Tuesday, January 31, 2012

The Glass House Of Charlie White's Prosecutor

Daniel Siglar, Sr.
Piecing together circumstantial evidence of where he claims Secretary of State Charlie White actually lived for a five-month period while he was running for statewide office in 2010 and still serving as a town council member in Fishers, the lead prosecutor in the case against Charlie White, Daniel Sigler, Sr., convinced a Hamilton Co. grand jury to indict White on seven felony counts, including counts of vote fraud, perjury, mortgage fraud, marriage application license fraud and theft. [Paul Ogden has a good post on the absurdity of these charges here.] In opening arguments today, the prosecutor told jurors hearing the case that began this week in a Hamilton County court that White had engaged in deceit and cheated to make it appear that he lived somewhere other than where he actually lived during this five-month period when he was in between marriages and homes in order to continue serving as a town council member in Fishers while running for statewide office. It's an interesting tale, and one that mirrors the tale that I'm about to tell you about Dan Sigler, Sr., the very man standing in front of jurors in Hamilton County accusing White of multiple felonies.

Sigler, a Democrat, served five terms as the prosecuting attorney for Adams County, Indiana from 1979 to 1999. He currently is a partner at the Columbia City law firm of Bloom Gates Sigler & Whiteleather. Sigler primarily works as a civil litigator and as a mediator, but he has also served as the Whitley County Attorney for several years. On occasion, he has served in an appointed capacity as a special prosecutor in high profile cases like Charlie White's case and the 2007 case of Fort Wayne mayoral candidate Matt Kelty that resulted Kelty pleading to felony charges of violating Indiana's campaign finance laws.

In 2006, Sigler fell out of love with his wife, Nancy, and in love with another woman, Fort Wayne family law attorney Sherrie Hampshire. On September 26, 2006, Sigler filed a petition for dissolution of his marriage to Nancy pro se in the Elkhart County circuit court rather than in Whitley County where he and his wife had resided and where Indiana's divorce law presumes jurisdiction to hear the case, unless his role as the county attorney posed a potential conflict with the judge who would have presided over his case. Sigler's wife was represented by Fort Wayne attorney Daniel Borgmann. Sigler and his wife reached a settlement agreement as quickly as Indiana law permits and a divorce decree was entered a little more than 60 days later on November 29, 2006. According to the court records, Sigler agreed to pay $30,000 to Nancy as part of the property equalization agreement the couple voluntarily entered into after waiving a final hearing in their divorce case.

When Sigler filed his petition for divorce in September, 2006, he listed his residence as 7828 Huguenard Road in Fort Wayne, a short distance from where his subsequent wife, Sherrie Hampshire lived. Sigler's wife Nancy listed her address as 183 N. Wildthorne Court in Columbia City, a home she had purchased on her own on August 22, 2005, a year prior to Sigler filing the divorce petition in Elkhart County. Sigler and Nancy were both registered to vote at their marital residence at 1753 North Wilson Lake Road. Nancy claimed a homestead exemption on the 183 N. Wildthorne Court home she purchased in 2005, but three years later, voting records indicate that she was still voting from the marital residence she owned with her ex-husband. White relates that Sigler told his wife's attorney during his investigation that he could charge her with vote fraud as well but wasn't going to because in his words, "you would have to go after everyone." Sigler told her attorney that White had to be charged because of "who he is." The divorcing couple sold that home on 1753 North Wilson Lake Road on January 27, 2006, eight months before Sigler filed for divorce, to another couple, Andrew and Elizabeth Varga, who registered to vote at that address and did in fact vote from it at the 2006, 2008 and 2010 general elections.

Despite claiming under penalties of perjury that he was residing in Fort Wayne when he filed his petition for dissolution of his marriage, Sigler continued to maintain a registered voting address at 1753 North Wilson Lake in Columbia City until September, 2008. Two and a half years after selling the marital residence, Sigler finally got around to changing his voter registration to the 7828 Huguenard Road in Fort Wayne, a rental home owned by Gerry and Patricia Lydy. Curiously, Sigler's change of voting address occurred after he had been named as a special prosecutor at the request of the Allen County Prosecutor in Fort Wayne to prosecute the campaign finance case against Fort Wayne mayoral candidate Matt Kelty.

It gets even more interesting. Sigler and his then-girlfriend, Sherrie Hampshire, purchased a $227,000 vacation home in Saugatuck, Michigan on August 3, 2007, less than 9 months after his divorce to Nancy was final, that the unmarried couple represented to be a "second home" that was "owner occupied." Sigler and Hampshire took out a 30-year mortgage on the Saugatuck home. According to Allegan County, Michigan property tax records, tax bills for the home were mailed to Daniel J. Siglar, Sr. and Sherrie Hampshire at 8024 Sorrel Lane in Fort Wayne, Indiana, the home which Hampshire had purchased in April, 2005 and at which she had been registered to vote since November 16, 2005. In November, 2008, Sigler voted using the 7828 Huguengard address in Fort Wayne despite representations he had made in other legal documents that he was residing with Hampshire at 8024 Sorrel Lane in Fort Wayne.

Sigler and Hampshire were married in Saugatuck, Michigan on July 10, 2010, nearly three years after he and Hampshire purchased their vacation home together and represented their primary residence as 8024 Sorrel Lane. Where did Sigler represent on his marriage application that he lived? You guessed it. Sigler used the 7828 Huguenard Road address despite representations in other legal documents that he was living with Hampshire at 8024 Sorrel Lane. When Sigler discovered that White was checking into his marriage record in Michigan, he complained to his attorney that "he didn't appreciate it." No small wonder. Voting registration records show that another couple registered in 2010 to vote at 7828 Hugenard Road. Jay and Kris Fawver registered to vote at that address on September 8, 2010. When does Sigler finally get around to changing his registered voting address to 8024 Sorrel Lane? On February 28, 2011, Sigler took a break in between the second and third day of the grand jury proceedings he was leading against Charlie White to finally change his registered voting address to 8024 Sorrel Lane where he had received tax bills for the Saugatuck home in his name for nearly four years. Gee, I wonder why he chose that particular time to change his registered voting address?

These facts were all ascertained in an independent investigation Charlie White conducted on his own time at his own expense based on tips he had received that Sigler was living in a glass house. Based on the evidence he gathered and the interpretation of the law given to grand jurors in White's case, White concluded that there was evidence supporting a number of criminal charges against Sigler, including vote fraud, marriage license application fraud and mortgage fraud, the same charges Sigler convinced a grand jury in Hamilton County to bring against White. White surmised that Sigler didn't want folks in Whitley County where he was the county attorney to know that he no longer lived within the county and had moved in with his girlfriend, who would later become his wife. White turned over the evidence he gathered to Allen County Prosecutor Karen Richards, who declined to prosecute the case. She claimed there was no evidence "to suggest a criminal act took place", obviously applying a different legal standard than the one Sigler applied to White.

It also cannot be overlooked the differing approaches Sigler has taken in these high profile cases he has prosecuted against public officials. In 1985, Sigler was named as a special prosecutor in the campaign finance violation case involving then-Fort Wayne Mayor Win Moses, a Democrat. Although Sigler had more than enough evidence to prosecute Moses on felony charges, he entered into a plea agreement whereby Moses was allowed to plead guilty to reckless disregard of the campaign finance law, a misdemeanor and resign from office. Because Sigler didn't press a felony charge against him, Moses days later allowed his name to be placed in nomination when Democratic precinct committeepersons met in Fort Wayne to choose his successor. Moses won the party election and resumed the office from which he had just resigned. Later, Moses would be elected to represent a Fort Wayne district in the Indiana House of Representatives. As I've documented previously, Moses and his wife for years lived in a luxury home on Indianapolis' northside while claiming a registered voting address at an apartment in Fort Wayne. When Charlie White's case became big news, Moses and his wife put their Indianapolis home up for sale and claimed they no longer lived there.

In 2007, Sigler was far less charitable to a Republican mayoral candidate, Matt Kelty. Sigler wasted no time in convincing a grand jury to indict Kelty just three months before the November election on 7 felony counts and two misdemeanor counts of campaign finance-related charges. A trial couldn't be held until after the November election, but the looming criminal charges doomed Kelty's campaign, which he lost to Tom Henry, 60%-40%. Nearly a year after losing the race, Kelty, who by that point had become personaly bankrupt from all of the legal expenses he spent defending the charges brought by Sigler, pleaded guilty to three of the nine charges Sigler had filed against him. He received no jail time under the terms of his plea agreement and paid a $750 fine. As a consequence of his plea agreement, Kelty can never seek public office in Indiana again. If Sigler gets his way, White will not only lose his office but also his right to run for office again and his law license to boot. Sigler is a hypocrite of the first order. Let's hope and pray the jurors in that Hamilton County courtroom can see through this high tech lynching of White by Sigler, the hypocritical politicians and the mainstream news media in this state with less than pure motives who are also seeking his removal from office. If a criminal case every cried out for jury nullification, this one fits the bill.

