Monday, February 27, 2012

Who Made the Indiana Primary Ballot, and Who Didn't

Mike Pence's primary opponent, Jim Wallace, was disallowed because he fell 14 votes shy of the 500 required in each district. His downfall was the Seventh District in Indianapolis, where two-thirds of his 1,282 signatures were rejected, a far greater percentage than in any other district. The challenge to Wallace's Seventh District signatures came from Mitch Roob, former commerce secretary for Gov. Mitch Daniels.

Rick Santorum met a better fate. He fell eight votes short in the Seventh District, but officials discovered eight (exactly eight) that had been "wrongly rejected," allowing Santorum onto the ballot.

Richard Lugar remains on the ballot despite using a farm he sold in the 1970s as his voting residence. However, Attorney General Zoeller said Lugar acted within the law: "If a person has established residency for voting purposes in an Indiana precinct prior to his or her service in Congress, that residence remains the congressperson's residence as long as he or she remains on the business of the state or the United States."

And Barack Obama was challenged by Californian attorney Orly Taitz, the California attorney who is obsessed challenging Obama. She argued that the president's surname isn't really Obama, he isn't a "natural-born citizen," and he has stolen his Social Security number. When the Board unanimously rejected the challenge, Taitz accused them of a "cover up," to which Chairman Dan Dumezich responded that if she was disrespectful one more time, "your butt is going to be gone."

Read more from the Star here.

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Union Seeks Court Ruling to Block RTW Enforcement

The International Union of Operating Engineers Local 150 filed the lawsuit Wednesday in U.S. District Court in Hammond, seeking to prevent enforcement of the "right to work" legislation passed by the Republican-dominated legislature. According to the AP, the union argues the law
"violates the equal protection clause of the U.S. Constitution by treating building and construction workers and public workers differently from others. The law’s provisions regarding construction trades took effect immediately, impairing existing contracts, the union said. Public employees aren’t allowed to opt out of union membership to the same degree as private-sector worker."
Because public employees cannot opt out of union membership as easily private sector employees, public employees are forced to effectively subsidize private employees. The lawsuit also said that the law violated the federal and state constitutional prohibitions against ex post facto laws that retroactively make legal activity illegal. Finally, the Union argues, the law is in conflict with the National Labor Relations Act.

Read the entire Associate Press story here.

Charlie White Sentenced to One Year Home Detention

Today Judge Steve Nation sentenced former Secretary of State Charlie White received one year for each of six felony convictions, to be served concurrently as home detention. He also was ordered to pay a $1,000 fine. Contrary to White's argument that his improper voter registration was an accident, Judge Nation said he considered White’s actions intentional. “Because of what he did, I believe he violated the trust of the people,” Nation said.

Indiana Democrats have already won a judgment in favor of their claim that Democratic candidate Vop Osili should be installed as as Secretary of State because White was not a legal candidate. The Indiana Supreme Court will hear an appeal by White and the Indiana Recount Commission next Wednesday.

Today, White's attorney, Carl Brizzi argued against incarceration for his client "because the crimes committed by White were victimless." But surely the state of Indiana, Hoosier voters, and the state's political system were victims in this sad affair.

Read more from the Indianapolis Star here.

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Joe Donnelly Drops by for Lunch

Rep. Joe Donelly ate a soup-and-sandwich lunch yesterday at Star Lanes with a small group of supporters as part of a "kitchen table" tour of the state for his Senate campaign. As reported by the J&C, he stressed his main campaign themes: "jobs for Hoosiers, tax relief for working families, helping veterans and supporting the Keystone XL oil pipeline project." And he emphasized a fairer tax code: "It makes no sense that some millionaires have a lower tax rate than Lafayette firefighters." Read more here.

