Friday, September 30, 2011

Ballard's Georgia Street Press Conference Doesn't Make Any Sense

The Mayor held a Friday Georgia Street press conference, one day after reports began circulating that he had asked for the name Georgia Street to, for now, remain unchanged. In it he announced the plans to erect pillars honoring thirty great Hoosiers.

Ballard also said that this great plan is why he was such a big supporter of changing the street's name. He said he just didn't feel right building an honor to history's great Hoosiers on a street named after another state.

On the surface, I think the Mayor's claim seems to make sense...but I don't buy it. Why would the mayor wait until after he conceded to keep the name to say why he had wanted it changed? Wouldn't announcing grand plans such as these be the first thing you did in the face of complete public disapproval over the issue? And definitely be something you did BEFORE backing down?

"Hi folks. I know there's a lot of people curious why I want to change the historic name of Georgia Street, a name that has been part of city since its inception. I wanna be clear to everybody that it has nothing to do with the Super Bowl or any of the NFL's wishes. We are proud today to announce that the incredible new look of Georgia Street is going to also serve as an honor to the lives of thirty of history's greatest Hoosiers.

"I would like to help add to the honoring of these great Hoosiers by also changing the name of Georgia Street to something more Indiana related. While Georgia Street is an important part of Indianapolis' long history, it just doesn't seem right to have this honor take place on a street named after another state. So, today I am asking for your support in changing this street's name to Hoosier Boulevard!"

That's all it would have taken. You present a plan and you support it with a reason. I'm not saying there would not still have been dissent, but there would have been a lot less of it.

By presenting the name change as an important part of a huge plan to honor our own, the mayor might've just been able to make it happen.

But that's not even close to what Ballard actually did. He promoted name change without rhyme or reason. We heard of Peyton Place and Hospitality Boulevard...cheesy names that Indianapolis doesn't feel represents its personality (and in hindsight do nothing to further the honoring of thirty great Hoosiers.)

Then, in the face of public outcry, the mayor finally backs down. And only then, after he concedes, does the mayor state what his thought process supposedly was from the beginning.

I just don't buy it. It doesn't make sense.

Thursday, September 29, 2011

Georgia Street's New Name Will Be...Georgia Street!

It appears that Mayor Greg Ballard can actually listen to public input on a topic. Well, at least he seems able to a mere 39 days before an election and when his side of things is horribly unpopular. Today, the Mayor kinda conceded to leave the name of Georgia Street unchanged when it reopens after its facelift. (See the Channel 6 Story here.)

Why kinda? Because the Mayor said he would leave to option open for name changes in the future. Ballard seems to think that, after seeing all the exciting awesomeness of the new Georgia Street, the public is somehow going to suddenly flip its opinion and want a name change put in place. He has even announced a press conference Friday to announce a "significant addition" to Georgia Street.  Apparently the Mayor thinks his opportunity to sway our opinion might be now.

Um...what? Does Mayor Ballard actually think that's how public opinion sways in Indianapolis? Does he really think this city will look at the completed project and say, "Ooooooo, look at the pretty lights! We should call this Hospitality Way!"

If that's really Ballard's opinion, he has a lesser view of the Hoosier State's capitol than sitcoms and late-night talk show hosts seem to. His insinuation is insulting.

There's a large part of me that thinks that after election day, when Ballard's a lame duck, suddenly the name change will go through anyway. It won't matter what we voters think. (As Ballard's history shows, it rarely does.)

So, way to go Mayor Ballard. You finally made the right decision, and you finally paid attention to the outcries of your constituents. I find no surprise, though, that in one of your tries of doing what the voters demand, you also manage to insult us all.

Ballard can even find a way to screw up finally making the right decision. Yet another reason Republicans all over the city will be pulling the handle for Melina Kennedy or Chris Bowen on election day.

Monday, September 26, 2011

Renaming Georgia Street...

There's been plenty of discussion on the renaming of Georgia Street.  It has been one of the heated topics currently circulating Indy politics that I have thus far been silent on.  Sunday the Indy Star's Matthew Tully and Erika Smith offered a unique "he said, she said" on the topic that I felt made it easier to address the issue.

Why?  Because both "sides" of the issue basically said the same thing. You see, neither seems to be a fan of any of the current suggestions to change the historic name of Indianapolis' "Georgia Street."

Tully immediately fills his role of "Keep it Georgia Street" supporter.  And many of his points feel valid.

