Sunday, January 11, 2009

State House Entertainment

One of the annual entertainment items at the State House as the legislature begins its work is Brian Howey's "Power 50" list. State House observers use it as a gauge of how they fair personally with Howey as opposed to any objective analysis. Typically, those who regularly spoon feed information to Howey, who has a reputation for blatantly copying and pasting the work of other journalists and bloggers (including mine) in his paid-subscription newsletter often without attribution, fair better than others in his newsletter.

This past year, Howey became obsessed with all-things Barack Obama and Sen. Richard Lugar. If Howey could have figured out a way to categorize Obama as a Hoosier, I'm sure he would have topped the list. As it were, Howey had to give top honors to Gov. Mitch Daniels, an easy choice. Of course, Sen. Lugar comes in second, topping Sen. Evan Bayh, whose political party is now firmly in charge of the U.S. Senate in case Howey hadn't noticed. Lugar is more important because he has the ear of President-elect Obama Howey tells us. I'm guessing that when push comes to shove, Bayh is going to have a lot more influence in Congress and with the Obama administration, but hey, what do I know. And if I'm not mistaken, it is Sen. Bayh who will effectively pick the new U.S. Attorneys for the northern and southern district courts of Indiana.

Indianapolis Mayor Greg Ballard is not high on Howey's list this year. He ranks at 25th below Evansville Mayor Jonathan Weinzapfel (15th) and Kokomo's Mayor Greg Goodnight, Columbus Mayor Fred Armstrong and Marion Mayor Wayne Seybold, who each share the 16th place ranking. State Sen. Luke Kenley (8th) and Rep. William Crawford (9th) rank higher. Even the governor's chief of staff, Earle Goode (10th) ranks higher. Perhaps even more insulting, Barnes & Thornburg's Bob Grand, who has been accused of carrying too much weight in the Ballard administration, places 20th on the list.

Secretary of State Todd Rokita's is almost yesterday's news on Howey's list. He barely makes the list at 49th place. Lt. Gov. Becky Skillman comes in 11th place. Newly-elected Supt. of Public Instruction comes in 28th, but the newly-elected Attorney General, Greg Zoeller, didn't even make the list. Don't feel bad, Greg. State Auditor Tim Berry and State Treasurer Richard Mourdock failed to make the list as well. Did they forget to renew their subscriptions?

Marion County Prosecutor Carl Brizzi is fading fast on the "Power 50" list. He comes in at 47th and has been on every list since the beginning because "the Marion County prosecutor is a key cog in keeping a lid on Statehouse corruption." And how many State House corruption cases has the office prosecuted over the past decade?

Chief Justice Randall Shepard and Gov. Joe Kernan share honors for the 38th place spot because they co-chaired the Commission which gave us the Kernan-Shepard reforms embraced by Gov. Mitch Daniels and proponents of streamlining local government. No offense to Kernan, but the state's Supreme Court chief justice ranks pretty high in state influence for no other reason than he is the highest ranking member of our state's judiciary. I hope he's more influential than Bob Grand, Commerce Secretary Mitch Roob (22nd), UAW Regional President Mo Davison (31st) or Deputy Chief of Staff to Daniels, Betsy Burdick (34th). Surprisingly, not a single business leader from the private sector makes Howey's list, although several labor leaders are on it.

Well, I'm sure others have plenty of more humorous things to say about Howey's list. In case you weren't aware, people who actually pay for a legislative newsletter to keep them abreast of what is happening politically and legislatively in Indiana are far more likely to purchase Ed Feigenbaum's Indiana Legislative Insight. He also publishes two sister newsletters, the Indiana Gaming Insight and Indiana Education Insight. Feigenbaum's analysis, unlike Howey's, actually strives for objectivity and originality and does not just reflect the agenda of a person spoon-feeding information to him. He often gives you more information than you need, but in general, it's information his subscribers can use. Frankly, I don't why anyone would purchase Howey's newsletter to read about his increasing focus on American foreign policy or his insight on the Obama administration. There are so many other credible and free sources to turn to on the Internet.


Paul K. Ogden said...

Gary, we didn't make the list?

Grand is 20th and Chief Justice Shepherd is 38th?????

Advance Indiana said...

Bummer, ain't it? How can you go on without being on the Howey Power 50 list, Paul? I guess the CEOs of companies like Lilly and Cummins aren't important in Indiana these days either.

artfuggins said...

Lugar is a lot closer to Obama than you realize. Bayh didn't support him in the primary and did little but some token appearances in the general election. It was the Obama organization and the overconfidence of the GOP that allowed Obama to carry Indiana. Bayh ia lightweight in Washington and everyone knows it.

Advance Indiana said...

Lugar may be the darling of the Washington news media, but his influence in the Senate has always been exaggerated. He's been on the outs with the GOP leadership for years. In Indiana, Bayh's influence is unquestionably greater than Lugar's due mostly to the power base he established from two terms as governor. He doled out a lot of jobs and appointments and made decisions which benefitted people indebted to him. He isn't a heavy hitter in the Senate, but he's generally well-liked among Senate Democrats. Bayh also benefits greatly from the friends and associates of his father, who has remained a DC figure years after Dan Quayle defeated him. The question isn't whether Lugar or Bayh is a better legislator; it's who has more influence. There is no doubt Bayh has more influence in this state, particularly among Democrats, than Lugar has. It remains to be seen how well Bayh fairs, but I can assure you his help for Obama in Indiana exceeded anything Lugar offered to him as a source of "sage advice".

Angela said...

Gee. Why don't you tell us what you REALLY think about Brian Howey?

Hmmm. Do I detect...jealousy?

Advance Indiana said...

If that's what you want to believe, Angela.