Monday, August 29, 2011

Rupert Boneham Forms Exploratory Committee for Governor's Race

Rupert Boneham, famous for his appearances on TV's Survivor, may be interested in an even bigger starring role. Rupert just put up a new website that says he has formed an exploratory committee to consider a Gubernatorial run in Indiana.

From that website:

I have formed an exploratory committee to evaluate becoming a candidate for Governor of Indiana. I hope to make a final decision in the coming weeks, but wanted to take time to discuss my decision with family. friends and the community that has so graciously supported Rupert's Kids.

I have spent my entire adult life serving my community and I see an opportunity to make a difference for Indiana. While surveying the current choices for our next Governor, I do not see anyone that has an understanding of what daily life is like for many Hoosiers nor anyone who appears to understand the harm that misguided government policies are doing to our communities. It is obvious that career politicians are not the answer because they are often the problem. I will be evaluating whether or not hardworking Hoosiers are ready for a new voice with new ideas.

While I may be best known for my time spent on the television show Survivor, I feel my greatest achievement has been working with troubled youth through my non-profit charity, Rupert's Kids. With Rupert's Kids we have successfully taken youth with troubled pasts and given them a sense of purpose and self worth while opening a world of opportunity to them. By helping them become confident and productive members of society they learn the value of eduction and a strong work ethic.

I have operated my charity for over 20 years without government handouts. Over time, it has become more difficult to help people because of government red tape and roadblocks. This has prompted my decision to explore bringing back the principles of hard work and self-reliance to Hoosier government.

Just as I have shown our youth these principles, I think it's time that someone in the political sphere discusses them as well.

I'll be spending the next several weeks talking to Hoosiers while I explore the idea of launching a campaign that will discuss solutions instead of bureaucratic reforms and platitudes. We can do better to ensure that every person in our state has the opportunity to reach their full potential.

Life is good. Be You. Give Back.

Outside of Survivor, Boneham, as stated,  has long been involved in his own organization, Rupert's Kids. Rupert's Kids is a charitable organization that teaches youth, especially those too old to be considered for many youth programs, but also too young to be considered an adult, how to be responsible for their actions and how to grow into better people on their own. Respectably, Rupert's Kids has never taken any government funding.

His entrance into the political world may come as a surprise to most. The hints have been there for a while, though. Several months ago, a Facebook page popped up titled "Rupert for Governor?" Initial speculation was that it was just a random fan's page.

This summer, though, Rupert made appearances at the Libertarian Party booth at several of Indiana's many summer festivals, including Indy Pride.

To look at Rupert, you'd assume any political thoughts were a joke. He's certainly not one with a traditional politician's look. To hear him speak, though, is enough to make you think again. Boneham proves himself to be an elequent and well-informed speaker.  Despite the "rough around the edges" appearance, Rupert's speeches make it clear he has a genuine clue what can be done to improve the Hoosier State.

The next few weeks are bound to be interesting.  I'm sure the media, both locally and nationally, will zoom in on this unique race.  Many comparisons will be made between Rupert and Jesse Ventura.  While they are drastically different people, the most important question will be "Can Rupert win?"  That is a question that only time can answer.  It's gonna be a fun ride for sure, though, between now and Novemeber 2012.  I'm looking forward to it.

Sunday, August 28, 2011

Thousands of Students Take Advantage of Voucher Program, Mostly Go to Catholic Schools

Indianapolis Business Journal, among many other sources, is reporting that some 3,200 students have taken advantage of Indiana's new school voucher program. More of those students are going to Catholic schools than to any other destination.

The move takes place the first school season after Indiana's legislature passed bold new school voucher laws that make some of the most aggressive changes in the nation. Supporters say the plan allows parents to pick the best education for their children, despite their personal economic situation. Opponents complain that the vouchers remove money from the public school system and may violate the separation of church and state.

With so many vouchers heading the way of parochial schools, those complaints about the church and state issues would appear to have some validity. Supporters, though, say it has little to do with the parochial nature of the mostly Catholic schools. They argue that it is because most parochial schools are better established and have standards more in line with what parents expect than other private schools do.

The argument of church vs state does not always add up. While it may be a valid argument, it feels like most of those using it do so to prevent money from leaving their beloved public schools, rather than to prevent some injection of religion into our government spending. If it was truly about separation of church and state, then the voucher opponents should be strong supporters of increasing the size of the charter school system. To the contrary, though, you find opponents of both charters and vouchers to be mostly the same people.

This first wave of students heading to private schools is bound to be only a small portion of the number of vouchers we see used in the coming years. As parents become more aware of the program's existence and how to use it, I fully expect this number to jump up greatly.

The real test will be the program's performance, of course. Watching same-student test results over the next few years is going to be very telling about how much difference a school can make.  Is it the child? How the child is raised? The neighborhood? The school? I suspect we will find all are factors, but for the first time we will have some reliable statistics to back either side of the argument with.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Bosma Calls for Hinkle's Resignation, Hinkle Says He Won't Run Again

Phil Hinkle
Following the craigslist scandal that has gotten so much attention, even from the national late night talk show circuit (via Conan O'Brien), State Representative Phil Hinkle has announced he will not seek another term, says the Indy Star

 Many news sources in town are breaking the story the Speaker of the House Brian Bosma has called for Hinkle's resignation.  The Star is saying that a written Hinkle statement is giving the impression that Hinkle decided after last year's election, though, that he would not be running again.

