Monday, October 31, 2011

Both Mayoral Candidates Tout Polls Showing Them With A Lead

Fox 59 News is reporting tonight on the lack of independent polls this year in Indianapolis' mayor's race. In fact, not a single independent poll has been taken to date, a sharp contrast to past mayoral races where the Indianapolis Star and area TV stations have conducted their own independent polls to track the race. Fox 59 News did get polling information from the respective campaigns which, not surprisingly, show their own candidate in the lead.

If you believe the latest poll released by the campaign of Mayor Greg Ballard, he has a comfortable double-digit lead over Democrat Melina Kennedy. The Ballard campaign says their poll shows them with a 51%-39% lead over Kennedy. The poll showed Libertarian Chris Bowen polling 2% of the vote, while 8% of the voters are undecided.

Kennedy's campaign claims to have a small, 2-point lead over Ballard with a large bloc of undecided voters. According to her poll, she leads Ballard 40%-38% with 21% of voters undecided. The Libertarian candidate was picking up just 1% of the vote in Kennedy's poll. The number of undecided voters suggested by the Kennedy poll this late in the campaign seems a bit on the high side.

Fox 59 News did not provide cross tabs for the respective polls so it is difficult to draw much from either campaign's poll numbers. Ballard's poll was conductec by Public Opinion Strategies and has a 4-percentage point margin of error. Kennedy's poll was conducted by Riggs Research and has a 2-percentage point margin of error. Ballard's campaign told Fox 59 News that Kennedy's polling firm has a history of unreliable polling. Kennedy's poll was conducted a couple of weeks ago, while Ballard's latest polling numbers were taken last week.

Sunday, October 30, 2011

Star Endorsement Of Kennedy Perplexing

The Star's editorial board four years ago dismissed Greg Ballard's low-budget campaign to unseat two-term Mayor Bart Peterson as someone not "remotely qualified" to serve as mayor. During the past four years, the editorial board has backed virtually every major policy his administration has implemented. According to the editors, "city services are more efficiently delivered, the budget has been managed significantly better, and initial steps have been made to improve the police department." Nonetheless, the editors have decided he is not worthy of another four years and have chosen to endorse his Democratic opponent, Melina Kennedy. Their decision seems to turn on the vision thing:

It does not disparage any of that to argue, as we now do, that it is time to move beyond the basics to a broader vision and a more forceful voice for not just bricks and mortar change but also a true transformation -- not just to repair the past but to build a brighter future.
I differ from the Star's editors in their favorable assessment of a number of his policies, including the way he financed short-term road and street improvements through the sale of the city's water and utility assets and the city's parking meter assets. I have issues with the centralized, bloated bureaucracy within the Public Safety Department. And I think too many decisions are being made based on what will serve the best interests of political contributors and supporters as opposed to the public's interest. The county club politics Ballard promised to end four years ago following his election still reins supreme in this city. Having said that, the Star's endorsement of Kennedy over Ballard makes absolutely no sense if it truly believes he got it right on all of the big issues they cite in their endorsement of Kennedy. She is definitely a better public speaker, but I can't give either of the candidates high marks on this vision thing based on their debate performances or the non-stop negative campaign messages being put out by both campaigns against the other candidate.

The Terre Haute Tribune-Star's editorial board took an entirely different tact with its endorsement in its city's mayoral race today. Although it endorsed the incumbent mayor, Kevin Burke, four years ago over the city's current mayor, Duke Bennett, it chose to endorse Bennett for re-election while speaking positively of both mayoral candidates. Bennett is facing Fred Nation, a certified member of the Evan Bayh Democratic machine. I actually thought Nation, who has worked in public relations for the Hulman-owned Indianapolis Motor Speedway after a long stint working political jobs for the Bayhs, lived in Indianapolis and not Terre Haute. The Tribune-Star thought Nation was the best candidate the Democrats could have put forward, but it still concluded that Bennett, who it concedes is not flashy, deserves a second term. Nation has hit Bennett hard on the vision thing, but the editorial board wouldn't let that drive its decision as the Star's editorial board chose to do: "[H]is steady attention to tedious, day-to-day details was valuable during rocky times."

Poulakidas And Democrats Double Down On The Use Of Fraud And Deceit To Defeat Scales

Kostas Poulakidas seems determined to bring down the legal profession of which he is a member as much as possible given the unethical and deceitful campaign he is running against 4th District City-County Councilor Christine Scales. Apparently it was not enough for him to blanket 4th District voters with a post card impersonating Scales, giving them the impression she is an inattentive councilor who spends all of her time living at a family vacation home in Naples, Florida by making it appear that she had handwritten a post card to them from Florida. He decided to double down by breaking the law again by sending yet a second post card to voters in the district impersonating Scales. The text of the handwritten message on the post card impersonating Scales reads:
Crazy, right?! Second time you've heard from me in 4 years!  I hear Indianapolis' unemployment rate is one of the worst in the state and incomes have dropped 9.8%.
Bummer! Too bad I voted against a bipartisan City-County Council proposal that supported 66,000 Indianapolis jobs and families.
Since I don't need to work, I'm not sure why anyone else does.
Ironically, the proposal the post card references that Scales voted against, which supposedly "supported 66,000 Indianapolis jobs and families" was actually a tax increase enacted to bail out the Capital Improvement Board after it claimed it was facing a major shortfall. After the ordinance passed, which only one council member of Poulakidas' party supported, the CIB used the money to give a $33.5 million subsidy to the billionaire Simons and their Indiana Pacers, including a subsidy to cover costs for this season even though a chunk of the NBA season has already been cancelled due to a lack of a collective bargaining agreement between the billionaire owners and the players who earn millions of dollars a year. The agency is so flush with money that it's giving away money to help fund millions more in law enforcement expenses for the Super Bowl since the city's operating budget is short the necessary funds to pay for those expenses. Poulakidas fails to mention that the law firm he represents is a paid lobbyist for the Capital Improvement Board. Yes, his law firm got paid to lobby for the measure he is criticizing Scales for opposing. What a total sleazebag!

Contrary to the impression the post card tries to leave that Scales is an absentee councilor, she has an exemplary attendance record at council meetings and regularly attends community group gatherings in her district. Scales has received numerous awards from community groups in her district for her work on their behalf. She even donates the salary she earns as a councilor to charity.

Poulakidas has little choice but to make up lies about Scales since he has such a bad record. As I've previously noted, Poulakidas in a rare decision was found by the Indiana Civil Rights Commission to have violated Indiana's Fair Housing Act by discriminating against single parents in renting a downtown condominium he owns. Poulakidas represented himself in the civil action filed against him by the National Fair Housing Alliance. The Civil Rights Commission ordered Poulakidas to pay several thousand dollars to the NFHA for the costs it incurred in bringing the action against him.

While Scales has been working hard for her constituents, Poulakidas has been busy working as a lobbyist for a big law firm. He even traveled to Washington, D.C. to raise thousands of dollars for his council campaign from D.C. lobbyists and political insiders. Poulakidas is believed to be the first candidate in the history of the city-county council to raise money for his campaign from Washington lobbyists.

Scales' supporters are urging the Republican Party to file a formal election complaint against Poulakidas and the Indiana Democratic Party for the illegal mailings. Poulakidas' campaign paid his state party to mail out the post cards on his behalf, but the post cards fail to mention that he authorized the mailings as required by Indiana's Election Law, in addition to the fact that the post cards illegally impersonate Scales.

Saturday, October 29, 2011

More Council Endorsements By The Star

The Star's editorial board completed its endorsements in the City-County Council races today. The only incumbent councilor not getting the Star's endorsement today was Dane Mahern in District 19. They included the following:

District 17-Mary Moriarty Adams (D)
District 18-Vernon Brown (D)
District 19-Jeff Miller (R)
District 20-Susie Day (R)
District 21-Ben Hunter (R)
District 22-Doug White (D)
District 23-Jeff Cardwell (R)
District 24-Jack Sandlin (R)
District 25-Aaron Freeman (R).

If you're keeping a running tab, the Star has endorsed a Republican-controlled council by a margin of 17 to 12. Despite concerns the Star's editorial board has raised in the past about government employees serving on the council, those concerns seemed to disappear when it decided on which candidates to endorse given the number of government employees who earned the editors' backing. Consistency has not been a trait when it comes to the Star's editorial board.

The Star's coverage of the council races has been pretty pathetic. The paper still has no story on the illegal post card the Democrats and Kostas Poulakidas sent to 4th District voters relating false information about incumbent Christine Scales. A letter to the editor, such as the one published today from Denny S. Krauser, might be the best you can hope for. It reads:

Election postcard distorted facts I consider myself a liberal Democrat, and strongly adhere to my political beliefs. As such I tend to vote for Democrats in most elections. However, I will shun those who intentionally distort facts (and actually lie) during the democratic process to mislead people into supporting their personal (or party) agendas.
That just happened. I recently received in my mailbox a postcard, ostensibly sent from Florida, distorting a fact (and actually lying) about the incumbent Indianapolis City-County Council representative in District 4. The person who sent this postcard, and the person who allowed it to be sent in his name, represents all that is wrong with our political process these days, and is not worthy of our votes.
Therefore, in this next election, I will be vote for incumbent Christine Scales, a Republican whom I have encountered at several community meetings in my neighborhood, at public hearings about issues affecting my neighborhood, and all the while accurately representing the stated interests of her constituents.

