Thursday, May 31, 2012

Gooden Chosen To Fill Remainder of Vaughn's Term

Indianapolis attorney Will Gooden has been tapped by Republican precinct committeepersons in District 3 to fill the City-County Council seat vacated by Ryan Vaughn, who stepped down to become Mayor Greg Ballard's chief of staff. Gooden defeated attorney Mike Wallman. Gooden is an attorney with the law firm of Clark Quinn Moses Scott & Grahn.

State Election Officials Refuse To Enforce Residency Law Against David McIntosh

You've heard me say it before, and I don't mind repeating it. Charlie White got railroaded by the special prosecutors who successfully prosecuted him for vote fraud, even though he never committed any violation of Indiana's voter registration law. Former U.S. Rep. David McIntosh, on the other hand, flagrantly violated the voter registration laws by fraudently claiming a residence in Anderson when he and his family actually reside in suburban Virginia. Charlie White lost his office and his law license. David McIntosh continues to work as a high-paid attorney/lobbyist for a major Washington, D.C. law firm. Connie Lawson, who had no qualms about criticizing her predecessor, is quite happy to give McIntosh a complete pass. Yep, it would appear she has no clothes. From WISH-TV:

Indiana Secretary of State Connie Lawson said Thursday that state officials will not investigate whether former U.S. Rep. David McIntosh voted illegally, but she encouraged legislators to do their own investigation next year.
McIntosh lost a close battle for Congress in the May primary amid questions over whether he improperly voted in Indiana while living in Virginia. The Indiana Election Division failed to reach an agreement Thursday on whether to investigate that matter further.
U.S. Sen. Richard Lugar faced similar questions in his primary loss to state Treasurer Richard Mourdock. And a residency complaint ultimately led to former Secretary of State Charlie White's conviction on felony charges earlier this year.
"This type of complaint and similar recent high-profile complaints indicate that Indiana law concerning residency for voter registration, voting, and running as a candidate for public office, could benefit from legislative review," Lawson said in a statement.
It's funny how I never heard Lawson hinting that the residency laws needed legislative review when she was still in the State Senate hoping for White's demise so she could take over the office to which he was lawfully elected.

Mistrial Declared In John Edwards Case

I'm no fan of John Edwards, but I've thought all along that the government's prosecution of him on dubious campaign finance charges arising out the case of the campaign advisor/mistress with whom he fathered a daughter was a horrible abuse of prosecutorial discretion. Today, the federal judge in his case declared a mistrial after the jurors remained hopelessly deadlocked after nine days of deliberations. The jury reached a unanimous decision for acquittal on just one of the six charges against him. Barack Obama's 2008 presidential campaign committed multiple violations of federal election laws, including raising tens of millions of dollars illegally from foreign sources, not to mention the bribes he accepted from political fixer Tony Rezko, all of which have been completely ignored by Eric Holder's corrupt Justice Department. If Obama can get by with murder, then John Edwards should go free. Shame on the government if it wastes any more valuable resources on this case.

The Squeaky Wheel Gets The Grease

Having worked on immigration cases for a number of years, the only thing that remains constant is that there is no consistency in how our government processes immigration cases. If you've heard of the old saying about the squeaky wheel getting the grease, that pretty much sums up how immigration cases are often adjudicated by the government. Too often USCIS and the State Department, which share responsibilities in administering our immigration laws, apply some rules too rigidly with horrible consequences to the unwary while completely abandoning its responsibilities with respect to immigration laws that would help preserve and protect our nation's national security interests. That seems to be the case with the Frankfort High School senior who got some bad advice from her immigration lawyer and missed the deadline for leaving the country and applying for her immigration visa by one day and was threatened with a 3-year time bar on re-entering the country. From WISH-TV:
Frankfort High School’s salutatorian, who has been stranded in Mexico for six weeks due to visa regulations, is going to return in time for graduation after all.
Elizabeth Olivas, 18, had worried she would still be stuck in Mexico when her class graduated this weekend. But Thursday, just before 3 p.m., her attorney Sarah L. Moshe said she was notified by the U.S. State Department that she had been granted a waiver to return home.
Olivas was born in Mexico but has lived in the U.S. since she was 4 years old. Immigration law required that she return to Mexico within 180 days of turning 18 to update her visa. Olivas missed that deadline by one day. Moshe told 24-Hour News 8 Wednesday that they had pushed the limit because they didn’t want to interrupt Olivas’ senior year any more than they had to.
The missed deadline, though, could have gotten Olivas banned from returning to the U.S. for three years.
But at the last minute, negotiations worked out to let her return home.
A few minutes after hearing the news, Olivas texted Moshe: “JUST GOT OUT VISA IN MY HANDS. IM COMING HOME! THANK YOU SO MUCH, IM SOO HAPPY!”
The news clears the way for her to graduate with the Class of 2012 on Saturday at Frankfort High School.
The WISH-TV story doesn't mention the role Sen. Lugar's office played in assisting Olivas, but I'm sure it was critical in helping her get quick relief in the case. All the media attention in a critical presidential election year couldn't have hurt either. For all of his personal shortcomings, Sen. Lugar's staff is very helpful in helping Indiana constituents who are being treated unfairly by immigration authorities. I hope the law firm that screwed up Olivas' case doesn't bill her for the extra time it took to adjudicate her case. Olivas and her family can thank Sen. Lugar's office, not her attorney, for the quick action in this case.

