Sunday, February 28, 2010

Media's Memory On Carmel High School Short

Local media and Carmel High School parents have expressed shock at the sexual abuse allegations of senior members of Carmel High School's boys basketball team against freshmen team members. The current story involves allegations that several seniors on the basketball team stripped the pants off of two freshmen team members on a bus while returning from a trip to Terre Haute in January and fingered their anus. A separate but similar allegation has been made by a freshman who says he was sexually assaulted by another senior on the boys basketball team in early January. What the local news media has missed is a similar assault that occurred several years back to a freshman on the school's swim team. Several seniors stripped a freshman swimmer in the locker room and took turns shoving objects up his anus.

As bizarre as this behavior may seem, this type of activity is probably less uncommon than what you might think. I recall reading several years ago in a magazine article about strange hazing methods at elite private schools, particularly all boys schools. A common form of hazing is to strip a freshman of his clothes and finger him. I guess you have to come from a privileged, elitist background to think that such actions are acceptable. I couldn't imagine something like this happening at the public school I attended.

It seems to me that Carmel school officials have blatantly turned a blind eye to these activities over the years. The swim team incident put them on notice that there might be a problem and yet the problem persists after all these years. I credit the local media digging into the story for any action being taken at all. The three coaches on the bus filled with freshman bear some culpability for allowing the three seniors to ride on the freshmen bus and managing not to notice that two freshmen were being sexually assaulted by the seniors. The principal didn't take the allegations seriously until he realized the media was going to report on it. He claims he didn't know about the incidents until nearly a month after they occurred. Yet, almost every student at the school had heard stories about it for weeks. If I were the Carmel school board, I would be thinking seriously about firing the coaches and the principal. One expects more of the administrators at the state's most elite public school.

UPDATE: A reader raises a valid issue over whether Carmel police have jurisdiction over the alleged crimes. The incident occurred on I-70 shortly after the bus left the Cloverdale exit. I'm sure school administrators prefer having Carmel police investigate it rather than the State Police or the jurisdiction where the crime actually occurred. If the victims' parents don't like the police handling of this case, they may want to raise the jurisdiction issue.

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

At-Large Race Heating Up

No fewer than eleven candidates are vying to replace At-Large City-County Councilor Kent Smith, who resigned due to his military service. One of the candidates hit a bit of a roadblock tonight when he was forced to admit that he had voted in the Democratic primary in 2008. I'm told jaws dropped to the floor tonight when Aaron Williams, son of Deputy Mayor Olgen Williams, told GOP ward chairs that he voted in the 2008 Democratic Primary for Hillary Clinton in furtherance of Rush Limbaugh's Operation Chaos. Williams is a GOP ward chair and precinct committeeman. Party leaders sacked ward chairs in Washington Township for supporting Scott Schneider over Ryan Vaughn after last year's caucus to replace Sen. Teresa Lubbers. How could Williams remain a ward chair and PC after voting in the Democratic primary? You just can't make this stuff up. And for the record, Williams says he won't give up his "community liaison" job with IMPD if he's appointed to the council.

Here's the full list of candidates who will compete in next Monday's caucus vote:

Aaron Williams
Dorothy Henry
Michael Jezierski
Bruce Schumacher
Eric Smith
Michael Kalscheur
Jackie Cissell
Angel Rivera
Avachino Reeves
Kevin Green
Gary Conner

Ballard Wastes Millions More On Crime Prevention Grants

In an utter display of fiscal irresponsibility, Mayor Greg Ballard announced that he's giving away $4 million of your taxpayer dollars to various nonprofit groups and church-related organizations for the purpose of crime prevention. Take a look at some of the groups he's funding with these grants:

100 Black Men ($37,000)
Andrew J. Brown Academy ($46,500)
Bethlehem House ($56,000)
Christamore House ($37,000)
Church of Acts ($74,000)
Concord Center ($39,000)
Dove Recovery House ($75,000)
Ebenezer Retreat and Camping Institute ($59,000)
Fathers and Families ($94,000)
Forest Manor Multi-Service Center ($46,500)
Greater Commission Church of God ($64,000)
Indiana Black Expo ($39,000)
Indiana Latino Institute ($20,000)
Indianapolis Downtown, Inc. ($139,000)
Indianapolis Ten Point Coalition ($124,000)
Indianapolis Urban League ($84,500)
Jamal Abdullah Martial Arts Center ($37,000)
Mt. Carmel Community Center ($69,000)
New Light Christian Church ($32,250)
Peace In The Streets ($99,000)
Tanniehill Wrestling Academy ($49,000)
The Mind Trust ($117,500)
Use What You've Got Ministry ($46,500)
Wailing Women Win ($46,500)
Wishard ($169,000)

Reading through the list of grantees, you can quickly pick up the hand of Deputy Mayor Olgen Williams. A number of them are directly associated with his activities prior to joining the administration. Williams was one of the black ministers who threatened to shut down construction of Lucas Oil Stadium if then-Mayor Bart Peterson didn't agree to give them $25 million over five years in crime prevention grants. Funding for these grants were included in Peterson's 65%, $90 million a year income tax increase as a payoff to the black ministers. Peterson actually received a higher percentage of the black vote in his losing re-election bid than Andre Carson got during his 2008 special election win. Yet, that didn't stop those same black ministers from running to Ballard after the election to claim credit for his victory. You won because we convinced our people to stay home on election day. Ballard bought it hook, line and sinker. He quickly hired Olgen Williams has his deputy mayor of neighborhoods and began passing out money to the same people who conducted a public shakedown of our City's mayor in 2007.