Dan Burton Not Seeking Re-Election

There has been speculation for some time that U.S. Rep. Dan Burton didn't really intend to seek re-election to his seat, but up to now he has steadfastly denied those stories. One of his opponents had recently raised questions about why Burton was campaigning for Newt Gingrich's presidential campaign in Florida but skipping candidate forums for the 5th District congressional candidates attended by his opponents. Today, Burton broke the news that he will not seek re-election, citing a family health problem as the reason for his announcement. From WRTV:

U.S. Rep Dan Burton, who represents Indiana's fifth congressional district, announced his retirement Tuesday morning.

Burton, 73, made the announcement at the Indiana Statehouse, citing a family health problem. He declined to provide details.

Burton, a Republican, who began his career in the U.S. House in 1983, has served 15 terms.
With Burton out of the race, questions are now being asked if others may decide to enter an already crowded field of candidates. Burton did not endorse any candidates in announcing his withdrawal from the race. Some had speculated that Sen. Mike Delph, a former aide to Burton, might enter the race if Burton chose not to seek re-election. By waiting so late to announce, Burton has left little time for late entrants to enter the race and raise the funds necessary to mount a serious campaign. Former U.S. Rep. David McIntosh, former Marion Co. Coroner John McGoff, former U.S. Attorney Susan Brooks and attorney Jack Lugar have all been campaigning for the job for months. McGoff, who has twice sought to unseat Burton in the primary, has been running nonstop for the job for the past five years.

Howey Politics notes that Sen. Delph was the first to tweet Burton's plan to resign this morning after Delph and Burton's brother, State Rep. Woody Burton, met for coffee with Burton this morning at the Marriott Hotel. Burton formally announced his retirement on the floor of the Indiana House of Representatives where he first began his political career many years ago as a state representative. Delph declined to answer a reporter's question about whether he will enter the race. "Today is about Congressman Burton and his service to the state and nation," Delph told Howey.

McIntosh's campaign released the following statement praising Burton's years of service:
"Dan Burton has a long record of serving the people of Indiana by upholding the conservative principles of limited government, personal freedom, and economic prosperity. As a former colleague of Dan's, I am grateful for his leadership over the years on issues that have mattered most to our fellow Hoosiers and Americans. My prayers are with Dan and Samia as they take these next steps in their lives, and we wish them every blessing as they begin a new season in life."
McGoff's campaign released the following statement:

"I want to take a moment to reflect on the long service that Congressman Burton has given to the people of central Indiana and our country," said Dr. John McGoff a candidate for Indiana's 5th Congressional District. "He has always been the voice for strong conservative values and that is why voters continued to re-elect him since 1982. This is truly the end of an era."
"At this point, we're not sure as to what the family health concerns are, which Congressman Burton alluded to in his announcement," McGoff added. "But, I want to let him know that my family will keep the Burtons in our daily thoughts and prayers."
In 2008, McGoff mounted the first serious challenge to Congressman Burton and surprised pundits by garnering 45% of the vote.
"Since 2008, I have been firmly dedicated to giving the voters in the 5th District proven leadership with a new voice in Washington," McGoff said, "Today's announcement assures that there will be a new voice representing central Indiana in January 2013. Even with Congressman Burton's announcement today, the message of my campaign to fix Washington, to ensure lower taxes, to create a stronger economy and to maintain a strong national defense for our country remains the same."

Daily Caller: Richard Lugar Doesn't Live Here Anymore

As Secretary of State Charlie White's trial in Hamilton County gets underway, the Daily Caller dares to touch a story none of the media in Indiana will touch: Richard Lugar doesn't live here anymore. Lugar admits to the Daily Caller's Will Rahn (son of former Reagan speech writer Peggy Noonan) that he sold his only home in Indiana more than 35 years ago and relies on an Attorney General's opinion issued to him in 1982 to claim a registered voting address at his former home as his residence for voting purposes.
Indiana Republican Sen. Richard Lugar is running for re-election in a state he has not lived in for over 30 years.
Lugar sold his home at 3200 Highwoods Court in Indianapolis shortly after first assuming office in 1977. But due to a loophole in Indiana law, both he and his wife Charlene Lugar are still registered to vote at that address . . .
Richard and Charlene Lugar’s drivers’ licenses, Wright found, say they live at 3200 Highwoods Court even though they have lived in the affluent Washington, D.C. suburb of McLean, Va., for decades. And when Sen. Lugar registered to run for president in 1996, he listed Highwoods Court as his address.
A spokesman for Lugar confirmed to TheDC that he has not owned any property in Indiana since 1977, but said it was still perfectly legal for him to live elsewhere while representing the state.
"He does not have a house in Indiana but that is immaterial to this,” the spokesman said. “This has always been his legal residence in terms of voting and for his driver’s license and everything else.”
“The attorney general for the state of Indiana has made rulings on this in the past,” he said.
Indeed, a 1982 letter to Lugar from then-Indiana Attorney General Linley Pearson said that the senator is not required to actually live in the state he represents because he is acting “on business of this state or of the United States.” According to the Indiana constitution, such persons cannot lose their voting rights in the state.
TheDC was unable to verify Monday evening whether this is also the opinion of Indiana’s current Attorney General, Greg Zoeller, or ascertain how the law applies to Sen. Lugar’s wife.
Lugar is unique among Indiana's congressional delegation in his belief that he doesn't have to maintain some type of residence to which he can return in order to vote and maintain his inhabitancy within the state because of some alleged loophole in the law. The U.S. Constitution requires all members of Congress to be inhabitants of their states at the time of their election. Other members of Indiana's congressional delegation at least maintain an apartment in their name at which they can register to vote, obtain a driver's license and register their cars, even if their primary residence is in the nation's capital. The law only protects Lugar from losing his residency in Indiana by living primarily in Washington, a necessity for all members of Congress given the year-round congressional calendar. As I've previously discussed, Lugar has failed the inhabitancy test the last five times he was re-elected to the Senate, and both he and his wife, Charlene, are arguably committing vote fraud by casting votes from an address at which they haven't resided in more than 35 years.

The current occupant of Lugar's home tells the Daily Caller that she was surprised to learn Lugar still claims her home as his residence, but she said it does explain why she still occasionally receives mail addressed to the Lugars.

Lugar’s spokesperson dismissed questions about the senator’s residency as old news that is well known to Indiana’s voters. But the news did come as surprise to Betsy Hughes, the current owner of 3200 Highwoods Court, who did not know Lugar was voting from her address until Wright told her.
“I knew [Lugar] built it,” Hughes told TheDC. “Every now and then we get his mail, and we couldn’t figure out why after all these years we were still getting his mail every now and then. And now we know why.”
“I was surprised, but I was more surprised that no one seemed that interested,” she added.
Hughes, a Republican who has voted for Lugar in the past, said she doesn’t know whether she will vote for him again in the GOP primary, or if his residency situation will impact her decision.
“If it’s illegal then yeah it will make a difference, but if it’s not then he’s within his rights I guess,” she said.
The Daily Caller's story was prompted by a complaint certified fraud examiner Greg Wright filed with the Indiana Election's Division questioning how Lugar and his wife can be registered to vote at a place at which they neither own nor have a possessory interest.

For his part, Wright is concentrating on getting the word out that Lugar no longer lives in Indiana, which he believes to be a genuine scandal.
“It’s just so amazing to me that the elite press has not picked up on this,” Wright said. “It’s just absolutely amazing.”
I'm not sure which is the bigger scandal. The fact that Lugar has been getting by with this for more than 35 years, or that the same news reporters who want to publicly hang Charlie White for voting at his ex-wife's home for a few month period prior to his election as the state's secretary of state don't see a story here.