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Republican Legislator Opposes Girl Scouts

Republican Bob Morris of Fort Wayne was the only vote against a House bill honoring the Girls Scouts' 100th anniversary because, according to his web research, it is a "radicalized organization" that supports abortion and promotes the "homosexual lifestyle." Moreover, Girl Scouts is a tactical arm of Planned Parenthood, allows transgender females to join and encourages sex. And the fact that Michelle Obama is honorary president "should give each of us reason to pause before our individual and collective endorsement of the organization." He probably won't be buying any cookies either. Read more from the Fort Wayne Journal Gazette here.

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

RTW and Creationism Split Legislators at League Breakfast

Greater Lafayette's League of Women Voters held its annual legislative breakfast on Saturday, an event that heralds the half-way mark of the legislative session. Legislators took questions and reflected on where things stand at the legislature. Coverage by the Journal and Courier is here, and below is WLFI's coverage.

There was surprising unanimity among the legislators except on right to work (where Sheila Klinker was the only opponent) and on the creationism bill. Rep. Tim Brown said his faith as a Christian required him to support it because "man is uniquely made." Rep. Randy Truitt said not only was he not in favor but "I haven't heard from one person who is in favor." Sen. Ron Alting said he voted for the creationism bill to send a message that if you are going to expend public school funds to enable students to attend religious schools with vouchers, then it is only consistent to expend school dollars to teach the religious doctrine of creation. (Senator Alting is a vehement opponent of vouchers.) Rep. Sheila Klinker cited a Methodist minister's advice to teach creation stories as part of English literature.

Locals dine with state representatives:

Senate Candidate Donnelly Visits Lafayette

Rep. Joe Donnelly brought his campaign for the US Senate to Lafayette on Sunday. The 2nd District congressman says his focus "has been putting people back to work every single day." Job creation is what pushed him to join the campaign to unseat Sen. Lugar: "I've been working on the jobs issue for years, and I know how important it is for our entire state to get to good jobs. I thought that some of those things I've been working on in our district I could bring statewide." Read more about Rep. Donnelly's visit here.

Creationism Bill Will Not Advance in the House

Speaker of the House Brian Bosma said today will use procedural mechanism to kill the creationism bill that had passed the Senate. Speaker Bosma explained: “I didn’t disagree with the concept of the bill, but I hesitate to micromanage local curricula. Secondarily, I didn’t think it was prudent to buy a lawsuit the state could ill afford at this point." Note the Speaker's introductory clause: "I didn't disagree . . ."

The Star's Education blogger Scott Elliott notes that the bill threatened Indiana's status as an education reform state:
"Indiana last month was one of just seven states given an A by the Washington, D.C.-based Thomas B. Fordham Institute, which advocates for education reform, for the quality of its science standards. One of the directors of the group that issued that report told the Star any steps by Indiana to weaken the teaching of evolution could threaten that top grade."
Sadly damage to Indiana's reputation among progressive employers has probably already been done as news of the bill spread through the national media. And yet Senator Kruse says he'll probably re-introduce his bill in the next session. Read more here.

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Mayor Roswarski Makes State of the City a Call to Action

Mayor Tony Roswarski's 2012 State of the City address was unusual this year. rather than a listing of accomplishments for the last year, it was an admonition to citizens to give of themselves to improve lives of their fellow citizens: "Tonight is a call to action, a request for everyone to ask and decide: What can I do for my community?" The Journal and Courier reprinted the bulk of his speech as an op-ed, with the endorsement of their editorial board. You can read it here.

Sheila Klinker Will Run Again

Sheila Klinker has announced that she will seek a 16th term as representative for the 27th District. Below is WLFI coverage.

Klinker to run for another term:

John Gregg Comes to Town

John Gregg, Democratic candidate for governor, spent the day in Lafayette yesterday. If Lafayette didn't know it already, they found him smart, funny, humble--features which may distinguish him from his likely Republican opponent. He is also decidedly non-ideological and pragmatic. As Speaker of the House in a time of divided government, he proved himself to be a man who can work with members of both parties to do the State's work.