Ballard has convinced himself that he's going to do better than other Republican mayors in winning support in the black community in the next election by spending millions on these useless grants. Any intelligent Republican should know that it is nothing more than a scam. Many years ago when I was working in a state legislative race in Illinois, our campaign was visited upon by a prominent black minister. He told us $10,000 in cash could help our candidate win considerable support in the black community on election day. My candidate turned him down. The candidate told me later that he wouldn't play the game because he knew if he gave him the money that the minister would run down to his opponent's campaign and take twice as much from him. That was campaign money. Mayor Ballard is using our taxpayer dollars to play this game. Think about that long and hard when Mayor Ballard has to tell us in a few months that $20 to $30 million will have to be cut from the City's budget to make up for smaller reimbursements from the state.

Also, the last time I checked the Indiana Constitution it still has a provision barring the use of public funds for religious purposes. Yet our city is giving out grant money to churches? Mayor Ballard made his announcement of this year's grant recipients at Light of the World Church. That would be the same church where The Bishop delivers sermons mocking gays and otherwise promoting hate towards people based on their sexual orientation. Here's a little of what The Bishop at Light of the World has had to say on the subject:

The most dastardly thing about homosexuality is silly silly homosexuals going around trying to convince people that what they're doing is normal. That’s the sin; the abomination. Instead of saying I have a serious problem and I am struggling with it and I know that it is wrong . . . Homosexuality is a spirit of the underworld and you who collaborate with that spirit collaborate with the devil himself. But be careful on who you think is a homosexual and who is not. Everybody that is effeminate is not a homosexual, they just didn’t have the kind of parenting where a father said ‘son take that switch out yo' walk boy, son we don't walk like that, or bend like that either.’ The first time a father sees his son do his wrist like this he needs to take his hand and say Your wrist goes like this. Men don’t talk up here (high). It’s a choice, you can change, you can choose, you can choose. Every effeminate person is not gay and every weight lifter is not straight. He might be the biggest girl in the city.” Uproarious laughter breaks out in the congregation.

Securatex Contract With Washington Township Schools Raises Concern

Fellow blogger Diana Vice has an intriguing post on her blog, Welcome To My Tea Party, about a $900,000 annual security contract Washington Township Schools has with Securatex, a private security firm at which former Marion Co. Sheriff Jack Cottey serves as a business services advisor. The contract has not been renegotiated for years according to Vice. Securatex's contract came to light after board member Greg Wright began asking questions about it. School administrators did not have a copy of the contract and only produced it after obtaining a copy from Securatex. Vice writes about how this story is expected to grow in the coming days:

In addition to the allegations of poor record keeping, many are left wondering why such a high contract item was not put out for public bid over the years, including competitors of Securatex, one of which reportedly claims the security services could be contracted for much less than what the school district is currently paying. Taxpayers also raised the issue that local companies are being shut out of the competition in favor of the politically-connected Securatex.

Perhaps this is an issue that the State Board of Accounts should look into.

When asked about the fact that the security contract was not put out for public bid, taxpayers were reportedly told that school officials had a good relationship with Securatex management . . .

What is known about Securatex? According to information received from the Secretary of State website, it is a for-profit foreign corporation based in Illinois. The Business Service Advisor listed for Securatex is former Marion County Sheriff Jack Cottey.

As a side note, here is a link to March, 2007 Advisory Minutes for the Marion County Community Corrections Department, which reports that Securatex was approved for a multi-million dollar contract for the department even though it was not the low bidder. More than one of the board members listed have been linked to a corruption investigation involving Tim Durham, who has also reportedly hired the firm to provide security for lavish parties that he has hosted.

Sources say that more shocking details about this situation will be forthcoming in the days and weeks ahead as members of the local media have reportedly been asking questions about the controversy.

Sunday, February 21, 2010

IMPD Shakeup

Mayor Greg Ballard is shaking up the leadership of IMPD that he appointed after assuming control of IMPD in 2008 from Sheriff Frank Anderson. WTHR is reporting that Chief Michael Spears is out as chief and will be replaced by Maj. Paul Ciesielski. Despite a promise to clean up the department, IMPD has been plagued by internal scandals during the Ballard administration. More recently, a high-ranking officer, Lincoln Plowman, also a member of the City-County Council, was suspended by the department after he refused to answer questions posed to him by FBI agents.

