managed to win the chairman's race against Treacy, Ice Miller would have controlled both political parties in the county lock, stock and barrel. Politics is a funny business, isn't it?

Monday, July 28, 2008

Gallup Poll Puts McCain Ahead By Four Points

A USA Today/Gallup Poll released today gives Sen. John McCain a 4-point, 49%-45% lead in the presidential race over Sen. Barack Obama. Those numbers are absolutely stunning given that the poll was released after Obama's much ballyooed trip to the Middle East and Europe this past week. Last month, this same poll showed McCain down by six points. Most polls still show Obama with a slight lead. Over the years, I've found presidential polls taken prior to Labor Day to be pretty useless. Syndicated columnist Robert Novak makes this point well in his column today. Novak observes that Obama's lead over McCain in most polls is not nearly as good as that held by Democratic candidates at similar points in past presidential elections. Novak writes:

In 1976, Jimmy Carter took a 33-point summer lead over President Gerald Ford and won in a photo finish. In 1988, Michael Dukakis led George H.W. Bush by 17 points after being nominated in Atlanta before he lost the election. Al Gore and John Kerry were ahead of George W. Bush in the summer.

Novak notes that Obama's numbers, despite his lead, have remained below the 50% level, suggesting he is far from closing the deal with voters. This suggests to Novak that McCain could still back into a win despite the lousy campaign he is running. This will be Novak's last column for awhile. He announced today he has been diagnosed with a brain tumor. This may explain the confused state he seemed to be in last week when he was cited by D.C. police for striking a pedestrian and driving away. Press coverage of this year's presidential race just won't be the same with Tim Russert and now Robert Novak gone from the day-to-day coverage.

City's Finances Still Look Bleak

Even after a record 65% increase in the City's income tax, property tax increases and a $1 billion pension debt bailout by the State of Indiana, Indianapolis is still operating in the red according to the Controller for the City of Indianapolis. The City will even have to take out a $150 million loan just to make it through the year. Budget forecasts for the next few years look even worse with expenditures expected to surpass revenues in the foreseeable future unless drastic changes are made. This is what happens when you live beyond your means for so many years. The opening of the $700 million Lucas Oil Stadium this month and the demolition of the RCA Dome (despite owing $70 million on it) to make way for a $200 million convention center expansion are emblematic of the recklessness with which the City has continued to borrow and borrow beyond our means to repay it. According to the numbers released by the Ballard administration today, expenditures for the 2008 budget are far exceeding the budget approved by Mayor Peterson and the Democratic-controlled council last year--at least $30 million. With a source of revenue yet to be found to finance the operating and maintenance expenses for Lucas Oil Stadium, the City is facing a much worse financial crisis than people were led to believe during last year's budget debate.

Obama's Broken Promise To His African Tribe

The Evening Standard (a foreign publication) gives us the skinny on Sen. Barack Obama's true character. Amid great fanfare, Obama visited the tribe of his family in Kenya and a school named in his honor in 2006. During the visit, Obama promised assistance to the impoverished community. Two years later, family and tribe members are faced with the reality that Obama broke the promise he made to them. David Cohen writes:

The small brick house with no running water, a tin roof and roving chickens, goats and cows is owned by Sarah Obama, Barack's 86-year-old step-grandmother. Inside, the walls are decorated with a 2008 Obama election sticker, an old "Barack Obama for Senate" poster on which he has written "Mama Sarah Habai [how are you?]", a 2005 calendar that says "The Kenyan Wonder Boy in the US", and more than a dozen family photos.

But this bucolic scene in his father's village of Kogelo near the Equator in western Kenya conceals a troubling reality that, until now, has never been spoken about. Barack Obama, the Evening Standard can reveal, after we went to the village earlier this month, has failed to honour the pledges of assistance that he made to a school named in his honour when he visited here amid great fanfare two years ago.

Obama folks will no doubt quickly deny that Obama ever offered any financial assistance to the school when he promised help. But even Obama's grandmother thought that was what he meant. "When he comes down here, he will change the face of the school and, believe me, our poverty in Kogelo will be a thing of the past," Cohen quotes 86-year-old Sarah Obama as saying to the community. "Senator Obama has not honoured the promises he gave me when we met in 2006 and in his earlier letter to the school," the school's principal now says. "He has not given us even one shilling. But we still have hope."

Isn't it amazing that Sen. Obama can raise record sums of money to fund his own political campaign, but he can't raise a few paltry bucks to help out the community of his own family in Kenya? How difficult would it have been for him to call up a few of his Hollywood friends and raise a few million bucks at a private fundraiser? His visit two years ago was all about another photo op for his presidential campaign.

Sunday, July 27, 2008

Allstate 400 Disappointing To Fans

The sight of Richard Petty wasn't enough to make up for what had to be the most disappointing running of the Allstate 400 at the Brickyard. Problems with the Goodyear tires and numerous scheduled cautions took the excitement out of the race, making it look more like a Formula One race than a NASCAR race. Attendance was also noticeably down, reflecting the big economic downturn the country is experiencing. Pole sitter Jimmie Johnson held off Carl Edwards to win the race. The race saw no more than 12 laps of continuous green light racing at any point in the race with about a third of the race being run under the caution lap.

Free Rock Concert Drew Crowd In Berlin, Not Obama

History repeats itself in this campaign. A couple of months back the news media failed to mention a large crowd in Portland, Oregon gathered for a free concert in a park before Obama took the stage. In Berlin, two very popular German bands played a free rock concert to lure large crowds and the media failed to report it. The German band, Raemonn, is accustomed to drawing large crowds as confirmed by this video. CNN's Christianne Armanpour looked rather foolish trying to explain the lack of euphoria for Obama following his speech. “I did ask some people as they were leaving what they thought," Armanpour said. "Everybody said good, good. But I was surprised that there wasn't this sort of euphoria afterwards, given how many people had come to listen and how much it had been anticipated." Psst . . . It was the free concert, stupid.

Saturday, July 26, 2008

The Meaning Of "Natural Born Citizen" And What It Means For Obama's Eligibility

A historian and former journalist, Judah Benjamin (a pseudoname), has put together a scholarly paper on the meaning of the requirement in Article II of the U.S. Constitution that a person be a "natural born citizen" in order to serve as president of the United States and what it means for Sen. Barack Obama's eligibility for our nation's highest office. The paper is laid out in a two-part series at the Texas Darlin blog. You will likely find his conclusion's about the meaning of "natural born" surprising and be even more surprised by his conclusion that Obama became an Indonesian citizen after his mother married his step father and moved the family to Jakarta when Obama was six years old. Benjamin readily admits he is not a lawyer, but his well-researched paper was reviewed by a constitutional lawyer at Columbia University and an expert on Indonesian law.

Benjamin concludes that Obama is barred by Article II from serving as president of the United States. His argument can be summed up as follows:

Barack Obama has been a citizen of multiple nations. And even if his citizenship outside the US was renounced, Article II of the U.S. Constitution prohibits him from being President, for the same reason that naturalized citizens are prohibited: divided loyalties.