Does Endorsement Of Litebox Business Deal Equate To Investor Advice?

The Star takes an interesting perspective on the highly-criticized announcement this week by Gov. Mitch Daniels and Mayor Greg Ballard that state and local economic development agencies were giving their blessings to provide incentives to a little-known West Hollywood man promising to build a new untested and unproven product in Indianapolis that would bring more than 1,000 news jobs to Indianapolis. A story entitled, "Was their endorsement of businessman too much?", the Star considers whether the endorsement of the deal serves as investment advice to would-be investors. Ballard and Daniels have sought to allay concerns by noting that no public investment will be made unless Bob Yanagihira's Litebox, Inc. actually builds his manufacturing facility on the city's northwest side and hires Indiana workers. The endorsement, however, could give credibility to the project Yanagihira otherwise lacked to lure investors for his deal.
But Friday, concerns were raised that Daniels' and Ballard's public endorsement of Yanagihara at the news conference -- Daniels called him a "visionary" -- could put Hoosiers at risk in a different way.
"By standing next to this guy," said Julia Vaughn of Common Cause Indiana, "these political officials are lending to his credibility as he seeks investors." . . .
Spokesmen for Daniels and Ballard clarified in emails Friday that the governor's and mayor's promotion of Yanagihara was not investment advice.
"Investors rely on financial data in making their decisions and know that state and local incentives are performance-based and only apply once the company has fulfilled its obligations," wrote Marc Lotter, Ballard's communications director.
Daniels spokeswoman Jane Jankowski wrote that "the governor's comments weren't intended as investment advice, nor is it likely that an investor would construe them in such a way."
Kerwin Olson, executive director of the Citizens Action Coalition, said that doesn't mean public officials should tout the business without first ensuring that it merits their confidence.
"The consequences are that you're creating false confidence in the public and violating public trust," he said, "so I think that's a potential concern.
"You're standing there with the governor of the state of Indiana who's well-regarded in the Republican Party and the mayor of the 11th-biggest city. That's a lot for the two politicians to lay their reputations on, and it's a good photo op for this guy."
The questions raised here is a very legitimate one that has often been overlooked by the media in the coverage of past such events. Indeed, Mayor Ballard said in an interview with radio talk show host Amos Brown this week that the state and city have given their blessing to deals in the past that never panned out but that was the risk they were willing to make to bring new investment and jobs to the state and city. Nobody in the media raised any red flags when Gov. Daniels and Mayor Ballard held a joint press conference to announce $14 million in direct economic development incentives the state and city were making in locally-based Angie's List. A week following their announcement the company announced it was undertaking an initial public offering. The company, one of whose investors and key officers headed up Gov. Daniels former gubernatorial campaign, disclosed in its filings with the SEC that it had never made money in the 16 years of its existence and has accumulated $143 million in debt, $50 million of which had been racked up in the last two years. Other than this blog, nobody questioned the timing of the announcement and whether its purpose was to lend the government's credibility to a company with an otherwise shaky track record to would-be investors.

Nonetheless, the media is showing some willingness in this case to ask the questions that should be raised any time a government endorsement is being made of a private business undertaking. The Star's reporters are still grappling with getting answers from Yanagihira about his business.
Yanagihara has not responded to repeated messages left by The Star on his cellphone and hotel phone Thursday and Friday. Late Friday afternoon, Veronica Vargas, a media contact for Litebox, asked The Star to submit questions in writing.
"All very valid questions," Vargas replied in an email, "and we appreciate you giving us an opportunity to answer them."
But Vargas did not respond to multiple phone messages left late Friday night, after the questions had been submitted in writing.
Develop Indy spokeswoman Jennifer Todd tells the Star that Yanagihira has signed a purchase agreement for the property where the new manufacturing facility is to be built and has opened up a bank account. That contradicts a claim by Democratic mayoral candidate Melina Kennedy during her interview with Amos Brown this week in which she said the city got punked by Litebox that the company had not placed the land under contract. The Star's story does not address the concern raised by this blog that the company lacked an official business registration in the states of California or Minnesota where it claims to be currently doing business. Todd also told the Star that Yanagirhira had visited the City-County Building this week to transfer permits into his name for office space he intends to occupy at 146 E. Washington Street, and that he had also discussed hiring with locally-based CFA Staffing, who she claims will handle the company's recruiting and hiring. It's not clear what permits Litebox has filed, but a search of the city's online permit database returned no results when entering the company's name or Yanagihira's name. Litebox has not registered with the Indiana Secretary of State's office either according to its website.

Friday, October 28, 2011

What Can Lugar Tell Us About That Russian Incident In 2005 With Obama?

There has always been a bit of mystery surrounding Sen. Richard Lugard's trip to Russia in 2005 with the newly-elected Senator from Illinois, Barack Obama, as part of the Cooperative Threat Reduction program which oversaw the elimination of some nuclear weapons. In particular, was the incident where Lugar and  Obama were detained by Russian authorities for several hours while their passports were inspected. Actually, it was only Obama's passport that the Russians were interested in inspecting, but Lugar has always provided cover for Obama concerning the incident. The American Thinker's Mondo Frazier has an interesting perspective on what it was the Russians were interested in learning more about Obama. Frazier cites Italian sources as claiming the Russians were interested in learning about Obama's role as a spy for the British government, one of the three countries of which he has held citizenship (i.e., there is no such thing as a natural born citizenship requirement in the U.S. Constitution for being president anymore--at least as applied to Obama):
In 2005, then-Senator Barack Obama went on a mission to Russia with Senator Richard Lugar (R-IN). The newly-minted U.S. senator was invited to be part of a Russian fact-finding tour that inspected a nuclear weapons site in Perm, Siberia. The base Lugar and Obama visited was where mobile launch missiles were being destroyed under the Cooperative Threat Reduction program (CTR), which also went by the name of the Nunn-Lugar program.
In 2005, then-Senator Barack Obama went on a mission to Russia with Senator Richard Lugar (R-IN). The newly-minted U.S. senator was invited to be part of a Russian fact-finding tour that inspected a nuclear weapons site in Perm, Siberia. The base Lugar and Obama visited was where mobile launch missiles were being destroyed under the Cooperative Threat Reduction program (CTR), which also went by the name of the Nunn-Lugar program.
What happened next -- after the inspections were over -- was at the time reported by several foreign news sources but was never reported in the USA by the CMM. The Russians detained Obama and Lugar for three hours at the airport, demanding to examine both Obama's and Lugar's passports and search their plane. Some sources reported that the Russians accused Barack Obama of being a spy.
But wait -- there's more!
According to an Italian source, the Russians did not accuse Obama of being an American spy; they accused him of being a spy for the British! The report went on to say that the incident ended up involving the White House, the U.S. State Department, and military officials, along with their counterparts in Moscow.
Strangely enough, an official report from Lugar's office about the trip never mentioned the incident. Neither did Barack Obama in 2008 when he was desperate to exhibit some foreign policy chops.
One other oddity: in the fall of 2008, Obama admitted on his site that he had held dual citizenship with both the United States and Great Britain (the site explained that this was due to Barack Obama, Sr. being a foreign national) until 1982. Did the Russians know something about Obama's citizenship in 2005 that ordinary Americans don't know in 2011?
Frazier also discusses Obama's odd trip to Pakistan as a "penniless" 20-year-old student where he spent time with the future prime minister and president of Pakistan with whom he went bird hunting. Who arranged the trip is anyone's guess but, hey, who asks questions when it's about The One?  It would be nice, however, if just one reporter in this state would ask Sen. Lugar for his perspective on this incident during the Russian trip in 2005. I truly would like to hear what he has to say about it. Let's face it, the real reason Lugar is in trouble for re-election is because so many conservatives distrust him because of the way he embraced Obama, a person with whom he arguably should share no ideological or personal connection if the narrative he wants us to believe about him has any validity.

More Council Candidate Endorsements From The Star

The Star's editorial board makes the following endorsements in the 25 district council races today:

District 9-Sally Spiers (R)
District 10- William Oliver (D)
District 11-Steve Talley (D)
District 12-Mike McQuillen (R)
District 13-Robert Lutz (R)
District 14-Marilyn Pfisterer (R)
District 15-Vop Osili (D)
District 16-Brian Mahern (D)

It's Official, You've Been Punked

New questions about the acclaimed CEO of Litebox, Inc. leaves little doubt that Mayor Greg Ballard and Gov. Mitch Daniels were punked when they stood before TV cameras and a bevy of reporters on Wednesday to hear an unknown West Hollywood man claim he was building a factory in Indianapolis to build mobile, drive-in movie theaters that would employ more than 1,000 workers. Today's Star has information on Bob Yanagihira's tax problems, inflated resume' and unrealistic pipe dreams:

It had all the makings of a great day for Indianapolis and Indiana: Gov. Mitch Daniels and Mayor Greg Ballard flanking a California entrepreneur to announce that 1,100 jobs soon would be coming to the city.
In these tough economic times, it seemed to be just what the doctor ordered -- the largest job-creating business expansion to be announced in the city this year. And for Ballard, locked in a hotly contested re-election campaign in which his opponent has criticized the mayor for job losses, it was a timely feather in his cap, just two weeks before the election.
But things have taken a strange turn since Wednesday's splashy announcement, at which Bob Yanagihara detailed plans to renovate a local office building and construct a $20 million factory where his startup company, Litebox Inc., would make mobile video screens.
Now some wonder whether the project is serious, and there is growing criticism that state and city officials failed to adequately vet Yanagihara before offering his company millions in tax breaks if the project comes to fruition . . .