I have been assisting a friend of mine from my hometown with an immigration visa for his wife, who resides in a country half way around the world for more than two years. For whatever reason, the U.S. consulate in this particular country punishes American citizens who play by the rules and attempt to bring their family members to the U.S. legally. In the case of my friend, his wife's marriage visa was arbitrarily denied despite an extremely well-documented case establishing their bona fide marriage. It took us more than a year to get the case reviewed by USCIS and returned to the consulate for adjudication and then only after we obtained the assistance of his congressman's office in another state. We kept getting the runaround for months. USCIS had mailed the file to the consular post, but the consular post kept denying that it had it in its possession. My friend and client, who also happens to be a veteran, had grown so frustrated that he had made arrangements with his employer to relocate his job and expatriate to another country so he could live with his wife. Two days after I sent an e-mail to the consulate warning them that I was prepared to go public with the hardship our government was making my client endure by not allowing him to be united with his wife, the file was located and an appointment scheduled for my client, who received the wonderful news today that his wife's visa had been approved. Yes, the squeaky wheel gets the grease.

Rezko Talking About Blago But Not Obama

Convicted Chicago political fixer and former very close friend of Barack Obama is talking about his role in pay-to-play in the Blagojevich administration, but he won't talk about what he did for Obama. He thinks the 14 1/2-year sentence given to Blagojevich is "ridiculous" and while he admits he committed crimes, he says he didn't commit the crimes the government convinced a jury that he committed. Rezko insists that he never bribed Blagojevich as the government claimed. From the Sun-Times Natasha Korecki interview with Rezko:

Rezko, serving a 10 ½ year sentence in a federal prison in Downstate Pekin, said Blagojevich handed out political appointments in exchange for campaign contributions. Rezko said he himself was tried and convicted on crimes he did not commit. But Rezko admitted to other crimes.
The former Wilmette businessman expressed surprise at the Senate seat charges involving Blagojevich; namely that the former governor wasn’t more careful in his telephone conversations.
He called the disgraced governor’s 14-year prison sentence “ridiculous.”
While he denounced a judicial system that rewarded serial conman Stuart Levine for cooperating with the government, Rezko said he ultimately blamed no one for his predicament but himself.
And Rezko was adamant that Blagojevich knew of the pay-to-play politics in his administration, including the trading of political appointments for campaign contributions.
“Yes, he did,” Rezko said of Blagojevich’s knowledge of pay-to-play. “We would have the discussions. X, Y and Z made a $50,000 [contribution] and looking to be placed on a board, where should we place that person if that person specifically requested to be placed on board. Yeah. We had these discussions.”
The accusation that Blagojevich sold appointments — which the governor repeatedly denied — was first made public by Ald. Dick Mell (33rd), Blagojevich’s father-in-law, sparking a feud that still divides the family . . .
Rezko said he never bribed the now-imprisoned Blagojevich and said Patti Blagojevich did do work in exchange for the more than $12,000 a month Rezko’s realty company paid her. He also said there was no wrongdoing tied to the rehab of Blagojevich’s home, which was done by Rezko companies. “I’m not aware of him getting cash from anybody,” Rezko said of Blagojevich.
Rezko seemed to back up trial testimony by former Blagojevich chief of staff Lon Monk that the ex-governor took part in private meetings in which the three of them and the late Christopher Kelly discussed how to make money off of state deals.
But when pressed, Rezko declined to give details.
“We did have meetings. Quite a few times, where it was me and Chris Kelly and Rod. I do not recall specifically things he said. But yeah, we had meetings like that,” Rezko said when asked of Monk’s testimony. Rezko said the scheme did not happen “in the way that I read about in the paper.” When asked for additional information, Rezko would not answer, saying: “Let’s go to a different topic.”
In 2008, Rezko was convicted on 16 of 24 counts that accused him of corrupting two state boards and using his influence in Blagojevich’s inner circle to squeeze cash from firms seeking state business.
“I was shocked. At no time I thought they’d give me 10 ½ years,” Rezko said. I was indicted, tried and convicted on a crime I did not commit … I have done things that I could have been indicted and tried for. I’m not saying I’m an angel,” Rezko said. “I did do things that were related to play-to-play. But I did not do what they indicted me and convicted me of.” . . .