Article II reads, “No Person except a natural born Citizen, or a Citizen of the United States, at the time of the Adoption of this Constitution, shall be eligible to the Office of President." Benjamin goes to great pains in his paper to explain this clause does not have anything to do with the location where you were born; rather, it's about one's allegiance and loyalty to the United States. Quoting Justice Swayne from a precedent-setting case, U.S. v. Rhodes, explaining Article II: “All persons born in the Allegiance of the King are Natural- Born subjects, and all persons born in the Allegiance of the United States are Natural-Born Citizens. Birth and Allegiance go together. Such is the Rule of the Common Law, and it is the Common Law of this Country…since as before the Revolution.” Dual nationality, according to Benjamin's article, is "impossible as a condition". That's why persons who have become naturalized citizens are ineligible to be president Benjamin explains--because they have had allegiance to another country. To the extent any law passed by Congress runs counter to this understanding, Benjamin reminds us the Constitution will always trump a statute no matter how long ago it was written or what people think of its import today.

Benjamin takes time in his article to address the brush up in the liberal media over Sen. John McCain's eligibility to serve under Article II because of his birth in the Panama Canal Zone. McCain’s parents, Benjamin explains were "serving as agents, or ambassadors, of their country while serving in the Panama Canal Zone." Because McCain's parents had been sent to the Panama Canal Zone by our government, their child "born abroad" would always be considered a "natural born" citizen. To the extent McCain may have also been considered a "dual citizen" under Panamanian law, Benjamin says that status would have been washed away when he joined the U.S. Navy. Benjamin dismisses the notion that the 14th Amendment in any way altered the requirement in Article II as suggested on Sen. Obama's Fight The Smears website and elsewhere.

In Benjamin's analysis, Obama's problem has nothing to do with whether he was born in the U.S. For purpose of his analysis, he assumes Obama was born in Hawaii as he claims. Obama's problem, according to Benjamin, is that he has been a citizen of more than one country. And Benjamin's main point of contention on this does not rest with his father's Kenyan nationality but rather his conclusion that Obama became an Indonesian citizen. What? Yes, that's what Benjamin believes based upon everything he has been able to review that is available in the public record. Benjamin focuses on Obama's school records from STLP Asisi, his first Elementary School. Benjamin says it is undisputed that his school records include the following information:

He was enrolled on January 1st 1968, given Serial No 203 and placed in Class 1 B. His Religion is given as Islam, his Nationality Indonesian, his Father’s Name as L Soetoro Ma., his Father’s Occupation as Official, Director General’s Office TNI [Topography Division Indonesian Army] and his Name as Barry Soetoro.

Based upon Benjamin's analysis of Indonesian law, Obama had to have been adopted by his step father and changed his name to Soetoro. Under Indonesian law, Obama automatically became an Indonesian citizen when his step father adopted him. Further, Benjamin supports his contention based upon who was eligible to attend a state-run school at which he was later enrolled--only Indonesian citizens. But how could Obama have later re-entered the U.S. as a U.S. citizen and remained here all of these years? Benjamin surmises that Obama's mother retained a U.S. passport for him, which he was issued based upon his birth in the state of Hawaii. He left Jakarta using his Indonesian passport as Barry Soetoro when he was ten years old and entered the U.S. on his American passport as Barack Obama, a practice Benjamin describes as common but not legal. "There is clear prima facie evidence that Senator Barack Hussein Obama has held at least two Citizenships, American and Indonesian, Benjamin concludes. "Under Article II of the Constitution that disqualifies him for POTUS, and it should."

Benjamin makes some interesting observations about the resolution the U.S. Senate passed earlier this year to declare Sen. McCain a "natural born" citizen within the meaning of Article II and, thus, eligible to serve as president. "Why were Democratic Senators trying to pass a Resolution making Senator McCain undoubtedly legally eligible when this issue had already been cleared up in 2000 and again in 2004?" Benjamin asks. He notes a particular recital Sen. Obama and Sen. McCaskill insisted on adding to the resolution: “Whereas previous presidential candidates were born outside of the United States of America and were understood to be eligible to be President". According to Benjamin, based upon news reports, Obama and McCaskill attempted to remove from the resolution this recital: "Whereas John Sidney McCain, III, was born to American citizens on an American military base in the Panama Canal Zone in 1936.” "It seems clear that McCaskill and Obama were attempting to create a blanket Resolution covering ALL Foreign Born candidates," Benjamin opines. McCain did not need this resolution in Benjamin's view.

Friday, July 25, 2008

Ethics Committee Votes To Censure Gray

It was supposed to be a bipartisan vote of the City-County Council Ethics Committee to decide whether to censure former CCC President Monroe Gray for failing to disclose his business relationship with a city contractor on his financial disclosure statement, but Democratic member Paul Bateman resigned a few hours before the meeting because of an impending grand jury investigation against his involvement in the Russell Foundation and Councilor Bill Oliver didn't show up for the meeting. The Ethics Committee's two Republican members voted to recommend a censure of Gray to the full council and forward a copy of its report to the Marion County Prosecutor. "The entire intent of this committee was to restore confidence in the public with City Council that we're doing things in an ethical way," the Star's Francesca Jarosz quotes Councilor Pfisterer as saying about the recommendation. Marion Co. Prosecutor referred Gray's case of alleged ghost employment at the Indianapolis Fire Department to a special prosecutor last year. As with all of these cases of public corruption in Marion County, nothing has become of Gray's case. Memo to U.S. Attorney's Office: HELP!

Thursday, July 24, 2008

Obama's Health Care Plan

If you want an indication of what Sen. Barack Obama's plan is for health care, look no further than how a big political supporter siphoned off money from pharmaceutical companies for a foundation he created and then diverted the money to Obama's pal Tony Rezko, now sitting in jail after being convicted on 16 charges of political corruption in federal court earlier this year. Obama's good doctor friend, Dr. Paul S. Ray, set up a private foundation to support medical research and education. This is what he did with the money according to the Sun-Times:

While on the county payroll, a top urologist at Cook County Hospital solicited nearly $1 million from drug companies over the last decade for his private foundation.

Dr. Paul S. Ray's pitch was that the money would go toward medical research and education.

But most of the money hasn't gone to health care at all. Instead, Ray invested it -- mostly in Tony Rezko.

Rezko is the convicted influence-peddler who had been a prodigious fund-raiser for politicians including Sen. Barack Obama, Gov. Blagojevich and the late Cook County Board President John Stroger, the ultimate boss of the county hospitals.

Ray had long worked with Stroger's godson, Orlando Jones, a top administrator at Cook County Hospital who became Stroger's chief of staff. Jones eventually left county government for a job with Rezko. Last September, after he had been questioned by the FBI, Jones committed suicide.

Ray set up the Paul S. Ray Urology Education and Research Foundation 16 years ago. It began investing with Rezko's companies in 2002, according to reports Ray filed with the Internal Revenue Service. The foundation invested $500,000 with Rezko Concessions, which operated Panda Express and Papa John's Pizza restaurants. It also put $100,000 into a proposed housing development Rezko unsuccessfully sought to build on a 62-acre site along the Chicago River in the South Loop.

Ray, 63, of Chicago, also invested his own money with Rezko, spending millions to buy real estate and Papa John's Pizza restaurants from Rezko.