In his remarks at The Other Pub on Tuesday night he also showed himself to be a man of the people. He objected to the latest educational reforms because they were top-down. Where were the teachers, the parents, the administrators, in this process? he asked. Likewise he believes that economic development doesn't come from Indianapolis or Washington, but is essentially a function of local government, which has been severely damage in our state. And he reiterated his support of working people and his opposition to "right to work."

He emphasized that we need to get past divisive issues and get all the parties working together for the good of the State. "People," he observed, "don't have Democratic problems or republican problems. They just have problems."

Here is Journal and Courier coverage of John's visit. And here is an iPhone video (of poor visual quality but with clear audio) of an friendly dialogue between Sheila Klinker and Speaker Gregg, in which Sheila announces her candidacy.

Saturday, February 4, 2012

White Convicted; Loses Job

Secretary of State Charlie White has been convicted of six felony charges and has been removed from office. Governor Daniels has appointed an interim secretary pending a potential lowering of the charges to misdemeanors. Read Indianapolis Star coverage here.

Thursday, February 2, 2012

NFL Players Union Says No RTW Protest at Superbowl

Though it had spoken out against "right to work" legislation in Indiana, today the NFL Players Association announced that it would not mount a protest at the Superbowl.

NFL union: Super Bowl not the right place for right-to-work fight:

White's Defense Rests Its Case WIthout Calling a Single Witness

Secretary of State Charlie White's defense attorney Carl Brizzi today opted for a risky gambit in his client's trial on seven felony counts: he rested his case without calling a single witness. Regarding this defense strategy, WISH TV reports

Fran Watson, who teaches a criminal defense clinic, said the strategy can work if jurors are unconvinced by the prosecutors' case, but she isn't sure it was wise in White's case. "It is a sound strategy in that it's always the prosecutor's burden to prove the case beyond a reasonable doubt," Watson said. But, she added, "With seven counts, it's a little hard to believe it's going to work."

White would be removed from office if he is convicted on any of the seven charges. Read more from WISH here.

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Senate Passes, Governor Signs, Workers Protest "Right to Work"

The Governor got his wish: a "right to work" bill on his desk before the Superbowl. His desire was to avoid any uncomfortable "bad publicity" for the state as it steps into the world spotlight for a few days. But here's an inconvenient truth for Republicans who ram-rodded this rights-stripping bill through a compliant legislature: those workers, whose livelihoods have been threatened, are marching right on the same streets where Superbowl revelers are gathering--right down Main Street of Superbowl Village! And how likely is it that they'll stop as the world's gaze swings toward Indiana this Sunday?

When the legislature voted to strip workers' rights in Wisconsin, it wasn't over. It wasn't over in Ohio. And placards in the streets of Indianapolis today read, "Remember in November."

Read the Star's coverage here.

Dan Burton Won't Run Again

Rep. Dan Burton of the Indiana Fifth District announced yesterday that he would not seek a seventeenth term in the House. Burton's races have gotten closer in the past few elections, and he was facing significant primary challenges this time out. The Hill recalls highlights from Burton's career:

Burton caucused with the Tea Party and served as chairman of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee in the 1990s, launching repeated probes into then-President Clinton’s campaign finances. Burton was among Clinton’s loudest critics, repeatedly suggesting that Deputy White House Counsel Vince Foster did not commit suicide.

In a now-legendary incident, Burton brought reporters to his backyard, where he shot a pumpkin in an effort to prove that Foster could not have committed suicide. Multiple investigations concluded that Foster did, in fact, kill himself.

The Washington Post recalls that at one point his anti-Clinton investigations had gotten so far out of control that then Speaker Gingrich intervened: "Gingrich told a closed-door meeting of Republicans that the investigation had become 'a circus' and told Burton, 'I’m embarrassed for you."” And, as we've learned, Speaker Gingrich doesn't embarrass easily; indeed, he had Burton campaigning for him in Florida, one of the few Gingrich colleagues who would do so.

Here are retrospectives from The Hill and the Post. For a fuller treatment of Rep. Burton's career, read Great Moments in Dan Burton History from Talking Points Memo.