Rezko did confirm he handed out cash payments to Monk under the table after Monk complained he wasn’t making enough money. Monk testified Rezko gave him $70,000 to $90,000 in cash.

Rezko initially did not tell prosecutors about the money, something prosecutors cited as they sought a stiff sentence against Rezko last November. Rezko though, said he didn’t ask for favors in return — saying he didn’t need any.

“I did admit I lied to them about Lon Monk… I thought, the guy has young children, he has already indicted and why do I pile [on] more? I knew something that could have damaged him more, “ Rezko said. “I guess he told them … and it backfired on me.”

Looking back on his crimes, Rezko said he regrets his actions.

“Of course. I’m here. I never thought one day I’ll be incarcerated.”

Asked if carrying out pay-to-play was easy to do in Illinois, Rezko laughed heartily.

“I think it is not easier in Illinois than it is in New Jersey, or California, or any other state. I don’t know, I guess that’s the Democratic system. It’s better than what’s out there but it’s not pure,” he said. “Isn’t that part of the world we live in?”

I think what Rezko says about pay-to-play not being easier to do in Illinois than any other state is spot on. It's standard operating procedure in Indiana, particularly in the City of Indianapolis. The individuals convicted in Operation Board Game did nothing anymore criminal than what occurs daily in Indianapolis. It's just that in Indianapolis we don't have persons in the mainstream media willing to shine a light on it or an FBI office and U.S. Attorney's Office that will investigate and prosecute the crimes as there has been in Chicago.

I'm not surprised at Rezko's reluctance to talk about the bribes he paid to Obama. "In a wide-ranging telephone interview from prison with the Chicago Sun-Times on Wednesday, Rezko refused to talk about his former friend who went on to be elected president," Korecki writes. Rezko hopes to get out of prison alive and not be rubbed out like Chris Kelly, who only the naive believe decided to end his life by swallowing rat poisoning.  The Sun-Times has an audio clip of part of Korecki's interview with Rezko here. It doesn't include any questions she tried to ask the convicted political fixer about his relationship with Obama.

More Reasons For Doubt In Bisard Case

That's the heading for a Star editorial questioning the actions of IMPD's handling of blood evidence in the David Bisard case and the Ballard administration's reaction to Marion Co. Prosecutor Terry Curry's fury over their actions:
The flagging hopes of victims and their survivors have suffered yet another blow in the tragicomedy of errors that is the David Bisard case.
While Prosecutor Terry Curry continues to vouch for the strength of his side, suffice to say that police mishandling of the episode amounts to a defense lawyer's dream.
Curry demanded the firing of Public Safety Director Frank Straub and Ellen Corcella, deputy chief for professional standards, after learning that members of the Indianapolis Metropolitan Police Department had unsealed and examined a blood sample without informing the prosecutor . . .
The response from the Ballard administration borders on the cavalier. While mayoral chief of staff Ryan Vaughn says informing Curry's office would have been "the right thing to do," he asserts that the officers technically did not have to do so -- a gratuitous posture for an explosive case that has all of city-county government under scrutiny.
The mayor's office will not fire Straub, who is finishing out his tenure after resigning, nor Corcella. Considering that Corcella's predecessor was reassigned over the Bisard evidence mess (though cleared of wrongdoing), another change of the guard may be in order. Public trust -- what's left of it -- demands that much.
Meanwhile, Vaughn says the FBI has declined to look into the fiasco because criminal activity is absent. Given this bizarre string of events, no such conclusion can be drawn without further investigation. From outside.

