Wednesday, November 30, 2011

ICVA Pulls Super Bowl Shuffle Parody Video In The Face Of Heavy Criticism

WRTV is reporting that the Indianapolis Convention & Visitors Association has pulled a parody video it produced of the Super Bowl Shuffle song featuring downtown hotel workers plugging Indianapolis' major hotels. The take off of the song made famous by the 1985 Chicago Bears' team that confidentally predicted the team's Super Bowl win that year was resoundingly mocked throughout the Indianapolis blogging community.
The Indianapolis Convention and Visitors Association billed the video as a marketing tactic aimed at Chicago meeting planners and business executives to build buzz ahead of the 2012 Super Bowl.
But what officials described as a cheesy video featuring tourism staffers and workers from seven downtown hotels in their own choreographed version of the 1985 Chicago Bears' "Super Bowl Shuffle" quickly garnered hundreds of critical comments and even a petition and a Facebook page asking city officials to pull it down.
As the feedback reached a critical mass online, ICVA removed the video from YouTube just before 8 p.m. Wednesday.
"Thanks for your passion about the city. We acknowledge making a mistake by going public with this and we accept fault. The video has been removed," wrote Jeff Robinson, the organization's creative director.
The YouTube video had nearly 8,000 views before the video was removed, but the dislikes outweighed the likes 3-1, and of the nearly 200 comments, almost all slammed the video as embarrassing and poorly done.
"If this gets too big, I'm not telling people I'm from here anymore," wrote Motsenbopper.
"So when you have to constantly fight against the perception of being a redneck backwater, it's better not to post video evidence," wrote klooper1965.
Some particularly outspoken critics started a Facebook page pleading to "make this abomination of a promotional video go away as soon as possible!"
I have to admit that the video was a really bad parody of the original Super Bowl Shuffle video recorded by the Chicago Bears. I hate to think how much money the ICVA spent on the production of it. The news story doesn't provide that bit of information. I would share the video on here, but it has already been pulled from the Internet. If the ICVA ever decides to do another parody video, it might look take a look at this quite humorous but well done parody law students for George Washington University Law Review produced parodying Cee Lo Green's "F_ _ _ You" song.

Here's the original Super Bowl Shuffle video produced by the 1985 Chicago Bears Team, which really wasn't all that special in retrospect, but it was unique at the time of its making (back when MTV still played music videos):

UPDATE: Ah, you're in luck. Someone uploaded the video to YouTube.

NFL And Its Affiliates Will Get Millions In Tax Breaks From Super Bowl

Indianapolis Super Bowl organizers are continually touting the economic windfall Indianapolis will receive from hosting the 2012 Super Bowl. The tab to Indianapolis taxpayers for improvements and additional public safety expenditures to host the event, however, could top $25 million. Moreover, a special state tax exemption enacted especially to benefit the NFL and its affiliates (all 12 of them) for agreeing to play the 2012 Super Bowl at Lucas Oil Stadium will cost state and local governments tens of millions of dollars in lost revenues.

The Indiana Department of Revenue recently released a directive that details the breadth of the exclusion afforded the NFL for the Super Bowl. Among the taxes from which the NFL and its affiliates will receive an exemption include the following:
  • sales and use taxes
  • motor fuel taxes
  • auto rental tax
  • food and beverage tax
  • innkeeper's tax
  • county admissions tax
  • adjusted gross income tax
  • withholding taxes on salaries and wages
If you add the tax breaks all up, the NFL and its affiliates are receiving tax breaks reaching into the tens of millions of dollars. The NFL's income from the Super Bowl is likely well north of $1 billion, including $275 million in television ad revenues and an even larger sum for broadcasting rights. The winning team members will be paid about $4.4 million for the game, while the losing team will be paid half that amount. That's over $6.5 million in wages that will be exempt from state and local withholding taxes. The winning team is given 150 gold and diamond Super Bowl rings worth about $5,000 a piece, a total value of $750,000 that will be exempt from sales and use taxes.

None of the NFL employees working at the Super Bowl will be subject to withholding taxes on their salary and wages, and none of their nights spent in Indianapolis hotel rooms will be subject to Indianapolis' high combined innkeeper's and sales tax of nearly 20%. Cars they rent for use in Indianapolis will be exempt from the auto rental tax, and any gas they purchase for those rented vehicles will be exempt from motor fuel taxes. In addition to the large staff deployed to Indianapolis to put on the event, the NFL presumably picks up the hotel tab for the competing teams' players (53-team roster), coaches and staff, exempting their hotel rooms from those taxes. The CIB will lose at least $2 million in admissions taxes that would otherwise be collected from ticket sales to the game. Any money the NFL spends on lavish entertainment during Super Bowl events will be exempt from the 9% combined sales, food and beverages taxes.

I'm guessing when the host committee boasts about the economic impact hosting the Super Bowl next year had on the city and state when it's all done and said, the tax expenditures laid out in preparation for and conducting the major event and the panoply of taxes from which the NFL was exempted from paying won't be factored into that equation. That's just a hunch. It's something to chew on, though, as you consider the fact that the NFL generates about $9 billion in revenues annually for its billionaire team owners and pays multi-million dollar annual salaries to many of its players.

Here's a post I published back in 2007 when the tax break was first being considered.

Lugar Could Have Gone Without Help From New York's Bloomberg

I realize Sen. Richard Lugar is in a fight for his political life in his Republican primary race against Indiana State Treasurer Richard Mourdock, but did his well-financed re-election campaign really need the baggage of being aided by New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg? Politico's David Catanese takes notice:

More ammunition for Richard Mourdock emanating out of the Big Apple as Sen. Dick Lugar gets ready for a fundraiser being hosted by New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg.
Quoting from a press release from Mourdock's campaign:

Indiana State Treasurer and U.S. Senate Candidate Richard Mourdock expressed his disbelief after learning that New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg, who bolted from the GOP in 2007 to become an independent, will be hosting a fundraiser at his upscale Manhattan residence for Senator Dick Lugar on December 5th. The price to "Chair" the event is $10,000.
Bloomberg turned heads in Indianapolis during the recent mayoral election when he kicked in $10,000 to help Democrat Melina Kennedy unseat Mayor Greg Ballard. Bloomberg, of course, hired former Indianapolis Mayor Steve Goldsmith, who regularly offers political advice to Ballard, as a deputy mayor in his administration before Goldsmith stepped down earlier this year in the wake of his arrest following a domestic dispute with his wife. Given the large campaign war chest he already has, this is one donation Lugar would have been wise to have passed up.

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Marion County Judge Gets Slap On Hand For Improper Campaign Solicitation

The Indiana Commission on Judicial Qualifications has given Marion Superior Court Judge Becky Pierson-Treacy a slap on the hand for sending out an improper fundraising solicitation that suggested those who donated to her campaign would receive favorable rulings from her court. Although the Commission determined that the solicitation warranted a formal disciplinary investigation, it issued an admonition of her instead because she "cooperated", acknowledges "she violated the Code of Judicial Conduct, and apologizes for engaging in conduct unbecoming of a judicial officer." The formal admonition reads:

The Commission admonishes Judge Pierson-Treacy for making inappropriate statements in a campaign fund-raising invitation which was distributed to Indianapolis area attorneys, judges, business persons and other professionals in August 2011. The objectionable material gave the appearance that specific campaign contributions could result in particular rulings.
Notable in the Commission's decision is their determination that the prominent Democratic attorneys whose names appeared on the solicitation had no knowledge of the solicitation's content before its distribution. Judge Pierson-Treacy and her husband, Marion Co. Democratic Party Chairman Ed Treacy, took full responsibility.

Instead, Judge Pierson-Treacy and her husband, Edward Treacy, created the fundraiser solicitation." Specifically, Judge Pierson-Treacy added the legal monikers to the "suggested contributions" section in an effort to make the invitation more interesting. Judge Pierson-Treacy then authorized the distribution of the invitations, and her husband's staff mailed them out.
The Commission's decision noted that the solicitation gave the appearance that "justice was for sale" in the judge's courtroom. Because Judge Pierson-Treacy cooperated in the investigation and acknowledged her misconduct, the Commission says she "will not be formally charged with ethical misconduct."

The Thief IMPD Refuses To Take Off The Streets

How many black, transgendered thieves/prostitutes can there be roaming the streets of downtown Indianapolis at night plying his/her trade and breaking and entering downtown homes and businesses at will and burglarizing them? Apparently too many for the keystone cops at IMPD to nab the person in the photo above. This individual has repeatedly broken into our building and others downtown. Police have looked at extensive video surveillance catching this thief in the act, but he/she continues to engage in criminal activities downtown with impunity. Last night was no different. After installing a $10,000 magnetic lock system recommended by IMPD to keep the thieves like this one out, this individual simply destroyed one of the historic doors of our building last night in an effort to gain entry. Mayor Ballard and Frank Straub, stop lying to us about crime statistics. I've lived in Indianapolis for more than 20 years. It has never been worse. It is extremely irritating to see so many police officers driving around downtown all the time, while these thieves can go about their criminal activities with impunity. We could give a damn less about your preparations for the Super Bowl. The public safety of your citizens must come first. Unbelievably, police try blaming downtown residents for "lack of awareness" rather than getting off their butts and doing something. We demand action now, Mr. Mayor.