At Wednesday's announcement, Daniels hailed Yanagihara as a "visionary" and an "entrepreneur."

In California, public records suggest he might be something else.

Based on an Indianapolis Star review of public documents Thursday, it appears Yanagihara has failed to fully pay hundreds of thousands of dollars in state and federal tax liens in the past 10 years.
Those documents suggest he owes money to others, as well.

Colin McGrath, 52, Camarillo, Calif., said he invested $100,000 in a housing development project Yanagihara was leading with the promise of recouping $140,000 in 18 months. That was in 2002, and McGrath said he is still waiting for his money, even though he obtained a court judgment in 2007 against Yanagihara for $145,000.

"I would strongly advise anyone thinking of investing in his projects to think twice," McGrath said. "I would tell anyone, 'Don't do it.' "

Yanagihara did not return calls from The Star on Thursday.

The state of California has at least six outstanding tax liens against him, though specifics were unclear. One lien, filed in October 2007, was for $85,108, according to records confirmed with the Ventura County clerk and recorder. Another, filed that same month with Los Angeles County, was for $64,579.

In California, the state can file a tax lien after a resident does not respond to multiple payment notices, said Denise Azimi, spokeswoman for the California Franchise Tax Board.

Yanagihara also has not fully paid off thousands in federal tax liens, including a $70,130 lien filed in February 2008.

The most recent tax lien against Yanagihara that The Star's review found was for $15,088. It was filed in Los Angeles County in January.
Further questions about Yanagihira's resume casts doubts on his claimed four-year education at the University of San Diego. As I pointed out yesterday, there isn't even a business registration for Litebox, Inc. in the states of California and Minnesota where he claims to be currently doing business with 69 employees. Further, the name of the company is a registered trademark of another company. Economic development officials tell the Star they vetted this guy and confirmed he has financial backing for the deal, but of course, that information is deemed confidential under state law because it involves taxpayer-financed incentives, which is a complete abomination when you think about it because of this very problem.

Unbelievably, state and economic development officials still won't admit they got punked. Jennifer Todd of Develop Indy admits officials there didn't know about the tax liens, but she says that's not a problem because they only look at the business' financial information, which begs the question of what information that was since it isn't a registered business. State officials aren't concerned by the tax liabilities either. "That's not an uncommon thing," he said. Besides, [Indiana's Secretary of Commerce Daniel] Hasler added, "I don't know that it would have mattered. The Star's reporters were easily able to speak to a person who is actually in this business who says Yanagihira's plans are simply unrealistic.

The $20 million that Yanagihara plans to spend to build an assembly factory for truck-mounted media screens in Indianapolis is enough money, Isenberg said, "to buy all of the competitors in the industry."
Isenberg also said he doesn't believe Yanagihara will need anywhere near the 900 workers he plans to hire to run the factory. Isenberg's company employs a total of 20 people and uses 12 trucks that hold JumboTron-sized video screens.
"We built these things," Isenberg said, "with less than six people in 90 to 120 days."
Okay, it's time for the politicians and government officials to stop trying to BS their way out of this fiasco. Just own up to the fact that you got punked and apologize for taking up our time with false promises from a charlatan who you obviously never bothered to vet before using him as a campaign re-election prop.

UPDATE: Check out this interview of Mayor Greg Ballard and Melina Kennedy by Amos Brown concerning the Litebox announcement fiasco. Kennedy says the Mayor and Governor were punked because someone didn't do the proper due diligence. Ballard says it's no skin off the taxpayers' back if it turns out to be entirely made up because no money will be laid out by taxpayers unless ground is broken on the facility and people are employed. He says it wouldn't be the first time this is happened. When Brown asked Ballard why the company wasn't registered to do business in California and he couldn't get a response from Develop Indy on this point, this was the exchange that ensued: "Well, you sure are curious about all this, aren't you?," Ballard sarcastically snapped back at Brown. "I want to make sure these folks are coming to town and give folks the jobs," Brown shot back. "C'mon, Amos. This is an entrepreneur who wants to do the right thing," Ballard replied. "We think he has that potential to do great work in the city of Indianapolis. We're going to be there along side him as long as these jobs come to fruition."

UPDATE II: In her interview with Amos Brown, Democratic mayoral candidate Melina Kennedy stated that she does not believe Yanagihira has the land under contract where he has proposed building Litebox, Inc.'s new manufacturing facility that he says will employ more than 1,000 workers. Economic development officials have divulged nothing about such details for the proposed project. Fox 59 News this evening quoted Yanagihira as saying he plans to break ground at the more than 50-acre site near Georgetown Road and 86th Street on the city's northwest side within 60 days and renovate downtown office space for a new company headquarters at 146 E. Washington Street. He told Fox 59 News that he doesn't understand the skepticism that has surfaced following Wednesday's announcement. "I am amazed at the skepticism for my LiTEBOX," Yanagihira said. "People should be glad I am moving here and not the other states that courted me."

Breaking ground on a new factory would seem to be a practical impossibility if he doesn't have the land under contract as Kennedy claims. How does Kennedy know that detail? I've got a good hunch. Kostas Poulakidas, a fellow Greek-American, is a close Kennedy friend and supporter. Kennedy hopes that Poulakidas, a fellow big firm attorney whose practice includes economic development work for local governments, is successful in his bid to unseat Christine Scales for the City-County Council so he can become her eyes and ears on the council should she become mayor. Poulakidas' wife has worked as a business development manager for Develop Indy for at least a couple of years until recently and may have inside information about this deal, which has likely been in the works for a number of months. Since reporters don't seem to know whether Yanagihira has the land for the proposed project under contract, maybe they should ask Kennedy how she knows that detail.  

Thursday, October 27, 2011

No Business Registration For Litebox, Ouch!

Were Daniels and Ballard punked by this guy? (Indianapolis Star photo)

The question of just how much vetting of Litebox was done by officials of Develop Indy and the Indiana Economic Development Corporation before putting Gov. Mitch Daniels and Mayor Greg Ballard in front of the cameras with the company's founder, Bob Yanagihara, is coming more into focus after yesterday's quickly-called press conference to announce the company was building a new manufacturing plant in Indianapolis that would create more than 1,000 jobs. Yanagihara told reporters yesterday that his company employed 69 workers in California and Minnesota. A quick search of businesses registered to do business in California and Minnesota according to their respective Secretary of State's websites shows no registration for the company. Yeah, I would say Gov. Daniels and Mayor Ballard got punked big time. The only person missing from yesterday's press conference was Ashton Kucher. Oh, and did I mention that Litebox is the registered trademark of another company?

UPDATE: Here's an ad for a 3D product where the same guy behind Litebox was seeking investors. Looks like he's full of innovative ideas.

Good Campaign Advertising On A Low Budget

Libertarian at-large council candidate Bill Levin proves it doesn't take a million-dollar campaign war chest to produce an effective campaign ad. His latest spot, along with this earlier one, is better than anything I've seen put out by the high budget campaigns of Mayor Greg Ballard and Melina Kennedy.

On Second Thought, We'll Take That Contribution Back

Obviously, an attorney for the Portage Economic Development Corporation figured out that it's against the law for the nonprofit agency to make a campaign contribution to Mayor Olga Velazquez's re-election campaign and advised it to seek reimbursement of the contribution. According to the Northwest Indiana Times, it's not the only illegal campaign contribution the Democratic mayor's campaign has been forced to return:

After initially defending a $500 contribution to Mayor Olga Velazquez, the Portage Economic Development Corp. has decided to ask for the money back.
PEDCO Executive Director Bert Cook said the group decided not to exercise its right to lobby with up to 20 percent of its annual expenditures and will amend its bylaws to prohibit that type of activity in the future.
"We never did it in the past and don't want to do it in the future," he said.
If PEDCO, as a nonprofit organization, would exercise its lobbying rights, it would have to pay excise tax on the money spent for that purpose, Cook said.
Cook continued to defend his group's intention in attending the Sept. 19 golf outing, which was to network with the city's business and community leaders.
Velazquez said Wednesday she had no problem returning the money, but it's not up to her campaign to determine if contributions are appropriate or legal.
"The onus is on the donor," she said.
Velazquez had returned $3,500 last month to the NorthShore Health Centers and $1,000 to Arnell Chevrolet in Burns Harbor after discovering the contributions potentially violated campaign finance laws.
Velazquez' excuse that it isn't up to her to determine if campaign contributions are legal or appropriate is laughable in this case. She sits on the economic development agency's board of directors and should understand that it is essentially the economic development arm of the city government she runs. 

