Thursday, February 28, 2008

Orentlicher Lets Down Property Taxpayers

Throughout this entire property tax ordeal, I've admired State Rep. David Orentlicher's determination to face the problem head on and look for workable solutions to provide long-term relief for property taxpayers. Yet, something happened during a critical vote on Gov. Mitch Daniels' proposed constitutional amendment to cap property taxes this week which has left many of us shaking our heads. At issue was an amendment offered by House Republicans, which would have restored the amendment to it original design--capping property taxes at 1% of a home's assessed value. House Democrats altered the amendment in committee to base the cap on 1% of a person's household income--an idea resoundingly condemned by almost every tax expert. When it came time for a vote on the House Republicans' amendment, Rep. Orentlicher just sat there. WTHR's Kevin Rader has a good summary of what happened:

Representative David Orentlicher was at his desk but elected not to cast a vote. Representative Bosma demanded he do so but the Speaker closed the machine. Orentlicher says his voting machine was not operating correctly. Normally when that happens a lawmaker will just stand up and call for the Speaker's attention to register a vote. Orentlicher was silent even after Rep. Bosma called for his vote. The Democratic candidate for the 7th District Congressional general election nomination did go up afterwards and ask that his vote but registered but only after everyone in the body was watching.

He later told me he would petition for an aye vote so the proposed amendment did fail by a 50-50 vote, but it is always a little easier to make sure your vote would not alter the course of the bill or, heaven forbid, go against the Speaker's wishes.

Running for office is all about leadership. That means voting. Not watching. Not waiting. Not wishing no one would notice. Not having to defend a vote to your constituents. Now Rep. David Orentlicher will have to explain not only to the voters but to his own peers why he didn't cast a vote. Rep. Carolene Mays cast a vote and she is also a candidate for the general election nomination of the Democratic party in the 7th. Rep. Jon Elrod voted and he is the Republican candidate for the special election in the 7th congressional district. And they both will have to stand up and explain their votes but something tells me that will be a whole lot easier than trying to stand up and tell Hoosiers why you just sat there.

Rader makes some very salient observations about Orentlicher's inaction on an issue he has made a number one priority. To their credit, Rep. Elrod and Rep. Mays, both candidates for the 7th District race like Orentlicher, took a stand. Elrod stood with the Republicans in favoring the 1% cap on a homeowner's assessed value. Mays stood with the Democrats and their 1% cap on a homeowner's household income. I just don't understand what Orentlicher was thinking. He already faces an uphill battle against Andre Carson in the May primary. This doesn't help him in the least. Carson will no doubt throw up the "bold leadership" stance he has taken in his primary battle against him. Of course, Orentlicher will never defeat Carson in my opinion unless Carson loses the special election to Elrod. If Carson wins the special election, Orentlicher, Mays et al. won't have a prayer against Carson.


Anonymous said...

Just a thought, but here's what he might have been thinking:

How in the hell can I vote for or against an idiotic plan to cap property taxes based on income?


I can't piss off my Speaker or I'll be politically dead. (Even though Bauer is nuts)

This is one of the real conundrums David faces daily in that silly caucus. And the biggest reason I sense, that he's glad to be getting out of it.

Stupid bill, stupid debate, and it won't amount to a hill of beans anyway. It'll all iron out in conference.

But just to be sure, I'm going to call and write him, asking him to hold firm on conference votes that don't accomplish anything.

I'm not a Rader-hater, but he's far from an authentic source on such matters. He reported last week on the "third reading" of a particualr bill, when it was nothing of the sort. I have seen multiple such errors in his reporting.

Still, David O bears watching. Thanks for the tip.

By the by--David O. has a town meeting on property taxes tonight at North U.M. Church, 38th and Meridian, I think beginning at 7:30. Wish I could go, but I can't. Anyone who feels the need, go and tell him your opinions yourself. He's very accessible.

Gary R. Welsh said...

Rader's account seems consistent with what I've heard elsewhere. If David was having a problem with his voting machine, he should have been on his feet yelling to make sure his vote was cast instead of waiting for Bosma to say something.

Anonymous said...

You're probably right.

Stil, David has earned the benefit of the doubt. The whole incident is pretty far removed form his legislative record and typical behavior.

Anonymous said...

Gary...hope you don't mind if I point our readers to this story. Thanks for being so on top of things all the time.