Friday, February 19, 2010

State Law Creates Snag For Democrats In Replacing Bayh

The Indiana Democratic Party had planned to conduct a meeting of its state committee within a week to pick a replacement on the November ballot in the U.S. Senate race following Evan Bayh's last minute decision to drop out of the race. No other Democrat qualified to be placed on the May 4 primary ballot. Speculation has centered on two Southern Indiana congressmen, U.S. Rep. Brad Ellsworth and U.S. Rep. Baron Hill. The Star's Mary Beth Schneider reports today that lawyers for the state party have determined that a state law prohibits the state committee from appointing a replacement for Bayh until after the May 4 primary. That means Ellsworth and Hill will have to pretend to be running for re-election to the House, while actually jockeying for the Senate vacancy appointment. More importantly, it means the Republican candidate won't be disadvantaged by an early decision on the Democratic candidate. It also looks that like the state party will have to contend with strong objections to Ellsworth's candidacy from the GLBT community, which points out that Ellsworth has one of the worst voting rights on GLBT issues of any Democratic member of Congress.

There are plenty of candidate on the Republican side. It appears all of the announced candidates will make the ballot, including for Sen. Dan Coats, State Sen. Marlin Stutzman, former U.S. Rep. John Hostettler, businessman Don Bates and tea party activist Richard Behney. Although Coats has a big advantage in name recognition because of his earlier years in the Senate, he by no means has a lock on the race. Many party activists resent his late decision to enter the race after spending more than a decade living and working in D.C. as a lobbyist. Coats has not voted in Indiana since leaving the Senate. He only rented a home in Indianapolis a couple of weeks ago that he has declared as his official residence.

Meanwhile, I'm picking up strong indications that Bayh intends to return to Indiana after serving in the Senate to begin laying the groundwork for a 2012 gubernatorial bid. That prospect has many Democrats smiling because of Bayh's past electoral successes in statewide races. Republicans have no clear front runner for that office at this point, although there is speculation that Lt. Gov. Becky Skillman and U.S. Rep. Mike Pence want to run for the office.

Monday, February 15, 2010

Shocker: Bayh Drops Bid For Re-election

The Star's Mary Beth Schneider has a breaking news story that will send shock waves throughout Indiana's political world. Sen. Evan Bayh has decided to drop his bid for re-election to the Senate because of the increasing partisanship in Washington she reports. She attributes the following quotes to his decision:

“After all these years, my passion for service to my fellow citizens is undiminished, but my desire to do so in Congress has waned,” he said.

“My decision was not motivated by political concern,” he added. “Even in the current challenging environment, I am confident in my prospects for re-election.”

"But running for the sake of winning an election, just to remain in public office, is not good enough,” Bayh said. “And it has never been what motivates me. At this time I simply believe I can best contribute to society in another way: creating jobs by helping grow a business, helping guide an institution of higher learning or helping run a worthy charitable endeavor.”

“Two weeks ago, the Senate voted down a bipartisan commission to deal with one of the greatest threats facing our nation: our exploding deficits and debt. The measure would have passed, but seven members who had endorsed the idea instead voted ‘no’ for short-term political reasons,” he said. “Just last week, a major piece of legislation to create jobs — the public’s top priority — fell apart amid complaints from both the left and right. All of this and much more has led me to believe that there are better ways to serve my fellow citizens, my beloved state4 and our nation than continued service in Congress.”

Bayh's shocking decision will leave the Indiana Democratic Party in a mad scramble to find a candidate and collect enough signatures to get a candidate on the ballot before Friday's filing deadline. Perhaps Dan Coats had some clue that Bayh's decision may be coming and would explain his late entry into the race. This race is going to get real interesting.

UPDATE: U.S. Rep. Brad Ellsworth is not ruling out the possibility of running for the Senate according to a statement posted by WTHR. He could be appointed to fill Bayh's spot on the ballot if no candidate meets this week's filing deadline, which seems unlikely at this point.

Plowman Investigation Leaves Many Unanswered Questions

The Star's Francesca Jarosz has a lot of good questions about the investigation of City-County Councilor Lincoln Plowman and his recent suspension as a high-ranking IMPD officer for failing to cooperate in an ongoing FBI investigation. Everybody wants to know the nature of the investigation. Public Safety Director Frank Straub knows the nature of the investigation but won't tell reporters what it is. He cites Plowman's right to privacy and right to a fair process. But this poses a problem for his fellow councilors, who are still in the dark and don't know what if any potential matters he should be recused from voting on. As it stands, there is no confirmation whether the investigation relates to his work on the council or as a police officer. People can only speculate.

An ethics specialist tells Jarosz that Plowman should either disclose the nature of the investigation or step down from the council until it is concluded. The council has had numerous examples of other councilors facing criminal charges. Former Councilor Ron Gibson was charged with shoving a police officer as was Councilor Doris Minton-McNeill. Councilor Paul Bateman is facing charges he misspent over $1 million of a nonprofit's money. Councilor Monroe Gray faced charges that he failed to disclose contracts his minority-owned business had with city entities. As Jarosz points out, in each of those cases, other councilors knew of the specific allegations against their fellow councilor.