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Chicago Tribune Debates Mitt Romney's Natural Born Status; Still Ignores Obama's

The Chicago Tribune has become nothing but an arm of David Axelrod's campaign consulting firm. Col. Robert McCormick would weep if he were alive today to see what a leftist propaganda rag his newspaper has become. The Tribune has covered up all of Barack Obama's political corruption in Chicago, while digging up every piece of dirt it can find on any person who has ever opposed him in a political election no matter how trivial to help pave the way for his election victories.

The Tribune played an early role in dismissing any one who questioned Obama's natural born status as the lunatic fringe. Forget that Obama first told his publicist back in the 1990s that he was born in Kenya, a supposed "factual error" of the publicist that remained on the publicist's website for the following 16 years until Obama announced he was running for President. Those school records in Indonesia which identified him by a completely different name and listed his citizenship as Indonesian are totally irrelevant. And never mind that there is a serious legal argument that even a person born in the U.S. to an alien parent cannot be considered a natural born citizen--according to the only authoritative Supreme Court decision on the subject and the common sense notion that a dual citizen cannot be a natural born citizen. Let's do talk, however, about the fact that Mitt Romney's birth certificate shows that his father was born in Mexico:
Finally, there is definitive proof: The presidential candidate was born in the United States, and his father was not.
Yes, Republican Mitt Romney appears eligible to be president, according to a copy of Romney's birth certificate released to Reuters by his campaign. Willard Mitt Romney, the certificate says, was born in Detroit on March 12, 1947.
His mother, Lenore, was born in Utah and his father, former Michigan governor and one-time Republican presidential candidate George Romney, was born in Mexico.
So on a day when real estate and media mogul Donald Trump was trying to help Mitt Romney by stirring up a new round of questions about whether Democratic President Barack Obama was born in the United States, Romney's own birth record became a reminder that in the 1968 presidential campaign, his father had faced his own "birther" controversy.
Back then, George Romney - who died in 1995 - was a moderate who was challenging eventual President Richard Nixon in the Republican primaries.
Records in a George Romney archive at the University of Michigan describe how questions about his eligibility to be president surfaced almost as soon as he began his short-lived campaign.
In many ways, they appear to echo today's complaints that Trump and some other conservative "birthers" have made about Obama while questioning whether Obama - whose father was from Kenya and mother was from Kansas - was born in Hawaii.
In George Romney's case, most of the questions were raised initially by  Democrats who cited the Constitution's requirement that only a "natural born citizen" can be president.
As early as February 1967 - a year before the first 1968 presidential primary - some newspapers were raising questions as to whether George Romney's place of birth disqualified him from the presidency.
By May 1967, U.S. congressman Emmanuel Celler, a Democrat who chaired the House of Representatives Judiciary Committee, was expressing "serious doubts" about George Romney's eligibility.
The historical revisionism that takes place in this story is perhaps more troubling than the bias exhibited in it. Obviously, the motivation for running the story is to remind people that Mitt Romney's father was born in Mexico--to two U.S. citizen parents, but the story leaves the impression that the matter of George Romney's natural born citizenship status in 1968 was resolved in his favor, which couldn't be further from the truth. In actuality, Romney was driven from the Republican presidential race over the issue. He dropped out before the first contest--the New Hampshire primary--after the publisher of the influential Manchester Union-Leader threw down the gauntlet and announced he was filing a lawsuit to block his candidacy. Although George Romney produced legal opinions that favored his status, he wasn't about to let the courts decide the issue when push came to shove. The article even mentions a highly-disputed congressional research memo released late last year that suggests that even children born to just one U.S. citizen parent outside the country would be considered natural born citizens. 
At one point, the Congressional Research Service - an arm of the Library of Congress that is supposed to provide authoritative but impartial research for elected members - advised that its analysts agreed with George Romney, according to a congressional source.
In a paper in November aimed at clarifying presidential eligibility, the Congressional Research Service declared that the practical, legal meaning of "natural born citizen" would "most likely include" not only anyone born on U.S. soil but anyone born overseas of at least one parent who was a U.S. citizen.
Notice how the definition of a natural born citizen has evolved over the last four years. Everyone defending Obama agreed four years ago that it was only necessary for Obama to be born in Hawaii in order to be considered a natural born citizen regardless of the fact that his father was a Kenyan. Now we're being told that even if Obama was born in Kenya it would make no difference because his mother was a U.S. citizen. It looks like the Omedia is preparing us just in case of the possibility that the truth may not be what we've been told for the past four years--even as it continues to deride those who ask the legitimate question as crazy birthers.

