Monday, December 31, 2012

Former Indianapolis Councilor Arrested After Throwing Drunken Rage At Ruth's Chris

Former Republican Indianapolis City-County Councilor Barbara Malone always had a reputation as a person with a taste for alcohol. According to IndyPolitics, her drinking turned ugly during a recent binge at Ruth's Chris in downtown Indianapolis, leading to her arrest on public intoxication and disorderly conduct charges:
According to an IMPD report, Malone was at Ruth Chris Steakhouse in downtown Indianapolis on December 22 and refused to pay her bill at the bar.
The manager on duty called police when Malone allegedly became belligerent. She reportedly slammed her wine glass against the bar and refused to leave.
She was arrested and taken to the arrestee processing center.
Malone, an attorney, was given a job as an assistant corporation counsel by the Ballard administration following her defeat for re-election. IndyPolitics says she no longer holds that position. Malone was elected as an at-large councilor in 2007. She always voted down the line with the Ballard administration and exhibited no Republican philosophical leanings. A former Democrat, she only ran as a Republican in the 2007 primary after Democrats made it clear to her that she had no future in their party. Malone defeated one of the slated candidates in the primary and rode the anti-tax wave that swept former Mayor Bart Peterson out of office, along with control of the council. Malone was swept out of office in the 2011 municipal election when the Democrats captured all four at-large council seats.

UPDATE: The City of Indianapolis' corporation counsel website still lists (removed as of today) Malone as a member of its staff.

State Department Denies Clinton Plane Crash Story

The State Department issued a terse statement in response to a press inquiry today denying a report by the European Union Times that Secretary of State Hillary Clinton is recovering from injuries she sustained in a plane crash during a secret mission to Iran three weeks ago. The EU Times, citing a Foreign Military Intelligence Report circulating at the Kremlin, claims Clinton sustained injuries when a C-12 Huron military passenger plane crash landed at an airport in Ahwaz, Iran near the Iraqi border. The bizarre news report took on extra interest in the wake of Clinton's absence from the public for three weeks following a series of health problems disclosed by the State Department.

According to the report, the plane was scheduled to fly from Bahrain air base in Afghanistan to Baghdad, Iraq about three weeks ago but deviated from its planned flight schedule and instead landed at Ahwaz International Airport where it experienced severe turbulence during landing and skidded off the runway before crashing. "After emergency aid was given, GRU agents stationed in Iran state that another US military flight was dispatched from Bahrain to Ahwaz which evacuated all of those wounded and killed in the crash including Secretary Clinton," the EU Times reports. Clinton was pulled from the plane's wreckage unconscious and “bleeding profusely.” A highly-decorated Navy SEAL Commander, Job Price, was reportedly killed in the crash. News reports in the U.S. shortly before Christmas reported that the Navy SEAL 4 commander had been found dead in his quarters in Afghanistan from an apparent suicide. The report claims that Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad had earlier made an unscheduled landing at the same airport.

In response to a question from a reporter, the State Department stated, "Secretary of State Clinton was not injured or involved in a plane crash." Clinton has not been publicly seen since a trip to Europe in early December where she visited the Czech Republic, Belgium, Northern Ireland and Ireland. Her last public appearance was on December 7 according to the State Department's website. The State Department reported a few days later that Clinton had canceled a previously scheduled week-long trip during the week of December 10 to the Middle East because of a stomach virus, the same day the State Department declared a Syrian rebel group was in fact a terrorist group with ties to al-Qaeda. Clinton's trip to North Africa and the Middle East had been planned to build cooperation among those fighting for the ouster of President Bashar Assad's regime in Syria, who has received military assistance from Iran.

The following week the State Department announced Clinton's testimony before Congress on the terrorist attack on the Benghazi consulate that claimed the life of Ambassador Chris Stevens and two other Americans was being postponed due to a head injury Clinton had suffered from a fall occasioned by a fainting spell. The State Department claimed Clinton had been recovering from her stomach virus at home under the care of her physician when she "became dehydrated and fainted, sustaining a concussion."  The latest report claims Clinton had to be hospitalized over the weekend in New York to treat a blood clot that had been discovered during a follow-up exam by her physician. Aides claimed that Clinton was being treated with blood thinners, but medical experts seem to question that account, indicating that blood thinners would not be used to treat a blood clot associated with a concussion. Others wondered if the blood clots didn't form in her legs from extended bed rest and had nothing to do with her reported concussion. Clinton did suffer a blood clot in her leg in 1998, which she has described as "the most significant health scare I've ever had."

The Weekly Standard observes that the varying news reports of Clinton's health condition explaining her public absence for the past three weeks have prompted conspiracy theories to abound. The National Enquirer claims she is dying from terminal brain cancer. Some speculated she had faked illness in order to avoid testifying before Congress on the administration's embarrassing handling of the Benghazi debacle. Sen. John Kerry has been named to replace Clinton as Secretary of State during the second Obama term. Some wonder whether she will ever make an appearance on Capitol Hill before stepping down. Former President Bill Clinton has been noticeably silent on his estranged wife's condition.

UPDATE: An AP story from December 30 oddly reports on the departure of "a small American commercial plane" from Iran that was "forced to land 16 days ago at the airport of the southern city of Ahvaz due to technical failure." According to the report, the plane's three passengers left Iran for other Arab countries while the plane remained behind for repairs. The AP reports says the plane was a Falcon 900 rather than a C-12 Huron described in the EU Times report. "It was not clear why the announcement of the plane's landing was not made earlier," the AP adds. Well, duh, it coincided with the EU Times report claiming that Clinton's plane had skidded off the runway during a secret mission to the country. An image of the C-12 Huron is provided below. According to a description of the plan on Wikipedia, the C-12 Huron is a twin-engine turboprop aircraft made by Beechcraft that are "used for various duties, including embassy support, medical evacuation, as well as passenger and light cargo transport." The Falcon 900 is a French-built corporate jet aircraft made by Dassault Aviation.

TMZ captured this image of a distraught Chelsea Clinton leaving the hospital after visiting her mother in New York.

Sunday, December 30, 2012

Mainstream Media Reveals Identity Of White House Staffer Behind Jill Kelley Visits First Identified By This Blog Six Weeks Ago

Michael Gottlieb
This blog exclusively revealed to you the identity of the White House staffer who invited Tampa Bay socialite Jill Kelley to the White House in the days and weeks prior to this year's election when the White House claimed it still knew nothing about the ongoing investigation of CIA Director David Petraeus' affair with his biographer Paula Broadwell six weeks ago. It wasn't difficult to discover that there was only one White House attorney, Michael Gottlieb, who had mysteriously taken leave of his job at the White House to work in Afghanistan as a civilian attorney during the same period Gen. Petraeus was still in command of our troops there. All of the mainstream news reporters covering the Petraeus scandal ignored this blog's report identifying Gottlieb as the person who invited Kelley to the White House. Politico now reveals Michael Gottlieb's identity based on newly-released White House records without asking further questions about the timing of Kelley's visits to meet with him:

The mystery staffer who invited Tampa socialite Jill Kelley to visit the White House is a special assistant to President Barack Obama and an associate counsel focusing on national security issues.
Mike Gottlieb, who has been with the administration since Obama took office, twice had breakfast with Kelley and her sister in the White House dining hall.
White House officials confirmed last month that Kelley had visited a "mid-level staffer" but declined to name the staffer. Visitor log records released Friday identify Gottlieb.
It's unclear how Gottlieb met Kelley, one of the women at the center of the scandal that led to the resignation of Gen. David Petraeus.
But Kelley frequently socialized with top military brass stationed at MacDill Air Force Base in Tampa, Fla., home to the military’s Central Command and Special Operations Command.
And the Central Command website says Gottlieb was detailed from the White House for a time to a joint interagency task force focusing on detainee operations in Afghanistan. He was in Kabul from January 2010 through March 2011, according to a biography.
Gottlieb, as a White House employee, is allowed to bring guests to dine in the White House mess — basically an employee cafeteria.
The White House was spying on Petraeus at least as far back as the date Gottlieb arrived in Afghanistan under the cover of working as a civilian attorney there.  When will the media call the Obama administration out for covering up its knowledge of his affair with Broadwell long before the date it claimed Obama first learned of it--the day after the election? When will it ask questions about why it concealed such damning information about the nation's top spy until after the election? And when will someone finally figure out who Jill Kelley has really been working for? If this were 1972, Watergate would have been a one-week story that Richard Nixon would have survived.