You are hands down the best blogger in Indiana!

Anonymous said...

Sorry Gary but I believe that David deserves the benefit of the doubt, as well. David has been one of the few lawmakers that has been willing to deal with the tax crisis. I trust him more than most.

Anonymous said...

When I read this I almost laughed 'til I cried.
For those of you familiar with the rules of golf then you'll understand what Stymie means. Yea, I know, we "fair play" Americans outlawed it back in the early 1950's much to the dismay of the Royal and Ancient but alas, the Stymie lives!!!
Rep. William Crawford stymied Rep David Orentlicher on what may be the deciding hole of the match.
You see, Mr. David O was having a pretty good round until Mr. Crawford realized that his buddy Mr. Carson needed a wee bit of help for the big primary tournament.
So Mr. Crawford, knowing how he and Carson's gallery love going for the throat, set Mr. Orentlicher up in grand fashion.
Crawford, using his powerful Ways and Means driver, poked his 1% House Hold Income ball clean down the fairway onto the green landing a full legal 7 inches directly in front of Orentlicher's 1% House Assessed Value ball and the hole.
What were the odds of such a Stymie, Mr. Orentlicher must have been thinking. How could it be that one measly little stupid 1% Household Income ball could dash his hopes for the primary championship. He was in the right, he was playing the best 1% House Assessed Value ball made. The rule was blatantly unfair he thought.
So Mr. Orentlicher was in complete shock. He couldn't hit his ball around Mr. Crawford's. He couldn't hit ball directly into Mr. Crawfords. He couldn't hit his ball over Mr. Crawford's. All options were bad ones.
Mr. Orentlicher had to do something, anything but he didn't. He was completely frozen. Mr. Crawford had Stymied Mr. Orentlicher.
Damned if you do and damned of you don't Mr. Orentlicher but dammit', do something!
A lesson learned. A tournament likely lost.
Call the guy at the Broadmoor pro shop Mr. Orentlicher. His lessons are far cheaper than the one you just paid for.

Anonymous said...

If Orentlicher was thinking soundly or getting good advice, he would never have entered the race for Congress. I have always admired him but I am through with him now.

Anonymous said...

OT Gary, you might want to look into what's going on with IMPD. Without question, the city is MUCH better off having the dept. under the mayors control. But..if the rumored changes in the administration are true, then we are very disappointed. It appears that they are blowing a wonderful opportunity to really do something positive with the dept.

Anonymous said...

David is quite literally one of the finest public servants I've known in over three decades of political activity (mostly in the GOP before it was stolen by the wingnuts for Jesus). I honestly believe that his IQ is higher than the sum total of the remaining members of that chamber.

As Mark Twain once said about Congress: "Let's say I was an imbecile. And let's say I was a member of the Indiana legislature. But I repeat myself."

David is the exception. I'm sure this silly amendment insulted his intelligence. I'm sure he was conflicted. He's human and he's a politician. He's just smarter than most of either.

Anonymous said...

ref 4:30's comment right on Robinette reportedly is being demoted to Lt. and sent to arson. That will be the end of our high conviction rate and will solve the problem of great morale.

Anonymous said...

jefferson, let me get this right. If i believe in Jesus i'm a wingnut
?.....sounds as if you are the nut.

Anonymous said...

Whenever anyone gets around to revisiting Obama's record in the Illinois legislature they will discover similar "no votes". Ducking issues is what Obama has been all about.

Anonymous said...

Apologies to Jon Elrod for my previous post. He is the intellectual giant of the GOP house caucus. He probably doesn't have quite the brainpower of David O. (who does?) but he's very bright and refreshingly thoughtful.

Anonymous said...

Grow a set David O!!!!


Anonymous said...

Anon. 6:02 said...
jefferson, let me get this right. If i believe in Jesus i'm a wingnut
?.....sounds as if you are the nut.

Ummm, either you're WAY too sensitive or you don't read well. I said no such thing. Since your critical skills appear to be dull, allow me to explain further.

If your belief in Jesus instills a desire in you to use the power of civil government to reduce the liberty of people who do not share your particular code of personal morality, then you are a wingnut.

If your belief in Jesus causes you to act with hostility toward those you fear because they are different from you, then you are a wingnut.

If your belief in Jesus causes you to love your neighbor as yourself and judge not, then you are a Christian.