Thursday, September 29, 2011

Democrat Dale Grubb Won't Seek Re-election

Rep. Dale Grubb of Covington will not seek re-election to his seat in House District 42 which covers all or portions of Warren, Vermillion, Vigo, Fountain and Parke counties. He had held the seat since 1988. He had a reputation as a legislator who could reach across the aisle. Sheila Klinker said of Grubb, "He was one in a million and he was a very sincere, honest man with a real desire to help people. We are going to miss his integrity and his care."

Here is coverage of his retirement from the J&C.

Indianapolis Mayoral Candidates Debate

Incumbent Republican mayor Greg Ballard and Democratic challenger Melina Kennedy held their first of four debates on Wednesday night. Jim Shella thinks Melina Kennedy put Ballerd on the defense came out ahead; read his analysis here.

Saturday, September 24, 2011

Suit Filed to Restore Full Ballot

Yesterday a lawsuit was filed to countermand the new law that prevents unopposed candidates from appearing on the ballot. In Tippecanoe County eight unopposed candidates in Lafayette and West Lafayette municipal races would be excluded from the ballot (county and state races are not covered by the law).

The suit was filed on behalf of filed suit on behalf of Lafayette Mayor Tony Roswarski, West Lafayette Clerk-treasurer Judy Rhodes, Tippecanoe County Republican Party Chairman Bob Hicks, Tippecanoe County Democratic Chairwoman Heather Maddox and voters Mike Smith and Tracy Walder. The suit follows an unsuccessful petition of the county Election Board to include all candidates. "This is our only remedy left to try to get it corrected in time for our election, so the voters of Lafayette are not disenfranchised ... because of where they live," Mayor Roswarski said. Tippecanoe County Circuit Court Judge Don Daniels will set a date for the hearing.

Lake, Monroe, Allen and Wayne counties have already taken action to include all candidates on their ballots. Leaders in both state legislative branches have said they will seek repeal of the law in the next session, but that will occur long after the November election.

Local voter Mike Smith, a party to the suit, asks a fundamental question about the law: "How can someone be elected if they are not on the ballot?"

Read more from the Journal and Courier here and from WLFI here.

Friday, September 23, 2011

Republican Leaders Vow to Roll Back Ballot Law in the Next Session

The Republican leaders of the Indiana House and Senate both concede that the law is a poor one (which begs the question of why they let it become law). Senate President Pro Tem David Long told the Fort Wayne Journal Gazette “I think names ought to be on the ballot whether or not you have an opponent, period. People ought to know who they are electing. The intention (to save money) was good, but voting is a fundamental responsibility. It goes to the heart of our republic.”

Speaker of the House Brian Bosma said, "We need a historical record of elections. It’ll be on my list of things to remedy next year.” (That would be after this November's elections.) He admitted the provision "slipped by people; it certainly did me. It was tucked in a big bill." Oops. Is it appropriate to suggest that legislative leaders were asleep at the wheel on this one?

Read more from the Journal Gazette here.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Elections Board Opts Not to Vote on Ballot Banishment of the Unopposed

The county Elections Board blinked today and didn't bring a vote on a proposal to include all candidates on county ballots, ignoring a law passed by the last legislature apparently preventing unopposed candidates from appearing on the ballot. Evidently the proposal could not find a second, so no vote was held.

Mayor Roswarski is not giving up resisting the law: "I think it's one of those things that's so egregious that you stand up and you do what you think is right." Which in this case means filing to seek an injunction with Tippecanoe County Circuit Court for a ballot that includes all eight unopposed candidates. The mayor expects to file by Friday. Read more about the Mayor's plans here.

In the meantime Rep. Randy Truitt indicated to WLFI that those who voted for the provision in an election reform bill weren't fully aware of all the bill's provisions. (Is that really okay? Shouldn't legislators actually know what their voting for?) Truitt and Sheila Klinker both expect the provision to be removed from Indiana law in the next session. WLFI's coverage is below.