Monday, November 28, 2011

Vaughn's Redistricting Plan Threatens Ballard's Relationship With Democratic-Controlled Council

Mayor Greg Ballard's approval of a plan by outgoing City-County Council President Ryan Vaughn to redraw precinct boundaries and the council's 25 single-member districts based on the 2010 census data threatens to spoil his relationship with the Democratic-controlled council before the new council is seated. Democrats are upset Vaughn spent $225,000 of the council's budget on a contract with Carmel attorney David Brooks to redraw precinct and council district boundaries. By state law, Ballard is responsible for redrawing the precinct maps. State law also requires the council districts to be redrawn based on the 2010 census during the calendar year 2012.

In an unusual move, Ballard delegated the precinct redistricting responsibility to Vaughn, who included the work in Brooks' contract to redraw the 25 council districts. Apparently Vaughn took it upon himself to enter into the contract with Brooks without discussing the matter with the full council. Naturally, Democrats are upset because they believe the newly-elected council, not the lame duck council, should be allowed to draw the district boundaries next year as provided by law. They also believed city employees could have been tasked to redraw the precinct boundaries without incurring any additional costs to taxpayers. It also appears the council redistricting work could have been done for a fraction of the cost Vaughn paid the Republican-connected Brooks to perform the work.

Laying that aside, Vaughn seems determined to move forward with his redistricting plans. He plans to introduce an ordinance approving the new maps at the council's December 5 meeting. He is also conducting three public hearings over the next ten days. Vaughn insists the maps are geographically compact, of similar population size and follow the new precincts map being simultaneously proposed. He also insists the proposed map is "politically competitive" and "designed to reflect the community with which it serves."

I took a quick review of the proposed 25 council districts. I found about 10 of the districts drawn to favor the Democrats, 9 of the districts drawn to favor the Republicans and just 6 of the districts that could be described as truly competitive. It also appears that about 9 of the 25 districts are majority-minority districts. As for the precinct maps, I can't discern what the new boundaries are because there is no street map overlay furnished with the map that has been distributed. The Democrats would have a tough sell convincing a court the council districts have been drawn to disadvantage minorities or the Democratic Party. They also seem to be relatively compact, although they probably could be slightly improved upon. It seems the Democrats' strongest argument is that Vaughn circumvented the law by drawing the district maps in the calendar year before the year set by statute. Whether a court would set aside the map if approved by the outgoing council and signed by Mayor Ballard is hard to predict. The Democrats have hinted they may take the matter to court if Republicans proceed as planned.

Ten years ago, the Republican-controlled council and then-Mayor Bart Peterson were unable to reach a compromise on a new map. The issue wound up in the Indiana Supreme Court, which drew the current council district map. At the moment, things appear headed towards the same train wreck that occurred then unless Mayor Ballard can reach some compromise with the Democrats. Council Democrats appear too angered with Vaughn to hope for any compromise between them. Mayor Ballard is going to have to decide if he wants to begin his new term battling with the Democratic-controlled council over this issue.

Unbelievable: Speedy And Day Want No Prison Time For Plowman

Talk about a slap in the face of your constituents. State Rep. Mike Speedy and City-County Councilor Susie Day are among friends and supporters of convicted extortionist/briber Lincoln Plowman urging U.S. District Judge Larry McKinney to sentence him to no jail time for the crimes it took a jury only a couple of hours to reach a verdict on. From the Star's Carrie Ritchie:

Family and friends of a former Indianapolis police officer and City-County Council member convicted of bribery and attempted extortion are rallying to try to keep him out of prison . . .
Last week, Plowman's attorney filed with the court 57 letters from Plowman's family, friends and colleagues, including State Rep. Mike Speedy, R-Indianapolis, and Republican City-County Councilwoman Susie Day. Many of those letters ask Judge Larry McKinney to consider punishment other than prison . . .
In their letters, Plowman's supporters paint him as a man who was always dedicated to his job and helping others. They said he recently lost his job at a Greenwood factory because of his felony convictions and now finds odd jobs, such as pulling weeds, to help pay the bills. They urged the judge to keep him out of prison so he can support his wife and two young sons.
Day, the City-County Council member, wrote that Plowman's tape-recorded conversations with the FBI depicted a side of Plowman she didn't know. She said she knew him as a tireless servant to his community. She shared stories of Plowman traveling south in 2005 to help victims of Hurricane Katrina.
"He had a sense of civic duty second to none," she wrote.
Speedy wrote that Plowman has suffered enough and doesn't need to be in prison to see the error in his ways.
"He will never hold elected office again," Speedy wrote. "He is financially devastated. . . . I hope and pray that you will see that he and his family have paid a big price for his poor choices already."

He added that the conviction alone has sent a strong message to local politicians.
Speedy and Day should be holding their heads in shame for arguing that Plowman should receive no prison time. Apparently the voters of her district knew what they were doing when they bounced Day from her council seat earlier this month if she thinks Plowman has "a sense of civic duty second to none." Plowman used both his position as a police officer and as a city councilor to line his own pockets while consorting with the sleaziest people in the community that operate strip clubs. Civic duty had nothing to do with figuring out how to use the public positions with which he had been entrusted to "get his take" as he described it.

Speedy's suggestion that Plowman's conviction has "sent a strong message to politicians" is laughable. They're getting rich at taxpayers' expense at a record pace. The worst offenders have not been brought to justice. I'm talking about the ones making millions of dollars from Indianapolis' pay-to-play activities that would make a Chicago pol blush. Speedy should be thankful Judge McKinney saved him from himself by refusing to allow him to testify at Plowman's trial. Yes, Speedy actually wanted to testify at his trial in an effort to convince jurors what they heard Plowman saying he was trying to do in recorded conversations with an undercover FBI agent was no different than what city councilors do all the time to help out their constituents with zoning issues.  

Unless Plowman is required to serve a healthy sentence for his crime, it will send a message to the politicians that crime pays, which it does for most of them since so many of them do it in Indianapolis with profitable results. Six years is the minimum time Plowman should serve. Plowman should consider himself lucky. The feds could have brought numerous other charges against him that they chose to ignore that would have proven that his nefarious activities didn't start and stop with the conversations he had with the undercover FBI agent posing as a strip club owner. Speedy and Day exercised very poor judgment in making public their belief that Plowman should receive no prison time for his crimes. I'm frankly shocked and disappointed by both of their actions, particularly Speedy's. He should no better.

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Will Ron Paul Be The Last Candidate Standing In The GOP Presidential Field?

One by one, each of the Republican presidential candidates seems to be self-destructing. Texas congressman Ron Paul may be the Rodney Dangerfield among the crowd of candidates who gets no respect, but he is arguably the only one of the candidates who has remained true to his political convictions throughout his political career. His consistency and integrity may be starting to pay off as the first 2012 election contests in Iowa and New Hampshire near.

Paul seems to be the candidate on the move in both states as support for the other major candidates in the field has resembled a roller coaster ride. He's running near the top of the field in Iowa according to the latest poll, and he's jumped to a second place showing in New Hampshire behind the heavy favorite, Mitt Romney, who served as governor of the neighboring state of Massachusetts. Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich seems to have become the latest flavor of the month among the GOP field as he soars in national polls, but I don't expect that ride to last much longer.

I still haven't made up my mind which candidate I will support, but if I were to base it on trust and principle at this point, Ron Paul would be a clear favorite. There is also no other candidate in the field who would upset the political establishment more than Paul, which adds to his attractiveness in my opinion.  The pure evil political manipulator, Karl Rove, has tried his best to marginalize Paul and his supporters, but Rove has never been a friend of people who believe in true Republican Party principles. Not surprisingly, Rove thinks Romney is the candidate the party should be backing. Romney hasn't held a political position yet in his career he wasn't willing to flip flop on. When a guy wants to argue about what his real first name is, he's got more than a credibility problem.