CIB Lied To Council And Public Again: Does Anybody Care?

Truth in budgeting has never been one of the CIB's strong suits. In recent years, however, fudging of numbers has turned to outright lies being made by its officials during the budgeting process to hide its true spending plans, particularly when it comes to handouts totaling in the tens of millions of dollars. CIB officials claimed in 2009 a bailout plan approved by the state legislature and the City-County Council that included tax hikes and new state subsidies was necessary to maintain its solvency as a going concern. No sooner had the ink dried on the bailout plan than the CIB announced a three-year, $33.5 million give-away to billionaire Herb Simon's Indiana Pacers.

During this year's budget negotiations, CIB President Ann Lathrop claimed the municipal corporation was still working on a deal with the Pacers. Its proposed 2013 budget included no additional payments to the Pacers, and the City-County Council approved additional payments in this year's budget. When the City-County Council tacked on a $15 million, one-time PILOT payment to its 2013 budget to help defray public safety expenses for Lucas Oil Stadium and the Fieldhouse, the agency claimed its long-term solvency was threatened, even though it held $65 million in cash reserves, more than the amount held by the City of Indianapolis. Lathrop knew when she made those statements that the CIB was planning to make another $10 million payment to the Pacers before year's end out of this year's budget to explain why proposed new taxes to benefit the CIB next year won't be paid out the new taxes. The Indianapolis Star finds Lathrop's lying humorous, which it only mentions in passing in its "Behind Closed Doors" column in an item labeled "Pacing Payments":

The Capital Improvement Board unveiled a surprise earlier this month: a one-year extension of its three-year agreement with the Indiana Pacers, providing a new payment of $10 million to the team to help offset the cost of operating Bankers Life Fieldhouse.
The decision turned heads -- not only for how suddenly it cropped up but also because the CIB, which runs Indianapolis' sports venues and convention center, found a way to avoid seeking approval from the City-County Council.
The CIB is splitting the new payment between the CIB's current year and 2013 budgets -- within spending levels the council has already approved. That negates the need for the council's further sign-off.
Council Vice President Brian Mahern, one of the council's most vocal CIB critics, has cried foul over that arrangement.
It's the same council, controlled by Democrats, that slapped a $15 million one-time tax on the CIB for next year; the CIB is challenging that move, charging it was done improperly. Some council members also have criticized CIB spending priorities -- including giving the Pacers three $10 million installments of a forgivable loan under the 2010 agreement, which would have expired in June. That $33.5 million deal also included $3.5 million in fieldhouse upgrades.
Now, with the $10 million extension inked this month, the deal will last through June 2014.
During that time, the city and the Pacers will examine what each wants out of a new deal. For the city, one item now on the table is the potential transfer of responsibility for fieldhouse management from the Pacers to the CIB or even a third-party venue management company, confirmed Lotter, the mayor's spokesman.
Until the CIB's Dec. 3 meeting, President Ann Lathrop and Pacers officials had said only that they were working on a new long-term deal, making the short-term deal unexpected.
The Pacers, it turns out, will get the new $10 million payment before the one-year extension begins. The CIB planned to pay the team $5 million this month and $5 million next April.
Lathrop said the early payment wasn't unusual since the earlier installments under the 2010 deal occurred in advance of each year, the final one last January.
The first $5 million portion, paid this month, came from savings this year in utilities, temporary labor for big events and contractual setup costs, among other areas, Lathrop said.
The second installment in April will come from cost-cutting in next year's budget. "So we have $5 million that we need to come up with," Lathrop said.
The CIB approved the Pacers extension just as CIB leaders are examining whether to request council approval of increases to the ticket admission tax and auto rental excise tax. The hikes, part of a 2009 state bailout package of the CIB, are available only the first two months of 2013, and city leaders say a portion of the proceeds would go to offset the CIB's use of public safety resources.
Opponents fear those tax increases would only free up more money to subsidize the Pacers.
But for now, Lathrop insisted money from the potential tax increases wouldn't go toward the one-year extension payments.
"The first thing to say," she said, "is that we've passed the Pacers agreement to pay the $10 million under the current revenue streams we have."
In the future, the City-County Council should as a matter of practice slash the CIB's budget across-the-board and make it come back before it from time to time to seek additional budget authority for specific expenditures to remedy this problem. It might also want to consider putting Lathrop and her colleagues at the CIB under oath when they appear at public meetings to testify on the the CIB's budget. The threat of prosecution for perjury may be the only think left to force the CIB to provide truthful information when its officials testify in the future. As for the lack of seriousness taken by the Star to the CIB's transgressions, I suggest the taxpaying public stop subscribing to the newspaper since it obviously is no longer interested in being a watchdog for taxpayers.

Thursday, December 27, 2012

Chicago Parking Meter Operator Sticks It To Motorists Again

Former Chicago Mayor Richard Daley should have been sent to prison instead of former Gov. Rod Blagojevich for strapping the Windy City with the 75-year lease of its parking meter assets to a company represented by the law firm for whom he now works. Chicago Parking Meters, LLC will stick motorists with its "annual ritual" of raising parking rates the Tribune reports. Rates for parking in the Loop will jump 75 cents next year to a whopping $6.50 per hour! Other neighborhoods near the Loop will see a quarter raise to $4 an hour, while rates elsewhere will jump a quarter to $2 an hour.

Mayor Rahm Emanuel is still feuding with the company over its demand that the City fork over an additional $61 million it claims it is owed under the 75-year lease for parking meters taken out of use for street repairs and special events or used by handicap drivers exempt from paying metered rates. While Emanuel has been highly critical of his predecessor's parking meter deal, he and the rubber stamp council demonstrated how little they've learned from that mistake after they rushed through a 20-year deal to sell space for more than 30 digital billboards along the City's freeways with the hope of raising $200 million in new revenues to avoid the need for raising taxes. Emanuel's billboard deal sailed through the council on a 43-6 vote after less than an hour of debate. Critics complain that the signs lead to an unsafe distraction for drivers not unlike texting or talking on cell phones while driving.

Emanuel inked an exclusive agreement with Interstate Outdoor Advertising and French firm JC Decaux. Interstate's executives donated more than $10,000 to Emanuel's campaign committee. JC Decaux won a sweetheart deal with the city under Mayor Daley to build bus shelters several years ago. The countdown to a similar proposal being offered in Indianapolis by Mayor Greg Ballard has now started.

Wheel Of Misfortune


This is unbelievable. Renee Durette, a Navy Intel Specialist from Florida, was robbed of thousands of dollars and a "Wheel of Fortune" win after she correctly solved the answer to the puzzle, "Seven Swans a Swimming." After Pat Sajak initially signaled her a winner, the judges buzzed it as an incorrect answer as Sajak later explained because she spoke the word "swimming" in her Southern vernacular as "swimmin", even though she had just correctly picked the letter "g" as the word's ending consonant prior to solving the puzzle. Durette took the robbing of her win like a champ. Even the eventual winner was confused about why Durette's answer had been rejected. I don't think I would have been as reserved about expressing my true feelings. Hat tip to Debbie Schlussel.

Hawaii Governor Ignores Sen. Inouye's Dying Wish

While dying in a hospital, the late Sen. Daniel Inouye expressed his wish that Hawaii's U.S. Rep. Colleen Hanabusa, a sixth-generation Japanese American, be chosen by Gov. Neil Abercrombie to replace him in the U.S. Senate. Abercrombie ignored his wish and instead chose his lieutenant governor, Brian Schatz, an Obama sycophant, to the post. The 40-year old Schatz, like Obama, attended the exclusive Punahou School in Honolulu and spent time studying abroad in Kenya while attending the exclusive Pomona College in Claremont, California. Schatz is a former Hawaii State Democratic Chairman who headed up Obama's 2008 campaign in the state. Schatz has an identical twin brother. Yeah, the CIA loves to recruit identical twins for its "identity transfer" program. Obama invited Schatz to fly back to Washington with him aboard Air Force One where discussions likely focused on the looming Fiscal Cliff battle. America face the largest tax increases in history and certain economic collapse if Obama fails to reach an agreement with Congress on debt reduction prior to year's end.