From the Star:

-->>"As for 2012, we, as a family, decided back in December after the 2010 election, that I would not be seeking another term," Hinkle said in a written statement.

Speaker Bosma

Hinkle's announcement that he will serve out his term came as the Speaker of the Indiana House called this morning for him to step down.

"We have a lot of compassion for Phil and his family," Speaker Brian Bosma, R-Indianapolis, said. "But the right thing for him to do is to step down, and he needs to do it. It is absolutely the right thing for him and his family, and it's the right thing for the institution."

Bosma said Hinkle couldn't be removed from the House but that he would begin the process of removing Hinkle from committees he leads. Of Hinkle's decision to serve out his term, Bosma said: "I really don't know how he does that."<<--

Here's some other links to current coverage around the City.

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Coleman Raises $65K in One Weekend

Indianapolis City-County Councillor Ed Coleman has had a great couple of days. This weekend, between a large donation from the Libertarian National Committee and donations from several other donors, Ed was able to raise approximately $65,000.

Ed is currently an At-Large councillor for Indianapolis who was elected as a Republican, but switched to the Libertarian Party after becoming disgusted with the internal workings of the local Republican leadership. He is running as a District 24 candidate this year.

From the Libertarian Party of Indiana's release in the subject's

-->>This is not just a game-changer for my race, but also for the entire Libertarian Party," said Councilor Ed Coleman. "We hope this serves as a signal to all elected Republicans and Democrats that standing on principle doesn't mean campaigning alone. The party of principle will work to help elect and re-elect Libertarians to make true change in the political arena. I would like to thank the LNC for recognizing this opportunity, and stepping up to keep the libertarian message moving forward."<<--

The donations obviously springboard Coleman into the realm of money that the two major parties may deal with regularly, but is uncommon among local third-party candidates. Even among the major parties, this kind of funding is uncommon in district council races, where $10-15 thousand is more the norm. His opponent, for example, most recently reported $4,000 raised, with $1,000 in debt.

If Coleman can use the  money to help himself achieve victory in November, the consequences will go well beyond just his race and local county politics.

With a Coleman victory this fall, libertarian-leaning Republicans and Democrats will have proof that switching to the Libertarian Party does not equal political suicide. Such switches, if they can remain viable candidates, will become more common across the nation. Membership in the LP could swell and much more money could be raised.

Make no mistake, a Coleman victory this November could be the biggest thing to ever happen to the third-party Libertarians. And it just became a whole lot more possible.

Coleman website

Libertarian Party

Libertarian Party of Indiana

UPDATE- corrected link to Coleman site.

Ron Paul's Website Attacked During Online Fundraiser

Libertarian-leaning presidential contender and congressman Dr. Ron Paul (R-TX) turned 76 years old yesterday. As part of his birthday celebration, Dr. Paul and his campaign team decided to hold a "money-bomb," or day-long online fundraising push.

The congressman has had extraordinary success with money-bombs in the past, and has them regularly. He was the first candidate in U.S. history to raise one million dollars in a day via the internet.

His goal for yesterday's birthday money-bomb was an aggressive $1.5 million. Not surprisingly, he was making great strides towards that goal as the day progressed.

Then came the devastating news from Paul's campaign. At approximately 10:40pm Eastern, the Ron Paul Facebook page posted the following status update:

"The website is under cyber attack. Our team is working to fix this as we speak. So sorry to all who have tried to make donations and could not. We'll have more info ASAP."

Speculation as to the cause and source if the web failure began quickly circulating the internet. Some were saying that the website's servers simply couldn't handle the traffic (something this author doubts do to the large number of successful money-bombs Paul has had in the past). Others speculated that the attacker was some Republican that wanted to slow Paul's recent successes. (A little more reasonable of a theory, since Paul is often considered a radical to ignore within his own party, but has had many recent positive movements in his campaign.)

The truths is, it doesn't matter who the attacker is. It could be someone just out to make a name for themselves in the hacker world. Or, as earlier stated, there may be no attacker at all.

The site was finally up and going before midnight, and the site announced they were extending the money-bomb until noon today to allow a chance to donate to those that could not.

By the time midnight struck, the money-bomb had raised $1.49 million of their $1.5 million goal. Because there's some extra time on the clock now, the campaign has increased the goal to $1.75 million.

Saturday, August 20, 2011

A Rant - The Bidding Starts at $60 Million (and other things I just don't get about mega-lawsuits)

Here we are, only days after the tragic collapse of an Indiana State Fair stage that has now claimed six lives and injured dozens more. The crumpled heap of metal and tarps and lights still lay on the infield of the Fairgrounds' dirt track. The memorial of flowers still grows just outside the Grandstand's entrance gates. The 2011 Indiana State Fair still has two days of Midway and livestock and deep-fried Kool-Aid to deal with before wrapping it up till next year.

Yep, we're really not that far past the tragedy yet. But the first of the lawsuits about the collapse have already started to roll in. One asks for $60 million. That's a whole lotta dough. It makes me wonder what the family will do with it if it is awarded to them. I doubt the pain of the death will vanish. Who knows, maybe it helps.

