Friday, December 30, 2011

Senatorial Privilege

If Secretary of State Charlie White were only U.S. Senator Richard Lugar (R), his fortunes this year would have been a whole lot different. Lugar and his wife, Charlene, are permitted to cast votes and register their automobiles with the Bureau of Motor Vehicles at an address at which neither of them has resided since 1978. A Marion Co. circuit court judge has ordered White removed from office and a special prosecutor has charged him with seven felony counts for using as his registered voting address the home of his former wife where he lived prior to his divorce for a several month period before he moved into the residence he shares with his current wife. It is truly amazing how Gov. Mitch Daniels, the entire political establishment and the news media can disparage White endlessly and make him out to be a loathsome felon for doing something tens of thousands of Hoosier voters in between residences do every year. Being a senator certainly has its privileges for guys like Richard Lugar and Evan Bayh.

Hat tip to Welcome To My Tea Party.

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

GOP Attacks On Ron Paul

Polls show show that GOP presidential candidate Ron Paul's impressive show of grassroots support in the Iowa caucus is driven by the support he is receiving among independent and younger voters--two critical blocs of voters that the winning presidential candidate in the November election traditionally captures. The thought of the independent, non-traditional thinking Paul winning the Republican presidential nomination has been turning establishment figures in the party apoplectic. The personal attacks against Paul are somewhat ironic when you consider that Paul, who as far as I've been able to determine, is the only Republican candidate who has consistently supported conservative fiscal policies throughout his political career, is faithful to his wife and is a proud veteran who served his country with honor.

The attacks against Ron Paul by the Redstate blog have been particularly over the top. One blogger has run a four-part series entitled, "Ron Paul is crazy." Another calls him "The Real Warmonger" despite the fact that he is the only candidate advocating our withdrawal from undeclared wars ordered by the military industrial complex to keep the war machine running at full capacity, even if it bankrupts and destroys the country in the process. He is attacked by another blogger for having a base that is "Not Republican," who also suggested Paul is the Barack Obama of the 2012 campaign who would become another Andrew Johnson-like president because he would have no support in Congress if he is elected. And that's just what the Redstate blog had to say about Paul in the last three days.

The attacks on Ron Paul by the Redstate blog go beyond intraparty feuding in my judgment, particularly when you consider that its founder, a paid commentator for CNN, says he is "comfortable supporting Newt Gingrich" for the nomination despite this same blogger's view that Herman Cain had to drop out of the Republican presidential race because of unproven accusations he is a womanizer. Gingrich is now on his third wife after dumping wives one and two for younger congressional aides. Gingrich supported health care mandates and global warming before he opposed them. He was driven from the Speakership of the House under an ethics cloud and fined more than $200,000 for his bad behavior after he rose through the ranks of the House GOP's leadership, in part, on his success in bringing down the former House Majority Leader on ethics charges he led against him. Lest we forget that this principled conservative inked a $1.8 million consulting contract with Freddie Mac at the same time the agency was seeking $317 billion in federal bailout assistance while insisting with a straight face that the money he was paid was not for lobbying Congress.

Pardon me while I put on my tin foil hat, but if I didn't know better, I might think the Redstate blog is ground zero for an Operation Mockingbird-style operation in reference to a propaganda operation funded by the CIA beginning in the 1950s when it put thousands of American journalists on its payroll to promote its agenda for the country. By 1975, the Church investigations by the U.S. Senate's select committee on intelligence estimated that the CIA was spending $265 million a year to misinform the public through its covert propaganda machine. President Ford fired former CIA Director William Colby after he testified to the Church Committee about the extent of the Operation Mockingbird activities, as well as other covert actions by the CIA and replaced him with President George H.W. Bush, who was one of the first CIA agents contacted by former FBI Director J. Edgar Hoover following the assassination of President John F. Kennedy because of Hoover's concern of possible CIA involvement in the killing of the president. As we now know, the American news media bombarded us with misinformation in the lead up to the Iraqi War based on totally false claims concocted by the George W. Bush-run CIA that Saddam Hussein had developed weapons of mass destruction.

It sure looks like some pretty powerful forces far beyond the simpleton thinking of the Redstate bloggers are at work stoking fear and misinformation about Ron Paul because of the threat he poses to the military industrial complex. I can't help but think that these voices sound remarkably similar to the establishment GOP meme in 1980 warning us that Ronald Reagan was too old, too dumb and too dangerous to elect as president. Will you be fooled by their propaganda campaign against Ron Paul? And shouldn't you know that these same forces would just as soon see four more years of Barack Obama?

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Two Women Charged For Filing False Claims In State Fair Stage Collapse

Two Indianapolis women who didn't even attend the Sugarland concert at the Indiana State Fair this summer when the grandstand stage tragically collapsed, killing several concert-goers and injuring dozens of others, filed false claims with the state and a victim's fund seeking compensation for injuries they never sustained. Marion Co. Prosecutor Terry Curry announced that the two women are now facing charges for forgery, perjury, theft and attempted theft. WTHR reports on the two women's scheme to defraud the state and the victim's fund:

Prosecutor Terry Curry says Stephanie Murry and Sandra Hurn submitted claims to the Indiana State Fair Remembrance Fund (ISFRF) and the Indiana Tort Claim Fund, which is administered by the Indiana Attorney General's Office. Authorities say the women each submitted claims totaling $22,500.
According to the prosecutor, the women claimed they were injured in the Aug. 13 stage collapse. The prosecutor's office alleges that the women falsified hospital records in order to be eligible to make claims to both funds.
"The state police determined pretty that the medical records submitted were falsified," said Curry.
In fact, Curry said, neither Hurn nor Murry even attended the concert.
"It would certainly appear from the investigation that neither woman was actually at the State Fair," Curry told Eyewitness News. "Sandra Hurn stated who she went with and that she was there for a couple of the Sugarland songs which obviously Sugarland never performed that night." . . .
Curry says Hurn collected $7,500 from the ISFRF, but Murry's claim was denied because her alleged injuries did not meet qualifications to receive ISFRF funds.
Both women also submitted a notice of tort claim to the Indiana attorney general's office, and both were notified they would receive money from the fund. But Hurn was arrested when she went to pick up a claim check, and Murry was arrested a short time after that.
"It's beyond troubling in a situation which was clearly a tragedy, people were legitimately injured even killed, that there are people out there that in turn exploit it for their own gain," said Curry . . .
Stephanie Murry has been charged with one count of forgery (class C felony), one count of perjury (class D felony), and one count of attempt theft (class D felony).
Sandra Hurn has been charged with three counts of forgery (class C felony), two counts of perjury (class D felony), one count of theft (class D felony), and one count of attempt theft (class D felony).
The maximum penalty both women could face for a class C felony is eight years in prison and a $10,000 fine.
It's refreshing to see that the Marion Co. Prosecutor's office takes the crime of forgery seriously. I'm defending several lawsuits filed by an Indianapolis business, which is a serial litigator against its former employees and seems to have a propensity to forge contracts it attaches to its lawsuits against its former employees. At least one Marion Co. judge says you can't sue the employer for forgery as long as the employer withdraws the forged document after you catch them trying to use it in litigation. I'm assuming Terry Curry rightfully didn't give these two women the option of withdrawing their claims and declaring "no harm, no foul." It can be a very strange legal system in this county depending on who's calling the shots.

Kroger Shooting Raising A Number Of Issues

A shooting of an attempted robber at a Kroger store on Indianapolis' northwest side by a store manager is raising a lot of questions. The deceased 26-year-old attempted robber, Jeremy Atkinson, had a 2009 conviction for armed robbery and carrying a handgun without a license, and he had an active outstanding warrant for his arrest for violating the terms of his probation. Atkinson received only a four-year sentence for the armed robbery conviction according to the Star at his sentencing in December, 2009 and served less than two years after his sentencing before he was released from prison in February to participate in a work release program. This begs the question of why a serious violent offender is being released from prison so soon after his conviction.

News reports indicate that Atkinson entered the Kroger store yesterday evening and forced a female employee of the Kroger store into a back office while poking something hard in her back that she believed was a gun. A store manager entered the office and fired several shots at Atkinson, striking him in the face. One 911 caller says she heard six shots, while another caller said she heard at least three shots.  He later died after he was transported to an area hospital. There has been no confirmation that Atkinson did in fact have a weapon on him when he was shot by the store's manager. One would have thought police would have confirmed by this point if he had a weapon on him at the time of the shooting.  Fox 59 News is reporting that Kroger's employee manual prohibits employees from carrying a firearm or other concealed weapon on the premises, except for licensed and authorized security personnel.

News reports say some Kroger workers fear the employee who shot Atkinson will be fired, causing supporters of the store manager to launch a Facebook site expressing support for him. It is unclear whether the employee had a license to carry a concealed handgun. Many larger, chain retail stores train their employees not to forcibly resist robbers, including chasing after shoplifters who flee the store with stolen merchandise, for liability reasons. Marion Co. Prosecutor Terry Curry and IMPD have indicated that they do not currently have plans to file charges against the store manager who shot Atkinson.

UPDATE: WTHR's Steve Jefferson reported tonight that the store manager, 24-year-old Elijah Elliott of Crawfordsville, had a permit to carry a concealed weapon. The Facebook site urging Kroger not to fire Elliott can be accessed here.

WRTV's Norm Cox has a story discussing the conflict between Kroger's policy against its employees carrying firearms in the workplace for personal protection, and Indiana's conceal, carry permit law.