Frankly, I think it is an outrage that the Ballard administration won't disclose the nature of the investigation. This suggests to me that officials in the administration are going out of their way to protect Plowman, or they fear the investigation points to corruption or malfeasance within the administration. In any other major city in this country, an official would have clued reporters into what was taking place. How many times do you turn on the news and hear about details of charges against a school teacher at one of our public schools long before any criminal charges are brought, if they are brought at all? Plowman is a public official in two capacities. We have the right to know why he wouldn't answer questions posed to him by the FBI. He and the Ballard administration only raise further suspicions in the public's mind when they choose to stonewall on this matter. Let me remind people that this problem wouldn't exist at all if public employees of the city-county were barred from serving on the council as our state constitution mandates.

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Coats Is A Fish Out Of Water

When I first moved to Indianapolis to attend law school, Sen. Dan Coats was seeking re-election to the seat to which he had been appointed by Gov. Robert Orr against then-Secretary of State Joe Hogsett. Coats lambasted Hogsett for running for another office without serving out his full term as secretary of state. My strongest memory of that campaign was a TV spot Coats ran over and over again, which I've dubbed the "He's not one of us" spot. Looking straight into the camera, Coats warned Hoosiers, "My opponent has no wife, he has no children." In short, he doesn't share our Hoosier values Coats said. Although he didn't say it directly, the clear implication he was sending to voters was that you shouldn't vote for Hogsett because he might be gay. Coats' attacks on Hogsett worked. He won 57% of the vote at the same time Evan Bayh was handily re-elected to a second term as governor.

Six years later, Coats chickened out of a race against Evan Bayh in 1998. Coats had become the ultimate Washington insider. Prior to serving in the House of Representatives, Coats worked on the congressional staff of Dan Quayle, a politician to whom he owes his political career. When Quayle moved up to the Senate, Coats took his his old congressional seat in northeastern Indiana. When Quayle became Vice President with President George H.W. Bush, Gov. Orr appointed Coats to Quayle's senate seat at his urging. Many of Orr's staffers had urged him to appoint a young up-and-comer, Mitch Daniels, to the seat instead. Orr's desire to win an ambassadorship from the Bush administration may have given him an extra incentive to go with Quayle's choice.

After Coats left the Senate in 1998, he chose to stay in Washington. He later accepted an ambassadorship appointment to Germany from President Bush. Later, he took up the trade of so many former Members of Congress: he became a lobbyist. Hoosier Republicans have scarcely seen Coats since he retired from the Senate. By all accounts, he considered Washington his home and had planned to retire to a lovely home in North Carolina. Then came a Rasmussen poll showing Evan Bayh vulnerable for re-election and the timely intervention of Sen. John Cornyn (R-TX) who leads the Senate Republican Campaign Committee to convince Coats that none of the Republican Party's current crop of candidates for that seat cut it and that he should return to Indiana to run for the seat. To the surprise of almost everyone, Coats jumped at the opportunity. We're told Coats quickly rented a home on the Indianapolis' northside to claim as a residence for voting purposes. Not to worry about the late date of rounding up enough signatures to get on the ballot, Coats will simply rely on paid workers to collect his signatures absent any grassroots support for his candidacy.

Seeing Coats greet Marion County GOP precinct committeepersons and volunteer workers at this weekend's slating convention, I sensed that Coats believes he's our savior coming to the rescue to ensure us a victory in November over Sen. Evan Bayh. Nothing could be further from the truth. Many of the younger folks remember little about him other than he had a very bad comb-over, which he has wisely lost. I sense real resentment towards Coats from many of the party faithful that he has the audacity to think that he can waltz into the state on the eve of the filing deadline for the May primary when other candidates have been out on the hustings for the better part of the past year seeking support for their candidacies. Beyond that, Coats has to be living in an imaginary world if he doesn't appreciate the resentment average Hoosiers have towards Washington insiders these days. How can you say you're part of the solution when you've been lobbying for Bank of America, Yemen and Venezuelan interests? He even had a lobbying contract with the Indian government to arrange a speech for that country's prime minister before a joint session of Congress. Gee, what does an ambassador do? Coats can argue all he wants over the characterization of his lobbying work, but in the end he cannot escape his ultimate Washington insider status.

All of Coats' potential primary opponents resent his entry into the race at this late date. Clearly, Gov. Daniels is not happy with his entry. The only people clamoring for him to run are all Washington insiders. Despite the fact that his entry has gone over like a fart in church, Coats shows no signs of retreating. And why should he? He sees four underfunded primary opponents with little name recognition. Because of Indiana's alphabetized system of placing candidates on the ballot, Coats knows his name will appear near the top in a long list of candidates (assuming Richard Behney fails to secure enough signatures). Turnout in the primary election may be very low. That gives one of the other candidates who is short on funds but has built a strong base of grassroots supporters to emerge victorious. If Coats wins the nomination, we're stuck with a race between two Washington insiders, leaving voters little in the way of choices.

Sorry, Dan, but you are not one of us. If only someone could convince him that he would be doing the party a big favor if he simply returned to his retirement home in North Carolina.