I just don't understand mega-lawsuits like this. I never have. I think they harm free enterprise and society. I feel like they do little to help the family's grieving process, and it's done by selling out the dead.

Where did the $60 million number come from? Was $1 million not enough? Why not $10 million?

We don't even know what happened yet. No cause has been determined. No investigation has been completed. (In fact, one of the lawsuits promises to slow that process by asking the heap to remain untouched for now.) There is no way to know who, if anybody other than Mother Nature, is responsible for what happened. No one yet to accurately blame.

But the lawsuits come anyway. They don't seem to care who is really to blame. They'll just blame everybody. And ask for their money. Lots and lots of it.

Some insurance companies will have to write some large checks. The taxpayers will surely foot big chunks of the bill. A business or two may cease to exist.

The bidding opened at $60 million. That's just the starting point. Over the next several months we will see a lot more lawsuits filed. Some will ask for more. Some will ask for less.

How much is really needed? Cover hospital bills? Sure. Cover final expenses? Yep. Cover time away from work? Of course.

But how do you calculate how much more is needed? How much is all this really worth? Why $60 million?

I've never had a lawyer knock on my door and say, "I'm sorry about your recent tragedy. I can make you very rich from it, though." I never want to. But if something like this did happen to me, I'd hope I could tell the lawyer to go to hell. It'd be hard to, in the face of riches, I'm sure. But I'd hope I could keep my resolve.

Pay my costs and throw in a little extra for the trouble, and allow me to live the rest of my life without the guilt of feeling like I sold out my loved one's death. That's how I'd like to think I'd handle it. I never want to know.

Am I wrong, here?

Lawsuits Start in State Fair Tragedy

The Star and RTV6 are this morning both reporting that the first lawsuits have been filed in the State Fair stage collapse tragedy.

The RTV6 story indicates the lawsuit, filed on behalf of Tammy VanDam, who was killed in the tragedy, is asking for an injunction to preserve all evidence.

The Star's story's headline indicates it is asking for $60 million in damages. That story is currently accompanied with a non-functioning web link, at least for mobile devices, so I can't follow up.

Except to start seeing a lot more of this. Nearly everyone involved will be filing lawsuits in the coming months. They will fill our news for some time.

UPDATE - Found a working link to the Star's story via author Jon Murray's Twitter account and added it.

Friday, August 19, 2011

Unopposed Candidates No Longer Will Appear On Ballots

The news teams at RTV6 and The Indy Star have been covering a story by  The Lafayette Journal & Courier about a new law in Indiana that will remove from ballots both the name of unopposed candidates and the offices they are running for.

The law, which went into effect July 1st, states that, "an election may not be held for a municipal office if there is only one nominee for the office."  The result, which many are now saying was unintentional, is that a race for an office that is unopposed no longer exists to voters.  When we step into the booth, we will have no indication that the office is even up for election.

The purpose of the law was apparently to save a few pennies by making ballots shorter.  If you know me, you know I'm all about saving some taxpayer money.  This is not a good way to go about that, though.  The very, very small amount of money that will be saved is simply not worth it.  These few pennies will only create confusion among voters, and add a level of invisibility to our elected officials.

Voters walking into booths this fall expecting to see every council and mayor race will be faced with confusion when the races they may be there to vote on are not on the ballot.  I expect the confusion created among many voters, and the resulting questions, will end up greatly slowing down the voting process for all involved.  Even if you know what to expect when you step into the chute, the voter in front of you in line may not.  Now we'll all have to wait a little longer while the election officials sort this all out with voters.

Of course, we as citizens have every right to full disclosure about who is representing us.  A large part of that can come from their name on the ballot.  Even if unopposed, every voter should be allowed to see the name of the person that is going to be filling the office for the next term.  Removing those names adds a level of invisibility that I am not comfortable with.

Finally, I feel every voter should have the right to vote for or not vote for every single candidate on the ballot.  Voting is about more than simply picking elected officials.  It is about making a statement.  Voters should be able to make a statement, even in an unopposed race, that they either support or do not support the person who will be sworn in.

From the Lafayette Courier & Journal Story:

-->Peggy Mayfield, clerk in Morgan County and legislative liaison for the Indiana Association of County Clerks, said the wording of the bill as passed is different than she thought it would be.

The association championed the change, but when discussing the idea last spring Mayfield's understanding was that it would only negate ballot names and offices when there were no contested races in a district.

"This is not what we expected as the result, but that's what happened," Mayfield said.<--

I hope that she's right, and this is not at all what was intended.  If so, the Legislature can step in and correct it with little or no opposition in the next session.

I am confused about Mayfield's statement, though, that she thought this law would only take effect on ballots where NO races had opposition.  I highly doubt there are too many of those that exist, Peggy.  It sounds to me like you're backpedaling.

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Hotel Workers Flood Council for Tax Rebate Bill

I went to last night's City-County Council Meeting. I wanted to see the Mayor introduce the budget and I wanted to see how the vote went on Prop 188. I never got to do the former.