Star Still Doesn't Take Revolving Door Problem Seriously

One of the roles of the news media is to play watchdog for the taxpayers, but it's a role the Indianapolis Star rarely performs since it was purchased by Gannett from the Pulliam family. Mayor Greg Ballard seems to have no qualms with members of his administration leaving the city payroll to take positions with companies and law firms doing business with the city and neither does the Star apparently. Here's its treatment of the latest high level departures from the Ballard administration in an item labeled "Some familiar faces" in the "Behind Closed Doors" column:

A couple of recently departed officials from Mayor Ballard's administration have landed in the private sector:
Chris Cotterill, who stepped down as chief of staff earlier this month, will start this week as a partner at Faegre Baker Daniels, one of the big Indianapolis law firms. He previously worked for Barnes & Thornburg, another major firm, before stints in state and local government. Former City-County Council President Ryan Vaughn succeeded him as chief of staff.
And David Sherman, who left his post as director of public works to return to the private sector, is at MWH Americas. But he'll continue to work with the city in a new role. The city's Board of Public Works signed off Wednesday on a consulting contract with MWH, a company that works in the engineering, construction services and consulting fields.
The one-year contract will cost the city up to $160,000.
Sherman "is basically going to serve as a consultant on infrastructure, neighborhood revitalization projects, parks, forestry, trails, bike lanes, curbs and sidewalks," said Lotter, Ballard's spokesman.
Lotter said Sherman also will look for potential efficiencies between city departments and will examine ways to stretch money being spent on RebuildIndy road and infrastructure projects by seeking grants and partnerships.
"This is the guy who saved us $740 million" as public works director, Lotter said, citing the city's renegotiation of an agreement with federal regulators on its massive sewer system improvement program.
Lotter said the new arrangement would not run afoul of city ethics rules. Those rules prohibit former administration employees from seeking to work on particular matters in which they "personally and substantially" participated while employees.
Sherman's new role will involve work for several Indianapolis departments, Lotter said, not just public works, and only as a consultant.
That Cotterill, an attorney, would take a job with a law firm comes as no surprise. It would have been worse if he had gone to work for his former employer, Barnes & Thornburg, since he steered millions of dollars in legal work to his firm while he worked for Ballard and participated in number of high-level decisions that greatly benefited several clients of the firm, including the parking meter privatization deal and the sale of the utilities to Citizens Energy. The biggest transaction undertaken while Cotterill worked for Ballard was the sale of the assets to Citizens Energy. The law firm that represented the city in that deal: Baker & Daniels.

David Sherman's new job is particularly troubling. The folks at the Star who don't look at these things closely would have learned from its own newspaper's archive that Sherman previously worked for the City under Mayor Steve Goldsmith, who privatized the city's wastewater treatment operations. Sherman then went to work for United Water, the company that was awarded the contract to operate the sewer utilities. Now it looks like the Ballard administration is, in effect, paying Sherman's six-figure salary with his new employer through a new $160,000 contract the City is awarding it at a time the City is supposedly trying to fix a multi-million dollar hole in its current budget. And by the way, Sherman didn't save the taxpayers $740 million. The money for sewer infrastructure improvements required to comply with the EPA consent decree was always a big moving target. Goldsmith made a bunch of bogus claims about how much his privatization efforts supposedly saved the City, most of which never materialized, including the wastewater treatment operations that landed Sherman his previous high-paid private sector job. Just watch your sewer rates continue to climb at double-digit rates. If the City had focused on getting its wastewater problems under Goldsmith/Sherman back in the 1990s instead of privatizing, the compliance cost would not have been as great as it turned out to be.

