Shortly before he pushed the nation’s broadest use of school vouchers, changes in teacher preparation, new teacher evaluations and raft of other ambitious education changes in 2011, Daniels and his team quietly lined up the votes in the General Assembly. Then-schools Superintendent Tony Bennett’s then-chief of staff, Todd Huston, delivered a spreadsheet identifying where Republican legislators stood on his plan in an Oct. 14, 2010, email to Daniels, Bennett and Republican mega-donor Al Hubbard. Daniels advised Huston should be careful
“Tks. Will treat in total confidence. If it has headings, I’d delete them if I were you. We shd have for other key reform issues, too???” Daniels wrote.
The emails are a constant reminder that the man who presented himself as a master technocrat, more concerned with fiscal issues than social grenades, came up in Washington as an ace political operative.
Most notes are not as visceral as the Zinn exchange, and many reflect an incredible eye for political strategy that would be expected of Ronald Reagan’s former political director. In an August 12, 2009, Huston suggested that Indianapolis radio host and African-American leader Amos Brown should be placed on the roundtable discussing the governor’s education agenda because, among other things, it could keep a “loud mouth” opponent in check.
“First blush: I love it. Lemme mull and bounce it off a couple people,” Daniels wrote.
Shortly afterward, Brown received a phone call from Bennett, asking him to join the board, and he accepted.
Brown said the move didn’t tempter his critiques and laughed as he read the email exchange, saying he took “no umbrage” at the play.
“Governor Daniels and I always had a healthy respect for each other. We’ve always been frank with each other,” he said.Someone must have sent the same e-mail to Mayor Greg Ballard when he appointed Brown and another black radio talk show host to a public safety advisory board three years ago, which we know didn't turn out so well either.