See, it was standing room only at the meeting last night. Less than standing room only. A sea of red shirts completely flooded not only the council chambers, but also the entire second floor entry area to those chambers. The Fire Marshall's capacity notice for the room, if I recall correctly, states the room can hold no more than 275. I'm pretty sure the chambers were well past that number. (In the wake of the State Fair tragedy, I wonder what the fallout would have been if something terrible would have happened in that packed room.)

The hundreds of red shirts represented a segment of the hotel workers in Indianapolis that were there to support the introduction of Proposal 242, a tax rebate for the city's employees in that industry. Not just any of the employees, but just those making between $10,000 and $25,000 annually.

The hotel workers' point is that many of these hotels are getting a tax break to make money in the city, and if the hotels get a piece then so should the hotel employees.

The tax break would come in the form of a rebate that would be somewhere between $200 and $250 per year. A decent little check for someone making less than $25,000. Abdul-Hakim Shabazz points out that this equals about 54 cents a day, and is thus not worth fighting for. His math is right, but when you make that kind of money $200 is worth fighting for.

You may think I'm saying I support 242. You'd be wrong. You see, I fully support lower taxes and the increased economic freedom they bring. But I also support economic freedom for all, not just some, as well as drastically simplified tax codes. Proposals like 242 carve out yet another exemption to a specific group and add another layer of confusion to an already multi-faceted mess of tax laws out there.

Hotel workers, you've got the right idea. Lets get the government to allow us to keep more of what we earn. You're going about it wrong, though. We need to eliminate these carve-outs for specific industries, companies, and people and focus on a big carve-out for us all.

The Sinking Ship Survives

First, I won't make the "Sinking Ship Stays Afloat" joke that it appears every other source will.

Good news, though. The Sinking Ship was unanimously approved for its liquor license renewal despite some residents in the Meridian Kessler neighborhood's objections. Only one showed up to yesterday's hearing to object.

I've always thought that this was less about the business itself and more about the patrons. Tattoos and body piercing are the norm there, and I think some people would rather see a place frequented by those in golf shirts and khakis.

I have no tattoos or piercings. I still like The Sinking Ship, though. Cool place with a good menu. I'm glad she's staying open.

Follow the link for more on this from the indystar.

Monday, August 15, 2011

DCE the Driving Force Behind Ordinance Giving Themselves Uncontrolled Powers, Admits Councillor

I had about a 35 minute chat yesterday with Councillor Angel Rivera. We mostly talked about Proposal 188, but ventured off a few times and talked about various other topics like the Broad Ripple parking garage.
My original intent was to touch base with the Councillor before I posted the entry to my blog yesterday, so I'd be able to include his remarks there. As it would happen, he called me literally seconds after I published that post. I said I would discuss our conversation, though, when it happened. So, here it is.
First, and most importantly, I wanted to address the topic of why 188 is even necessary to begin with. When I asked him where he got the idea for 188, he did not hesitate to say it came from the Department of Code Enforcement. When I asked who the major contributor was to the original writing of 188, again the answer was the Department of Code Enforcement. My fears, as I laid out in my last blog, are indeed true. The proposal to give large amounts of undefined power to the DCE was, in fact, proposed and written by the DCE itself.
I asked Rivera if he saw the enormous conflict in interest in this.   He did, he admitted. He then went on to tell me that he and other councillors simply don't have the time to research and write these ordinances. Instead, he said, they typically defer that to part of the executive branch.
I understand that being a City-County Councillor is a part-time job. I understand that many of the employees of the DCE are full-time. I even understand the need to have someone with more time and more experience write these ordinances.
What I don't understand is how it can be allowed for one area of the executive branch to suggest a proposal that gives them enormous powers, and then we allow that same organization to write and amend the legislation and then be the sole group to testify to the committee on the proposal's pros and cons.
When I presented this problem to Councillor Rivera, his reply was, "it's the Mayor's head that's on the chopping block."
The Councillor even admitted that the powers granted to the DCE were broad, and, if someone was so inclined, could be abused. I inquired why, if abuse is possible, aren't limitations included in the language of the proposal, such as maximum size and scope of clean zones, that would prevent potential abuses before that had the opportunity to occur. Again, Rivera deferred to the Mayor, stating that if the abuse happens it will be the Mayor who is forced to deal with it.
As far as ticket resellers go, Rivera stated that after they added the "face value +15%" amendment to the amount resellers can sell their tickets for, I am the only person that has a problem with it. While I cannot speak for others, I must say I doubt that.
I also mentioned that Ticketmaster fees, according to my research, often exceed 20%. The Councillor said he would move to amend the language again, from 15% to 20%. I suggested removing the reseller ban altogether.
Correctly, Rivera said that it is not a ban. I pointed out that it is a law that will allow bulk ticket resellers, like Circle City Tickets, to resell all they want. You and I, though, that just want to sell a couple of tickets to an event we can't go to anymore? Well, we're going to be forbidden. Rivera suggested we sell to a licensed broker ourselves. To do so, though, once again takes the ability to profit away from the individual citizen and leaves that ability solely in the hands of corporate ticket brokers. This is something we should all be able to do equally.
And the reason that we should limit the ability to resell? Rivera says its because of the numerous complaints received about counterfeit tickets as well as complaints about overly aggressive scalpers causing people to feel intimidated on the way to an event.
Having been to many, many events in the city, and having bought from resellers myself, these are problems I've never faced. I don't deny they exist, though, so I asked how many complaints we were talking about.
Rivera said he knew of a dozen or more. That's right, a dozen. Out of the hundreds and hundreds of thousands of people attending various events throughout the city each year, we're going to infringe upon the rights of hundreds of vendors and resellers, as well as hundreds or thousands of citizens who wish to repurchase (the resellers are responding to a market demand for their services, to be sure) because 12 people complained. That, my friends, is how I define overreaction.
Overall, my conversation with Rivera was a pleasant one. He is a nice man, and I genuinely believe he means well. I do disagree with him on what this law will accomplish, though. I also continue to question the judgement that allows the DCE to write their own ticket to control in this city.
For now, I will end my discussions on Proposal 188 and how bad I believe it is. We will see tonight how the rest of the members of the Council weigh in on it.