More Troubling Questions And Mystery About Litebox Founder

The Star has a pair of stories in its Sunday edition that raise more doubts and mystery about the founder of Litebox, a company to which Gov. Mitch Daniels and Mayor Greg Ballard have promised state and local economic development incentives for relocating its headquarters and building a manufacturing plant on Indianapolis' northwest side that will mass produce mobile, drive-in movie theaters. The first story builds on earlier reports by the Star detailing the checkered past of the founder, Bob Yanagihira, who it found had been sued by several creditor and had hundreds of thousands of dollars in unpaid taxes and judgment liens. Yanagahira refused to answer the Star's questions according to the story.
In the days following that news conference, The Indianapolis Star revealed that Yanagihara had not fully repaid hundreds of thousands of dollars in liens, including several for unpaid state and federal taxes.
But further investigation by The Star has found a litany of angry creditors in California, including some who claim he misled them about his intentions with their money.
That is particularly so with the Westwind real estate development, in the mid-2000s.
The Star has attempted multiple times to get Yanagihara's response to the various allegations. At Yanagihara's request, The Star emailed him a list of questions about the Westwind development and other business dealings.
He initially did not reply. When The Star followed up a week later, he emailed a picture of a sign from the baggage claim at Indianapolis International Airport.
"Welcome to Indianapolis," the sign says. Yanagihara offered no other response.
According to the story, Yanagihira convinced his girlfriend to invest her life savings, $200,000, in the Westwind real estate project. She later learned that he was married and had a child with another woman. She never saw her money or him again. Charlene DeLuca won a $233,000 judgment against Yanagihira in 2007 and has never received a dime of her money back. Another investor had a similar experience with Yanagihira and lost $125,000. A prominent home builder associated with the real estate deal decided to stop doing business with Yanagihira after running a background check on him, determining "that he was more talk than reality." The problems don't end there though:
The Star found a number of other troubling instances in Yanigahara's past, including:
Etile Inc., a company with Yanagihara's name attached to it, is listed with the California secretary of state as under suspension and is barred from doing business there. State officials said the company never submitted a tax return and never filed a required statement of information.
The state of California suspended and then revoked, in 2003, the contractors license for Creative Environments Inc. -- listed at the same Los Angeles address as Etile and another company run by Yanagihara. According to state officials, Creative Environments never paid a $1,000 citation that was issued when the company asked a customer for a down payment larger than allowed under California law.
The California Contractors State License Board cited Yanagihara in 2008 for contracting without a license. State officials said the fine never has been paid back.
Beyond his troubles with the state, there is a list of people who told The Star that Yanigahara either bailed on projects after receiving money, bounced checks or had to be evicted for not paying rent.
The Star's findings of Yanagihira's background make the newspaper's skepticism of him well-founded. IBJ publisher Mickey Mauer, a prominent Indianapolis businessman and philanthropist, however, penned a column critical of the Star's reporting. Maurer based his criticism on what he said he had learned from Litebox's principal investor, Alexander Capello, of Capello Group, Inc., the only other person known to be involved with Litebox. As Maurer noted in his column, Capello's investment firm has been associated with many successful business projects, which only adds further mystery and intrigue to the proposed Litebox project. The second Litebox story in today's Star explores Capello's involvement.
Alexander L. Cappello, managing director of Cappello Group Inc., told The Star he has known Yanagihara for years and is a stockholder in Litebox. He also is a director of RAND Corp.'s Center for Middle East Public Policy and The Cheesecake Factory Inc. and formerly served on the University of Southern California's board of trustees.
He expressed confidence in Litebox, which envisions building a 125,000-square-foot factory on a vacant lot at 84th Street and Bearing Drive, and said there is no shortage of investors for the company nor demand for its product.
Los Angeles-based Cappello said he stepped out from his behind-the-scenes role after Yanagihara's actions prompted questions about the legitimacy of the Litebox project. He said there are several new developments with the project, including work on a prototype of the product -- 20-by-33-foot mobile screens mounted on semitrailer trucks -- and a pending order for 100 of the mobile screens.
"I think we kind of shot ourselves in the foot by how Bobby handled things in the beginning," Cappello said. "I'll do my best to try to improve the situation."
Cappello said that while Yanagihara has come to him with other projects in the past, this is his first formal involvement in one of Yanagihara's ventures. The two men are so far the only members of the Litebox board.
"I've known him to be an honest, decent guy," Cappello said of Yanagihara. "He's even told me he's had some things that have gotten him in trouble in the past, but I'm not aware of any criminal activity."
This is where the story takes an odd twist. One of the chief complaints has been the inability of anyone to confirm Litebox's existence through its registration with the states where it does business despite its claims that it already employs dozens of people in California and Minnesota. Capello vouches for Yanagihira's claims that the company employs more than 60 people, most of whom are working in Minnesota, but he refused to provide the Star with the name of the company under which it is doing business or the location of its Minnesota facilities. It did find, however, a company that has done business with the firm.
Minnesota officials say they have no records of Litebox having any employees in the state. If there were, the company would have to be registered with the state Department of Revenue -- which it isn't.
That said, Gary Stoks, owner of the Porter, Minn., company SMI & Hydraulics, confirmed that his company has done manufacturing work for Litebox, though he would not say what that work involved.
Stoks also confirmed Litebox is negotiating a bigger deal with his company. Nothing has been finalized, Stoks said, but "it looks good."
Capello also could not clear up questions about Litebox's supposed partnership with Bose and Panasonic. Bose officials deny any business relationship with Litebox and Panasonic officials did not return the Star's calls asking for comment. Capello insists the company has met with Panasonic and has its permission to use its name. The most intriguing item in the story is this claim by Capello:
"Bobby is negotiating a deal right now with all kinds of events and people who want to do their own broadcast, their own movies, fundraisers, for profit, nonprofit," he said. "One customer we have actually wants 100, and it's actually outside the United States, and the government of that country wants to acquire the 100 trucks."
He did not identify the country.
He said investors also have shown interest in the project and that he has seen documentation showing that investors have committed to "more than half" of the $21 million Yanagihara predicted would be invested in the project.
Did you catch that? The government of a foreign country is seeking to purchase 100 trucks equipped with Litebox's product. In one of my previous posts, I jokingly suggested the only potential large purchaser of the product would be the government seeking to purchase the product for use at concentration camps for re-education purposes like a scene straight out of the cold war movie from the 1980s, "Red Dawn." That thought came to mind, in part, because of Capello's association with the Young Presidents Organization, which was founded by the CIA back in the 1950s. Capello formerly served as the company's international president. The Star story also indicates Capello is a director of the RAND Corporation's Center for Middle East Public Policy. It just so happens that the RAND Corporation, a nonprofit global think tank which also has deep ties to the CIA, has been tied to the CIA's controversial interrogation techniques as part of the American government's war on terrorism. Check out this story from The Public Record entitled, "Who will investigate CIA/RAND/APA Torture Workshp?". The story by Jeffrey Kaye begins:
Back in May 2007, while researching the activities of the American Psychological Association (APA) in support of the U.S. government’s interrogation program, I came across evidence that the APA had engaged in a discussion of torture techniques during a workshop organized by APA and the RAND Corporation, “with generous funding from the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA).”
The workshop was held at the Arlington, Virginia, headquarters of the privately-held but long linked-to-the-government RAND think tank. APA Director of Science Geoff Mumford acted as liaison to the CIA for the meeting. Susan Brandon, a key APA “Senior Scientist”, and former member of the Bush White House’s Office of Science & Technology Policy, helped organize the affair, along with psychologist Kirk Hubbard, who was then Chief of the Research & Analysis Branch, Operational Assessment Division of the CIA.
The workshop was titled the "Science of Deception: Integration of Practice and Theory", and it discussed new ways to utilize drugs and sensory bombardment techniques to break down interrogatees. Those are signal techniques of psychological torture long utilized by the CIA and other intelligence agencies and military around the world.
Wow, let your imagination run wild on this one. Incidentally, Litebox has still not registered to do business with the Indiana Secretary of State according to the business services division's website despite Yanagihira's claim that the company has already leased space at a downtown Indianapolis office building and has taken out permits to remodel the space into its company's new headquarters. Litebox's Facebook site claims Indiana-based Cummins' power generators will be used to power its Litebox product.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Accused Double Murderer Released From Jail Due To Prosecutor's Mistake

If a mistake like this had been made by former Marion Co. Prosecutor Carl Brizzi's office, the media would have been all over him. When a big time mistake is made by the office of his successor, Terry Curry, his name is not even mentioned. I'm talking about the failure of Curry's office to turn over DNA evidence to an accused double murderer's attorney until the last possible moment resulting in the man's release from jail pending his trial in January.