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Delph's Legislation Seeks Transparency In IEDC Job Claims

State Sen. Mike Delph is introducing legislation aimed at preventing the Indiana Economic Development Corporation from continuing its practice of inflating the number of jobs it tells the public have been created as a result of the state's economic development efforts. WTHR has more on Sen. Delph's SB 162:
Indiana taxpayers have a right to know how many jobs they are paying for.
That is the position of State Sen. Mike Delph (R – Carmel), who has filed legislation that would prevent the Indiana Economic Development Corporation from keeping actual job realization numbers a secret.
"There's nothing more disconcerting to me as a public policy maker than when I feel like the public is being intentionally misled by its own government," Delph told WTHR. "That's not right and that should never happen. When it's public tax dollars at stake, you have a right to know how your tax dollars are being spent." . . .
That would change if SB 162 becomes law.
The legislation specifies that companies receiving state economic development incentives must submit a more detailed annual compliance report to IEDC. Each report must include updated job and investment data and, under SB 162, the reports must be available for public inspection and copying.
"The gist of SB 162 is to make more information publicly available. There would be more transparency and more accountability," Delph said.
The senator filed the proposed legislation after learning IEDC will not release basic information, such as a list of all "active" companies currently receiving incentives from the agency . . .

IMPD Returning To Beat Patrols

Apparently Indianapolis' new Public Safety Director Troy Riggs isn't as keen on zone patrols as his predecessor Frank Straub. Police officers, community leaders and several council members criticized the zone patrols implemented by Straub as a crime-reduction tool because they shifted a large percentage of the police force to just a few problem areas at the expense of many neighborhoods throughout the city, which left too few officers available to respond to police runs. Riggs tells the Star he plans to return to beat patrols next year.
In a move designed to improve community policing, Indianapolis Public Safety Director Troy Riggs plans a return to beat-based police patrols.
“I want citizens to be just as familiar with their local police officer as they are with their congressman or senator,” Riggs said.
The change is part of a larger top-to-bottom “efficiency review” of all the public safety departments beginning in January. The teams will look for ways to get the most bang for the buck in tough economic times across all departments . . .
Riggs favors beat patrols because he said it gives the public confidence they are being served and helps police- resident relations.
But Riggs said the new beat map could look radically different from the old one. For one thing, it will have fewer beats.
“There were just so many beats in the old system that it was unmanageable,” Riggs said.

If Straub had a role in Gotham City's police department in "Dark Knight Rises," he would have been Deputy Commissioner Pete Foley, who foolishly sent practically the entire police force into the city's sewer tunnels to gain glory for capturing Bane and, instead, caused them to become trapped for five months after Bane collapsed the tunnels, leaving the city without any police protection to resist Bane.

Disabled Worker Claims Growing Faster Than New Job Creation

It's a staggering figure. More than 8.8 million American workers are collecting Social Security disability payments, contributing to a $47.8 billion deficit the system ran last year. Nearly 90,000 workers signed up for disability payments during the month of December alone. Currently, there are only 1.67 workers paying into Social Security for every worker now drawing benefits from the federal program. The 2009 fiscal year is the last time the system ran a net surplus for the year. The federal government is now borrowing money to pay the current benefits. The rank of the disabled is growing at a rate four times faster than the rate the economy has created new jobs under President Barack Obama.

Ballard Wants Change In Control Of Fieldhouse After Blowing $43.5 Million

The Capital Improvement Board of Managers has agreed to pay $43.5 million to billionaire Herb Simon's Indiana Pacers to help offset the operating costs for Bankers Life Fieldhouse over the past four years based on an unsubstantiated claim that the Pacers are losing tens of millions of dollars annually. As Ballard begins a push to increase taxes on admissions to sporting and other events at the CIB's facilities, along with an increase in the auto rental tax, he's now telling the IBJ that he might make a push to give operational control of the Fieldhouse to someone other than the Pacers. He floated this idea a couple of years ago but abandoned it when people started asking too many questions about the companies vying to manage the company. Pacers Sports & Entertainment submitted a proposal to team up with Global Spectrum to operate the Fieldhouse, which made little sense because the Pacers claim they are unable to manage and operate the facility currently without tens of millions in additional public subsidies, despite getting rent-free use of the facility and all of the revenues it generates. Ballard said the CIB or a private management company might be considered under such an arrangement:
“We’re going to look at taking it over to see if it makes more sense for us,” Ballard said. Potential managers include the Capital Improvement Board—which owns the arena, Lucas Oil Stadium and Indiana Convention Center and operates the latter two—or national companies that specialize in venue management.
 
One of the reasons I find the Pacer's claim of financial losses dubious is the fact that Kansas City was able to build a $276 million arena that has no professional sports team as a tenant and is still able to operate it at no additional cost to taxpayers after paying debt obligations on it. Kansas City partnered with AEG, a private operator of public venues, to build the Sprint Arena. AEG agreed to put up $54 million in cash to help build the $276 million arena in consideration for a long-term operating agreement. Kansas City raised its hotel tax and auto rental tax to pay bond debt service on the arena, which is close to $14 million a year. Since Sprint Arena opened five years ago, AEG has shared $7 million in profits earned by the arena after hosting more than 500 events attracting 5.6 million visitors.

Ballard and the CIB continuously beat the drum that the City would be saddled with a costly facility to maintain that would sit empty most of the year if the CIB stopped subsidizing the Pacers and Simon chose to move his team to another city. As it stands, the CIB is paying not only the debt service on the Fieldhouse but also at least $10 million a year to operate it without realizing a dime's worth of revenues from it. Kansas City's budget director notes that if an anchor tenant like a professional sports team is found for Sprint Arena, the anchor tenant would take away most of the revenues the facility currently generates, and that it's actually more profitable for Kansas City and AEG not to have an anchor tenant. That's not to say Kansas City's taxpayers are getting a deal. They're still paying $14 million a year in debt service, but that cost would likely be tens of millions more annually if it were to attract an NBA team

Kansas City sold the naming rights to the arena to Sprint for 25 year for $42.5 million, or $1.7 million a year. Sprint agreed to increase its annual payments to $2.5 million a year if the City attracts an NBA or NHL franchise. By comparison, Conseco purchased the naming rights for the Fieldhouse in 1999 under a 20-year deal for $40 million. CNO agreed to continue the 20-year agreement after changing the name from Conseco to Banker's Life and picking up the rebranding costs. The Pacers pocket all the money earned from naming rights, as well as other advertising opportunities at the venue. The CIB paid $3.5 million to install a new digital scoreboard and ribbon board at the Fieldhouse, which provide more revenue-generating opportunities for the Pacers.

Pacers Sports & Entertainment CEO Jim Morris claims they've done a "superb" job running the Fieldhouse. I found it interesting that nobody even seems to know what the true operating costs are for the Fieldhouse. He insists the company he runs is not a profit-making company. "We operate it for the well-being of the community," Morris told the IBJ. Yeah, right. Morris wouldn't say whether the team would be willing to give up control of the Fieldhouse, which is quite telling. If the building is such a money loser to operate, then why does the team insist on managing it? Morris told the IBJ he wasn't even sure what the $10 million subsidy to the team represents. “I suppose something in the neighborhood of $15 million is what it costs us to operate the core expenses of this building,” Morris said. "That’s the amount the Pacers requested from CIB in 2010. But when IBJ initially asked Morris about that figure this month, he said he didn’t know its origin." “I have no idea what that number means," Morris said. The CIB told the IBJ that it believed in 2010 it cost $12 million a year to operate. In other words, they're just pulling figures straight out of their asses as usual.

Monday, December 24, 2012

Obama References Himself 63 Times During Sen. Inouye's Funeral Service

The narcissist-in-chief lived up to his reputation during a funeral service at the National Cathedral on Friday in honor of the late Sen. Daniel Inouye (D-HI). Instead of talking about the accomplished life of Sen. Inouye, Hawaii's senior senator and decorated World War II hero, Obama worked in references to himself no fewer than 63 times. The American Thinker's Jack Cashill says Obama  used the word "my" 21 times, "me" 12 times, and "I" 30 times in the course of his "1600-word oration." Obama spoke about having "a white mom and a black father," as if we didn't already know that, and how he didn't learn what a U.S. Senator was until he was 11 when his family took a vacation to the Mainland during the summer of the Watergate hearings, which his mother made him watch every night and he was most "fascinated" to watch "this man of Japanese descent with one arm, speaking in this courtly baritone, full of dignity and grace." Yes, he did manage to work Sen. Inouye into the tribute. Cashill notes, however, that Obama's story didn't quite add up. It seems the family trip to the Mainland occurred in 1972, a year before the Watergate hearings aired.