Monday, January 30, 2012

Rodman Resigning As County Treasurer

Marion Co. Treasurer Mike Rodman (D) is stepping down tomorrow as county treasurer in order to devote time to caring for an ailing family member. Marion Co. Democratic precinct committeepersons will choose a successor to complete his term. Observers expect the party to pick its slated candidate for the position. Rodman supports the candidacy of his chief deputy, Tom Creasser, to fill his position, but Marion Co. Democratic Party Chairman Ed Treacy is reportedly backing the candidacy of Claudia Fuentes, a late entrant into the race. Fuentes, who works in the Marion Co. Auditor's office, has been telephoning PCs seeking their support. Fuentes' boss, Marion Co. Auditor Billie Breaux, is also supporting her candidacy. Marion Co. Republicans slated Jason Woodruff as their candidate for county treasurer on Saturday. Democrats will hold their slating convention on February 11.

Sunday, January 29, 2012

Lugar Raised Another Three-Quarter Million In Fourth Quarter

Sen. Richard Lugar's campaign for an unprecedented seventh term will report raising more than $761,000 during the fourth quarter of last year. Lugar's campaign raised nearly $3.5 million last year and now has $4 million on hand to spend in his re-election campaign this year.

No word yet on how much his opponent Richard Mourdock's raised during the fourth quarter. Mourdock's campaign had raised less than $800,000 in contributions as of the last reporting period with less than $300,000 on hand.

UPDATE: An observant reader notes a news report over the weekend that indicated Mourdock's campaign will report raising $386,000 during the fourth quarter and have just $290,000 on hand. That's not good news at all. His campaign is spending money as fast as it raises it and lacks the resources needed for an extended media buy that it will need to make prior to the May primary.

Star Discusses Charlie White Case Without Discussing The Law And How It Has Been Applied Differently To Other Politicians

The Star's Carrie Ritchie has a story this morning telling you a lot about who Charlie White is, the fact that he is facing trial on seven criminal charges arising out of an allegation that he improperly voted at his ex-wife's home for a very brief period of time and that he steadfastly maintains his innocence, but it is devoid of any discussion of the law that would provide any perspective to the newspaper's readers of the oddity of his predicament and why he is justified in believing he is innocent. That would have required a discussion of multiple other prominent Indiana politicians who have and are committing far worse transgressions, if they are to be described that way, than Charlie White is accused of doing.

Sen. Mike Delph and Fishers Town Council President Scott Fautless, to their credit, stood up for White in the story unlike numerous other hypocritical politicians like Gov. Mitch Daniels, who have called for his resignation. Yet Ritchie's story chose not to include the explanation for why Delph believes White is innocent of the charges because that would have meant discussing what other politicians do that is no different than what White did. The close as she comes to addressing the legal issue is a mention by Fautless that White didn't commit theft by drawing a Fishers Town Council salary because he was a "de facto" member of the Town Council who continued to serve his council duties, even if he lived outside his district for a period of a few months.

Many municipalities have local ordinances, for example, requiring their employees to live within the city. An employee discovered to be living outside the city is forced to give up his or her job. No employee has ever been charged with theft for drawing a salary for a job they were performing. Former Indianapolis City-County Councilor Patrice Abduallah used an abandoned home as his registered voting address instead of the address he actually lived outside the district for nearly four years. He was permitted to resign, never repaid any of his salary and faced no criminal charges for his actions.

The fact remains that after a full blown hearing, a bipartisan Recount Commission unanimously concluded White was legally registered to vote at the time of his nomination as secretary of state and, therefore, was eligible to hold the office to which he was elected. The media reacted with scorn to the decision because it was not the outcome they wanted. They reacted with triumph when Marion Co. Circuit Court Judge Louis Rosenberg, a Democrat whose daughter had first made the public case for White's removal from office, when he reversed the Commission's ruling by ignoring decades-old case law on White's side, including the most notable case brought against former Indiana Gov. Evan Bayh. The Star has never bothered to discuss the large holes in Rosenberg's ruling that will likely be overturned by the state's Supreme Court.

I have examined each of the criminal charges brought against White. The grand jury which brought those charges was either totally ignorant of the law or under a complete misapprehension of the law because of misinformation provided to them by an out-of-control special prosecutor determined to bilk the case for all its worth at taxpayers' expense (I believe the latter to be the case). As White pointed out, one of the special prosecutors, Dan Sigler, did the exact same thing as he accused White of doing. In fact, he stopped his work during the middle of the grand jury proceedings to run back home and change his voter registration when it dawned on him that he was asking the grand jury to indict White for the exact same thing he was doing at that very moment--voting at a place other than the place he should have been voting. The media scoffed at White's suggestion that Sigler had violated the law, and the Allen Co. prosecutor refused to investigate the allegations. The media has similarly dismissed allegations White has made against others, including Gov. Mitch Daniels and Sen. Richard Lugar. Daniels lives in a new home that he built in Carmel after being elected as governor, but he is registered to vote at the governor's residence in Indianapolis. Sen. Lugar sold his home in Indianapolis more than 35 years ago but has continued to vote at that same home since despite neither having an ownership nor a possessory interest in it. One of his aides matter-of-factly acknowledged that he stays in hotels when he visits Indiana.

The conspiracy of silence among the media in this state about the total unfairness in the way White has been singled out and turned into a pariah is the real troubling aspect of this story. Nothing surprises me much these days. A court hearing was held in Georgia this past week where unequivocal evidence was offered to the court proving that Barack Obama is not a natural born citizen and that he is holding office in violation of the U.S. Constitution. Even worse, there was compelling evidence proffered to the court that he was using a dead person's social security number and that he has presented to the public as a an authentic birth certificate one that a number of document experts have concluded is a bad forgery. The national news media completely ignored the hearing or only derisively mentioned it as another "birther" lawsuit. It's sometimes hard to believe this is the United States of America.

Saturday, January 28, 2012

Marion County GOP Slating

Judge Carole Orbison Loses Out In Slating
Marion County Republicans held their slating convention for this year's May primary election this morning at Ben Davis High School. The only contested race was for the ten spots on the Marion Superior Court. Only eleven candidates competed for the ten positions. The losing candidate at today's slating was incumbent Judge Carole Orbison, a criminal court judge on the bench for the past twelve years. Judge Orbison, who was not recommended for re-slating by the party's leadership, pleaded with precinct committeepersons to cast their votes independently and support her re-election. She made no attempt to hide her displeasure with the party leadership's decision not to back her for re-slating. There have been indications Judge Orbison will run in the primary for re-election without the party's backing, as any qualified candidate is eligible to do.

The judicial candidates were each given one minute to address the convention prior to the vote, a time limit that was strictly enforced. Judge Lisa Borges was the only candidate absent for the slating convention. She broke her leg in an automobile accident this past week and was not able to attend. The PCs cast their votes by paper ballot. According to the rules, each ballot had to contain votes for ten of the eleven candidates on the ballot or it would be disregarded. The ten winning candidates won on the first ballot with fewer than 20 votes separating the highest vote-getter from the lowest vote-getter of the winning candidates. The actual number of votes cast for the losing candidate, Judge Orbison, was not announced.

The slated candidates include four new-comers: Helen Marchal, James Joven, Clayton Graham and Amy Jones. The full list of slated candidates include:

Judge Sheila Carlisle
Judge Robert Altice, Jr.
Judge Lisa Borges
Judge Michael Keele
Judge Clark Rogers
Judge William Nelson
Helen Marchal
James Joven
Clayton Graham
Amy Jones

The candidates slated uncontested in other races are as follows:

State Senator:

Sen. Scott Schneider, District 30
Sen. Pat Miller, District 32
Sen. Mike Young, District 35
Sen. Brent Waltz, District 36 

State Representative:

Luke Bosso, District 86
Rep. Cindy Noe, District 87
Speaker Brian Bosma, District 88
Rep. Cynthia Kirchhofer, District 89
Rep. Mike Speedy, District 90
Rep. Robert Behning, District 91
Tim Motsinger, District 92
Rep. Dave Frizzell, District 93
AJ Feeney-Ruiz, District 97
Scott Keller, District 100
Marion County Coroner:
Ed Eppler, M.D.
Marion County Treasurer:
Jason Woodruff
Marion County Surveyor:
Jeff Kondy

Super Bowl Celebration Kicks Off

A very large crowd turned out tonight for the opening of the Super Bowl Village in downtown Indianapolis. A fireworks display kicked off Bret Michael's performance at the Verizon Stage in front of Bankers Life Fieldhouse. The zip line on Capitol Avenue and the light show on the Circle are proving to be popular draws. The heat warmers on Georgia Street work quite well but weren't really needed on a relatively mild night like tonight. Plenty of stations to buy beer, but the price was a little steep. Gubernatorial hopeful Rupert Boneham was spotted working the crowd near the Circle tonight.

Friday, January 27, 2012

How Much Did Ener1 Bust Cost The Taxpayers?