First: Why bother changing the name?  Because of the Super Bowl? That's just silly.  Even if you are updating the street for the sake of the upcoming NFL Championship, that shouldn't mean you have to change the name.  As Tully points out, do you think another major city would change a major street name for a Super Bowl? Of course not.  This is just another case of Indianapolis bending over to seem super-cool and awesome for their upcoming seven days of NFL visitors.

Says Tully:
We need to stop sounding puzzled as we ask newcomers from the coasts: "And why did you move here?" We need to stop treating every major convention or event that lands in our city as some sort of miracle worthy of leading the 6 o'clock news. We need to stop playing small ball on issues such as mass transit and education. We need to stop thinking that marketing strategies -- and, in this case, goofy name changes -- are what make us special.

Some advocates of the change have said it's problematic that Georgia Street, which will soon become one of the city's premier spots, is named for another state. Can you imagine such skittishness coming from the residents of Chicago (Michigan Avenue) or Washington, D.C. (Pennsylvania Avenue)?

News flash: This is a damn good city. A uniquely livable city. Enough of the self-conscious knee-shaking.

Smith offers her own perspective.  She doesn't sound convinced, though, that name change is such a great idea.  She more offers the perspective that name change isn't horrible if the name chosen isn't horrible. Early in her writing, she says:

I'm not opposed, that is, with two important caveats.

No. 1: City leaders have to make a real effort to solicit and then vet suggestions from residents about potential names. And I'm talking about a lot more than putting a survey on the Web for less than a week, and counting on bloggers and media outlets to promote it. That's lazy, arrogant and shortsighted.

No. 2: Once a new name is selected, most residents can't think it's stupid. (And yes, the suggestions of "Hospitality Way" and "Peyton Way," or any variation on those themes, count as stupid. I'll speak for the community on this one.)

In theory, if caveat No. 1 is handled correctly, then caveat No. 2 shouldn't come to pass. But if for some reason it does, then I vote for letting the Georgia Street name stand.

As Smith is well aware, one of the "stupid" suggestions she mentions here seems to be leading the way for potential new names.  The chance of some new suggestion being offered at this point having the ability to become the new name is slim.  If Georgia Street gets renamed, it's probably going to be one of the "stupid" names that Smith point out.  She later suggests putting off the name recommendation to some later date, but with both the Super Bowl and the election looming, that seems unlikely.

So, I guess it's time where I finally submit my perspective on all this.  First, I wonder about the City's (read: Ballard administration's) point-of-view on renaming the street to begin with.  With all the other changes the City has been willing to make for the Super Bowl, many without local residents' support, I am forced to wonder if renaming the street wasn't part of some hush-hush promise made to the NFL in the bid to get the Super Bowl.

Even if that is not the case, I must admit I find the Ballard administration's commitment to name change curious.  Some issues are worth fighting for, even if they are political suicide.  A street's name change does not qualify.  For the current administration to be so adamant about proceeding, in the face of enormous amounts of public outrage and just before an election, is confusing.

If changing the name for the sake of the Super Bowl was so important was so necessary, then why not make a temporary change like they have for NCAA events in the past?  I clearly remember street signs downtown getting changed to things like "Final Four Blvd" for the duration of the city's events.  Why are such changes out of the question for Georgia Street in this case?

Mayor Ballard, there is no good reason to change the historic name of this downtown street.  The citizens of your city have made it clear that they vehemently oppose such a name change, even with the massive face lift that is underway and even with the upcoming Super Bowl.  Leave the name the way it is.  Georgia Street can be just as impressive a name as Championship Boulevard or Hospitality Way or whatever other stupid name you want to consider.  Please, Mr. Mayor....just leave it be.

Sunday, September 25, 2011

Perry Right to Call Social Security a Ponzi Scheme; Cato Breaks it Down

I'm a big fan of The Cato Institute. They tackle a lot of stories and often take complex government-sized math and break it down into something easy for Joe Blow and I to understand.

While this particular issue isn't all about hard-to-understand numbers (at least the "is it a Ponzi scheme?" angle of it...SS itself is obviously enormous), it's still government and it's still numbers. I was going to write on this myself, but after starting my research and looking back on this article I realized I probably couldn't have written anything better than Michael Tanner did in the article linked below.

Yes, It Is a Ponzi Scheme | Michael D. Tanner | Cato Institute: Commentary

Saturday, September 24, 2011

Morgan Freeman Plays the Race Card on Piers Morgan; Can We Please Stop Doing That?