Idaho Senator Who Doesn't Drink Alcohol Arrested For DUI

Idaho's senior senator should have been back home in his home state the weekend before Christmas, but unfortunately for him he was still in Washington where nothing good seems to happen. Sen. Mike Crapo, a Mormon who claims he abstains from drinking alcohol, got pulled over in the early morning hours yesterday after running a traffic light in suburban Alexandria, Virginia and charged with driving under the influence of alcohol. The 61-year old senator, a graduate of Harvard Law School, failed several field sobriety tests and his blood alcohol tested .11. "I made a mistake for which I apologize to my family, my Idaho constituents and any others who have put their trust in me," he said.  "I accept total responsibility and will deal with whatever penalty comes my way in this matter."

Idaho's former Sen. Larry Craig became infamous for his arrest at a Minneapolis airport bathroom for soliciting sex from an undercover police officer. The former senator has been fending off a lawsuit brought against him by the FEC to recover $217,000 in legal bills he spent out of his campaign funds defending himself against the charges. Craig's attorneys have argued that his visit to the Minnesota airport bathroom was part of his official Senate business since he was traveling between Washington and his home state at the time of his arrest.

Friday, December 21, 2012

Three Criminally Charged In Indy Home Explosion

The owner of a south side home that exploded on November 10, killing two people and destroying dozens of other homes in the Richmond Hill subdivision, along with her boyfriend and his brother, have been criminally charged in connection with the ongoing investigation. WRTV reports that Marion Co. Prosecutor Terry Curry will announce today that Monserrate Shirley, her boyfriend Mark Leonard and his brother Robert Leonard have been arrested and are being charged with numerous crimes, including murder and arson. An update will be provided after Curry's press conference scheduled for later this morning.

UPDATE: Marion Co. Prosecutor Terry Curry laid out the facts contained in a probable cause affidavit. As this blog first reported, Curry said the source of the gas leak is believed to have originated from the fireplace where there was a missing gas valve regulator. A microwave in the home that contained a timer was the ignition source for the explosion. Investigators recovered the destroyed microwave and were able to determine that it had exploded from the inside out. A neighbor witnessed a white van owned by Mark Leonard at Shirley's home on the afternoon of the November 11th blast. Curry said experts believe the gas build up in the home had been taking place for approximately nine hours before the microwave ignited the gas. Leonard's white van was used to transport items removed from the home belonging to him and Shirley prior to the blast that were stored at another person's home according to Curry.

In addition to felony murder and multiple arson charges, Shirley and Mark Leonard also face conspiracy to commit arson charges based on statements an acquaintance of Mark Leonard made to investigators that the couple had tried to blow up the home the weekend prior to the November 11th blast, but that attempt failed. Investigators learned that Shirley had recently increased the value of an insurance policy insuring the home, and Mark had told the acquaintance that he expected to receive a $100,000 share of the proceeds. Curry said investigators learned that the Leonard brothers had changed a digital thermostat in the home to a slide switch thermostat that would ignite a spark. The two men had also spoken to a Citizen's Energy person about the difference between the volatility of natural gas and propane.

I should add that the prosecutor's office and the involved law enforcement agencies deserve the public's credit for their exemplary work in solving this tragic crime and bringing those responsible to justice.

Thursday, December 20, 2012

Lilly Pays $29 Million To SEC For Bribing Foreign Officials

Just last weekend I mentioned in the story related to the Monica Liang Affair how American companies, based on my limited experience working with a business that sought to expand into China, are required to pay bribes or kickbacks to officials within the government as a condition to doing business there. The Monica Liang Affair involved a highly-paid contractual employee working for the Indiana Economic Development Corporation who immigrated to the U.S. from China and had been accused of using her position to solicit bribes from Chinese businessmen while representing the state's economic development agency in discussions regarding investments to be made by Chinese business interests in Indiana. Today we learn that Eli Lilly has agreed to pay a $29 million fine to settle a claim brought by the SEC alleging the company had paid bribes to officials in Brazil, China, Poland and Russia to obtain government contracts in those countries between 1994 to 2009. The IBJ summarizes the agreement reached by the SEC and Lilly:
According to a statement released by the SEC, Lilly paid millions of dollars to government officials or to third-party bank accounts associated with government officials. In the case of Russia, Lilly did not curtail the bribery payments from its subsidiary there until five years after the parent company became aware of them, according to the SEC charges, filed Thursday in federal court in Washington, D.C.
Employees at Lilly’s subsidiary in China falsified expense reports to provide spa treatments, jewelry, and other gifts and cash payments to government-employed physicians, according to the SEC.
“Eli Lilly and its subsidiaries possessed a ‘check the box’ mentality when it came to third-party due diligence,” Kara Novaco Brockmeyer, chief of the SEC Enforcement Division’s Foreign Corrupt Practices unit, said in a prepared statement. “Companies can’t simply rely on paper-thin assurances by employees, distributors, or customers. They need to look at the surrounding circumstances of any payment to adequately assess whether it could wind up in a government official’s pocket.”
Lilly paid $14 million in disgorged profits and $6.7 million in interest on those profits. The company also paid a fine of $8.7 million to the SEC.
Anne Nobles, Lilly’s chief ethics and compliance officer, said in a prepared statement, “Since ours is a business based on trust, we strive to conduct ourselves in an ethical way that is beyond reproach. We have cooperated with the U.S. government throughout this investigation and have strengthened our internal controls and compliance program globally, including significant investment in our global anti-corruption program."

Lilly is not alone. Other major pharmaceutical companies, including Johnson & Johnson and Pfizer, have reached similar agreements with the SEC in recent years according to news reports. "Industry experts say it's not unusual for foreign sales representatives to give gifts and payments to government officials, though this practice is not permitted by U.S. law," the IBJ reports. Gov. Mitch Daniels served as a high-ranking executive at Lilly before becoming Indiana's governor, and former Indianapolis Mayor Bart Peterson now holds a similar position with the company.

Durham Being Held At County Detention Facility In Kentucky


Some readers have wondered where convicted Ponzi schemer Tim Durham will be serving his 50-year federal sentence. Currently, he and his convicted business partner, James Cochrane, are being held at the Grayson County Detention Center in Leitchfield, Kentucky while they are in transit to their permanent home in a federal prison. Durham has filed notice of his intention to appeal his conviction based on numerous errors allegedly committed by the federal district court judge. He is seeking the assistance of a public defender to handle his appeal, claiming he is broke.

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Ballard's Rationale For Raising Taxes For CIB Makes No Sense

In case you were wondering, Mayor Greg Ballard's number one priority is still finding new ways to raise your taxes to provide more money to the CIB to hand out to the billionaire sports team owners. All other city services may be suffering due to a lack of funding, but Ballard is going to do everything in his power to make sure the downtown mafia has all the public dollars it needs to finance their own personal business endeavors. In his quest to sell the public on highers taxes on admissions to public events and auto rentals, Ballard, who will never be accused of being the sharpest tool in the shed, makes this incredulous statement:
“People need to remember all this was built up based on larger visitor taxes and user fee taxes because it has to get paid for some way,” Ballard said.
Huh? What's this guy smoking? People have already been paying higher taxes and user fees to pay for these sports palaces. The argument went that if we raised taxes to provide a revenue stream to build these sports palaces, visitors would flock to the downtown, spend tons of money and generate even more business expansion that would grow the tax base and help pay for other city services. The exact opposite has occurred. Both the admissions taxes and auto rental tax were raised in 2005 to pay for Lucas Oil Stadium, but it still wasn't enough. In 2009, we raised taxes on hotels and received millions annually in state tax subsidies supposedly to help pay stadium-related costs. Now we're being asked to raise taxes yet again to pay operating costs on the Fieldhouse that billionaire Herb Simon's Indiana Pacers have been contractually obligated to pay since the Fieldhouse was built nearly 13 years ago. The more we tax and spend for these facilities, the greater demand there is from the CIB for higher taxes and additional spending for their benefit. When does someone tell the downtown mafia that enough is enough? We must focus our efforts on taking care of basic city services. We don't have the luxury of continuing to pump more tax dollars into a business sector that is simply cannibalizing the city's public resources to the detriment of everything else.