Saturday, February 13, 2010

GOP Gives Nod To Fishburn And May

The Marion Co. GOP had one of its best-attended slating conventions in several years today at the Crowne Plaza at the airport. Despite the inadequacy of the facilities to accommodate such a large crowd, the party faithful were enthusiastic about their choices to run for county office. In the hotly contested race for sheriff, Dennis Fishburn pulled out a victory on the first ballot over Bart McAtee and Steve Davis. Likewise, Carlos May handily picked up a first round endorsement over Rafael Ramirez in the race for the 7th district congressional race. Mark Massa, who delivered a rousing speech in his uncontested bid for the Marion Co. Prosecutor nomination, will head up the local ticket. Also running uncontested for slating were Becky Williams for assessor, Joe Hecko for auditor and Jana Scott for clerk.

All of the candidates in the 5th congressional district race were on hand, except for incumbent Dan Burton. Dr. John McGoff was at home with committeepersons with whom he has worked for a number of years in Marion Co. U.S. Senate candidate Marlin Stutzman pressed the flesh with the party faithful throughout the day. Former Sen. Dan Coats worked the room earlier in the day. John Hostettler also stopped by to visit. Candidates vying for Rep. Buyer's seat were there, including Secretary of State Todd Rokita and Sen. Mike Young.

Party faithful's primary concerns leaving today's slating convention are the Brizzi problem and a McAtee primary challenge. Many committeepersons agree that Brizzi should resign his office so Massa can be appointed and restore confidence to the office. Party faithful worry that McAtee will contest Fishburn in the primary despite not being slated. McAtee refused to commit prior to today not to run if he was not slated.

Friday, February 12, 2010

Race For At-Large Council Seat Getting Crowded

The resignation of Kent Smith (R), at-large city-councilor, has opened a spirited race to replace him at a caucus of Marion Co. GOP committeepersons to be held next month. The list currently includes the following declared and undeclared candidates: Aaron Williams, Angel Rivera, Bruce Schumacher, Michael Jezierski, Dorothy Henry and Chris Douglas. Some party leaders are pushing the meme that only a minority candidate should be considered to replace Smith because he was one of two at-large city-county councilors who are African-American, Barbara Malone being the other one. Personally, as an elected GOP committeeperson, I believe the party should pick a person based on merit and not skin color or ethnicity. Here's a quick rundown of the candidates' backgrounds:

People should be asking why Williams, a community liaison at IMPD, should not be disqualified from running for a partisan office because of potential violation of the Little Hatch Act. The Ballard administration created this job specifically for Williams, who is the son of Deputy Mayor Olgen Williams. Detractors claim Williams does little other than ride around town with his father showing up at prayer vigils conducted by African-American ministers, stand in front of the TV cameras and look for ways to give taxpayers money to groups run by his father's friends, which simply pretend to be engaged in crime prevention efforts. Persons who worked with Williams during his brief stint working on a federal grant program administered by the U.S. Attorney's office found him to be a difficult person and incapable of following rules.

Bruce Schumacher, who works for the Indianapolis Indians, a minor league baseball team principally owned by his family, narrowly lost to Angela Mansfield in the 2007 municipal election. Schumacher is familiar to many precinct committeepersons as one himself, has excellent business experience and is a proven vote-getter against a popular incumbent.

Dorothy Henry just completed a term on the Capital Improvement Board of Managers and has worked for the Indiana Health Care Association, which lobbies the state on behalf of the nursing home industry. Her husband, Bruce, has been an IMPD officer and is currently serving as Human Resources Director for City-County government. His job inevitably creates conflicts of interest for his wife should she be appointed to the council. It would be difficult for Henry to exercise any independent judgment knowing that her husband's job came about as a result of a mayoral appointment.

Angel Rivera is a committeeperson who has served as president of the Downtown GOP club. He has close ties to Marion Co. GOP leadership. Rivera is employed by The Consultants Consortium (TCC), a local software consulting business.

Michael Jezierski, an electrical engineer by occupation, has been very active in the party as an elected committeeperson and as a local political blogger. He unsuccessfully sought election as an at-large city-county council candidate in 2007 after being slated by the party. Barbara Malone, an unslated candidate, edged him out in the primary. Jezierski is currently employed as an IT professional for a Marion-county based manufacturer.

Chris Douglas owns his own business offering financial advice to investors. Douglas founded Indianapolis' Rainbow Chamber of Commerce and is a precinct committeeperson. He sought appointment last year to the senate seat vacated by Teresa Lubbers. Douglas dropped his bid at the opening of the slating convention to fill that seat after he failed to garner significant support. If Douglas is chosen, he would be the first openly gay member of the City-County Council.