Despite the Indianapolis Star's attempt to put lipstick on the pig that is Ener1, the electric car battery manufacturer, the use of federal, state and local tax dollars to prop up this private endeavor has turned into one big bust. The company this week filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy. The Star went with reassuring statements from the company that there would be "no layoffs or workforce reductions. Instead, we're told the company will be back on its feet with a reorganization plan already in the works in no time. To get the real story, you had to look outside the state of Indiana. The Chicago Tribune's Julie Wernau provides this more accurate assessment:
The view from inside Think City's plant here is the worst nightmare for politicians betting on electric vehicles to drive job growth: 100 cars, most of them not finished, lined up with no word on their future.
Only two years ago the tiny Think cars (two can fit in a regular parking space) were expected to bring more than 400 jobs to this ailing city and a lifeline to suppliers who once made parts for gas guzzling recreational vehicles.
"We've said we're out to make Indiana the electric vehicle state. It's beginning to look like the state capital will be Elkhart County," Indiana Gov. Mitch Daniels said in January 2010 in announcing government incentives used to lure Think to his state.
Instead, the Hoosier state's big bet has been a bust. The plant is devoid of activity; there are just two employees. A Russian investor who recently purchased Think's bankrupt parent in Norway has been silent about its future. A government-backed Indianapolis battery-maker that was to supply Think wrote off a $73 million investment in the car company and Thursday declared bankruptcy. Two unrelated electric truck-makers that Indiana planned to nurture have yet to get off the ground.
Indiana's foray into electric vehicles is a cautionary tale for states in hot pursuit of high-tech manufacturing jobs. Think's story illustrates how politicians so badly wanted to stimulate job growth that they showered it and the battery supplier with tax breaks and incentives while at the same time failing to determine whether there was a market for the car: a plastic two-seater with a top speed of about 65 miles an hour and a price tag approaching $42,000.
The state of Indiana dumped a bunch of money in this company but is now claiming how much it gave the company is confidential information that can't be disclosed:
Indiana's total losses aren't immediately known. Katelyn Hancock, a spokeswoman for the Indiana Economic Development Corp., the state's economic development arm, declined to disclose how much battery-maker Ener1 and Think had received in taxpayer-funded credits and incentives, saying such information is confidential. Ener1 also declined to provide the information.
The Chicago Tribune did manage to put together this useful graph that gives a hint just how much in public dollars were dumped into this useless business. The Obama administration put $130.3 million in federal stimulus dollars that Sen. Richard Lugar helped obtain for the company. The state gave the company $21.1 million in performance-based credits and $200,000 in grants. The state gave another $7.6 million in performance-based credits to subsidiaries of Ener1, Think Holdings and Electric Motors Corp. Hancock County gave Ener1 $30 million in tax abatements and other incentives, and Indianapolis, Elkhart and Noblesville kicked in tax abatements to sweeten the incentives.

Fifteen Competing For Supreme Court Vacancy

The Judicial Nominating Commission just announced it has received 15 applications for the vacancy created by the retirement of Chief Justice Randall Shepard. They include the following candidates:

  1. Hon. Robert R. Altice, Jr., Marion Superior Court, Criminal Division 2
  2. Hon. Cynthia J. Ayers, Marion Superior Court, Civil Division 4
  3. Hon. Cale J. Bradford, Indiana Court of Appeals
  4. Hon. Maria D. Granger, Floyd Superior Court 3
  5. Mr. Mark S. Massa, Indianapolis
  6. Ms. Patricia C. McMath, Indianapolis
  7. Hon. Robyn L. Moberly, Marion Superior Court, Civil Division 5
  8. Mr. Karl L. Mulvaney, Indianapolis
  9. Mr. Rory O’Bryan, Indianapolis
  10. Hon. Michael N. Pagano, Lake Superior Court, County Division 3
  11. Ms. Mary K. Reeder, Indianapolis
  12. Mr. Steven R. Schultz, Columbus
  13. Ms. Jane A. Seigel, Indianapolis
  14. Mr. Les C. Shively, Evansville
  15. Ms. Rebecca A. Trent, West Lafayette
Some of the candidates for the last vacancy filled by Steven David have filed again, including Marion Superior Court Judges Robyn Moberly and Cynthia Ayers and Indianapolis appellate lawyer Karl Mulvaney. Moberly and Mulvaney were among the three finalists recommended by the Commission last year for the seat filled by Justice David. Two former close advisers to Gov. Mitch Daniels, who will ultimately make the choice from among three candidates nominated by the Judicial Nominating Commission, Steven Schultz and Mark Massa, have applied for the position. Both men served as Daniels' chief counsel. Court of Appeals Judge Cale Bradford, who was Daniels first appointee to the appellate courts, is competing for the open position as well. The list of candidates is much smaller than the number of candidates who filed the last time around, 34, which may suggest someone already has an inside track on the appointment.

Marion Superior Court Judge Robert Altice, Jr. is up for re-election this year. He is running to be slated at tomorrow's Marion Co. Republican slating convention. Daniels is likely to have a decision made prior to this year's May primary. If Altice is re-slated and then later appointed to the Supreme Court, the Republicans would be one candidate short assuming nobody other than the slated candidates file to run in the May primary, which is typically the case. The Marion Co. Republican Party would then pick Altice's replacement, who would be guaranteed a seat on the court because all of the Republican and Democratic candidates nominated in the primary automatically win election to the court.

The first round of interviews will take place on February 8th and 9th. The Commission will meet in executive session immediately following the interviews and narrow the list to semi-finalists. On February 22, the Commission will interview the semi-finalists and then recommend three finalists to send to Gov. Daniels for consideration. A new chief justice will probably not be named until after March 4 according to the Commission's press release.

Burton Campaigning For Gingrich While Ignoring 5th District Voters McGoff Claims

Fifth district Republican congressional candidate Dr. John McGoff is slamming U.S. Rep. Dan Burton for spending time campaigning for Newt Gingrich's presidential campaign in the Florida primary while ignorning the voters in his congressional district. Burton, who is facing stiff opposition in this year's Republican primary as he has in the past two elections, has been skipping candidate forums being held in the district. McGoff's press release reads:

On Thursday night during the GOP presidential candidates’ debate, former Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich mentioned during one of his responses that Congressman Dan Burton was in Jacksonville campaigning for him. 
"When I heard that, I wish I could say that I was surprised that Congressman Burton was too busy campaigning for someone else, while ignoring the voters in his own district by not participating in candidate forums here at home," said Dr. John McGoff a candidate for the 5th Congressional District seat. "The fact that he was in Florida in January, where golf courses are plentiful, was not lost on me either."
In the last two weeks, there have been two candidate forums: one in Howard County and one in Pike Township in Marion County. Congressman Burton was invited to both but declined to participate. At these events the candidates answered questions from the audience regarding national issues affecting voters in the 5th District.
"Congressman Burton takes the 5th District voters for granted and has for years," McGoff said. "He's been in Washington since 1982, and until I ran against him in the 2008 primary, he never had a challenger.  Since he didn't have to campaign for re-election he stayed in Washington. Most people will tell you Congressman Burton makes only obligatory visits to the District."
At last week’s Howard County GOP Century Club Forum, Howard County GOP Chairman Craig Dunn said, "The 2012 Congressional election will not be about politics as usual. The Howard County Republican Party and the Republican voters of the 5th Congressional District are deeply disappointed by the Congressman's failure to participate."
As of today, there are four more candidate forums scheduled throughout the District and the Congressman has indicated he will not be participating in any of these events.
Burton seems to be counting on a crowded field of candidates to allow him to sneak back in again this year as happened two years ago when he narrowly won in a four-way race. You have to think Burton's luck is about to run out. Avoiding public appearances in his district leads one to conclude that he really doesn't care whether he wins re-election, which begs the question of why he decided to run again if he doesn't want to campaign. In addition to McGoff, Burton faces opposition from former U.S. Attorney Susan Brooks, former U.S. Rep. David McIntosh and attorney Jack Lugar (no relation to Sen. Lugar).

Indiana's Tax Climate Ranks 11th In The Nation

Indiana's tax climate ranks 11th in the nation according to the Tax Foundation, the same position it held in last year's rankings of the 50 states. Neighboring Illinois' rating moved the most, falling from 16th place in 2011 to 28th place in 2012. "A state that raises sufficient revenue without one of the major taxes will, all things being equal, have an advantage over those states that levy every tax in the state collector's arsenal," the Tax Foundation report concludes. The states with the best tax climates in order are:

1. Wyoming
2. South Dakota
3. Nevada
4. Alaska
5. Florida
6. New Hampshire
7. Washington
8. Montana
9. Texas
10. Utah

The states with the worst rax climates are:

41. Iowa
42. Maryland
43. Wisconsin
44. North Carolina
45. Minnesota
46. Rhode Island
47. Vermont
48. California
49. New York
50. New Jersey

Notice that almost all of the states with favorable tax climates are red states, while almost all of the states with unfavorable tax climates are blue states. You can view the background paper prepared by the Tax Foundation here.