Indiana law allows people to use deadly force to defend themselves, but employers can still fire workers for having that deadly force with them in the workplace.
Indiana law states that "a person is justified in using reasonable force to protect himself or a third person from what he believes is necessary to stop or prevent serious bodily injury or the commission of a forcible felony."
But most companies have stringent rules against having a weapon in the workplace. The Indiana Chamber of Commerce fought hard to prevent the Legislature from creating an exemption to allow guns in locked cars in company parking lots, but the law passed.
The gun rights battle continues to rage. While many people said they support what the worker did, some of those same people don't think guns should be allowed in the workplace.
Kroger spokesman John Elliott said Tuesday he wouldn't discuss his company's policy because of the ongoing investigation . . .

Pat Bauer Admits Unemployment Higher Than Claimed By Obama Administration

Indiana House Democratic Leader Pat Bauer (D-South Bend) pens a column in today's Star in opposition to Republican legislative efforts to make Indiana a right to work state. In it, Bauer admits the actual unemployment rate is much higher than the unemployment rate statistics touted by the Obama administration, particularly after the federal government manipulated the way the statistics are calculated so that many unemployed simply no longer exists in the eyes of the government. Using the Obama administration statistics, Indiana's unemployment rate is supposedly 9%. Bauer pegs the actual number at over 16%.

It is a joke to claim that right to work will provide more jobs for Hoosiers at a time when our true unemployment rate (counting people who have given up looking for work) is over 16 percent. Those one in six Hoosiers who don’t have a job don’t think it’s funny.

Bauer is also offering hope that Democrats this next legislative session will stay on the job and offer their own proposals rather than flee the state in order to shut down the legislature as they did during this year's legislative session. Among his caucus' legislative ideas are:
  • A job creation tax credit to encourage small business owners to hire.
  • State funding for a small business loan program.
  • Giving Indiana contractors first crack at performing any public works contracts.
  • Clawing back economic development incentives from businesses who fail to live up to their promises.
  • A voucher program to allow low-income people to enroll their children in pre-school programs.
  • Full-day kindergarten for every eligible child.
  • Tax credits for child care expenses.
  • A sales tax exemption for textbooks and school supplies
"Right to work for less", Bauer promises, will not be the only answer Hoosiers will be offered for their current economic woes.

Monday, December 26, 2011

Misplaced Priorities As Mobs Riot At Malls To Purchase $180 Air Jordans

It pretty much reflects the poor state of affairs in urban America today. This scene at Indianapolis' Lafayette Square mall Friday before Christmas where a mob of shoppers literally tore down the doors and trampled over small children and women in order to purchase the latest Nike Air Jordan Concord basketball shoes illustrates why America is doomed. When you have mobs of people whose kids can probably barely read or write stampeding through the mall's doors after waiting in long lines for hours all night simply to buy a $180 pair of shoes, it's hard to have little hope for the future of this country. It's too bad their children's education isn't as important to them as buying a stupid pair of shoes that most of these people probably can't afford and that won't help any of them get a job. I can honestly say I've never spent anywhere close to $180 for a pair of shoes period, let alone a pair of sneakers. The absolute dumbest statement during this sad episode came from IMPD's public spokesman: “Officers restored order very quickly,” said IMPD spokesperson Kendale Adams. “[They] did a good job in getting the crowd organized, trying to get them in to get the shoes.” Yeah, right. Be proud, Kendale.

Chief Justice Shepard's View On Recusal Should Have Compelled Rosenberg's Recusal In Charlie White Case

Chief Justice Shepard
I'm not sure why the attorneys in the Charlie White case have not asked Judge Louis Rosenberg to recuse himself from hearing the Charlie White election contest case, but I feel the issue warrants further discussion, particularly in light of Chief Justice Randall Shepard's reported explanation several years ago about why he chose to recuse himself in the high profile rape conviction appeal of boxer Mike Tyson that I find highly instructive and on point. As I've previously been alone in reporting, Judge Louis Rosenberg's daughter, Erin, a Democratic Party activist, became one of the first Democrats to publicly make the case that Charlie White was not legally registered to vote and, therefore, should be disqualified from being Indiana's secretary of state. Rosenberg published her legal analysis and partisan views on a partisan Democratic blog, in which she even insisted that then-Hamilton Co. Prosecutor Sonia Leerkamp recuse herself from investigating whether White broke any laws because she was a Republican like White, a move later taken by Leerkamp in requesting the appointment of a special prosecutor.

Chief Justice Randall Shepard turned down a request by prominent Harvard criminal law professor Alan Dershowitz, who was representing Mike Tyson in the appeal of his Indiana rape conviction, that Shepard withdraw his earlier announced recusal in participating in a decision by the Supreme Court over whether to grant Tyson's petition for transfer after the Court of Appeals rejected his client's appeal. Shepard had earlier authored a decision affirming the trial court's denial of Tyson's release on bond while his case was being appealed. In denying Dershowitz's request that he withdraw his recusal from participating in his client's appeal, Shepard explained the circumstance of events where his wife, not the Chief Justice, had discussed with Dershowitz her views about his legal tactics in handling his client's appeal. Shepard wrote:
My wife, Amy W. MacDonell, accompanied me to New Haven, Connecticut, for the twentieth reunion of the Yale Law School Class of 1972, held October 2-4, 1992. During this reunion, the school staged a large luncheon in the University Commons for people from all the classes then observing reunions. During the course of the lunch, my wife made a trip to the ladies' room. Upon her return, she told me that she had just introduced herself to Alan Dershowitz, by then counsel of record for Mr. Tyson. She said she had told Dershowitz that she had seen him argue the bail request before the Indiana Court of Appeals and that he needed to be better attuned to the Indiana way of approaching things as this appeal progressed. In particular, she said she told him his declaration that he would resign as counsel if Tyson skipped bail was not the right approach. The Dershowitz affidavit partly describes this conversation, though it varies in several respects from my wife's description. Obviously, I based my decision on my wife's account, not having seen the Dershowitz version until last month. I think it unnecessary to make any findings of fact concerning the accuracy of the Dershowitz affidavit and can even assume it true for purposes of acting on the present application.
I agree with the suggestion of the Dershowitz affidavit that the conversation was improper. My wife is not a lawyer, and she did not fully appreciate the reasons why such conversations are considered improper. She now understands the principles underlying these rules. She regrets very much having initiated this colloquy and feels a deep sense of embarrassment about it. My own decision not to disclose the reasons for my disqualification was motivated by a desire to protect my wife from the embarrassment she would feel about public disclosure and debate concerning her conduct, innocent as it was. During October and early November 1992, I weighed the possibility of disqualifying. This is obviously an action which ought to be avoided if possible. A judge has a duty to hear and decide matters unless disqualification is required. Ind.Judicial Conduct Canon 3(B)(1). Tyson v. State, 622 N.E.2d 457 (Ind. 1993).
Judge Louis Rosenberg
Like Shepard's wife, Rosenberg's daughter is an immediate relative. It is also true that she was not a lawyer at the time she first made her views known about Charlie White's legal situation, although she was a law student who had worked on the congressional staff of U.S. Rep. Andre Carson and had served as his campaign committee's treasurer. Rosenberg's daughter did not communicate her views privately to White; rather, she published them for the world to read on a partisan Democratic blog published by a Democratic attorney, Chris Worden, who also now works on the staff of U.S. Rep. Andre Carson, a close friend of White's opponent, Vop Osili. Unlike Shepard's wife, Erin expressed particular animus in her stated public views towards White. She opined in her blog post entitled, "Charlie White's Whitewash Effort Defies Logic," that "he intentionally violated the laws." "White’s actions show that he knows the laws and how to abide by them, but chose not to when they suited his ambitions and personal desires," Rosenberg wrote. "Mr. White must suspend his campaign and a special prosecutor must be appointed to conduct a real investigation of these allegations." Erin goes on to state the facts in detail as she saw them and how the law should be applied to disqualify White. She demanded that he "immediately suspend his campaign and address these charges." While not questioning whether Prosecutor Sonia Leerkamp could be impartial, she stated her belief that she should recuse herself. "I do not want to imply that Ms. Leerkamp is not capable of doing a fair and impartial investigation," she wrote. "I have no reason to doubt her on this. However, given the perception issues, I believe an impartial prosecutor should be brought in to investigate."

After the Recount Commission initially rejected a petition filed by the Democratic Party refusing to hear its petition challenging White's case, and the Democrats filed a case appealing the decision in Judge Rosenberg's court, I asked White's then-attorney, respected elections lawyer Jim Bopp, why he had not asked Judge Rosenberg to recuse himself given his daughter's publicly stated views on the case. Bopp reacted to my question as if he was not aware who she was or what she had written about the case. Nonetheless, Bopp said he had never asked a judge to recuse himself in his many years of practicing law. Bopp said he was comfortable with the legal position he was arguing for his client, and that if Judge Rosenberg ruled against his client, he was confident of winning on appeal. Judge Rosenberg went on to rule against his client and ordered the Recount Commission to hear the Democratic Party's complaint based on his novel interpretation of Indiana's election laws, and the Indiana Supreme Court refused to hear an appeal of his decision until White had exhausted his administrative remedies before the Recount Commission. After the Recount Commission unanimously ruled in White's favor, the Democrats again appealed the decision to Judge Rosenberg, who once again sided with the Democrats in a decision that produces a novel approach to deciding where a person is legally registered to vote (See Paul Ogden's reading of Rosenberg's order that White could not have legally been registered at either his ex-wife's home or the new condo he purchased under the untenable interpretation of the voter registration laws set out therein. Also, see fellow attorney and former state representative Jon Elrod's take on why Rosenberg got it wrong.)

