Saturday, August 31, 2013

Tully Presents Star Readers With False Choice On More Subsidies For Pacers

It's getting really old. Every time one of the billionaire owners of one of our professional sports teams demands more public subsidies we are told that the alternative if we don't offer the subsidy is losing the franchise. That's a false choice and those who claim so know better. That doesn't stop the Star's Matthew Tully from offering that reaction once again to Herb Simon's latest request for another $21 million for his Indiana Pacers.
For their part, the Pacers say they need the money to make up for their losses, as if their business failings are the problem of local taxpayers. The city, meanwhile, argues it has a deep civic interest in keeping the Pacers, as an empty city-owned fieldhouse would be be a depressing economic drag. So, basically, the city is in a Catch-22 because it was nice enough to build an arena for the team.
Again, you’ve got to be kidding me.
But to be fair there aren’t easy answers here. The “let them go” mantra is misguided and, if fulfilled, would leave the city a diminished place. As I’ve written before, I understand the city’s dilemma when it comes to these big-league negotiations and if I were in charge I’d probably hold my nose — I’d probably need a vise to hold it tight enough — and sign the deals.
What’s the alternative? No Colts? No Pacers? No thanks.
In the case of the Pacers, the media folks beholden to the billionaire sports team owner always omit the fact that the CIB had a long-term lease with the Pacers that imposed a hefty penalty on the franchise if it elected to break its lease and move the team to another city before the end of its term. In its negotiations with the Pacers, the CIB has always acted as if the lease agreement contained no such penalty. Instead, it has essentially been offering bribes to Herb Simon not to break the lease with the CIB based upon an imaginary city somewhere out there negotiating in secret to lure the Pacers away. There is no other city courting the Pacers, and the Pacers aren't losing any money as is falsely claimed by the CIB and the local media. Has anyone ever noticed that Herb Simon has never once been asked by the CIB or the media to explain why he needs more subsidies? Instead, we always hear from someone like rent-a-civic leader Jim Morris to whom Simon pays big bucks to make the case publicly on his behalf. Perhaps Herb can't lie in front of the cameras as easily as his paid hacks.

Every economic study worth its salt proves that having a professional sports team in a city has very little economic impact on the local community. In the case of Indianapolis, the sports teams are a drain on the community, sapping away limited resources to the point that basic services can no longer be funded without raising taxes on the city's residents substantially. No other city stands as proof of this point than Detroit, which has a professional baseball, basketball, football and hockey teams. Even as the city lies in ruins and has been forced into bankruptcy, plans are moving forward on a $400 million new arena in which the Detroit Red Wings will play. So as our schools continue to deteriorate, crime rises, our taxes climb and more people flee to the suburbs for a better way of life, Indianapolis residents can still boast that they have professional sports teams. At least that's how Mr. Tully wants you to feel as you get raped again and again by the two wealthiest men in the state of Indiana.

Friday, August 30, 2013

MSNBC's Chris Matthews Claims Hitler Never Used Chemical Weapons

MSNBC's Chris Matthews really stuck his foot in his mouth this time. He's very anxious to see President Obama launch a military strike against Syria based on dubious claims that the government's soldiers and not the U.S.-backed rebels are responsible for a recent attack in which chemical weapons were allegedly used. Matthews incredibly claims that not even Hitler used chemical weapons. Presumably the Holocaust victims who were put to death by Hitler's Nazis in cyanide gas chambers during World War II don't count. The worst ever attack in military history was committed by the U.S. when it dropped two nuclear bombs on Japan during World War II, which were far more deadly than any chemical weapons ever used in warfare. And, of course, our government oversaw and assisted Sadam Hussein in his use of chemical weapons during Iraq's War with Iran during the 1980s. It's a pretty safe bet that any modern chemical weapons floating around the Middle East today were originally manufactured by the U.S. government. The use of modern chemical warfare began when the Germans disseminated chlorine gas in battle during World War I to poison enemy troops. Toxic chemical agents, however, have been crudely employed in warfare for thousands of years. The Newport Ammunition depot in Newport, Indiana, which was closed in 2010, is the facility where the Army produced its infamous VX nerve agent.

Brown Figures Out The Real Reason Ballard Wants To Stormwater Rates: To Sell The Stormwater Assets To Citizens Energy

Get Microsoft Silverlight
Perhaps the most important part of the discussion during last night's Public Works Committee meeting came when Councilor Vernon Brown questioned DPW Director Lori Miser about whether it was the intention of the Ballard administration to sell the city's storm water assets to Citizens Energy. Miser claims there's no intent to do that, but she would not unequivocally say that would not occur. This is extremely important because I was a bit surprised to learn the storm water responsibilities still rested with the city after Citizens Energy acquired the sewer and water utilities in 2010, particularly since Indianapolis relies on a combined sewer system for storm water and sewage.

Miser initially claimed that there was no intent to sell the storm water asset because "this is pretty important piece of infrastructure for us to keep managing." Pressed by Brown, Miser conceded the City had originally planned to sell the storm water component to Citizens as a part of the 2010 sale, which sold off the equally important water and sewer utilities. "They weren't willing to pay the price that they were worth so we took that option off the table," Miser said. While the assets weren't included, the services were. Yes, the City has a service contract with Citizens to provide a number of services for the storm water program since virtually all of the employees who handled the storm water program became employees of Citizens following the sale. The storm water fees weren't collected prior to 2002. Miser claims that DPW never underestimated the cost of maintaining the storm water system and making flood control improvements; rather, she says the rates were only set at about a third of what it believed was necessary when the storm water fees were first established. When the rates were doubled in 2006, the rates were still too low according to Miser to meet infrastructure demands.

A bond consultant, Diana Hamilton, who stands to earn a hefty fee on any new bond work undertaken by DPW for the storm water infrastructure blamed the fact that when funding for the program was shifted from the property tax to storm water fees upon the establishment of the storm water district, the program had to assume about $50 million in outstanding debt that had been supported by a property tax levy. According to Hamilton, the bulk of the fees were used to service debt on old improvements, limiting how much could be spent on new projects. Yet she conceded that the old debt was nearly retired, which means more money will be freed up for future projects. DPW expects the gigantic rate increases proposed to increase its available revenues for future projects by 40%. DPW claims it can spend only about $8 million a year on new projects currently, which will dwindle to $3 million if the fee increases aren't approved. It's unclear why that's the case since Hamilton testified that the original bond debt that had squeezed out new projects is almost retired. The fee increases will supposedly allow for spending on new projects to increase to $18 million annually.

As fellow blogger Pat Andrews points out, the problem is that the City is too frequently relying on the issuance of bonds to undertake new projects rather than paying as you go. Bonding increases the cost of these projects close to 50% when you compound the interest over the full term of the bonds and throw in all of the professional fees and costs associated with a bond issue. The short-term gain from borrowing is what's driving the need to keep increasing the rates. It's bad enough that they're planning to increase rates anywhere from 50% to 100% for about 80% of the users, but they're also wanting to index the rate so it automatically increases in the future to offset inflation, which brings me back to the point of this original post. It should be patently clear for all to see that the end game here is to leverage the higher rates that are being proposed to entice Citizens Energy to purchase the asset for the price the city is seeking. That will create yet another pot of "found money" that Ballard will have to spend on pet projects touted by his pay-to-play pals who've been treating him and Winnie to all of those fancy meals and overseas junkets and fattening his campaign committee's wallet.

You'll see at the end of the video an exchange where Councilor Pam Hickman hits on the point that none of the Rebuild Indy money derived from the sale of the water and sewer utilities to Citizens was put towards the purpose of addressing the so-called $315 million backlog in unmet storm water needs. Gee, I wonder why? Miser claims it's because it's a separate utility with its own taxing district. So is the park district, but we're using Rebuild Indy funds to build a useless cricket park in Councilor Ben Hunter's district for which there was absolutely no use other than to purchase property some politically-connected person wanted to unload for a premium and have an excuse for passing out bucks to redevelop the land for the benefit of other politically-connected campaign contributors.