Sunday, August 14, 2011

It's No Better Now: Rivera's Prop 188 is Amended and Heading for a Monday Vote

On Wednesday the 10th of August, the City-County Council Committee of Rules and Public policy met.  One of their biggest topics to tackle was Proposal 188, which I discussed in my earlier blog.  While they did make some changes to the proposal, those changes amount to nothing. (You can find the minutes from the meeting and the amendments here.)

Councillor Angel Rivera
The only thing I see that really did get accomplished by the amendments is the end of the private lawn parking ban.  While this is positive, I am concerned by some comments made by Councillor Angel Rivera (R- At Large) that were noted in the minutes.  Rivera made the comment that this parking is already prohibited by those without a commercial parking permit and parking lines drawn. This makes me wonder if this starts getting enforced pretty heavily even if not included in the final version of 188.

Some things in the amended version of 188 actually got worse.  The original version of the bill said ticket resellers were limited to using hand-held signage.  The amended version of the proposal defines the signage used by resellers cannot be greater than 10" x 10".  If you think about the size of a standard piece of 8.5" x 11" copy paper, I'm sure you can see the resellers won't be able to have much visible signage at all.

And those resellers are no longer limited to reselling tickets for only the face value.  Nope, now they can add 15% to the amount of those tickets to recoup the cost of Ticketmaster or other fees.  In actuality, the 15% isn't even enough to recoup the fees in most cases.  I just took a peek at tickets for the 8/22 Britney Spears show at Conseco Fieldhouse.  The $59.50 tickets have a $12 Ticketmaster convenience fee, or just over 20%.  C'mon, Councillor...if you're going to say the amendment is to cover fees, then write the amendment without a generic percentage included, just say that the amount cannot be more than the total face value + fees.

This amendment is nothing but a political move to make it sound like they aren't being so strict.  It is a way for Rivera and other 188 supporters to make comments to the media suggesting that 188 no longer keeps resellers from marking up the price of their tickets.  We see through your political sham, Councillor.

The most horrendous thing that 188 does is give sweeping, undefined powers to the Department of Code Enforcement.  All the "Clean Zones" and "Event Zones" that are created in Prop 188 are controlled, with little restriction, by the DCE.  The DCE can create these zones in any size and shape they deem necessary.  While I agree that each event is unique, such uncontrolled power is uncalled for.  If the Council believes that such zones are really needed (a decision I would question, as I have seen no indication during prior events that I believe require such a mandate), then the DCE should be limited by 188 about the size and scope of the zones.  The only limitation I see is that the DCE must give seven days notice and that's hardly a limitation at all.

DCE Director Rick Powers
Rick Powers, Director of the Department of Code Enforcement, spoke at the committee meeting Wednesday.  He gave a "brief powerpoint presentation" (which is mysteriously missing from the minutes, despite the fact that a 25-page power point presentation given that night on another pair of proposals is there in its entirety).  He then went on to state what he felt were the benefits of 188. A couple of his points that I have particular issue with:

-->"Makes it easier for neighborhoods to host events." - While this may be true for smaller neighborhoods hosting smaller events, there is simply no guarantee this is the case.

-->"Reduces government oversight and regulation." - This is simply not true.  Just because you rearrange the necessary steps to hold or be involved in an event does not mean you reduce oversight or regulation.  I would suggest that 188 does the opposite through the addition of new rules about ticket reselling, vending, signage, and near unlimited authority given to the DCE to control clean zones and event zones.

-->"Negates the overwhelming bureaucracy that existing laws across a broad spectrum require that would legally allow events to take place, or worse, expressly prohibit." - Where is the problem you're talking about?  This is an enormous issue with Prop 188...Why does it need to exist to begin with?  We've had tons of events in the past, and I see no evidence that the "problems" 188 is trying to solve even exist.  The councillors have repeated this "isn't a Super Bowl ordinance", but I am forced to call B.S. The only benefactor I see from 188 is the NFL and similar groups.  We, the citizens, lose out in the meantime to a runaway city government trying to protect us from problems that do not exist.

I think I'm starting to see, though, why Prop 188 hands so much authority over to the DCE.  In the minutes from Wednesday's committee meeting, 188 sponsor Councilor Rivera thanked the DCE for "helping him draft this amendment and listening to the concerns of Councillors and citizens."  I find it troublesome that legislation that gives the DCE broad sweeping powers be written in part by that very organization.  It also makes me wonder how involved the DCE was in suggesting the need for the proposal to begin with, as well as with the original writing of the proposal.  The conflict of interest here is incredibly large.