Judge Makes Key Rulings In Indiana's Lawsuit Against IBM

The Indiana Lawyer is reporting that Judge David Dreyer has made some key rulings in the costly litigation between IBM and the state of Indiana over the cancellation of the contract FSSA entered into with IBM for the privatization of the agency's welfare services. On one summary judgment motion in favor of IBM, Judge Dreyer ruled the company is entitled to up to $40 million in subcontractor assignment fees provided under the contract if it prevails in its claims against the state.

Judge Dreyer ruled against IBM's motion for summary judgment for $43 million in deferred fees it claims it is entitled to receive as a result of the termination, as well as $9.3 million in equipment the state retained that IBM says it purchased. In another favorable ruling for the state, Judge Dreyer denied the company's motion for summary judgment on its claim that its poor performance should be excused because of an economic downturn and flooding that occurred after the contract was signed.

The Indiana Lawyer observes that the state of Indiana could still recover up to $125 million in damages on its remaining claims against IBM if it prevails in the litigation. If IBM prevails, however, the state could owe IBM $100 million per a termination clause in the contract.

Judge Dreyer granted a motion by IBM's attorneys to depose Gov. Mitch Daniels as part of ongoing discovery in the case. The Indiana Supreme Court has granted transfer to hear the appeal directly. Oral argument on the appeal is scheduled for February 13.

Politico Wants You To Think Banks Are Bankrolling Mourdock's Campaign

This has to rank as one of the most gratuitous "let's help Dick Lugar win a seventh term to the Senate" efforts by the media to date. Politico runs with the headline, "It's payback time as banks boost Dick Lugar rival."  The story gives the impression banks have started raising all kinds of money for Richard Mourdock's campaign because Lugar voted against the banks on an amendment to legislation that would have blocked caps on swipe fees charged by banks on ATM cards. "The banking industry is making an example of Sen. Dick Lugar," the story claims in mentioning an "inside the beltway fundraiser" the industry recently held on Mourdock's behalf. According to the story, retailers are appalled that the bankers are going after lawmakers who sided with them in the legislative battle.

For their part, retailers said they are appalled by the tactic.
“That’s absurd. Debit swipe fee reforms passed because thousands of merchants, small and large, fought back against an unfair and anticompetitive system,” Retail Industry Leaders Association’s Brian Dodge said. “If the banks and card networks don’t yet recognize that these reforms passed on their merits and have no plans to change their behavior, then extending these reforms to credit cards will be easier than we thought.”
If you failed to read the page after the jump, you would have missed this revealing item: "RILA President Katherine Lugar is the senator’s daughter-in-law." Yeah, that might tell us more about the motive behind Lugar's vote than anything else. How many of Lugar's relatives are working as lobbyists in Washington? His son, David, is a lobbyist for the American Coalition for Clean Coal Technology. Lugar told CBS News that his son never lobbies him or his staff personally.

The Politico story only identifies a single $5,000 the banking industry has donated to Mourdock's poorly-funded campaign against Lugar's giant multi-million dollar warchest. The ranking Republican on the Senate Banking Committee, Sen. Richard Shelby (R-AL), who rakes in a lot of money from the banking industry, gave Lugar $5,000. The story opines that the Republican Party will have to spend a lot of money to save the seat if Mourdock upsets Lugar in the primary. 

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Ballard's Mass Transit Plan Killed In The House

The surest sign that Mayor Greg Ballard's mass transit plan was dead on arrival was the fact that not a single member of the Marion County legislative delegation signed on as a sponsor. Instead, the legislation's sponsors were legislators from rural areas, Rep. Jeff Espich (R-Uniondale), the chairman of the House Ways & Means Committee and Rep. Peggy Welch (D-Bloomington). Espich had told reporters a week ago he doubted there was sufficient support for the bill because it would lead to higher income taxes in Marion and Hamilton Counties. The debate in committee today, however, focused on the bill's provisions concerning the use of union labor. The IBJ discussed the debate over the bill's labor provisions that helped lead to its 11-10 defeat in committee today:

Espich acted to delete the common-wage provision but left the right-to-work language in place.
“I am here to try to act as much as I can in the spirit of compromise,” Espich said. “I will support the bill with the provision out or with the provision in. My preference is to have this provision in.”
Rep. Bill Crawford, D-Indianapolis, said the labor provisions in the bill that focused indirectly on employees’ right-to-work were “purely political.”
“I would vote against the bill if in fact that language remains in the bill,” Crawford said.
Rep. Winfield Moses, D-Fort Wayne, said the labor provisions led him to vote no as well.
Rep. Cherrish Pryor, D-Indianapolis, was also concerned about the Metropolitan Transit Authority’s opposition to the labor language. “To shove the labor language down their throats is insulting,” Pryor said.

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Obama And His Attorney Will Ignore Georgia Judge's Order To Appear In Ballot Eligibility Challenge

Secretary of State Warns of Consequences of Not Participating
A hearing will be conducted tomorrow morning in an Atlanta administrative court hearing a complaint filed by several Georgia citizens that Barack Obama is ineligible to appear on the state's presidential election ballot because he's not a natural born citizen, but neither Obama nor his attorney plan to attend despite an order issued by Judge Michael Malihi commanding their appearance. Instead, Obama's attorney fired a letter off to the state's Secretary of State condemning the administrative law judge's decision to go forward with the hearing. The Atlanta Journal-Constitution reports:

Democrats, including the attorney representing President Barack Obama, have made a last-minute decision to boycott the Thursday hearing to consider a “birther” effort to remove Obama from the March 6 presidential primary ballot.
“They can tilt at windmills on their own,” said state Democratic spokesman Eric Gray on Wednesday night.
Last week, in a surprise ruling, a Georgia state administrative judge declined to quash a subpoena directing Obama to attend a hearing Thursday at the Fulton County courthouse on a challenge to strike him from the Georgia ballot this fall on claims he is not a natural born U.S. citizen.
Among tomorrow’s no-shows will be Michael Jablonski, the Atlanta attorney serving as counsel to Obama. He’s written a letter to Secretary of State Brian Kemp, a Republican, asking him to intervene and bring the circus to a halt.

Georgia Secretary of State Brian Kemp responded to Jablonski's last minute letter demanding the hearing be cancelled with a firm warning: Participate in the hearing or ignore it at your own peril. Here's his response:

“As you are aware, OSAH Rule 616-1-2-.17 cited in your letter only applies to parties to a hearing. As the referring agency, the Secretary of State’s Office is not a party to the candidate challenge hearings scheduled for tomorrow. To the extent a request to withdraw the case referral is procedurally available, I do not believe such a request would be judicious given the hearing is set for tomorrow morning.”
He continued, “I expect the administrative law judge to report his findings to me after his full consideration of the evidence and law. Upon receipt of the report, I will fully and fairly review the entire record and initial decision of the administrative law judge.”
He also had a warning about the costs of simply not showing up for a court hearing.
“Anything you and your client place in the record in response to the challenge will be beneficial to my review of the initial decision; however, if you and your client choose to suspend your participation in the OSAH proceedings, please understand that you do so at your own peril.”
UPDATE: Today's hearing is being streamed live courtesy of Article II SuperPac. Click here to watch.

UPDATE II: Judge Michael Malihi concluded the evidentiary part of the hearing this morning. Attorneys for the complainants presented evidence that Obama's father, Barack Obama, Sr., was never a U.S. citizen, and offered evidence of the applicable law for determining a person's natural born citizenship status during the first half of the hearing. In the second half, California attorney Orly Taitz offered witnesses and evidence to support her contention that Obama is using a social security number that was never issued to him, that the birth certificate the White House posted online last April was a forgery, that he had used other aliases, including Soetoro, and that he had been identified as an Indonesian citizen presumably adopted by his step father, an Indonesian citizen. A certified fraud examiner and two document imaging experts testified as to their conclusions concerning Obama's alleged fraudulent use of another person's social security number and a forged Hawaiian birth certificate. A retired immigration and customs official with the U.S government testified that his research of the passport and immigration records of his parents and Obama's Hawaiian birth certificate rose to the level that would warrant a further investigation of Obama for potential document and immigration fraud. Nobody representing Obama was present for the hearing to rebut or object to any of the evidence that was offered. One of the blogs following the case closely claims Judge Malihi called the complainants attorneys into his chambers prior to the hearing to advise them of his intention to enter a default judgment against Obama because of his and his attorneys' absence from today's hearing. According to the blogger, the attorneys requested that they first be able to get their evidence they wished to offer into the record, which he agreed to do.

