Thursday, June 30, 2011

Why Did Bloomington Police Wait Four Weeks To Search The Obvious?


The case of missing IU student Lauren Spierers has pretty much reached the full media saturation point, at least locally. I'm a little surprised the cable news stations haven't been covering it like they did in the cases of Lacy Peterson and Natalie Holloway when they first went missing. Bloomington Police Department has had a spotlight shining on their every move, and they've conducted regular press briefings to give the impression they're really on top of the case. What I found a little bit surprising today was this news report on Fox 59 News tonight indicating BPD was only today conducting searches of the apartments of the several men who were known to have been with Spierers on the night she went missing, as well as her boyfriend's home. You're not searching the homes of the persons of interest until the four-week mark of her disappearance? As I understand it from reading other news reports, most of these guys cleared out their personal belongings and left town shortly after Spierers' disappearance and lawyered up. BPD is using canines in their search of these individuals' premises. You would have thought they would have brought out the canines the weekend following her disappearance, not one month after the fact.

The Bloomington Herald-Times has more on the searches conducted here. HT reports the police and Spierers' parents are planning a press conference for tomorrow, the first BPD has held in a week.

Justice David Prosser Receiving The White Treatment

The similarities between the plight of Indiana's Secretary of State Charlie White and Wisconsin's Justice David Prosser are uncanny. During a tough re-election race earlier this year, Prosser faced questions about tough words he had for one of his female colleagues on the high court during a heated closed conference debate of the court's justices last year by supporters of his liberal opponent, JoAnne Kloppenburg. Yes, he acknowledged that he called Chief Justice Shirley Abrahamson a "bitch" in front of the other justices, but that she had goaded him into making the inappropriate reference. Abrahamson never filed an official complaint against Prosser, but another justice, Ann Walsh Bradley, told a reporter during his campaign against Kloppenburg this spring about the incident to make the case that he lacked the temperament to serve on the court and to alienate him from female voters. Kloppenburg also accused Prosser of conducting secret meetings with Gov. Scott Walker following his narrow victory over her.

Despite throwing everything but the kitchen sink at him in the election, Prosser defeated Kloppenburg, who had claimed a narrow victory on the night of the election before all of the votes had been canvassed and certified. Kloppenburg refused to concede when the final tally showed Prosser the victor; instead, she and Democratic partisans suggested voter fraud and not the will of the people had produced a Prosser victory. After a contested recount proceeding, Prosser was declared the clear winner in the race by several thousand votes. The only known case of voter fraud in the race was that of an Indiana man, Tommy Schrader, a Democratic candidate for a council seat in Allen County who somehow managed to register and vote in the election while temporarily residing in a Green Bay homeless shelter. Allen Co. Democrats moved swiftly to remove Schrader from the ballot after he won his primary election campaign for council  to avoid drawing further attention to the case, particularly while the Charlie White election contest proceeding of the Democratic Party was still in progresss. Some have questioned whether their swift action violated Schrader's right to be heard on the allegation that he was not legally residing in Allen County when he ran in the May primary. As far as I can discern, Wisconsin officials have shown no interest in looking into the Schrader matter.

More than a month after the election, the Wisconsin Supreme Court narrowly upheld the constitutionality of a collective bargaining law that had led to a long and sustained walkout by Democratic members of the legislature to block its passage with Prosser siding with the majority of justices backing Gov. Walker's new law to help check government spending, while Bradley and Abrahamson sided with the minority on the court who would have upheld a lower court ruling striking it down. Apparently there was much dissension among the justices over the release of their decision. Abrahamson, as chief justice, suggested the opinion might not be ready for release for another month, which angered Prosser and the other justices who noted the urgency in having resolution of the case before the legislature concluded its budget. What happened next has become a bit of a he said, she said matter.

What is known is that Bradley began spreading a tale of being strangled by Prosser during an angry confrontation in front of other justices. Interestingly, Bradley never filed a complaint or pressed for criminal charges. She instead waited ten days after the alleged incident occurred and following a leak to supportive members of the media to release a statement.

"The facts are that I was demanding that he get out of my office and he put his hands around my neck in anger in a chokehold," she said. "Those are the facts and you can try to spin those facts and try to make it sound like I ran up to him and threw my neck into his hands, but that's only spin.

"Matters of abusive behavior in the workplace aren't resolved by competing press releases," she said.

"I'm confident the appropriate authorities will conduct a thorough investigation of this incident involving abusive behavior in the workplace."
Prosser has declared his innocence and refused to comment further on the matter that is now under investigation by the Dane County Sheriff's department in Madison. Other sources familiar with the altercation say it was Bradley who charged Prosser with fists raised and that he had simply tried to repel her attack. According to the alternative account, Prosser merely placed his hands in a defensive manner on Bradley to restrain her while another justice separated her from Prosser. According to that account, Bradley accused Prosser on the spot of trying to choke her, while another justice spoke up and said, "You were not choked."

What strikes me is that this is a case of one side being unable to accept defeat and conducting nothing short of guerrilla warfare against the opponent to get what they want by hook or crook. Indiana Democrats put forth a set of damning facts aimed at defeating Charlie White in last fall's election. When that failed to move voters, they belatedly contested his eligibility to run for office and succeeded in getting a special prosecutor hungry enough for good-paying work for him and his son that he managed to turn a ham sandwich into a multi-count criminal indictment against White on charges unlike any other Indiana politician has been forced to defend against. The special prosecutor, realizing some might accuse him of doing precisely the same thing he was accusing White of doing, rushed down to the courthouse in the middle of the grand jury proceedings to update his own registered voting address. The Recount Commission unanimously found in White's favor but the name-calling and the specious criminal case against him goes on.

Similarly, Justice Prosser won an election straight up despite all the barbs and mud thrown his way. Post-election challenges failed so now they're building a criminal case against him manufactured by the very person who was trying desperately to oust him from the court in this year's election. And you knew it, the person doing the investigating endorsed Prosser's political opponent in the election. We shouldn't be at all surprised by any of this. After all, we elected a president in 2008 who was trained and schooled in the "get in their faces" approach by his mentor, Saul Alinsky, the modern day founder of the radical left's approach to "in your face" community organizing to advance their socialist agenda.

Indiana Democratic Party's Paid Mouthpiece Compares White To Weiner

According to Jennifer Wagner, a paid spokesperson for the Indiana Democratic Party, Secretary of State Charlie White's battle to fend off a partisan hit job initiated by her party is no different than disgraced former U.S. Rep. Anthony Weiner's sexting scandal. The Star actually published this drivel on its editorial page today:

White has attempted to turn his failure to properly register to vote and his illegitimate service on the Fishers Town Council into an intricate personal tale: It wasn't his fault he broke the law. Life just got too complicated to focus on the details . . .
Not long ago, the nation watched another bizarre personal story unfold after New York Congressman Anthony Weiner accidentally unleashed a now-infamous photo that he had intended to send privately to a Twitter follower.
It took Weiner three weeks of similarly embarrassing stories and pressure from fellow Democrats before he resigned . . .
At a tearful media event, Weiner told reporters that "I had hoped to be able to continue the work that the citizens of my district elected me to do: to fight for the middle class and those struggling to make it. Unfortunately, the distraction that I have created has made that impossible, so today I'm announcing my resignation from Congress."
Weiner's choice of words could not be more directly applicable to White's situation: The distraction that he has created makes it impossible for him to do his job.

Apparently Wagner is too young to remember the ordeal Evan Bayh endured while serving as Secretary of State when Republicans launched a legal contest challenging his eligibility to run for governor--a legal battle he ultimately won. One passage in Wagner's column sticks out and begs for a response.  "The attorney in me could devote this column to debunking White's story, but I don't practice law for a living," she writes. "I practice public relations, a field where White's win tally is pretty dismal." If Wagner learned anything in law school, she would have learned how to read and comprehend the findings of fact and conclusions of law decided by a unanimous Recount Commission comprised of two Republicans and one Democrat. She was in attendance at the hearing, but for some reason she insists on stating falsely in her column that White "broke the law." She would have also heard the commission's chairman remind those in attendance of the law as established in the Evan Bayh case decided by our state's Supreme Court, which found Bayh eligible notwithstanding the fact that he continued to vote in Indiana elections after moving to Washington, D.C. to work for a law firm where he remained for nearly two years before returning home to run for Secretary of State.

White has maintained his innocence of breaking the election laws from the outset, and the Recount Commission unanimously agreed with White on that point. Weiner, on  the other hand, initially denied sending sextings and blamed it on a computer hacker and a prominent conservative blogger, Andrew Breitbart. Only after irrefutable evidence surfaced that Weiner had not only sent a sexting to the woman in question but many others as well, including a porn actress, did he finally acknowledge that he had lied, apologized and eventually resigned from office. There is absolutely no comparison of White's actions to those of Weiner. To borrow a phrase from Rex Early, that dog won't hunt, Jen.