Back to Shepard's decision to recuse himself in the Tyson case, he explained the judicial canons that I believe should have also led Judge Rosenberg to the decision he should recuse himself from the White case, even though White's attorneys failed to raise the issue. Chief Justice Shepard recused himself before either side had raised the issue:

It was plain that the circumstances which led to my considering recusal were not initiated by either of the parties to this litigation or by me, a fact which diminished its harm. Still, the communication did involve only one side to the litigation, and I concluded that its nature played a role in the second, and more complex question, namely, whether under Canon 3(C)(1) this was a case in which my impartiality might reasonably be questioned.
Shepard then explains the test for determining whether to invoke recusal under Canon 3(C)(1) and how he applied the test to reach his decision to recuse himself.
The test under Canon 3(C)(1) is whether an objective person, knowledgeable of all the circumstances, would have a reasonable basis for doubting the judge's impartiality. The question is not whether the judge's impartiality is impaired in fact, but whether there exists a reasonable basis for questioning a judge's impartiality. A judge has a duty to promote public confidence in the impartiality of the judiciary. Ind.Judicial Conduct Canon 2. (citations omitted)
Several factors weighed in favor of recusing on grounds relevant to Canon 3(C)(1). First, the conversation as described in the Dershowitz affidavit and as related to me by my wife could fairly be described as one in which my wife undertook to advise Dershowitz about ways to improve his chances on appeal. Had I participated in the case and had I voted in favor of Tyson, many could have supposed that Dershowitz took my wife's advice and that my vote went with it. The harm flowing from such suspicions can easily be imagined by considering what the defense would have said had my wife advised the prosecution while the case was being appealed.
In addition, had I not recused and voted in favor of Tyson, it might have appeared that I favored Mr. Dershowitz's client so that Mr. Dershowitz would have no reason to reveal my wife's action. I would thus have saved my wife the embarrassment of public disclosure and debate by voting for Tyson.
It should be pointed out that Alan Dershowitz has been highly critical of Shepard's decision to recuse himself in the Tyson case. Dershowitz was particularly perturbed that without Shepard's vote, his petition for transfer of his client's appeal was denied after the court deadlocked in a 2-2 vote.  "Our research disclosed that Justice Shepard had written several opinions that, if followed, would probably have led him to rule in our favor," Dershowitz later wrote. Dershowitz then made a big leap to imply that Shepard had deliberately gone out of his way to look for a reason to recuse himself, a view most legal analysts would probably agree is without merit.

I think the case could easily be made that the circumstances in White's case were far more compelling for Judge Rosenberg to recuse himself from hearing the case than those set of facts that led Chief Justice Shepard to recuse himself in the Tyson case. Erin knew when she published her legal analysis and her personal views that her father was the sitting circuit court judge in Marion County who very well could be called upon to decide a case if a challenge to White's election occurred. As Shepard explains, it's not whether Judge Rosenberg's ability to rule impartially is in fact impaired; it's whether there exists a reasonable basis for questioning his impartiality. Personally, I would never agree to let my fate be decided by a judge whose daughter had so publicly expressed her prejudicial views of my guilt as Rosenberg's daughter had done. I would also distinguish my criticism of Rosenberg's participation in this case to those expressed by Abdul Hakim Shabazz, who published a blog post claiming Rosenberg had engaged in ex parte' communications in the case, which clearly would have violated the canons for judicial conduct. That blog post led the Indianapolis Bar Association to publicly rebuke Shabazz. In particular, the bar association was concerned that Shabazz had accused Judge Rosenberg of judicial misconduct without any substantiation other than rumor and innuendo. My criticism is not based on rumor and innuendo. It is based on the undisputed public writings and active participation of Rosenberg's daughter in helping to foment public support for an effort to oust White from office in the anticipated event he won the 2010 general election for secretary of state.

If someone believes my analysis that leads me to conclude that Judge Rosenberg should have recused himself from deciding the White case is flawed and would like to publish a constructive counter view on this blog, please forward it to my attention for consideration. My only request is that it be a constructive analysis based on supporting legal authority.

Sunday, December 25, 2011

ISU Quietly Ousts Hasler Before Christmas

The Terre Haute Tribune-Star reported as the Christmas holiday weekend began that Indiana State University officials had accepted the resignation of former State Rep. Brian Hasler last Monday from his position as the university's lobbyist to Congress and the state legislature. According to the Trib-Star, Hasler's duties will be absorbed by another ISU official, Diana McKee, as the university evaluates his former position going forward. Hasler was paid  an annual salary of $116,159.

Hasler is scheduled to appear in court in Marion County on January 13 to face a Class A misdemeanor charge of patronizing a prostitute. Hasler was arrested by an undercover IMPD cop on December 7 at the Omni-Severin hotel in downtown Indianapolis after he allegedly offered to pay the undercover cop $160 to have sex with him.

Saturday, December 24, 2011

Who Hacked Darrell White's Facebook Site?

The Indianapolis Star couldn't pass up another opportunity to impugn embattled Secretary of State Charlie White after a dirty tricks operative for the Democratic Party appears to have hacked into his father's Facebook site that he had rarely used and posted anti-Semitic screed against Judge Louis Rosenberg in response to his decision this week overturning the Recount Commission's decision. Some of us have a pretty good hunch it's the same notorious Internet troll banned from many sites because of his long history of engaging in sock puppetry. The use of German words and his knowledge of Rosenberg's daughter's whereabouts were very helpful clues of his identity. Obviously, he revealed knowledge of things and a writing style any fool would know did not come from White's father. It's unfortunate the Star's animus towards White is so intense that it would play right into the hands of a low-life, dirty tricks operative by drawing attention to his latest handiwork. Some passages from the story:

"I don't know where this monkey business is coming from, but it's not me," said Darrell White, who reported the incident to Westfield police Friday. "Somebody is trying to hurt the White family even more than it has been hurt before, and I really resent it."
The posts appeared on Darrell White's Facebook page and in a comment thread on an Indianapolis Star story in response to Rosenberg's ruling that Charlie White should lose his job because he was registered to vote in a precinct where he didn't live while he was campaigning for the office in 2010 . . .
The posts on Darrell White's Facebook page made derogatory comments about Rosenberg's faith.
Parts of the posts were written in German.
One said Rosenberg is "chicken manure of the world."
"I'm personally calling you out on Facebook," the posts continued. "Stand up and be heard . . . or are you the cry baby I thought you were . . . you make me want to puke."
The posts also made several references to Rosenberg's daughter, who works in the Netherlands.
Rosenberg said Friday that he doesn't plan to read the comments, and he had no idea why the posts mentioned his daughter.
"It doesn't serve the public for me to get involved in these sorts of irrelevant comments," he said. "Whether somebody loves me or hates me is not relevant to the case."
The posts on Darrell White's Facebook page also called Parker, the Democratic chairman, "the ultimate loser" and accused him of using others to take down his enemies.

Friday, December 23, 2011

Judge Rosenberg Stays His Order Removing White From Office

Judge Louis Rosenberg, the Democratic judge who is seeking to overturn a unanimous decision of the Indiana Recount Commission in order to install a fellow Democrat, Vop Osili, who received only 38% of the vote, has agreed to stay an order he issued on the eve of the Christmas holiday knowing full well that many people had already started their holiday weekend for a week. An attorney for White, Jon Sturgill, said he will seek a delay of that hearing because the new hearing date has been scheduled on the eve of the New Year's holiday weekend. The Attorney General has already stated his intention to appeal the unprecedented ruling of an Indiana trial court judge.

Rosenberg's order signed on Wednesday but not released until late yesterday afternoon declared Secretary of State Charlie White ineligible to hold office based on a specious claim that he was not "legally" registered to vote in the Hamilton County precinct of his ex-wife's home where the two lived prior to their divorce. In a novel ruling that rejects decades of precedence established by Indiana court decisions for determining a voter's residence, Rosenberg ordered White removed from office and replaced by the losing Democratic candidate for that office.

UPDATE: I just learned the hearing has been continued until January 3, 2012. A question that has arisen is whether the Recount Commission that decided the case remains constituted to carry out the judge's order or to request the appeal the Attorney General has indicated that he plans to take. Perhaps that question will be sorted out in advance of January 3.