Can someone explain to me how a health care foundation can invest money in a chain of pizza restaurants? Oh yeah, you read my post earlier today on Indianapolis' Russell Foundation so you know just how far awry corrupt people can get with these supposed nonprofit entities. Well, this is where it gets really interesting. Ray's investments with Rezko didn't turn out so well. Recall also that the feds weren't too happy when Tony Rezko showed up at Orlando Jones' home a short time after he supposedly committed suicide when he was supposed to be on home detention. Jones was a top administrator where Dr. Ray worked. Here's what the Sun-Times tells us about Rezko's deals gone bad with Dr. Ray:

Ray's foundation appears to have lost the $500,000 it invested with Rezko Concessions -- nearly half of the foundation's assets. But the foundation apparently got back the $100,000 invested in Rezko's failed South Loop development.

Ray is battling lawsuits over two deals with Rezko. One was filed by Jabir Muhammad, a son of Nation of Islam founder Elijah Muhammad, claiming Rezko and Ray fraudulently took ownership of the South Side mansion where Muhammad lives. The other involves a $646,949 loan Ray allegedly got from a Rezko associate, Elie Maloof, to buy the Papa John's restaurants that Rezko owned in Wisconsin.

Ray's purchase of those restaurants is part of a second, still-pending criminal case against Rezko. Federal prosecutors say Rezko engaged in a conspiracy so Ray could buy the Papa John's stores in Wisconsin. Ray -- who has not been charged -- has been granted immunity from prosecution to testify against Rezko.

Yeah, you read that right. Ray and Rezko are entangled in a dispute with the Nation of Islam founder's son over the ownership of his Southside mansion. Recall that Rezko played an instrumental role in helping Sen. Obama purchase his Southside mansion not too far away from Muhammad's mansion. Note that reports indicate that Louis Farrakhan's Nation of Islam has provided assistance to Obama's campaign from the get go. And what about that $6,000 Ray contributed to Obama's Senate campaign? Obama contributed it to charity after details of his financial entanglements with Rezko emerged publicly. Wake up America!

Who Is Russell Foundation Helping?

According to the Russell Foundation's website, the nonprofit doled out an estimated $277,500 in grants and contributions in 2007. The following Indianapolis area organizations received a grant or contribution for the indicated purposes:

Gabriel Missionary Baptist Church
15 passenger van (value of donation), steel refrigerator, sanctuary upgrade

Mt. Sinai Missionary Baptist Church
15 passenger van (value of donation)

Heather Norris Family
Family Support

Upon This Rock Productions
Annual Cast Banquet

Healing Streams
Ministry Programs

Drive-By Prayer Vigil
15 Passenger Organization Detailed Van (value of donation)

Community Relief
Tax Assistance, Clergy Support

Homeless Persons
Food, Clothing, Shelter

Youth Groups
Summer Camps, After-School Activities

Emergency Services*
Furniture, Rent, Utility, Heaters, Personal Items

Be Nice Campaign*
Community Evaluations & Surveys

RF Thanksgiving Celebration
Baskets & Gift Certificates

Christmas Support*
Indigent Families

Total RF Grants & Contributions for 2007*

Russell Foundation Scandal Turning Heads

The Russell Foundation describes itself as "a Christian faith-based organization that recognizes that all people are made of one blood, and therefore should co-exist as one body of people upon the earth, living in various nations, yet emanating from the same instance of human origin." People knowledgeable with the grand jury investigation of the nonprofit organization in the wake of its recent bankruptcy filing describe a small group of individuals squeezing every last ounce of blood out of the organization for their own personal benefit. There are tales of a California clothier being flown into town to fit the men in charge with the finest in tailored suits. The women had to settle for the best that Nordstroms had to offer. A northside jeweler crafted gold rings with "RF" initials to distinguish the illustrious crew doing God's work. Exotic rugs were purchased and then disappeared without the bill ever being paid. And a high-ranking Indianapolis police department official pulled double-duty as "chief of security" for the group. An IMPD police cruiser couldnt' cut it. He had a Cadillac Escalade to make his important rounds.

As the Star's Jon Murray notes in his story yesterday, it is estimated that at least $1 million was misappropriated by key officials within the organization. All totalled, the foundation's filing lists more than $2.5 million in debts and assets of just $235,000. A grand jury investigation is focusing on three individuals, Rev. Michael Russell, Indianapolis City County Councilor Paul Bateman and Manuel Gonzalez. While one of the investigated is protesting his innocence, a source close to the investigation says the individual cannot account for nearly $500,000 in foundation expenditures. The foundation accumulated at one point about 17 cars, most of which are identified in the bankruptcy filing. The source says forged signatures allowed one of the individuals to get hold of nearly $100,000 using a financing scheme through a Connersville car dealer for cars already purchased.

The source suspects the individuals in charge of the foundation went on the spending spree in anticipation of an $11 million investment from an outside investment firm. There were big plans. Talks with some of the country's wealthiest businessmen in America were supposedly underway--hence the need for a "chief of security". The focus was no longer on helping inner-city poor with housing and other needs. There was big talk of a high speed monorail from Indianapolis to Chicago, tapping a closed down steel mill in Northwest Indiana that would help put many unemployed in Da Region to work. Ethanol production was planned. It all required lots of walking around money we're told. Cash-filled wallets were needed to work the halls at the State House and our nation's capitol to win support for the foundation's projects according to one tale.

The matter is now in the hands of a Marion County grand jury. The Star's Jon Murray writes, "Earlier this month, investigators seized computers, files and financial documents from the foundation's headquarters on Indianapolis' Far Southside, according to court records." "Another search of Gonzalez's home resulted in the seizure of a computer and records." Murray's article notes that a grand jury investigated another nonprofit run by Russell's former wife in 2004. "The center's board accused Russell's then-wife, Executive Director Florence Alexander, of financial malfeasance, spurring a search of the Near-Northside community center by Brizzi's grand jury investigators," Murray writes. "No charges resulted, but the center later went into receivership." Will this investigation end the same way? Who knows. I would feel more confident if the feds stepped in and took over this investigation, particularly since the allegations involve a federal tax-exempt organization.

UPDATE: The Star's Jon Murray reports on the resignation of Councilor Paul Bateman as a member of the Council's Ethics Committee following news of the investigation of the Russell Foundation. Marion Co. GOP Chairman Tom John called for Bateman's resignation from the panel at a press conference outside the City-County Building earlier today.

UPDATE II: An observant AI reader brought to my attention this story from the July 5, 2008 Gary Post-Tribune discussing the death of the planned monorail by the Russell Foundation. John Byrne wrote:

This time last year, Northwest Indiana was abuzz with the possibilities of a space age public transit system and hundreds of local jobs to support it.

Remember the monorail from East Chicago to Indianapolis? Well, it apparently has become yet another of the region's transportation pipe dreams.

Much ink was spilled over the plan, which investors first unveiled to state legislators in spring 2007.

A silent, ecologically sound train could carry people and freight between East Chicago and Indianapolis, a model for the rest of the nation.

Best of all, it wouldn't cost the public a dime to build.

The Westminster International Corp., a Montana investment group, would front all the money to build the transporter on existing railroad right-of-way, company spokesman Richard Shafsky told a group of local officials in Merrillville last year.

And better yet, Shafsky said the company would reopen a local steel mill to construct monorail infrastructure and sell it around the country.