Prosecutors claim Joshwa Carlisle strangled his girlfriend to death and burned his baby daughter alive by dousing her body with an accelerant so he wouldn't have to pay $200 a month in child support. A Marion County judge ordered Carlisle released pending his new trial date for the double homicide because prosecutors failed to turn over the evidence in a timely manner. The judge called the actions of prosecutors "totally unacceptable." They were given the choice of going to trial without using the DNA evidence, or waiting for a new trial date in January and freeing the accused killer. The prosecutors chose the latter. WRTV's Derrick Thomas had this reaction from family members and the deputy prosecutor assigned to the case:

"The circumstances are unique in this particular case and are not indicative of case in general," said Deputy Prosecutor Gregory Spencer. "I think the mechanisms that are in place are adequate. This was a one-time thing."
Shannon's family wept outside the courtroom after the judge made the decision.
"It's miserable. Both my nieces are in the ground," said Eon Davis, Shannon's uncle. "It makes absolutely no sense. They're going to let a killer out, and he's going to be free for the holidays."
When Thomas asked the deputy prosecutor if the public was at risk because the accused killer is free from jail until his trial, he replied, "No comment." Nowhere in the story is the man in charge of the office, Terry Curry, mentioned. The same is the case with a story reported on WISH-TV's website. “I’m not going to make excuses. And the bottom line is that it should not have happened,” said Gregory Spencer, deputy prosecutor for Marion County. No news stories of this flap by Curry's office appeared on Fox 59's or WTHR's website. Ditto on the Indianapolis Star's website. Apparently a flap of this magnitude does not call for a comment by the person elected to run the prosecutor's office.

In contrast, every TV station and the Star covered the fact that Secretary of State Charlie White did not appear at a hearing today in Marion Circuit Court hearing an appeal of the state election commission's ruling denying a petition by the Indiana Democratic Party to have him declared ineligible to hold office. The media wanted to know why White blew off today's hearing as if he were a child caught cutting classes at school. White's presence was not required even though he chose to file a brief in reply to the appeal on his own behalf to save on legal expenses. That's because the Attorney General's Office was legally required to defend the decision, and an attorney with the office appeared at today's hearing and made her oral argument on behalf of the state election commission. You would have never known that White's presence was not required reading the various news reports of today's hearing. The difference here is that, unlike Terry Curry, the media does not like Charlie White. Which of these elected official's actions has more impact on you and the community at large? Dumb question, eh?

Investigation Requested Over Alleged Threats Made At NH Ballot Law Commission Hearing

I previously reported on the action of the New Hampshire Ballot Law Commission in denying a complaint filed against Barack Obama's petition to have his name placed on the nation's first presidential primary in 2012 based on the argument he is not a natural born citizen as required by the U.S. Constitution. The Commission ruled, based on the advice of the state's Assistant Attorney General, that the Commission lacked jurisdiction to investigate whether Obama was a natural born citizen. Its jurisdiction was limited to considering whether Obama had properly submitted his statement of candidacy and paid the $1,000 filing fee in accordance with state law. Following the Commission's unanimous ruling against the complaint, members of the audience in attendance, including several state lawmakers, shouted their disapproval at the Commission's decision, calling the panel members traitors. The state's Attorney General is now calling for an investigation, accusing those in attendance of threatening the Commission members and staff, and the incident has created a rift within the Republican caucus between supporters of the challenge and the leadership, which has derisively referred to them as "birthers." The Manchester Union-Leader has the story:
The Attorney General asked State Police to investigate an incident involving several lawmakers at the Ballot Law Commission hearing Friday.
House Speaker William O'Brien asked protective services to review the incident as well.
After the commission's hearing on the request to remove President Obama from the New Hampshire presidential primary ballot, Attorney General Michael Delaney said a member of his staff had to lock himself in an office with the assistant secretary of state out of fear for their safety due to the aggressive behavior of the crowd that included several legislators.
California attorney Orly Taitz, who has challenged the president's citizenship in many venues, filed the request to remove Obama's name from the ballot along with a half a dozen Republican House members. The commission unanimously turned down the request.
After the vote, supporters of the request called the commission members traitors and said they had committed treason.
Taitz called the committee corrupt and asked House and Senate leadership to begin removal proceedings against Secretary of State Bill Gardner.
In a letter dated Nov. 21, Delaney asked State Police Col. Robert Quinn to review the incident.
“I am extremely concerned that a member of my staff was put in a position of fearing for his safety during a public hearing based in part on the conduct of members of the General Court,” Delaney wrote in the letter dated Nov. 21. “I welcome your recommendations as to how to ensure that such a situation does not repeat itself, and what security measures may be available for members of my office requesting additional security in performance of their official duties.”
Delaney also sent the letter to House Speaker William O'Brien to voice concern about the conduct of the House members involved.
“No state employee should find himself in this situation, and I am asking the General Court to take whatever steps it deems appropriate concerning the standards of conduct exhibited by these elected officials,” Delaney wrote.
Greg Moore, House Policy director, said O'Brien asked protective services to review the situation after Delaney told him of his concerns.
He said the speaker cancelled a meeting scheduled for Tuesday with several of the representatives that attended the Ballot Law Commission hearing and were upset with the results.
According to a memorandum from Assistant Attorney General Matt Mavrogeorge, who represented the Secretary of State's Office in the hearing, Reps. Henry Accornero, R-Laconia, and Susan DeLemus, R-Rochester, were yelling in his face and demanding answers.
He said he feared for his safety and that of Assistant Secretary of State Karen Ladd and went into an office where the doors could be locked.
Once in the room, they called capitol security and the attorney general office for assistance.
Reached Saturday about the incident, Accornero said he was upset because rather than investigate Taitz's allegations, the attorney general simply passed the issue back to the Ballot Law Commission.
House Majority Leader D.J. Bettencourt, R-Salem, called on the lawmakers involved to distance themselves from the “birther movement” that does not believe the president is an American citizen.
The video above taken by one of supporters of the challenge in attendance at the hearing buttresses the challengers' contention that they did not threaten the Commission members and staff. While some of the attendees arguably became unruly after the ruling, they had very good cause to be angry. The news article neglects the point the challengers were making in their angry comments following the decision. The Ballot Law Commission, contrary to the contentions of the Assistant Attorney General, has investigated the eligibility of candidates seeking to have their names placed on New Hampshire's presidential primary ballot. As recently as the last election in 2008, the Commission removed Sal Mohammad from the ballot after an investigation determined Mohammad was not a natural born citizen because he was born in Egypt. The Assistant Attorney General flat out lied in claiming the Commission had no jurisdiction to consider a candidate's constitutional eligibility. The challenge to Obama's eligibility is based on the holding in the Supreme Court decision, Minor v. Happersett, that only children born of U.S. citizen parents are natural born citizens. Because Obama's father was a British subject born in Kenya, which was once a British commonwealth, that made Obama a dual citizen at birth.

Regardless of where you stand on Barack Obama's eligibility to hold the highest office in the country, every citizen should be outraged at the complete disregard for the rule of law shown consistently for the past four years. Challengers have at every turn been denied the opportunity to have the merits of their arguments against Obama's eligibility heard, while lesser candidates have frequently been the subjects of such investigations and been denied the right to be candidates based on determinations made as a result of those investigations. Every detail of his life has been placed under lock and key, while every rumor and innuendo of other presidential candidates is investigated thoroughly until the last stone remains unturned. Clearly, there is a conspiracy to protect Obama from any attempt to learn his true biographical narrative. Never before in the history of our nation has a man ascended to the highest office of the land about whom so little was known and where roadblocks have been erected at every turn to prevent the public from learning the truth. What are they hiding about this man? Americans have every right to be skeptical and distrustful of their government. Hold Obama to his own words: "The only people who don't want to disclose the truth are people with something to hide."

IURC Gives Green Light To Deal To Benefit Daniels Crony

A coal gasification deal hatched in order to make millions of dollars for Gov. Mitch Daniels' long-time political crony, Mark Lubbers, and his business associates at the expense of Indiana utility consumers was given the green light by members of the IURC appointed by Daniels to make that decision. Proving just how stupid Gov. Daniels thinks the public is, he claims the deal locks in low gas rates for 1.5 million users when it in fact guarantees the company run by his crony is guaranteed a rate for the natural gas his company produces at nearly double the current market rate for decades to come. The Star's John Russell reports on the latest decision that demonstrates that the IURC panel is nothing but stooges doing the bidding for governor's political cronies.
Gov. Mitch Daniels says it's a smart way to lock in low rates for Indiana's 1.5 million natural gas customers.
Indiana utilities and consumer advocates have warned it's a risky gamble that could backfire, forcing up monthly gas bills.
Smart or risky, a plan championed by Daniels to build a $2.65 billion coal-gasification plant on the Ohio River in southwestern Indiana has taken a big step toward reality.
On Tuesday, the Indiana Utility Regulatory Commission approved the project's most controversial aspect: a 30-year contract for the state to buy synthetic gas from the plant.
The Indiana Finance Authority will spend about $7 billion over three decades to buy synthetic gas from Indiana Gasification LLC.
The state agency would resell the gas on the national market.
Selling the gas at a profit would lower monthly bills for gas customers in the state. But selling at a loss would lead to higher bills . . .

Several Indiana utilities took a look at the project several years ago and balked at the idea of signing long-term orders with the plant. Without their support, banks would not finance the project. That prompted Daniels to get the state involved as a financial middleman.