The Agenda for the City-County Council shows that Proposal 188 is up for a vote this Monday night, August 15th.  The meeting is scheduled to start at 7:00.  Look for Prop 188 and other proposals on the aganda to possibly be rushed through so more time is available for the introduction of the budget.  I hope they do the smart thing and lay 188 aside for discussion at a future meeting when there aren't so many big issues on the table that may cause the Council to rush through something this important.  On the other hand, that's probably exactly what they want.

Since my original blog on this topic, I have shared a number of texts and voice mails with its sponsor, Councillor Angel Rivera.  He has suggested these amendments somehow address the concerns of that posting, but I fail to see how.  He has been very nice and welcomed the discussion with me about 188.  I was hoping to have that discussion with him before posting this today, but the phone-tag game has gotten in the way.  I still believe we will make contact and discuss this issue.  When this occurs, I will post on it.

Saturday, August 13, 2011

Four Dead and Dozens Hurt by State Fair Stage Collapse

The Indy Star is reporting that as many as a dozen people were injured tonight at the Indiana State Fair when part of the grandstand stage collapsed during winds associated with tonight's storms.

According to the report, medics were setting up a triage center and moving the injured to a tunnel below the track in the area.

The report also indicates that there may have been the need to dig up parts of the track to reach concert-goers trapped by the collapsed rigging.

Follow the link below for the preliminary Indy Star report.

Dozen hurt at State Fair stage collapse | The Indianapolis Star |


visit for video of the collapse. Terrifying.


The newest reports coming out of the Fairgrounds are saying four people have been killed in the stage collapse.

Friday, August 12, 2011

Stories Like Hinkle's...What is News, and What isn't News

Representative Hinkle
There's been a lot of chatter today about State Representative Phil Hinkle and the "Craigslist Encounter" story the Star broke this morning. I suspect there will continue to be for a few days. We'd better get used to that.

The Indy Star's article seemed to mostly try to cover the facts, although it seemed from just one side. (Admittedly, it sounds like they did contact the Hinkle camp, and Hinkle & Co played politician and gave vague responses, most likely to try to find time to get their story straight.)

From Advance Indiana, we heard shock. "Say it ain't so, Phil."

From Jon Easter over at the Indy Democrat we heard disappointment. You see, Hinkle is a close family friend of the Easters. Very respectfully,  Jon said he was going to bow out of this one. (He even disabled comments on the post so that his blog stays clear of some of the Hinkle-bashing that was sure to occur.)

Paul Ogden over at Ogden on Politics took a different approach...he asked if this is even news. Paul's one of my favorite bloggers and once again he has hit the nail on the head.

Ogden's specific question was where do we draw the line between what IS news and what ISN'T news in a case like this. Well, Paul, I've got the answer.

Sorry to harp on you, Representative Hinkle, but the answer is right here in this story about you. You see, this story provides great examples on both sides of the coin. There is plenty being covered that we simply shouldn't care about. There's definitely parts if this story that are worth covering, however.

Let's start with what ISN'T news.  Phil Hinkle might be gay.  Or bisexual.  Or experimenting (who said that needs left to college kids?)

The point is I don't care and neither should you. Phil Hinkle's sexual preferences, as long as they remain between him and another consenting adult, should remain the business of him and other consenting adults. I don't give a flying rat's behind if he's meeting a grown man in a hotel.  Or a grown woman. Or one of each. few of each.  What Phil Hinkle does in the private areas of his life should remain part of the private areas of his life.

The next question here is the hypocrisy.  Is it news that someone who has been a supporter of a constitutional amendment defining marriage as between one man and one woman may be involved in homosexual relations?  Meh.  Maybe.  This author, again, doesn't care about this.  Should you be a hypocrite?  No.  Should it be news every time hypocrisy is discovered in a politician?  Wow...definitely not.  It'd consume all the news all the time.

The last question deals with the remaining aspects of the story.  For further definition, I will quote a couple pieces of the Star's story.

-->"He said the lawmaker at first told him he could not leave, grabbed him in the rear, exposed himself to the young man and then later gave him an iPad, BlackBerry cellphone and $100 cash to keep quiet."

-->"Phinkle46 'How about $80 for services rendered and if real satisfied a healthy tip? That make it worth while?'"

-->"One email from Hinkle's account asks 'what will make you happy for giving me a couple hours of your time tonight?'

Gibson: 'Wat (sic) can you give me?'

Phinkle46 'How about $80 for services rendered and if real satisfied a healthy tip? That make it worth while?'"

-->"Final for the record, for a really good time, you could get another 50, 60 bucks. That sound good?"

-->"He said Hinkle's response was: 'You need to do this, because I came and got you, and I'm not taking you back until we do what we need to do.'"

-->"When Gibson came out, he said Hinkle told him he couldn't leave. "

-->"Kameryn and Megan Gibson said Hinkle then offered his iPad, a BlackBerry and $100 in cash."

-->"Megan Gibson said on her way back, she received another call from Hinkle's wife. 'The first thing she said, she was like, 'OK, we will give you $10,000 not to say anything,' " said Megan Gibson, who said she was now becoming scared. 'I was like, 'OK,' and I hung up the phone.'"

