Wednesday, August 31, 2011

The Bearded Guy in the Tie-Dye Wants to Be Your Governor

The latest potential gubernatorial candidate, Rupert Boneham, says that the current field of candidates doesn't understand the problems average Hoosiers face.  And what is his source of insight into average Hoosiers?  Well, he's been a contestant on Survivor.  Not just any contestant, mind you: he was voted fan favorite in 2004's "Survivor: All-Stars," also demonstrating his electability.  A Libertarian, Boneham did donate a significant portion of his Survivor winnings to create Rupert's Kids, a charitable foundation that provides mentoring and job-training to youths.

Indiana Democratic Chair Dan  Parker welcomes Boneham's candidacy: "It'll be nice to have someone else on the campaign trail who spends all his time in Indiana, not in Washington, D.C."

If the major candidates decide it would be advantageous to have Boneham share the stage with them, perhaps he could negotiate a debate conducted in tie-dyes.  That would be a debate Mike Pence couldn't possibly win.

Here's the AP story on Boneham's candidacy.  And here's his campaign website   

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

State Board of Education Approves Takeover of Four Indiana Schools

Indiana's state Board of Education has unanimously approved a plan presented by the Tony Bennett-led Department of Education by which the administration of Indianapolis four schools will be taken over by the state.  These include Manual, Arlington, and Howe high schools and Emma Donnan Middle School. Two other high schools would receive help from consulting firms. Indiana law allows the state to take over schools after six years of academic probation.

Indianapolis Public Schools Superintendent Eugene White objected that the state has based its analysis based only on one grade and argued that four of the six schools had actually improved over the last six years.  To give you a flavor of the dialogue, the following was reported by the NPR-affiliated StateImpact:
“And I really resent the fact that people can sit there and pretend that we’ve done nothing to make an effort.  We’ve made tremendous efforts and respectively, I want those particular efforts recognized."State superintendent Tony Bennett says the time for such complaints has long been over: “Well, very bluntly, Dr. White’s had two years to talk about fair shakes and share transparent information.  So to come to the board today and say, ‘I’m not getting a fair shake,’ is disingenuous.
Bennett defended the takeover to the Huffington Post: "We are talking about seven of the worst schools in the state of Indiana. These schools have not served children, and it is imperative that the state step in. The answer to meeting accountability metrics is to educate your way above the accountability metrics -- not to litigate your way out of it."  (Can there be any doubt that if this plan were being implemented by Democrats that Republicans would condemn it as a "big government takeover of local schools"?)

Last week the Indianapolis school board voted 4-3 to sue the state if the takeover is approved. Read the Huffington Post coverage here.

In addition the state will take over Roosevelt Career and Technical Academy in Gary; read more about that here.

Monday, August 29, 2011

Mayor Supports Coleman Cable Abatement: "Jobs, Jobs, Jobs"

Mayor Tony Roswarski spoke in favor of a tax abatement being requested by Coleman Cable at a meeting of the Lafayette Redevelopment Commission, which unanimously recommended that the City Council pass.  The plant's expansion will create about 25 new jobs, and, as the Mayor observed, "it's about jobs, jobs, jobs."  The mayor continued "We are very excited about this project and what it means for Lafayette's workforce, and also for the future of Coleman Cable in our community." Read more here.

Sheila Klinker Will Propose Bill to Allow Unopposed Back onto Ballots

Rep. Sheila Klinker wrote an op-ed for the Journal and Courier praising the paper's editorial stance in opposition to the law preventing unopposed candidates from appearing on ballots. Klinker reveals that cost savings on paper ballots were the stated rationale for the bill. She notes that every Democrat in both houses voted against this provision. And she reveals her plan to introduce a bill to counteract the ban on unopposed candidates:
"I plan to sponsor a bill to change this provision when the Indiana General Assembly reconvenes. I invite my Republican colleagues to join me in changing the law so that all candidates are listed on the ballot to enable every voter the right to voice an opinion on who will represent them in government."
Read her entire editorial here.

Sunday, August 28, 2011

CitiBus Energy Initiatives Praised at Turbine Dedication

Sen. Richard Lugar was inspired by the three 150-foot wind turbines that are helping to power CitiBus's operations in Greater Lafayette. "This is not just an experiment, but a reality. It's not just rhetoric, but action," said the senior senator. The turbines, coupled with CitiBus's pioneering use of hybrid buses make it one of the state's most innovative public transportation system. In addition to Sen. Lugar, the dedication also featured Mayor John Dennis of West Lafayette and Lafayette Councilman at large, Ron Campbell. Read more about the dedication of the Citibus wind turbines. here.