Can we stop playing the race card?  Please?

I'm not saying that racism doesn't exist in America.  It absolutely does.  It is, however, much better than it was in my parents' and grandparents' generations.

Today there's a new thing fueling racism: claims of racism.  You see, many people today make claims that any opposition to any member of a minority on any topic must be fueled by racism.  I'm growing tired of it.

This phenomena is not new with the entrance of the Obama administration.  It is, though, amplified immensely by it.  So many people are out there making claims that any person who does not support Obama's agenda lack that support, obviously, because Obama is black. Give me a break.

Did everyone who disagreed with the agenda of every other president disagree because they can't stand white people?  Of course not.  People disagree with the agendas of political figures and political parties because they don't believe their ideas and programs work to better our nation in the best way possible.

Are there some people out there that hate Obama because he's a black president?  Sure there are.  But the vast, vast majority of people who don't like Obama don't like him because they do not care for the policies he has put in place, the policies he is advocating, the campaign promises he broke, the campaign promises he made, or any one of thousands of other political reasons.

Claiming racism at every turn makes people scared to publicly proceed on statements or ideas, for fear of being wrongly labeled a racist.  That causes people to keep their ideas to themselves or within a tight circle of trusted friends and peers.  And when fear of racism makes groups hide their true face from the public or people of another racial make-up it breeds, well....racism.

The race card hurts America.  Let's put it away.  Let's stop pretending every disagreement is racially motivated.  Things aren't perfect here in America, but crying "foul" every time someone makes a statement of disagreement only makes things worse.

Here's actor Morgan Freeman on Piers Morgan.  He adamantly states he believes the Tea Party wants Obama out of office because of racist reasons.  It doesn't make sense.

Friday, September 23, 2011

First Signs of a Possible "Were the CIB/Simon Bailouts Worth It?" Experiment: NBA Cancels Two Pacers Preseason Home Games

IBJ and other sources are reporting Friday that the NBA has decided to cancel a total of 43 preseason games,including two games scheduled to be played here in Indianapolis.  The absence of these games will not be enough to find out the Pacers' revenue impact on the city over the course of a year or more. It is, though, yet another sign that we may get to find out whether the CIB's bailout of the billionaire Simons, and the city's earlier bailout of the now cash-heavy CIB were worth it.

Should the cancellation of games continue beyond the preseason, perhaps to include the entire season, then the impact, or lack of impact, of the Pacers on Indianapolis will become measurable.  There will be no more guesswork involved; we will be able to see exactly what the effect is on downtown businesses, employment, and tax revenue if the Pacers were suddenly no longer around.

Admittedly, even if the entire NBA season were to be cancelled, it would not be a long enough sample to know the true level of importance of the Pacers to the city.  The effect of professional sports teams, whether gaining them or losing them, take years to truly manifest themselves.

It would be an interesting experiment, though, to see how many employers, employees, and government bean-counters really even notice the impact of a year without the Pacers.  I'm by no means begging for it, I'm just curious of the results.

Friday, September 16, 2011

Former Indiana Gubernatorial Candidate Andrew Horning Annouces Bid for U.S. Senate

Andrew Horning
Andrew Horning, the 2008 Libertarian Party Candidate for Indiana Governor, issued a press release today announcing his candidacy for United States Senate in 2012. Horning received 2.1% of the votes in his 2008 campaign.

His press release, as published by the Libertarian Party of Indiana:


Contact: Andrew Horning

Andrew Horning, Candidate for Indiana U.S.A. SenateConstitution Day, September 16, 2011

The Freedom Farm, Freedom, Indiana

We The People have exactly and only what We The People have chosen. It should now be apparent that We The People have chosen badly for a very long time.

We The People have nobody else to blame for the endless wars, rising debts, rising crime, dropping wealth and standard of living…we have chosen every injustice, every lawless law, every bit of our ungoverned government.

The good news is that we should no longer worry about the catastrophe that’s about to engulf us, because it’s now too late to stop it. More good news is that we’ll soon be free of the ease that clouded our perceptions and retarded our actions.

Even more good news is that it is never too late to decide how We The People are to create and maintain a society by which we can live together in relative peace, prosperity and safety.

Today, the Cassandra-like Libertarians must avoid the temptation to say “I told you so,” and instead keep on working for what’s true, and what works. Libertarians and other forward-thinking people should be on hand to rebuild what generations of bad choices and the entrenched abstractions of our so-called and unconstitutional “Two Party System” have destroyed: Law and Order, Liberty and Justice for All.

