Friday, November 02, 2007

Star Is Full Of Political Goodies Today

There are so many interesting political items in today's Star, where to begin? Let's start with the newspaper's flawed endorsement process I've been discussing this past week. You may recall my earlier report about how the Star's editorial board did not extend an interview to council candidate Christine Scales (hat tip to Sir Hailstone), who is locked in a tight race with Carey Hamilton to replace Scott Schneider. Editorial writer Tim Swarens acknowledged the "mistake" in a column today and the editorial board is taking the unusual step of withdrawing its endorsement of Hamilton. Swarens writes:

On Monday, we endorsed Democrat Carey Hamilton in the District 4 City-County Council campaign.

Hamilton impressed board members with her thoughtful approach to issues, her professional background and her history of work in the community.

But I learned after the endorsement was published that the other candidate in the District 4 race, Republican Christine Scales, had not received an invitation to meet with the board.

Candidates on occasion decline our invitation. That's their prerogative. But every candidate should be offered the opportunity to meet.

The oversight occurred, as best as I can determine, because of a personnel change on the Editorial Board that took place during the interview process. Scales said she tried to reach a former board member when she realized an invitation wasn't forthcoming, but was unable to make direct contact.

Scales, a member of the Washington Township Board, says responsible fiscal management and reducing crime rates would be their top priorities if elected.

What is the Editorial Board's most appropriate response under the circumstances?

Editors have weighed that question carefully in recent days. The fairest thing is for the board to withdraw its recommendation in District 4. That's not a reflection on Carey Hamilton; we still believe her strengths are impressive.

It is an effort to be fair to Christine Scales, who didn't have the same opportunity as her opponent to make the case for endorsement.

While I applaud the editorial board for owning up to its mistake, it's a difficult one to correct after the fact. First, it's unfair to Hamilton, who may have already rushed to print up items referencing the endorsement. More importantly, like all retractions, more people will know about the earlier endorsement than the later correction and retraction.

A lot of Marion County Republicans are angry this morning to pick up the newspaper and learn that at-large Republican candidate, Kent Smith, attended a staged political rally Mayor Bart Peterson and Democrats conducted yesterday at Martin Luther King Park, trying to capitalize on the RiShawn Biddle "blow up" at the Star, which led to his firing on Wednesday by the paper's editor, Dennis Ryerson. "Kent Smith, a Republican candidate for City-County Council, said he joined those at the park because race is not a partisan matter," Brendan O'Shaughessy reports. "Racism in any form needs to be eradicated," he said. Believe it or not, Smith attended the rally at the urging of Marion Co. GOP Chairman Tom John. Okay, Kent. Now can you explain to me how one African-American can be a racist towards another African-American? And, I'm sorry, Kent, but I don't recall you protesting Aaron Haith's racially derogatory comment to Abdul Hakim-Shabazz a few weeks back.

If Kent Smith is unable to see yesterday's rally for what it was, then he isn't getting my vote. Republicans were already angry that Marion Co. GOP Chairman Tom John shoved the other three at-large candidates to the curb, including Ed Coleman, Barb Malone and Michael Hegg, and is offering TV, radio and other support exclusively to Kent Smith. I swear, some days I think the only reason Mayor Peterson has a prayer of being re-elected on Tuesday is because so many Republicans are doing their damn best to make sure he wins. Ironically, Kent Smith is the only at-large GOP candidate the Star endorsed. Biddle most likely played a key role in securing Smith that endorsement as a member of the Star's editorial board.

The Star's Mary Beth Schneider takes a look at Mayor Bart Peterson's negative attack ads against Greg Ballard today. The story doesn't provide the critical analysis needed, which would definitively prove the ads are false and misleading, but she makes two very important points. The ads are indeed negative and the fact Peterson is running the negative ads proves his re-election effort has become desperate. Schneider writes:

You don't need a poll to tell you the race for Indianapolis mayor is close. Just turn on your TV.

A new TV ad by Democratic Mayor Bart Peterson focuses solely on his Republican opponent, Greg Ballard, saying Ballard's tax plan "would substantially increase sales and income taxes and require severe cuts in services."

The ad, said Bill Blomquist, political science professor at Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis, tells voters as much about Peterson as about Ballard.

It says this race is close, he said, and that Peterson must be worried about how voters perceive him on taxes and spending, because those are the areas on which he's criticizing Ballard.

"That's their greatest vulnerability," Blomquist said of the Democrats . . .

Peterson defended the ad, saying each statement is fair and well-documented. And, he said, he has not reneged on his pledge to run a positive campaign.

"I don't believe that this ad is a negative ad. If I did, I wouldn't have put it on the air," he said.

"It is about accountability. You've got to be able to debate public policy questions in a campaign.

It's a choice between two candidates -- the people and their positions. Those are all his stated positions from the public record."

Blomquist wasn't convinced.

"It may be a fair ad. It may be an accurate ad. But it's a negative ad," he said . . .

"I've been in a lot of campaigns," [Rex] Early said. "You do this kind of negative ad in the last week out of desperation."