Star Endorses Scales Over Poulakidas

The Star's editorial board makes its first endorsements today in 8 of the 25 district council races. Included in today's endorsements is an endorsement of Republican incumbent Christine Scales over Democrat Kostas Poulakidas, who has been running a dirty campaign against Scales that included a post card to voters impersonating her. Naturally, the Star's editors and reporters are too stupid to realize that a mailing through the U.S. mail impersonating another person is a criminal offense, but I digress. At least there wasn't the fiasco there was four years ago when the Star's editors first endorsed Scales' opponent because they claimed she was a no show for her interview with the editorial board. It turned out a member of their staff lied and never scheduled an interview for Scales. When pressed on the endorsement blunder, the editorial board bactracked and withdrew its endorsement of her opponent and chose not to make any endorsement at all in District 4. Perhaps the most perplexing of today's endorsements is an endorsement of Monroe Gray, the embattled former City-County Council President whom the editorial board once called upon to resign his seat because of his grossly unethical miscues. Yeah, it pretty much discredits their judgment, doesn't it? Here's a rundown of today's endorsements:

District 1-Susan Blair (R)
District 2-Angela Mansfield (D)
District 3-Ryan Vaughn (R)
District 4-Christine Scales (R)
District 5-Ginny Cain (R)
District 6-Janice McHenry (R)
District 7-Maggie Lewis (D)
District 8-Monroe Gray (D)

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

State GOP Chairman Charges Democrats With Forgery For Post Card Targeting Scales

I've told you about it here and here how the Indiana Democratic Party on behalf of the District 4 council candidate, Kostas Poulakidas, sent out a post card to voters in the district represented by Republican Christine Scales impersonating her. The post card gave voters the impression Scales was sending them a post card asking for their vote from her family's vacation condominium in Naples, Florida, leaving the impression she primarily lives there and not in her district on Indianapolis' northeast side. Here's Indiana Republican Party Chairman Eric Holcomb's angry reaction to the direct mail piece accusing the Democrats of forgery:

Today, Indiana Republican Party Chairman Eric Holcomb demanded to know who was behind a mailer sent to residents of Indianapolis' 4th City-County Council District in the form of a postcard from Florida purported to be from Republican Councillor Christine Scales. The postcard included a note that looked like Scales had written it herself meant to confuse and mislead voters in her district. Following the news that hundreds of signatures on nominating petitions were forged in St. Joseph County in 2008, this is yet another documented episode of Indiana Democrats caught forging the signatures and writing of individuals for their own political gain.
"You'd think the Indiana Democrat Party had learned its lesson that forgery is a crime. Obviously not," said Chairman Holcomb. "It seems Indiana Democrats' forgery operation has expanded to campaign mailers. So now we need to know: who's accountable for this latest stunt? Did Chairman Dan Parker sign off on this deceptive and fraudulent mail piece?"
Holcomb added, "We have yet another example of why it's time for the Indiana Democrat Party to clean house. Their belief that the ends justify the means is just plain wrong. In the Indiana Democrat Party's Culture of Corruption, defrauding and misleading Hoosiers voters is the name of the game. The buck has got to stop with someone, but who?"
As I reported earlier, I believe Poulakidas' campaign paid for and authorized the post card mailed out by the Indiana Democratic Party. Campaign finance records filed by Poulakidas' campaign last week indicate that he has contributed $12,300 to the state party committee. It is unlikely that donation was made just out of generosity; rather, it was likely made to reimburse the party for the cost of the mailing. I believe the post card arguably violates not only the criminal statute for forgery, which is a Class C felony, but also Indiana's Election Code, which required a disclaimer indicating whether Poulakidas authorized the direct mail piece since it obviously was sent out for the purpose of advocating her defeat, even if it impersonated a message from her to voters.

UPDATE: If you wanted further evidence that the Star's political columnist Matt Tully is just a tool for the corrupt political insiders in this town, check out this exchange he had with another person on his Twitter account:

What is your opinion on the Kostas mailer against Scales? Just another political mailer or did it cross the line?
in reply to

Litebox Deal Looks Light On Details

The Indianapolis Star and all of the local TV stations ran with headline stories of the big economic development announcement today promising to bring more than 1,000 jobs to Indianapolis. "We're bringing back the drive-in movie theater, but it's going to be a digital version, and on wheels," Bob Yanagihara, founder of Litebox, Inc. told the Star. Develop Indy's CEO, Scott Miller, described it as "one of the biggest jobs announcements for the city in recent years. Gov. Mitch Daniels and Mayor Greg Ballard are scheduled to make a formal announcement in a couple of hours, along with Yanagihira. I tried in vein to find out information about this company online and came up short. The company's website has nothing more than a short video clip of the product concept and the contact information for Yanagihara. [The link to the company's website brought up an error message when I posted this story saying the bandwidth limit had been exceeded. Not real encouraging for a supposed tech-savvy company.] As the Star describes this new, untested product:

Yanagihara's unusual product calls for a towering video screen mounted on the back of a semitrailer truck. The truck can show up at any site on short notice and play first-run movies, live-streamed concerts and sports.
What's the market for this product? I can't imagine that there are enough buyers today to justify opening up a manufacturing facility to build a product that costs $3 million a piece in the worst economic times since the Great Depression. If the state and local economic development officials weren't skeptical, at least the IBJ's Cory Schouten is expressing some skepticism. Schouten writes:

A West Hollywood man with a short entrepreneurial resume came to Indiana with a big idea to build hundreds of trucks outfitted with giant video screens.

The product is unproven, and so is Bob Yanagihara, the ambitious 50-year-old who dreamed it up.

But Yanagihara said the key word when he met with state and city economic development officials: jobs.

He's scheduled to stand alongside Indiana Gov. Mitch Daniels and Indianapolis Mayor Greg Ballard Wednesday afternoon to announce his plans to build a $21 million manufacturing plant on the northeast side and create more than 1,000 jobs.

His company, Litebox Inc., stands to collect training grants and property-tax abatement worth a total of $11 million if it creates the promised jobs, local economic development officials said. The deal doesn't pose much risk to local governments since the company won't receive tax breaks or grants unless it lives up to its promises.

Yanagihara had pegged the incentive deal's value at $40 million in an interview with IBJ Tuesday evening, but on Wednesday said he had Indiana's offer confused with one from another state . . .
Yanagihara told Schouten the company would eventually employ at least 10,000 employees in all 50 states. How could he know that today with an unproven, untested product that costs this much money to buy? Schouten says the deal originated with DevelopIndy. "It's an ambitious plan. We all recognize that," Todd said. "We have to trust the information we're being given, as we do with all clients." Just chew on this claim Yanagihara makes to Schouten:

Yanagihara told IBJ his company expects to create 1,200 to1,400 jobs locally, paying salaries between $30,000 and $150,000.

He said the new factory near 86th Street and Georgetown Road would churn out eight mobile entertainment trucks per month, with 300 people working on them at a time in three shifts. More than 300 additional employees would work at a "media production office" at 146 E. Washington St., a building Yanagihara said he plans to renovate. Litebox has not yet hired a contractor to build its factory, Todd said. It plans to own, not lease, the space.

The company has not yet built any of the mobile entertainment semitrailers, which will feature 47-foot-tall, high-definition screens. The finished products would sell for about $3 million apiece and feature Panasonic LED screens and Bose sound equipment. Programming would be beamed to the devices by satellite.

"There's demand for these all over the world," Yanagihara said.
Who says there's a demand for this product all over the world? Never forget the old saying that if it sounds too good to be true, it probably is. Now, check out what Yanagihara's past business experience consists of according to Schouten:
Yanagihara said his prior business experience includes selling medical devices and floor tile. (He owns a tile shop called Creative Environments in Los Angeles). His most recent entrepreneurial effort was a website called that is no longer online. (He said his team is revamping the site's design for a relaunch).

Twitter photo of Yanagihara (Durham wannabe?)
Yeah, I'm real comforted knowing that.  I'm a little bit more than concerned that our state and local officials may have set themselves up for a major public embarrassment if they have not fully vetted this guy, his company and his concept. Public taxpayer dollars are on the line here. If this deal doesn't live up to its promises, we might see a lot of people pointing fingers at each other trying to avoid the blame. State economic development officials won't tell Schouten what vetting they did on this proposed development prior to making its commitment of public financial assistance. My guess is there wasn't much vetting at all.

Check out Yanaghira's Twitter account here. Nothing posted on it since June 28 when he mentioned he was having pizza in Manhattan Beach, California. There's only one, one-word mention of Litebox back on April 20. Wouldn't you expect him to have had something to say about today's big announcement in Indianapolis today on his Twitter account? Also, check out this YouTube clip promoting the product. Not overly inspiring stuff.