Wagner apparently doesn't practice public relations any better than she practices law. Many Democrats were less than pleased of some one's decision at the state party to peddle a story to the news media on the eve of Tuesday's Recount Commission hearing questioning Wheeler's impartiality based on an allegation that he had served as one of the hosts of a fundraiser at his law firm for White at which a large contribution was made to White's campaign from the firm's political action committee. What the person peddling the story on behalf of the party neglected to mention was that the firm had made a similar contribution to White's opponent, Vop Osili, a fact that left the reporters, including WTHR's Kevin Rader, with egg on their face after running the story. Wheeler further denied he had hosted or attended the event.

The Democratic Party made a bad miscalculation in going after Wheeler based on the faulty assumption that their appointee to the commission, Bernard Pylitt, would side with the Democratic Party in its efforts to oust White from office. That miscalculation blew up badly in their faces when Pylitt did the right thing and applied the facts and law as they were presented to the commission rather than base his decision on press releases put out by the Democratic Party. Even Pylitt was upset that the issue of which member had given what to whom had been raised in an attempt to impugn the integrity of the commission's proceedings. Pylitt has contributed generously to Democratic Party over the years after all. He went out of his way at Tuesday's hearing to explain that the commission's finding that White had not broken the law had nothing to do with partisan politics.

Yes, someone had a very bad week in public relations. It's your client, Jen, that had the bad week. Get over it. No amount of spinning and reinventing of the facts is going to change that. Not even your own party's commission member is buying your drivel. It's particularly sad, though, that the Indianapolis Star would give space to you on its editorial page to spread a load of crap after your client's horrible missteps this week. Will your client be offering an apology to Wheeler?

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Matt Tully Is A Corrupt Pol's Dream Come True

If you want another example of why serious newspaper readers are turning away from the Gannett-owned Indianapolis Star, the newspaper's political columnist serves up another offering of the shallow and insulting fare this morning. Here's Matt Tully's spin on one of the mayor's largest campaign contributors being rewarded with a $6.35 million gift out of the money the City received from selling off the City's parking meter assets to another politically-connected campaign contributor to build a parking garage in which the taxpayers will have no ownership or receive any income:

Indianapolis is a city of engaged people -- politically and otherwise. This struck me most recently when a serious debate broke out over the announcement of a new parking garage in Broad Ripple. In how many cities of nearly 900,000 people would a simple parking garage turn into a lively political debate? Not many. But Indianapolis is the state's largest city and home to the Statehouse. So it is particularly politically charged and full of politically savvy people. Based on the emails and calls I've received for years now, I can assure you that people are passionate about both politics and policy around here . . .
Indy, of course, has all of the typical big-city problems: crime, failing schools, long-term fiscal uncertainty and more. But it seems that if those problems can be tackled effectively anywhere, it would be here. The problems are not as big in scope as in a metropolis such as Chicago. There's also a lot of talent here. So if the city's leaders and residents were willing to think bold, and that's a big if, it's easy to imagine a scenario in which Indianapolis could crack codes that have eluded cities from coast to coast . . .
The final thing I would say about the city is that there is ample room to succeed here. Indianapolis, in its modern and revamped version at least, is still young. There is the chance, as such, to get in almost on the ground floor. Those who have bright ideas, great work ethics or dynamic personalities quickly rise around here -- in politics, business, the arts and civic organizations.

A real political columnist would have discussed the raw greed and graft that went into cooking up a plan Tully describes as "bold." The only code-cracking of ideas that has taken place in Indianapolis is the erection of a two-party system of reward-sharing for those willing to stuff the politicians monies with as much money as their hearts desire without fear of criminal prosecution because the prosecutors are carefully chosen to ensure no corruption will be seriously investigated unless you get cross ways with one of the political bosses. In Chicago, The Tribune's John Kass describes the Faustian bargain struck between the leaders of the two political parties to provide "ample room to succeed" to those willing to Pay To Play as The Combine. The only difference between Indianapolis and Chicago is occasional existence of an independent federal prosecutor who's willing to rain on their Windy City parade a little when the "civic leaders" and their politician friends become a bit too greedy with the taxpayers' money. Too bad Tully doesn't share the passion for politics and policy that he says his readers share with him in their e-mails.

The Star's editors are determined not to be outdone by their political columnist when it comes to jounalistic malpractice. An editorial discusses our Secretary of State fighting for his livelihood over partisan-inspired complaints that he lived and voted in a precinct in which he didn't live for a period of a few months in between marriages and homes. Despite his vindication by a bipartisan vote of the Indiana  Recount Commission, the newspaper describes White's fight to prove his innocence as "stubborn, sometimes peculiar behavior." Huh? Apparently it's guilty until proven innocence beyond a reasonable doubt in the minds of the eggheads writing the editorials for the newspaper these days. While the newspaper's editors ruminate over Charlie's personal travails that have absolutely no impact on your lives, the looting of the public treasury continues unabated with the full blessing of these "high-thinking" people who know what's best for you.

Dick Cady weeps as Eugene Pulliam rolls over in his grave--again.

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

A Sad Day For Local Goverrnment In Indiana

The last twenty-four hour news cycle has not been a good time for local government leadership in Indiana. Here's a sampling of local government officials in the news who are too representative of the sorry state of affairs we face in government leadership today. In West Terre Haute, a clerk-treasurer is arrested for embezzling city funds:

Western Indiana police have arrested a town's deputy clerk-treasurer for allegedly stealing more than $100,000 from its water department.
WTHI-TV in Terre Haute reports that 66-year-old Vickie Ashburn has been charged with theft and corrupt business influence. She's jailed on a $50,000 bond, pending a Wednesday court hearing.
Ashburn is the deputy clerk-treasurer for West Terre Haute, where on Tuesday state police detectives descended on the town hall.
Investigators believe more than $360,000 has gone missing from the town's water works department since 2007.
Sgt. Joe Watts says more arrests may follow "and we may find out where all the money went." State auditors found this year that the amount of cash customers used to pay their utility bill didn't match the amount of cash deposited in the bank.'

In the small town of Mecca in Parke County, the fire chief apparently poses the greatest public safety  threat to the town's residents:
Police say a western Indiana fire chief is being held on a preliminary drunken driving charge after his car crashed into a house, killing a man and critically injuring his wife.
Parke County Chief Deputy Sheriff Bill Todd tells the Tribune-Star of Terre Haute that 43-year-old Stacey Williamson was pronounced dead at the scene of early Tuesday's accident. His 46-year-old wife, Mary Williamson, is in critical condition at an Indianapolis hospital.
Todd says Mecca Fire Chief Michael R. Collom was driving a 2006 Ford Mustang when the 38-year-old lost control of the car about 4:45 a.m. and crashed into the Williamson's home in the town of Mecca, entering their bedroom. Four children in the house were not injured.
Collom is being held without bail on a preliminary drunken driving charge.
 The emergency services director in another western Indiana community poses a danger to his family:

A Central Indiana emergency management director was taken off the job Tuesday after being arrested.
Putnam County Director Kim Hyten faces charges including strangulation and criminal confinement related to an incident with his wife. His wife told state police Hyten threw her off the porch, dragged her around by the foot, and assaulted her.
Hyten was removed from his position by the county commissioners in a unanimous vote and will remain on leave indefinitely.
And a police chief closer to Indianapolis in Zionsville faces charges of official misconduct:

 Zionsville's embattled police chief is expected to learn Wednesday if he'll be charged following a state police investigation into accusations of misconduct. 
Special prosecutor David Powell said a key document would be filed with the court Wednesday, one he expected would be a major step forward in the investigation into Rick Dowden.
The probe began last summer when a confidential informant came forward and accused the chief of stealing a 50-inch plasma TV that had been recovered as evidence in a Boone County burglary.
The TV was later found mounted in Dowden's home, investigators said.
Dowden placed himself on leave after becoming angry during a November roll call when several witnesses said he drew his cocked service revolver, pointing it in the air while simulating the sound of gunfire. 
In a controversial move, Dowden returned to his job in February, continuing to lead the department even as his career is in question.
Board of Police Commissioners Chairman Art Harris said he hopes progress will be made in the case soon.
"Nobody knows what the outcome of this is going to be. Our police chief could be exonerated, or he could be charged," said Harris, who said officers were in limbo. "I mean, when you have that cloud hanging over your head, it's hard to focus on what you're supposed to be doing."
Harris said the investigation has most recently been focused on the handling of a stolen car seized by police.