UPDATE: The comments Ballard made in an interview with WTHR's John Stehr are even more stupid than the comments he made to Fox 59 News. Ballard claims the Simons donated $100 million in services to the City by taking care of the Fieldhouse for taxpayers despite the fact that they get rent-free use of the building and get to keep all of the revenues generated from it as the reason we now must give Herb Simon at least $10 million a year. By the way, Ballard says other cuts will have to be made in the city's budget to make up for a shortfall at the same time he supports the CIB handing out tens of millions of dollars to Herb Simon without even batting an eye. That's just how much contempt he has for the people he was elected to serve. He would rather give your money away to someone who doesn't live in the City and who has more money than he knows what do with than use the money that belongs to all of us to provide essential city services.

John Stehr: "Here's the narrative that I think people have in their mind: We built them a building, we let them use it rent-free, we let them keep the revenue that is generated in that building all year long and now we have to give them another $10 million to pay for the upkeep and pay for the utilities. Is that still a good deal for the city and at what point does it stop?"
Mayor Ballard: "We're subsidizing the running of the building and the Pacers bring down 10,000-15,000 people 50 times a year to our downtown, so that's what they do. I could have stood on my high horse and took over the building and I can run it for $112-115 million, which was our estimate at the time and 'Pacers, you go away,' but then I don't have 10,000-15,000 people coming down 50 times a year and I've got a largely empty building, but I'm running it. Well, that's not optimal."
Stehr: "So is part of this that you don't want to be the mayor that loses the Pacers?"
Ballard: "No, I just want to make a fair deal, but I want people to understand that it takes money to run the building and the Pacers have been running the building for us."
The mayor says by operating the Fieldhouse in the early years, the Pacers provided $100 million of service to the city.
Ballard: "At that time, when we made the deal three years ago, it was cheaper for the Pacers to operate the building than it was for us to operate the building."
Stehr: "So, it's a good deal...a good deal for the city?"
Ballard: "Right now it is, but we're going to have to see if we can operate it more cheaply into the future."
The mayor also said that the city needs to look for cost savings to handle the current budget shortfall.

Stonewall Democrats' President Injured In Fatal Accident

Aaron Schaler, President of the Indiana Stonewall Democrats, suffered injuries in a fatal accident that killed another pedestrian. According to the Star, Schaler and another unidentified person were struck by a van driven by a 20-year old man, Joseph Anthony Scott Crandall, in the Fountain Square neighborhood of Indianapolis last night about 8:20 p.m. The unidentified person was pronounced dead at the scene. Schaler was transported to Wishard Hospital where he was reported to be in stable condition. Alcohol did not appear to be a factor in the crash according to the Star. Fox 59 New reports the driver was in a rush to get to the airport when his vehicle jumped the curb and struck the victims:
Crandall told police he had just eight minutes to get to the airport.
“There’s no way you’re gonna make it to the airport in eight minutes from this location… just know that you’re gonna be late and uh, deal with it that way,” said IMPD Officer Kendale Adams. “Certainly when we’re rushing and trying to get to another location and we have this type of result, it’s just tragic.”
Investigators don’t believe drug or alcohol played a factor a in the crash, but they took a blood draw from Crandall just to be sure.
 
UPDATE: The Star has identified the deceased victim as 22-year old Brian Benson. The updated story provides more details, indicating the high rate of speed the van was traveling when it struck Benson and Schaler. Not a pretty sight:
Police said the 1989 red Dodge van, driven by Joseph Anthony Scott Crandall, 20, Indianapolis, was turning west from Shelby Street to Prospect Street when it jumped the curb and hit the men. The impact hurled Schaler 22 feet into a parked car on the south side of Prospect, the IMPD report said.
Benson was stuck under the van and was dragged about 67 feet west on Prospect. After Benson was dislodged, Crandall drove about 50 feet before he tried to brake, the report said. The van skidded about 94 more feet before it stopped.

Government Report Blames State Department For Benghazi Failures

The blame for the security failures that led to the assassination of Ambassador Chris Stevens and two other Americans during a terrorist attack on the consulate in Benghazi, Libya rests with the State Department according to a newly-released government Accountability Review Board report. Despite "systematic management and leadership deficiencies" at the State Department that led to "grossly" inadequate security at the facility, the report recommends that no disciplinary action be taken against any State Department official. The report also confirms that the Obama administration's initial claims that there were protests taking place outside the consulate in response to an anti-Muslim YouTube video were untrue.
The report singled out the Bureau of Diplomatic Security and the Bureau of Near East Affairs for criticism, saying there appeared to be a lack of cooperation and confusion over protection at the mission in Benghazi, a city in Eastern Libya that was relatively lawless after the revolution that toppled Libyan strongman Moammar Gadhafi.
Despite those failures, the Accountability Review Board determined that no individual officials ignored or violated their duties and recommended no disciplinary action now. But it also said poor performance by senior managers should be grounds for disciplinary recommendations in the future.
The report appeared to break little new ground about the timeline of the Benghazi attack during which Libyan Ambassador Chris Stevens, information specialist Sean Smith and former Navy SEALs Glen Doherty and Tyrone Woods — who were contractors working for the CIA — were killed. Stevens' slaying was the first of a U.S. ambassador since 1988.
But it confirmed that contrary to initial accounts, there was no protest outside the consulate and said responsibility for the incident rested entirely with the terrorists who attacked the mission . . .
The review board determined that there had been no immediate, specific tactical warning of a potential attack on the 11th anniversary of Sept. 11, 2001. However, the report said there had been several worrisome incidents in the run-up to the attack that should have set off warning bells . . .

The report refutes claims that the government denied requests from officials in Benghazi for assistance in repelling the attack on September 11. It doesn't explain how officials in Washington who were watching live video feed from security cameras placed around the compound came to the conclusion that no military assistance was required there.

Secretary of State Hillary Clinton was originally scheduled to testify before Congress this week, but she will not appear now due to illness. She canceled a number of events starting last week, complaining of a stomach virus. This week, reports claimed she suffered a concussion from a fall following a fainting spell.

Monday, December 17, 2012

Amos Brown Makes National Headline For Becoming First African-American To Attack Newly-Appointed Senator Tim Scott

South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley appointed the sole African-American member of the U.S. Senate today when she named U.S. Rep. Tim Scott (R-SC) to fill the vacancy created by the resignation of Sen. Jim DeMint, who left the Senate to head up The Heritage Foundation. No sooner had Haley made her appointment public than Indianapolis' outspoken radio talk show host went on the attack, condemning Scott as "black only in skin color" on Twitter, which caught the attention of Breitbart News:
Tim Scott has been appointed to fill the South Carolina Senate seat being vacated by the retiring Jim DeMint and immediately the racebaiters jumped in with both feet to attack him. One of the early hatemongers was Amos Brown, a host on a religious radio station in Indianapolis, Indiana. Brown used his Twitter account to claim that African American Tim Scott isn't really a black man.
Tim Scott is, of course, a Republican just like Governor Haley who will appoint him to the vacant seat. All one need be is a black man in the GOP and the hatemongers come out in force with their racist name calling and radio host Amos Brown rose early to the rote attack.
On his Twitter account (@Amoswtlcindy), Brown wrote, "Gee, courtesy of S Carolina GOP, the nation gets Tim Scott an ultra-rightwing, Tea Party devotee US Senator who's Black only in skin color."
Mr. Amos Brown calls himself a man of God and works for AM 1310, "The Light," a religious station that caters to the African American community in Indianapolis, Indiana.
I really feel for African-Americans who dare to think for themselves and, God forbid, associate with the Republican Party. The vitriolic attacks made against black Republicans by people on the Left, particularly from other African-Americans, knows know bounds. Thirty years ago, people across the political spectrum would have applauded the appointment of an African-American to the U.S. Senate regardless of his or her party affiliation. In the political world of Barack Obama, any African-American who ventures from the Democratic Party is subjected by people on the Left to endless public lashings void of any semblance of civil discourse.