On Wednesday, a spokeswoman for Shafsky said a lack of political support locally killed the monorail plan.

"It never got past the initial discussions," said a representative for Shafsky who declined to give her full name.

Area political consultant Joe Gomeztagle worked on behalf of the monorail investment group -- which included the faith-based Indianapolis non-profit the Russell Foundation -- to coordinate discussions with decision makers along the proposed route between Lake Michigan and the state capital.

Gomeztagle said he recently received word from Russell Foundation lawyers that the group had declared bankruptcy.

"I was worried as this went along that they would give people around here hope for this monorail proposal and then it wouldn't work out," Gomeztagle said.

Russell Foundation attorneys were not available this week to discuss the agency.

A telephone number listed on the Russell Foundation Web page has been disconnected.

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Superdelegate Andrew Misled On Residency; Didn't Vote In Indiana Primary

The former head of the Indiana Democratic Party and the Democratic National Committee misled the public when he announced on the eve of Indiana's Democratic primary in May that he was changing his allegiance from Sen. Hillary Clinton to Sen. Barack Obama. The late move miffed the Clinton campaign and Sen. Evan Bayh. Andrew was originally slotted to be a superdelegate from the State of Maryland, but he convinced party officials to move his superdelegate status to Indiana based on the understanding he supported Clinton for president. When Andrew announced his switch, he was criticized for no longer being a resident of Indiana. WISH-TV's Jim Shella notes Andrew's defense then:

"I was born here. I own a house here and I happen to work in Washington just like every United State Senator and Congressman does," said Andrew.

Well, not quite. As Jim Shella points out, the Carmel house Andrew once owned is now owned by Colts owner Jim Irsay. Shella also reports that Andrew did not vote in the Indiana primary because he isn't a registered voter here. "Several attempts to contact Andrew for comment, both at his Washington law office and through associates in Indianapolis, were unsuccessful," Shella reports. "Should Andrew be in the Indiana delegation to the Denver convention?" Shella asks. Here's the real shocker. Andrew didn't vote in the Maryland primary, either.

Class Action Lawsuit Filed To Recover Pan Am Plaza Funds

Attorney Paul Ogden made good on his promise and filed a class action lawsuit in Marion Superior Court 13 to recover at least $6 million from the recent sale of Pan Am Plaza property by the Indiana Sports Corporation to private developers, which was supposed to be repaid to the City of Indianapolis as part of a restrictive covenant the City entered into with the ISC when it gave the property to ISC in 1985. The administration of Mayor Bart Peterson rushed through an amendment to the original development agreement which let ISC off the hook for repayment so it could sell of the land for a price the ISC has refused to disclose publicly. The rush to close the deal before Peterson's term ended circumvented the law according to Ogden's suit. Ogden's suit notes the following deficiencies:

  • The resolution approved by the Metropolitan Development Commission made no mention of the original restrictive covenant.
  • The resolution omitted the fact that the amendment to the 1985 development agreement would cause the City to give up $6 million.
  • The resolution was approved by MDC on a voice vote along with other proposals without any public debate.
  • The City is still paying debt obligation for the original cost of purchasing the Pan Am Plaza property, which was rolled into the bond obligations for Circle Centre Mall.
  • State law required Mayor Peterson to bring the proposed change in the redevelopment plan to the City-County Council.
  • State law required that there be notice of the proposed modification in the redevelopment plan, information provided to the public at at public hearing, and an opportunity for the public to remonstrate or object to the change--all after the council approved the resolution.
  • The Metropolitan Commission was required to take final action determining the public utility and benefit of the proposed project.
  • And finally, because the property interest in the covenant exceeded $50,000, City-County Council approval was required.

Hat tip to the Indiana Law Blog, which has more here. See my earlier post on this subject here. Ogden's suit notes that the original development agreement was signed by Michael Browning in his capacity as Vice President of the ISC. Browning's company was later awarded the right to redevelop the property on behalf of the ISC. The ISC recently sold the property in question to a development group including Kite Realty Group. Kite was a major contributor to Mayor Bart Peterson.

When The Kids Aren't At School

Lawrence Township Trustee Mike Hobbs works as a volunteer at John Marshall Community High School. When attendance numbers hovered around 50% recently, Hobbs decided something needed to be done to incentivize parents to make sure their kids are in school. He and John Marshall principal, Jeff White, came up with a plan. Any parent with a case pending in Hobbs' office for rent, utility, food or other emergency assistance will see their case held up if their children are enrolled at John Marshall but they aren't attending classes. This will provide a little extra incentive to the parents to be responsible in ensuring their kids are in school. And if they're in class instead of on the streets, there is less chance they will be getting into trouble. What do you think?

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Advocates Against Domestic Violence Blame Denial Of Protective Order For Woman's Death

A double-homicide and suicide arising out of a domestic dispute this morning has advocates against domestic violence blaming the denial of a protective order for today's tragedy. According to WISH-TV, April Wills requested a protective order against her ex-husband, Carl Wills. Instead of being granted a traditional protective order, Marion County granted Wills what is known as a "non-violent contact order."

"Most other counties don't even entertain the idea of a non-violent contact order because a non-violent contact order is an order that says it's okay to have contact with somebody as long as it's not violent," said Kerry Hyatt Blomquist of the Coalition Against Domestic Violence.

Advocates tell WISH-TV that there has been a growing trend in Marion County to issue a "non-violent contact order." In addition to beating another woman last fall, Carl Wills had the following run-ins with his ex-wife over the last several months according to the Star:

In June 2007, Wills knocked on the door of his ex-wife’s Winterberry Drive apartment. When she did not answer, according to a report, he slashed a tire on her car.

In April 2007, Wills kicked in the door of April Wills’ apartment in the 3600 block of Green Ash Court, according to another report, and fled the scene before police arrived.

In January 2006, police arrested Wills for domestic battery after he reportedly punched April in the face and body at an apartment in the 4200 block of Majestic Lane.

Not surprisingly, Wills had a prior conviction for reckless homicide from 1992. According to the Star, he served 7 years of his 8-year sentence.

Scratch John Edwards From Obama's VP List

No sooner had Time confirmed that former Sen. John Edwards was on Obama's short list for vice president than the National Enquirer broke a story alleging that its reporters caught up with Edwards at the Beverly Hilton after he left a hotel room of a woman at 2:40 a.m. this morning who the tabloid claims gave birth to a child belonging to Edwards. According to the tabloid report, Edwards hid out in the hotel's basement bathroom until security arrived to help escort him out of the hotel after its reporters confronted him about his alleged meeting in the hotel room of Rielle Hunter and his supposed love child. Hunter once did filming work for Edwards' presidential campaign. Edwards wife, Elizabeth, is still being treated for cancer. Assuming Edwards had any chance of landing a spot on the ticket with Obama, this news will certainly wash it away.

Monday, July 21, 2008

Indiana Wins Highest Credit Rating

Standard & Poor's Rating Service has upgraded Indiana's credit rating to AAA, the first time in the state's history that it has achieved this status. Gov. Mitch Daniels jumps on the announcement. "The upgrade reflects the state's continued strong management that has led to the property tax reform that has realigned state and local spending and is not expected to impact the state's long-term financial performance," Daniels said. A press release from the governor's office notes that schools will be able to borrow money at a lower interest rate as a result of the upgrade. Only nine other states enjoy a AAA rating from S&P, including Florida, Georgia, North Carolina, Delaware, Virginia, Maryland, Minnesota, Missouri and Utah.