Ohio Couple Won't Be Returning To Indy After Canal Attack

The canal in downtown Indianapolis is no longer a safe place to visit and IMPD is doing little to protect people who visit it from roving gangs of teen-aged thugs who attack visitors when they aren't shooting at each other. A young Ohio couple in town for the Indianapolis 500 won't be returning to Indianapolis after they were attacked, beaten and robbed by a group of teen-agers. From Fox 59 News:

Indianapolis Metro Police are on the lookout for a group of teens who attacked a couple walking on the Canal Saturday night.
Britney Harford, 18, and her 23-year-old friend, Matt Nadolski, were in Indianapolis for race weekend when they decided to take a walk along the Canal.
"I wanted to show him the town a little bit. It was his first time in Indy," Harford said.
As they were headed back, out of nowhere, a group of teens attacked them.
"One came up behind me grabbed me by the throat and hit me in the face probably three times.. threw me on the ground and by the time I got up and turned around, I'd seen all of them on Matt kicking him in the face and punching him in the face," said Harford.
Harford's face was badly beaten.
"It really hurts. I can't really touch the area around my eye."
But, she said, Nadolski took the brunt of the attack and was spitting up blood. All the while, a handful of witnesses stood and watched.
"There were four bystanders there and they didn't really care they did it anyway," said Harford.
Not only was Nadolski's watch taken, so was their trust in the city.
"It scares me. I know I won't go anymore around the city, unless I have my father or somebody I know who can protect me."
Police are looking for five to seven African American males in their late teens or early 20's.
The Indianapolis Metropolitan Police Department issued the following statement regarding patrols on the canal:
"The police department will continue our already implemented criminal strategies on the canal for an indefinite amount of time. We have enhanced our strategies by assigning Captain Phil Burton an experienced criminal strategist to the downtown district". " We take these type of crime serious and will continue to review data to better our fight on crime".
In a separate report, Rev. Charles Harrison of the Ten Point Coalition tells WISH-TV that he was patrolling the canal Saturday night but left before the attack took place.

 “We left the area about 11 or 11:15. The canal was clear from Ohio to Michigan Street, and there was a heavy presence of capitol police.” Said Harrison. “The canal is a large place, and it stretches for quite a few blocks…. We may have to look at the entire canal. If people who are coming down to rob and attack people know where we are, we may need to expand the area where we're patrolling,” he added.
“It’s frustrating for me, when I come down here on Saturdays, I still see kids coming down here underage, not supervised,” Harrison said.

Monday, May 28, 2012

Sore Loser Lugar Still Sore

I can't say that I'm surprised that Sen. Richard Lugar is still sore over his loss in the primary to Richard Mourdock. I predicted before his loss that he would do everything he could to ensure Mourdock's loss as part of a "See, I told you so" effort. Lugar, naturally, spent Memorial Day weekend in a place other than Indiana. He typically takes foreign junkets paid for by the Aspen Institute during the Memorial Day weekend. This year, he spent it in Washington taking shots at Mourdock during an appearance on CBS' "Face The Nation."
 Indiana Sen. Richard Lugar isn’t helping the Republican who beat him in this month’s primary get elected in the fall.
“For the time being, I don’t plan an active campaign,” Lugar said on CBS’s “Face the Nation with Bob Schieffer” today . . .
“I’ve offered advice to my former opponent and now candidate as to the kind of way he might be a constructive senator, how he can make any difference whatsoever,” Lugar said. “I hope that he will in fact begin to adopt some of those ideas.”
Mourdock has said he wants to help build the GOP majority in Washington so that bipartisanship will mean that Democrats will have to join with Republicans. During the primary, in which Mourdock won 61 percent of the vote, Mourdock and his supporters criticized Lugar for being too willing to work with President Barack Obama and other Democrats.
Lugar said today that a main reason for his defeat was that “a large portion of the Republican Party of Indiana believed, apparently, in the idea of individualism as opposed to community, a sense of compromise, or a sense of talking across the aisle.”
Asked whether other issues were a factor, Lugar, 80, said some mentioned his age, his 36 years in office, and the complaint by some GOP county chairman that he hadn’t attended their annual fundraising dinners in part because of the time he spent time traveling overseas on foreign policy issues.
“I understand that,” Lugar said. “I’m just saying in terms of service to the country as I saw it, I think our priorities were right. We’ve been very much involved in Indiana throughout this period of time with all sorts of programs. But this was just not a year in which that was necessarily appreciated.”
He still doesn't get it. His arrogance knows no bounds.

Saturday, May 26, 2012

Madison County Election Board Dismisses Vote Fraud Complaint Against David McIntosh

The Madison County Election Board quietly moved to dismiss the vote fraud complaint citizen activist Greg Wright filed against former U.S. Rep. David McIntosh in April. Madison Co. Clerk Darlene Likens, who supported McIntosh's candidacy for the 5th District Republican nomination, had refused to investigate the complaint prior to the primary, suggesting that it had simply been filed for partisan motivations to harm McIntosh's candidacy. The Madison Co. Election board met on May 18 and dismissed the complaint without any attempt to investigate the detailed allegations laid out in Wright's complaint that established that McIntosh actually lived in suburban Washington, D.C. and not at the Anderson home he claimed as his residence.