Indiana House Democratic Leader Reacts To Monica Liang Affair

Indiana House Democratic Leader Scott Pelath is urging renewed legislative efforts to increase oversight and public accountability of the Indiana Economic Development Corporation in response to an Indianapolis Star investigative series, "The China Letter," which revealed how a highly-paid consultant of the agency had allegedly engaged in blatant self-dealing and solicited bribes while working for the IEDC and how the agency simply swept the whole matter under the rug. From Pelath's statement:

“With the recent news in the Indianapolis Star about more troubles swirling around the IEDC, it is becoming apparent that the agency that is supposed to help us create jobs is broken. It needs to be fixed.
“The investigation surrounding ‘The China Letter’ leaves many questions unanswered, in particular about the way that the IEDC handles its affairs as a part of state government.
“These concerns are not new. For years, there have been doubts raised about the accuracy of the job creation claims made by the governor and this agency.
“Their method of operation has become all too familiar: Make a big public announcement about large numbers of jobs that are coming, then disappear when the claims turn out to be inaccurate.
“Even before the recent controversies about Litebox in Indianapolis, Carbon Motors in Connersville, and Global Energy Solutions in Madison, there have been investigations – particularly by WTHR-TV in Indianapolis – questioning whether many of the numbers touted by the administration were even close to being correct.
“The current administration that helped create these problems is on its way out of office. It is content to sit back in its final days and make grand claims about job creation. The governor and his staff will be long gone before we see if those claims become reality.
“But with a new governor taking office in a few short weeks, there is plenty of time to see what has gone wrong, and work to improve our job creation efforts.
“To start, we can ask that the IEDC follow the same types of public oversight and accountability that we demand of all state government agencies. After all, we are talking about an agency that has the power to provide hundreds of millions of dollars in taxpayer-funded incentives.
“In addition, we have gone far too long in sitting by and letting this particular department make big claims about the numbers of jobs it creates, without any way to determine whether they are telling the truth or simply a story that makes good headlines initially. Upon taking office, Gov.-elect Mike Pence should examine all recent jobs announcements to determine their validity, then report back to the people of Indiana about his findings.
“Despite all the claims made by the current administration, Indiana lags behind when it comes to creating and keeping good-paying jobs.
“The time has come to demand that the IEDC live up to its charge, and stop hiding behind a shroud of secrecy.”

According to the Star investigation, Monica Liang, a Chinese immigrant, had been contractually hired by the agency as a $100,000 per year special assistant to former Commerce Secretary Mitch Roob. Liang allegedly accepted a $50,000 wire transfer from a Chinese billionaire with whom the agency was in discussions about economic development efforts and had solicited an $8,000 bribe from another Chinese businessman while working for the agency. A complaint filed with the agency by another vendor of the agency claimed Liang had told Chinese officials several state officials were shareholders in a nursing home project she was pursuing in Marion, Indiana, including Roob and Gov. Daniels. The agency dismissed the complaint as unsubstantiated but terminated Liang after it discovered she had lied on her resume' about her education credentials. Despite the seriousness of the allegations contained in the complaint, the matter was not referred to a prosecutor or law enforcement agency for further investigation.

UPDATE: The administration of Mike Pence will give added scrutiny to the IEDC, even if the Daniels administrations chooses not to do so. The Star has this statement from Pence:
“The governor-elect is aware of the issues that have been raised in the media regarding IEDC,” Pence’s spokeswoman Christy Denault said in a statement Monday. “He will give due consideration to the policies and practices of IEDC at the outset of his administration to ensure integrity and transparency.”

The Hunger Games Author Resides In Sandy Hook

Suzanne Collins
There are rather eerie coincidences as new details emerge about the tragic mass shooting at the Sandy Hook Elementary School in Connecticut. It turns out that Adam Lanza's mother, Nancy, was a so-called prepper who believed the world economy would collapse and she would need guns and stock-piled food to defend her home and for long-time survival. According to new reports, Ms. Lanza, described as overly-protective of her emotionally disturbed son, purchased the high-powered guns which were used by her son to carry out the mass shootings, and she taught both of her sons how to shoot them.

Here's where it gets more strange. Some Internet news reports have picked up on the fact that Suzanne Collins, the author of "The Hunger Games," which was made into a hit movie, resides in the Sandy Hook village in Newtown, Connecticut where the mass shootings occurred. Collins is the daughter of a U.S. Air Force officer and is a graduate of Indiana University in Bloomington where she double-majored in drama and telecommunications. Here's a glimpse of the movie version of "The Hunger Games":
The hit movie “The Hunger Games” takes place in a dystopian future where the poor and wretched masses live under the high tech tyranny of a wealthy elite. Is the movie depicting the kind of society the elite is trying to establish for the New World Order? We’ll look at characteristics of the world presented in “The Hunger Games” and how they relate to plans for a New World Order.  
Pushed by a gigantic marketing campaign, The Hunger Games did not take long to become a world-wide sensation, especially among teenagers and young adults. Sometimes referred to as the new Twilight, The Hunger Games has similar components to the previous book-to-movie craze (i.e. a young girl torn between two guys) but takes place in a very different context. 
Set in a dystopian future (why is the future always “dystopian”?), The Hunger Games paints a rather grim picture of the world of tomorrow, whether it be from a social, economical or political point of view. In short, it is a big-brotherish nightmare where a rich elite thrives on the backs of a starving population. Meanwhile, the perversity and voyeurism of mass media is taken to absurd levels and is used by the government as a glue to keep its unjust social order intact. Is The Hunger Games giving teenagers a glimpse of a not-too-distant future? It doesn’t take a crystal ball to see the elite are trying to take the world in that direction. Is the author Suzanne Collins communicating a strong anti-NWO message to the youth by showing its dangers or is it getting the youth used to the idea? Let’s look at the fictional, yet possible, future world of The Hunger Games.
According to InfoWars, the movie version includes a scene where a ritual sacrifice of children is carried out. The new territory envisioned in North America under a New World Order is divided into 12 districts. Two children are paired off from each district and fight each other until 23 are killed. Adam Lanza killed 20 children at the Sandy Hook Elementary School. Collins was named by Time magazine as one of the most influential people in 2010. Amazon.com declared Collins the best-selling Kindle author of all time in March, 2012. Collins' next book, "Year of the Jungle", is a children's book based on her childhood experience coping with her father's absence while serving in Vietnam.

UPDATE: My friend and fellow blogger is a pretty good movie critic. I went back and read her review of The Hunger Games and she was spot on. Here's some of her comments:
Sadly, this disgustingly violent and mostly soulless and unentertaining movie is marketed to kids, as the natural evolution from popular “Young Adult” lit. And it logs in at a slow-paced, sluggish two-and-a-half hours of undue self-importance . . .

The story is more anti-capitalist left-wing bull-crap. It is a dystopian future and what used to be America is now called Panem. It’s divided into twelve districts of different types of working-class poor: farmers, coal miners, electrical workers, etc. They are not allowed to hunt for food, and, instead, the kids, aged twelve and up, must put an extra ticket with their name into a lottery, each time they want more food. Once a year, two names are drawn from each district: a male and a female, who must fight to the death–killing each other to survive and win–in a televised reality show in the Capital, a place filled with very rich, gaudy people in bright, clown-like clothing, make-up, and hairstyles. It’s sort of a modern day man-versus-man in the coliseum minus the culture and history, in this case mixed with a little bit of the most unreal Gloria Steinem/Betty Friedan feminist BS fantasy imaginable. The weak, nonsensical story is that because there was a violent revolution and war, the Hunger Games, as the contest is called, are held to remind the different districts of the cost of war and revolution . . .

But America is made up of a bunch of suckers and sheep, so many of them racing to see this movie, having bought online tickets months ago. They eagerly ingest and digest the swill served up to them, without thought or hesitation. The other night, actress Kristen Bell uttered the most airheaded and sad comment of all about the books from which the movie was made:

This is the piece of literature that in a hundred years we’ll look back on and it will be the best thing we’ve ever written.

Spoken like a true moron. But, then, as the popularity of this movie and the books behind it proves, we are a nation of morons.
I also learned that the famous children's book author Steven Kellogg, who wrote and illustrated such classics as "Jack and The Beanstalk", "The Three Little Pigs," "Adventures of Huckleberry Finn," and The Pied Piper," is a former resident of Sandy Hook. Actor Anthony Edwards now owns the home Kellogg once owned in Sandy Hook. Kellogg offers quite a contrast in what passes as classical children's book authors today.

Burton Lives It Up During Last Year In Office

Proving once again that nothing good comes from long-term service in Washington, U.S. Rep. Dan Burton spent lavishly on travel around the world during his final year in Congress, sometimes charging taxpayers and often accompanied by his wife. According to the Star's Maureen Groppe, Burton took more taxpayer-funded and privately-funded trips during his last year in office than all but four other members of Congress. Burton was also spending large sums of money out of leftover campaign funds on what were obviously personal trips, visiting such places as the Ritz Carlton in New York City and the Miami Shores Country Club despite a federal ban on using campaign funds for personal use.