Is Jindal McCain's Pick?

Political columnist Bob Novak is reporting that Sen. John McCain may announce his vice presidential choice this week. According to Novak, the current favorite is former Gov. Mitt Romney. The Fix' Chris Cilizza notes that Sen. McCain is scheduled to travel to New Orleans later this week to meet with Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal. The 37-year-old is considered a rising star in the Republican Party. Despite his young age, Democrats could ill-afford to criticize him as unqualified. His resume is much more impressive than Sen. Barack Obama's, the presumptive Democratic nominee. He was elected to Congress the same year Obama was elected to the Senate, and last year he won election as governor. He ran the Louisiana Department of Health under former Gov. Mike Foster. He served as executive director of the National Bipartisan Commission on the Future of Medicare, a 17-member panel charged with devising plans to reform Medicare. He later served as Assistant Secretary of Health and Human Services in the Bush Administration, an appointment which required Senate confirmation. Jindal would become the first Indian-American to land on the national ticket of either party. Piyush is his birth name. He adopted the nickname Bobby after the Bobby Brady character from the "Brady Bunch."

Jobs For Ex-Offenders A Top Priority For Ballard

Mayor Greg Ballard is putting his full support behind an effort to encourage Indianapolis employers to hire ex-offenders. Colts Coach Tony Dungy has agreed to chair Ballard's "Ex-Offender Re-entry Program." Ballard's plan not only includes an effort to place ex-offenders in city and county jobs but also a preference in city contracting for businesses which agree to employ ex-offenders. A city ordinance is required to enact the bidding preference. It is this latter proposal which is likely to draw the ire of some in the business community and elsewhere.

The city is already providing preferences to women and minority-owned businesses. Mayor Ballard recently added another preference category for veterans. The net effect of all these preferences is to disadvantage male and white-owned businesses which seek to employ the best employees available. Hiring ex-offenders could prove both costly and too risky for these small business owners. It is also counter-intuitive. Are law-abiding people going to lose out to job opportunities because a would-be employer had to hire an ex-offender to win or retain a city contract?

Whenever I read about ideas like this one I'm reminded of William Bennett's, "The Book Of Virtues." We've become a society which rewards bad behavior and punishes good behavior. We need programs which reward good behavior. It's as if virtue has become a vice. Just wait and see who has their hands out first to get a piece of the taxpayer money needed to fund this program. The same old "do-gooders" who've been feeding at the public trough for years. Who is going to be held to account when a public employee is harmed by the violent act of an ex-offender this program compelled to be hired? Or when public funds or property turns up missing because the city compelled the hiring of a person with a prior theft-related conviction?

Of course, the big proponent of this plan is Deputy Mayor Olgen Williams, a convicted felon who stole from the U.S. Post Office while employed there to feed his drug habit. Although there is evidence Williams turned his life around and successfully obtained a presidential pardon so he could run for public office in Indiana, in my mind, his past criminal record should have disqualified him from holding such a high-ranking position in our city government. Mayor Ballard obviously thinks much differently than I do on this point, and he wants to fill city government jobs with more people just like Williams. I know there are many people who think I'm being too hard-lined on this particular issue. My parents spent a great deal of time teaching their children the importance of understanding right from wrong. It is very disheartening to see so much reward in our society today for people who abandon this important principle for the quick gain. As long as we continue to embrace a society where there are no bad consequences for bad behavior, we shouldn't be surprised at how badly people behave. I guess the motto "Do The Crime, Do The Time" has been replaced by "Do The Crime, Reap The Reward."

Investor's Business Daily Knocks Obama's Reliance On Lugar

Indiana Daily Insight picks up on a knock in an Investor's Business Daily editorial of Sen. Barack Obama's use of Sen. Richard Lugar in his latest ad to bolster his foreign policy credentials. IDI's Ed Feigenbaum writes, "Investor's Business Daily editorializes negatively about 'The Obama-Lugar 'Coalition', suggesting that U.S. Sen. 'Barack Obama has a curious way of trying to hoodwink voters into believing he is more hawkish than they think — by showing them how pally he is with a leading Republican dove.'" The editorial puts into perspective the non-role Obama has actually played in eliminating Russian nuclear weapons and Lugar's own misjudgments on Iraq:

Obama claims he and Lugar kept Russian nuclear weapons out of the wrong hands. But beyond getting a tour of a junkyard for old warheads in Russia in 2005, and supporting Lugar-sponsored missile legislation, it's actually unclear what Obama did.

Lugar is a poor choice of Republican for Obama to pair up with in feigning foreign policy credibility. The last thing Lugar did of any note was deliver an interminable speech on the Senate floor a year ago. In those remarks, he complained that 'our continuing absorption with military activities in Iraq is limiting our diplomatic assertiveness there and elsewhere in the world.' He called for 'a multifaceted diplomatic offensive' instead of President Bush's military surge.

Lugar's betrayal was described as historic by the Senate's top Democrat, Harry Reid. Portrayed in much of the media as a foreign-policy wise man, Lugar and his advice proved dead wrong. Had his counsel been followed last year, a chaotic Iraq would be dominated today by al-Qaida and Iran.

Now Lugar is actually being mentioned as a possible cross-party running mate for Obama. The Hoosier claims no interest, but back at the 1980 Republican convention in Detroit the then-little-known senator was almost begging publicly to be placed on the ticket with Ronald Reagan .... Lugar later sowed distrust with Republicans when he suggested selling out Nicaragua's Contra freedom fighters in the 1980s in exchange for a communist Sandinista version of 'free elections.'

Now, in an election year, Lugar describes the assertions in Obama's commercial as 'accurate' — rather than taking the opportunity to blast Obama's naive foreign-policy radicalism."

Sunday, July 20, 2008

Krauthammer On The "Audacity Of Vanity"

Charles Krauthammer pens a salient column in the Washington Post on Sen. Barack Obama's attempt to stage at speech at Brandenburg Gate in Berlin as a nice photo-op for his general election campaign against Sen. John McCain. German Chancellor Angela Merkel rightfully pointed the egotistical candidate in another direction. As Krauthammer points out in his column, Obama, unlike Presidents John F. Kennedy and Ronald Reagan, has not earned the right to speak at this historic site. Krauthammer writes:

What Obama does not seem to understand is that the Brandenburg Gate is something you earn. President Ronald Reagan earned the right to speak there because his relentless pressure had brought the Soviet empire to its knees and
he was demanding its final "tear down this wall" liquidation. When President John F. Kennedy visited the Brandenburg Gate on the day of his "Ich bin ein Berliner" speech, he was representing a country that was prepared to go to the brink of nuclear war to defend West Berlin.

Who is Obama representing? And what exactly has he done in his lifetime to merit appropriating the Brandenburg Gate as a campaign prop? What was his role in the fight against communism, the liberation of Eastern Europe, the creation of what George Bush the elder -- who presided over the fall of the Berlin Wall but modestly declined to go there for a victory lap -- called "a Europe whole and free"?