The American Thinker's Cindy Simpson has provided this listing of the evidence entered into the official record yesterday, in addition to the testimony of witnesses:

P2. Affidavit of Senior Deportation Officer with the Department of Homeland Security John Sampson, showing that Obama is using Connecticut SSN 042-68-4425
p3. Affidavit of Adobe Illustrator expert Felicito Papa, showing Obama's alleged true and correct copy of his birth certificate to be a computer generated forgery
P4. Affidavit of witness Linda Jordan, attesting to the fact, that SSN 042-68-4425, used by Obama, does not pass E-Verify
p6. Selective service certificate showing Obama using SSN 042-68-4425 and official printout from Social Security Number Verification Services, showing that 042-68-4425 was never issued to Barack Obama, attached e-mail from Colonel Gregory Hollister
p7. Affidavit of Adobe Illustrator expert Felicito Papa, showing that Obama is using CT SSN 042-68-4425 on his 2009 tax returns
p9. Hawaiian birth certificate 61-00637 of Susan Nordyke, born a few hours after Obama in Kapiolani Hospital, looks completely different from alleged copy of birth certificate of Obama
p10. Passport records of Stanley Ann Dunham Obama, mother of Barack Obama, showing Obama listed in her passport under the name Barack Obama Soebarkah, attached affidavit by Chris Strunk, recipient of Obama's passport records under FOIA
p11. Barack Obama's Indonesian school registration card #203, date accepted January 1, 1968, released by the Associated Press in Indonesia, showing him using last name Soetoro and listing citizenship -Indonesia....
Amicus Brief. Mr. Leo Donofrio, Esq.

Five House Republicans Vote Against Passage Of Right To Work

The controversial right to work legislation passed the Republican-controlled House today by a vote of 54-44 with five Republicans joining 39 Republicans in casting votes against it. The five Republicans voting against HB 1001 were: Rep. Ron Bacon (Dist. 75); Rep. Thomas Dermody (Dist. 20), Rep. Mike Karickhoff (Dist. 30); Rep. Thomas Saunders (Dist. 54); and Rep. Ed Soliday (Dist. 4). One Republican lawmaker, Rep. Mark Messmer (Dist. 63), and one Democratic lawmaker, Rep. Phil Pflum (Dist. 56) were excused from voting.

No Rules Of Respect Apply When Media Covers Health Problems Of Republicans

Once upon a time, the media shied away from placing much credence in what ex-spouses have to say about politicians fully aware that bitterness and a motive for revenge can sometimes taint their objectivity. Of course that rule didn't apply to Newt Gingrich's ex-wife, who many close to him believe simply fabricated a story of him asking for an open marriage out of whole cloth in an effort to derail his presidential campaign. She had as much said during one interview years ago that she would do anything she could to destroy him if he ever decided to run for president. As mean-spirited as the news media can be towards conservatives and Republicans in general, the Chicago Magazine's story immediately following news that Illinois' freshman senator, Mark Kirk, had suffered a life-threatening stroke, hit a new low. Carol Felsenthal contacted Sen. Kirk's ex-wife, Kimberly Vertolli, and broke the news to her that her former husband had just suffered a stroke. Felsenthal described Vertolli, who was shopping with her father at Staples at the time she received her call as being shocked by the news, but a few minutes into the conversation she unloaded on his alleged unhealthy lifestyle, essentially blaming the stroke on his poor health.

Vertolli described a man who had difficulty sleeping and suffered from panic attacks, relentless levels of stress, and debilitating migraines that required him to retreat into a dark room. “There were a lot of indications I saw that told me that he had to slow down or alter his behavior or lifestyle,” she said. “He doesn’t take care of himself and doesn’t take breaks. To him, fun is editing papers; he has to always be doing something.” Vertolli recalled that on their honeymoon to Italy and France, Kirk—then in the first of five terms in the U.S. House—did relax, but “pretty much slept the entire time.”
She recalled her ex-husband as “not a person who places fitness as a priority.” He belongs to a health club in Lake Forest, she said, but he only went every few months. When Vertolli went out for a run in the morning, she went alone, as Kirk was “out of breath after the simplest thing.” She also mentioned a “terrible diet,” heavy on muffins, cookies, ice cream, donuts, and red meat. “He ate what was put in front of him,” she said. He didn’t have time to prepare food or to shop. But, she added, he never smoked, and he “barely drank—socially, that’s it.” Common risk factors for a stroke include physical inactivity, high blood pressure, diabetes, and being overweight.
First of all, the reporter having covered Mark Kirk for a number of years, knows that he is not overweight, doesn't smoke, doesn't consume much alcohol and is a Naval reserve officer who has served several tours of duties in Afghanistan in recent years. Kirk's doctor, who has known him for years, had an entirely different opinion of his health. “He works out regularly. He eats a reasonably good diet and takes care of himself. He had to pass his Navy physical twice a year. So he had to be in reasonably good shape,” Dr. Richard Fessler said. “But I don’t think that this event has anything to do with either stress or his diet. It’s just one of those unfortunate disasters that happen to people sometimes,” he added. Fessler explained to the media that Kirk's stroke was brought on as a result of a dissected carotid artery in his right neck, which caused swelling in his brain. Emergency surgery over the weekend was performed to correct the problem.

Felsenthal would have done her readers a big favor if she had chosen to rely on the opinion of medical experts rather than an embittered ex-spouse to explain Kirk's stroke. After a number of online commenters attacked her story as "despicable" and "a sad day for journalism", Felsenthal posted the following comment in response:

Since I posted the above reaction yesterday from Kimberly Vertolli, Sen. Mark Kirk's ex-wife, to the news of his stroke, we have received comments/complaints from readers who are upset that during the height of Sen. Kirk's serious illness we would post an interview with his ex-wife commenting on what she described as his unhealthy lifestyle.
When Vertolli and I spoke, there was admiration in her voice, but also sadness as, in her opinion, this kind of schedule was not healthy.
Vertolli was clearly identified in the post as Kirk's ex-wife, and readers, I would think, understand that that fact carries with it the potential for some bitterness. However, I have found her, since I started to speak to her in the summer of 2010 when she was volunteering on her ex-husband's campaign, to be a reliable source on his life, family, and career.
She has repeatedly characterized him to me as a dedicated public servant, too dedicated in that he does not relax or take time to take care of himself. It was that message that she was trying to convey, and I quoted her as such.
All in all, I saw this as an opportunity both to give a more personal perspective on the senator¹s illness and as a means to deliver some cautionary news about the role that stress and overwork can play in illness. As I was interviewing Vertolli and writing up the interview, I recalled the news coverage of the death by heart attack of Mayor Harold Washington and the lessons about diet and exercise that millions took from that. I also recalled the thousands of women, myself included, who picked up the telephone and made appointments for mammograms after the news broke of Nancy Reagan's breast cancer.
I'm having a difficult time believing that former Mayor Harold Washington's death by heart attack or Nancy Reagan's breast cancer were on her mind as she was discussing Kirk's personal health with his bitter ex-wife, who had a past history of saying less than nice things about him to this very same reporter. One of the commenters hit the nail on the head: "I don't remember Harry Reid getting this kind of treatment when he suffered a similar stroke."

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

NFL Decides To Add 5,000 Temporary Seats At Lucas Oil Stadium For Super Bowl

Recent news stories discussed how NFL officials had opted against adding nearly 7,000 temporary seats at Lucas Oil Stadium for this year's Super Bowl game as had been proposed by the Indianapolis host committee in its winning bid. Instead, the NFL chose to add only 254 temporary seats, meaning that this year's 63,000 attendees would be the lowest-attended game in 20 years. The IBJ's Anthony Schoettle says the NFL had a change of heart and decided to add 5,000 temporary seats for the game. It doesn't look like the NFL is going to have trouble with last minute fire marshal concerns as happened at last year's Super Bowl game in Dallas that left many ticketholders seatless.