Sen. Greg Walker Offers Common Sense Fixes For Our Broken TIF Law

It's refreshing to see that there are state lawmakers taking notice of how badly Indiana's TIF law is being abused. Sen. Greg Walker (R-Columbus) pens a thoughtful blog post on the Indiana Policy Review's site in which he astutely observes that Indiana is heading in the same direction as California before state lawmakers had no choice but to do away with the state's TIF law altogether due to the inability of local government officials to utilize the economic development tool in a rational way without bankrupting local governments. He offers three recommendations for improving the law, all of which are worthy of serious consideration.
  • Cap the total assessed valuation in any given geography employing TIF so that less duty falls on the possibly declining taxpayer base to pay for growing service burdens.
  • Return the statute to its original purpose of public good with shared communal benefit rather than targeting investment that enriches a small subset of the tax base.
  • Engage all levying bodies in the conversation — openly and publicly — so that Jill and Joel Citizen can more easily consider public-spending options fairly. Then a community can set its priorities for the best use of scarce or even declining funds. The duty falls on elected leaders to gather that more informed public opinion while educating the yet uninformed, not treating them like the unwashed. Not all opinions are equal in merit, but all taxpayers should have equal opportunity to contribute their thoughts. This is the job of an elected leader — making decisions with the best information available in an open fashion

Thursday, August 29, 2013

More Super Bowl Lies

You absolutely cannot believe anything that is reported in the local news media when it comes to spending your tax dollars on sporting activities. The local news media is all gaga over a not so surprising report that Mayor Greg Ballard is going to make a push to win the Super Bowl for Indianapolis in 2018. Before the 2012 Super Bowl, local officials estimated the Super Bowl would have an economic impact of $150 million. Following the Super Bowl, CIB officials conceded the event cost the city a net loss of $1.1 million, which was about $200,000 more than officials had expected to lose. Actual revenues from the food and beverage tax, the hotel tax and auto rental tax only increased by $2.9 million over the same period from the year prior to the Super Bowl. My conservative estimate of how much Indianapolis invested in hosting the Super Bowl in 2012 was at least $50 million before it was all done and said. The fact is that most of the economic impact from the Super Bowl never enters the local economy; rather, it flows to the owners, players and others. The state and city, for instance, had to forego taxes it would ordinarily collect from such an event simply as a concession for hosting the Super Bowl. Other revenues were allowed to flow to the NFL instead of state and local officials.

What city officials claimed at the time was that hosting the event would have a spin-off effect of close to $300 million over a several year period of which there has been little or no evidence to date. Well, in all the excitement, the facts get lost on the media and folks who should know better. Professor Matt Will proves once again that he is completely lacking in any credibility when it comes to predicting the economic impact of public spending on sporting events. Check out this fairy tale he shared with WTHR's Mary Milz:
"It's a fantastic move," said University of Indianapolis business professor Matt Will. "The economic impact was more than we'd ever dreamed it would be."
More than 100,000 people came to Indianapolis during the week of Super Bowl XLVI, bringing an economic impact of nearly $300 million. Half of that was spent on hotels and shopping and 20 percent on food and drink.
"We brought $295 million dollars from outside the city into Indianapolis. That is an incredible impact, definitely something we should try to do again," Will said.
The $295 million figure Professor Will tosses out is total bunk. One can't help but ponder if he is getting some consulting money on the side which has totally warped any sense of academic credibility he might claim to possess. Fellow blogger Pat Andrews studied the tax revenues reported by the CIB over the past decade and figured out pretty quickly that all of the investment the City of Indianapolis has made in making the City a favorable place to host sporting events and conventions relied heavily on higher tax rates as opposed to growth fueled from additional spending by visitors to support its ever-growing budget. As she surmised, "[I]nflation accounts for nearly all, if not all, of the growth in several entertainment/tourism market segments in recent years." "The only thing growing beyond inflation is the amount of taxes being levied to feed the CIB," Andrews concluded.

Ballard And GOP Chairman Attack Democratic Council Members For Voting Against More Tax, Borrow And Spend

I'm a stranger within the Republican Party. My party in Marion County is all for more taxes, more borrowing, more spending, and more crony capitalism for the corrupt pay-to-play contractors stuffing money in their pockets. Tonight, the Public Works Committee voted down Mayor Greg Ballard's plan to raise storm water fees on average for all property owners by nearly 50% after they were already doubled only a few short years ago, along with a permanent annual escalator to offset inflation, and to borrow at least another $350 million to fuel more public spending on projects being pushed by the pay-to-play contractors who stand to make millions from the issuance of bonds, and the performance of consulting and construction work. The Democrats on the committee voted in unison against the proposals pushed by the tax-and-spend mayor who pretends to be a Republican, while the two Republican members, Virginia Cain and Janice McHenry voted like liberal Democrats. The irony is that Councilor Cain voted against every tax and fee increase and new business regulation when Bart Peterson was mayor, and she now ranks as one of the most liberal tax and spend members on the council. Here's what our phony Republican mayor and our phony Republican county chairman had to say about Democrats voting like real Republicans:

Mayor Greg Ballard (R)(D):
“Tonight Democrats on the City-County Council turned their backs on every neighborhood in Indianapolis.  By placing politics ahead of the best interests of the community, they rejected a plan that would have provided sidewalks in many of our neighborhoods, repaved every one of our worst streets, made our bridges safer and fixed flooding problems in some of our poorest neighborhoods without an income or property tax increase.”   
 Marion Co. Republican Democrat Chairman Kyle Walker:
Indianapolis-City-County Council Democrats turned their back on Indianapolis residents tonight by rejecting a plan proposed by Mayor Greg Ballard to invest $700 million into neighborhood streets, sidewalks, bridges, and stormwater drainage projects.  The plan would have provided neighborhoods with $350 million in new sidewalks, street resurfacing, and bridge maintenance.  It also would have funded nearly $250 million to remedy stormwater drainage issues that plague thousands of homeowners and cost them thousands of dollars in annual repairs.  Mayor Ballard's proposal to improve neighborhoods would not have increased property or income taxes.
"City residents should be outraged by Council Democrats who continue to put partisan politics over the needs of our neighborhoods," said Marion County Republican Chairman Kyle Walker.  "Some residents have waited decades for sidewalks, street improvements and drainage relief - and Mayor Greg Ballard is trying to address those needs. Residents with street, sidewalk, bridge and drainage concerns should call the Democrat Councillors and tell them to stop choosing politics over the needs of our neighborhoods."
If Democrats continue to hold their position on these issues for more than a few weeks and not simply engage in political posturing, I will be entirely surprised. As we've come to learn, there is really no difference between the Democratic and Republican Parties in Indianapolis. They both yearn to raise taxes and fees, increase regulations and spend like drunken sailors. In Indianapolis, business owners can't even rely on the chamber of commerce to watch their back. Once again, the Greater Indianapolis Chamber of Commerce, which fully endorsed these tax, borrow and spend schemes, proved that it only represents businesses which rely on government contracts for their existence. Every other business owner can go straight to hell as far as this anti-business organization is concerned. A business owner who pays for a membership in their organization is cutting off his or her own head. Wake up.

By the way, members of the council should have caught the part about the original storm water bonds reaching maturity, which frees up more spending on storm water projects without raising fees. Those are little facts that are often not disclosed when city officials come with hat in hand seeking more money.

UPDATE: Fellow blogger Pat Andrews has an excellent analysis which demonstrates why this tax, borrow and spend mentality is self-defeating in the long run.

IRS Ruling Will Allow Equal Tax Treatment For Same-Sex Married Couples Residing In Indiana