Krauthammer could have also said that both Kennedy and Reagan served their country during World War II. Kennedy shunned the advantage a privileged life as the son of an ambassador brought him and put his life in harm's way. Reagan set aside his budding movie career for a new role acting in training videos for the military. Although not a life threatening role as Kennedy's, the actor served the role his country asked of him. Obama can point to no such service for his country.

Krauthammer goes a step further and picks up on the narcissistic nature that many Americans are just now beginning to learn about Obama. Krauthammer wonders how a politician with so little in the way of achievement could have such an inflated opininon of himself:

Every senator looks in the mirror and sees a president. Nonetheless, has there ever been a presidential nominee with a wider gap between his estimation of himself and the sum total of his lifetime achievements?

Obama is a three-year senator without a single important legislative achievement to his name, a former Illinois state senator who voted "present" nearly 130 times. As president of the Harvard Law Review, as law professor and as legislator, has he ever produced a single notable piece of scholarship? Written a single memorable article? His most memorable work is a biography of his favorite subject: himself . . .

Obama may think he's King Canute, but the good king ordered the tides to halt precisely to refute sycophantic aides who suggested that he had such power. Obama has no such modesty.

Krauthammer's closing is perfect. "As he said on victory night, his rise marks the moment when 'our planet began to heal.' As I recall -- I'm no expert on this -- Jesus practiced his healing just on the sick. Obama operates on a larger canvas." Isn't it refreshing to see a Washington pundit with an objective perspective on Obama? This craziness has got to end. Never before has someone so unqualified to be president been elevated to represent so much more than what he truly is.

John Criticizes Ballard For Transparency

The Star's Brendan O'Shaughnessy takes a look at Mayor Greg Ballard's performance half way through his first year. That outgoing Marion Co. Democratic Chairman Mike O'Connor and close advisor to former Mayor Bart Peterson directs criticism at Ballard's performance is no surprise. Criticism from the Mayor County GOP Chairman, though, is a different matter. Tom John, a newly-minted Ice Miller partner, thinks Mayor Ballard is making a mistake by allowing the public access to performance reviews prepared by his Administration and promising to hold public budget reviews. "Any time you wade into something you can't control, there's a risk someone could stand behind you and shoot arrows in your back," John said.

The public access to performance reviews, which John doesn't want open to the public, is the new IndyStat site on the Mayor's website, described as "Accountability In Action For The City Of Indianapolis." The Mayor's Office of Enterprise Development conducts regular performance evaluations of various agencies of city/county government to review spending and performance data and to determine areas for need of improvement or change. If you want to peek inside your government, this is the place to go. The site puts key data and critical analysis prepared by the Office's Mike Huber and Kristen Tusing at your fingertips. It's also all public information, so it's not like Mayor Ballard is giving us access to information to which we aren't entitled. And it's entirely in keeping with his promise to bring transparency to government. As I recall, John himself issued several press releases during last year's campaign touting transparency in government and, specifically, criticizing Mayor Peterson and the Democratic-controlled council for shutting the public out of the City's budget process. Why John chose to hit Ballard on this of all subjects is beyond me. I think he must have had his Ice Miller hat on instead of his county chairman's hat when O'Shaughnessy interviewed him for this story, although I suspect his partners wished he had worn the latter for this interview.

The criticism Mike O'Connor directs at Ballard is that he's acting too much like a "caretaker." "The mayor (should be) the community cheerleader, the clearinghouse when there is a crisis, the only person who can build consensus," O'Connor told O'Shaughnessy. The Star's editors picked up on this theme last week, suggesting that Ballard was missing in action on the City's continued crime problem and policing concerns. I have issues with his approach on a number of issues, but I think the Mayor has been very visible and highly-engaged on these and other issues. The "caretaker" description used by O'Connor is actually more descriptive of his former boss' management style. He showed up for a lot of photo-ops but otherwise seemed to leave it to others to do the heavy lifting. I think Robert Vane summarizes this point best with his comment. "Voters decided they wanted a workhorse, not a show horse, and that's what they got," Vane said.

Overall, I was somewhat disappointed in the story. The sidebar to the story contains more useful information than the story itself. Many of Ballard's supporters are disappointed in some of his actions to date, but this story really didn't touch on it. Turning to the same political insiders for key jobs in his administration has been a source of irritation to many. Providing such an enlarged role in his administration to Rev. Olgen Williams and his minister friends, who played absolutely no role in Mayor Ballard's election last year (and, theoretically, if not legally, should never play a role in politics), has been perplexing and alienating to his core supporters. And Ballard's slowness in implementing promised ethics reforms has signaled more business as usual. At the end of the day, however, Ballard's administration is a refreshing change from the corrupt and out of touch Peterson years. There's still plenty of time for Ballard to get his act together. Let's hope he's listening.

Saturday, July 19, 2008

Drive-By Prayer Minister's Daughter Murdered

Rev. Malachi Walker has been on the forefront of the Peace In The Streets initiative and conducts neighborhood prayer gatherings in troubled areas of Indianapolis known as Drive By Prayers to discourage youth from taking up crime. Early this morning, his 24-year-old daughter, Chanelle Wells, became the City's latest homicide victim. Someone broke into her home on the City's Far Eastside and shot her multiple times. Police found a handgun, two AK47s and marijuana in her home. Wells leaves behind three children ranging in age from 5 months to 6. She became the 70th homicide victim of the year.

Ivy Tech Wants To Demolish Historic Building

Ivy Tech won state and city approval for a $69 million construction project at the site of its near northside campus in Indianapolis along Fall Creek with the understanding it would preserve the historic former St. Vincent Hospital Building facing Fall Creek as you cross the bridge on Meridian Street. Now, Ivy Tech officials have presented drawings which propose to raze the historic building, along with all the surrounding buildings. This, according to the IBJ's Cory Schouten, has the Indiana Historic Landmarks Foundation in an uproar.

As with anything Ivy Tech does, politics seems to have a role in the project. Schouten notes that Ivy Tech dumped its former architect on the project, Jim Schellinger's CSO Architects, and replaced it with Schmidt Associates, a big contributor to Gov. Mitch Daniels' re-election bid.

From the outside, the old St. Vincent Hospital appears to be a real treasure and certainly a landmark building for the Fall Creek neighborhood. It really is a gateway of sorts as it stands facing the greenway along Fall Creek Parkway. Judging by the comments on Schouten's Property Lines blog, people aren't real cracked up about the proposed replacement building. Some describe it as looking like one of those suburban warehouse buildings.

Stopped While Driving White In A Black Neighborhood

Last February, I attended a Mayor's Night Out at the Jubilee Center on the City's near northside. Public Safety Director Scott Newman told the gathered neighborhood residents to expect stepped up enforcement as a means of getting guns out of the hands of felons. Newman told the gathering that routine traffic stops are an effective and legal means of accomplishing this objective. Let's put this policy to the test.