Chicago Judge Gives Christmas Present To Tony Rezko

Apart from Tony Rezko's role as a political fixer for Barack Obama and Rod Blagojevich, he was also engaged in defrauding his creditors for his business ventures. Rezko had already been sentenced to a term of 10 1/2 years for his role in Blagojevich's public corruption scandal for arranging for $9.6 million in illegal kickbacks for state contract awards, but he had been awaiting sentencing for defrauding GE Capital out of $2.5 million to obtain loans for his Papa John pizza restaurants in Illinois and Michigan. Judge James Zagel, the same judge who sentenced Blagojevich to 14 years in prison, gave Rezko a 7 1/2-year prison sentence for defrauding GE Capital, but he is allowing him to serve his time for the unrelated crime concurrent with the sentence for his crimes against the Illinois taxpayers, which means he won't serve an extra day in jail for the unrelated crimes. From the Sun-Times:
U.S. District Judge James P. Zagel sentenced Rezko Thursday to 7½ years on charges he schemed to get a fraudulent loan to prop up his Papa John's Pizza franchises in Illinois and Michigan. That means every day Rezko spends in prison will count toward both sentences.
But Zagel agreed to make the sentence concurrent with a 10½-year prison term Rezko received last month for corrupting state boards and state government under former Gov. Rod Blagojevich.
Rezko, who helped Obama out with the purchase of his southside mansion when he was still a U.S. senator,  has been shielded from public view since Obama became president and has not been called to testify at any of the subsequent trials, including the trial of Blagojevich despite his key co-conpirator role. The allegations that Rezko stuffed money into Obama's pockets are also apparently being swept under the rug by federal prosecutors in Chicago. Oddly, Rezko's former business partner, Daniel Frawley, just agreed to plead guilty to a crime for which the statute of limitations had already passed. Frawley reportedly was cooperating in the investigation of Rezko for the past five years by wearing a wire while having conversations with Rezko. Prosecutors are seeking a sentence of just 18 months for Frawley's role in defrauding a bank out of $4.4 million. In a December 1, 2010 deposition, Frawley was questioned about his knowledge of payments made by Rezko to Obama. He declined to answer on the advice of his counsel. Frawley later sued his attorney for malpractice after he learned that he was also representing Tony Rezko. One of the businesses that Rezko and Frawley owned together received a $50 million contract from the Iraqi government to train security guards, a deal that eventually went south when things blew up in Chicago for Rezko. What Obama's role in helping the two land the Iraqi contract is also apparently under lock and seal, along with the alleged payments Rezko made to Obama.

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Democrat Judge Stands Decades Of Election Law On Its Head: Rules Landslide Winner Of 2010 Secretary Of State's Office Ineligible To Hold Office

Decades of Indiana court decisions have liberally applied residency requirements for candidates to elective office in Indiana. The Indiana Supreme Court said Evan Bayh could work and reside in Washington, D.C. for more than two years, even take an income tax deduction for his move there, without giving up his residence in Indiana. A judicial candidate who lived and worked as a patent lawyer for the federal government in Washington, D.C. for many years was allowed to claim a voting residence in Indiana at his parent's home and run for office in Indiana while he continued to reside in Washington with his wife and children. Yet, a Democratic-elected circuit court judge in Marion County has turned those and many other court decisions on their head and found that Charlie White, who has resided his entire adult life in Hamilton County, Indiana was an ineligible voter and, therefore, an ineligible candidate for the office of Secretary of State to which he was elected in a landslide election over his Democratic opponent in the 2010 general election.

Today, Marion County Circuit Court Judge Louis Rosenberg released an order overturning a unanimous decision of the Indiana Recount Commission (that he actually signed yesterday) finding White to be an eligible voter and candidate for the office he holds and sided with a complaint filed by the Indiana Democratic Party. Rosenberg handed down his decision just days before the most holy of Christian holidays ordering the Recount Commission to certify the losing Democratic candidate, Vop Osili, as the winner of a race in which he received only 38% of the vote. The decision on the eve of the Christmas holiday makes it impossible for the Recount Commission to meet quickly and provide the required 48-hour notice for holding emergency meetings. White and the Indiana Attorney General's Office plan to appeal the decision. Because of the urgency of deciding who has the right to hold a constitutionally-elected office, the matter is likely to be appealed directly to the Supreme Court. White will continue to hold the office while the matter is appealed unless otherwise ordered.

You will recall that Judge Louis Rosenberg's daughter, Erin, is one of the first Democratic activists to investigate and make the case that White should be declared ineligible to run for the office of secretary of state just weeks before the November, 2010 election based on the fact that White claimed his ex-wife's home as his residence for voting purposes for a several month period before he sought the Republican nomination for secretary of state and before he moved into his new residence with his second wife following his marriage to her. Rosenberg's daughter, who had worked on the staff of U.S. Rep. Andre Carson (D) and was attending law school, published her findings and legal arguments in a partisan political blog. She publicly called on the Republican prosecutor to recuse herself from deciding how to handle the case, pressing for the appointment of a special prosecutor. White's ex-wife's home had served as the marital residence during his marriage to her, and he testified before the Recount Commission that he struggled financially as his ex-wife re-mortgaged the marital residence in her name before was able to close on the purchase of a condominium he intended to live in with his second wife. Both his current wife and second wife gave testimony before the Recount Commission that supported White's contention that he intended to establish his voting residence at his ex-wife's home before his marriage and permanent move into the new home he purchased. At all times, White resided in Hamilton County where he has resided his entire adult life since graduating from college.

The Indiana Constitution requires a person, in order to be eligible to serve as governor or lt. governor, must be at least 30 years of age and reside in the state for a minimum period of five (5) years before seeking the office. In contrast, the state constitution imposes no age or residency requirement on the persons who hold the other constitutional offices in Indiana, including secretary of state. State law imposes a requirement that a person be a registered voter of the state. There is no dispute that White was at all times a registered voter of Indiana. Judge Rosenberg has added a further requirement not expressly provided in statute that a person must also be "legally" registered to vote in the precinct in which they cast a vote. After returning the decision to the Recount Commission for rehearing after it earlier rejected the Democratic Party's complaint against White, the three-panel commission, including a former Democratic judge, unanimously agreed that the evidence supported White's contention that he had intended to make his ex-wife's home his residence for voting purposes prior to his marriage to his second wife consistent with applicable Indiana statutory and case law.

While Judge Rosenberg cautioned that he was not concluding that White's actions were "fraudulent" or "constituted a crime," he found that the same evidence heard by the Recount Commission led him to conclude that White was illegally registered to vote. Judge Rosenberg found the evidence made it clear to him that White did not intend to make his wife's residence his permanent voting address; therefore, he concluded he was not legally registered to vote there and could not have been a candidate for secretary of state. The ruling, if carried through to its practical impact, would result in many prominent elected officials, past and present, being declared unlawfully registered to vote. Sen. Richard Lugar, for example, has registered to vote, cast numerous ballots and stood for election every six years since 1976 from a home he sold more than three decades ago. Based on Rosenberg's analysis, it would be impossible to find an intent for Lugar to permanently reside at a home in which he long ago gave up an ownership interest. Marion Co. Prosecutor Terry Curry refused to investigate a complaint White had forwarded to his office challenging Lugar's voter registration. A community activist, Greg Wright, has subsequently filed a complaint with the Indiana Election Commission challenging Lugar's voting residency, which is currently under review by the staff. A Democratic staffer for the Election Division has told the media he believes the Election Commission should investigate the allegations contained in the Lugar complaint.

You can read Judge Rosenberg's eight-page ruling here. Note that Judge Rosenberg's order was dated yesterday. Yet he held up its release until near the close of business today, after many were already getting an early start on their Christmas holiday weekend. I fully anticipate that it will be rejected by the Supreme Court unless the court decides to overrule decades of standing precedent to find in favor of the Democratic Party and take the extraordinary step of overturning the election of the popularly-elected choice of the voters for the office of secretary of state.

UPDATE: This decision poses a complicated predicament for the Recount Commission. You may recall that Tom Wheeler had been appointed as a Republican chairman of the commission to substitute for White since he could not decide a challenge to his own eligibility as the Secretary of State. Wheeler is unsure that he is even eligible to resume that post since he stepped down following the Recount Commission's unanimous decision in White's favor last June. Wheeler wonder whether he has authority to convene a meeting of the Commission to request a formal appeal of the decision. The Evanville Courier-Press's Eric Bradner explains:

The steps the Recount Commission must take to deal with Rosenberg’s ruling get complicated.
Wheeler’s capacity, he said, is not quite clear. He was appointed to lead the panel when White, who would otherwise have been the chairman, removed himself. But once the panel made its decision, it – and his position – dissolved.
“It stopped as a matter of law. Right now there is no Recount Commission; there is no chair of the Recount Commission,” he said.
Wheeler, who was appointed by Indiana Republican Party Chairman Eric Holcomb to replace White, who would normally serve on the panel, said he would call for a meeting, which would require 48 hours’ public notice ahead of time, if he could.
“I’ve asked the attorney general’s office for an opinion as to whether I am chairman or not; whether I can convene a meeting or not,” Wheeler said. “Am I in? Am I out? If I’m out, does the Republican Party chair reappoint a chairman?”
Regardless of Wheeler's legal standing to chair the Commission, the Attorney General has a legal duty to appeal the Commission's decision since it was a validly-constituted state governmental authority acting within the scope of its authority in rendering its well-founded decision on the Democratic Party's complaint. State GOP Chairman Eric Holcomb is calling for a direct appeal of the decision to the Supreme Court. Indiana Attorney General Greg Zoeller's office issued a statement indicating he would appeal the decision to the Court of Appeals.
“One obligation of our office is to represent state government boards such as the Indiana Recount Commission in lawsuits, and when a board’s unanimous administrative decision is overturned by a court, the order should be reviewed by a higher court. We will seek a stay of the court’s ruling and are in communication with our client the Recount Commission to discuss the process of an appeal.”
Fox 59 News had a rushed story tonight claiming White was already out of his job after Judge Rosernberg's highly questionable ruling. White will remain in office while the decision is under appeal if past precedents are any guide.

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

More Details On Bateman Indictment

The U.S. Attorney's Office held a press conference this morning and released a statement offering more details on the indictment of City-County Councilor Paul Bateman and two associates for wire fraud and money laundering charges related to their management of the Russell Foundation. According to the press release, five checks totaling $702,000 over a several month period in 2007 were deposited in Bateman's personal bank account and spent on purposes other than what it should have been spent. The Russell Foundation defrauded its chief benefactor, an elderly physician, by claiming that money he gave to the foundation would be invested in an ethanol production company. Instead, Bateman deposited the money into his personal bank account and spent on things other than production and distribution of ethanol.