OK, Representative Hinkle, this is where things get a little hairy.  Before I proceed, I'd like to reaffirm that everything mentioned here is alleged.

Sure, it doesn't sound like you specifically offered money in return for sexual favors.  Most of us are reading between the lines, though, and it sure as hell sounds like that's what you meant.

Sure, you didn't specifically tell anyone that they couldn't leave until they fulfilled their "obligation."  Most of us are reading between the lines, though, and it sure as hell sounds like that's what you meant.

It definitely sounds like you might have specifically offered goods, monies, or both to keep their mouth shut about what took place, though. Not too much reading between the lines is necessary there.

This is where this whole story becomes newsworthy.  Gay fling?  Not worthy of my time.  Bit of a hypocrite?  Eh, it happens.  Be a lawmaker possibly involved in the criminal side of prostitution and/or buying off people's silence about a potentially criminal act?  You better bet that's news.

So, there's your answer Mr. Ogden.  That's where the line is drawn about what SHOULD be news and what HAPPENS to be news.  In cases like this, it's all about the fact you might've broken the law.

As is the case all too many times in all too many cases, it's not the action that really gets you in's the lies and the cover-up.

Star: State Rep Phil Hinkle Involved in Craigslist Encounter with Young Man

The Indy Star website is this morning reporting State Rep Phil Hinkle has been involved in a Craigslist "meeting" with a young man. While sex and prostitution were never specifically mentioned, the included storybook from the involved man lead you to a damning conclusion.

It'll be interesting to see how the Hinkle camp plays this. They are already making comments that indicate that, while the emails aren't being denied, a shakedown is taking place.

Much more to come on this, I'm sure.

Email rendezvous entangles state Rep. Phillip Hinkle | The Indianapolis Star |

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Confirmed: Abdul to be Replaced by Syndication

Just a quick bite this morning. Abdul's first segment this morning was, no surprise, spent talking about his announcement that Abdul in the Morning will end after tomorrow's show.

As many were speculating, and as this author had been told by a couple of sources, Abdul is being replaced by syndication. Starting Monday, Abdul's slot will be filled by the Wall Street Journal Report.

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

"Abdul in the Morning" Comes to an End Friday

Abdul-Hakim Shabazz has just announced his last show as host of "Abdul in the Morning" on 1430 AM WXNT will be this Friday.  I have grown very fond of Abdul's show over the years, and am saddened to hear this.  I hope that whatever Abdul does next will be something that he enjoys and, hopefully, something we get to enjoy with him.

Lord knows it's going to have to be a big project to help keep his wonderfully amusing ego afloat.

Abdul has promised more information about his departure tomorrow morning.  I'm sure you'll be able to find it on his blog, Indiana Barrister.

Good Luck, Abdul.

Rumors are pretty heavily circulating that Abdul's show was ended so that WXNT could bring in a syndicated program that will be much less expensive for them to produce.  I have heard this myself from what I consider to be a reliable source.

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Rivera's Proposal Attacks Indy's Poor, Neighborhoods, and Private Property Owners so the City Can Kiss a Little NFL Butt

  On June 27th, At-Large City-County Councillor Angel Rivera introduced what became Proposal #188.  According to the digest of the proposed ordinance, it "amends portions of the code pertaining to the permitting, licensing, and organization of activities related to special events licensed by the department of code enforcement, and adds a new chapter creating an annual license for ticket broker engaged in the sale or resale of tickets on public streets, sidewalks, and alleys."

Councillor Rivera

Oh, is that all?   Well that sounds innocent enough, I guess.  Like most digests and summaries these days, though, it's a nicely written paragraph that has very little to do with what the bill or ordinance contains.  In reality, they are written the way they are so folks like you and I with a little political interest look at the digest and move on, uninterested.

Let me tell you a little secret that Angel Rivera and any other supporters of Proposal 188 don't want you to know:  This ordinance is an all-out attack on property owners, neighborhoods, and the poor in our city, especially downtown and especially because of one week of festivities surrounding the 2012 Super Bowl.

Let's break 188 down...

First, Ticket Brokers.  188 repeals two other sections of code (specifically 407-107 through 407-109 and Chapter 431, Article II) regarding selling and reselling of tickets around NCAA events, NFL events and at Victory Field.  What it replaces these with is an attack on the poor who are trying to make a little income to support themselves by selling tickets on the sidewalk. It does this by saying no one can resell or repurchase a ticket within ONE MILE of: Lucas Oil Stadium, Conseco Fieldhouse, Victory Field, Hinkle Fieldhouse, MuratTheatre at Old National Centre, Indianapolis Convention Center, Indiana State Fairgrounds, and White River State Park...or any other place where more than 500 people can gather.  (Well, not quite no one....people with a license or with written permission from the event organizers are no one.)

Is it really that bad to see some people trying to sell tix on the sidewalks?  Are they really that much of a bother?  I agree that there is some risk of counterfeit tickets, but it is a small one.  Besides, 188 does nothing to prevent counterfeit tickets other than saying you can't sell within a mile of the event and by saying the police have the right to inspect the tickets being resold or repurchased (the police probably won't know if it's counterfeit much better than you or I would).  This is just an attack on the poor, similar to the bills preventing panhandling, because the city refuses to let visitors know that the poor and homeless exist here in the Circle City. Ticket resellers present very little potential harm and this ordinance is not about fixing that.  The City doesn't want the resellers out there because the NFL doesn't want them's as simple as that.