It will no longer matter that Indiana does not legally recognize same-sex marriages for federal tax purposes. According to an IRS ruling today, same-sex married couples residing in Indiana will be allowed to file joint tax returns and be treated the same as other married couples so long as their marriage occurred in a state that legally recognizes same-sex marriages. The ruling comes in response to the U.S. v. Windsor case decided by the Supreme Court this past term in which the Supreme Court struck down the federal defense of marriage act in ruling that the surviving spouse of a New York resident who had legally married her spouse prior to her death was entitled to the same treatment under the federal inheritance tax laws as afforded to the surviving spouse of an opposite-sex marriage. Today's ruling is a major blow to efforts of opponents of same-sex marriage to enshrine Indiana's Defense of Marriage Act into the state's constitution. Here's the text of today's announcement:
The U.S. Department of the Treasury and the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) today ruled that same-sex couples, legally married in jurisdictions that recognize their marriages, will be treated as married for federal tax purposes. The ruling applies regardless of whether the couple lives in a jurisdiction that recognizes same-sex marriage or a jurisdiction that does not recognize same-sex marriage.
The ruling implements federal tax aspects of the June 26th Supreme Court decision invalidating a key provision of the 1996 Defense of Marriage Act.
“Today’s ruling provides certainty and clear, coherent tax filing guidance for all legally married same-sex couples nationwide. It provides access to benefits, responsibilities and protections under federal tax law that all Americans deserve,” said Secretary Jacob J. Lew. “This ruling also assures legally married same-sex couples that they can move freely throughout the country knowing that their federal filing status will not change.” Under the ruling, same sex couples will be treated as married for all federal tax purposes, including income and gift and estate taxes.  
The ruling applies to all federal tax provisions where marriage is a factor, including filing status, claiming personal and dependency exemptions, taking the standard deduction, employee benefits, contributing to an IRA, and claiming the earned income tax credit or child tax credit. Any same-sex marriage legally entered into in one of the 50 states, the District of Columbia, a U.S. territory, or a foreign country will be covered by the ruling. However, the ruling does not apply to registered domestic partnerships, civil unions, or similar formal relationships recognized under state law.  
Legally-married same-sex couples generally must file their 2013 federal income tax return using either the “married filing jointly” or “married filing separately” filing status. Individuals who were in same-sex marriages may, but are not required to, file original or amended returns choosing to be treated as married for federal tax purposes for one or more prior tax years still open under the statute of limitations.  Generally, the statute of limitations for filing a refund claim is three years from the date the return was filed or two years from the date the tax was paid, whichever is later. As a result, refund claims can still be filed for tax years 2010, 2011, and 2012.  
Some taxpayers may have special circumstances (such as signing an agreement with the IRS to keep the statute of limitations open) that permit them to file refund claims for tax years 2009 and earlier. Additionally, employees who purchased same-sex spouse health insurance coverage from their employers on an after-tax basis may treat the amounts paid for that coverage as pre-tax and excludable from income.
Today's ruling produces an immediate tax savings to same-sex couples in Indiana who take advantage of health care benefits offered by their employer. As it stands currently, the health care benefits provided to the same-sex spouse of an employee is taxed unlike benefits provided to straight married couples. Because Indiana repealed its inheritance tax this year, gays are no longer penalized when they leave their estate to their same-sex spouse regardless of whether they are legally married. Today's IRS ruling will allow legally married same-sex couples residing in Indiana to take advantage of the marital exemption when they leave their estates to their surviving spouse for federal inheritance tax purposes. Indiana same-sex couples will also qualify for refunds based on their newly-recognized status for up to the three past years; however, like straight married couples, they will have to pay the marriage penalty if their joint income reaches the threshold that triggers a higher tax rate.

Companies like Eli Lilly, Cummins and Wellpoint can breathe a sigh of relief after today's ruling. If the IRS had not extended the tax benefits of being legally married to same-sex couples throughout the country regardless of whether their marriage is recognized under state law, companies offering same-sex benefits would find their employees residing in Indiana being treated at a great tax disadvantage to their employees residing in other states where their marriages were legally recognized. These employers would find it difficult to retain and attract talent to Indiana if their employees face discriminatory tax treatment. The move by the IRS also puts the Indiana Department of Revenue and Gov. Mike Pence in a precarious situation if the state doesn't adopt a similar rule. The Indiana income tax is coupled with the federal income tax. If Indiana does not treat legally married same-sex couples the same way as the federal law, state income tax compliance for same-sex couples will become highly complicated. In light of today's ruling, the Indiana Chamber of Commerce may have to reconsider whether it remains neutral in the gay marriage debate opponents have vowed to renew when the legislature convenes next year.

Immediately following the Supreme Court's ruling at the end of this year's term, the Department of Homeland Security announced that it would extend the same immigration benefits to legally married same-sex couples as have traditionally been extended to opposite-sex couples. USCIS has already started processing and approving immigrant benefits for alien spouses of U.S. citizens who are legally married to a U.S. citizen regardless of whether they reside in a state which legally recognizes their marriage.

Bisard Testimony Reveals "Shocking Pattern Of Corruption" In Bisard Investigation

It's becoming more apparent why the Ballard administration paid out more to the victims of the fatal alcohol crash involving IMPD Officer David Bisard than is legally permitted under the state's tort claims law to settle their cases. Mayor Ballard obviously wanted to keep the corruption that took place in the investigation out of the headlines. His paranoid former Public Safety Director Frank Straub was conducting espionage activities against everyone involved in the investigation, including the department's police chief and the lead prosecutor in the case. Fox 59 News' Russ McQuaid has the latest on Bisard's trial, which is starting to get underway in an Allen Co. courtroom. The judge in the case has ruled that at least one of the blood samples taken from Bisard will be admissible at trial, which showed that Bisard's alcohol level was more than two times the legal limit.
It was also revealed that IMPD Sergeant Dawn Higgins and former Public Safety Deputy Director Ellen Corcella secretly tape recorded two conversations with lead Prosecutor Denise Robinson talking about trial strategy and evidence.
“I can’t say that it was sabotage. I’m not going to say that. Certainly in more than 20 years of being a prosecutor, I’ve never heard of this happening and it’s never happened to me,” said Robinson.
Detective Kevin Wethington admitted Corcella, who was the number two in command under then-Public Safety Director Frank Straub, told him to go to IMPD’s internal affairs unit secretly one night to take the Bisard investigation files.
He said that Straub later told him to secretly download the emails of then-Police Chief Paul Ciesielski to find out what the chief knew about the Bisard investigation.
Bisard’s blood then that sat warm on a shelf in an IMPD property room for five months.

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

CIB Prepares To Gift Another $21 Million To Billionaire Herb Simon's Indiana Pacers While Mayor Demands Taxpayers Pay More For Fewer City Services

It's a continuation of the crony capitalism that has come to symbolize the City of Indianapolis and, in particular, the administration of Mayor Greg Ballard. Taxes for the little people keep getting raised, and higher fees and new fees are being levied against businesses and individuals, who in return receive fewer city services for their government-mandated contributions. At the same time, the supply of money available to give away to the wealthiest and politically-connected it seems is without limits. And so it comes as no surprise that news comes that the CIB plans to give away another $11 $21 million to billionaire Herb Simon's Indiana Pacers, a franchise he bought with public assistance for about that amount in the 1970s, which is now worth almost $400 million. From the IBJ:
The Capital Improvement Board of Marion County is prepared to give Pacers Sports & Entertainment another $11 million to offset losses from operating Bankers Life Fieldhouse.
CIB President Ann Lathrop said Wednesday afternoon that the $11 million payment could be delivered in July 2014, after the current agreement with the Pacers expires. All told, the Pacers will receive $21 million from CIB next year, including money it will receive for repairs to be made to the fieldhouse. The CIB board voted 8-0 Wednesday afternoon to approve the funding.
In a July 2010 contract, CIB agreed to give the Pacers $33.5 million over three basketball seasons to offset losses from operating the venue. In December 2012, the CIB extended the contract for another year and gave the Pacers an additional $10 million.
The CIB and the Pacers are negotiating a long-term contract that could keep the team in the city for several more years, Lathrop said. The current lease expires in 2019.
“Both sides are negotiating in very good faith,” Lathrop said. “I feel very confident that between now and the end of the year, we’ll have an agreement.” . . .  To cover the $35 million budget increase, CIB will use money from its renewal and replacement account and operating reserves, Lathrop said.

“We absolutely planned for this,” she said. “In my mind, that’s prudent.”
"That's prudent," says Ms. Lathrop, who works for a consulting firm that presents all sorts of opportunities for her to leverage her position on the CIB to make additional consulting fees for her employer's consulting business while she says she's being "prudent" on our dime. It is a complete and utter lie that Herb Simon's Indiana Pacers are losing money, but notice the reporter's couching of those losses. It is said this $11 million, which is about equal to what Ballard is asking you to pay in higher property taxes this year to pay for fewer police officers, is "to offset losses from operating Bankers Life Fieldhouse." First of all, $11 million has to cover at least 100% of the cost of operating the Fieldhouse since the CIB claimed it cost about $20 million a year to operate Lucas Oil Stadium, a much larger, more costly facility to maintain. Taxpayers will also be footing the bill for at least another $10 million in improvements to the Fieldhouse which the Pacers are contractually obligated to pay. The truth is the Pacers have not paid for one single major expenditure at the Fieldhouse since they've operated rent-free for their exclusive personal use. Every major expense associated with maintaining the building has been paid by the CIB.