Bateman, Michael Russell and Manuel Gonzalez are further accused of soliciting a $1 million corporate bond from the victim, which the defendants promptly spent over a 33-day period on some of the following items:
  • $74,000 in custom made clothing for foundation members and associates
  • 10 vehicles costing more than $265,000 for foundation members and associates
  • Payment of Bateman's personal income tax liability
  • Payment of Russell's rent
  • Various personal expenses, including trips
The press release claims the foundation relied on Bateman's elected position as a city councilor and an unnamed high-ranking IMPD police officer "to provide the appearance of credibility, respectability, and legitimacy to their activities" as part of their "elaborate fraud scheme." U.S. Attorney Joe Hogsett declined to name the high-ranking police officer or indicate if the officer or others may be indicted as the case proceeds.

UPDATE: The elderly physician who Bateman, et al. allegedly defrauded, was not named in the indictment, but the Star today identifies him as Arthur Sumrall, who runs the Longevity Institute of Indiana on the city's northside:

The doctor, Arthur Sumrall, who is in his 70s and runs the Longevity Institute of Indiana on the Far Northside, did not return phone calls Wednesday. The institute provides skin care, weight loss and nutrition programs to customers, according to its website. It offers acupuncture, organic facials, laser hair removals, waxings and deep tissue massages.

Billionaire Herb Simon Expects Millions More In Subsidies For His Pacers

Proving that the greed of a self-indulgent billionaire has no bounds, Herb Simon says he expects Indianapolis taxpayers to chip in millions more annually in the coming years if they want him to keep his Indiana Pacers team in town. Despite a $33.5 million gift from the taxpayers and millions more that will make its way into his pockets as a result of the latest NBA collective bargaining agreement structured to benefit team owners in smaller cities, Herb says it's still not enough. The Star's Mike Wells explains Herb's position:

Simon, who has felt the brunt financially of being a small-market owner over the years, expects the new collective bargaining agreement to help teams like the Pacers.
"I think it's an improvement over the last CBA," he said in a phone interview. "That, along with the new revenue sharing, will help the smaller markets."
The players went from receiving 57 percent of the basketball-related income in the old CBA to 49 percent to 51 percent of BRI, based on revenue projections, in the new agreement. That's a drop of about $200 million annually in player compensation.
There also will be a stiffer penalty for teams that go over the luxury tax starting in the third year of the CBA.
While he likes the progress made with the revenue sharing, Simon, who didn't think the lockout would end until January or February, still believes his franchise needs help running Conseco Fieldhouse, which will have a new name Thursday.
The Pacers are in the second year of a three-year, $33.5 million assistance package approved by the Capital Improvement Board, which owns the fieldhouse, to help offset the building's operating costs. The next payment is scheduled for next month.
"We're still going to need some help on the arena side, but not on the basketball side," Simon said. "We still need to finalize our deal with the city to alleviate some of the arena expenses in a building that they own. That's the issue.
"It's never been the Pacers are losing money. Part of the reason we're losing money is because we're having these arena expenses that most other teams don't have to deal with."
The team is responsible for the $15 million to $18 million annually in operating costs of the fieldhouse. In its deal with the Pacers, the CIB is paying $10 million of the team's costs each year for three years.
It is simply beyond reproach the groveling the Indianapolis news media does at the feet of these greedy sports team owners like Simon and Jim Irsay. While record numbers of Hoosiers are unemployed or underemployed struggling to keep their homes, put food on the table and pay for their medical bills, these greedy sports team owners expect us to keep digging deeper and deeper into our pockets to support their lavish lifestyles. Every single economic study worth its salt proves these sports franchises contribute very little economically to the communities in which they're located after discounting the public costs of having them. Further, I remain convinced that these team owners blatantly lie to the public about their team's losses. None of them will ever produce audited financial statements that would prove just how much their teams are making or losing. There's a reason for that. If these teams were really losing as much money as they claim they are, America's wealthiest businessmen wouldn't be standing in line to own them. They didn't get rich making stupid investment decisions.

Mark my word. The Simon's attorney, Bob Grand, has already gotten Mayor Greg Ballard's sign off on making permanent a requirement that the CIB pay for the annual operating expenses for Conseco Fieldhouse. Mayor Ballard sold his soul to these corrupt interests as soon as he took office four years ago. All of the CIB membes apppointed to that board are controlled by the people who benefit from these sports franchises. Nobody gets a seat on that board unless they agree to vote as they're told to vote. The voice of the public is completely shut out from their deliberations. Get ready to bend over and take it up the ass some more so Herb and his family can buy a few more palatial homes, private jets, designer clothing and diamond jewelry.

Durham Seeks Dismissal Of Charges, Alleging Government Misconduct

An attorney for indicted Ponzi scheme operator Tim Durham has filed a motion in the U.S. district court for the southern district of Indiana seeking the dismissal of the conspiracy and fraud charges brought against him earlier this year, alleging the government illegally gathered evidence against his client before it has properly obtained a search warrant. The Star's Tim Evans explains:

Federal officials violated wiretap laws while investigating financier Tim Durham, according to a motion filed today that calls for the dismissal of conspiracy and fraud charges against Durham.
In a "memorandum in support of motion to dismiss" filed this morning in U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Indiana, Indianapolis attorney John Tompkins lays out a timeline of the 2009 wiretap process that alleges "the government has engaged in a course of conduct that both constitutes gross misconduct so severe that dismissal is warranted" and violates federal wiretap laws.
The filing basically alleges federal investigators began capturing information from Durham's telephone before obtaining a warrant to do so on Nov. 6, 2009.
It also contends "the government has engaged in additional misconduct by providing deceptive and misleading information in response" to defense questions about the wiretap.
Durham stands accused of defrauding small investors in rural Ohio out of more than $200 million through the Fair Finance Company he and his business partner, James Cochran, acquired nearly a decade ago. Even if the government is prohibited from using the evidence it gathered from the wiretaps, assuming Durham's attorneys allegations are true, the government should have more than sufficient independent evidence to support its case against Durham. The fact remains that the investor's money is gone, and the bankruptcy trustee for the company has independently confirmed that most of the money was diverted by Durham and his associates for their own personal benefit.

City-County Councilor Paul Bateman Indicted For Money Laudering And Wire Fraud

The Indianapolis City-County Council is starting to look more like the Chicago City Council, and it should since some of its occupants engage in the same sort of self-dealing that has sent many Chicago aldermen to prison. The second sitting councilor in as many years has been indicted on charges of bilking a nonprofit foundation he helped oversee. Councilor Paul Bateman (D) and others faces charges of money laundering and wire fraud in connection with their administration of the now bankrupt Russell Foundation. According to a federal indictment handed down in Indianapolis, Bateman, Manuel Gonzalez and a founding member of the foundation, Michael Russell, defrauded an elderly physician out of $1.7 million of his funds that were supposed to be used for charitable purposes. From the Star:
Bateman was charged with eight counts of wire fraud and 10 counts of money laundering, Russell with eight counts of wire fraud and 12 counts of money laundering, and Gonzalez with three counts of wire fraud and two counts of money laundering.
Each count of wire fraud carries a sentence of up to 20 years in prison, and each count of money laundering up to 10 years in prison upon conviction, said Joe Vaughn, lead prosecutor on the case for the U.S. attorney's office . . .

Instead of investing the money, the three men used it for a variety of personal expenses for themselves, family members, friends and others associated with the foundation, according to the indictment.

The purchases included vehicles, entertainment, clothing, jewelry, travel, housing and home furnishings, the indictment states.

The Russell Foundation was created in 2003 ostensibly as a nonprofit, tax-exempt corporation "organized exclusively for charitable, religious (and) educational purposes," according to the indictment.

The indictment alleges the three men used the foundation to lure the physician first to invest about $702,000 in early 2007 in Indiana ethanol production and distribution.
Then, later in the year, the indictment alleges, the three men successfully schemed to obtain a $1 million corporate cash bond from the physician purportedly to invest in the foundation's humanitarian projects, with the physician being told he would get back $1.6 million in about seven months.

The indictment alleges Russell falsely told the physician at the time that he would receive his promised return on his investment "because there were going to be many additional investors in The Russell Foundation, when, in truth and in fact, and as Russell then knew, there were no credible potential investors in The Russell Foundation."

The indictment also alleges that within just a few weeks after each of the physician's two investments, nearly all of the money had been spent by the three men now indicted on a variety of personal items and uses. The foundation went into bankruptcy in May 2008, and a trustee was appointed to oversee the bankruptcy.

U.S. Attorney Joe Hogsett told reporters for the Indianapolis Star that Bateman and "an unnamed high-ranking Indianapolis Metropolitan Police Department officer", who was also a member of the foundation, used their positions to lend credibility to the Russell Foundation.  "The allegations in this indictment paint a picture of excessive personal greed," Hogsett said. "Such a violation of trust would be tragic under any circumstances, but the fact that this scheme allegedly involved a repeated violation of the public trust makes this case even more disheartening." It's unclear why the "high-ranking" IMPD officer mentioned by Hogsett in the Star's story has not been charged. It's also my understanding that there may have been more than one high-ranking IMPD officers involved in working for the foundation, which may have violated work rules against off-duty work for high-ranking officers. "At the time, there were reports high ranking Indianapolis Metropolitan Police Department command officers may have been questioned about their involvement with Bateman and the foundation," Fox 59 confirms in its report on Bateman's indictment. Convicted Councilor Lincoln Plowman, a former major in the department, had also worked for a strip club in violation of off-duty work rules for high-ranking officers. Plowman was convicted of soliciting a bribe from and attempted extortion of, an undercover FBI agent posing as a strip club owner in September. He has been sentenced to 40 months in prison.