UPDATE: It looks like the Star is having second thoughts about this project after the feedback generated from reporting by this blog and the IBJ. Jeff Swiatek offers these clues that this deal is not what it first appeared to state and local officials, who grew antsy and escorted the founder of Litebox away from reporters when he started crumbling under questioning:
The man behind the largest job-creating business expansion to be announced in Indianapolis this year was a bit vague on some key details Wednesday as he stood in a weedy field where the announcement was made . . .
A city development official led Yanagihara off after the public event, cutting short media questions about his planned $20 million factory near 84th Street and Georgetown Road on the Northwestside . . .
Questioned after the announcement, which drew Gov. Mitch Daniels, Mayor Greg Ballard and about 50 news media representatives and others, Yanagihara at first said his financial backers are "well-heeled" individuals whom he wouldn't name. Then he changed his mind, saying, "Actually it's just me."
A city official standing next to Yanagihara then interrupted, saying, "No, it's not just you."
So in the course of the press conference the head of this company goes from saying he has unnamed "well-heeled" financial backers to saying he is financing the start-up on his own. Hmmm. That city official who interrupted Yanagihara is Mike Gant, an employee of Develop Indy. A spokeswoman for the agency seemed confused why Gant identified himself to reporters as working for Yanagihara:

The official, Mike Gant, senior project director for the city's economic development arm, Develop Indy, also wouldn't go into detail about the project's financing. Gant also declined to give his name to reporters, telling them he worked for Yanagihara.
Melissa Todd, spokeswoman for Develop Indy, said she didn't know why Gant identified himself to the media as working for Yanagihara and not saying he was a Develop Indy official.
"Develop Indy will look into this incident. We clearly weren't trying to misrepresent anything to the public or media."
Today's economic development announcement fiasco for Litebox has all the hallmarks of one of those pivotal events late in a closely fought campaign that will be remembered as the turning point in favor of one candidate or the other. Given the current direction this story is taking, election day couldn't come soon enough for Mayor Greg Ballard. I've never seen a story that appeared to be such a big boost for one candidate in the closing days of a campaign turn as quickly as this story has in just a matter of a few short hours against that same candidate. I suspect the Democrats see blood in the water and are now going to go in for the kill, if the media doesn't do that job for them first.

Were Daniels and Ballard just punked by this guy? (Star photo)

Contribution By Nonprofit Economic Development Corporation Questioned

The Portage Economic Development Corporation on whose board the city's mayor, its city planner and city attorney serve, made a $500 campaign contribution to the re-election of Mayor Olga Velazquez (D) according to the Northwest Indiana Times. Typically, local governments establish these economic development agencies to act as an arm of the city in a quasi-governmental fashion and provide them with government financing. PEDCO's executive director defended the campaign contribution, claiming nonprofits are permitted to spend up to 20% of their expenses on lobbying, which is something altogether different from campaign contributions. He says because the contribution was made to participate in a golf outing, it did not view it as a campaign contribution to the mayor's re-election campaign.

Executive Director Bert Cook said his organization's decision to take part in Velazquez's Sept. 19 golf outing was for the purpose of networking among the city's business and community leaders.
"We weren't looking at it as a campaign contribution," he said.
Even if that were the case, Cook said his accountants assured him Tuesday the nonprofit has the legal right to spend up to 20 percent of its annual total expenditures on lobbying. The contribution for the golf foursome was taken from the marketing portion of the budget, which is made up of private contributions and other nontax dollars.
Cook said he intends to re-evaluate the decision to take part in the campaign fundraiser and probably will steer clear of this type of event in the future . . .

Velazquez said PEDCO's participation in the golf outing was a legitimate expense and any questions being raised are just a diversion from the real issues in the mayoral race.

"Let's get back to the issues of this campaign," she said . . . 
If that's not disturbing to you, consider the fact that the Portage Township School Corporation purchased a $500 ticket to that same golf outing fundraiser for the mayor out of its athletic department budget.

The Portage Township School Corp. also is re-evaluating a decision by its high school athletic department to take part in the same golf outing for a contribution of $500.
I'm not sure who is advising these entities that it is perfectly okay to make campaign contributions out of a nonprofit's budget or a school corporation's budget, but I'm pretty sure it's illegal. It's necessary to set up separate political action committees that are funded separately and operated separately in order to engage in partisan political activities. At any rate, economic development corporations have stayed above the political fray for the most part in this state and attempted to appear as nonpartisan as possible, primarily so they could justify continued government financial support. For this reason, there have been concerns raised about Indianapolis merging the Chamber of Commerce with the City's economic development arm, in large part, because the Chamber has historically endorsed and supported candidates for political office. As for the school corporation, I've never heard of a school corporation thinking it could legally support a candidate in a political race with a contribution. It looks like the State Board of Accounts has some educating to do.

Star Splits Endorsements in At-Large Council Races

There are four at-large candidates for City-County Council who will be elected in the November 8th municipal election. The Star editorial board has given its endorsement to two Republicans and two Democrats. Libertarian Bill Levin, who has been running a high profile, if unconventional campaign, failed to convince the Star's editorial board that a Libertarian should have a shot at one of the seats. Their choices:

Zach Adamson (D)
John Barth (D)
Barbara Malone (R)
Angel Rivera (R)

You can read about their endorsements here.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Illinois Preparing Huge Tax Breaks To Keep CME From Relocating To Indiana Or Elsewhere

A Crain's Chicago Business report recently suggested that Indiana economic development officials were enticing the Chicago Mercantile Exchange with an economic development deal valued at $150 million annually to relocate to Indiana. Gov. Mitch Daniels denied such a deal had been offered to the company, but Illinois officials aren't taking anything for granted. The Illinois General Assembly is now considering the approval of huge tax breaks for CME to keep it in Chicago. From the Chicago Tribune:

Chicago's financial exchanges would see a 50 percent decrease in their Illinois corporate income tax bills under legislation introduced Monday afternoon by Senate President John Cullerton, D-Chicago.
Illinois would tax a fraction of the income generated by the Chicago Mercantile Exchange, the Chicago Board of Trade and the Chicago Board Options Exchange, all of which have threatened to move operations out of state after Illinois temporarily raised its income tax earlier this year.

The bill, which would reduce the exchanges' taxes by tens of millions of dollars, attempts to limit levies on income attributed to Illinois-based transactions and would continue to fully tax income derived from open-outcry transactions on trading floors in Chicago. But those transactions represent a small slice of business now, with most activity having migrated to electronic trading.

Under the proposal, only 27.54 percent of income stemming from electronic trading and clearing fees would be subject to Illinois' corporate income tax, compared with 100 percent now. A spokesman for Cullerton added that the legislation could change in the days ahead.

Michael Shore, a spokesman for CME Group Inc., parent of the Merc and the Board of Trade, declined to comment. But CME Executive Chairman Terrence Duffy told Bloomberg News earlier this year that his company paid $150 million to Illinois last year . . .

Will There Be An Investigation Of Poulakidas' And The Democrats' Illegal Attack On Scales?

A post card mailed out by the Indiana Democratic Party on behalf of the campaign of its Democratic candidate for the city-county council District 4 seat currently represented by Christine Scales apparently violated several laws, in addition to being a new low in negative direct mail pieces. The offending post card impersonated Scales by leaving voters with the impression she had handwritten a note on the post card to them from Naples, Florida where her family owns a condominium. It suggests she hasn't had time to devote to her work on the council because she has been spending a lot of time in Florida instead of her northeast side district where her family actually lives. The truth is that Scales has an exemplary attendance record at council meetings and regularly attends neighborhood meetings and events in her district. It also suggests she owns a million-dollar home in the condominium community depicted on the post card, which is also false.

To affix some one's name to a written statement as if the statement was made by the named person is forgery, a Class C felony. The applicable statute is I.C. 35-43-5-2(b), which reads:
A person who, with intent to defraud, makes, utters, or possesses a written instrument in such a manner that it purports to have been made:
(1) by another person;
(2) at another time;
(3) with different provisions; or
(4) by authority of one who did not give authority;
commits forgery, a Class C felony.
Because the U.S. Mail was used to perpetrate the crime, it also raises the question of whether it violates the federal mail fraud statute as well. The post card obviously had its intended effect. Scales received a number of phone calls from voters asking why she had sent them the post card under the mistaken belief she had sent it to them. The criminal violations don't end there though.

The post card contains a disclaimer that it was paid for and authorized by the Indiana Democratic Party. Because the purpose of the direct mail piece was to advocate for the defeat of Scales by impersonating her in a negative light by name, it should contain a disclaimer specifically stating whether it was authorized by her opponent, Kostas Poulakidas, pursuant to I.C. 3-9-3-2.5. Violation of the disclaimer law is a Class A misdemeanor.

According to a recent campaign finance disclosure report filed by Poulakidas' campaign, he made donations totaling $12,300 to the Indiana Democratic Party. Most observers believe Poulakidas' contributions made to the state party were made to cover the cost of direct mail pieces the state party has been sending out to voters in his district on his behalf. It is incomprehensible to think that Poulakidas did not have advance knowledge of the offending mail piece and approved of it being mailed out. The use of the state party to mail out the post card is simply a ruse to put distance between himself and the offending piece.