Even though the Fieldhouse is used 100% for Simon's personal business purposes, no property taxes are paid on the building. If he paid property taxes like every other building owner in this city, his annual tax bill would be at least $5.25 million. It is unconstitutional to permit publicly-owned property that is used for private for-profit purposes to be tax-exempt, but this is Indiana and we don't pay much attention to our state constitution when it comes to such matters. [Note: Mayor Ballard vetoed a provision of last year's budget that would have required the CIB to pay a PILOT of $15 million to the city for the Fieldhouse, Lucas Oil Stadium and the convention center. Our corrupt mayor had taxpayer-paid lobbyists convince the state legislature to amend state law to bar the City from ever collecting a PILOT on the CIB facilities.]
You also need to understand that there are two legal entities which comprise the Indiana Pacers. There is the Indiana Pacers, which represents the basketball franchise, and there is Pacers Sports & Entertainment, which operates the Fieldhouse on behalf of the CIB. Absolutely no rent is paid to the CIB for the exclusive use of the CIB facilities for the benefit of Simon's Indiana Pacers and Pacers Sports & Entertainment by either of these business entities. The claim that it costs Simon more to maintain a facility that he pays absolutely nothing to use for his private business use is utter nonsense that any person with a brain could figure out. This billionaire gets to pocket money that he makes from concerts and other non-game events held at our taxpayer-funded facility. We get to pay the mortgage on the building, along with any extraordinary expense, such as a new ribbon board and digital score board that the Pacers use for additional revenue-generating opportunities.
The media in this town are all in bed with Herb Simon. Their media businesses make money from their coverage of the NBA franchise's games, and Simon's Pacer organization takes members of the media on all-expense paid trips to luxury resorts where they are showered with gifts and other free entertainment. In a nutshell, the Indianapolis media lies to the public about the so-called financial woes facing the Pacers because it's in their self-interest to do so. The politicians receive free tickets to the games, plus generous campaign contributions, which is why they are willing to lie to your face. City-County Council President Maggie Lewis, who sits on the CIB, alone has received free tickets worth well into the thousands of dollars, an amount far beyond what her household budget would permit her to purchase if she had to buy them out of her own pocket. Mayor Ballard and his wife, Winnie, are even worse when it comes to holding their hands out for freebies from people like Simon.  
If Herb Simon's NBA franchise has lost hundreds of millions of dollars over the past decade, then why is a franchise he purchased for about $10 million now worth almost $400 million. Why was Herb so quick to exercise his first right of refusal to buy out his late brother Mel's one-half share in the franchise? Why won't Herb disclose to the public how much he paid for Mel's interest. And why won't the CIB demand that audited financial statements be released by the Pacers if they expect the taxpaying-public of Indianapolis to underwrite their multi-million dollar sports franchise? You know the answer to every one of those questions.
If you don't wake up and start firing every politician in this town who says he or she supports public subsidies for the wealthiest man in Indiana who doesn't even live in our city, then you deserve the poor government services you receive for the eternally higher taxes and fees this city can impose upon you. The operating budget of the CIB is scheduled to increase by $35 million next year. Virtually all other city budgets will remain flat or be cut further, even with higher taxes and fees being levied upon taxpayers. Who do the politicians really represent?

UPDATE: Check out the comments of City-County Council President Maggie Lewis, who has accepted thousands of dollars' worth of free tickets to Pacers games, explaining to the Star why she supports the CIB's budget:
Council President Maggie Lewis, also a Democrat, has a seat on the CIB and voted in favor of the budget proposal.
The Democrat said it was “very wise to go ahead and set this money aside as we negotiate.”
And Lewis predicted a smoother ride for the CIB budget this year. . .  
 “I think because the CIB is helping offset the cost of public safety,” Lewis said, “that’s going to help my colleagues make a sound decision regarding the budget.”

Madison Avenue Economic Development Area Heresy

Once again, there is no meaningful news media attention on the serious problem we face in funding local government when we have madness like what was on display at Monday night's meeting of the Metropolitan and Economic Development Committee where Proposal No. 253 was offered to create a vast new economic development area along the Madison Avenue corridor on the City of Indianapolis' south side. You have to suspend disbelief to comprehend how three Republican members of the City-County Council could come forward with such a proposal with the full backing of the Ballard administration at a time the council is pondering new property tax increases to close what the administration claims is a $55 million budget deficit.

As I've discussed ad nauseum, Indianapolis faces a problem funding basic city services not because its taxpayers are taxed too little but because its elected leaders have chosen to divert large portions of the tax base to slush funds that are used to finance crony capitalism pushed by their pay-to-play pals. With the expansion of the downtown TIF district last year and the creation of the vast new Mid-North TIF area, nearly 15% of the city's tax base has now been removed from the base that supports funding for basic city services. Proposal No. 253 would create a new economic development area that covers a vast area along Madison Avenue from Troy Avenue on the near south side all the way to county line road on the far south side of town. It includes real property with more than $1.3 billion in assessed valuation in which over 40,000 people reside. About half of the proposed economic development area encompasses residential real estate. The southern half of the proposed area is a thriving, well-developed area.

Surprisingly, some of the Democratic council members raised concerns that the area being proposed contained too large of a footprint, including Councilor John Barth, who sponsored the Mid-North TIF allocation area last year that included many areas like Broad Ripple where no additional economic development incentives are needed to spur development. The proponents, including representatives of the Ballard administration, emphasized that the area in which they would later seek TIF designation would not necessarily encompass the entire economic development area. That's not very reassuring in light of the fact that the city's most vibrant areas, including most of downtown, are all located within a TIF district currently.

The committee wisely voted down Proposal No. 253; however, Councilor Barth then made a motion to postpone consideration of the proposal until the committee's next meeting. Since when does the council postpone consideration of a proposal it has already voted down? The council's counsel, Fred Biesecker, seemed confused by Councilor Barth's motion, which was initially made while the committee was taking the vote on the passage of a motion to send the proposal to the full council with a due pass recommendation, making it out of order. Barth withdrew his motion so the vote could proceed, but he then offered it again after the motion on its passage was voted down on a 3-4 vote. I really can't bear to watch council meetings any more. The ignorance on display at these meetings gives absolutely no faith in representative democracy. Would somebody at the State House please pass a law barring local governments from enacting any new TIF ordinances since the people elected at the local government level can't be trusted to use this economic development tool in a fashion that doesn't force major tax increases on the serfs who aren't stuffing money in the politicians' pockets to finance the private development projects of their benefactors?

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Donnelly Worried About Military Cuts, Not Worried About Another Illegal War In Syria Based On A False Flag Attack

It really hasn't taken much time to figure out that Sen. Joe Donnelly has been bought and paid for by the military/industrial complex that runs this country. He sits on the Senate Armed Services Committee and acts as another one of their proxies as they continue to find excuses to fight unconstitutional wars that claim the lives of so many and destroy the lives of countless numbers of American soldiers. As President Barack Obama plans to use the latest false flag event in Syria to start another war in the Middle East without a declaration of Congress as required by the U.S. Constitution, Sen. Donnelly tells the Fort Wayne Journal-Gazette that he is worried about military cuts as he visits a military contractor's plant:
Sen. Joe Donnelly, D-Ind., warned Monday that congressional budget cuts could shortchange the U.S. military and its suppliers – as well as America’s security.
“We don’t want to go to the point where it endangers the companies that have enabled us to protect our nation and to keep our nation going forward,” Donnelly, a member of the Senate Armed Services Committee, told news media after a tour of ITT Exelis in Fort Wayne.
The freshman senator from Granger said ongoing budget reductions known as sequestration should be “in spending across much of the federal spectrum” and “just not focused on defense and on (social) service programs. … It’s something we have to fix and we have to do in a better way.”
Sequestration has trimmed $37 billion from Pentagon spending in fiscal 2013 and will chop $52 billion more in fiscal 2014 under the Budget Control Act. Without congressional action, the law would slash $1.2 trillion in federal spending over 10 years, nearly half of it from the Department of Defense.
His Monday morning visit was Donnelly’s first to ITT Exelis, which manufactures military communications equipment and weather satellite parts at plants along Cook Road west of Lima Road. The stop kicked off a three-day “Serving Those Who Serve” tour of Indiana businesses, a Purdue University rocket laboratory and the Air National Guard base in Terre Haute.
Donnelly said U.S troops “have come home safe because of the products that have been built” by ITT Exelis.
Federal spending reductions are delaying the awarding of Department of Defense contracts but have not caused layoffs at the local operation, which employs 1,165 people, according to ITT Exelis officials.
“Some of our products are really determined on how big that (military) force structure is going to be and how quickly they are going to field those products,” Jennifer Schoonover, vice president and general manager of communications solutions, said in an interview.
Company spokesman Tim White said sequestration is so far affecting ITT Exelis “in terms of being able to plan for the future.”
White and Schoonover said Monday’s visit by Donnelly was so the senator could familiarize himself with the plants.
It's really becoming difficult to even watch mainstream news media reports on international events as their reports morph into nothing more than a propaganda arm of the military/industrial complex. Think about this. President Obama draws a red line in the sand and says that if Syria uses weapons of mass destruction, there will be a military response. At the same time he makes this declaration, our own government is engaged in arming a band of terrorists, including members of Al Qaeda, the terrorist group on which we have blamed 9/11 and so many other dastardly terrorist events in our never-ending thirst for war in the Middle East, in an effort to overthrow the Syrian government. Shortly after a band of these terrorists overrun a chlorine factory in Syria, we learn that chlorine is used in the civil war. Our government tried to blame the Assad regime for using weapons of mass destruction, but most of the victims of the attack were Syrian soldiers. Fortunately, a UN team of investigators found that it was chlorine used in the attack, not deadly chemicals.