Two and a half years ago, I painted a picture of what had taken place at the Russell Foundation in a post based upon information I received from a well-placed source. As I reported then,

People knowledgeable with the grand jury investigation of the nonprofit organization in the wake of its recent bankruptcy filing describe a small group of individuals squeezing every last ounce of blood out of the organization for their own personal benefit. There are tales of a California clothier being flown into town to fit the men in charge with the finest in tailored suits. The women had to settle for the best that Nordstroms had to offer. A northside jeweler crafted gold rings with "RF" initials to distinguish the illustrious crew doing God's work. Exotic rugs were purchased and then disappeared without the bill ever being paid. And a high-ranking Indianapolis police department official pulled double-duty as "chief of security" for the group. An IMPD police cruiser couldnt' cut it. He had a Cadillac Escalade to make his important rounds . . .
The source suspects the individuals in charge of the foundation went on the spending spree in anticipation of an $11 million investment from an outside investment firm. There were big plans. Talks with some of the country's wealthiest businessmen in America were supposedly underway--hence the need for a "chief of security". The focus was no longer on helping inner-city poor with housing and other needs. There was big talk of a high speed monorail from Indianapolis to Chicago, tapping a closed down steel mill in Northwest Indiana that would help put many unemployed in Da Region to work. Ethanol production was planned. It all required lots of walking around money we're told. Cash-filled wallets were needed to work the halls at the State House and our nation's capitol to win support for the foundation's projects according to one tale.
For some reason, the investigation seemed to stall after it was presented to a Marion County grand jury. It is unclear why it has taken so long for the criminal indictments to come to fruition and when the investigation got passed to the U.S. Attorney's Office. At the time the investigation was first announced, Bateman stepped down from his position on the council ethics committee but continued to serve on the council, although he did not seek re-election to his seat this year. Bateman, who is very close to former Center Township Trustee Carl Drummer, became a reliable vote for the Ballard administration, even when those positions were at odds with the position of his party's caucus, whenever Drummer lobbied him in his new position as a lobbyist for the Ice Miller law firm. Bateman was the only Democratic councilor to support the controversial parking meter lease privatization deal.

In an earlier post, I detailed here who all was working for the Russell Foundation at the time of its demise according to the foundation's website. In another post, I provided a listing of where the foundation claimed to have spent some of its money.

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Don't Get Excited, New Name For Conseco Means More Money For Pacers

Your tax dollars may have been used to build it, but as we've come to expect in Indianapolis, any revenues derived from the sports facilities built with our tax dollars go directly into the pockets of the billionaire sports team owners. Billionaire Herb Simon's Pacers and CNO officials are planning to announce the renaming of Conseco Fieldhouse as CNO Financial Center. The Indianapolis Star's Heather Gillers doesn't even give taxpayers credit for building the damn facility. She writes:

Nobody is officially divulging the new name, but here's some fodder for speculation: Conseco's namesake, the Carmel-based insurer formerly called Conseco Inc., changed its name in March 2010 to CNO Financial Group. CNO executives started talks with the Pacers about renaming the arena but ultimately decided the time wasn't right.
Conseco Fieldhouse, built by Mel and Herb Simon, opened in 1999 when the Pacers moved from their former home, Market Square Arena.
Pacers and CNO officials are expected to be on hand for Thursday's announcement. Pacers Sports & Entertainment President Jim Morris could not be reached for comment late Monday.
But one Downtown player, the Sheraton Indianapolis City Centre Hotel, may have jumped the gun. Its website boasts about its proximity to Conseco, "recently renamed CNO Financial Fieldhouse."
Yes, she really did write that Conseco Fieldhouse was built by Herb and Mel Simon. She probably believes that it was the Simons' money that built Circle Centre Mall too. Here's a hint to these Gannett newbies. Don't believe a word Jim Morris and the other rent-a-civic leader propagandists tell you. Verify everything he tells you. It may prevent Ms. Gellers and her boss, Dennis Ryerson, from looking so stupid. Someone asked the other day about the members of the Indianapolis News Guild's efforts to "Save The Star": What's there left to save? Point taken. By the way, Ms. Gellers, taxpayers built Lucas Oil Stadium as well. Billionaire Jim Irsay is simply getting all the revenues from it while the taxpayers foot the bill to maintain it.

Will the Pacers be required to tell us now much the deal will net for them? How much money does the new NBA contract net for the billionaire Simon, which would be particularly useful to know since the team got a $33.5 million gift from the CIB over the past few years based on a totally bogus claim it was losing hundreds of millions of dollars. The Simons don't continue to operate and own anything that loses money. Just look at their abandoned malls if you doubt me. The CIB's current President, Ann Lathrop, has already hinted there may be additional permanent public assistance in the Pacers' future. Lathrop is the handpicked lackey of her predecessor, Bob Grand, whose Barnes & Thornburg law firm represents Simon.

UPDATE: Fellow blogger Fred McCarthy has a spot-on response to the Star's latest miscue:

Imagine our embarrassment! In a front page article in the morning paper about the possible re-naming of Conseco Fieldhouse we found the following information. "Conseco Fieldhouse, built by Mel and Herb Simon, opened in 1999 when the Pacers moved from their former home, Market Square Arena."

All this time we’ve been finding fault with the city subsidizing the Pacers, under the misapprehension that public funds had been used to build the palace in which they perform.

Our apologies to all concerned. The next time the Pacers say they are losing money and want more tax dollars, we’ll try to remember not to complain when the city’s response is, "How much, and do you want that in small unmarked bills?"

Monday, December 19, 2011

American Troops Get Why Ron Paul Has It Right On Foreign Policy

This video is a must view if you want to understand Ron Paul's views of the blowback effect of America's disastrous past foreign policy decisions and how it has produced our costly and unsustainable war on terrorism. Ron Paul is alone among the presidential candidates in understanding the historical significance of the mistakes of our past actions. If you watch it, you will understand why so many of our active duty troops support Ron Paul over the other candidates. They get it because it's their lives who are put on the line every day fighting these costly, endless and pointless wars in the Middle East. Obama, Romney, Gingrich, Bachman et al. all support a continuation of the disastrous Bush-Clinton-Bush policies that have gotten us into this mess. Listen to what our troops have to say. Listen to what national security experts with a conscience have to say. It's the best 13 minutes you can spend in helping you decide what direction our country needs to take in the 2012 election.

Shades Of Carmel Sexual Assault At Mishawaka High School

Carmel High School officials and Hamilton County prosecutors and police haven't had a very good track record when it comes to taking serious the hazing activities of student athletes that amount to sexual assault. It now looks like a strikingly similar sexual assault involving members of the high school wrestling team at Mishawaka High School occurred almost two years ago and officials are only now getting around to taking action. ABC 57 News reports that a 15-year-old member of the high school wrestling team says five of his teammates forcibly sodomized him nearly two years ago. School officials, including the team's coach, Darrick Snyder, reportedly failed to notify law enforcement authorities of the sexual assault after it was first reported to him. Snyder has now been placed on suspension and one of the team members who allegedly committed the assault was arrested last Friday and is being held at a juvenile detention center. The 15-year-old victim claims the teammates forcibly penetrated him with a broom stick at a wrestling camp in January, 2010.

The South Bend Tribune says the youth arrested in connection with the alleged sexual assault, who is now 17, will be handled as a juvenile offender. He faces an upcoming delinquency hearing to determine if evidence is sufficient to hold him. No action has been taken against the four other suspects, who are 15-year-old and 16-year-old students, respectively, although the case remains under investigation according the St. Joseph Co. Special Victims Unit told the Tribune..

Carmel High School was plagued by allegations that senior members of its high school basketball team had forcibly sodomized a freshman basketball team member in the school's locker room and on a team bus returning from a basketball game back in 2010 near the same time the incident in Mishawaka is alleged to have taken place. School officials and prosecutors drug their feet on investigating the allegations. Although the accused players were eventually charged with lesser offenses, more serious sexual assault charges were not brought against them some argued in order to protect the players because they came from prominent families. Former Hamilton Co. Prosecutor Sonia Leerkamp, who handled part of the case, similarly declined to bring charges against members of the high school swimming team who were accused years earlier of sexually assaulting a young team member with a broom stick.

Abdul's Sexist Remarks In Star Column Rebuked By Readers

I mentioned last week that I was surprised that the Star's editors allowed Abdul Hakim Shabazz to make the sexist comments he did about Democratic mayoral candidate Melina Kennedy in his monthly column mislabeled, "Forget battle scars, move on." I was more surprised by the lack of Democrats coming to Kennedy's defense. Apparently, at least a couple of the Star's readers have made their displeasure with his column known to the editors. These two letters to the editor appeared in today's newspaper:
I found Abdul-Hakim Shabazz's Dec. 14 column, "Forget battle scars, move on," offensive. He pumped himself up at the expense of Democratic mayoral candidate Melina Kennedy. It is mean-spirited to attack a losing candidate in a personal way after the fact. I don't use the word sexist lightly, but his analogy in referring to Kennedy as "a girl you dated in college who was miserable at the party" was just that. To refer to a professional and serious woman in this way is the definition of a sexist comment. This column was self-serving and arrogant.
Carlie Anderson, Indianapolis

I was offended by Abdul-Hakim Shabazz's Dec. 14 column, "Forget battle scars, move on." Although aware that he tends toward punditry over analysis, I didn't expect Shabazz to resort to demeaning language about individuals and policies he disagrees with. A silly smoking ban? A "girl you dated . . . who was miserable at a party"? Such language is schoolyard name-calling, not well-founded political insight.