Recount Commission Unanimously Agrees White Is Eligible To Hold Office

In a one-hour meeting devoid of arguing and bickering over the facts and law, the three-member Recount Commission panel comprised of two Republicans and one Democrat ruled unanimously that Secretary of State Charlie White had not committed vote fraud in the 2010 primary election by casting a vote at his ex-wife's residence, thereby rejecting a petition filed by the Indiana Democratic Party to have him deemed ineligible to serve as Secretary of State and have his Democratic opponent who he overwhelmingly defeated in the November general election take his place in office as the second-highest vote getter.

To the disappointment of Democratic partisans and long-faced members of the media in attendance at today's hearing, Democratic commission member Bernard Pylitt assured the public the Commission's decision was not about partisan politics or a pending criminal case against White. The Commission's decision Pylitt said was based on the choices the legislature made in enacting Indiana's Election Code based on Indiana court decisions. Pylitt maintained the Democratic Party petitioners had failed to present sufficient evidence to prove White was not legally eligible to vote when he ran for Secretary of State.

Commission Chairman Tom Wheeler echoed Pylitt's sentiments. Wheeler said he was distressed by media reports that had questioned his impartiality in the proceedings based on contributions his law firm had made to White during the 2010 election, noting his law firm had also made contributions to White's Democratic opponent Vop Osili as well. As I've reminded people repeatedly on this blog, Wheeler cited the defining case involving the contest Republicans filed against Evan Bayh when he ran for governor in 1988 challenging whether he had continuously maintained a residence in Indiana during the previous 5 years as required by the Indiana Constitution as determinative  in today's ruling. Wheeler pointed to the fact that Bayh had moved to Washington, D.C. to work for the law firm of Hogan & Hartson, where he remained for one and one half years before returning to Indiana. Nonetheless, the Indiana Supreme Court affirmed Bayh's eligibility based on his stated intent of maintaining his voting residence in Shirkieville, Indiana at the family's farm. Wheeler said it was impossible to overcome White's stated intention of maintaining his residence at his ex-wife's home until he remarried and moved in with his second wife. He did add, however, his belief that White had "treaded a very thin line" in declaring his voting address and he was very disappointed in White for allowing himself to get into his legal predicament.

Wheeler stated his belief that the election laws Indiana has enacted based on the Bayh decision are antiquated and do not take into account the mobile society in which we live and the frequency of people changing addresses due to job changes and divorces. I disagree with Wheeler's conclusion those laws need to be changed. In fact, to enact more exacting laws that result in more criminal prosecutions like has occurred with White will only serve to discourage citizens from registering to vote and participating in the election process. Indeed, the Democratic Party based its opposition to the simple requirement of asking voters to display a government-issued photo identification in order to cast a vote on the premise that it would disenfranchise voters, particularly impoverished members of society who are without a home or job.

The laws on the books concerning eligibility to vote represent cases Democratic attorneys fought hard and successfully argued should be the standard for determining voter intent in past decisions, including Evan Bayh and Judge David Evrard. They can't now be heard to complain about the election laws they helped codify into Indiana's Election Code. The Democrats' attorneys, Karen Horseman and Bill Groth, did an excellent job advocating their client's position, but the law was simply not their friend in this case. I can assure you there will be no legislative attempts made by Democratic legislators to tighten up the requirements for voting; they know too well that a more exacting standard will be a trap for many an unwary voter of their political liking.

In light of today's ruling, Hamilton Superior Court Judge Steven Nation should act on motions made by White's attorneys to have the criminal charges a special prosecutor has brought against him dismissed. To put it simply, if the Democratic Party could not prove fraud in the civil proceeding, suffice it to say there is more than reasonable doubt concerning the criminal charges the special prosecutor has brought against White that arose from the same set of facts. Justice requires that the criminal case against White be disposed of promptly. It should have never been brought in the first instance.

UPDATE: The Recount Commission's Findings of Fact and Conclusions of Law have been uploaded to the Election Division's website and can be accessed here.

Monday, June 27, 2011

Indiana Media Continues A Double Standard In Its Coverage Of Charlie White Case

Regardless of what you personally think of Charlie White, it is difficult to argue against the fact that he has received nothing close to a fair shake from the news media in its analysis of his case. The latest coverage in the case is an attempt to take a hit at the Indiana Recount Commission's Chairman, Tom Wheeler, in an effort to discredit a ruling at tomorrow's meeting that might be made in White's favor against the Indiana Democratic Party petitioners. The Commission is controlled by Republicans 2-1. In addition to Wheeler, Republican Gordon Durnil and Democrat Bernard Pylitt serve on the Commission. WTHR questions Wheeler's impartiality because his law firm's PAC contributed to White's campaign, along with a variety of other political candidates of both political parties. Wheeler said he did not personally contribute to White or attend the fundraiser where the contribution was made to his campaign. The AP and other media outlets quickly picked up on this report by WTHR:

The state panel that is weighing voter fraud allegations against Indiana Secretary of State Charlie White includes a Republican linked to White through political contributions.
Indiana Recount Commission Chairman Tom Wheeler is listed as a participant in a White fundraiser in May 2009. Campaign finance records show a political action committee for Wheeler's law firm donated $5,000 to White's campaign in July 2010.
Frost Brown Todd spokesman Mike Murphy says the state double-counted contributions and that the PAC donated $2,500 to White and $1,000 to Democrat Vop Osili.
Wheeler says he did not attend the White fundraiser and made no direct contributions to White.
Democrats want White ruled ineligible and Osili to take office. The commission is scheduled to rule on their challenge Tuesday.
The story fails to mention that Wheeler was appointed by Gov. Mitch Daniels to fill White's spot as Commission chairman, a position he would normally hold as the state's Secretary of State but for the fact the case involves him. Gov. Daniels, of course, earlier called on White to step down as Secretary of State until the matter was resolved and has otherwise made no attempt to publicly defend White, even though he backed his candidacy when White sought the support of the delegates to the 2010 GOP convention which nominated White.

The story doesn't question the impartiality of Democrat Bernard Pylitt as a commission member, even though he has contributed more than $6,500 to various Democratic candidates and committees in recent years, including the petitioner in this case, the Indiana Democratic Party, and the Hamilton County Democratic Party, members of which first raised questions about White's residency for voting purposes. Nor did anyone in the news media consider it relevant that Judge Louis Rosenberg's daughter was the first person to formulate a legal opinion she published on the Internet prior to last year's election explaining why Charlie White should be declared ineligible to hold the office, an analysis adopted lock, stock and barrel by the attorneys arguing the case for the Indiana Democratic Party, and by Judge Rosenberg in his opinion deciding the Commission erred last year in dismissing the petition filed after the election by the Democratic Party and ordering the Commission to rehear the case.

The media elites have made up their minds. Charlie White is guilty as charged. They will print or air any story that advances that view, while shielding their readers and viewers from any opposing viewpoint, regardless of whether the facts as presented to the Commission at the hearing support the explanation White offered for why he registered to vote at his former wife's home while preparing to purchase a new home, planning a marriage with his current wife and campaigning statewide for Secretary of State. Much to the media's and White's protagonists chagrin, both White's ex-wife and current wife supported his explanation. At worse, White waited three months too long to resign his seat on the Fishers town council after moving into his new condominium following his marriage to his second wife. He timely changed his registered voting address prior to last November's election to his newly-established residence. The evidence does not in my opinion support the Democrats' or the special prosecutor's contention that he voted in a precinct at which he did not reside, thereby committing voter fraud. If you only relied on the mainstream news media for coverage of the Charlie White controversy, you would never know there was any reasonable doubt as to his innocence or guilt. The media has already tried and convicted Charlie White.

UPDATE: Charlie White penned this letter to the editor that appears in today's Indianapolis Star:

In recent months, much has been said and written about the Indiana Democratic Party's challenge to my candidacy and election. Months to you have felt like years to me, and I welcome the end to this chapter with today's findings of the Indiana Recount Commission -- whatever they may be.
It was unnecessary and cruel to drag my family into this matter. Much of what forms the basis of the dispute in this challenge and the criminal action in Hamilton County center on my attempts to put the needs of my family first -- to respect the wishes of my wife, Michelle, and her children, and my desire to be near and share custody of my son with my former wife and friend, Nicole, during my campaign. Both Michelle and Nicole have been targeted or questioned by prosecutors and the Democrats' legal team. I'm relieved our side of the story is now public record.
Speculation that my refusal to withdraw or resign from my duties as secretary of state because I hoped to "cut a deal" was simply wrong. I have rejected calls to quit the race and office because of my earnest belief that the election challenge is based on false, partisan allegations. Further, I believe in the due process rights guaranteed in our Constitution. Finally, after I invested two years of my life interviewing for this office, nearly 1 million Hoosiers hired me to do this job.
Pundits and partisans have suggested that, regardless of the facts and law, the Recount Commission is poised to deliver a partisan decision. This is an insult to the hard work and integrity of all who have participated in the process and who have publicly pledged to keep party politics out of the decision. To suggest anything else turns a blind eye to a transparent process leading up to today. The efforts of the Recount Commission and courts in this case have demonstrated considerable, even extravagant, deference to a losing candidate's rights after an election -- a process our lawmakers typically expect to be concluded 45 days after Election Day. Eight months after Nov. 2, 2010, we find ourselves here.
Having endured the challenges, frustrations and expense of the election contest thus far, I would like to make it perfectly clear that I have no desire either for myself or my political party to be handed an election contest victory if it is not honestly and fairly won. I have no request or expectation of the Recount Commission other than that they decide the case strictly on the facts and law as they see it.
A few weeks ago, I received a copy of former Indiana secretary of state and current U.S. Attorney Joe Hogsett's excellent scholarly article on the 1988 challenge to Evan Bayh. Then, a collection of Indiana Republicans led by state party leadership tried to derail then Secretary of State Bayh's planned run for governor. Republicans claimed to have "damning evidence" that Bayh was ineligible to serve as governor on account of brief lapses in continuous residency and vote fraud -- for voting in Vigo County when he lived in Virginia. In the process of doing so, Bayh was accused of violating the Constitution, repetitive lying and felony vote fraud.
Mirroring the last few months, the Bayh challenge was quite a spectacle 23 years ago. Anxious citizens picked sides, the press made angry pronouncements, investigations were conducted, and a downright confusing collection of hearings was carried out before different authorities in which Bayh was called a liar and a criminal. In the end, the Indiana Supreme Court settled the matter in a lengthy opinion that is reportedly still good law today. The court basically said, "We're not buying that Evan Bayh isn't a Hoosier."
The court says the residency requirement at the heart of both Bayh's and my challenges exists to ensure candidates have some connection to the community they are seeking to represent and vice versa. I doubt anybody would claim my 39 years living in Indiana prevent me from adequately fulfilling this obligation for the office in which I now serve. Thousands of pages of evidence and uncontradicted testimony offered last Tuesday support my claim to be living with my son when not campaigning.
The threat of opening a Pandora's box in Indiana allowing any candidate or political party dissatisfied with an election outcome to pursue a victory outside the popular vote should not go overlooked. The extreme manner in which a political party has undertaken an effort to overturn an election result by simultaneously engaging civil and criminal courts, election agencies and the court of public opinion creates a disturbing precedent. Moving forward, I urge fellow Hoosiers and candidates, regardless of political affiliation, to support the established law and will of the voters.

Lugar Blasts Obama's Unconstitutional War In Libya

Sen. Richard Lugar's office has released prepared remarks he plans to deliver at a hearing tomorrow of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee on which he serves as the ranking Republican member discussing the unconstitutionality of Obama's war in Libya. Lugar makes a pointed reference to the contradiction in Obama's opinion of the presidential exercise of war powers during his campaign for the presidency and the position he takes today. It's no different from the obviously contradictory position the mainstream media is taking when it's Obama calling the shots on foreign policy versus a Republican president. Here is the text of Lugar's statement:

I thank Chairman Kerry for meeting to consider the legal and Constitutional basis for ongoing U.S. military operations in Libya.  The President declined to seek Congressional authorization before initiating hostilities.  Subsequently, he has carried them out for more than three months without seeking or receiving Congressional authorization.
This state of affairs is at odds with the Constitution, and it is at odds with the President’s own pronouncements on war powers during his presidential candidacy.   For example, in December 2007, he responded to a Boston Globe question by saying: “The President does not have power under the Constitution to unilaterally authorize a military attack in a situation that does not involve stopping an actual or imminent threat to the nation.”
Before our discussion turns to Constitutional and legal issues, I believe it is important to make a more fundamental point.  Even if one believes that the President somehow had the legal authority to initiate and continue U.S. military operations in Libya, it does not mean that going to war without Congress was either wise or helpful to the operation.
The vast majority of members of Congress, constitutional scholars, and military authorities would endorse the view that Presidents should seek Congressional authorization for war when circumstances allow.  There is a near uniformity of opinion that the chances for success in a war are enhanced by the unity, clarity of mission, and constitutional certainty that such an authorization and debate provide.
There was no good reason why President Obama should have failed to seek Congressional authorization to go to war in Libya.  A few excuses have been offered ranging from an impending Congressional recess to the authority provided by a UN Security Council Resolution.  But these excuses do not justify the President’s lack of Constitutional discipline.  Twelve days before the United States launched hostilities I called for the President to seek a declaration of war before taking military action.  The Arab League resolution, which is cited as a key event in calculations on the war was passed a full week before we started launching cruise missiles.  There was time to seek Congressional approval, and Congress would have debated a war resolution if the President had presented one.
This debate would not have been easy.  But Presidents should not be able to avoid Constitutional responsibilities merely because engaging the people’s representatives is inconvenient or uncertain.  If the outcome of a congressional vote on war is in doubt, it is all the more reason why a President should seek a debate.  If he does not, he is taking the extraordinary position that his plans for war are too important to be upset by a disapproving vote in Congress.
The Founders believed that Presidents alone should not be trusted with war making authority, and they constructed checks against executive unilateralism.  James Madison, in a 1797 letter to Thomas Jefferson stated, “The Constitution supposes, what the History of all Governments demonstrates, that the Executive is the branch of power most interested in war, and most prone to it.  It has accordingly with studied care, vested the question of war in the legislature.”
Clearly, there are circumstances under which a President might be justified in employing military force without Congressional authorization.  But as Senator Webb has pointed out systematically, none of the reasons apply to the Libyan case.  Our country was not attacked or threatened with an attack.  We weren’t obligated under a treaty to defend the Libyan people.  We were not rescuing Americans or launching a one-time punitive retaliation.  Nor did the operation require surprise that would have made a public debate impractical.
In this case, President Obama made a deliberate decision not to seek a Congressional authorization of his action, either before it commenced or during the last three months.  This was a fundamental failure of leadership that placed expedience above Constitutional responsibility.
Some will say that President Obama is not the first President to employ American forces overseas in controversial circumstances without a congressional authorization.  But saying that Presidents have exceeded their Constitutional authority before is little comfort.  Moreover, the highly dubious arguments offered by the Obama Administration for not needing congressional approval break new ground in justifying a unilateral Presidential decision to use force.  The accrual of even more war making authority in the hands of the Executive is not in our country’s best interest, especially at a time when our nation is deeply in debt and our military is heavily committed overseas.
At the outset of the conflict, the President asserted that U.S. military operations in Libya would be “limited in their nature, duration, and scope.”  On this basis, the Administration asserted that the actions did not require a declaration of war.   Three months later, these assurances ring hollow.  American and coalition military activities have expanded to an all but declared campaign to drive Qadhafi from power.  The Administration is unable to specify any applicable limits to the duration of the operations.  And the scope has grown from efforts to protect civilians under imminent threat to obliterating Libya’s military arsenal, command and control structure, and leadership apparatus.
Most recently, the Administration has sought to avoid its obligations under the War Powers Resolution by making the incredible assertion that U.S. military operations in Libya do not constitute hostilities.  Even some prominent supporters of the war have refused to accept this claim.
The Administration’s own description of the operations in Libya underscores the fallacy of this position.  U.S. warplanes have reportedly struck Libya air defenses some sixty times since NATO assumed the lead role in the Libya campaign.  Predator drones reportedly have fired missiles on some 30 occasions.  Most significantly, the broader range of airstrikes being carried out by other NATO forces depend on the essential support functions provided by the United States.
The War Powers Resolution required the President to terminate the introduction of U.S. forces into hostilities in Libya on May 20, sixty days after he notified Congress of the commencement of the operation.  The Administration declined to offer any explanation of its view that U.S. forces were not engaged in hostilities in Libya until nearly a month later, on June 15.   Even at that point, the Administration’s explanation was limited to four perfunctory sentences in a 32-page report on the Libya operations.
Administration analysis focuses on the question of whether U.S. casualties are likely to occur, thereby minimizing other considerations relevant to the use of force.  If this definition of hostilities were accepted, Presidents would have significant scope to conduct warfare through remote means such as missiles and drones.  It would deny Congress a say in other questions implicated in decisions to go to war, including the war’s impact on U.S. strategic interests, on our relations with other countries, and on our ability to meet competing national security priorities.
The Administration’s report also implies that because allied nations are flying most of the missions over Libya, the U.S. operations are not significant enough to require Congressional authorization.  This characterization underplays the centrality of the U.S. contribution to the NATO operations in Libya.  We are contributing 70 percent of the coalition’s intelligence capabilities and the majority of its refueling assets.  The fact that we are leaving most of the shooting to other countries does not mean that the United States is not involved in acts of war.  If the United States encountered persons performing similar activities in support of al Qaeda or Taliban operations, we certainly would deem them to be participating in hostilities against us.  Moreover, the language of the War Powers Resolution clearly encompasses the kinds of operations U.S. military forces are performing in support of other NATO countries.
These concerns are compounded by indications that the Administration’s legal position was the result of a disputed decision process.  According to press reports, the President made the decision to adopt this position without the Department of Justice having the opportunity to develop a unified legal opinion.  It is regrettable that the Administration has refused our requests to make witnesses from the Departments of Defense and Justice available for today’s hearing.
Finally, one would expect the Administration to be fully forthcoming on consultations about Libya to compensate, in some measure, for the lack of Congressional authorization for the war.  Although consultations in no way substitute for formal authorization – a view corroborated in the legal scholarship of Mr. Koh -- they serve a vital purpose in unifying the government and providing Congress with a basis for decision making on the war.  For the most part, for example, the Clinton Administration and President Clinton, himself, consulted meaningfully with Congress during the U.S. intervention in the Balkans.
In sharp contrast, the Obama Administration’s efforts to consult with Congress have been perfunctory, incomplete, and dismissive of reasonable requests.  This Committee alone has experienced at least three occasions when briefings were canceled or relevant witnesses were denied without explanation.  As Senator Corker has pointed out, very basic questions about the operation have gone unanswered.  Deputy Secretary of State Steinberg declined to address certain questions on the basis that they could only be answered by the military, and yet the Administration has refused to provide the Committee with Defense Department witnesses.  This inexplicable behavior contributes to the damage that the Libya precedent might create in the future.
I do not doubt that President Obama elected to launch this war because of altruistic impulses.  But that does not make the U.S. intervention in Libya any less of a war of election.  Nor does the fig leaf that American pilots are flying a minority of the missions within the coalition justify the contention that we are not engaged in hostilities, especially since U.S. participation enables most of the operations underway.
The President does not have the authority to substitute his judgment for Constitutional process when there is no emergency that threatens the United States and our vital interests.  The world is full of examples of local and regional violence, to which the U.S. military could be applied for some altruistic purpose.  Under the Constitution, the Congress is vested with the authority to determine which, if any, of these circumstances justify the consequences of American military intervention.  I thank the Chairman.