Flash forward a few more months after the overwhelming body of evidence begins to suggest that the attack on the Benghazi diplomatic post had nothing to do with the offensive video on which our government tried to blame the attack and had more to do with the fact that the facility was nothing more than a CIA arms-running center where renditions were being conducted on so-called terrorists being detained there. Hundreds of ground-to-air missiles were seized by the terrorists during the attack. On August 21, another attack occurs in Syria where chemical weapons were supposedly used. At first they claimed a few dozen people were killed. Now that death toll has been raised to more than 1,000. Our government immediately started blaming the Syrian government despite the lack of evidence. As UN inspectors arrived in the country, Secretary of State John Kerry declares that the U.S. has "undeniable evidence" that the Assad government was responsible for the attack despite the presence of pro-Syrian forces in the area of the attack. WND has obtained video footage showing the American-backed rebels loading nerve gas canisters onto rockets and firing them into an area populated with civilians and Syrian troops.

As the UN inspectors arrived at the invitation of the Syrian government, their vehicles were fired upon by snipers. The sniper attacks appear to be the work of the American-backed rebels. The U.S. and its allies are moving quickly towards a full-blown war in the country before the UN inspectors can ascertain what really happened and without bothering to request a declaration of war by Congress. The U.S. government says the arrival of the UN inspection team is "too little, too late." In other words, let's get the war started before someone figures out the truth. Remember how our government used so-called impeccable evidence to claim Iraq possessed weapons of mass destruction our military never found after invading the country as an excuse for launching a war against it? Ironically, newly-released CIA documents prove our own government's complicity in Hussein's use of nerve gas agents against Iranians during Iraq's long-running war with that country back in the 1980s.

Monday, August 26, 2013

Marion County Judges Issue New Maps Designed For The Electorate, Not The Elected

I've had a chance to take a look at the new council maps a panel of Marion County judges ordered in response to a lawsuit filed against the Republican-drawn map signed into law by Mayor Greg Ballard last year and I have to say I like the new maps better than what the Republicans approved or the Democrats had proposed. An out-of-state contractor, CityGate GIS, drew the news map for only $6,000, a fraction of the $175,000 Republican council members blew on a contract with political insider David Brooks in 2011. Judge Heather Welch, who chaired the panel of judges, noted that the out-of-state contractor drew the districts without consideration of where incumbent members of the council reside, which is the way it should be done. The Star's Jon Murray notes that the new districts pit a large number of incumbents against one another, a problem exacerbated by a new state law pushed by Mayor Ballard and the Republicans that eliminated the four at-large council positions, assuming the at-large council members choose to run in the new districts. Here's a rundown of what Murray found:
  • Angela Mansfield (D) and Will Gooden (R) reside in District 2
  • Christine Scales (R), District 3, is located in the same district as at-large councilor Pam Hickman
  • City-County Council President Maggie Lewis, District 7, is located in the same district as at-large councilor Leroy Robinson
  • Monroe Gray (D) and Joe Simpson (D) reside in District 8, along with at-large councilor John Barth
  • Vernon Brown (D) and Ben Hunter (R) reside in District 11
  • Duke Oliver (D) and Steve Talley (D) reside in District 16
  • Brian Mahern (D) and Jeff Miller (R) reside in District 20, along with at-large councilor Zach Adamson
  • Frank Mascari, Jefferson Shreve and Jack Sandlin reside in District 24
  • There are 7 open districts, 9, 10, 14, 19, 21, 23 and 25.
I suspect that Democratic members of the council are as upset about the newly-drawn maps as Republicans are. The Republican-drawn map went out of its way to protect incumbent members of both parties, even though it slightly favored the Republicans. Mayor Greg Ballard has already vowed to appeal the decision of the panel of Marion County judges, which concluded that the council violated state law by failing to redraw maps in 2012. Black radio talk show host Amos Brown tweets that he finds that at least 6 of the districts are minority-majority districts, although he thinks minority voting strength is diluted in Washington and Pike Townships. There are currently eight black council members elected from the 25 single-member districts.

Judicial Qualifications Commission Levels Serious Charges Against Marion Superior Court Judge Kim Brown

The Judicial Qualifications Commission has filed a 45-count complaint against Marion Superior Court Judge Kim Brown, along with a separate petition seeking her immediate suspension pending the resolution of her case. The allegations contained in the complaint are very serious and the result of an investigation that was launched in March, according to the Commission, after another judge reported to the Commission concerns that she was not acting timely on motions concerning the release of incarcerated defendants. The 45th count alleges that Judge Brown communicated in "a discourteous and disrespectful manner" with the judge who reported her to the Commission and was initially uncooperative in the investigation. Here's how the Commission summarizes the nature of the allegations against her:
  • delay and dereliction of judicial duties on cases;
  • creation of a hostile environment for attorneys, court staff, clerks and others;
  • failure to adequately complete necessary paperwork;
  • failure to train or adequately supervise court staff and subordinate judicial officers; and
  • delay in the release from incarceration of at least nine defendants.
These are truly serious allegations the Commission is leveling against Judge Brown. The Indiana Law Blog has uploaded a copy of the 45-count complaint, which you can read here. The most serious case brought against a judge in recent memory was the case the Commission brought a few years back against Marion Superior Court Judge Grant Hawkins, whose office had misplaced an order from the Court of Appeals which granted freedom to a defendant who had been wrongfully incarcerated. The clerical error resulted in delaying the man's release from prison for about two years. The Indiana Supreme Court ordered him suspended without pay for a period of 60 days. Two of the justices, Chief Justice Randall Shepard and Justice Frank Sullivan, dissented to the Court's order because they didn't believe the punishment was severe enough against the judge.

Readers may recall that Judge Brown ran against the slated judicial candidates to win her seat on the bench in the 2008 Democratic primary. She served as judge of the Washington Township Small Claims Court for several years prior to serving as a superior court judge. The allegations against Judge Brown seem to date all the way back to 2009, her first year on the bench. In Marion County, it's pretty much impossible to be elected judge unless you are a political insider of one of the two major political parties and agree to pay a very large slating fee to the party in order to get slated as a judicial candidate. I'm not sure what Democrats are paying now, but Republican judicial candidates are paying about $22,000 to get slated. If you win the primary, the election is over since each party nominates exactly half of the number of candidates that are to be elected in the general election. It does no good in the general election to vote in the judicial elections because how you vote makes no difference in the outcome. It's very difficult for anyone to run against the slate and win. Judge Brown's name appeared first on the primary ballot in 2008 because the names of candidates in Indiana are listed alphabetically, which probably didn't hurt her chances.

I'm a Republican precinct committeeman, who in theory are supposed to collectively vote on the party's judicial candidates. By the time they come before the committeemen at the slating convention, an executive committee has already met behind closed doors and anointed the slate of candidates. Members of the executive committee have their own selfish agenda in anointing the judicial candidates, none of which relates to a candidates' qualifications. Most of the people who are committeemen are appointed by the chairman and not elected because most people are too turned off by the corrupt political process to have any part of it any more. Former Indiana State GOP Chairman Rex Early used to refer to these people as mummy dummies, which is essentially what they are since they vote exactly as they are ordered to vote. There is absolutely no opportunity for discussion of an individual's qualifications during the slating process. The executive committee has already made that decision without regard to any concerns others may have.