In e-mails responding to criticism of the direct mail piece, Poulakidas has sought to deflect attention to it by falsely accusing Scales of saying he and his wife were bad parents because she questioned whether he had time to devote full time to the job as she does given that he is a partner at a big law firm and that his wife has worked full time until recently for DevelopIndy, the economic development agency for the City of Indianapolis, and that the two of them have young children. Poulakidas is also angry that Scales has brought attention to the fact that his work as an attorney/lobbyist creates many conflicts of interest for him if he was elected to the council. Regardless of what Poulakidas offers as a justification for sending out the offending direct mail piece, as an attorney, he should know what the law provides and stay within its bounds. He and the Indiana Democratic Party should now face the consequences for blatantly violating the law.

UPDATE: Here's the text of an e-mail Poulakidas sent to a voter defending the post card attack against Scales:

I do appreciate your email. When Christine talked with you about the postcard, did she mentioned that for the last 3-4 months part of her campaign platform has been that my wife and I are bad parents because we are working parents so are not qualified to serve in public office? (which is factually incorrect, as my wife stays at home with our daughters). Did she tell you about some of the false information she has put out on the blogs? Did she also tell you that in her last campaign against a Democrat they both made a public pledge not to go negative, then she gave the Republican Party $10,000 who then dropped a very nasty negative, and factually incorrect ad on the Democrat the weekend before the election timed so that the Democrat did not have time to respond? The Democrat lost by 1%. Did she share all these items with you?

I do agree that character is important but what does it say about someone’s character when they bring your family into the campaign, what does it say when they come to your door and but fail to tell you all negative attacks they are doing. I do appreciate your email, and hope to get your vote, but I also know that decision is up to you and can only hope you research all the facts before doing so.
It's unclear what "false information" Poulakidas is accusing Scales of posting on blogs. As to his claim that his wife is a stay-at-home mom, until recently, the DevelopIndy website according to Scales listed her as an employee working as a business developer. The direct mail piece he complains of from the last election was a generic piece the Republican Party sent out on behalf of its Republican council candidates entitled, "The Party's Over", which attacked the Democratic-controlled council for raising taxes and submitting budgets with blank pages during the budget approval process. The direct mail piece did not personally attack Scales' opponent; rather, it tied her to her party's actions over the previous four years since she was running on a platform supporting their actions. Scales says that she discussed with Poulakidas entering into an agreement earlier in the campaign agreeing not to engage in negative campaigning against each other. Poulakidas refused her offer. "He wanted me to know that he was not interested in such an agreement, Scales says. "He added that things would come out, but they 'wouldn't be from him', and that I shouldn't 'take them personally.'" Scales continued, "At our first candidate forum, he told the audience that I had been missing in action on a zoning case that involved his neighborhood." "Afterwards, I sent him a string of about 7 emails proving my involvement in the particular zoning matter and asked him to please not mischaracterize my record again," Scales said. Poulakidas never responded. Scales also points out that she turned down a $9,000 campaign contribution during her race four years ago that was intended to pay for a negative attack ad against her opponent. Scales told the supporter she wouldn't "sell her soul" to win a race.

Monday, October 24, 2011

Hamilton County Election Board Dismisses Complaint Against Carmel Council President With Shades Of Charlie White

A Hamilton County election complaint that strongly resembles a case Democrats brought against Charlie White while he was running for Secretary of State challenging his eligibility to run for the office was recently dismissed with little fanfare. Carmel City Council President Eric Seidensticker, who is running for re-election in next month's municipal election, moved out of the marital residence he owns with his wife in June and moved in with his father, who lives outside his council district, as a result of marital discord. Last week, the Hamilton Co. Election Board briefly heard testimony on an anonymous complaint that had been filed against Seidensticker questioning his eligibility to run for re-election and serve on the Carmel City Council. According to an online Carmel newspaper, Current In Carmel, the election board unanimously voted to dismiss the complaint. According to Kevin Kane, Seidensticker believes someone filed the case for personal and not political reasons:

Seidensticker went before the board Friday to respond to an anonymous statement sent to the board questioning his residency and council eligibility. A motion to send the complaint to the prosecutor’s office for further investigation failed for lack of a second, and a subsequent motion to dismiss the complaint was later approved.
Seidensticker said before the meeting that he has temporarily been staying outside his home on Ash Drive as a result of a family matter, but that his permanent residence remains unchanged.

“That’s where I’m paying my mortgage,” he said.

Under Indiana Code, a member of a common council “forfeits office if the member ceases to be a resident of the district or city.” And residence, under Indiana Code, is defined as “where a person has the person’s true, fixed, and permanent home and principal establishment; and to which the person has, whenever absent, the intention of returning.”

The board determined that there was insufficient evidence of Seidensticker’s intent to make a permanent residence outside of his district.

“The code is gray in this area; the code does provide some language for temporary residency,” board member Keith Clock said. “Unless someone can file a formal complaint that’s not anonymous with some proof that there’s intent to leave the district, I’m not seeing a violation yet.”

Some of Seidensticker’s fellow councilors came to his defense on Friday. Councilwoman Luci Snyder presented a letter from Clerk-Treasurer Diana Cordray stating that Seidensticker’s paychecks from the city are still mailed to his address on Ash Drive, and Councilman Kevin Rider said he was “offended” that such a meeting was necessary.

“Does anyone else see the flavor of this?” he said. “First of all, it’s anonymous. It’s shameful. It’s slanderous. (Seidensticker’s) character is so far above this. I’m offended for (him). I’m offended by this procedure. I’m offended that any of us have to sit here and talk about this.”

Seidensticker said he was “confident this is not a political issue but a personal one.”
It's interesting that the Democratic Co. Chairman Keith Clock views Seidensticker's case as a "gray area" where someone is claiming a "temporary residence," but he viewed Charlie White's case as a black and white case. Democrats didn't think the law was gray at all when Charlie White used his former marital residence as his voting address for a short period before moving into a new condominium he purchased to live in with his second wife following their marriage, and also while he was serving on the Fishers Town Council. A special prosecutor charged White with vote fraud, marriage license fraud and mortgage fraud, as well as a theft charge for drawing a pay check for serving on the Fishers Town Council for a several month period that he lived outside his district. White actually returned the salary he had earned during the months in question after he resigned, even though he fulfilled his duties as an elected council member while acting under color of law.

I believe the Hamilton Co. Election Board's ruling in Seidensticker's case was entirely appropriate based on the facts, but it does point up just how unfair the special prosecutor's multi-count criminal indictment against White is. Whether you like White or not, the law has been interpreted in a way that it has never been interpreted before in the history of this state, and in a way that it is being used to personally crush and destroy him. Isn't it curious how people in the Indiana legal community who profess to be advocates for social justice don't believe it should be accorded to someone like White simply because they dislike him politically?

More On Can Lawyers Rely On Online Case Law Databases To Research Obama's Eligibility

A New Jersey attorney and blogger, Leo Donofrio, has determined that a major online legal research engine, Justia, scrubbed references to a key U.S. Supreme Court decision on the meaning of the words "natural born citizen" in the U.S. Constitution respecting a person's eligibility to be president of the United States from dozens of cases in its database in the lead up to the 2008 presidential election. Donofrio's research in July found two cases in which references to Minor v. Happersett had been removed. Further research by Donofrio reveals the disturbing extent to which the online legal database, Justia, tampered with reported U.S. Supreme Court decisions concerning the meaning of natural born citizen, an act Donofrio contends represents a federal criminal offense:

New evidence conclusively establishes that 25 U.S. Supreme Court opinions were sabotaged then republished at during the run up to the ’08 election. My prior report documented the scrubbing of just two cases. But last week, a third sabotaged case was discovered which led to a thorough examination of all US Supreme Court cases which cite “Minor v. Happersett” as they appeared on between 2006 and the present.

Since Justia placed affirmations on each tampered opinion which state “Full Text of Case”, personnel may also be guilty of violating 18 U.S.C. 1018 by intentionally passing off tampered versions of US Supreme Court opinions as if they were official versions published by the US Supreme Court.

At this point, we do not know who committed these acts of sabotage. Since neither Obama nor McCain meet the Supreme Court’s definition of a “natural-born citizen” in Minor v. Happersett, the deception might have been undertaken on behalf of either one.

Regardless of who you supported in 2008, or whether you agree with the assertion of Minor’s relevance, every American should be outraged that 25 Supreme Court cases were surgically sabotaged and then passed off to the public as if the tampered versions contained the “Full Text of Case”. This is the very definition of “Orwellian” fascism. It’s propaganda. And there is no place for it in the United States. The sacrifices for truth and justice which created and have sustained this nation are wantonly debased by the subversive deception emanating from servers.