Indiana Gasification is owned by New York investor Leucadia Corp., whose top Indiana executive is former Daniels chief of staff Mark Lubbers.

Under the plan, the Rockport gasification plant would take in 3.2 million tons of coal each year, produce 47 million BTUs of natural gas and sell 38 million of those BTUs at a firm price to the Indiana Finance Authority every year for 30 years. The state agency would resell the gas daily on the national market  . . .

The risk for Indiana consumers is in the firm price. In sales on the open market, gas prices routinely rise or fall every day with supply and demand.

But the Rockport investors always would receive from the state a firm payment: about $7.57 per 1 million BTUs, or about $7 billion over 30 years. This would cover plant operations, coal costs, shipping the natural gas and loan repayments, plus a small profit of about 5 percent on the $500 million the investors plan to spend on the plant.

On Tuesday, natural gas futures were trading for $3.39 per 1 million BTUs, or less than half the price built into the state's model.

Nevertheless, the Indiana Finance Authority has projected that the project could cut the monthly bill for the average home by 71 cents. That would add up to savings for the typical home of $255.60 over 30 years, which means the gas-burning residents of the state altogether would save about $8.5 million per year.
Yep, this deal demonstrates how a man like Mark Lubbers, who has absolutely no background in public utilities or natural gas, can be tapped to run a company because he had the political muscle to convince Gov. Daniels to risk totally screwing over Indiana utility ratepayers in order to make his long-time political crony a multi-millionaire. Lubbers saw how much money rent-a-civic leader Jim Morris made off of his Indianapolis Water Company antics and wanted his piece of the political pie. Two of Daniels' five IURC members couldn't even cast votes on the deal because of their conflicts of interest.
Two of the five commissioners on the IURC, Kari Evans Bennett and Carolene Mays, have recused themselves from the Rockport matter. Bennett came to the IURC in January from Barnes and Thornburg, a law firm representing Vectren in the Rockport case. Vectren is on the record opposing the Rockport project. Mays is related to a Vectren director.
The IURC's three remaining commissioners -- James Atterholt, Larry Landis and David Ziegner -- voted for the project. All five commissioners were appointed or reappointed by Daniels.
Like I've said before, Indiana has the most corrupt public utility commission in the country. It's nothing but an auction run to line the pockets of the political cronies of whoever is running the state at the time. If the Public Integrity Section of the Justice Department was doing its job, it would have long ago assembled a team of investigators to unravel all of the shenanigans that have been going on at this state agency for decades regardless of which political party is in charge of the governor's office.

As for those 200 miners Daniels says will be put to work because of this deal, keep an eye on that claim. I'm told if Leucadia is looking to operate this new plant efficiently, it won't be buying Indiana coal because of the higher costs associated with using it to produce natural gas. Just a small detail I realize.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Obama Pal And Benefactor Tony Rezko Gets 10 1/2 Years For Crimes Against Illinois Taxpayers

Obama and Daley having a laugh at Blagovich's expense before he knew their plan to pin all the blame on him

Convicted political fixer Tony Rezko, who was once one of Barack Obama's closest friends and top political advisers, received a sentence of 10 1/2 years for conspiring with former Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich and others to cheat Illinois taxpayers. Rezko has remained locked up in jail for the past four years by federal prosecutors and never called as a witness in the high profile prosecutions of his co-conspirators in an effort to protect Obama from damning disclosures Rezko could make about his corrupt relationship with the nation's most powerful politician, including how he helped Obama purchase his dream house on Chicago's south side when he was short the cash he needed to purchase the multi-million dollar mansion. Reading news reports today on Rezko's sentencing you would get the impression Rezko was just another guy in the neighborhood Obama once knew. Rezko's lawyers wanted him released for time served, but a federal judge instead meted out a stiff sentence for him. From the Sun-Times:
A federal judge sentenced Tony Rezko to 10 1/2 years in prison Tuesday, describing his actions under Rod Blagojevich’s tenure as “selfish and corrupt.”
Rezko, 56, has already served about 44 months. His daughter burst into tears at hearing the sentence.
U.S. District Judge Amy St. Eve said she found it offensive that Rezko put at risk the Teachers’ Retirement System by scheming for kickbacks with a board member in 2004.
“You put their retirements at risk for your own greed and your own thirst for power,” St. Eve said.
A pale, thin Rezko gave a brief statement before he learned his sentence, saying “there are no words to describe the pain and regret,” he carries and the amount of suffering his family has endured. He apologized to the court and to his family.
Assistant U.S. Attorney Chris Niewoehner said Rezko’s conduct was severe and included scheming with former Gov. Rod Blagojevich and others to control state deals so they could make money off of it.
“That’s about as bad as it can get in a political corruption case,” he said. “Illinois was for sale at the very top levels of our government.” Rezko’s attorney, Joseph Duffy, said his client would never commit a crime again  . . .
Rezko, a former top fund-raiser to Blagojevich and a onetime friend to President Barack Obama, volunteered to go to jail in 2008 immediately after his conviction on 16 of 24 counts of corruption, including fraud, money laundering and plotting to squeeze $7 million in kickbacks from firms that wanted to do business with the state during Blagojevich’s tenure . . .
Gee, you would never know that Rezko's introduction to the Blagojevich corruption ring was made by none other than Barack Obama, the expansive role Obama and Rahm Emanuel played in plotting the election of Blagojevich to the governor's office, or that Obama was an active participant in the scheming and dealing behind the scenes after Blagojevich's election to put Obama's top contributors, too, on state boards and commissions to help steer state business to Obama's friends. Yep, it was just all those dirty white Chicago guys engaged in all of the political corruption. The One had no part of it. The U.S. Attorney's Office in Chicago made sure the truth about Obama's role in the Chicago corruption ring would never see the light of day to smooth his ascension to the presidency as planned out by the New World Order masters, phony narrative and all.

You can thank the U.S. Attorney's Office in Chicago for the wrath Obama has brought on the working men and women of America since his election three years ago. But at least his campaign bundlers are getting very rich at your expense the same way they did during his time back in Illinois prior to his election. That's because the Chicago Way is now the American Way.

UPDATE: American Thinker's Rick Moran wonders if anyone in the media will even bother to ask Obama to comment on the sentence his long-time friend received:
Barack Obama fundraiser gets 10 1/2 years.

But you'd never know that from reading the story in the Chicago Tribune. The name "Barack Obama" appears nowhere in this story reporting on the sentence received by one of the key figures in Obama's life - a man who raised hundreds of thousands of dollars for his state senate and US senate runs, who introduced him to movers and shakers in the shadowy world of big money real estate wheelers and dealers, and who befriended him on numerous occassions, including the favor he did him when he purchased the lot next door to his current home.

Will anyone even ask Obama for a statement on the fate that has befallen his former friend?

And Then There Was One

Former Marion Co. Prosecutor Carl Brizzi did the right thing and reached an agreement with the bankruptcy trustee for Fair Finance Company to repay $195,881, the lion's share of the money Brizzi's campaign committee received in donations from indicted Ponzi scheme operator Tim Durham. That leaves Gov. Mitch Daniels as the only politician who received significant campaign contributions from Durham who has not repaid monies to the bankruptcy trustee. Daniels and Brizzi were the largest recipients of campaign contributions from Durham with each receiving in excess of $200,000. Brizzi wrote a check for $170,811 from his campaign committee and wrote a check out of his personal pocket for $15,000. Brizzi has agreed the repay the remaining $10,000 balance in monthly installments of $1,000. The funds paid out of his personal pocket are funds the trustee alleges Brizzi received in personal financial assistance from Durham, an amount disputed by Brizzi according to the IBJ's Greg Andrews:

In addition, court papers show that bankruptcy Trustee Brian Bash alleged that Fair Finance and Durham provided Brizzi with personal loans and financial assistance totaling $55,735 for trips and miscellaneous expenses.
Brizzi disputes the amount, according to the settlement, but agreed to pay $25,000. Though the deal requires court approval, Brizzi’s campaign committee already has provided the trustee with a $170,881 check, and Brizzi has provided a $15,000 check. He’ll pay the remaining $10,000 in monthly installments of $1,000, the settlement says.
Gov. Daniels should do the right thing and pay his share to the bankruptcy trustee. Daniels maintains that all of the funds Durham contributed to him have been spent, although he has continued to raise large sums of money for his political action committee after the close of his last gubernatorial campaign. Daniels is also the most wealthy of the politicians receiving money from Durham. He has a personal fortune estimated at being worth more than $50 million.