MTV's VMA Awards As Raunchy As It Comes

miley cyrus vma performanceAnd it seems that the Smiths were not into it...
Hopefully your children weren't watching MTV's VMA Awards show last night where everything wrong with pop culture today was on full display at its worst. Miley Cyrus' performance of her song, "We Can't Stop", followed by her even racier performance of "Blurred Lines" with Robin Thicke, the bad seed of "Growing Pains' Alan Thicke, looked more like a bad audition for a job working at a seedy local strip club than an artistic performance worthy of a place on the national stage. If Cyrus' bad girl antics prior to last night weren't enough to shed her good girl, Hannah Montana image, last night's raunchy performance should have removed all doubts. The reaction on the faces of Will Smith and his family says it all.

Saturday, August 24, 2013

IBJ Thinks City Taxpayers Should Help Simon Property Group Fix Up Circle Centre Mall

The editors at the IBJ want you to know that it's your civic duty as good citizens to make sure the billionaire Simons make as much money as possible no matter how much crony capitalism that requires. It seems the editors are worried that the downtown mall known as Circle Centre, built mostly with taxpayer dollars, is starting to show its age. Naturally that means taxpayers should dig deeper into their pockets to make sure this mall that is operated 100% for the benefit of the Simons' Fortune 500 company remains prosperous for them. From their latest editorial:
It was the shining jewel that sparked a downtown renaissance. Beautifully designed and detailed, Circle Centre Mall looked at its September 1995 debut every bit the city-center show stopper. 
Today, not so much . . .
The city owns the land under the mall, and is responsible for maintaining its sidewalks. The city paid for more than half of the mall's $320 million construction cost. So it, Simon and other owners need to partner on an update that could lure the retailers needed to repair the image hit the mall took with its 2011 loss of anchor Nordstrom . . .
Ultimately, the city, Lilly, Simon and the other 18 corporate investors did a downtown by doing a mall. It's time for them to give that mall the face lift that benefits its significance in this city's history, and in its future.
As far as the pompous Mickey Maurer is concerned, there is no limit to how much money we should be asked to stick in this money-grubbing family's palms, most of whom spend the majority of their time living in their multi-million dollar mansions in cities on either coast to get away from the people of Indiana upon whom they look down upon. We built Market Square Arena to help propel the struggling Indiana Pacers franchise they picked up for about ten million bucks that is now worth nearly $400 million thanks to our hard-earned taxpayers, but that wasn't good enough. We had to build a brank spanking new $200 million Fieldhouse with the latest and greatest of amenities. That still wasn't good enough for them and we had to start shelling out $10 million a year in subsidies to their NBA franchise. They wanted to build a mall downtown, but only if taxpayers shouldered the burden for building it. They wanted a new corporate tower built on state-owned property with a $25 million cash contribution and a free parking garage to boot to show to us all how our politicians cower to their influence. At what point do the serfs have to stop providing alms to these greedy people?

Friday, August 23, 2013

Star Uses Misleading Statistics To Make It Appear Indianapolis Taxpayers Aren't Taxed As High As Other Areas

It's another example of an out-of-state, corporate-owned media company trying to tell Indianapolis taxpayers what's best for them--paying higher taxes. The Indianapolis Star is touting rankings of taxation by county to make it appear that taxpayers in Marion County are paying much less than taxpayers elsewhere. The figures the Star relies on include only property and income taxes. All other taxes, including the real biggie, sales taxes, and fees paid by residents of the various counties are excluded. By this measure, Marion County, the county with the largest population in the state, including a larger percentage of its population dependent on welfare, comes in with a ranking of 17th out of the 92 counties with a per capita taxation level of $1,319.87. Now let's look at what these statistics show are the five highest-taxed counties in the state:

1. Benton- $1,714.35
2. Hamilton- $1,677.81
3. Boone- $1,591.39
4. Hendricks- $1,519.39
5. Hancock-$1,487.26

So are taxpayers in Benton County really over-taxed? Benton is one of the least populated counties in the state with only 8,804 persons. It's also home to some of the highest-valued farmland in the state of Indiana. Not surprisingly, it's per capita tax burden is going to be a tad eschew.

The other top four counties are the suburban counties surrounding Marion County where people with higher incomes move to get away from the crime, bad schools and higher taxes in Indianapolis. Those counties have a smaller welfare-dependent population with higher income-earning residents on average. Each of those counties also have very valuable farmland competing with developers looking to build more upscale subdivisions and commercial development in the fastest growing counties in the state of Indiana. Not surprisingly, those counties are all disproportionately populated with people living in larger, more expensive homes. If they want a fair comparison of the relative tax burden, take a look at the amount people are paying in all taxes and fees combined relative to the income they earn where they are living. I suspect the results will be much different.

Retired Justice Frank Sullivan Defends Justice Massa's Decision Not To Recuse Himself In Rockport Case

Retired Justice Frank Sullivan has an opinion piece in the Indianapolis Star today defending the decision of Justice Mark Massa not to recuse himself in the controversial case concerning the Rockport coal gasification project. An executive of the company pushing the deal, Mark Lubbers, first recruited Massa to join the administration of former Gov. Robert Orr and the two worked together in the executive office of Gov. Mitch Daniels where Massa served as the governor's chief legal counsel. Here's an excerpt from his opinion piece:
The Indiana Supreme Court has only five justices. If a justice does not participate in a lawsuit, there is no substitute. And it takes three votes to reverse a decision of the Court of Appeals. So if the environmental groups can knock a justice off the case, they only need two votes instead of three to win . . .
First, the Indiana judicial ethics code requires judges to decide the lawsuits in their courts unless prohibited from doing so. Judges can’t duck cases. Nor can the litigants choose their judges.
Second, judges are prohibited from deciding cases only when “an objective person, knowledgeable of all the circumstances, would have a reasonable basis for doubting the judge’s impartiality.” Justice Massa’s friendship with Lubbers does not create a reasonable basis for doubting his impartiality in these circumstances.
All successful people stand on the shoulders of others but loyalty and appreciation to them is not blind. This is particularly true of judges who on a daily basis must rule in cases involving lawyers who are their friends, mentors and supporters. For a judge not to be impartial in such circumstances would demean the very basis of that friendship, mentorship and support.
We can be confident that whatever decision Justice Massa reaches in the Indiana Gasification case, it will be based on the law and the proven facts – and without consideration of any professional or personal relationship with any individual involved in the case.
Hat tip to Indiana Law Blog.

Justice Sullivan has something in common with Massa. Like Massa, he worked as a high-level executive in the administration of the governor who appointed him to office. Sullivan served as budget director and as an executive assistant to former Gov. Evan Bayh immediately prior to his appointment. If my recollection is accurate, Justice Sullivan on several occasions recused himself from hearing cases that came before the court. I believe some of those recusals involved cases which touched on work he had performed in Bayh's administration. In one case reported on by the Indiana Law Blog a little over two years ago involving a dispute between the City of Greenwood and Town of Bargersville over an annexation made by the Town of Bargersville, Sullivan recused himself on the day of the oral argument without further explanation. Sullivan's recusal resulted in a deadlocked 2-2 decision, which permitted the Court of Appeals' decision to reverse a trial court decision granting summary judgment to Bargersville's favor to stand. Perhaps the Indiana Law Blog has more information on Justice Sullivan's past recusals.

UPDATE: Apparently retired Justice Sullivan's words of support for Massa's decision not to recuse himself in the Rockport case is a case of "do what I say" as opposed to "do what I did." Here's a list of more than 60 cases I uncovered where Justice Sullivan chose not to participate while he served as a member of the Indiana Supreme Court. This list is not necessarily exhaustive. Because he never states why he chose not to participate in the case, it's left to the reader to speculate on the reasons. I would point out that Sullivan's wife, Cheryl Sullivan, formerly served as Secretary of Family & Social Services for a number of years beginning in the administration of former Gov. Evan Bayh.