We do not know at this point if Justia personnel were behind this or if their site was hacked. That being said, Justia’s reaction to my last report mirrored the deception of the sabotage. Instead of addressing the proof, Justia quietly and with stealth un-scrubbed the evidence without acknowledging or addressing the issue at all. And they placed “.txt robots” on their URL’s for the two previously identified cases so the Wayback Machine could no longer provide historical snapshots of those cases as published at Justia.
Donofrio alleges that not only was the case citation to Minor v. Happersett removed from the 25 cases he uncovered, but in some cases, entire sentences of text from the cases were removed as well. In some instances, the name of the case was removed, but the citation to it was left intact. The offending text of Minor v. Happersett, which cast doubt on both Barack Obama's and John McCain's eligibility to serve as president, was the following passage:

“The Constitution does not in words say who shall be natural-born citizens. Resort must be had elsewhere to ascertain that. At common law, with the nomenclature of which the framers of the Constitution were familiar, it was never doubted that all children born in a country of parents who were its citizens became themselves, upon their birth, citizens also. These were natives or natural-born citizens, as distinguished from aliens or foreigners.”

Obama's eligibility under this interpretation is put in doubt because his father was never a U.S. citizen, notwithstanding his birth to a U.S. citizen mother in the state of Hawaii. McCain, although the child of two U.S. citizens, was born in a hospital in Panama while his father was stationed at a naval base in that country. Because he was not born within the United States, his natural born citizen status was questioned by some legal scholars. Donofrio often cited to the Minor v. Happersett decision on his blog during the 2008 presidential election to support his contention that neither Obama nor McCain satisfied the definition of a natural born citizen. His critics contended Minor's only precedential value was as a voting rights case and not citizenship because the central issue was the constitutionality of the denial of the right to vote to women in this country prior to the passage of the 19th Amendment. The critics deemed the case to be overruled by the adoption of the 19th Amendment granting the constitutional right to vote to women for the first time. According to Donofrio's research, Supreme Court decisions as recent as 1980 continue to cite to Minor v. Happersett, thus the argument it was overturned by the passage of the 19th Amendment is false.

Donofrio sees the tampering with the cases citing to the case in Justia's database as a federal crime under 18 U.S.C. 1018, which reads as follows:

Whoever, being a public officer or other person authorized by any law of the United States to make or give a certificate or other writing, knowingly makes and delivers as true such a certificate or writing, containing any statement which he knows to be false, in a case where the punishment thereof is not elsewhere expressly provided by law, shall be fined under this title or imprisoned not more than one year, or both.

Because he found 25 instances where the content of federal decisions had been altered to prevent legal researchers from using the Supreme Court decision for precedential value, he believes each instance represents a separate federal crime carrying a prison sentence of one year. Donofrio writes:

In every case that was tampered, the words “Full Text of Case” appear on each scrubbed opinion. Since the cases were intentionally sabotaged by the removal of text, the affirmation at the top of each page which indicated that one is reading the “Full Text of Case” is knowingly false. It’s the inclusion of this intentionally false statement which makes this a crime under the statute.
Justia's founder, Tim Stanley, originally founded Findlaw, which he sold to Westlaw in 2001 for $37 million. West later sued Stanley for violating a non-compete agreement after he started up, which operates very similarly to Findlaw. According to Donofrio's report, the American Association of Law Libraries has been briefed on the matter, as well as a number of other heavyweights in the legal publishing business. According to Donofrio, Stanley is a practicing lawyer in the state of California. His business is located in Mountain View, California.

Friday, October 21, 2011

Democrats Charged In Massive Vote Fraud Scam In Jennings County

Photo of Mike Marshall from The Voting Film Project
A former state representative and prominent Democratic leader and political consultant from Jennings County, Mike Marshall, has been indicted on multiples counts of vote fraud, forgery and perjury, along with Marshall's son, Chris, and another local Democrat, John Cook. The Columbus Republic has the story on the grand jury indictments just returned against the men:

Three Jennings County residents face a combined 65 felony counts after being indicted by a grand jury on charges of vote fraud, forgery and perjury.

Mike Marshall, a Democrat and president of North Vernon's Utilities Service Board, faces 12 Class D felony counts of forgery, 13 Class D felony counts of perjury and 20 Class D felony counts of vote fraud, according to paperwork filed with the Jennings County clerk's office.

Marshall's son Chris Marshall faces one count each of forgery and perjury and nine counts of vote fraud.

John Cook, a Democrat and member of the Utilities Service Board, faces two counts of forgery, three counts of perjury and four counts of vote fraud.

The case stems from an absentee ballot filed in last year's election.
Marshall, as the local Democratic party leader in Jennings County, has been credited in recent years with turning out incredibly large numbers of absentee ballots that have tipped several close races in favor of the Democrats, including a local state representative race that narrowly gave Democrats control of the Indiana House of Representatives a few years ago. Marshall was featured in The Voting Film Project, a documentary on the 2008 presidential election along with another Indiana Republican Party activist, Dee Dee Benkie. "On Election Day, Republicans and Democrats alike are stunned as Barack Obama defeats John McCain to carry not only North Vernon but the entire state of Indiana," the website promoting the documentary says. The website describes Marshall as "a savvy political consultant who has been in politics since he was 16, when he was the leader of The Birch Bayh Democratic Club."

This is not the first time Marshall has been at the center of controversy. Marshall, an openly gay man, started out running the campaign of Indiana's first openly gay congressional candidate, Kris Kiser, in Indiana's 7th congressional district in the 2006 primary race against former U.S. Rep. Julia Carson (D). Marshall left Kiser's campaign after a falling out with the candidate. There were also allegations of wrongdoing committed by Marshall when he ran Joe Donnelly's 2004 congressional campaign in the 2nd District concerning the misuse of campaign funds.

Vote fraud allegations have recently made headlines in the 2nd District after the South Bend Tribune and Howey Politics uncovered a massive petition-forging effort on behalf of the 2008 Indiana primary presidential campaigns of Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton that took place within the district in order for the two candidates to gain access to Indiana's Democratic primary ballot. The investigation discovered that without hundreds of forged signatures, Barack Obama's name would not have appeared on the primary ballot, a key turning point in his successful bid for the nomination over Hillary Clinton. Indiana Democratic Party Chairman Dan Parker forced the resignation of 2nd District Chair and St. Joseph Co. Democratic Chairman Butch Morgan despite Morgan's contention that he had nothing to do with the forging of the petition signatures. St. Joseph Co. Prosecutor Michael Dvorak, a Democrat, has agreed to investigate the allegations after the U.S. Attorney for the Northern District turned it down after receiving orders from the Obama Justice Department in Washington not to investigate the case, deferring to the state prosecutor. Following the petition-forging scandal, Democrats have launched their own investigation to try to prove that Republicans engaged in wrongdoing during the petition-gathering process for Sen. John McCain's 2008 presidential primary campaign in Indiana.

UPDATE: The Jeffersonville News & Tribune reports that Jeffersonville Mayor Tom Galligan accepted the reisgnation of Mike Marshall, who had been in charge of his campaign efforts to solicit absentee votes, following new of  today's indictment.
In a short interview on Friday, the mayor acknowledged that he’d been working with Marshall for the last eight months. He said he knew his family and that he had campaign experience working in the re-election campaign of Rep. Terry Goodin, a Democrat, and one of Southern Indiana’s state house representatives. 
Marshall was one of several people that Galligan personally thanked during his victory speech on primary night in May. According to the latest campaign finance reports, filed Friday, Galligan’s campaign paid Marshall’s business, North Vernon-based At Your Service Co., more than $52,710.23 through the year — almost a third of the campaign’s total expenditures. 
“He was in charge of getting out the vote,” Galligan said. When asked to elaborate on what those duties entailed, he referred questions to campaign manager Phil McCauley. 
McCauley said Marshall supervised a staff of about five people who would solicit eligible voters to vote by absentee ballot. Marshall and staff also made phone calls on Galligan’s behalf, McCauley said. 
McCauley said he had not heard about the indictment until a reporter called him about Friday afternoon. 
“It’s a stunner,” he said. 
He called Marshall and read him media coverage of the indictments over the phone. 
“He offered me his resignation on the spot,” McCauley said. 
“The reason we got Mike Marshall involved was because we thought he was squeaky clean. We wanted everything 100 percent clean,” McCauley said.
Yeah, right, McCauley must have been sleeping under a rock if he believed Mike Marshall was "squeaky clean." It was common knowledge in Democratic circles that Marshall was a master at absentee voter fraud. That was why they sought out his services.

Marion Co. Democrats And Kostas Poulakidas Hit New Low In Deceptive Mailer To Voters In Christine Scales' District

Voters in the 4th District city-county council district received what appears to be a post card greeting from their incumbent councilor, Christine Scales, from Naples, Florida. The post card depicts a million-dollar condo community and marina that is represented to be the vacation home of Scales' family in Naples, Florida. At the top of one side of the post card it reads:  "Naples, Florida has many glamorous million dollar homes, including the one owned by Indianapolis City County Councillor Christine Scales." It then includes this greeting that is represented to be a greeting to the voters of the district from Scales:

Hi! You probably haven't heard of me, but I'm your City-County Councilor! Florida has been great so that's why I haven't had time to spend on the crime, unemployment, flooding and drainage problems and abandoned properties throughout the city! Give me your vote and I'll sent you another postcard in 4 years when I need it again!