Monday, November 21, 2011

Right-To-Work Legislation Ensures A Hot Session Next Year

House Speaker Brian Bosma and Senate President Pro Tem David Long officially proclaimed that passage of right-to-work legislation will be the top legislative priority next year for the Republican-controlled legislature. Last year, House Democrats walked out and held up at a hotel in Urbana, Illinois for five weeks in order to deny the House a quorum to do business until the Republicans agreed to remove right-to-work legislation from the agenda for the remainder of the legislative session. House Minority Leader Pat Bauer told reporters today that he wouldn't rule out employing that tactic again this session. Bosma and Long claim that Indiana is losing businesses to other states with right-to-work laws. Gov. Daniels opposed taking up the legislation this past legislative session, but he's fully on board taking it up during the current session.

Many people forget that Indiana enacted a right-to-work law in 1957 when the Republicans controlled the legislature. The law remained in effect until the Democrats repealed it in 1965 when they controlled the legislature and the governor's office. According to the "Centennial History of the Indiana General Assembly, " then-House Speaker George Deiner (R-Indianapolis) considered passage of right-to-work legislation as his greatest accomplishment during the four years he served as speaker. The legislation passed the House 54-42 first and later in the Senate by a 27-23 vote after Lt. Governor Crawford Parker bypassed the Senate Labor Committee where the bill was locked up and brought it to the Senate floor for a vote. "The act was one of the most controversial of the 1950s and was bitterly opposed by organized labor because, in forbidding employers in Indiana to base hiring upon membership or non-membership in a labor union, it outlawed the 'closed shop."  

The Republicans suffered heavy election losses in the 1958 election following passage of the right-to-work law due largely to labor discontent over its passage according to the "Centennial History." The Indiana AFL-CIO hired an Illinois labor lawyer to lead an effort to repeal the law in 1959. The Senate Republican Majority Leader from Monticello, Roy Conrad, and four of his fellow Republican colleagues supported the Democrats' effort to repeal the law. Indianapolis Star publisher Eugene Pulliam came down hard on the Republican legislators in front-page editorials. Pulliam accused Conrad of "dancing to the labor bosses' tune" along with a few other "wobble-headed Republicans." Pulliam warned that hundreds of thousands of Indiana citizens would lose respect for the Republican Party if Conrad succeeded in passing the repeal. "All because country boy Conrad seems to have been befuddled and fooled by a fast-talking Chicago labor lawyer and his big city slicker labor aides," Pulliam editorialized. According to the "Centennial History", Conrad filed a defamation lawsuit against Pulliam seeking $500,000 in damages for publishing "false, scandalous, malicious, defamatory . . . matter" intended to injure Conrad's good name. Conrad's repeal effort failed, and he dropped his lawsuit against Pulliam a few weeks later.

The Democrats eventually succeeded in repealing the law in 1965 when the party controlled the legislature and the governor's office. Indiana's right-to-work law was never fully implemented before its repeal. Anticipating its enactment, labor unions rushed to negotiate two to three year contracts that protected the union shops, while the unions fought the new law in the courts. A 1959 decision by the Indiana Court of Appeals in Meade Electric Co. v. Hagberg held that the union shop was still permissible under the law even if compulsory membership was outlawed. The law was considered meaningless by the time of its repeal--sort of like the Republican overhaul of the state's prevailing wage law in 1995 that has proven to be of no effect in holding down public construction costs. Interestingly, union membership in 1965 represented about 41% of the workforce. Today, only about 11% of workers belong to a union. I'm not convinced Indiana's economic picture will change all that much if right-to-work legislation is enacted. One thing for certain, though, is that it will galvanize organized labor to work extra hard to defeat Republican legislative candidates in the 2012 election.

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Rupert Could Draw Equally From Both Major Party Candidates

The Fort Wayne Journal-Gazette's Niki Kelly has a story today discussing the 2012 gubernatorial race. It includes a discussion of Libertarian Rupert Boneham's candidacy and which of the major party candidates he is likely to draw votes from. Predictably, it is suggested Rupert's candidacy will have a greater impact on the Republican candidate than the Democratic candidate:

Everyone in the race seems a bit mystified by Boneham’s entry. While major party candidates can usually discount Libertarians, Boneham comes with higher name recognition than usual because of his reality TV résumé.
“I’m tempted to dismiss him as a novelty candidate, but you never know what could happen,” said Dion, noting Jesse Ventura’s highly improbable gubernatorial victory in Minnesota. “What remains is the degree to which he can shape the outcome. In Indiana, a greater portion of the Libertarian vote comes from Republicans.”
Gregg agreed, saying having a Libertarian on the ballot historically helps Democrats. He also noted Rupert’s profile and personality as positive attributes.
Pence sidestepped any discussion of Rupert’s effect on the race.
“I’ll leave that to the political pundits” he said, adding he welcomed any willing man or woman into the race.
Wallace is the only one to be slightly critical of the Libertarian candidate, saying he fears that fringe candidates don’t have the skill set to run a state with a $13 billion annual budget.
Boneham disagreed.
“My opponents have some political experience, but I don’t know if that’s an asset or not,” he said. “I want to take both Republican and Democrat votes because I want to be the next Indiana governor.”
Historical analysis would support the contention that Boneham is likely to hurt the Republican candidate much more than the Democratic candidate; however, Boneham's candidacy is unprecedented. Indiana has never had a high profile pop culture candidate like Boneham run as a third party candidate--at least in modern times. Boneham, in my opinion, has the potential to become a credible candidate unlike previous Libertarian and third party candidates for statewide office. This could be particularly true if the major parties present Mike Pence and John Gregg as their candidates, which conventional wisdom indicates is all but a foregone conclusion. Both Pence and Gregg are career politicians with the accompanying baggage. Never before in my life time have people been more distrustful of the political establishment or more concerned about their economic station in life. Boneham's personal popularity and unconventional style of campaigning could allow him to go where no third party candidate has gone before in modern Indiana politics.

New Hampshire Ballot Law Commission Proves The Natural Born Citizen Requirement Is Dead Law

The United States Constitution says only a natural born citizen may serve as president of the United States, but the video-taped hearing above of the New Hampshire Ballot Law Commission demonstrates why that requirement is essentially a dead law. A natural born citizen as interpreted by the U.S. Supreme Court in Minor v. Happersett states that only children born of U.S. citizens are natural born citizens. Barack Obama has always conceded the fact that he was a British subject at birth because of his father's Kenyan citizenship, which meant he was, at best, a dual citizen at birth accepting as fact his birth to a U.S. citizen mother in the state of Hawaii. Dual citizenship is completely incompatible with the concept behind the natural born citizenship requirement.

This past week, the New Hampshire Ballot Law Commission heard a complaint challenging Obama's placement on the New Hampshire presidential primary ballot. According to the testimony of a representative of the Secretary of State's office, a presidential candidate need only fill out a statement of candidacy swearing he or she is qualified to be president and pay a $1,000 filing fee in order to get on the ballot. An assistant Attorney General told the Commission the jurisdiction of the Commission hearing a challenge to a candidacy was limited to determining disputes over whether statement of candidacy conforms with the law. Upon the filing of a declaration of candidacy and the payment of a $1,000 filing fee, Obama's statement of candidacy was filed in conformance with the state law requirements according to the assistant Attorney General. The Commission refused to consider evidence tendered in an 80-page complaint submitted and argued by California attorney Orly Taitz explaining why Obama is constitutionally unqualified to serve as president. Taitz stumped the Secretary of State's witness when she asked her if she as a naturalized citizen born in the Soviet Union could file a statement of candidacy and pay the $1,000 filing fee and also make it on to the ballot. The Secretary of State's witness said she would refer it to the Attorney General if a complaint was filed, but as he explained to the Commission, its jurisdiction is limited to deciding whether the statement of candidacy had been filled out properly and the filing fee had been tendered. Oddly, the Commission members met in private to discuss the case with their legal counsel before returning to the room to render a decision. The Commission then unanimously voted to deny the challenge to Obama's New Hampshire candidacy. Audience members, including several supportive state legislators, began shouting "traitors" at the Commission members.

As I've discussed at length in previous posts, every single court challenge to either the candidacies of Barack Obama or John McCain during the 2008 presidential election were dismissed on the basis that the citizen(s) bringing the complaints lacked jurisdiction to challenge a presidential candidate's eligibility. Not a single state or Congress has enacted a law that specifically requires candidates for president to tender evidence of their natural born citizenship or age (at least 35 years old) in order to become candidates for the highest office in the land. As a consequence, citizens are completely without power to enforce the requirement that presidential candidates be natural born citizens. State legislators, such as Sen. Mike Delph, have been mocked and made fun of for proposing state laws that would require presidential candidates to prove their natural born status before their names can appear on a state election ballot. Every attempt to enact such a law to date has been turned aside. Remarkably, there is a higher standard of proof imposed on average citizens desiring to cast a vote in an election than there is for a person seeking to have his or her name placed on a ballot to become a candidate for president of the United States.