Today, Libertarians need not explain why they dare oppose the so-called “Two Party System.” Today, anybody who would vote for any Democratic or Republican Party candidate has, in the words of Desi Arnaz, “got some e’splainin’ to do!”

So today, in the interest of having the right people in the right places in the event that We The People decide that this is the right time to stop the madness, I am announcing my candidacy for the office of U.S.A. Senator for the State of Indiana.

The addition of Horning to the 2012 Indiana Senate race could very well prove an interesting one.  Several factors could weigh in to the race that could make Horning's candidacy a real game-changer. 

Rupert Boneham
First, the Libertarians are already growing their voter turnout during every election cycle. The potential addition of Rupert Boneham to the Indiana Governor's race as a Libertarian is bound to further increase Libertarian voter turnout across the state.

Second, there is a heated intra-party war going on within the GOP.  Long-time Republican U.S. Senator is facing, for the first time in his Senate career, a serious primary challenge by State Treasurer Richard Mourdock.  No matter who comes out as the victor in next May's GOP primary, they are likely to come out scathed by attacks and seriously depleted of money.

The Democrats have likely been eyeing the beating the Republican candidates are likely to unleash on each other as well. U.S Representative Joe Donnely has already thrown his hat in the ring for the Democratic nod, and will likely go unopposed into the primary. This will allow he and Horning to have the ability to fight strongly against the wounded Republicans, and give one of them strong potential to capture the long-held GOP seat.

Of course, being a Libertarian candidate for anything isn't an easy proposition.  Libertarians historically have a difficult time gathering voters at the polls.  They have started a surge in the last 2-3 years, though.  With the potential addition of Boneham's celebrity status and love from the the state's citizens, there is probably not a better year for an experienced candidate like Horning to take a shot at one of Indiana's biggest political prizes.

Saturday, September 10, 2011

Republicans: Politely Decline UAW Money; Agree to Satellite Voting

Marion County's satellite voting debate took an interesting twist yesterday. A twist so big that it turned the Republican's "it costs too much" argument on it's head.

In an unexpected and unprecedented move, Marion County Clerk Beth White announced that the UAW was willing to donate the $50,000 estimated cost of the expanded voting. This announcement immediately invalidates the Republicans cost arguement. The announcement also raises a whole new set of questions about the ethics of a private organization funding part of the election process.

White says she's not concerned about a conflict of interest or ethics violation here. She should be.  As fellow blogger Abdul-Hakim Shabazz points out, if the roles were reversed, all hell would break loose. There is no way the Democrats would allow for a typically conservative-leaning group such as Focus on the Family to have any part of funding elections. The UAW has always been a politically liberal organization, and the Republicans have a valid point in saying that the money has no place in the running of elections.

White's proud statement that the UAW will be willing to foot the bill comes tagged with a footnote that the money was unsolicited. I'm sorry, but I don't buy it. Coupled with White's nonchalance about a potentially catastrophic precedent being set by this idea, I find no way to believe this was not a well-played part of a well-planned political move.

Now, the Marion County GOP finds themselves in a unique position. They can admit that the costs of satellite voting were never really the issue (obviously the case, the way the current administration pours through money), and that the real objection was the likely increase in Democratic votes. This is unlikely, though, since it would require the Republicans to admit they were lying.

The next option would be for the GOP maintain their current cost objections, and then to shout from the rooftops that the Marion County Democrats, and especially Beth White, are trying to sell the election process to private organizations. This is their most likely move, as it means they don't have to budge on their position and simultaneously get to put very real and very negative political pressure on the Dems.

There is a third option, though. One I suggest is the best one. Best for voters, best for Democrats wanting satellite voting, and best for Republicans that are now scrambling to not look like, well, greedy Republicans.

The Republicans need to concede on the issue of satellite voting. They need to publicly announce that they fully appreciate the UAW's offer, but decline it in the interest of keeping the election process as clean as possible; free from funding by private organizations. Then, the Republicans should say that, after much consideration, they recognize that satellite voting, although costly, is important to voters seeking a choice, and will agree to it as long as the choice of voting locations is fair.

Finally, the GOP should pounce on the Democrats for this obviously political ploy that could have put our entire election process in jeopardy. Call it a fair trade with the Democrats in exchange for the early voting.