The National Football League has decided to make room for 5,000 extra ticketholders for the Super Bowl in Lucas Oil Stadium.
NFL officials on Monday told IBJ that they plan to expand the stadium capacity to 68,000 during the Feb. 5 event in Indianapolis. Capacity for Colts games is typically 63,000.

The decision was made after the league evaluated how much room it would need for media auxiliary seating and for NBC’s production facilities within the venue . . .

Most of the extra capacity will come from additional standing-room tickets sold for each suite and by filling platforms that are not normally used during Colts games with padded chairs.

A club area in the stadium’s north end zone will be used for the NFL’s City View Club. Those tickets, McCarthy said, will be used for NFL on Location ticketholders. That area will include 254 temporary seats . . .

All the temporary seats have been inspected and approved by the city’s Department of Code Enforcement, McCarthy said. No bleachers or temporary structures will be built to accommodate the additional capacity, he said.

At last year’s Super Bowl in Dallas, a problem with meeting safety standards for some of the temporary seating meant 850 ticketholders were moved in Cowboys Stadium. Another 400 didn’t end up with seats despite buying a ticket and showing up for the game. Those fans were forced to watch the game on monitors in a lounge area.

Those 400 were given refund of triple face value—$2,400 per ticket. But many of the displaced fans complained that the NFL’s refund was less than they paid for the tickets on the secondary market.

Indianapolis Capital Improvement Board Executive Director Barney Levengood said that issue shouldn’t come up this year since there has been no construction needed to accommodate the increased capacity inside Lucas Oil Stadium . . .
Let's hope public safety concerns with the extra seating at the facility aren't being compromised for the sake of maximizing profits for the billionaire NFL team owners. All of the revenues from ticket sales to the game are kept by the NFL. The NFL is getting free use of Lucas Oil Stadium and the entire convention center, as well as 16,000 parking spaces downtown for its exclusive use during the Super Bowl festivities. The NFL is paying nothing to the city of Indianapolis for millions of dollars in added public safety costs associated with the event.

Speaking of the free use of parking spaces by the NFL, some IUPUI students are hopping mad about a decision by university officials to take away at least 4,000 parking spaces purchased by students who attend classes at the school for the NFL's use during the extended Super Bowl weekend. That decision has led many faculty members to cancel classes. The only possible reason for the use of these parking spaces is the fact that the AFC's New England Patriots team is staying at the University Place Hotel on the campus. WRTV has the story:
Some Indiana University Purdue University-Indianapolis students are speaking out against the school's plan to accommodate Super Bowl activities, limiting students' parking options and canceling some classes.

IUPUI made special arrangements with Indianapolis to allow the city to use 4,000 of its 16,000 parking spots on a few days surrounding the Super Bowl, RTV6's Ericka Flye reported . . .

"I think the Super Bowl is great for the city. I just think that it shouldn't hinder our education," said student Chris Gault. "It seems the school is putting the outsiders and the Super Bowl attendees before the students and their educations."
Parking has long been a contentious issue on the IUPUI campus, which has had trouble with having enough spaces to meet student demand.

"They're selling our parking spaces that are paid permit holder spaces," said student Andrew Reno. "A lot of us have taken out loans to pay for our classes, and now we're being given less time in the classroom."

Classes that would have been on Super Bowl weekend are canceled, and faculty was given flexibility to cancel or adjust classes on the Friday before the game and Monday after the game.

"(We're) trying to make it as easy as possible on students by not requiring them to attend face-to-face classes if their professor thinks that's best," said Rich Schneider, IUPUI spokesman.

Journal-Constitution Finally Reports On Eligibility Case

The Atlanta Journal-Constitution decided to put up a story late yesterday discussing the fact that a judge in its state had refused to quash a subpoena ordering President Obama to appear at a hearing considering whether he is constitutionally eligible to appear on Georgia's presidential primary election ballot as a presidential candidate. The AJC's Bill Rankin doesn't take the challenge seriously and doesn't think Obama should either. Rankin reports on Obama's plans for Thursday:

Even though President Barack Obama has been summoned to a court hearing here Thursday, don’t expect the Commander in Chief to come.
Obama will embark on a three-day trip following his State of the Union address Tuesday evening, White House press secretary Jay Carney said during a press briefing Monday. The White House has said that Obama will be in Las Vegas, Denver and Detroit this Thursday.
Rankin, like so many of his media colleagues, has chosen to lie about the key contention of the eligibility lawsuit.  Rankin calls Judge Michael Malihi's order refusing to quash the subpoena issued against Obama "surprising" in "a challenge to strike him from the Georgia ballot this fall on claims he is not a U.S. citizen." Again, Rankin apparently is another glaring example of how our school systems apparently no longer teach civics to students. Word to Rankin, a person can be a citizen and still not be a "natural born citizen."

Rankin wants you to know that 68 other challenges against Obama's eligibility filed around the country have been dismissed and are viewed as "baseless" allegations by "birthers." Rankin also found a law professor at Georgia State University who is equally ignorant of the U.S. Constitution. He claims the lawsuits are litigating "the issue of president's nationality." He says the case is "frivolous" and should be dismissed like the other lawsuits, all of which were dismissed on standing grounds, not the merits of the plaintiffs' contention that Obama is not a natural born citizen.

As I pointed out, during the 1968 presidential election, major newspapers like the New York Times wrote dozens of stories discussing the issue of whether George Romney, father of Mitt Romney, was a natural born citizen despite the fact that he was born to two U.S. citizens because he was born in Mexico. Not a single one of those stories suggested Romney wasn't a citizen. None of those stories suggested the persons doubting Romney's eligibility were anti-Mormon or anti-Mexican. Romney was eventually hounded out of the race before a single vote was ever cast in that election under the threat of litigation over his eligibility to claim natural born citizenship status.

Nothing in the constitution has changed in the past 50 years concerning presidential eligibility. What has happened in the ensuing fifty years is that the U.S. Constitution has simply been amended in the court of public opinion to mean something the framers never intended it to mean. If they can rewrite the natural born citizenship requirement without an amendment, think what else they can write out of the constitution without an amendment. Thankfully, the U.S. Supreme Court struck down yesterday an attempt by the Obama administration to further erode our Fourth Amendment protection against unreasonable searches and seizures by the government through the use of warrantless tracking devices. It remains to be seen whether the Supreme Court allows him to get away with abolishing habeus corpus as he did by signing into law the National Defense Authorization Act late last year. By allowing the public to be fooled into thinking this debate is just another bigoted attack against Obama by people unwilling to accept an African-American president, we are taking a trip down the slippery slope of becoming a nation of men, not a nation of laws as was envisioned and adopted by our Founders.

UPDATE: What do you know? Mr. Rankin revised his online story to state that the complaint contended Obama was not a "natural born citizen" as opposed to a citizen after I e-mailed him and pointed out his mistake and he replied "gotcha" and was correcting the story immediately. I'll give him credit for correcting his error, although the updated story doesn't mention the earlier mistatement.

Monday, January 23, 2012

Nine Republican Senators Vote Against Right To Work

The Republican-controlled Senate in Indiana passed right to work legislation contained in SB 269. That comes as no surprise. What is surprising is that nine of the Senate's 37 Republicans joined the chamber's 13 Democrats in voting against it. The nine Republicans voting no were: Vaneta Becker, R-Evansville; Richard Bray, R-Martinsville; Ed Charbonneau, R-Valparaiso; Johnny Nugent, R-Lawrenceburg; Sen. Sue Landske, R-Cedar Lake; Brent Steele, R-Bedford; Jim Tomes, R-Wadesville; Brent Waltz, R-Greenwood; and John Waterman, R-Shelburn.

The Republican-controlled House finished up second reading action on its version of right to work contained in HB 1001. Judging by the largely party-line votes rejecting amendments offered by Democrats, it appears the House Republican caucus is more supportive of right to work than the Senate Republican caucus. The Democrats caucused as soon as work on the bill was completed today. It remains to be seen whether they will resume their boycott in an effort to block a third reading vote on the bill. They are angry because they weren't allowed to offer more than the dozen or so amendments they offered today, including an unconstitutional attempt to leave it to the state's voters to determine at a referendum whether right to work should be enacted into law.

Media Pretends Georgia Eligibility Case Isn't Happening

In the past, every time another court dismissed a lawsuit challenging Barack Obama's eligibility to serve as president because he is not a natural born citizen, the mainstream media always weighed in with snarky coverage sprinkled with the obligatory name-calling of those behind the lawsuits as "birthers", "right-wing conspiracists" and garden variety racists who couldn't accept an African-American as president. When a judge down in Georgia considering a challenge to Obama's eligibility to appear on the state's presidential primary ballot refused to dismiss the case on standing grounds, as had occurred in every single lawsuit to date, the media took a different tact. It just decided the case wasn't newsworthy and ignored it.