The Concord Monitor reports on the hearing here. On the legal decision before the Commission the paper reported:

It was out of the commission's purview, however. Senior Assistant Attorney General James Boffetti told commission members they could only consider whether Obama had filed his declaration of candidacy form in accordance with state law and paid his $1,000 filing fee. Both form and fee were properly submitted by Vice President Joe Biden on Oct. 20, according to Assistant Secretary of State Karen Ladd.
The five members voted unanimously to keep Obama's name on the ballot.
Their response to the testimony during the hearing angered many of those in the room, including state representatives.
"Unbelievable," fumed state Rep. Susan DeLemus, a Republican from Rochester, walking around the room during a break in the hearing, before the commission took its vote.
"Let's just bury the Constitution now and have a funeral," DeLemus said. "It just makes me want to throw up."

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Liquor License Auction Raising Questions

The Indiana Alcohol & Tobacco Commission auctioned off 279 new liquor license permits at an auction yesterday, 169 of which are to be issued in Marion County. The sale of the liquor licenses at the auction raised more than $3.8 million for the state. The highest-priced license sold at the auction went to United Package Liquors for a license in Brownsburg. It brought $450,000, a record purchase price according to the Indianapolis Star. Of particular note, though, is the sale of 94 new 3-way permits within the City of Indianapolis. Although the City of Indianapolis has grown substantially since the adoption of Uni-Gov more than four decades ago, the Commission has not adjusted the quota for the expanded boundaries of the city until now, which resulted in a glut of new 3-way permits. In recent years, bar and restaurant owners have paid $50,000 to $75,000 a piece to acquire a 3-way permit due to increased demand as the city grew. At yesterday's sale, the new licenses were being snatched up for $1,000 a piece, the face value of holding a permit.

WISH-TV's Deanna Dewberry discovered that one buyer, Liquor License R Us, was bidding on 10 licenses in Marion County and 26 others located elsewhere around the state. ATC rules prohibit anyone from purchasing a liquor license for speculative purposes with the intent of reselling it for a profit. Yet as Dewberry reports, that's exactly what Martin Rogness of Liquor License R Us appeared to be doing at yesterday's auction:
One bidder who got the attention of others competing for permits was a man who identified himself as Martin Rogness on his application, and his [business] as Liquor License R Us. Equally unusual was the number of licenses he was trying to buy: 36. Ten were in Marion County.
When we asked whether he was speculating, he wouldn't answer.
Travis Thickstun, spokesman for the Alcohol and Tobacco Commission confirms that speculating - buying licenses from the Alcohol and Tobacco commission and selling them to others at a profit - is illegal.
Dewberry also found that the ATC was doing very little to determine the qualifications of those bidding for the new licenses at yesterday's auction. If it had, it would have questioned Rogness' motives:
All bidders in Friday’s auction had to pre-qualify. But we learned pre-qualification isn't difficult. Bidders simply turned in a one-page form and answered questions such as "Are all interested parties of sound mind." They then paid a fee.
Why didn't Rogness' unusual business name and the extraordinary number of permits on which he was bidding concern ATC leaders?
"I can't comment on that,” Thickstun said. “I have no idea about his application. I don't know what his businesses are or are not."
It appears that Rogness may be the same Martin E. Rogness who formerly worked as a police officer in Portage, Indiana. Liquor license records indicate that Rogness' Sportsman's Lounge of Porter County, Inc. owns a 3-way liquor license in Valparaiso. A 1983 Indiana Court of Appeals' decision identifies a Martin E. Rogness who faced termination following an altercation with a man seeing his wife:
Appellee Martin E. Rogness was employed by the City of Portage as a police officer. On February 24, 1981, Rogness was driving a marked police car past Woodland Park, when he noticed his wife, Kathy, seated in her automobile with an unknown male. Prior to this date, dissolution of marriage proceedings had been commenced between Rogness and his wife. Rogness then parked his car and approached his wife's auto. He opened the passenger side door and repeatedly beat the passenger, David Carullo, about the head, and threatened to kill him. After this incident, Kathy Rogness made a report to Portage police which led to charges against Rogness before the Portage Metropolitan Police Commission.
Over the following months, hearings were conducted to determine Rogness' fitness for further duty. During these proceedings, evidence was gathered which resulted in a transcript of several hundred pages.
According to the decision, the Portage Metropolitan Police Commission had recommended Rogness be terminated as a police officer, but Rogness was successful in getting that reduced to a suspension after appealing the decision to a trial court judge in Starke County. The Indiana Court of Appeals reversed the trial court's decision and remanded to the trial court for further proceedings. It's not clear whether the person identified in this case is the same person who was purchasing liquor licenses at yesterday's auction.

Dewberry also learned that the owner of a troubled Hooka bar at 86th & Michigan that saw her liquor license yanked recently following repeated problems her establishment had with serving underage patrons and shootings that occurred at the establishment was able to purchase one of the new licenses. Gloria Botina told Dewberry she thought she could avoid those problems if she ran a bar with a 3-way license. "There will be no problems because the customers that we are targeting right now are 21-up," Botina said. Her hooka bar allowed persons 18 and over to enter the establishment according to Dewberry.

It seems a lot of neighborhood organizations, as well as current bar owners, are extremely unhappy with the ATC's decision to issue so many new 3-way permits in Marion County. The value of existing owners' 3-way permits was virtually wiped out with the influx of all the new 3-way permits that were acquired for only $1,000. Some fear that the 3-way permits will have little more value than the 2-way permits, which already are plentiful in Indianapolis and can be acquired from the ATC at face value. It should also be pointed out that the purchase of the permits sold at yesterday's auction is still subject to board approval so some purchasers of permits at the auction may not get to keep them.

Council Democrats Aim Low, Pick Lewis As New Council President

Some things never change. City-County Council Democrats always look to second and third stringers to serve as their leadership when they control the council. Council Democrats turned to the ethically-challenged Monroe Gray, a no work, no show employee of the fire department, the last time they were in control of the council to serve as council president. This time, they're turning to Maggie Lewis, an executive director of a nonprofit agency that relies on government funding for its existence, who has exhibited a weak grasp of city-county council issues during her tenure on the council.

Lewis' husband is employed by the Marion Co. Assessor's Office, a job he was fired from based on findings by former Marion Co. Assessor Greg Bowes that he had engaged in sexual harassment and neglected his work responsibilities. Lewis was later rehired by Bowes' successor, Joseph O'Connor, due to political pressure. Another Democratic councilor, Mary Moriarty Adams, works as the chief financial officer for the assessor's office. Adams' husband is employed by the Marion Co. Sheriff's Department.

According to WRTV, the Democratic caucus has also chosen Brian Mahern, a state employee with the IURC, as its vice-president and Vernon Brown, a fire department battalion chief, as its majority leader. In other words, it's going to be a council of the government, by the government and for the government. Mayor Greg Ballard will be blessed by the weak leadership chosen by the council Democrats. There's nothing like having a loyal opposition running the council over which an elected executive can exert so much leverage. As for the people, surely you still don't believe these people give a damn what you think?

Friday, November 18, 2011

Amos Says Black Voters Did Their Part For Kennedy

Radio talk show host Amos Brown's latest column in the Indianapolis Recorder makes the case that Melina Kennedy's narrow election loss to Mayor Greg Ballard in last week's municipal election cannot be blamed on black voters as it was four years ago when some analysts contended then-Mayor Bart Peterson lost because many African-American voters stayed away from the polls in protest. Brown's analysis of the municipal election results indicates black voter turnout was as good as the turnout among non-black voters, and that Kennedy received overwhelming support among black voters.

Again, Indianapolis' African-American voters did their job.
African-American turnout was the same rate (some 30 percent) as the rest of the city/county. Blacks overwhelmingly voted for Melina Kennedy and, more importantly, powered the election of a Democratic-majority City-County Council.

Kennedy garnered some 85 percent of the Black vote, as an estimated 45,600 Blacks voted in an election with an overall turnout of 181,171. Some 25.2 percent of the total vote came from African-Americans. Both those living in Black-majority precincts and those living in white-majority areas.

There's been a lot of uninformed speculation and plain hot air in local media about the election. Keep these facts in mind . . .

Mayor Ballard's win is the third weakest of any Indianapolis mayor in 60 years. Ballard won by 7,528 or 51.3 percent. In 2007, he won by 5,312 votes or 50.5 percent. By any objective standards it's a win; but far from a mandate as his winning percentage increased by just 0.8 percent . . .