Lawmakers likely to address new ballot law:

Back at the paper, Dave Bangert writes a wonderfully angry column about the confusion that will ensue among voters and the Election Board's unwillingness to act:
The new law, they said, is the new law. No matter how off the mark it is. No matter how it tosses another bucket of sand on a fizzling fire of reasons for voters to care. No matter how such a fundamental change to our elections passed the General Assembly with barely a mention, let alone a debate. No matter how many legislators said they screwed up and planned to fix the surprising rule next year. No matter how many other counties -- four so far -- have decided the law is too vague to trump an Indiana Constitution that demands "all elections by the people shall be by ballot." No matter how a judge in Wayne County scoffed at the provision and told the election board there: All skate.
Read Bangert's entire column here.

You get the impression this one is a long way from over.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

The End of Don't Ask, Don't Tell

Today was the day that ended the policy called "don't ask, don't tell," which for nearly twenty years allowed gays to serve their country in the armed services only if they concealed their true nature. About 14,000 gay and lesbian Americans were removed from the service under the provisions of the rule.

Today that is finished. In a statement President Obama said, "As of today, patriotic Americans in uniform will no longer have to lie about who they are in order to serve the country they love. As of today, our armed forces will no longer lose the extraordinary skills and combat experience of so many gay and lesbian service members. . . . Today, every American can be proud that we have taken another great step toward keeping our military the finest in the world and toward fulfilling our nation’s founding ideals."

Today was a good day, like any day in which freedom is enlarged, human dignity is affirmed, and justice is enacted.

You can read the President's entire statement at the Huffington Post here.

New Scanning Technology Will Speed Voting Lines

Tippecanoe County's Board of Elections has announced the addition of some new scanning technology that will help speed voting and reduce waits.  Here is WLFI coverage.

New technology will make voting easier:

Sunday, September 18, 2011

J&C Editors Support "Sidestep" on Ballot Law

The editorial board of the Journal and Courier has come out strongly in favor of Tippecanoe County Democratic chair Heather Maddox's request to the county election board to, as the editorial puts it, "sidestep a misguided state law that nixes the names of unopposed candidates on ballot."  And it supports her appeal to her Republican counterpart, county chair Bob Hicks, to join her: "If Bob Hicks, Republican Party chairman in Tippecanoe County, doesn't sign on to this effort, voters will have a right to ask: Why not?"

The editors call this a "no-brainer" for the election board:
"At least four other counties - Allen, Monroe, Wayne and Lake - are putting all candidates' names on the Nov. 8 ballot. In Wayne County, a judge found what election boards in the other counties figured out: The new law is ambiguous at best, despite state election officials' insistence that it constitutes a mandate. Tippecanoe County should be on that leading edge of telling the state just how off base it is this time."
You can read the entire editorial here.

Analysis of Polles vs Dennis

J&C columnist Dave Bangert offers an in-depth analysis of the challenges facing Democrat John Polles in running against Republican incumbent mayor John Dennis.  Bangert quotes Polles' own assessment of his situation:

"He almost seems to me by design or by happenstance to be completely noncontroversial, above the fray. And he's a really nice guy. People say, 'No controversy. The city's running just fine.' And that's the issue: I don't think the city is running just fine. I think part of that is that the administration isn't engaged. You avoid controversy by not being involved."
 Or, as Bangert puts it, the incumbent mayor "has been particularly good, on heated issues, at leaving vapor trails that tend to fade."

You can read Bangert's entire column here.  Kudos to the Journal and Courier for assigning Dave Bangert to write in-depth on local issues.  We look forward to his reporting.

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Indiana 48th in Voter Turnout

This piece appeared in the Journal Courier today:

INDIANAPOLIS - A new study of civic health finds Indiana ranked 48th among the states in 2010 voter turnout.

The Indiana Civic Health Index says the turnout rate in last year's midterm election was 39.4 percent, 6 percentage points lower than the national average. The study measured midterm election turnout as one gauge of civic health.