As a member of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, Burton visited fourteen countries, twice as many trips as the chairman of that committee took. According to Legistorm, Burton traveled on privately-funded trips to Taiwan, Bahrain and Quatar at a cost of $32,978, the fifth highest for privately-funded trips in Congress. Four official trips were taken by Burton to the countries of France, Slovac Republic, Hungary,Taiwan, South Korea, Latvia, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Uzbekistan, Spain, Azerbaijan, Georgia, and Armenia according to the report.

Sunday, December 16, 2012

Tribune Company Sued For Pregnancy Discrimination By Former Fox 59 Employee

Amanda Price worked as a sales account executive for WXIN-Fox 59 in Indianapolis until this past September when she claims she was constructively discharged from her employment only months after she had first disclosed her pregnancy to the TV station's management. In a lawsuit alleging pregnancy discrimination and a hostile work environment based upon her sex filed earlier this month in the federal district court in Indianapolis against WXIN's parent company, The Tribune Company, Price alleges that her supervisor reacted negatively to news of her pregnancy, asking her a number of degrading questions, and questioned whether she had carefully considered going through with the pregnancy.

According to Price's complaint, she was not married or engaged to be married when she disclosed in June of this year her pregnancy at a meeting that included her supervisor, Tom Comerford, Director of Sales for the station, in the presence of two other members of the station's sales staff. Price alleges in her complaint that Comerford peppered her with a series of derogatory questions and comments, including: "Whose Is It? Are you getting married? You haven't thought this through. Why are you being a stupid bitch? You should be a guest on the Maury Povich Show so [you] can find out the identity of the 'baby daddy.'" Price says she left the meeting "shocked and traumatized," and Comerford "continued to degrade and harass her" after the meeting. Price alleges that Comerford approached another female co-worker in the office and implied to her that Price "had clearly not considered all of her available options including abortion." In a later meeting, Price alleges that she was in tears as Comerford blamed her for presenting her pregnancy in an "immature manner."

Price later spoke to the station's general manager, Larry Delia, about the concerns she had with how Comerford had treated her and the fact that the other employees present during the meeting had began talking to other employees and vendors of the station about her pregnancy, making the situation more unbearable for her. Delia told Price according to the complaint that he had learned of the comments Comerford had allegedly made but that he was heading out of town on vacation and would not be able to look into the matter further until he returned from vacation. After Delia returned from vacation more than a week later, he placed Comerford on a two and one-half day suspension the complaint alleges, but when he returned to work he continued to supervise Price, requiring her to interact with him on a daily basis. On the advice of her doctor, Price took a several week unpaid leave from her job due to the emotional stress she says she faced from the hostile work environment but had to return to work in late August "due to financial constraints." Price worked another month until she could no longer "handle the stress and anxiety created by her continued interaction with Comerford" and the station's "failure to take steps to protect her." After leaving her job, Price gave birth to her child prematurely due to preeclampsia.

Price's complaint seeks damages of not less than $150,000 for lost wages, compensatory damages, back pay and benefits, and front pay and benefits, in addition to her attorney's fees. A copy of Price's complaint can be viewed here.

The Monica Liang Affair

Monica Liang with Gov. Mitch Daniels
 
I've often wondered why Gov. Mitch Daniels entrusted Mitch Roob with such important positions in his administration. As FSSA Secretary, he forced through the ill-fated privatization of the state's welfare services, which was nothing more than a ruse to direct hundreds of millions of dollars to the hands of his former employer, ACS. As head of the Indiana Economic Development Corporation, he was caught inflating job creation numbers credited to the efforts of the economic development agency. According to a lengthy report in today's Star titled The China Letter, he also covered up the actions of a Chinese immigrant with a checkered past who he had hired on contract in a $100,000 a year position to help with the agency's efforts to forge business deals with China. Before Monica Liang died suddenly in October, 2011, reportedly from a brain aneurysm, she had been quietly removed from her state position after she was later accused of soliciting a bribe and engaging in other self-dealing activities which potentially implicated other state officials. The Monica Liang affair, according to the Star's investigation, was simply swept under the rug and not referred to law enforcement officials for further investigation.

Here's the quick and dirty about the Monica Liang Affair according to the Star:

Liang immigrated to the U.S. from China after getting married in 1997 to an American businessman, Amadio Morais, who was working in China when the two met. She arrived in Indiana in 2001 and becomes a naturalized citizen in 2003. The following year she divorced her husband and walked away with a pretty decent sum of money as part of the couple's property settlement agreement. While living off her divorce money, she takes classes at IUPUI, invests in the stock market and meets a contractor from Marion, Bryan Harris, and winds up buying a building there for $32,000 and becoming a business administrator for a family medicine clinic. Liang gets introduced to Mayor Wayne Seybold, who hires her as a part-time international affairs coordinator, which provides her an opportunity to meet some of Indiana's top officials, including Gov. Mitch Daniels, and she travels with them to China on trade missions to serve as a translator. Liang meets Roob in 2009, moves from Marion to Carmel and later becomes a $100,000 a year contractual employee working for Roob as a Special Assistant to the Secretary of Commerce for Chinese Relations. Apparently while traveling with Mayor Seybold's wife to China after starting her new job, she was soliticiting business deals for herself, including a nursing home project for her Marion building that she claimed involved several government officials, including Daniels, Seybold and Roob. Liang manages to convince a Chinese billionaire, Ao Yuqi, to deposit $50,000 into her bank account. Liang also solicited an $8,000 bribe from another Chinese businessman to secure talks with Indiana officials. Roob later travels to China with Liang and inks a memorandum of understanding with a Chinese company, SME. A month later in July, 2011 a formal complaint is filed by Pacific World Trade with IEDC alleging misconduct by Liang. In September, IEDC terminates Liang and Roob steps down from his position. IEDC months later terminates its contractual relationship with Pacific World Trade after a 25-year relationship. 
Based on the Star's reporting, it sounds like IEDC is being less than forthcoming about the entire Monica Liang matter. IEDC tells the Star that Roob confronted Liang about the allegations, which she denied; however, she continued to take trips on the agency's dime and conduct business more than a month after the agency learned of the complaint against her. Her contract with the agency was terminated at the beginning of September, 2011 based on misrepresentations she had made about her education credentials, not because of the allegations in the complaint, which the IEDC says it was unable to substantiate. "She had claimed a bachelor's degree from Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis, but had only attended classes," the Star reports. "The state has a zero-tolerance policy for not accurately documenting your academic credentials," Roob said. Roob became quite defensive when questioned by the Star about the timing of his departure and his relationship with Liang:
On the same day Liang was let go, Daniels announced the resignation of Roob, who had hired Liang.
Officials say it was not related to the Liang incident. "Don't be preposterous," Roob said when asked by The Star about the timing of his departure. He said the two events happening on the same day was either a coincidence, or he wanted to take care of the matter before Dan Hasler took over as the new Secretary of Commerce. "I brought Monica into the agency, right?"
Asked if he had a personal relationship with Liang, Roob answered, "No."
With high praise from Daniels, Roob returned to the private sector as chief executive of the health-care technology company WoundVision. 
The money the Chinese billionaire wired into Liang's account was no longer in her account by the time her personal representative took over her estate following her death in October. Her estate is estimated to be worth about $120,000. The Star obtained records which confirmed the wire transfer of $50,000 into Liang's account had taken place. Roob and Liang had met with Ao in China a month prior to the wire transfer. Asked how that could have happened, Roob told the Star, "I have no idea." The Star also learned that Roob had actually conferred the title of  "Special Assistant to the Commerce Secretary" by letter before she even started work for the agency. "Roob acknowledged the appointment letter came from him but offered few details." "I don't even recall signing the letter, candidly," he told The Star. At the time, she was still working for Mayor Wayne Seybold, who was bothered that Roob had provided her the letter. He told the Star he would have objected to the appointment had he known about it. "At some point," Seybold said, "you gotta work for either one or the other."

Not surprisingly, ethics experts the Star reached found the agency's handling of the matter "woefully inadequate" and created the impression the agency was simply "sweeping it under the rug." "You look at it in hindsight," said white-collar crime expert and former federal prosecutor Peter Henning, "and you go, 'What were you thinking?'" As for what Gov. Daniels knew about the Monica Liang affair: “The governor knew the IEDC dealt with a personnel issue by terminating a contractor after receiving a complaint. He was not otherwise involved in an agency personnel matter.”