The board cited four weak reasons for dismissing the complaint, including the fact that the Madison Co. Prosecutor, Rodney Cummings, also a McIntosh political supporter, had already opined on very shaky grounds that his voting residency was legal. The board also noted that nobody had ever challenged McIntosh's vote since he registered in Anderson in 2008, and that McIntosh had lost the May primary election. I'm not sure why McIntosh's electoral success or failure should be determinative of whether he committed vote fraud, but that's what the board said. The board also mentioned that the state elections division is still investigating a separate complaint Wright filed with it. I'm betting that nothing happens to McIntosh and that he quietly drops the charade of having an Indiana residence and registers to vote in Virginia where he has actually lived for many years.

Obama Thanked Drug Dealer In High School Year Book

I suppose if the media wants to talk about whether Mitt Romney was a bully in high school, it is relevant then to talk about what a big pothead Barry was in high school with his Choom Gang buddies. Apparently Barry even gave a nod in his high school year book to his drug dealer, Ray, who years later was beaten to death with a ball-peen hammer by his scorned gay lover. Barry's Choom Gang liked riding around in his buddy's VW van known as the Choomwagon getting high. Barry had a knack for interceptions, a term used to describe getting a hit from a joint out of turn as it was being passed around. See Buzzfeed's "User's Guide To Smoking Pot With Barack Obama" for more details. If Obama had been prosecuted under the same drug laws that he supports today as so many of his contemporaries were, he wouldn't be President today.

David Maraniss' new biography on Obama takes a closer look at Obama's drug use in high school and college. ABC's Jonathan Karl has this passage about the time Obama and his friends were drag racing the Choomwagon and another friend's Toyota up a mountain road when the Toyota in which Obama was riding went off the road and rolled:

Of course, smoking, drinking and driving on mountain roads could also be a little dangerous. Especially the night they tried drag racing.
The race to the top of Mount Tantalus pitted the “Choomwagon” against another friend’s Toyota. Obama was in the Toyota. The Choomwagon made it to the top first. When the other car didn’t show up, those in the Choomwagon drove back down to find them. Here’s how Maraniss describes what happened next:
“On the way down, they saw a figure who appeared to be staggering up the road. It was Barry Obama. What was going on? As they drew closer, they noticed that he was laughing so hard he could barely stand up.”
His friend had rolled the car. Fortunately, nobody was hurt. And, amazingly, they avoided trouble by leaving the driver alone to deal with the police by claiming it was just an unfortunate “mishap.”

Curry Asked Ballard To Fire Straub And Corcella Over Handling Of Bisard Blood Evidence

The Star's Carrie Ritchie has an interesting story today about a discovery Marion Co. Prosecutor Terry Curry learned of concerning IMPD's handling of the blood evidence in the David Bisard case early last month based on a tip that so angered him that he wrote a letter to Mayor Greg Ballard demanding the firing of Public Safety Director Frank Straub and the department's chief of professional standards, Ellen Corcella. Here's what Curry learned happened after he had already told IMPD Chief Paul Ciesielski, who has since been fired, that his office discovered the blood evidence had been moved from a refrigerator in the property control room to another location where it was not refrigerated that angered him so much:
Records obtained by The Indianapolis Star show that on April 16, hours after Marion County Prosecutor Terry Curry told former Indianapolis Metropolitan Police Chief Paul Ciesielski that one of two vials of Bisard's blood had been improperly moved despite a judge's order that it be preserved, police officers took the blood samples out of their sealed envelopes to examine and photograph them.
Two other times that week -- April 18 and 19 -- officers returned to the property room to handle the blood.

In a scathing letter hand-delivered to Mayor Greg Ballard's office the next day, Curry called for the immediate removal of Public Safety Director Frank Straub and Ellen Corcella, deputy chief of professional standards, who directed officers to examine the blood samples and accompanied them to the property area. Curry said that as a former deputy prosecutor under Carl Brizzi, Corcella "should know better."