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Anthem Blues

I've got a bad case of the Anthem blues. It's bad enough that I've been sick at home for more than a week. Imagine how I felt when I opened the letter this week from Anthem, my health insurer, and learned my premiums are going to increase 39% beginning March 1. I've had an Anthem policy since 2003. Every year that I've had this policy (with a $2,500 deductible) the premium has increased by more than 10% a year. With this latest increase, my premium will have increased more than 300% from the first policy I purchased as a self-employed person in 2003. Anthem blames a shift in demographics and rising medical costs for the increase. All I know is that Wellpoint, the parent company of Anthem, is making huge profits and the executives are passing out huge bonuses to themselves. What particularly angers me is that Anthem came about because a group of insiders working for the former nonprofit were allowed to convert a public benefit corporation into a private company and, in effect, steal the assets of the former nonprofit. All of those insiders are now multi-millionaires.

I'm no fan of Obama's health care plan, but I can assure you the actions of Anthem and other companies like it are only fueling pressure for a government take-over of our health care system. I frankly think the executives at Wellpoint are entirely comfortable with a government take-over of our health care system. Instead of selling insurance policies, Wellpoint hopes to get billion-dollar contracts from the government to help run the government plan. Those who oppose Obama's plan need to come up with a real alternative that does something to fix the mess in which we find ourselves. And don't bring up tort reform. It's no silver bullet. Indiana has had the most restrictive caps in the nation on medical malpractice claims for decades and it has done next to nothing in terms of holding down health care costs. I could go on, but I'm feeling too sick to write further.

Monday, February 08, 2010

Massa Makes It Official

Mark Massa, chief legal counsel to Gov. Mitch Daniels, has made official his decision to run as a Republican for Marion County Prosecutor. Massa will ask Republican committeepersons to slate him as the party's official candidate at this Saturday's slating convention. Massa will resign his job with the governor if he is slated. Massa stated the following today:

After much deliberation and consultation with family, friends and community leaders, I have decided to submit my name for consideration by precinct committeemen and women to be their slated candidate for Marion County Prosecutor in 2010. I will abide by the decision of the convention and, if slated, will resign my position on the Governor's staff upon filing for the May primary next week. I look forward to addressing the convention this Saturday and discussing in more detail my experience, ideas and motivation for seeking the most important public safety office in our community.

More Media Double Standards

A few weeks back, the congressional office of U.S. Rep. Andre Carson (D-IN) sent out a color, four-page brochure to voters in his 7th congressional district that I mistakenly confused with a campaign brochure. The brochure was full of smiling pictures of Carson and plenty of talk about how many great things Carson is accomplishing for his constituents. If a candidate had to pay to send out such a brochure, it would have cost his or her campaign well in excess of $50,000. Taxpayers picked up the tab for Carson's political mailer. Naturally, the media had nothing to say.

Today, the Star's Mary Beth Schneider takes Secretary of State Todd Rokita to task for the contents of an official e-newsletter put out by his office last week. "In his Rokita Report, e-mailed by his office last week, Rokita posted a note: 'Friends, Thank you for continuing to follow me and my office through the Rokita Report," Schneider reports. "If you are interested in my campaign for U.S. Representative for Indiana's 4th Congressional District, please visit my campaign Facebook page. Best, Todd.'"

I'm not going to defend Rokita's inclusion of the reference to his congressional campaign. It was wrong and showed poor judgment on someones part in his office. The actual cost of this blunder to taxpayers? Zero. My point is that transgressions of Andre Carson are completely overlooked by the media in this town, while it pounces all over every transgression of other politicians. I swear, Andre Carson could be caught in bed with a dead prostitute or a live boy and the media in this town would simply throw up their hands and say, "Hey, he didn't have a father growing up."

Sunday, February 07, 2010

Who Dat

The New Orleans Saints upset the Indianapolis Colts 31-17 in tonight's Super Bowl game. As the Star headline reads, "Manning's magic ends." Reading about Colts' owner Jim Irsay plans to offer Manning a life-time contract with a signing bonus of $50 million and $20 million a year, it's hard to shed any tears for Manning. The Saints seemed more determined to win tonight than the Colts.

Slow Blogging

I've been feeling very under the weather the last few days and haven't felt like doing much other than laying on the couch in front of the TV with a warm blanket. Looking forward to tonight's Super Bowl game. GO COLTS!

Friday, February 05, 2010

Would You Vote For This Guy?

Illinois Democrats are facing quite a quandary. The day after Scott Cohen won the right to run as the lieutenant governor candidate with Gov. Pat Quinn, who narrowly won the Democratic primary, details emerged about charges he held a knife to his live-in girlfriend, a prostitute, and threatened to kill her. His ex-wife has also made allegations of domestic abuse. She now supports him but stands by the original allegations. She has also taken him to court for unpaid child support and alimony payments. Cohen has had tax payment issues with the federal government as well. And did I mention he earns a living as a pawnbroker? Cohen blames his past erratic behavior on his use of anabolic steroids a few years ago when he was trying to put on muscle during a difficult time in his life. Gov. Quinn expects him to do the right thing and drop off the ticket. Cohen says he's going nowhere. What a mess. Republicans, meanwhile, are still waiting to learn whether Sen. Bill Brady or Sen. Kirk Dillard won the primary for governor. Brady leads by just 430 votes.

UPDATE: Cohen dropped out of the race over the weekend. Big surprise.

Thursday, February 04, 2010

Plowman's Home Raided By FBI?