The study released Wednesday found Indiana's voter registration rate was 43rd, at 61.2 percent. That compares with a national voter registration rate of 65.1 percent.

This is probably no accident.  Republicans have installed some of the country's most restrictive voting laws designed to discourage certain voters who tend to vote Democratic--when they're allowed to.

Democrats need to approach these statistics as a challenge to turn out the vote!

Lively Debate Between WL Mayoral Candidates

Last night's debate between Republican incumbent mayor John Dennis and Democratic contender John Polles was a lively one, with Polles challenging Mayor Dennis on such issues as lack of mayoral involvement in the Wang Hall controversy and filling the space left by Borders in Wabash Landing. Polles also criticized the way money has been taken out of dedicated city accounts to meet operational costs, such as funds from the redevelopment commission being used to purchase city vehicles. You can read more about the debate from the J&C here. Sadly, there was no audio or video recording of the event itself, but the J&C did offer a running commentary which is available with the story on its website.

Monday, September 12, 2011

West Lafayette Mayoral Forum

Don't miss the West Lafayette Mayoral Forum sponsored by WALLA and the Greater Lafayette League of Women Voters, this Wednesday, September 14, at Morton Community Center, 222 N Chauncey Ave, West Lafayette, in the Multi-Purpose room. It will begin at 7 p.m. The forum will feature Republican Mayor John Dennis and Democratic Mayoral Candidate John Polles and will be moderated by Jeff Smith, news anchor/director of WLFI-TV 18. Questions will be submitted by the audience to a joint panel. These two groups are known for putting on an excellent, informative, forum-you won't want to miss it!!

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Remembering 9/11

On this tenth anniversary of the 9/11 attacks on the United States we look to our elected leaders for solace, direction, and inspiration.

President Obama marks the tenth anniversary of the September 11th attacks and pays tribute to the first responders, those serving our nation in the military, and those who lost their lives on that tragic day.

President Obama reads Psalm 46 at the Ground Zero ceremony in New York this morning.

Vice President Biden speaks at Pentagon memorial

Vice President Biden honors the Flight 93 memorial in Shanksville, Pennsylvania.

President Obama speaks on American resiliency at "A Concert for Hope" at the Kennedy Center in Washington, D.C.

Friday, September 9, 2011

President's Address to Congress on Jobs

In case you missed it last night, here is President Obama's address presenting the American Jobs Act to a joint session of Congress.

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

President's Labor Day Address

Here is President Obama's Labor Day speech at a GM plant in Detroit in front of a union-friendly crowd. This is what he said about the contributions of organized labor:
"I also want to talk about the work you’ve been doing for decades: Work to make sure that folks get an honest day’s pay for an honest day’s work. Work to make sure that families get a fair shake. The work you've done that helped build the greatest middle class the world has ever known. I’m talking about the work that got us a 40-hour workweek and weekends, and paid leave and pensions, and the minimum wage and health insurance, and Social Security and Medicare -- the cornerstones of middle-class security. That's because of your work. If you want to know who helped lay these cornerstones of an American middle class you just have to look for the union label. That’s the bedrock this country is built on."
It's good to see the President Obama in full campaign mode, sounding very much like Candidate Obama.

Monday, September 5, 2011

Happy Labor Day

In a year when labor's rights to collective bargaining are being challenged across the nation and right here in Indiana, let's be sure to celebrate this Labor Day in its true spirit: honoring the men and women who are the backbone of this country. In Wisconsin, Ohio, and Indiana we have seen that challenges to workers rights have served as a wake up call to all of us and a rallying point for the upcoming elections cycle. Labor, and its unions, have created the middle class in America, and we must vote,and encourage others to vote, to ensure that the interests of workers remain foremost for this country.

You can read the J&C's coverage of the picnic here. Below is Channel 18's coverage of the annual Labor Day picnic in Columbian Park.

Union workers have Labor Day picnic:

Presdient's Weekly Address, 9/3/2011

President Obama calls on Congress to pass a clean extension of the transportation bill to keep America moving and avoid costing nearly one million workers their jobs.