Blagojevich Found Guity On 17 Of 20 Charges

Former Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich has been found guilty on 17 of 20 counts of public corruption charges by a federal jury made up of 10 female jurors and one male juror. A jury last year reached only one verdict of guilt on a charge of lying to federal investigators and failed to reach a decision on more than two dozen other charges. The conviction includes charges related to efforts by the former governor to sell the Senate seat then being vacated by President-elect Barack Obama. From the Sun-Times:

The jury of 11 women and one man deliberated for nine days before finding Blagojevich guilty on all but three of the charges he faced at his second trial, adding another chapter to the state’s long history of wrongdoing by public officials.
The jury forewoman — a Naperville resident who is a retired director of music and liturgy at a church — said jurors were sending a message with their verdict about the state of politics in Illinois.
A second juror said Blagojevich’s personality, on display when he testified in his own defense, made it harder to convict him.
“I think because he was personable, it made it hard to separate [that] from what we had to do as jurors,” that juror said.
“We had to put aside whether we liked him or didn’t like him and just go by the evidence presented to us.”
The entire jury appeared, together, in a courtroom made available so they could talk with reporters. All spoke without identifying themselves, and the judge hasn’t released the jury list yet.
“It was very difficult,” another juror said. “Many times, we had to keep re-voting.”
That juror said that indecision was on a “mixture of all” the counts.
A fourth juror said of the testimony: “At times, I felt it was manipulative. I would rather just hear facts.”
People should be reminded that the allegations that originally spawned the federal investigation grew out of Blagojevich's corrupt ties to convicted political fixer Tony Rezko, who had intimate ties to Barack Obama and is currently serving a very long prison sentence. Rezko not only raised a large amount of cash for Obama's campaign committees, he also helped with the purchase of Obama's southside mansion at a time the Obamas did not have near the wealth and fame they enjoy today thanks to his successful, historic presidential bid. Obama and Emanuel were active participants in the Blagojevich administration's stacking of state boards and commissions with their Pay To Play pals. The government refused to put Rezko on the stand to prove any of the charges despite the fact that he played a critical role in the government's case against the former governor on charges unrelated to the attempt to sell Obama's senate seat. Government prosecutors successfully blocked efforts by Blagojevich's attorneys to disclose potentially damaging taped conversations Blagojevich had with both Obama and Emanuel concerning the senate seat appointment. The government also blocked Blagojevich's recorded conversations that attributed nefarious activities to them.

Although the guity verdicts allow for sentencing of up to 300 years, Blagojevich is likely to receive a sentence of no greater than 10 years in prison. He could very well join his predecessor, former Illinois Gov. George Ryan, who is currently serving a 6-year prison sentence at the federal penitentiary in Terre Haute. A federal judge blocked efforts by Ryan's attorneys for an early release because of the failing health of his wife. U.S. Attorney Patrick Fitzgerald rejected Blagojevich's claim that he was simply practicing the same political maneuvers that many other politicians practice:

Fitzgerald bristled at the defense’s contention that Blagojevich had been engaging in politics as usual, rather than committing a crime, when “he tried to sell a Senate seat and shake people down.”
“That’s not politics as usual,” Fitzgerald said. “That’s a crime.”
 It is absolutely the truth that Fitzgerald and federal prosecutors have practiced selective prosecution of political corruption. There have been plenty of accounts detailing the public corruption practiced by former Chicago Mayor Richard Daley, then-Senator Barack Obama and then-U.S. Rep. Rahm Emanuel. Fitzgerald exercised prosecutorial discretion not to charge those men with crimes that were equally as offensive to the public as the crimes committed by Blagojevich. Fitzgerald also gave U.S. Rep. Jesse Jackson a pass on his indirect role in attempting to buy the senate seat appointment by having his supporters meet with representatives of Blagojevich and to have them begin steps to raise $1.5 million in campaign contributions for Blagojevich.

Venture Fund That Financed Indiana Gubernatorial Candidate's Business Taken Over By Feds

A Chicago venture capital fund that helped finance a company founded by Indiana GOP gubernatorial candidate James Wallace has been taken over by the federal government. Cardinal Growth, which also has financial ties to former Chicago Mayor Richard Daley's son and nephew, owes taxpayers $21.4 million from funds it borrowed from the Small Business Administration, some of which went to Wallace's Indianapolis-based TWG Capital. From the Sun-Times:

A Chicago venture capital fund whose projects paid more than $1.2 million to former Mayor Richard M. Daley’s son has been taken over by the federal government, which says the fund owes taxpayers $21.4 million.
Cardinal Growth L.P. — which was run by attorney and former federal prosecutor Robert Bobb Jr. and accountant Joseph McInerney, a close friend of Daley’s son, Patrick Daley — borrowed nearly $51 million from the U.S. Small Business Administration over the past decade but has been unable to repay $21.4 million, court records show.
U.S. Attorney Patrick Fitzgerald filed the civil lawsuit on behalf of the federal agency on June 15. The SBA is seeking to liquidate Cardinal Growth L.P. because of mounting losses that threaten the fund’s ability to repay the taxpayer money it got from the agency.
The venture capital fund agreed to be liquidated, acknowledging that it has mounting losses.
“There’s been significant write-downs on the portfolio,” says Alan B. Roth, its attorney. “If a company is not performing well, you have to write down its value.’’
A federal judge approved the plan last week, removing Bobb and McInerney as the fund’s general partners and ordering them to turn over their records to the SBA . . .

Cardinal's two principals,  Robert Bobb, Jr. and Joseph McInerney, serve on the board of directors for Wallace's TWG Capital, an insurance services company. According to the Sun-Times, Cardinal received $2 from the SBA for every $1 it raised from private investors to invest a variety of companies, including companies that won lucrative contracts with the City of Chicago. Mayor Daley's son Patrick received money from Cardinal for his assistance in enticing investors to invest in Cardinal. According to an earlier story by the Sun-Times, the federal government was seeking to liquidate some of the businesses financed by Cardinal, including Wallace's TWG Capital. Wallace announced last month that he intended to seek the 2012 gubernatorial nomination of the Republican Party.

Sunday, June 26, 2011

LA Times' Look At The Corrupt FSSA Privatization Deal Indiana Media Refused To Do

Taking a look at today's LA Times article discussing Gov. Mitch Daniels administration's failed FSSA privatization deal, it's no small wonder he decided against running for president. Reporters from the newspaper came to Indianapolis to investigate the deal while Daniels was still being encouraged to jump into the 2012 GOP presidential race. Reporters Tom Hamburger and Melanie Mason spent several days in Indianapolis in May digging for information on the deal in the days leading up to Daniels' surprise announcement that he would not run due to family considerations. The two reporters met with me for several hours back in May to ask questions and discuss my reporting on the subject (even though there's no attribution in their story). They were surprised the botched privatization deal hadn't received more coverage by the Indiana media, particularly given the ties of key players in the deal to ACS, the big benefactor of the deal. I thought the story would be dropped after Daniels decided not to run, but the material they uncovered was just too good to pass up.