Does she really represent us?
According to a disclaimer on the post card, it was sent out by the Indiana Democratic Party. Scales tells me that she has received phone calls from elderly voters in her district confused that she had sent them the post card to them. They inquired of her why she wrote what she did to them on the post card? Other voters have contacted Scales to express their anger at its deception. The Democrats' and Poulakidas' hopes are that between confused voters and persons down on their luck in the bad economy that voters will be turned off voting for Scales.

For those who know Scales, they know her to be one of the most hard-working members on the City-County Council. She devotes countless numbers of hours representing the people of her district. Her Democratic opponent, Kostas Poulakidas, is a lobbyist/attorney for a big law firm who will have all kinds of conflicts of interest if he is elected to the council. In what may be a first for a candidate for the Indianapolis City-County Council, Poulakidas traveled this summer to attend a fundraiser put on for him by a group of Washington lobbyists and political insiders to raise money for his local council race. In what may be another first, Poulakidas was found by the Indiana Civil Rights Commission to have violated Indiana's Fair Housing Act for discriminating in the leasing of a condominium he owns in downtown Indianapolis. The National Fair Housing Alliance filed the complaint against Poulakidas because it believed he was trying to discriminate against single mothers with children. The ICRC agreed with NFHA. I suppose Poulakidas believes the only way he can win against an honest, hard-working councilor like Scales is to throw mud at her regardless of how deceptive he is to voters in the process.

UPDATE: Apparently, the Democrats are quite proud of their false and negative attack mail piece against Christine Scales that leaves voters with the impression she wrote this post card to voters in her district. The Indianapolis Time Blog has actually posted the offending attack mail piece as if it is something to be proud of:

After taking a look at the post card and understanding that some voters apparently are mistakingly believing that Christine Scales sent them this post card, someone should be calling for a criminal investigation against the Democratic Party for committing forgery and/or mail fraud. Impersonation of another person through written instrument, after all, is a felony.

UPDATE II: There also appears to be a violation of I.C. 3-9-3-2.5 because the piece arguably was mailed out for the purpose of opposing the re-election of Christine Scales. This statute required the post card mailed out by the Indiana Democratic Party to contain a disclaimer indicated one way or the other whether it was authorized by Kostas Poulakidas' campaign. A review of the recent campaign finance report filed by Poulakidas' campaign with the Marion Co. Election Board indicates that his campaign committee donated $12,300.00 to the Indiana Democratic Party to date. The inference to be drawn from the candidate's contributions to the state party is that he is financing the direct mail piece it sent out with its disclaimer. In other words, Kostas is trying to hide behind the state party to do its dirty work for him. Violation of the disclaimer law is a Class A misdemeanor.

Show Us The Evidence And The Law, Mr. Curry

Taking a page out of the Indiana Democratic Party's playbook, Marion Co. Prosecutor Terry Curry yesterday attempted to raise suspicions about the actions of Secretary of State Charlie White in providing information about the voting registration history of former U.S. Sen. Evan Bayh and his wife, Susan, to him in a complaint. Curry stated in a  press release he issued to the media announcing that he would not pursue vote fraud allegations against the Bayhs that it "appears that Mr. White may have used his official position to access, gather, and disseminate otherwise confidential voter information attached to his complaint." Curry said he was forwarding White's complaint to the Marion Co. Election Board so it could investigate the matter further. He suggested he would consider further action against White if it determined White had broken the law. Curry's press release provided no specific information that White provided in his complaint that was "confidential voter information", and he provided no statute to support his claim. White's attorney, former Marion Co. Prosecutor Carl Brizzi, had the following response to Curry's allegation:

"Everything Charlie gave them was public information," he said. "In fact, it's the same kind of public information the Democrats used when they went after Charlie for vote fraud."
I have re-read White's complaint. There is no information contained in it that is not publicly accessible information. In fact, it contains the same information that election boards throughout the state furnish to the respective parties. A Republican county chairman has also confirmed that the information contained in White's complaint is the same information any Republican Party leader can access in the GOP Voter Vault database of registered voters (i.e., name, date of birth, address, voting history, including whether the person voted in the Republican or Democratic primary and whether they voted absentee). As Brizzi notes in his response to the allegation, it contained the same type of information Democratic attorney Greg Purvis gathered on Charlie White and disseminated to the media during last year's Secretary of State race in an effort to discredit him in his bid for that office against Democrat Vop Osili. If White somehow broke state law, then the Democrats similarly broke the law. The Democrats have often resorted to information contained in a person's voter registration records to use against them in a hotly-contested political race. Only four years ago, Democrats accessed Greg Ballard's voting records and took him to task for his failure to cast a vote in a number of elections. News reporters, too, often request and receive similar information during the course of their reporting in political campaigns.

I have e-mailed Curry's press secretary, Brienne Delaney, requesting specifics on Curry's allegations citing the statute White allegedly violated and the specific information he provided in his complaint that violated state confidentiality laws. The news media, which long ago tried and convicted Charlie White, recklessly repeated Curry's allegations without requesting any substantiation from him in a further effort to discredit White. Ms. Delaney responded yesterday that she had left the office and did not have that information but would provide it to me today. If she provides me specifics on White's allegation, I will print her response here.

Brizzi says White never expected Curry to investigate the allegations against the Bayhs despite the common knowledge that he and his family live in their multi-million dollar Washington home and have never spent a night in the $58,000 condominium on the city's north side he and his wife are claiming as their voting address and upon which they claim a homestead property tax exemption. Persons knowledgeable with the Bayhs' occasional visits to Indianapolis confirm they stay in hotels when visiting the state. "He (White) wanted to show the inconsistent application of the election law," said Brizzi, a former Marion County prosecutor. "He wanted to say, 'Look, this stuff happens and no one ever gets prosecuted.' "

Unlike the charges against Bayh, in White's case there is no evidence that he has lived anywhere as a registered voter except for Hamilton County, Indiana. His uncontested residence in this state made him eligible to serve as Indiana's Secretary of State. Democrats and the highly partisan special prosecutor, Dan Sigler, have twisted the law in White's case to suggest he was not a legally registered voter and thus ineligible to run for the office because he voted in one election at his ex-wife's house before changing the voting address to a condominium he had purchased to live in with his second wife. White moved into the condominium following his marriage and changed his voting address prior to the next election as required by law. Even many Democrats quietly concede that they are frightened by the unprecedented application of the law against White. "Many prominent Democrats and Republicans alike would have been convicted of felonies based on this interpretation of the law," one long-time Democratic activist told me. The Democratic Party's likely nominee for governor next year, John Gregg, told one source that he believes White is being unfairly singled out.

UPDATE: Here's the written response I received from Brienne Delaney in Curry's office:

In reference to your email, concerning the confidentiality of information contained in the documents provided to the Marion County Prosecutor’s Office by Charles White, the following code citations at a minimum would appear to apply:

IC 3-7-26.3-4(b) states that the Statewide Voter Registration List is to be used only for “voter registration and election administration and for no other purpose.”

IC 3-7-26.4-8(c) states that “The election division shall not provide information under this section concerning any of the following information concerning a voter:

- (1) Date of Birth
- (2) Gender
- (3) Telephone number or electronic mail address
- (4) Voting history
- (5) Voter identification number or another unique field established to identify a voter
- (6) Date of registration of the voter

These sections of the Indiana Code appear to apply to the documents Mr. White delivered to our office as attachments to his “complaint.” Among the documents delivered by him were seventeen un-redacted screen shots from the electronic Statewide Voter Registration System (SVRS) that show, in historic detail from 1986, all the information listed above about the Bayhs.
As you are aware, we have forwarded all information provided to MCPO to the Marion County Election Board, which in turn has the statutory authority to determine if there is substantial reason to believe an election law violation has occurred and, if so, to expeditiously make an investigation. Ind. Code 3-6-5-31.

The explanation offered by Curry's office for why it thinks White violated state law is based on an entirely faulty premise. It assumes the information he obtained came from the Indiana Elections Division office. White has said he did not get the information from the Elections Division, and he did not use any state employees of his office or the division to assist him in getting the information. Instead, he requested the information through a public records request he submitted to the Hamilton Co. voter registration office. The documents referenced as being attached to White's complaint were the documents the Hamilton Co. office furnished to him in response to his public records request. White does not believe the documents produced to him contained any information that the Hamilton Co. voter registration office was not allowed to release to him as a public record. Regardless, it is the public agency producing the documents responsibility to redact any information that is not to be disclosed to the public. White adds that he only furnished the documents attached to his complaint to Curry's office; he did not include them with copies of the complaint he distributed to the media. In addition, the statute referenced by Curry's office is only an admonition to the state's Election Division concerning information it shall not release to the public about a voter. As I've noted above, this sort of information is regularly requested and obtained by the media, candidates and members of the public during political campaigns. Both parties purchase the information in electronic format from the Elections Division periodically and the Republican Party has this information stored in its Voter Vault database to which a large number of party leaders are given access. It's quite clear that Curry's purpose in making the accusation against White was a shot from the hip intended to discredit him for raising the issue about the Bayhs continuing to vote in Marion County, notwithstanding the fact that they don't live here and are no longer conducting the people's business as a United States Senator while residing in Washington.