I spoke tonight to a prominent neighborhood leader and local business owner who was subjected to one of these "routine traffic stops." Shortly after this fine gentleman, who happens to be Caucasian, left a black friend's home in the area of West 29th Street, he was tailed by an IMPD officer. After traveling about five blocks, the officer turned on his lights and pulled him over. The officer approached him and demanded to know why he was "buying crack in a black neighborhood." His efforts to explain to the officer that he had simply been visiting a friend in the neighborhood weren't succeeding. "Why are you shaking," the officer demanded of him. As his nightmare continued, six police officers gathered at the scene. He found himself being patted down with his hands on the hood of the car. Drug sniffing dogs were brought to the scene to search his car. In a particularly embarrassing moment, a client of the businessman drove by among many others, looking on in shock at what he had just witnessed. The officer relentlessly badgered him for answers about his whereabouts. Finally, after nearly an hour, the officer tossed his driver's license, registration and proof of insurance onto the street. "You got lucky today," the officer said as he walked away.

If Scott Newman believes that routine traffic stops such as the one this man encountered at 6:45 a.m. this past Monday is legal, then he better head back to law school. This police officer had absolutely no probable cause for pulling this man over other than his belief that a white man should not be driving in this particular black neighborhood at that time of day. The victim in this case has filed a complaint with the City. If the City is wise, a public apology will be immediately issued to this man for the police officer's gross misconduct. I think we all share a commitment to bringing crime under control in Indianapolis. But this kind of police misconduct cannot be tolerated for a moment. If you want to stop someone for speeding, ignoring a stop sign or driving with a headlight out, that's fine. Profiling drivers based on race in a particular setting, black or white, stopping them and then subjecting them to unreasonable searches and detentions is simply unacceptable.

Friday, July 18, 2008

Campo Wins 7th District Nod

The 7th District GOP committeepersons chose Gabrielle Campo to replace Jon Elrod as the general election congressional candidate to oppose U.S. Rep. Andre Carson. There were 77 eligible voters at tonight's caucus. Campo won it on the second ballot over her five male opponents after falling a few votes short on the first ballot.

Ballard Has Plan To Clean Up Police Department

Public Safety Director Scott Newman announced a plan to get tough on bad cops in the wake of more than a half dozen police officers being arrested since the first of the year for a variety of crimes. "Nothing can substitute for honest men and women who understand thattheir career as police is a sacred trust they hold for the public," Newman said. "Still, it is incumbent on us to make sure that every safeguard is put inplace to channel those men and women in the right direction, and to helpus find out quickly when they have gone the wrong direction." "We are ashamed of the actions of the few, but we are proud of the actions of the many, and we won't hesitate to use these measures that we announce today and others to make sure the bad apples are plucked out and tossed aside." Here are the steps Newman outlined at yesterday's press conference:

  • More intensive supervision of officers in the field.
  • Tighter accounting and inventory controls of search warrants and seizures of drugs and money.
  • Bringing back the previous practice of polygraph tests for officers assigned to narcotics enforcement, vice, intelligence and property room.
  • Creating the position of recruiter in order to ensure the departmentattracts the best, high quality candidates, including establishing apresence on college campuses.
  • Establishing a staffed Office of Career Development with the task of guiding officers toward more directed career goals, cultivating management and leadership skills, and providing more consistent evaluations and training.
  • Requiring performance evaluations on a regular basis.

Photographers Shot At Eastside Fire

A WISH-TV photographer and a freelance photographer were shot early this morning while firefighters fought a blaze at an abandoned house in the 800 block of N. Tacoma Street. A firefighter's air tank was also hit. Both shooting victims were taken to Methodist Hospital according to the Star's Tom Spalding. WISH-TV's Kevin Hankins has been released. "I was just gathering shots around the scene and then all of sudden heard a pop and felt something on my left back," said Hankins. Fox59 News is reporting a fire at a second abandoned house. You may recall that Indianapolis suffered a rash of fires at abandoned homes on the City's southeast side last year. Also, Fox News reports that a shooting outside Club Industry this morning led to a high speed chase by police ending with a rollover of the fleeing SUV on Keystone Avenue. Just another night in the City.

Thursday, July 17, 2008

Obama Influence Peddler Cashing In Early

For the Obama folks, the election in November is a mere formality. In their minds, the race is already over and Obama is simply taking a five-month long victory lap to the White House. This is particularly true with the sleazy influence peddlers who surround Obama. Long-time Obama friend, former staffer and political advisor Dan Shomon offers us a taste of that "Change" Obama promises to bring to Washington in this pitch for his government affairs practice:

“Should ‘CHANGE’ occur in November as polls indicate, we should see a lot of people from Illinois moving to Washington, D.C., and taking key spots in an Obama administration. Now is the time to anticipate these changes."

“We will be in Washington, D.C., August 4, 5, and 6, and we’re interested in scheduling a meeting with your government affairs team to discuss the changing political landscapes and our services and capabilities.”

“Dan is mentioned in every book about Sen. Obama and is profiled in Sen. Obama’s book, ‘The Audacity of Hope.’ Dan has been interviewed in recent months by Time magazine, the Washington Post, ABC’s ‘20/20,’ CNN, the L.A. Times, the Chicago Tribune and many other publications about Sen. Obama.”

Of course, the Obama campaign professed shock and disappointment at Shomon's solicitation. “As Mr. Shomon acknowledges, this e-mail was poorly conceived and inappropriate in both tone or content," Obama's campaign said. "He has also committed, and we fully expect, that his firm will take the utmost care to avoid in the future actions or any appearances such as that raised by this e-mail.” Yeah, right. This guy figures with Tony Rezko headed to prison for a long sentence, the field is wide open for him. Note that Shomon's solicitation describes him as "Obama’s longest serving campaign adviser and strategist."

Obama, while in Indiana yesterday, took time out for a lofty interview with Jake Query and Terri Stacy, morning show folks at WIBC. It was in keeping with the dumbing down of America approach to American politics. The questions were about on this level:

Terri: Do you wear boxers or briefs? HaHaHaHaHeHeHe

Jake: Are you a Mountain Dew Man? Hey, Put It Right There.

Terri: Can I keep one of your used soda cans as a keep-sake?

Jake: Is it true how big it is, you can tell me, good buddy?

Terri: Can I hold it? HeHeHeHe?

Jake: Oh yeah, our boss wanted us to ask you if Evan Bayh is going to be your choice for Vice President?

Terri: Oh, boo! Jeff Smulyan is a party pooper. He cut our pay!

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Munster Condo Association Sued For Discrimination

The Justice Department is suing the Autum Ridge Condominium Association in Munster because its Board allegedly denied housing to a black couple with children. The Association had a rule in place until 2007 which prohibited sales to anyone with children under the age of 18 if the children were to live in the units. In this case, however, the previous owner of the condo had children living in her unit with her. The Northwest Indiana Times' Joe Carlson's explains what led federal authorities to conclude the Association discriminated against the couple:

According to government filings in Hammond federal court, condo association officials did not raise an issue about Valentine's two children violating board policy until after the officials learned Valentine and Haddox were black during face-to-face meetings.

Until June 25, 2007, the association had a rule prohibiting sales to anyone with children younger than 18 if the children were to live in the units. But the previous owner, Diane Webster-Rangel, had two children living in the condo, federal filings allege.

Haddox and Valentine would have been the first black residents in the 20-unit development at 633 South St. since the association was formed in 1986,
the government lawsuit states.

Department of Justice spokeswoman Jamie Hais said her department's lawsuit is the result of a complaint received and investigated by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development.