As I've previously pointed out, you can attribute Ballard's 0.8% larger victory margin this year simply to the fall off in support for the Libertarian candidate for mayor this year compared to four years ago. Ballard likely did as bad, if not worse, among African-American voters this year as he did four years ago. In one predominantly black ward in Center Township, for example, Kennedy won 95% of the vote compared to Ballard's paltry 4% of the vote. Kennedy lost because white voters chose Ballard over her by a nearly two-to-one margin. It didn't matter how well she did among black voters, her support among the majority white voters was so weak that she could not possibly make up the difference with her overwhelming support in the black community.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Angie's List IPO Proves Old Saying That A Sucker Is Born Every Minute

It's a company that has never made money in its 16 years of existence, is swimming in debt and has no business model upon which to base any future potential for turning a profit unless you consider Ponzi schemes selling subscriptions for business information you can obtain for free on the Internet to be a legitimate business model. Yet, Indianapolis-based Angie's List suckered investors into dumping $114 million into the purchase of 8.8 million shares in the company at its initial public offering today. From Bloomberg News:

Angie’s List Inc., the Indianapolis-based consumer-review service with more than 1 million paying members, raised about $114 million in its initial public offering Wednesday after pricing the shares at the top end of the proposed range.

The company sold 8.8 million shares for $13 apiece, according to data compiled by Bloomberg, after offering them for $11 to $13. Angie’s List will trade on the NASDAQ Stock Market under the symbol ANGI.

Angie’s List, which provides reviews of plumbers, electricians and other service providers, may benefit from the success of Internet peer Groupon Inc.’s IPO this month. The Chicago-based online-coupon leader raised $700 million Nov. 3, 30 percent more than it sought, after pricing the shares above the marketed range. The stock surged 31 percent in its trading debut and is up 20 percent since the IPO.

At the midpoint price of $12, Angie’s List would be valued at $667 million. Revenue at Angie’s List increased 46 percent, to $62.6 million, in the nine months ended Sept. 30, compared with the year-earlier period, the filing shows. Its net loss widened to $43.2 million from about $19 million.
What you should know is that the current investors in Angie's List, including its founder, dumped a significant amount of shares in the IPO as foolish investors gobbled the stock up:

The company planned to sell about 6.3 million shares in the offering, with the remaining 2.5 million sold by existing shareholders, according to the prospectus. Battery Ventures had planned to reduce its stake to 15 percent from 18 percent, while BV Capital was paring its stake to 9.3 percent from 12 percent. Company co-founder Angie Hicks planned to trim her stake to 1.5 percent from 1.8 percent, the filing shows.

A commenter at the IBJ's website pretty much sums it up:

Everyone connected with the company is selling.
Never turned a profit.
Doesn't even project to be profitable in the future.
Who the heck is buying shares in this company?
Hopefully, the manager of your funds isn't investing in this sure loser. If your stock funds manager was stupid enough to invest in this company, you should be looking for a new manager.

Monday, November 14, 2011

Bottoms Up Is No Litebox

Now here's a visionary business idea. No more slow filling, foam-filled tap beer. GrinOn Industries has developed a new beer dispenser that fills cups of beer from the bottom up. The Bottoms Up beer dispenser can fill 56 cups of beers in one minute as illustrated in the video above. It's already in use at several sports arenas. Indianapolis is offering economic incentives to the innovative company, including a 3-year tax abatement, to relocate its production facility from Montesano, Washington to vacant space at Park 100 Industrial Park that will employ about 40 workers earning on average $17 an hour. This business deal is much easier to swallow than the recently-announced Litebox deal that promised to create more than 1,000 jobs in Indianapolis to mass produce a mobile, drive-in theater product that costs several million dollars each.

Sunday, November 13, 2011

O'Keefe Strikes Again: Exposes Media Bias

A cub reporter for James O'Keefe's Project Veritas captured Pulitzer prize-winning reporter for the New Jersey Star-Ledger, Amy Nutt, disparaging Gov. Chris Christie, whom she described as an "asshole", a "bully" and a "liar." Nutt made the comments to the cub reporter she says she believed was a student at an event hosted by Columbia Journalism School. She agreed with the young reporter that it was important to re-elect President Barack Obama and that it helped that Christie, "the great white hope," would not be a candidate for president. Nutt, who is also an adjunct faculty member at the Columbia Journalism School, refused to meet with O'Keefe to discuss her comments about Christie. In a brief telephone interview she told him that it was a private conversation and it was unethical for the person she mistakenly believed to be a student to record the conversation without her permission. Other professors and the dean of the school were less than willing to discuss with O'Keefe Nutt's bias and views towards the politician she covered in her regular job as a reporter. One of the faculty members, who is also a Pulitzer prize winner, sent O'Keefe an e-mail that read: "Hey, shitheads . . . Fuck you, man. Bring it on." Classy operation they're running at Obama's alma mater.

Maurer Vouches For Litebox And Its CEO

Michael "Mickey" Maurer
Mickey Maurer, publisher/owner of the Indianapolis Business Journal and former economic development head for Gov. Mitch Daniels uses the editorial page of his weekly business paper to vouch for the credibility of Litebox and its unlikely business visionary, Bob Yanagihira, and to criticize those who have questioned Yanagihira's credibility. Maurer begins his column entitled, "Ideas worth testing when risk is nil," by quoting Ira Gershwin: "They all laughed at Christopher Columbus when he said the world was round . . . It's the same old cry." Maurer seems to forget or ignore that it was one of his own distinguished business reporters, Cory Schouten, who first questioned the Litebox deal, in taking to task those who questioned the project. Maurer says of the critics:

The Indianapolis Star and some pundits decried the event as either politically motivated or evidence that our leaders were duped. The reasoning goes that the announcement was ill-timed just before the mayoral election and if Litebox had been vetted by state and local authorities, they would not have promised incentives upon learning that Yanagihira left a trail of tax liens, at least one disgrunted investor and other evidence of failed business ventures. I disagree on both premises.
Despite probing by Indianapolis media, Yanagihira refused to say who was providing the financial backing for his ambitious plans to roll out the mobile, high tech, drive-in movie theater he envisions. At first he told reporters at the press conference called by Gov. Daniels and Mayor Ballard to announce plans to build a manufacturing facility on the city's northwest side that would employ more than 1,000 workers that he had several "well-heeled investors," but he later told reporters at the same press conference that it was just him financing the project. While Daniels called Yanagihira's plan "visionary" in defending the state's endorsement of his project, the Star learned that several other companies were already making a nearly identical product, all of which could be purchased for less than the investment Yanagihira was promising to make in Litebox.

Maurer first argues that there is "no measurable downside to offering state and local incentives to Litebox . . . no jobs, no money." Apparently, Maurer hasn't been keeping tabs on the excellent investigative series undertaken by WTHR's Bob Segal that found a high percentage of the job announcements made by the agency he formerly ran never produced a job and, contrary to his claim, public monies have been lost on at least some of these failed job announcements.

Maurer has also apparently been made privy to  information about Yanagihira's financial backers, something the quixotic entrepreneur refused to give up to probing reporters.
Alexander L. Cappello, chairman of the board at investment bank Cappello Corp., believes Yanagihira is a good bet--a best his company has made. Capello makes a lot of good bets. He heads a global merchant bank whose principals have conducted more than $100 billion in transactions, including California Republic Bank, Geothermal Resources International and the Cheesecake Factory. He is a former member of the board of trustees of University of Southern California and is an active member of the World Presidents Organization.
Actually, Maurer got the name of that last organization wrong. It's the Young Presidents Organization and Cappello formerly served as its international chairman. It's the same organization for which former President George W. Bush recently helped raise money at a private reception hosted at the Carmel mansion of Lucas Oil founder and CEO, Forrest Lucas. The organization was created with the backing of the CIA back in the 1950s to introduce young leaders in foreign countries for the purpose of opening export-import talks and franchising discussions.

According to Maurer, Cappello claims he has known Yanagihira for 15 years and describes him as a "brilliant, creative and lovable entrepreneur--a real nice guy." Cappello claims Litebox's technology is new, and there is a big demand for the product: "trucks outfitted with giant video screens that workers will manufacture as fast as they can." It's not new technology, and unless the federal government is planning to purchase a whole bunch of them to use to reprogram the minds of Americans to be imprisoned at future concentration camps in a scene straight out "Red Dawn," there's not going to be any big rush to purchase this existing technology.

I will give Maurer credit for his honesty. "Would I invest any money in his company?," Maurer asks. "Hell, no--not a farthing." I'm betting his National Bank of Indianapolis wouldn't lend a dime to Yanagihira either. If it's your money, however, Maurer could seem to care less. "If the government had to make a bet on the success or failure of every entrepreneur who has an idea and wants to create jobs in Indiana, we wouldn't have nearly the triumphs of job creation that we've enjoyed in Indiana the last few years," Maurer claims. Sorry, Mickey, you've got it all wrong. Or perhaps you've just given up on the free enterprise system and believe it's now the job of government to pick winners and losers in the business world. It's a pretty sad state of affairs when someone who has enjoyed the kind of business success Maurer has enjoyed without help from the government now believes government plays a necessary role in creating jobs by picking and choosing whose business ideas get the stamp of approval from big brother government.