A hearing in the case has been scheduled for this Thursday. Obama's lawyers attempted to quash a subpoena requesting Obama's appearance and seeking production of documents establishing his natural born citizenship status. Remarkably, Judge Michael Malihi denied the motion to quash the subpoena and commanded President Obama's appearance at the hearing. The judge's order seemed to reflect his disfavor with the disdain shown by the filings in opposition to the proceedings by Obama's attorneys. Judge Malihi wrote, in part:
Defendant fails to provide any legal authority to support his motion to quash the subpoena to attend. Defendant's motion suggests that no President should be compelled to attend a Court hearing. This may be correct. But Defendant has failed to enlighten the Court with any legal authority. Specifically, Defendant has failed to cite to any legal authority evidencing why his attendance is "unreasonable or oppressive, or that the testimony... [is] irrelevant, immaterial, or cumulative and unnecessary to a party's preparation or presentation at the hearing, or that basic fairness dictates that the subpoena should not be enforced."
In reading Judge Malihi's Order denying Obama's motion to dismiss the proceeding challenging him to prove he is a natural born citizen as required by the U.S. Constitution, you could detect a similar disfavor he was showing to the President's attorney's disdain towards the state proceedings:

In the instant motion, Defendant contends that Georgia law does not give Plaintiffs authority to challenge a political party's nominee for president in a presidential preference primary because Code Section 21-2-5 does not apply to the presidential preference primary.
Statutory provisions must be read as they are written, and this Court finds that the cases cited by Defendant are not controlling. When the Court construes a constitutional or statutory provision, the "first step . . . is to examine the plain statutory language." Morrison v. Claborn, 294 Ga. App. 508, 512 (2008). "Where the language of a statute is plain and unambiguous, judicial construction is not only unnecessary but forbidden. In the absence of words of limitation, words in a statute should be given their ordinary and everyday meaning." Six Flags Over Ga. v. Kull, 276 Ga. 210, 211 (2003) (citations and quotation marks omitted). Because there is no other "natural and reasonable construction" of the statutory language, this Court is "not authorized either to read into or to read out that which would add to or change its meaning." Blum v. Schrader, 281 Ga. 238, 240 (2006) (quotation marks omitted) . . .  
Accordingly, this Court finds that Defendant is a candidate for federal office who has
been certified by the state executive committee of a political party, and therefore must, under Code Section 21-2-5, meet the constitutional and statutory qualifications for holding the office being sought.
Despite the significance of the case playing out in Georgia, the state's newspaper of record, Atlanta Journal-Constitution, has not filed one independent story on the case. Instead, it ran a brief, three-paragraph story filed by the Associated Press, the same story reported in some major newspapers and news organizations across the country. One Atlanta TV station ran a story claiming the persons behind the lawsuit contend that Obama is not a U.S. citizen, an often-repeated lie by the mainstream media throughout the country who count on the American people being too stupid to understand our constitution makes a distinction between ordinary citizens and natural born citizens when it comes to serving as president of the United Sates. Only the latter are eligible to hold the highest office in the land. The American Thinker's Cindy Simpson futilely tried to make the point of explaining the narrowly-drawn contention of the citizens filing the Georgia complaint against Obama in an earlier post:
The matter before this Court has nothing to do with the birth place of the Defendant, nor does it assert that he is not a citizen of the United States. In fact, limited to this challenged primary election, the Plaintiff will stipulate that the Defendant was born in Hawaii, that the Defendant is a U.S. Citizen, and that the Defendant was Constitutionally-qualified to serve as a U.S. Senator. The Plaintiff makes no assertion regarding the Defendant's passports, or social security number, or any other fact related to the Defendant, other than the one fact asserted at the beginning of this opposition: that the Defendant's father was not a U.S. citizen.
Contrary to the Defendant's assertions, the issue presented by the Plaintiff is grounded on one uncontestable fact, and one clear definition from the U.S. Supreme Court. See Minor v. Happersett, 88 U.S. 162, 167 (1875).
New Jersey attorney Leo Donofrio has been doing yeoman's work researching the relevant law and history in an effort to teach people the true meaning behind the words, "natural born citizen" at his blog. Donofrio has filed a compelling amicus brief in the Georgia case that's well worth the read. You can view it here. Donofrio's brief makes clear the Minor v. Happersett decision is the only controlling case from the U.S. Supreme Court on the meaning of those words, a case that has been repeatedly reaffirmed by the court over the years. He also does a thorough job of explaining why the argument proffered by a number of legal observers that the U.S. adopted the British common law view on natural-born subjects simply doesn't hold water.

The American Thinker's Cindy Simpson reports that Obama has no intention of going anywhere near the Atlanta hearing on Thursday despite the court-ordered appearance. In case you haven't figured it out yet, Obama is above the law. Instead, he plans to promote his agenda for re-election in Las Vegas and Denver. Last week, the media melted when Obama sang a small line from Al Green's "Let's Stay Together" at New York's Apollo Theater. Simpson thinks the song "Georgia On My Mind" should be the song Obama is humming during his trip out west while the hearing in Atlanta proceeds in his absence.

Gingrich Surges To Lead In Florida

So much for the best laid plans. Mitt Romney's campaign had counted on wrapping up the Republican presidential nomination by the Florida primary. Despite polls within the last week showing him with a double-digit lead there, a new poll released by Insider Advantage today shows Gingrich surging ahead of Romney in Florida with an 8-point, 34% to 26% lead. Ron Paul and Rick Santorum trail way behind with 13% and 11%, respectively. The sudden collapse of Romney's popular support among Republican voters is going to create a lot of consternation for top Republican officials. National tracking polls are similarly showing a collapse in support for Romney as support for Gingrich grows.

Super PACs To Play A Major Role In Lugar-Mourdock Race

A former aide to Sen. Richard Lugar is heading up a newly-created Super PAC, Indiana Values SuperPAC, to assist his well-funded campaign in defeating his Republican primary opponent, Richard Mourdock. FreedomWorks for America, will aide Mourdock in dislodging Lugar, who has already served six consecutive terms in the Senate. The Journal-Gazette has a story today that begins:

Super PACs, the boon and bane of Republican presidential candidates, will try to sway GOP voters in Indiana when they choose a nominee for the U.S. Senate.
Supporters of Sen. Richard Lugar, R-Ind., have formed a super political action committee named Indiana Values SuperPAC. Lugar’s challenger in the May 8 primary election, state Treasurer Richard Mourdock, is getting a boost from a super PAC called FreedomWorks for America.
Super PACs “are just part of the lay of the land these days,” said Andy Klingenstein, a legislative aide to Lugar in the early 1980s and the treasurer of Indiana Values SuperPAC.
Federal court rulings in the past two years have allowed for the creation of the groups, which operate independently of candidate campaigns and can raise and spend unlimited sums of money to try to elect or defeat candidates.
For all the criticism laid at SuperPACs, the reality is that the only reason the candidacies of Newt Gingrich and Rick Santorum have an opportunity to compete in this year's Repubican presidential nomination battle is because of all the money SuperPACs have dumped into the race on their behalf to offset the money advantage of Romney's campaign, and to a lesser extent, Ron Paul's campaign, have over their poorly-financed campaigns.

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Churches Joining Fight In Indiana Against Right To Work

An AFL-CIO advisory this weekend announces a number of churches who are joining the fight to defeat right to work legislation being pushed by Governor Mitch Daniels and Republican state legislators. Several churches across the state were scheduling events following today's Sunday services to push for the defeat of the legislation. It seems rather odd for churches to be wading into this debate, but a cross section of churches are doing just that. From the press release:

Congregations from across Indiana are joining in the fight to defeat the deceptively named “right to work” law. Following Sunday services, several churches will be hosting letter writing sessions encouraging House Speaker Brain [sic]  Bosma and other legislators to end their push for the controversial legislation.

The following churches will host events Sunday.

Independence Baptist Church
2301 West Virginia Ave.
12:30 p.m.

Fort Wayne
Union Baptist Church
2200 Smith St.
Fort Wayne
1:00 p.m.

St. John Lutheran Church
729 W. Washington Blvd.
Fort Wayne
2:00 p.m.

First Christian Church of Beach Grove
5521 Churchman Ave.
6:30 p.m.

Broadway UMC
609 E. 29th St.

South Bend
Laymen Chapel CME
303 S Kenmore St.
South Bend
10:00 a.m.