Thursday, August 25, 2011

West Lafayette Mayoral Forum

The League of Women Voters and the Wabash Area Lifelong Learning Association (WALLA) will host a forum featuring the two candidates of mayor in West Lafayette, Republican incumbent John Dennis and Democratic challenger John Polles. The forum will be on September 14. Click here for details on the event.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

News Sentinel Editorial Opposes Removal of Unopposed from Ballot

The Fort Wayne News Sentinel has taken an editorial stance opposing the new law that removes unopposed candidates from the ballot. And they quote Heather Maddox in doing so:
One possible effect of the new law is that it “is going to cause a lot of confusion for voters” and puzzle them to the point that turnout might be affected, says Heather Maddox, chairwoman of the Tippecanoe Democratic Party.

Maddox and a lot of other people – including the election officials who have to deal with this change – are more than a little annoyed with the General Assembly for not keeping them abreast of the situation. They should be – they're the ones who will have to answer all those questions from surprised voters.

It goes on to cite the rationale presented by the bill's sponsor Rep. Kathy Richardson, R-Noblesville: “to cut costs and create more efficient ballots.” News Sentinel editors scoff: "Really? The only costs that might be saved – and not that much in savings – would seem to be in places that still use paper ballots, and then only if there are enough uncontested races to reduce the ballots by at least a page."

The editors conclude that legislators must address problems but that it is also important "to know when something is working and to simply leave things alone. This may not be the dumbest piece of legislation to come out of the General Assembly last session, but it will do until the real thing comes along."

Read the whole editorial here.

TSC Teachers Get a Contract--Finally

Tippecanoe School Corporation teachers and the corporation school board have voted on a contract for the county system's teachers, who have been working without a contract for two years. Though accepted almost unanimously by teachers, the contract appears to reflect the current difficult situation of Indiana public schools. It is the first contract negotiated under the new rules of the road established by Senate Enrolled Act 575, which limits negotiations for teachers to issues of compensation, effectively removing such issues as class size from contract negotiations. "It's very much more of a streamlined process due to the limited scope," said TSC Superintendent Scott Hanback.

Don Thompson, UniServ director for the Indiana State Teachers Association, noted that many issues, such as the number of days worked or RIF procedures, will now have to be worked out in other contexts, and perhaps lawsuits: "There are going to be a whole lot of issues we used to have resolved which now may not be resolved and will be put into question again. That means we may have to revisit issues that might have been contentious 20 years ago."

Read more on the contract and negotiations from the J&C here.

Monday, August 22, 2011

2011-12 School Year Starts with Vouchers in Place

The start of school this year is the first time in which the Republican voucher program has been draining tax payer dollars away from public schools into religious and other private schools. Democrats and educators sought an injunction against the law arguing that it undermines public schools and illegally supports religious institutions. Their injunction was rejected by Marion Superior Court Judge Michael Keele, who wrote that the law is "religion-neutral and was enacted 'for the benefits of students', not religious institutions or activities." The J&C reports that 57 students in Tippecanoe County have left public schools in favor of religious ones. All but six of the 247 schools that are participating in the voucher program statewide this year are religious. Obviously, there's nothing wrong with religious education, but is shifting tax dollars away from public schools to support it the best way to advance education in Indiana? Read more about the voucher program here.

Outfest Celebrates Lafayette Diversity

The fourth annual Outfest celebration last weekend was a testament to diversity and acceptance in our community. About 6,000 attended a wide variety of events designed to to raise awareness of the gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender and intersex community in an atmosphere of fun and sharing. Tippecanoe Democrats participated with a table setup, and, chairperson Heather Maddox spoke briefly. You can read more about Outfest here.

Sunday, August 21, 2011

President's Weekly Address, 8/20/11

From a farm in the Midwest, President Obama talks about the determination and integrity of the American people and calls on Congress to put aside their differences to grow the economy.

J&C Editorial Says Ballot Should Include Unopposed

The editors of the Journal and Courier voiced their opinion that unopposed candidates should continue to appear on election ballots. They ask the obvious question raised by the law: "How can a mayor -- say, Lafayette's Tony Roswarski -- be re-elected if he receives no votes? Shouldn't he at least have to face the voters?" They observe that the percentage of votes cast that an unopposed candidate receives says something significant about about the candidate's support. The editors suggest that if this is a cost saving measure, the state could find more effective means than leaving people off the ballot. You can read the entire op-ed here.

You can also see a J&C Rapid Response of local people on this issue here. County Party Chair Heather Maddox is quoted: "This is something that should be left up to local election boards to decide -- yet another case of a one-size-fits-all approach when there should not be one." Most of the opinions are in favor of including all candidates.

Thursday, August 18, 2011

New Law Keeps Unopposed Candidates Off the Ballot

Mayor Tony Roswarski and City Clerk Cindy Murray will not appear on the ballot this November--not because they've changed their minds about running for re-election, but because a new state law says that no election will be held for uncontested offices.  Somehow most everyone seems to have overlooked the passage of this law dring the last session.  Election officials fear that denying people the opportunity to vote for their favorite office holders will depress turnout.  Mayor Roswarski speculates on the WLFI video below, that some unopposed candidates will stop campaigning altogether. 