Mendenhall v. State, 967 N.E.2d 1035 (Ind. 2012)
In re Mendenhall, 959 N.E.2d 254 (Ind. 2012)
State v. International Business Machines Corporation, 49S00-1201-PL-15 (Ind. 2012)
Murphy v. Fisher, 932 N.E.2d 1235 (Ind. 2010)
Runkle v. Runkle, 929 N.E.2d 785 (Ind. 2010)
Developmental Services Alternatives, Inc. v. Family Social Services Admin., 929 N.E.2d 784 (Ind. 2010)
Crossley v. State, 915 N.E.2d 978 (Ind. 2009)
Filice v. State, 898 N.E.2d 1216 (Ind. 2008)
D.L. v. Marion County DCS, 891 N.E.2d 53 (Ind. 2008)
In re A.B., 891 N.E.2d 42 (Ind. 2008)
In re I.C., 891 N.E.2d 40 (Ind. 2008)
In re E.K., 891 N.E.2d 37 (Ind. 2008)
In re K.M., 878 N.E.2d 222 (Ind. 2007)
In Matter of J.M., 878 N.E.2d 219 (Ind. 2007)
Dillon v. State, 878 N.E.2d 212 (Ind. 2007)
In re E.S., 878 N.E.2d 212 (Ind. 2007)
In re J.B., 878 N.E.2d 208 (Ind. 2007)
Hightower v. State, 878 N.E.2d 206 (Ind. 2007)
McWhirter v. Marion County OFC, 869 N.E.2d 458 (Ind. 2007)
In re F.D., 869 N.E.2d 454 (Ind. 2007)
Dillard v. Marion County OFS, 869 N.E.2d 453 (Ind. 2007)
In re J.T., 869 N.E.2d 452 (Ind. 2007)
Winchester v. Tippecanoe County Div. of Child Services, 869 N.E.2d 452 (Ind. 2007)
A.M. v. Marion County Office of Family and Children, 869 N.E.2d 453 (Ind. 2007)
In re A.L.D., 869 N.E.2d 451 (Ind. 2007)
In re T.M.W.W., 869 N.E.2d 447 (Ind. 2007)
In re D.B., 869 N.E.2d 446 (Ind. 2007)
In re T.M.W.W., 869 N.E.2d 445 (Ind. 2007)
M.A. v. Miami County OFC, 860 N.E.2d 599 (Ind. 2006)
Doty v. Jennings County OFC, 860 N.E.2d 600 (Ind. 2006)
In re E.E., 860 N.E.2d 600 (Ind. 2006)
Wilhoite v. Madison County OFC, 860 N.E.2d 600 (Ind. 2006)
Swinscoe v. Dep't of Child Servs., 860 N.E.2d 599 (Ind. 2006)
I.T.R. v. Clay County Dept. of Child Serv., 860 N.E.2d 598 (Ind. 2006)
In re C.C., 860 N.E.2d 597 (Ind. 2006)
In re G.H., 860 N.E.2d 594 (Ind. 2006)
In re A.M., 860 N.E.2d 593 (Ind. 2006)
In re K.H., 860 N.E.2d 590 (Ind. 2006)
McLaughlin v. Tippecanoe County OFC, 860 N.E.2d 588 (Ind. 2006)
In re S.P., 860 N.E.2d 588 (Ind. 2006)
In re K.P., 860 N.E.2d 584 (Ind. 2006)
Barnes v. Knox County OFC, 855 N.E.2d 1012 (Ind. 2006)
A.H. v. Marion County OFC, 855 N.E.2d 1010 (Ind. 2006)
K.D. & K.S. v. Marion County OFC, 855 N.E.2d 1010 (Ind. 2006)
R.L. v. State, 855 N.E.2d 1010 (Ind. 2006)
B.A.H. v. Ripley County OFC, 855 N.E.2d 1010 (Ind. 2006)
N.D.L. v. Elkhart Office of Family and Children, 855 N.E.2d 1010 (Ind. 2006)
B.A.H. v. Ripley County OFC, 855 N.E.2d 1010 (Ind. 2006)
N.D.L. v. Elkhart Office of Family and Children, 855 N.E.2d 1010 (Ind. 2006)
Bruce v. Tippecanoe County OFC, 855 N.E.2d 1008 (Ind. 2006)
Castro v. Monroe County OFC, 855 N.E.2d 1008 (Ind. 2006)
In re C.M., 855 N.E.2d 1008 (Ind. 2006)
In re M.H., 855 N.E.2d 1008 (Ind. 2006)
Wright v. Tippecanoe Office of Family & Children, 855 N.E.2d 1008 (Ind. 2006)
In re A.R., 855 N.E.2d 1006 (Ind. 2006)
In re L.S., 855 N.E.2d 1001 (Ind. 2006)
Oakes v. Oakes, 841 N.E.2d 180 (Ind. 2005)
Sims v. Marion County Office of Family & Children, 841 N.E.2d 176 (Ind. 2005)
Wreh v. Marion County OFC, 841 N.E.2d 176 (Ind. 2005)
McClain v. Review Bd. of Indiana Dept. of Workforce Development, 693 N.E.2d 1314 (Ind. 1998)
Walker v. State, Muscatatuck State Development Center, 694 N.E.2d 258 (Ind. 1998)
Sullivan v. Day, 681 N.E.2d 713 (Ind. 1997)
D & M Healthcare, Inc. v. Kernan, 800 N.E.2d 898 (Ind. 2003)

Thursday, August 22, 2013

Transgender Evansville Resident Feels Discriminated Against By BMV

A 26-year old Evansville man, Ajax Holdin, was born a girl known as Alicia Holbrook. Ajax has started the process of transitioning from a female to a male through hormone therapy. Ajax sought to change his gender on his Indiana driver's license because he and his girlfriend, Amy, decided to get legally married. Although he was initially issued a driver's license identifying his gender as male, he was later contacted by the BMV and told he would need to switch his gender back unless he could provide proof that he had undergone surgery to complete the transition from female to male. The county clerk's office has already issued the couple a marriage license. That could force their marriage to be voided if the legal issue isn't cleared up. WFIE-TV in Evansville reports on an investigation launched by the BMV to clear up the legal issue:
We had our wedding ceremony last October," Ajax said.
But to become legally married, Ajax had to have documentation to prove he is male. So he went to the BMV to get a new license. 
"They gave me my driver's license as male and now they're telling me I'm supposed to have surgery, where it doesn't say anything about that on their website. I feel like they're trying to take all this stuff away from me, I worked so hard to get it, and now they're just trying to take all of this away from me," Ajax said. 
According to the BMV, Ajax needed to bring a signed and dated statement from his physician stating that he has successfully underwent all treatment necessary to permanently change his gender from female to male.
Ajax says the letter from his doctor, which he gave to the BMV, proves that he has underwent the treatment. 
The definition of "all treatment necessary to permanently change" is unclear. 
"A lot of people have been really great to us. I've gotten a lot of support. This is the first time I've felt discriminated against since I started the transition," Ajax said.
The BMV was requesting Ajax come back to the office and change his gender back to female. 
"I don't intend to get one that says female, that's for sure," Ajax said.
The article doesn't mention it, but I assume Holdin had his name legally changed before he went to the BMV and sought to get a new driver's license. It's probably an issued that needs to be clarified by the legislature, but I doubt the current make-up of the legislature will be too enthusiastic about providing a clear road map for changing one's gender. Indiana has a general statute, IC 16-37-2-10(b), under which vital information on a birth certificate can be changed by the Vital Statistics Division of the Department of Health. In practice, a new birth certificate can be issued to reflect the current gender of a person who has undergone a sex change. It is a good question that is being raised. What do you do if someone starts the process of changing their gender but never undergoes surgery to complete the process? Should the gender change be legally recognized in such circumtances?

Eli Lilly Accused Of Paying Bribes To Chinese Doctors

Eli Lilly & Company is facing charges by a whistle blower of paying bribes to doctors in China to prescribe the pharmaceutical company's drugs. Reuters is reporting that a former senior manager for the company claims that bribery and illegal payments at Lilly's Chinese operations were widespread. The report says Lilly is the third pharmaceutical company to face similar accusations in China. Lilly told Reuters it is "deeply concerned" about the allegations. "Although we have not been able to verify these allegations, we take them seriously, and we are continuing our investigation," a statement from the company read. Lilly paid a $29 million fine to the SEC last year to settle a charge that it had bribed government officials in Russia, China, Brazil and Poland to win business.