Here's some of what the reporters had to say on those corrupt ties that seemed to drive the deal from the beginning:

Though the $1.37-billion project proved disastrous for many of the state's poor, elderly and disabled, it was a financial bonanza for a handful of firms with ties to Daniels and his political allies, which landed state contracts worth millions . . .
Critics say that in Indiana, the privatization process barreled forward with little public input and was marred by the appearance of conflicts of interest. Despite the massive nature of the changes he was proposing, Daniels insisted he did not need legislative approval. And the only public hearing occurred after he announced he would proceed with the project.
Key players involved in the process had ties to Affiliated Computer Services, the company that benefited the most from the deal. Mitch Roob — a Daniels appointee who ran the state's Family and Social Services Administration when it awarded the contract — was a former ACS vice president. As the state began the project, Roob occasionally sought advice from former Indianapolis Mayor Stephen Goldsmith, a political ally of Daniels and fellow privatization advocate who also had been an ACS vice president . . .
In a brief interview, Daniels called "completely bogus" the suggestion that his administration was too close to companies that won lucrative contracts.
"There is no evidence of that," he said. "Our approach was either firms perform well — or we will get rid of them and try someone else."
Yet it took two years before the governor acknowledged that replacing caseworkers with centralized call centers "just didn't work." In October 2009, Daniels canceled a 10-year contract with an IBM-led consortium of companies that included ACS among its subcontractors. IBM and Indiana are now engaged in dueling lawsuits scheduled to go to trial next February.
After IBM was fired, ACS — which was blamed by welfare advocates for many of the problems — was given a new eight-year contract worth $638 million to continue its work, according to state records.
All told, three politically connected firms gained from the welfare privatization effort in Indiana: ACS; the Lucas Group, a Boston-based firm that wrote the specifications for the contract; and Barnes & Thornburg, the Indianapolis law firm that lobbies for ACS and is representing the state in its suit against IBM.
ACS — via several political action committees — donated nearly $50,000 to Daniels' gubernatorial campaigns and his state leadership PAC between 2003 and 2010. Barnes & Thornburg gave Daniels almost $120,000 between 2004 and 2010.
Daniels began pursuing the idea of privatizing Indiana's welfare eligibility system soon after his 2005 inauguration. The idea was taken up enthusiastically by Roob, whom Daniels had brought over from ACS, and who repeatedly described the failings of Indiana's social services agency, which serves more than 1 million needy residents . . .
Even before Daniels signed off on the privatization effort, the little-known Lucas Group started reaping benefits. Its role was not publicized at the time, but the consulting firm had a nearly $4-million contract — signed by Roob — to write the specifications by which the bidding companies would take over the system.
Like ACS, the Lucas Group had ties to former mayor Goldsmith: He served for a time as a senior consultant for the firm, which is run by a longtime associate. Goldsmith, now a deputy mayor in New York, said in an interview that he had nothing to do with the state's awarding of contracts to the Lucas Group or ACS . . .
During Indiana's deliberations, ACS was under fire from federal regulators examining backdating of stock options, as well as from officials in several states who complained of delays, technical problems and, in one case, manipulation of data to justify bonus payments.
Ken Ericson, a spokesman for ACS, said the company remained in good standing with its government clients, continuing to provide services in all 50 states.
Despite its troubles around the country, ACS — as a subcontractor to IBM — ended up with the biggest piece of the contract in Indiana. The company hired 1,500 former state workers, built the system's call center and provided the staff that did the initial processing of welfare applications. It was also poised to make a minimum of $596 million in fixed fees, according to documents obtained by the Tribune Washington Bureau/Los Angeles Times.
Roob, whose agency solicited bids for the project, did not return calls for comment. But aides to Daniels said the former Family and Social Services Administration secretary played no role in the selection process.
They noted that the winning consortium, then led by IBM, ended up being the only bidder for the deal after another group led by Accenture dropped out in May 2006. An interagency review committee studied the proposal by the IBM-led consortium and recommended that the governor move forward with the project.
"No one ever said, 'We want to make sure ACS is part of this,'" said Earl Goode, Daniels' chief of staff, who chaired the review committee. "It was looking at the best solution and what's best for the taxpayers of Indiana."
In late November 2006, Daniels announced he had accepted the review committee's recommendation. A week later, the state held the only public hearing on the proposal. He signed the deal with IBM a month later, declaring the move would save taxpayers $1 billion . . .
IBM said the problems were due to an unexpected surge in applications.
"Our contention has always been there weren't enough caseworkers," said IBM spokesman Clint Roswell.
The state said the issue was IBM's oversight of ACS.
"The state is now managing them and they're doing fine," said Peter Rusthoven, one of the lawyers representing the state in its suit against IBM.
When the state decided to sue, the Daniels administration opted to hire Rusthoven's firm — Barnes & Thornburg, which also represents ACS — to handle the case, rather than rely on the state attorney general. One of the Barnes & Thornburg partners listed on the $5.25-million contract is Brian Burdick, the brother of Daniels' deputy chief of staff.
Mark Massa, who was Daniels' general counsel at the time, said hiring outside counsel was necessary because of the complexity of the case.
"I just wanted to hire the best litigators I could find," Massa said. "The decision was solely mine and I didn't take political considerations into account." . . . 
The LA Times reporters missed one big item: the hiring of Mike Gargano as FSSA's new secretary to oversee ACS. Gargano is a former consultant for ACS who is married to Ann Lathrop, another former member of the Goldsmith administration who worked as an executive at ACS, alongside Goldsmith, Roob and Skip Stitt. The reporters had access to documents prepared by former FSSA employee Carl Moldthan, now deceased, who warned Daniels and legislative leaders the privatization of the FSSA services was misguided and being done for all of the wrong reasons. Moldthan's critique included an admission by Roob that the privatization would not save taxpayers one dime despite Daniels' public claim that it would save $500 million over ten years.


Curry No Different From Brizzi When It Comes To Outrageous Plea Agreements

It looks like it's business as usual at the Marion Co. Prosecutor's Office. Special plea agreements for special people allow persons who committed serious crimes, including murder, to walk away with a slap on the hand. A former special deputy for the Marion Co. Sheriff's office shot and killed another man, but Curry cut a plea agreement his high profile criminal defense attorney James Voyles, who only wealthy people can afford to hire, that will allow Bruce Jacobs to skate on reckless homicide charges. From the Star's Carrie Ritchie:

The family of a deceased Indianapolis man is outraged by the plea deal offered to the former Marion County Sheriff's Department special deputy who shot him.
Bruce Jacobs pleaded guilty Thursday to reckless homicide, a Class C felony, for fatally shooting his neighbor, Edward Light, in August 2009 in the 2000 block of Forest Manor Avenue.
But according to the terms of his plea agreement, Jacobs won't serve much time in prison.
"This is just total injustice," Mike Baker, Light's cousin by marriage, said after Jacobs' court hearing Thursday afternoon.
Jacobs' plea deal calls for him to be sentenced to an eight-year prison term, but after being booked into prison and evaluated by the Department of Correction, he would be allowed to come back to Marion County and serve the rest of his time on probation . . .
Even Marion Superior Court Judge Kurt Eisgruber, who presided over the case, called the plea agreement "a little more unusual than a normal case." . . .
Indianapolis attorney James Voyles, who represented Jacobs, said the state offered the plea deal, and there were no special reasons behind the proposed sentence.
Deputy Prosecutor Denise Robinson couldn't say why they offered an agreement with those particular terms, but she said it's not the first time those terms have been part of a plea agreement . . .
Baker said Light's family wants Jacobs to serve prison time, not probation.
"This is just telling all criminals that you can go and shoot people and you'll get off scot-free."
According to Ritchie's story, Curry's office didn't even have the decency to communicate to Light's family the lenient plea agreement to which it had agreed. Light's family assumed a man charged with murder would do a few decades in prison. One comment on the Star's website pretty much sums up the state of the criminal justice system in Indianapolis:
Justice System #1: For the wealthy, government officials, well-connected, and law enforcement. Light sentences if convicted, dismissals, acquittals, expungement of criminal records.
Justice System #2: For everyone else. Guaranteed conviction and prison sentence; even if there's not much evidence to support one. Unemployable for the rest of one's life.