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

White's Criminal Trail Delayed, Again

Secretary of State Charlie White has won a second delay in his criminal trial on seven felony counts related to voter fraud. This time it's because he's added a new attorney to his team, Carl Brizzi. So how long can White keep on deferring the judicial process by adding or subtracting lawyers? State Democratic Party Chair Dan Parker considers White a "laughingstock" and said White should have resigned so his office's reputation wouldn't be tarnished: "All of this has impacted the functioning of his office because he has no credibility. The secretary of state's office is not going to be taken seriously until Charlie White is out of it." The trial is now scheduled to start January 30, which, as the Indy Star observes, "would be more than a year after White took office under a cloud of allegations of voter fraud, theft and perjury." Read more from the Star here.

Sunday, August 14, 2011

President's Weekly Address, 8/13/2011

The President used his weekly address to turn up the heat on Congress to set partisanship aside, put country before party, and to do whatever we can to create jobs.

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

French Lick Gathering

Indiana Democrats annual get-together in French Lick starts Thursday, August 26 and runs through Saturday, August 28. There are golf outings, a 5K run, caucus meetings, and lots of hanging out with Democrats. You can see a schedule of events here.

Monday, August 8, 2011

Lafayette Mayoral Campaign Makes USA Today

USA Today thought that Lafayette Republicans' decision not to run an opponent against Mayor Roswarski was significant enough to run it in their state news section. You can read the USA Today coverage here.

Saturday, August 6, 2011

Pence Plans to Cut State Taxes

Breaking his promise not to discuss policy until next May, Republican gubernatorial candidate Mike Pence hauled out the old GOP all-purpose mantra and said he would cut Indiana income tax rates if elected. According to the AP story, with the state's economy still tenuous, Pence proposes to cut "the state's individual and corporate tax rates reduced to 3 percent. The state's individual tax rate is now 3.4 percent and the corporate rate is 8.5 percent. He also said he would like to repeal Indiana's estate tax." This will cost at least $1 billion.

Note that your individual taxes would decrease by about 12 percent while corporate taxes would decline by about 65 percent. No doubt it will be argued that it's only "fair" that individual taxes and corporate taxes should be equal.

State Democratic Party chair Dan Parker said, "Today, (Pence) decided to haphazardly throw out his first proposal of the campaign, and it's exactly the kind of thing a Washington insider would propose: cutting taxes with no way to pay for it."

Democratic candidate John Gregg was circumspect: "I think Hoosiers want to know if (Pence's plan) is fiscally responsible. Is it fiscally prudent? Is it fiscally conservative?" Gregg said any tax cut passing those tests would be like ice cream: he doesn't know of any Hoosier, living or dead, who wouldn't want it. Read more from AP here and from WRTV here.

President's Weekly Address, 8/6/2011

President Obama used his weekly address to talk about steps that cab taken immediately to create jobs and improve the economy.

Friday, August 5, 2011

Without an Opponent, Mayor Roswarski Will Campaign for His Team

With the deadline of tomorrow looming for Republicans to name a candidate for mayor of Lafayette, it appears that Mayor Roswarski will be unopposed in the fall. The mayor sees that as a positive: "What I hope that means is that the citizens of Lafayette are happy with what we're doing, that there is this general sense that they are happy with their city service.” Despite the lack of an opponent, the Mayor intends to be there for his leadership team: "We'll continue to campaign. We're running as a team.”

Lafayette mayor may not face opponent:

Thursday, August 4, 2011

President Obama's 50th Birthday

"You know, I feel real good about 5-0. Obviously, I've gotten a little grayer since I took this job, but otherwise I feel pretty good. And Michelle, you know, says that she still thinks I'm cute—and I guess that's all that matters, isn't it?”—President Obama on turning 50 today.

You can sign a special 50th birthday card for the President here.

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Gregg Will Focus on Rebuilding Indiana's Manufacturing Base

John Gregg, whose campaign moved from the exploratory phase as he filed as an official candidate, says he will focus on rebuilding Indiana's manufacturing base if elected as governor. "We've got to a manufacturing base, we have a workforce that knows how to work in manufacturing, we've got building space. You have to go out and actively pursue [manufacturers]." Read more from CBS Moneywatch here.

Monday, August 1, 2011

Debt Ceiling Vote Clears House; Creates Strange Bedfellows

The House of Representatives has passed a debt ceiling bill by a vote of 269-161. Democrats split on the bill, 95 - 95. The Indiana delegation voted 5 to 4 against. Here's how the Indiana delegation went:

No–Burton (R), Carson (D), Rokita (R), Stutzman (R), Visclosky (D)

Yes-Buschon (R), Donnelly (D), Pence (R), Young (R)

This vote made for some strange political bedfellows. Something is funny when Andre Carson and Pete Visclosky are on the same side as Dan Burton and Todd Rokita. Same with Joe Donnelly and Mike Pence.

You can read more at Howey Politics here.