Star political columnist Matt Tully is convinced Mayor Peterson is running scared in the closing days of this campaign. "I wouldn't have believed it had the commercial not popped up Thursday morning as I watched Matt, Meredith and Al on the "Today" show," Tully writes. "There it was: Cliched gloomy music. Overstatements. A closing line that punched Republican mayoral candidate Greg Ballard square in the nose." "Greg Ballard: Higher taxes. No experience. Wrong for Indianapolis," the deep-voiced narrator in the Peterson ad says." Tully notes the irony in the fact that the ads arrived on Halloween. Tully adds, "Coming from Bart Peterson, a Boy Scout of a man if ever there was one, a guy with a more consistent smile than Donny Osmond, the negative TV ad is a stunner." "Coming from a politician who has raised quite a few taxes recently, the claim from Peterson that a Ballard administration would mean "higher taxes" is a laugher." I agree.


Anonymous said...

If the newspaper had any credibility left, it's gone now.

I've met Christine Scales. She's shrill and would not make a good council member, IMHO. But she deserved an invite.

And the newspaper's remedy is laughable.

The air must be pretty thin over there at N. Penn. First, Editor Ryearson okays a "poll" whose author has questionable qualifications. And the "poll" questions are decidedly unprofessional and stilted. Then the "poll" finds a close mayoral campaign (shocking!), and the newspaper parrots its "poll" success on Ch. 13 using--taa-daa!--Ryearson's wife to do the report. Without disclosing that she's Ryearson's wife.

The whole poll/endorsement thing was an effort by The Star to be "relevant" and remain talked-about up to the end.

And now they "witdraw" an "endorsement" because one of the candidates didn't get an invite.

Hell this sounds more and more like a bunch of high school sophomore girls, just before they get their driver's licenses, talking to their boyfriends in the driveway, or, amongst themselves, deciding whom to invite to their party after the game Saturday.

In other words, amatuerish.

Which is sad for the state's largest newspaper.

In any other normal private enterprise, this kind of collective goofiness would be met with some firings. And not just RiShawn's.

But Ryearson looooooves his access and "relevance" so look for absolutely nothing to happen. Including good reporting.

Good reporting, as in: exactly what is wrong with Rep. Carson? And not just her canned answer, eithera: ask some medical experts about Julia's claimed ailments. Where is she? When will she return? What about that mental lapse on TV last year, viewed by thousands?

Or, good reporting, as in: how do folks like Tom John get and keep chairmanships?

Or, how in the hell does a major newspaper editor align himself with politicians at a news conference that decries racial divide? And not get fired for such a huge lapse in news judgment? Why can't he make his firings, etc., public and let it go at that? Why the posturing for cameras?

And all the lazy media in this sleepy town will follow the newspaper's lead. (sigh)

Oh yeah: Dennis, the earring looks good.

Anonymous said...

When a journalist reports without backing his/her content up with facts, that's grounds for dismissal at any respectable publication. But THIS is IndyStar...

Anonymous said...

Beth also noted some remarks made by "former" political go-to guy Brian Vargas who stated that the ads were simply needed to increase the win margin for he would have a good track record when he runs for Congress.
Now you don't suppose the Downtwon Klan had already chosen Lugar's replacement do you?

Anonymous said...

Is the fix in on this election or is it my imagination?
I thought all this Tammany Hall crap ended with.............well, Tammany Hall.

Sir Hailstone said...

"I've met Christine Scales. She's shrill and would not make a good council member, IMHO"

Shrill? Hardly.

Now her opponent is a combination of Algore and the voice and persona of Cindy Sheehan. "The world will be a better place, like as if we can ban the car or something".

Sir Hailstone said...

8:37 - Yes the fix is in. Beth White is sending out the notices now - Democrats can stay home on Tuesday their votes aren't needed.

Anonymous said...

Thanks stoned. You just gave Carey a big boost. Your opinion assures me that Cary will win this one. Your always on the loser side now aren't you.

Anonymous said...

Yeah, Hail. Shrill. I stand by that observation. I've seen her in action many times.

AnN after Tuesday, she'll be back to the Washington Township board. Where they're trying to build a new township government building. For a system that'll likely be dismantled or altered soon.

Wilson46201 said...

On an LGBT-oriented blog, it should also be brought out that Christine Scales refused to answer a question on an LBGT-voters questionnaire about whether she supports the existing H.R.O. but she did say she opposes domestic partners benefits. In other words: Scales is antigay unlike her opponent, Carey Hamilton who is gay-friendly.

Anonymous said...

Years ago the St. Louis Star-Times could expose the “Teapot Dome” scandal but ignore chicanery in city hall.

Today Indianapolis has more corruption than
St. Louis of 1920's. Documentation of The Democrat Machine (of which, The Star is an integral part) taking over, and promoting illegal gambling (pea shakes), ghost employment of patronage
employees, non-representation by an infirm & mentally ill congresswoman, bar owned by the city
council president and airport authority board member in a government building, zoning variance was approved by the wife of the city council majority leader, city council president who VOTES AGAINST an ethical investigation of HIMSELF for corruption, city council president who files 2 homestead tax exemptions by committing perjury, tax increases for the working class, yet The Machine doesn't pay it's own taxes and gives its corrupt business partners TIF or abatements.

"Corruption is as corruption does."

-THE DEMOCRAT MACHINE, Boss Bart Peterson, Mayor & The Indianapolis Star, Boss Newspaper.