None of this surprises me. I used to work for a company that was trying to expand into China. I made one business trip over there and learned all I needed to learn about the business mores there. Remember, this is a country where religion is virtually non-existent, there is a one-child per couple limit imposed by the government, the government forces millions of abortions every year to enforce that limit and the vast majority of the people live in abject poverty and are forced to work at slave labor wages with few rights. People don't value human life there as much as they do in the U.S. The average Chinese citizen wants to get the hell out of the country because of how horrible life is there for the vast majority of people. There is a growing class of super wealthy in China thanks to an extremely corrupt mixed form of crony capitalism and communism that exists there, a system that apparently is very attractive to many of America's elites given the direction we're headed. If you're an American company looking to establish a business relationship in China, you must first set up a Chinese company under which you will conduct business. The China business entity will not meet with government approval until you include individuals blessed by the government as partners in your endeavor, which typically includes Chinese government officials. When Liang told the Chinese counterparts that government officials were shareholders in her American company, they wouldn't have batted an eye because they're used to that arrangement over there and would assume government officials get kickbacks from businesses in one form or another.

Pence Proposed Tax Cut Mostly Benefits The Wealthy

A study of a state income tax cut proposed by Governor-elect Mike Pence shows the largest benefit will go to Indiana's wealthiest. During the campaign, Pence pledged to reduce the state income tax rate from 3.4 to 3.06%, returning nearly a half billion dollars in tax revenues to Indiana taxpayers. The top 20% of income tax earners would receive 56% of the tax savings according to the Institute on Taxation and Economic Policy. Those earning more than $325,000 a year would receive a tax cut of $2,264 under Pence's plan. Middle income earns making between $33,000 and $53,000 would receive an average tax cut of 102, while the lowest income earners would receive no tax cut.

The federal government would collect about $50 million more from Indiana taxpayers because of a lower deduction on their federal tax return for state taxes paid. The study is critical of Indiana's low exemption, which is only $1,000, the same amount it was when the state's income tax was established in 1963. If the exemption had been adjusted for inflation over the years, it would have risen to $7,500 according to the study.

Republican leaders in the House and Senate have expressed skepticism about enacting Pence's tax cut due to uncertainty over the economy and state revenues. A poll taken by Ball State University last month indicated that only 31% of Hoosiers favored an income tax cut, while the vast majority, 64%, opposed. Pence plans to push ahead with his tax cut proposal. "I believe, with all my heart, that with the largest surplus in our state's history that we have the ability to maintain the fiscal integrity of our state, strengthen our reserves, fund our priorities and provide Hoosiers and Hoosier businesses tax relief that will create jobs," he said.

Read more about the new tax study at the Northwest Indiana Times.

Saturday, December 15, 2012

Kenley Opposition To Same-Sex Marriage Ban Key Turning Point

The announcement this week by Sen. Luke Kenley (R-Noblesville), one of the Indiana Senate's most influential Republican members, opposing the proposed constitutional amendment to ban same-sex marriages and recognition of similar rights for unmarried couples could prove to be a key turning point in the expected debate during the upcoming session of the General Assembly. Kenley, a Harvard Law School graduate and previous supporter of the amendment, says shifting public opinion has caused him to rethink his position.
Noting what he called the “rapidly evolving” shift in public opinion reflected in a poll released Thursday, the influential, conservative Republican said he’ll oppose such a measure if, as expected, it comes up for debate in the 2013 session.
“I don’t think putting it in the Constitution is a good idea,” said Kenley, the powerful Senate appropriations committee chairman who describes himself as a supporter of traditional marriage.
“I really value the institution of heterosexual marriage,” Kenley said. “But I do not think that putting a statement in the (state) constitution which runs down or is bigoted toward people who have a different kind of loving relationship, that I may not understand, is going to be productive.”
A poll released earlier this week indicated that a majority of Hoosier voters no oppose the proposed constitutional amendment. The amendment, which was approved during the last legislative session by overwhelming majorities in the Senate and House, must be approved by the House and Senate one more time during the next session before it can go before voters in the 2014 general election for approval. Indiana enacted a Defense of Marriage Act in 1995, which outlawed the recognition of same-sex marriages in Indiana, a law that has been upheld as constitutional by the Indiana Court of Appeals. State Rep. Ed Clere (R-New Albany) was the only Republican in the House to vote against the amendment during the last session and his views have not changed. He says that he won't be alone among Republicans in voting against it this time.
“Clearly, a shift has occurred,” he said. "Clere said he’s been approached by state lawmakers who voted for the constitutional ban in 2011 but are now wavering in their support.
Some want to wait on the U.S. Supreme Court, which recently announced it will take up the issue, looking at both the constitutionality of a federal law that bans gay marriage and California’s decision to put a ban on same-sex marriage in that state’s constitution.

Another Horrible Shooting Provides More Excuses For Taking Away Our Liberties


President Barack Obama's political soul mate, Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel, is fond of saying, "You never want a serious crisis to go to waste," which as he explains, allows you to "do things you could not do before." As terrible as the horrific mass shooting of dozens of innocent children at a Connecticut elementary school yesterday by a crazed young man is, Alex Jones hits the nail on the head of hypocrisy in his criticism of those, including President Obama, who would use yet another tragic shooting as an excuse for giving up our fundamental rights. President Barack Obama really is shedding crocodile tears just as Jones describes. Obama does a poor acting job in pretending to feel the pain of these innocent victims when his administration bears responsibility for unleashing thousands of the most dangerous, high-powered automatic guns across the border into Mexico as part of his Fast and Furious Operation that have been used to murder thousands of innocent Mexican citizens and dozens more Americans on this side of the border. It's frightening to think just how little the American media and those who argue for tougher gun control laws seems to care about that dirty little secret. That's to say nothing about our government's continued waging of endless and pointless wars in the Middle East for more than a decade now, and its covert arming of radical Muslim groups throughout the Middle East as part of a coordinated effort to topple various regimes in that region who are carrying out continuous assaults that are killing hundreds of thousands of innocent civilians. It would be refreshing if those who want to implement the efficient policies of Hitler, Stalin and Mao to usher in our own era of totalitarian rule could open their eyes and see the biggest crimes against humanity now occurring.

Meanwhile, as more information emerges about the accused shooter, who took his own life, we hear this common refrain from family members that there were no warning signs of problems. Adam Lanza was an honors student who came from an upper middle class family. From the Chicago Tribune:

Marsha Lanza, of northwest suburban Crystal Lake, said she was close with Adam Lanza's mother, Nancy, and sent her a message on Facebook on Friday morning asking how she was doing. Nancy Lanza never responded.
Marsha Lanza described Nancy Lanza as a good mother and kind-hearted.
If her son had needed counseling, "Nancy wasn't one to deny reality," she told The Associated Press late Friday.
Marsha Lanza said her husband saw Adam as recently as June and recalled nothing out of the ordinary about him.
Marsha Lanza told the Northwest Herald that she had not seen Adam since he was about 3 years old, but communicated regularly with his mother.
"I knew he had some learning issues in school," Marsha told the newspaper, "but I don't know if there were any behavioral issues. Right now, we don't know any more than you probably do."
Adam Lanza was an honors student who lived in a prosperous neighborhood with his mother, a well-liked woman who enjoyed hosting dice games and decorating the house for the holidays.
Now he is suspected of killing his mother and then gunning down more than two dozen people, 20 of them children, at a Connecticut grade school before taking his own life.
The 20-year-old may have suffered from a personality disorder, law enforcement officials said.
Investigators were trying to learn as much as possible about Lanza and questioned his older brother, who is not believed to have any involvement in the rampage.
Lanza killed his mother at their home before driving her car to Sandy Hook Elementary School and -- armed with at least two handguns -- carried out the massacre, officials said.
A third weapon, a .223-caliber rifle, was found in the car, and more guns were recovered during the investigation.
So far, authorities have not spoken publicly of any possible motive. They found no note or manifesto, and Lanza had no criminal history.
Witnesses said the shooter didn't utter a word.
Lanza was a computer geek who liked playing computer games with his friends according to the Tribune. His parents had divorced in 2008. He grew up in an affluent neighborhood in Newtown, Connecticut where "many people work at companies like General Electric, Pepsi and IBM." Lanza's father worked for GE as a tax director. Just like the Aurora, Colorado shooter, seemingly programmed to kill on command.