FOX 59 News' Russ McQaid is reporting tonight that FBI agents raided the home of City-County Councilor Lincoln Plowman today. Here's what he is saying:

FBI sources tell FOX 59 agents analyzed multiple items inside Indianapolis republican Lincoln Plowman's home in Franklin Township Thursday. No details were given relating to what was found.

Plowman, the Franklin Township Councilman who this week was placed on administrative leave from his duties as a Metro Police Major, is still on the job representing Marion County's 25th District.
But here's the bigger picture on this story:

Sources are telling FOX 59 News Councilman Plowman's administrative leave is part of a bigger investigation that is focusing on alleged abuse of power by Marion County politicians.
This could get big real fast. Hold on, folks. The ride could be quite a wild one.

UPDATE: FOX 59 News has pulled from its website references to an FBI raid on Plowman's home without explanation.

Wednesday, February 03, 2010

McAtee Under Fire For Contributions To Sheriff Frank Anderson

Republican sheriff's candidate, Bart McAtee, is under fire by Republicans for contributions he made to Democratic Sheriff Frank Anderson. McAtee, son of former Sheriff Joe McAtee, has been facing tough questions from Republican precinct committeepersons about his loyalty to the party. Campaign finance records indicate he donated $2,500 to Anderson's campaign committee. His father endorsed Anderson in the 2002 sheriff's race after narrowly losing the Republican primary to former Lawrence Mayor Tom Schneider after a very tough and negative primary race. Joe later got a job with the sheriff's office and Bart got a promotion. Bart gives an unguarded response to a question at a recent Republican gathering in the video clip above. Acknowledging his contributions to Anderson, McAtee said it was the least he could do after Anderson gave him a promotion and a 40% pay raise. Ouch! So that's how business is conducted. McAtee is vying for the party's slating against IMPD Sgt. Dennis Fishburn and former sheriff's deputy Steve Davis, the unsuccessful Republican candidate for sheriff in 2006.

Exclusive: Another City-County Councilor Under Investigation

A well-placed source tells me FBI agents showed up at IMPD today to question City-County Councilor Lincoln Plowman, a high-ranking officer in the department. I'm told Plowman quickly lawyered up. Chief Michael Spears ordered Plowman suspended according to my source. He was forced to turn over his badge and gun and received a police escort home. Mayor Greg Ballard had originally promoted Plowman to head up IMPD's Investigations division. Plowman was quietly removed from that position without explanation a short time later. Plowman holds the rank of Major in the administration division. I'll update you as I learn more on this developing story.

UPDATE: FOX 59 News' Russ McQuaid just confirmed from an IMPD spokesperson that Plowman has been placed on administration leave because of an FBI investigation. He says the FBI would neither confirm nor deny an ongoing investigation of Plowman.

Kent Smith Resigns From Council

City-County Councilor Kent Smith (R) announced today that he is resigning his at-large seat on the council. Smith is citing new Department of Defense rules on reservists' participation in political activities as the reason for his resignation. Not sure why those same rules don't apply to 5th District congressional candidate Dr. John McGoff. Smith has been a big disappointment since his election to the council in 2007. Like Greg Ballard, he used anti-tax activists and grassroots reformers to win election in 2007 and then conveniently reneged on most of his campaign pledges. Smith's departure from the council is welcome news. Marion County precinct committeepersons will be called together for a caucus in the near future to appoint his replacement.

UPDATE: An online story in the Star speculates on several possible candidates, including Aaron Williams, a city employee and son of Deputy Mayor Olgen Williams, successful financial adviser Chris Douglas, and Dorothy Henry, a former CIB member who is in Bob Grand's pocket. Henry's husband is also city employee.

UPDATE II: I spoke to Dr. John McGoff about the DoD policy and his candidacy. He's been advised by military counsel that his candidacy poses no problem. I'm also hearing that Smith could have obtained a waiver if he had wanted one. It's beginning to look a lot like someone is in a hurry to get the hell out of Dodge.

Dan Coats For U.S. Senate?

Here's a shocker. Former Indiana Sen. Dan Coats (R) plans to enter the race for Sen. Evan Bayh's seat today according to Politico. Coats chose to retire rather than face a difficult challenge from Bayh in 1998. Coats had been appointed to the Senate after Dan Quayle became vice president and convincingly defeated former Indiana Secretary of State Joe Hogsett in his 1992 Senate race. Coats has maintained a very low visibility in the state since his retirement. I assumed he didn't live her anymore but apparently that's not the case. He served as an ambassador to Germany during the Bush administration. I suspect party leaders will be happy to see him enter the race.

UPDATE: The Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee is already firing the first salvos against Coats in this potential race. They intend to portray Coats as a "D.C. lobbyist." Here's their first press release on his campaign:
“Dan Coats is a federally registered lobbyist whose client lists include banks, private equity firms, and defense contractors. Coats is a Washington DC insider who lined his own pockets as taxpayers spent $700 billion bailing out Wall Street banks. Indianans won't ignore Dan Coats’ decade as a lobbyist working the system to gain special favors for the banking industry at the time of financial collapse and at the expense of working Americans.”