Win Moses Explains Why His Form Of Vote Fraud Is Acceptable

State Rep. Win Moses has lived in an upscale home on Indianapolis' northside for more than a decade while he casts votes from a Fort Wayne precinct that he represents in the state legislature. He even claimed a homestead exemption on his Indianapolis home until someone in the media asked him about it and he claimed it was just a mistake and stopped claiming the exemption. Nonetheless, Moses thinks Secretary of State Charlie White is a felon for casting votes within the same county he has always lived while running for statewide office and serving on the Fishers town council. From the Ft. Wayne Journal-Gazette's "Political Notebook":

Rep. Win Moses recently was dragged into the Charlie White saga as the embattled secretary of state sent a letter to prosecutors vaguely alleging wrongdoing by the Fort Wayne Democrat.
At the end of a complaint about one of the special prosecutors on his criminal case – White is accused of felony voter fraud – he said this: “Next, I intend to send information delving into the mystery of Win Moses ‘home’ in Fort Wayne (potential homestead fraud and voter fraud) while he resides in Indianapolis.”
Moses has owned a home in Indianapolis for more than a decade, while living in an upscale Fort Wayne apartment. He has been open about the home in Indianapolis, including when he mistakenly claimed a homestead property tax deduction on it back in 1998.
He said he uses it as a second home – staying there during the legislative session and often on weekends during the summer because it has lake access.
The three-bedroom home has 3,200 square feet and has been up for sale for months at $699,900. The house includes a designer kitchen, sauna, fireplace in the master bedroom and more. The tax bill – without a homestead – is nearly $10,000 a year.
Moses said his wife stays there more than he does and that he absolutely lives and works in Fort Wayne.
“I am a lifelong vigorous, happy Fort Wayne voter,” said the former city mayor. “Charlie White is an indicted, thrashing politician who would accuse the pope of blasphemy if he thought it would help him.”
If a wealthy man like Moses actually lived in Ft. Wayne, he would own an upscale home there instead of Indianapolis. His Indianapolis neighbors know where he and his wife live. The voters of his state legislative district are apparently the only persons who are fooled. Moses' private sector employment can't compete with the 4 to 1 retirement match the state offers him for his retirement fund and the generous health insurance benefits he and his wife receive as part of his annual lawmakers' pay package.

Ironically, Moses was forced to resign as Ft. Wayne mayor many years ago because of reckless campaign finance violations. The same prosecutor who brought criminal charges against White, Dan Sigler, investigated Moses in 1985. Moses pleaded guilty to misdemeanor charges in a plea deal where Sigler agreed to drop felony charges against him if he resigned as mayor. Moses made a fool of Sigler when he reclaimed the mayor's office his controller had assumed 11 days earlier when he asked Democratic committeemen to elect him at a caucus election. In 2008, Sigler prosecuted Republican Ft. Wayne mayoral candidate Matt Kelty, who Moses narrowly defeated in his 2002 re-election race for state representative, for felony campaign finance violations without similar mercy.

Friday, June 24, 2011

Chicago Police Superintendent Says Lenient Gun Laws Equate To Government-Sponsored Racism

Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel's new police superintendent, Garry McCarthy, makes the outlandish claim in a speech he delivered at a Chicago black church that government laws allowing Americans easy access to guns is the equivalent of government-sponsored racism not unlike slavery and Jim Crow laws. Absolutely unbelievable. Not surprisingly, the church event he was at was hosted by Father Michael Pfleger of St. Sabina Church, the controversial Catholic priest with close ties to Obama's former controversial minister, Rev. Jeremiah Wright. Pfleger and Wright have been big proponents of a local Chicago ordinance banning guns, which was overturned by the Supreme Court as a violation of the Second Amendment. McCarthy says the NRA doesn't like him and he's okay with that.

Indiana State Employees: Welcome To The Rules Governing Private Sector Employees

A little-noticed change in the state's civil service code will dramatically alter the relationship state employees have with the agency that employs them beginning July 1.  Under current Indiana law, about 80% of state employees are classified as merit employees, a classification system that governs the way hirings, firings, promotions, disciplinary and layoff procedures are carried out by state agency supervisors. When the new law takes effect next month, nearly all but a small number of state employees will be categorized as "unclassified" employees. Only state employees whose positions are dictated by federal law, for example those administering unemployment claims or the state's Medicaid program, will be categorized as "classified" employees with similar protections merit employees currently enjoy under existing law.

As a merit employee, state agency supervisors may terminate a worker only for just cause and after the employee has been afforded a pre-deprivation hearing process. Merit employees that will become unclassified employees beginning next month will become at-will employees, which allows a supervisor to fire an employee for any reason or no reason at all, provided the basis for the termination is not otherwise prohibited by law, such as proscribed forms of discrimination, exercising a statutory right to make a claim for worker's compensation, or refusal to violate a law or policy.

The switch from merit employees to unclassified employees will substantially alter the hiring and promotion system. Merit employment and promotion is based on meeting a strict minimum set of qualifications and seniority. Unclassified workers will be evaluated based on knowledge, skills and abilities. In the event of layoffs, those with the most seniority will no longer be afforded the greatest protection as they are under the merit system. Instead, employees will be assigned a service rating that takes into account a number of factors, including performance, disciplinary history and seniority.  As the new system is being explained on a new instructional video prepared by the state's Department of Personnel, seniority will merely become a tie-breaker as a factor in determining layoffs.

The new civil service code will streamline and shorten the complaint process considerably from the current multi-step process for merit employees. An unclassified employee will be required to demonstrate that an action taken against the employee by a supervisor violated a law, rule or policy. The complaint must be filed within 30 days of the alleged violation, and then the agency will have 15 days to respond to the complaint. The state's personnel department will have 30 days to review the complaint. The employee will have 15 days to file an appeal with the state employee's appeal commission after receiving a written response from the personnel department. The burden is on the unclassified employee in this complaint process to prove the violation. Classified employees will still be protected by the just cause standard, and the burden of proof will be on management in any challenged suspension, demotion or dismissal action.

The Daniels' administration touts the new civil service service system law as codifying the performance-based system it first implemented in 2006, which it says rewards the highest performing state employees. The current civil service system has been in place since 1941 in response to federal New Deal laws that required states to implement personnel systems. The new law has some significant exemptions, including all legislative and judicial branch employees, as well as statewide elected officials and their personal staffs. Also, political subdivisions and quasi-governmental bodies are excluded from the law as are Indiana State Police employees and offenders working within the state correctional system.

Critics will no doubt contend the new system will allow political favoritism to creep into the state personnel system more than it already does. Clearly, the new system will untie the hands of supervisors to pick and choose and exercise more freely decisions over hiring, firing, promotion, suspension and demotion. In that sense, Indiana most state employees will begin to experience the same workplace rules that generally govern most private sector employees.

UPDATE: It looks like WTHR is keeping close tabs on what this blog publishes. This evening's lead off story at the 6:00 p.m. broadcast? See Sandra Chapman's story here entitled "State workers seeing changes to promotion policy." That headline is misleading as it suggest promotion is the only policy that is changing. At-will employment status will apply to any current merit employee converted to "unclassified" status, which encompasses most state agency employees, except those noted above that are exempt due to federal laws and regulations, employees of the judicial and executive branch, the personal staff of statewide officials and State Police employees. Denny Darrow of the state's Personnel Department says only 10% of state employees will be impacted. I would like to see more specific data on how the shake-out happens between the classification of "classified" and "unclassified employees. That 10% figure seems too low if you consider that the vast majority of state employees are currently classified as merit employees. Chapman also indicates there are presently only 2,800 full-time state employees. Again, that number seems low, although the number of state employees has shrunk dramatically during the Daniels administration to levels not seen since the 1970s.

Thursday, June 23, 2011

WTHR's Kevin Rader Blames Mourdock For County's Error On Homestead Exemption

A previous owner applied for a homestead exemption on a downtown condominium State Treasurer Richard Mourdock purchased after being elected to state office. Mourdock discovered the error last year and filed a form with the Marion Co. Auditor's office to cancel it, but the office failed to correct the problem. When his next tax bill contained the same error, he notified the Auditor's office again. This time the office fixed the problem and Mourdock paid the extra taxes he owed on the condominium in each year he received the exemption without any prompting by the county. Proving no good deed goes unpunished when the media is out to get you in this town, WTHR's Kevin Rader did a hit piece on him tonight to make him out to be a crook. From WTHR:

Eyewitness News has discovered that Richard Mourdock has a homestead exemption on a home on Ridge Knoll in Evansville, Indiana and he has a second homestead exemption on a north New Jersey St. condominium in Indianapolis which he purchased in 2007.
Mourdock is currently challenging longtime incumbent Sen. Richard Lugar for the Republican nomination for United States Senate. Eyewitness News spoke to Mourdock, who is currently out of the country, by telephone and asked him about the problem.
"I remember filing out one of the forms to indeed cancel the homestead property tax credit. That's why I thought this problem had been solved at the time. It wasn't until June of this year that I found out that form had been lost down there so I filled out another form to cancel the homestead credit and made all of the arrangements to pay all the back taxes in excess of what they normally collect in this situation," he said.
In fact, Mourdock even has a form from the Marion County auditor's office admitting to the mix-up.
Marion County Deputy Auditor Claudia Fuentes wrote this memo on June 3, 2011: "Homestead deduction was not removed from property in error. The deduction was applied for by previous owner. Certified statement verified information."
The only problem with that is the amount of time that elapsed. That means Treasurer Mourdock had the homestead exemption credit in 2008, 2009, 2010 until he finally noticed it in 2011 when he was checking personal records prior to his run for Senate.
"The reality is I ran for re-election last year as state treasurer. If I had known before that election I would have gone in, I mean, if you want to take that line of thinking that I was trying to hide the fact, believe me it would have been just as damaging to me politically last year as this year. I fixed it at the first opportunity the exact day I found out about the problem. If I had found out about it in 2008, 2009 or 2010 I would have dealt with it the same day," he said.
Counties throughout the state have been working to close loopholes on multiple homestead deductions but there is still plenty of work to be done when it comes to properties in differing counties.
Rader and other State House reporters cover up serious cases of political corruption going on right under their noses every day, but let someone come along who threatens the political existence of one of their protected ones, such as Sen. Richard Lugar, and they will do whatever they can to manufacture phony allegations against you to destroy you. And to think this lame piece of shit hit piece was WTHR's lead off story on tonight's 6:00 p.m. news broadcast. How pathetic.

Allen County Prosecutor Won't Hold White's Prosecutor To Same Legal Standard He Is Holding White

Dan Sigler may have a similarly spotty and questionable place of residence for voting purposes in between wives and homes that may not stand up to the scrutiny he has given Secretary of State Charlie White, particularly given the odd timing of a change in voter registration he made smack dab in the middle of the grand jury proceedings against White, but Allen Co. Prosecutor Karen Richards won't be subjecting him to any investigation--just call it prosecutorial descretion. From the Journal-Gazette:

After a preliminary investigation into White’s allegations, Richards found no reason to appoint a special prosecutor.
“There is no evidence to suggest a criminal act took place,” Richards said. “There needs to be some reason to believe a crime occurred in order to request a special prosecutor. There was absolutely nothing in what he sent me.
“I think, given that he’s being prosecuted by Mr. Sigler, anytime you see a defendant take a personal interest in criticizing a prosecutor publicly, that always looks suspicious,” Richards said.
Yes, the prosecutors always have the backs of their fellow prosecutors. If you'r not their friend, then look out. The law will be used like a hammer against you every time. The idea that justice in this country is fair and even-handed is a figment of our imaginations. No other case illustrates that point more clearly than the handling of Bill Clinton's perjury and obstruction of justice during the Monica Lewinsky investigation and the John Edwards love child investigation. The President walks on more serious charges, while the former senator faces serious felony charges. Or how about Evan Bayh living and working in D.C. while illegally casting votes in Indiana and being given a pat on the back and a pass to run for governor, while Charlie White is hit with multiple felony charges for voting in the same county within the same congressional district at two different polling places, both of which there is ample evidence he resided, and faced with the loss of the office to which he was legitimately elected.

White could file a complaint with the Whitley Co. Prosecutor, another place Sigler has called home for voting purposes, but it will likely meet a similar fate. “I said all along this was done to try to discredit the prosecution and/or me,” Sigler said. “And it was done with a point of view affecting public opinion, and those things can’t and shouldn’t work when public officials are doing their job.” "Affecting public opinion?" Isn't it true that Sigler offered White a deal where he wouldn' t bring criminal charges against him if he agreed to resign from office? Give me a break.

More On Self-Dealing Evan Bayh

Former Indiana Sen. Evan Bayh has joined another corporate board. This time he is joining Fifth Third Bank after helping steer legislation favorable to financial institutions during his Senate tenure. The Star's Maureen Groppe got this flippant answer from Bayh, who also took another job working for the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, in response to criticism that he is cashing in on his Senate career:

Bayh said he's amused by criticism that he's trying to cash in on his Senate career, which included service on the Senate banking committee.
"I've asked no government official for anything," Bayh said. "If people want to hire me, it's because of my knowledge and because I can give sensible advice, not because I'm attempting to wield influence."

Yeah, right. Bayh has absolutely no knowledge of how a business is run. He is a spoiled brat who had everything handed to him on a silver platter. When Bayh began his political career back in 1986, he owned a used BMW licensed in the state of Virginia and a modest condomonium in downtown Indianapolis originally purchased by his father. Today, he and his wife have parlayed his political career with a plethora of quid pro quos courtesy of business interests he either helped when he was governor or legislatively as a U.S. Senator that have made the couple multi-millionaires. No other politician in the history of Indiana politics has been offered so much of what can only generously be described as legalized bribes.

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Another Case Of Police Arresting Citizen For Recording Their Actions

Police in Rochester, New York arrest a woman, Emily Good, who was peacefully standing in her front yard video taping their arrest of another man. The police became upset she was filming the arrest and ordered her to go back into her house. When she explained she had the right to stand on her property and film them, she was arrested. The police officer claimed he did not feel safe with her standing behind them and filming them, even though there was no sign of the woman acting with a menacing intent. Ironically, the man who was detained and handcuffed by the police during a traffic stop was released while they took the woman away to jail. The police action is clearly an arrest lacking probable cause and an infringement of Good's First Amendment rights. I previously posted how our neighboring state of Illinois has passed a state law that makes any recording without both parties' consent illegal, including a recording of a police officer's public actions. To my knowledge, New York does not have a law similar to Illinois'

Another Look At Glen Campbell's Performance At The Palladium

The Star's David Lindquist gave a stinging review of Glen Campbell's performance earlier this month at the Palladium in Carmel in what he described as "a mystifyingly bad show":

Regrettably, the show unraveled Saturday as perhaps the first full-on clunker at the Carmel concert hall.
Facing a sold-out audience nestled in a world-class room, Campbell came across as unprepared at best and disoriented at worst.
He mangled lyrics (despite unabashed use of video prompts on three onstage monitors), clanged countless off-key guitar notes and generated zero rapport with the crowd.
Campbell struggled to even communicate with long-running band leader T.J. Keunster.
"What key? . . . Who wrote it? . . . I like this song," served as an evening-long mantra for Country Music Hall of Famer Campbell . . .
Saturday's program: Webb as supporting act, followed by a Campbell train wreck better suited for a county-fair beer tent.
Campbell's wife Kim confirmed in an interview with People magazine that her husband was diagnosed with Alzheimer's disease six months ago to explain why he sometimes appears confused on stage.

Singer Glen Campbell, who announced in February that he'll do a retirement tour this year, has Alzheimer's disease.
In an interview with People magazine, the singer's wife, Kim, said she wanted fans to be aware of his condition: "Glen is still an awesome guitar player and singer, but if he flubs a lyric or gets confused on stage, I wouldn't want people to think, 'What's the matter with him? Is he drunk?' "
Campbell, 75, was diagnosed with Alzheimer's six months ago.

County Assessor Rehires Spouse Of City Councilor Fired By Predecessor

Former Marion Co. Assessor Greg Bowes fired Leroy Lewis for sexual harassment, misusing his computer and failing to perform his work assignments, but he has since been rehired as a district manager by Bowes' successor, Joe O'Connor. Lewis is the husband of City-County Councilor Maggie Lewis. WRTV's Kara Kenney has the story:
The firing and rehiring of a Marion County Assessor's Office employee is raising concerns among some taxpayers.
According to documents obtained by 6News' Kara Kenney, LeRoy Lewis was fired on Oct. 6, 2010, by then-Marion County Assessor Greg Bowes.
The county's new assessor, Joseph O'Connor, rehired Lewis on June 1 as district manager of the Marion County Assessor's Office June 1, 2011.
Most of the documents in Lewis' personnel file are redacted, but according to the file, Lewis "failed to heed prior warnings related to a possible sexual harassment complaint" and "repeatedly used his agency-provided computer to access web sites on the Internet that are unrelated to his work assignment, and because he was not working on his main assignment for as much as four working days, termination is warranted."
When contacted Thursday, Bowes declined to elaborate, but said the firing was completely warranted.
"I absolutely stand by my decision," Bowes said. "It was completely correct." . . . .
In a response released Tuesday afternoon, O’Connor, who previously served as Lewis' director, said four people were interviewed for the position and that Lewis’ wife had nothing to do with his rehiring.
"As the current assessor, I feel like it is my duty to hire the most qualified individuals to perform the job and serve the citizens of the city of Indianapolis and Marion County," O'Connor wrote in an email to 6News. "Since his rehire, Mr. Lewis has performed well in his job functions and duties."
Maggie Lewis was not immediately available for comment Tuesday.
Nothing like making hiring decisions based on good old fashion political cronyism to bolster morale in government offices.