The characterization of mayoral candidate Melina Kennedy, who won 47 percent of the vote, as "still in denial about her loss" baffles me. Is there a specific incident to which Shabazz is alluding? It is he who is assailing personality and character five weeks after the election with no apparent motive other than to say, "I told you so," and to twist the knife into the battle scars his screed has reopened.

Natalie Auberry, Indianapolis

Judge Allows Illegal Prosecution Of White To Go Forward: Refuses To Accept Findings Of Indiana Recount Commission

In a total rebuke of Charlie White's motion to dismiss outrageous criminal charges proffered by a special prosecutor that attempts to make as crimes acts that have never constituted a crime under Indiana law heretofore, Hamilton Co. Superior Court Judge Steve Nation will allow the unprecedented prosecution of White to go forward next January. In denying the motion to dismiss the charges, Judge Nation denied White's request to force the special prosecutor to produce the grand jury transcripts that would prove that grand jurors had been deliberately misled on Indiana law concerning residency. How could he have not committed misconduct? The facts in this case under no view of the law could ever support a conviction for theft, marriage fraud application, mortgage fraud application or vote fraud. It's a given that the grand jurors were misled that they could actually believe White's actions support those felony charges.

Judge Nation also rejected the efforts of White's attorney, Carl Brizzi, to enter as evidence the findings of Indiana Recount Commission, which unanimously exonerated White of the politically-charged allegations of the Indiana Democratic Party that he committed vote fraud by voting in one election at the home of his ex-wife while he was in between marriages and before he had moved into a condominium he purchased to live in with his second wife. Every single criminal charge brought against White was premised on him committing vote fraud, but Judge Nation says it is of no relevance in White's criminal case. White contends that the special prosecutor has relied on interpretations of "residency" that is not supported by applicable case law. That's obvious from the fact that the Recount Commission unanimously found in his favor based on the applicable law.

White has agreed to let Judge Nation rather than a jury of his peers decide his fate when he stands trial on January 30, 2012 ( a request awaiting a ruling by Judge Nation). God help him. He's going to need it. I don't think fair justice for White is possible at this point based on everything I've seen to date. Every person who holds sacred the constitutional right of all people to due process of law should be quaking in their boots at how the criminal justice system is being misused to vanquish White for what at most was nothing worse than jay walking. Indiana's voters knew of this allegation against White and still overwhelming elected  him as the state's Secretary of State by the voters. Once this precedent is established, prosecutors will feel they have a green light to use the criminal justice system to exact punishment of those with whom they wish to discredit for political reasons. Meanwhile, we watch as other elected officials use their government powers to plunder the public treasuries for themselves and their political cronies with total impunity. It's absolutely sickening. Evan Bayh and Richard Lugar can cast votes illegally election after election, and we're told that's perfectly okay. But Charlie White is about to be sent to prison for casting one ballot in a county in which he has undisputably always resided based on someone's specious claim that he really didn't live where he claimed to live when he cast that one ballot in that once precinct in that one election. He's charged with theft for drawing a salary for a few months as Fishers Town Council after his move (all of which he returned), while Sen. Lugar has drawn a paycheck for more than three decades as a U.S. senator even though he gave up a residence in this state more than three decades ago. Where' the outrage?

Mayoral Control Of IPS Is Not The Solution

The Indianapolis business community and Mayor Greg Ballard, not surprisingly, are embracing a proposal by the Mind Trust at the beginning of this year's legislative session to hand control of the failing Indianapolis Public School System to Mayor Ballard and the Indianapolis City-County Council. The Mind Trust, which is controlled by former Mayor Bart Peterson and one of his long-time political cronies dating from his days working as Evan Bayh's chief of staff before becoming mayor, David Harris, would give the mayor three appointees to a new five-member board, while a fourth member would be appointed by the City-County Council. The Mind Trust plan says it will allow about $188 million currently spent by the top-heavy IPS administration transferred to classroom spending. Notice that the driving principle here is that spending more per student leads to better schools, a demonstrably untrue claim that has been proven over and over again over the past several decades of our declining public school systems.

There is nothing novel about the Mind Trust proposal to hand control of a major city's public school system to the mayor. It has been done in Chicago, Boston and other major cities with less than successful results. Like Indianapolis, Chicago has also closed many neighborhood schools in its school system and opened up dozens of new charter schools in their place. Children who attend the charter schools tend to have parents who are more actively involved in the education of their children, and the children who attend them are better performing students on average than the students who are attending the traditional public schools. The gulf between the performance of minority and non-minority students has also continued to widen. Even the results for Indianapolis' charter schools have been very mixed at best. The charter schools approved by the mayor's office always tend to be populated with big poltical supporters of the mayor.

We are told that an IPS under the control of the mayor will be more accountable to the public. That has not happened in other major cities like Chicago by a long shot. Moreover, name me one high profile mayoral-controlled entity in Indianapolis that is accountable to the public. The Capital Improvement Board, as a leading example, could care less what the public thinks about anything it does or how it spends taxpayers' monies. The appointees are always people beholden to the establishment interests it serves. Not one independent-thinking person has been appointed to that board during the more than 20 years I've lived in this city. The public is repeatedly rebuffed and ignored by the political appointees of the CIB, the Public Works Board, the Library Board, the Metropolitan Development Commission and every other board controlled by the appointees of the mayor and the council. When these boards make decisions the public doesn't like, the mayor and the council  hide behind the fact that those entities operate independently from their control.

If we really wanted to improve IPS, we would end teacher tenure to make it easier to get rid of bad, non-performing teachers, and we would break the school system up into much smaller community school systems with board members elected from those neighborhood schools. If we've learned anything over the past few decades, it should be the fact that bigger schools do not make better schools. Don't turn the schools into another political instrument that will be used to reward the mayor's campaign contributors. Indianapolis is as corrupt as Chicago when it comes to using the government largesse to reward the people stuffing the most money in the politicians' pockets. The idea that Mayor Ballard or any other mayor will run the schools better and more efficiently than they've run the CIB or any other municipal instrumentality is laughable. Ballard wanted control of IMPD. Look how badly it's been run under his short leadership. Why should we think he would run the school system better than he's run the police department?

Saturday, December 17, 2011

Des Moines Register Predictably Endorses Romney In Iowa Caucus

A Gannett-owned newspaper by definition represents the establishment so it comes as no surprise that the Des Moines Register, which gave us Dennis Ryerson at the Star, would endorse former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney in next month's Iowa caucus, the first test in the 2012 GOP presidential race. "Sobriety, wisdom and judgment" are the key words the editorial staff chose in offering their endorsement to Romney. Other candidates in the field "pandered to extremes with attacks on the courts and sermons on Christian values." Romney is "very smart" because he came from a super rich family and earned a degree from Harvard. He also "offers smart and well-reasoned alternatives rather than simply to swing a wrecking ball in Washington's direction" so says the newspaper's editors. The editors dismiss Newt Gingrich as "an undisciplined partisan who would alienate, not unite." As for Ron Paul, they say his "libertarian ideology would lead to economic chaos and isolationism, neither of which this nation can afford." Really? The last four years haven't been an exercise in total economic chaos? What planet are they living on? And we really can afford the policy of playing policeman to the world and continue spending trillions of dollars fighting undeclared wars that never end? What a bunch of clueless nitwits.

John Gregg Fails First Test Of Leadership

John Gregg wants to be Indiana's next governor, but he's having trouble leading his own political party. This week, Democratic Party Chairman Dan Parker, a Bayh appointee, announced he was stepping down from his post ahead of next year's election. Gregg immediately put out the word that he wanted his former chief of staff from his days as House Speaker, Tim Jeffers, to lead the party. Jeffers' candidacy immediately met with resistance from party leaders in the state's largest counties, Marion and Lake. Jeffers dropped out of the race Thursday, leaving a contest between a Marion Co. political operative backed by Ed Treacy, Joel Miller, and attorney Sara Reardon of Indianapolis, who reportedly had Gregg's support. When the party's state committee met to choose its new chairman today, a circular firing squad broke out. Rather than take the chance on Miller winning the post, Parker withdrew his resignation and received the support of a majority of the state committee to continue in his role through next year's election. It certainly doesn't bode well for Gregg's leadership that he couldn't convince the state party to name his choice to run the party, and that he's stuck with a person who obviously would prefer doing something else than serve as the party's chairman.

IBJ Discloses Depth Of Cozy Relationship Between Bales, Barnes & Thornburg & Top Daniels Administration Officials

Folks, fasten your seat belts and get prepared for a wild ride. The IBJ's Cory Schouten uncovered years' worth of e-mails totalling in the thousands that shed light on what is increasingly becoming a major public corruption scandal that could permanently tarnish the reputation of Gov. Mitch Daniels and result in more criminal charges against more very high profile individuals on the Indiana political scene. The U.S. Attorney's Office in the Northern District of Indiana's indictment of top Daniels political supporter, John Bales, for defrauding the state on a lease agreement for state office space in Elkhart, Indiana might just well be the tip of the iceberg to rock the Daniels ship.

