|Eric Holcomb (left) and Bill Oesterle (right) behind Daniels in 2012 (Courier-Press Photo)|
. . . Bill Oesterle is quitting as CEO of Angie's List, saying he wants to re-enter state politics and help repair the "shellacking" Indiana's image took from the passage of the "religious freedom" act.
The news caught both the state's business and political communities by surprise, and some see the move as a direct effort to unseat Gov. Mike Pence over his handling of the controversial issue . . .
Oesterle remains one of the only prominent Central Indiana business leaders to express unhappiness over changes the legislature hastily made to state law to assuage RFRA critics. Oesterle says the changes don't go far enough to shield lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people from discrimination based on religious grounds . . .
Indiana's public image "took a shellacking" after passage of RFRA spurred widespread criticism from gay rights groups, much of the business community and others, Oesterle said. "Indiana was under significant duress and went through a heartbreaking situation."
Oesterle's announcement amounts to "an announcement of trying to unseat a governor," said Andy Downs, director of the Mike Downs Center for Indiana Politics. "If you think about the individual positions that could have made a difference about this (RFRA), that's only one, that's the governor."
"That is somebody who is saying either he is running for governor or is looking for somebody to run for governor," Downs said of Oesterle. He said he sprang the news about quitting as CEO at a specially called telephonic meeting of Angie's board of directors Monday . . .
He said he realized his position as CEO is incompatible with getting involved in politics. His 20th anniversary as Angie's CEO, he said, also put him in a reflective mood.
"You start to look around and see what you are going to do in your career," he said. "I can maybe do some things to help resolve some of the state's issues. I am going to take a little time and sort out what they might be." . . .Jeff Swiatek's story included encouraging words from one of his employees, Melyssa Hubbard, author of "Spanking City Hall":
. . . Melyssa Hubbard, a self-professed dominatrix who works in sales at Angie's List, said the company hired her in 2006 despite knowing about her work in sexual bondage. She wrote a book, "Spanking City Hall," about her conflicts with the city.
"I wish every place on earth was like this," she said in a recent interview. "The employees come from various walks of life. That's important to Bill. I've always told him how grateful I am to be working here.
"We have the conservatives and the liberals and really buttoned-up people and people with pink hair and tattoos. Bill creates platforms for people to self-actualize."
Oesterle said he keeps an autographed copy of Hubbard's book in his office.
"She found a job here. It's kind of a safe place for her. She is not being judged," he said. . . .