Dan Coats is Currently a Federally Registered Lobbyist. Dan Coats is currently a federally registered lobbyists, whose clients include banks, private equity firms, and defense contractors. [Lobbying Disclosure Act Database]

Coats Lobbied for Bank of America Just As Bank Took $15 Billion in Bailout Funds. According to filings, Coats lobbied for Bank of America in October 2008, just as the bank was receiving $15 billion in bailout funds. Coats firm was compensated $120,000 in the period just before the Wall Street bailouts.
UPDATE II: The hits on Coats just keep coming. Politico's Ben Smith reports that Coats has resided and voted in Virginia for the past decade.

Monday, February 01, 2010

Durham's Bugatti For Sale On E-Bay?

A source claims this 2008 Bugatti listed for sale on E-Bay for $1,225,000 belongs to Indianapolis businessman Timothy Durham. Click here to see a WISH-TV interview with Durham when he received delivery of the car. The U.S. Attorney's Office in Indianapolis originally filed a civil forfeiture action against Durham's assets but dropped the action days later without explanation. Recently, a yacht owned or once owned by Durham showed up in Turkey listed for sale at $4.78 million. A source tells me that Durham stated during a court-ordered civil mediation hearing in Grand Rapids, Michigan last week in another lawsuit against one of his companies that he could not transfer any assets without the prior approval of Winfield Ong, the Assistant U.S. Attorney who filed the original civil forfeiture action.
UPDATE: Fellow blogger Paul Ogden confirms the VIN numbers for the car matches Durham's.

Houchins Linked To Willoughby Case

FOX 59 News' Russ McQuaid previously broke a story on how a woman sentenced to 110 years in prison for hiring a hit man to murder her husband got her sentence reduced to 18 years and was recently released from prison after her father, Harrison Epperly, contributed $29,000 to Carl Brizzi's campaign committee and another $2,500 to his chief deputy, David Wyser. McQuaid reported tonight on how Epperly used Perry Township Constable Roy Houchins, whose office has been the subject of a federal probe into a badge-selling scheme by his office, on two different occasions in recent years as a paid escort after a Marion County judge signed orders allowing her to leave prison to attend the funerals of her son and her brother. Sheriff Frank Anderson's office said it refused to provide an escort for Willoughby after being contacted by her attorney, who offered to pay for the escort. According to McQuaid, Epperly made contributions totalling $2,500 to Houchins after securing the escort service for his daughter. A judge would not agree sign the order unless she was released into the custody of a law enforcement agency to attend the funerals. A former deputy constable in Houchins' office, Michael Sherfick, has already pleaded guilty to bribery charges and is cooperating with an investigation being run out of the Justice Department's Public Integrity section in Washington.

City On Pace For Record Murder Rate

The City of Indianapolis recorded 14 homicides during the month of January. At that pace, Indianapolis will record 160 homicides by year's end. The highest number recorded in the City was 161 in 1998. The Ballard administration boasted about a significant drop in the murder rate at the end of last year. There is some dispute over those figures. The administration claimed there were 99 homicides in 2009, while others put the figure as high as 105.

Rokita To Seek Buyer's Seat

Howey Politics is reporting that Secretary of State Todd Rokita will enter the 4th District Republican primary race to replace retiring U.S. Rep. Steve Buyer (R-IN). Rokita had considered entering the race for the U.S. Senate against Sen. Evan Bayh (D-IN). State Sen. Brandt Hershman, a double-dipper who not only draws a state paycheck as a senator but also draws a federal paycheck as a paid staffer for Buyer, is also expected to enter the race. Democratic operatives in Washington are salivating over the prospect of taking on Hershman in November. The abortion controversy with his first wife simply doesn't match his "family values" mantra he has touted as a state lawmaker. His first wife has publicly claimed that he forced her to have an abortion and then filed for divorce one week later. Democrats would destroy him over that issue. Rokita should have no problem defeating Hershman in a primary race.

Daniels Angers Republicans With Oxley Hire

Gov. Mitch Daniels has been firing thousands of state workers to keep the state's budget balanced in these tough economic times. Officially, he has imposed a state hiring freeze. Yet, his administration managed to find a job at the Department of Corrections for former State Rep. Dennis Oxley, Jr., Jill Long Thompson's running mate during the 2008 gubernatorial race against Daniels. This past year, Oxley has faced charges of drunk driving, public intoxication and impersonating a state lawmaker. According to a WTHR report, Oxley will be responsible for assisting inmates at the Branchville Correctional Facility for their re-entry into society. The job pays $52,000 annually.

Why would the Daniels' administration go out of its way to find a job for Oxley, Jr.? Something doesn't smell right. Was Oxley, Jr. a mole for the Daniels' campaign during the 2008 gubernatorial campaign? Is this his reward? Regardless of his motivation for giving Oxley, Jr. a job, Daniels' judgment in this matter is not good, particularly after he has fired so many long-time state employees due to the state's financial woes. It's a slap in their faces.