Liz Cheney Cited For Lying About Residence On Wyoming Fishing License Application

Liz Cheney, daughter of former Vice President Dick Cheney, posted a $220 bond after being cited by Wyoming Game and Fish officials for lying on a fishing license application about the length of her residence. Cheney had recently moved to her father's former home state to run in the Republican primary against Sen. Mike Enzi (R) in next year's Senate race. Cheney applied for a fishing license 72 days after she purchased a home in the state. The license application asks an in-state applicant, who pays a lower $24 fee compared to the $92 fee paid by nonresidents, to declare how long she has lived in the state. In-state applicants must reside in the state for at least one year before obtaining a license. Cheney blamed the clerk who issued her the license for the mistake. Cheney posted a $220 bond on the misdemeanor charge, which is punishable by a fine of up to $10,000 and imprisonment of up to one year. Cheney released the following statement according to the Jackson Hole Daily:
"On August 3, 2012, I spent the day on the Snake River with a group of wounded warriors and the Rivers of Recovery organization.  Rivers of Recovery provides therapy and treatment to wounded veterans through fly fishing.  I had arranged for Sean Hannity to film the group for a special he later ran on Fox News to draw attention to and help support the group and the warriors.   I didn't know whether I would fish that day, but wanted to have a license just in case.  When I went in to purchase a license, the clerk asked if I was a resident.  I said yes because I was living in Wyoming.  It was my mistake not to realize there was a 365-day requirement to hold a resident license. The clerk did not ask how long I had lived in Wyoming.  August 3, 2012 was, unfortunately, the only day I had the opportunity to fish in Wyoming last year.When I realized that I had not fulfilled the residency requirement, I met with officials from Game and Fish in Jackson and I paid the requisite fine on August 14.  I would like to praise the professionalism and dedication of the officers at the Department of Game and Fish."

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Media Falsely Blames Drugs For Michael Hastings' Death

The LA Coroner's office yesterday released the autopsy results yesterday for investigative journalist Michael Hastings. Reading the story lines from the mainstream media, one might conclude that Hastings caused his own death because he supposedly had a relapse and was using drugs after being sober for 14 years. The actual coroner's report says drugs played no role in his death. I repeat, drugs played no role in his death. What it says is that there were trace amounts of Adderall, a prescription drug used to treat narcolepsy and attention deficit disorder. Yes, Adderall is an amphetamine, which is all most news outlets needed to make it appear that Hastings was a meth addict. He also had trace amounts of marijuana in his system. Yes, he had a medical marijuana card that allowed him to use marijuana for medicinal purposes. The lede in the LA Times, a state-run propaganda newspaper, says "Coroner, family link Michael Hastings to drug use at time of death." Reading that headline, one might conclude that Hastings' crash was caused by drug use when it says no such thing. You have to read deeper into the story to see where it actually says "[n]either were considered a factor in the crash according to toxicology reports." Instead, the autopsy report attributes his death to blunt force trauma consistent with a high-speed crash.

Nonetheless, both the autopsy report and the LA Times seek to put in readers' minds that drug use was the actual cause, claiming that family members said he had started using drugs within the past month and that they were trying to have him placed in a rehab center. The medical marijuana card had been prescribed to him to treat post-traumatic stress resulting from his time serving as a journalist during the Iraq and Afghanistan Wars. An unidentified witness claims to have seen Hastings "passed out" hours before the crash, again implying that he was drinking or using drugs despite proof in the toxicology report that he was not under the influence of drugs at the time of his crash. The LA Times has the obligatory dismissal of conspiracy theorists who found the circumstances of Hastings' death suspicious and a statement from the FBI insisting that he was not under investigation at the time of his death as he had claimed in an e-mail he sent to friends and colleagues hours before his death. The "passed out" reference must have been inserted into the report to suggest that Hastings was drugged or drunk at the time that he sent that e-mail.

The autopsy report mentions that his car caught fire after he "apparently lost control" of the vehicle while traveling at a high rate of speed and struck a tree. This still doesn't answer the question of what caused the massive explosion that was captured by a surveillance video. One witness actually described the car as exploding before it ever impacted with the tree. The report throws in that a couple of beer bottles were found in the median near his automobile, even though there is no evidence that he was consuming alcohol before the crash. It mentions that parts of the car were found "strewn" in the north and south bound lanes, in addition to the media, without reference to the distance they were found from the crash scene or how they could have traveled such great distances. While mentioning that the crash was caught on video, "possibly two different views," it says further information is "pending at this time." One witness claimed Hastings was using the hallucinogenic DMT even though the toxicology report shows no presence of the drug in his system.

The autopsy report is full of incredible conjecture and innuendo. There is mention of him supposedly crashing into a pole a number of years ago in a vehicle accident when he was supposedly abusing Ritalin as a teenager. There is a suggestion that he might have had bipolar disorder, even though he wasn't diagnosed or treated for that disorder. He entered rehab 14 years ago for substance abuse according to the report. The report says that he had no suicidal tendencies but thought he was "invincible," supposedly claiming that he could jump from a balcony without being injured. The description of him being "passed out" is in reference to when he was last seen at his residence. So he could have just been sleeping since it was around midnight, but we'll chalk that up to being "passed out" for good measure. One witness supposedly told investigators that he wouldn't be surprised if they found cocaine in his system. As to the suggestion that he deliberately crashed his car, the report notes that he used a seat belt to restrain himself in the car. If he was trying to kill himself by smashing into an object at a high rate of speed, why would he use his seat belt in a high performance, safe automobile like the Mercedes equipped with airbags?

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Daily Beast: Ted Cruz' College Classmates At Princeton Thought He Was Creepy

A lot of conservatives have really taken to Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX). I don't count myself as one of them, although I respect him more than most people in Congress today. The first time I heard him speak, the word "creepy" was the first thought to pop into my mind, although I wasn't entirely comfortable saying that out loud. Apparently his classmates at Princeton where he did his undergraduate work had the same reaction to him. Unlike Obama, the Daily Beast was actually able to locate classmates who remembered him attending school with them. From his creepy strolls through the women's dormitory in his paisley robe to his gambling debts, former classmates of Cruz unload on him. Their most interesting observation: his political views haven't changed at all.
“It was my distinct impression that Ted had nothing to learn from anyone else,” said Erik Leitch, who lived in Butler College with Cruz. Leitch said he remembers Cruz as someone who wanted to argue over anything or nothing, just for the exercise of arguing. “The only point of Ted talking to you was to convince you of the rightness of his views."

In addition to Mazin and Leitch, several fellow classmates who asked that their names not be used described the young Cruz with words like “abrasive,” "intense," “strident,” “crank,” and “arrogant." Four independently offered the word “creepy,” with some pointing to Cruz’s habit of donning a paisley bathrobe and walking to the opposite end of their dorm’s hallway where the female students lived.

“I would end up fielding the [girls’] complaints: 'Could you please keep your roommate out of our hallway?'" Mazin says.
Cruz also angered a number of upperclassmen his freshman year when he joined in a regular poker game and quickly ran up $1,800 in debt to other students from his losses. Cruz’s spokeswoman, Catherine Frazier, said Cruz acknowledges playing in the poker games, which he now considers “foolish.”

“He went to his aunt, who worked at a bank in Dallas, and borrowed $1,800 from her, which he paid in cash and promptly quit the game,” Frazier told The Daily Beast, explaining that Cruz worked two jobs and made monthly payments to his aunt for the next two years to repay the debt . . . " 
More than anyone I knew, Ted seemed to have arrived in college with a fully formed worldview,” Butler College colleague Erik Leitch said.  “And what strikes me now, looking at him as an adult and hearing the things he's saying, it seems like nothing has changed. Four years of an Ivy League education, Harvard Law, and years of life experience have altered nothing."
I'm really not bothered by the people who speak negatively because of his political views. He has been a more consistent conservative in his short political career than let's say Marco Rubio, who I'm convinced could just as easily have been a Democrat if opportunity had knocked. I like the fact that he has been an outspoken critic of the overreaching by the NSA surveillance state, but I'm really turned off by his delusional belief that he is a natural born citizen eligible to run for president. He can't on the one hand argue a strict constructionist viewpoint in interpreting the U.S. Constitution and say that it doesn't matter that he was born in Canada to an American mother and a Cuban father. I understand his ambition and desire to be president, but if he were true to his conservative principles, he would agree that an amendment to the Constitution is required in order to make him eligible to run for president. I do sympathize with him on one big point. Why is it that others like Cruz are placed under a microscope by the media when they stick their heads out to run for president, while anyone daring to question anything about the completely manufactured biographical narrative of Barack Obama as told in his work of fiction, "Dreams From My Father," is immediately dismissed as a bigot and crackpot conspiracy theorist?