Civil Rights Division trial attorney M. Elizabeth Parr states in the federal complaint that the board's decision not to approve the $122,000 sale between the previous owner and Haddox violated the Fair Housing Act by discriminating on the basis of race and familial status.

Other victims included the seller, who had to accept a lower purchase price from a white buyer in 2007, and Haddox's real estate agents, who did not get paid for their work on the deal, the lawsuit alleges.

Collins points out in his story other housing discrimination lawsuits the federal government has brought in the region. Last year, the government sued the Town of St. John for denying a zoning variance to a man who wanted to allow unmarried persons suffering from MS to live in his home for treatment. The town had an ordinance against unmarried persons living together in a single residence. In 2002, the government brought a case against Lake County after a head of the economic development agency was fired because he supported an affordable housing project in Lake Station which might attract minorities. And who said the Bush Justice Department doesn't enforce civil rights?

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Six Candidates Vie For 7th District GOP Nomination

It may seem hard to believe, but there are six candidates who will be competing at this Friday's caucus to replace Jon Elrod on the ballot for 7th District Congress. According to the Indiana Daily Insight, they include Gabrielle Campo, Kevin Green, Ray Irvin, Patrick O'Connor, Michael Simpson, and Jason Turnbill. As an elected precinct committeeperson in the district, I've heard from only one of the candidates. Patrick O'Connor, a claims adjuster for Liberty Mutual Insurance Company, who telephoned me this evening. The law firm of Ice Miller, as represented by Marion Co. GOP Chairman Tom John and 7th District GOP committeeman John Hammond, is backing Campo. It's no secret that Ice Miller has strong ties to the Center Township Democrats (the firm represents Center Township Trustee Carl Drummer) and the Carson political machine. Ice Miller partner Lacy Johnson is very close to Andre Carson who, like his grandmother, provides an important link to the firm's D.C. lobbying practice. I'm not sure what to make of this "party support" for Campo. It's kind of like former Marion Co. GOP Chairman John Keeler's support for Greg Jordan in the 2003 mayoral race. Keeler's law firm, Baker & Daniels, had a provision in their legal contract with the City of Indianapolis at the time which said Keeler couldn't speak out against Mayor Peterson. As you may recall, Jordan struggled to raise money and lost badly to Peterson.

Ballard Appoints Sanford Fire Chief

Mayor Greg Ballard today announced the appointment of veteran firefighter Brian Sanford as his choice for Chief of the Indianapolis Fire Department. Sanford formerly served as Deputy Chief of IFD’s EMS Division, and until IFD’s most recent consolidation with Warren Township, he served as that township’s Fire Chief. According to a press release from the Mayor's Office, Sanford "emerged as the top choice through a highly competitive process."

Anatomy Of An Internet Rumor

Last week, a few local Democratic blogs in a southern state began circulating a rumor that a prominent statewide elected Republican official had been caught in bed having sex with a male staffer by his wife. The rumor had it that the young up-and-comer, who towed the conservative line on things like gay marriage, would be announcing his resignation shortly. Word had it that Sen. John McCain's campaign had acted quickly and removed the next Larry Craig from an official role in his campaign. The rumor quickly spanned across the Internet, being touted by the usual liberal suspects as an another example of a hypocritical family values Republican gone bad. By the time it made it's way to the Daily Kos, it wasn't just a rumor, it was a fact. Some local Indiana blogs (including those critical of this blog's decision to report Larry Sinclair's sex and drug allegations against Sen. Barack Obama) jumped on the bandwagon as well.

Well, guess what, the resignation of the official never took place. A planned press conference to address the claim was supposedly called off after the state's leading newspaper decided there was no story to report. One of the local blogs began back-peddling on the story. The blog wrote:

A source close to (Blank), in adamantly denying the allegations about (Blank) in rumors that are circulating, called the rumors “atrocious” and “as bad a smear attempt as (Blank) faced in 1998.” ((Blank) was a Republican candidate for Lt. Gov. in 1998 when he was confronted with accusations that he assaulted and raped a prostitute. The accusations where shown to be false, and (Blank) won the election.)
Another local blog, which is no fan of the high-ranking Republican in question, offered this prescient perspective on the effort to make the rumor true on Internet blogs:

Over the last few weeks of this rumor being propogated, and the last week of this being all over the Internet, there hasn’t been a single shread of corroboration that anything has happened except that (Blank) and his wife are on the outs.

Guess what guys? That story’s pretty old. Here’s a big secret (Blank) probably doesn’t want you to know about. A lot of people that work with and around him don’t like him, and they talk smack about him to me and others (mostly others, and then it trickles down to me weeks later). I didn’t bring up his purported marital problems because it didn’t even occur to me to bring it up . . .

And that record is often believed and spread beyond our small group of readers and beyond the Internet. So it becomes accepted by many that Barack Obama is a Muslim who doesn’t say the pledge of allegiance, the September 11 attacks were actually a government conspiracy, and (Blank) is actually gay . . .

So my conclusion is that (Blank) shouldn’t resign over this petty crap, and those of us who are his vocal [and reasonable] opponents shouldn’t jump on this bandwagon of slander. (Blank) is unfit for office and has a history of ethical lapses, immature actions, demagoguery, and politicization of his official duties. Do we really have to stoop low and become rumor spreaders? Do we need to go so low as to make unfounded accusations about his sexuality, especially those of us who cite his homophobia as one reason for our opposition?

What happened to this prominent southern politician this past week is simply inexcusable. The blogs on the Left will do anything to destroy a Republican, no matter how harmful it is to the wife and family of the politician whom they are targeting, and justify it based on political ideology. I know nothing about this Republican official. Maybe there is some truth to the rumors, but it seems to me there should at least be a person with some first-hand knowledge stepping forward with information before you go and spread it all over the Internet. You can't google this man's name without reading all kinds of stuff about what a hypocritical, closeted homosexual he is now. And based on what? As one local blogger said after the fact, "Did any of you even bother to ask his wife who supposedly kicked him out of the house if it was true?"

We saw this same thing earlier this year when a local Democratic blogger published a false and defamatory claim that a Republican candidate for Congress was gay and then had the audacity to claim he considered the Republican candidate a friend and meant no harm by it when called out on it. The same Democratic blogger did the same but even worse to an openly gay Democratic candidate for Congress in 2006 so it came as no surprise. Nationally, one blogger has made a name for himself outing closeted homosexual politicians, as long as they are Republicans. He has repeatedly published unsubstantiated rumors about a southern Republican governor being gay. He even named a young male staffer with whom the governor had supposedly had sex, only to have the male staffer later deny the claim. As I learned a long time ago, with these kinds of people, their ways are always Machiavellian. The ends always justifies the means. If it can destroy the person's political career, it's justified whether it's true or not.

Note that I have intentionally chose not to link to any of the blogs in question or identify the name of the politicians in question to avoid propagating the rumors associated with these politicians' names. It's easy enough for you to find on your own by doing your own google search. I'm not going to give them the satisfaction of boosting traffic to their sites, which is the reward they are seeking for their dirty deeds. Several of the usual suspects attempted to post comments about the rumor pertaining to this politician on this blog over the last several days anonymously, of course, as they always do when carrying out their dirty work.