What emerges from the e-mails Schouten uncovered is a picture of conscientious state employees raising legitimate concerns about Bales' business practices, only to feel threatened with retaliation if they didn't play ball as Bales demanded. A top official in Gov. Daniels own office, Betsy Burdick, whose brother is a partner at the law firm which represents Bales, Barnes & Thornburg, joined in sending less than thinly-veiled threats to state officials who messed with Bales' business dealing with the state. Check out this example of Burdick intervening on Bales' behalf:
The deputy chief of staff for Gov. Mitch Daniels intervened on Bales’ behalf in late 2009 after officials with the Indiana Department of Administration encouraged the state’s quasi-governmental agencies to hire the real estate brokerage Resource Commercial over Venture.
Venture had offered a lower per-square-foot commission rate, but IDOA officials saw the company's attempts to carve out side deals representing quasi-governmental agencies as a conflict with the state deal. It’s not clear whether Betsy Burdick was aware of IDOA's rationale in recommending Resource.
“I hope what I am hearing is wrong with respect to the way IDOA is doing business here,” Burdick wrote on Aug. 28, 2009. “If this is true it is unacceptable and further discussion needs to take place. If what I am hearing is correct—this is not how we do business.”
According to Schouten, Bales was less than bashful at throwing out big names that he would involve to assist him if state officials didn't do as he demanded of them. "At one point, a deputy to Bales threatened to call in the chair of the Indiana Republican Party and two partners at the powerful law firm Barnes & Thornburg if the state wouldn’t reimburse Venture for disputed expenses," Schouten writes.
Kevin Ober, the Department of Administration’s deputy commissioner at the time, pushed back when Venture sought reimbursement for more than $200,000 in expenses not pre-approved by the state, as required by its contract.
That did not sit well with Venture.
The firm’s chief financial officer, Greg Rankin, responded with an email threatening to seek intervention by Barnes & Thornburg partners Brian Burdick and Joe Loftus or even J. Murray Clark, then the chairman of the Indiana Republican Party. All three have close working ties to Gov. Mitch Daniels, whose deputy chief of staff is Burdick’s sister.
Ober bristled at the name dropping by Bales’ top deputy in an email he sent to his boss, IDOA Commissioner Carrie Henderson, and the chief of staff to Gov. Mitch Daniels, Earl Goode.
Schouten found that Bales was near the center of other embarrassing recent episodes for the Daniels administration for which his role had not been previously disclosed, including the leasing of lavish new office space for the Hoosier Lottery and the growing IURC scandal involving Duke Energy. There's this revelation on the Hoosier Lottery:
In 2010, Venture brokered the deal to move the Lottery into a 35,000-square-foot headquarters at Meridian and 13th streets. Bales earned more than $250,000 in commission on the deal, which ultimately cost Hoosier Lottery Director Kathryn Densborn her job.
She resigned in October amid controversy over lavish fixtures at the new headquarters including an employee gym with $25,000 of exercise equipment.
Bales' commission was based on the project's total value, including the cost of building out the space.
Schouten also learned that Mike Reed, the former IURC Daniels' administration official embroiled in the scandal involving the hiring of the IURC's general counsel, Scott Storms, after he went to work for Duke Energy heading up the utility giant's Indiana operations, played a role in getting Bales to hire a relative.
The hiring process at Venture could move quickly if you were related to a top state official.
In October 2009, then-INDOT Commissioner Mike Reed sent an email to top officials at the state, including IDOA Commissioner Mark W. Everson, touting his son-in-law Ben Jones as a “quality individual” with “a work ethic, maturity and desire to be successful not often seen in younger people today.”
Deputy IDOA Commissioner Rob Wynkoop on Oct. 19 forwarded the resume to Bales, noting “this is Mike Reed’s son-in-law. Not sure if you are looking for anybody like this. Everson asked me to forward it on.”
That was at 2:21 p.m.
At 2:55 p.m., Bales responded: “Hiring him.. Call me”
At the time, one of Venture’s assignments was working with the Reed-led INDOT on the disposition of the agency’s surplus real estate.
At the heart of this week's indictments against John Bales, his business associate Bill Spencer, and attorney Paul Page, is the federal prosecutors' contention that Bales held a financial stake in the Elkhart office building Paul Page acquired with former Marion Co. Prosecutor Carl Brizzi when he was suppose to be working exclusively for the state of Indiana as its real estate broker in the deal. Schouten found e-mails where Mike Huber, now a deputy mayor under Greg Ballard, had raised concerns about Bales' side deals while he was still working at the Indiana Department of Administration.
The records show former Deputy IDOA Commissioner Michael Huber—who joined Bales for happy hour on several occasions and mostly offered support for Venture in emails—at times had reservations about the company’s methods. Huber oversaw the Venture contract from January 2007 to January 2008.
Huber was not pleased, for example, when he heard Venture was pitching the Hoosier Lottery on a tenant-representation agreement outside the purview of its contract with the Department of Administration. The arrangement ran counter to Huber’s mission of consolidating and simplifying the state’s leasing functions.
“I have tried to give your team maximum flexibility and access to the right people throughout state government and want to continue to do so, but we need to make sure that we are on the same page,” Huber wrote in an email to the principals of Venture on Oct. 27, 2007.
Whatever reservations Huber may have had about Bales while working in the Daniels administration, it didn't stop him from hiring Bales' firm for a similar sweetheart real estate deal with the City of Indianapolis after Huber left the Daniels administration to join Ballard's new administration as a top official. Huber was tapped by Barnes & Thornburg's Joe Loftus to join the Ballard administration, who likely ordered Huber to ink the deal with Bales, one of his clients. Loftus, Bob Grand and others at Barnes & Thornburg have dictated to Ballard who is hired for key jobs with the city.

Grand and Loftus, who exercise considerable influence in the Daniels administration, are also paid advisers to Ballard. The law firm firm has been awarded millions of dollars worth of legal work with the city since Ballard took office four years ago. Barnes & Thornburg's clients have also been the beneficiaries of sweetheart deals with the city, including the 50-year parking meter lease with ACS, a firm Barnes & Thornburg has long represented in business transactions with the state and local governments in Indiana. The firm helped lobby the Daniels administration on behalf of ACS to land the controversial welfare privatization deal with FSSA. When the lead partner's contract in that deal, IBM, was nixed by the state, ACS was allowed a continuing contractual relationship with FSSA. Incredibly, Gov. Daniels hired the law firm to represent the state in a lawsuit with ACS's former partner, IBM, despite the firm's obvious conflict of interest.

The City of Indianapolis later cancelled its contract with Bales for failing to perform according to Huber. It is more likely the deal was nixed after the Ballard administration was tipped off that Bales' activities were being investigated by the FBI. Bales is represented by another Barnes & Thornburg partner, former Justice Department prosecutor Larry Mackey, in the criminal case the federal government has brought against him. Naturally, Mackey insists his client is innocent. Given the law firm's ties to the corrupt deal that led to the indictment, federal prosecutors should ask that the firm be disqualified from representing Bales in this criminal case against Bales. At least that's what the rules of professional conduct dictate, but as we've seen with the firm's representation of the state in the FSSA litigation, the rules don't seem to apply where Barnes & Thornburg is concerned. One particularly troubling aspect of Schouten's story is a claim by another Barnes & Thornburg attorney representing Bales, Jason Barclay, that the state gave its blessings to Bales having an ownership interest in the Elkhart office building he brokered for the Department of Child Services after he first disclosed it to them. That contradicts the express terms of Bales' exclusive real estate brokerage agreement with the state.

The e-mails Schouten uncovered showed that Bales' small company was incapable of handling the many leasing matters it had on its plate. One e-mail suggests Bales had involved another firm on his own to aid with his work. Other e-mails show that Bales played hardball with prospective landlords, insisting that he earn 100% of the brokerage commission and not split them with the landlord's broker as is the standard practice when both parties are represented in a leasing transaction by a broker. Bales would tell prospective landlords deals with them wouldn't happen unless they agreed to let him receive 100% of the commission. Quoting a 2008 email exchange between a state official and one landlord: “Requiring us to pay an intermediary that we do not choose or lose the contracts seems like extortion.” Schouten found e-mails where senior administration officials had shared their concerns about Bales with Daniels' top deputies. “I don’t discount the effect hard bargaining can have on one’s perception of the other side,” John Okeson wrote. “That said, how any ‘agent’ of the Governor handles a matter reflects directly on him, so I thought it important to forward what I’m hearing to you for consideration.” Okeson died suddenly a year later after a brief illness. His brother, Paul Okeson, served as chief of staff to Mayor Greg Ballard before joining Ersal Ozdemir's Keystone Construction, which has received a number of sweetheart real estate deals with the Ballard administration, including a controversial parking garage for Broad Ripple that includes a $6.3 million gift of public funds to the company. Keystone and Bales' firm have also partnered on many deals.

Schouten also wonders if campaign contributions have not played a role in Bales' success in landing business with the Daniels administration. Earlier reports suggested Bales had given as much as $31,000 to Daniels' campaign committee. A more thorough research of other entities controlled by Bales reveals that he gave $52,000 from 2003-2008. It once again points up the role Pay To Play has in Indiana. Neighboring Illinois has seen scores of officials and and political insiders prosecuted for honest services fraud and other public corruption crimes by federal prosecutors, while federal prosecutors in Indiana, particularly in the southern district, have seldom brought such cases despite the prevalence of these activities. Many observers were surprised that the indictment against Bales was brought by the northern district's federal prosecutor instead of U.S. Attorney Joe Hogsett in Indianapolis since the state agency involved in the transactions with Bales is located here.

Hats off to Schouten and the IBJ for once again demonstrating to us how good investigative journalism should be conducted.