Next, 188 attacks the street vendors.  God forbid you try to buy a hot dog from someone other than the NFL or the NCAA, because that's basically what 188 prevents. The ordinance creates "Clean Zones" (their term, not mine....sounds like something established in the event of a plague).  These Clean Zones are a vague, undefined area (the clean zone for each event will be specifically designated at some unknown time before the event) where street vendors cannot make their living without the specific permission of the event organizer.  We all know what that street vendors allowed unless they pay the NFL or the NCAA or whoever some outrageous fee that will make it unappealing and probably unprofitable for the vendors to be there.  I guess they'll probably go a mile away and try to sell their hot dogs to the ticket resellers.

The included events?  The 500 Festival, Indiana Black Expo, The St. Patrick's Day Parade, The Circle City Classic Parade, The Circle of Lights, The Indiana State Fair, all NCAA Championships or related events, Big Ten Championships or related events, NBA Finals or All-Star games and related events, NFL Super Bowl, Pro-Bowl, draft and related events, WNBA Finals or All-Star game or related events.  Yep, pretty much everything.

Finally, Proposal 188 attacks private property owners.  You know those ultra-convenient lawns that the owners will let you park on for a fee? These owners are responding to a market-based demand for close, convenient parking.  Well, don't get used to seeing them anymore.  If the property is within the aforementioned vague clean zone, you have to pay a fee for a license to allow for this parking. What damage was being done by the owners providing this service?  None at all.  This is just a way for the City to make a money-grab.  $75 for the right to let people park on your lawn or a big fine if you get caught doing it without a license.  And who are these property owners?  Again, they are almost exclusively the poor and the lower-middle class who are just trying to have a little extra to put bread on the table with.

The City won't have that, though.  You see, the NFL owns us now.  If the NFL wants to make the money, they get to make the money.  If the NFL says they don't want to see it, we'll pass an ordinance to make it illegal.  None of this is about doing anything that is better for the City in the long run, it's all about doing what the NFL wants for a one-day event and making it permanent.

Proposal 188 will probably be coming up for a vote on Monday 8/15.  That's not set in stone, yet, because the Council won't release their agenda until Friday 8/12 (they'd hate for us to have any real time to examine the proposals they'll be discussing).  I'll update on here if that proves to be the case.

Thanks to Had Enough Indy? for posting this update on 188. It points out the Rules and Public Policy Committee will have 188 at the top of their agenda tonight at 6:00 PM in room 260 of the City-County Building.  The blog also has some very good investigative reporting into the details of 188.  I recommend you check it out.

This Is Why It's Important to Field Candidates

Well-known Indy blogger Paul Ogden throws out a great point tonight while discussing this private investigator debaucle in Carmel. He mentions in a late night blog this evening that Carmel Mayor James Brainard is now a very politically vulnerable individual.

Unfortunately, no matter how vulnerable he may be, he will be winning yet another term as Carmel's mayor in this November's elections.  How can we be so sure?  because neither the Democrats nor the Libertarians ran a candidate against him.  You see, Carmel is an unusually huge Republican stronghold.  For whatever reason, the other two parties with ballot access in the state decided that running someone against Brainard just wasn't worth it.

One of the best ways for people and parties to gain name recognition and to be considered viable by the public is to get out there and fill every ballot position they can.  Ballot choices are also good for the voters, who are put in a position to let their voices be heard.  Alas, though, come November in Carmel, Indiana, a multi-term mayor with what is likely to be a pretty low public opinion is going to be elected to another term in office.

The point here is simple.  Get out there.  Get involved.  Run for office. Make sure voters have options.

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

The Impending Death of the Tea Party, Part II

Back in early April, I posted about the Impending Death of the Tea Party.  Well, guess what ladies and gentleman of the Tea Party, it's here.

Because of the recent Debt Ceiling deal, the Tea Party surely feels completely deflated.  They focused so hard on getting the "right" people elected, and those elected officials have nearly all let them down by increasing the debt ceiling by 2.4 Trillion dollars.  The "cuts" associated with the increase in the debt ceiling are hardly real.  They are loosely defined and they are spread over ten years.  The first $900 billion in debt ceiling increase, though?  It'll be here by February.

The Tea Party now has to make up it's mind.  They only have two choices: roll over and die (and become nothing more than a blip in the political and economic history of this country), or change your focus and charge on.

The Tea Partiers surely have now realized that they are not supported by the Republican Party.  The Republicans wooed the Tea party into bed on a first date by saying all the right things to them.  Now, it's the next morning and the Tea Party is awakening to a note left on the pillow.

Stay focused on electing Republicans to office in the hopes they are going to reduce spending, and true fiscal conservatives will lose faith in you just as you have lost faith in the swarm of Republicans you elected.

Change your focus, though, to electing Libertarians (both large and small "L") and you have a chance to find your cause revitalized.  You will be supporting officials who will be true in their support of limiting spending.

Support Libertarians, and you won't wake up some morning with a note on your pillow.  Instead, you'll find yourself with a ring on your finger.