"After all of the controversy regarding the single most critical piece of evidence in what is probably the most high-profile case in Marion County, this was done with no notice to our office either before or after handling our evidence," Curry wrote in the letter, which The Star obtained through a public records request. "We will have no choice but to produce this information to counsel for Bisard, which will without doubt lead to additional arguments from the defense regarding chain of custody of the evidence and alleged tampering."
This happened just months after the Department of Public Safety announced that Corcella, a former New York federal prosecutor, had joined the department to head its professional standards department. In a January press release announcing Corcella's appointment, Straub said of her:

"Ms. Corcella brings extensive legal and prosecutorial experience to the Department of Public Safety," said Director Frank Straub. "I believe, under her leadership, DPS Professional Standard's programs, policies, procedures and practices will be strengthened, our service to the community enhanced, and our continuing efforts to re-engineer the department significantly enhanced."
Straub recently announced that he would be stepping down from his position in August after it became apparent the City-County Council would not confirm his reappointment as Public Safety Director. Corcella has not been fired. Ballard's chief of staff, Ryan Vaughn, claims the police meant no harm when they removed the blood evidence from a sealed envelope. Vaughn told Ritchie that they were simply trying to document where the evidence was located after discovering that it had been moved. Curry, however, isn't buying that explanation. Bisard's attorney has already sought to block the testing of a second vial of Bisard's blood because it was unrefrigerated for a period of five months after it was moved and chain of custody concerns. Prosecutors have been unable to use evidence showing Bisard's blood alcohol level at the time of a fatal accident after his police cruiser struck of a group of motorcyclists at an intersection to support drunk driving charges against him; however, the Judge Grant Hawkins has said prosecutors could use the evidence to support criminal recklessness and reckless homicide charges against Bisard.

Thursday, May 24, 2012

Chicago Parking Meter Operator Demanding $50 Million From City

The private company that operates Chicago's parking meter assets under a 75-year lease agreement keeps sending multi-million dollar bills to the City, and Mayor Rahm Emanuel is refusing to pay all of them. The first bill from Chicago Parking Meters LLC for $14 million asked the City to reimburse it for $14 million it says it lost from street closures. A second bill for $13.5 million sought reimbursement for free parking that is provided to persons with disabled license plates or placards. Yet a third bill for $22 million seeks additional reimbursement for disabled parking. Mayor Emanuel is disputing how the private operator calculates the bills and has refused to pay all three of them, now totaling about $49.5 million. That's nearly 5% of the $1 billion, one-time payment the City received from the private operator under the terms of the 75-year lease agreement in the first three years. The private operator retains all of the revenues it earns from the parking meter assets during the life of the lease. The problem is so bad that the state legislature is now considering a state law that would bar the company from receiving reimbursements for free disable parking, which will no doubt be challenged in the courts if it becomes law. From the Sun-Times:

Mayor Rahm Emanuel’s administration had been bracing for another hefty disabled-parking reimbursement bill for 2011-2012. That third bill — for $22 million — arrived just last week, according documents Emanuel’s administration provided to the Chicago Tribune.
The mayor is refusing to pay all three bills, which total about $49.5 million, and has disputed how the company calculated them. Chicago Parking Meters has declined to respond to Sun-Times questions about the issue.
Meanwhile — in response to the Sun-Times recent “Meter Cheaters” investigation — the Illinois Senate this week approved legislation that is expected to stop Chicago Parking Meters from seeking multimillion-dollar reimbursements for providing free parking to the disabled.
Illinois law has allowed handicapped motorists to park for free in metered zones for decades. The legislation, now on Gov. Pat Quinn’s desk, would change that in 2014.
It would set up a two-tiered disabled-parking placard system that would allow only wheelchair-bound and other severely disabled people to park for free in metered spots.
The Sun-Times last year observed dozens of able-bodied people using relatives’ placards, deceased people’s placards, fake placards and even stolen placards to cheat Chicago’s meter system. A subsequent Sun-Times report revealed that taxpayers are on the hook to reimburse the meter company for drivers who use disabled-parking placards or plates to park for free.
The deal that privatized Chicago’s meter system in 2008 has been widely criticized for selling taxpayers short. Under the plan championed by former Mayor Richard M. Daley, Chicago Parking Meters was given the right to keep all meter revenues until 2084 in exchange for a $1.15 billion upfront payment to the city. Drivers have since seen sharp increases in parking rates under the deal.
I predict that Mayor Emanuel will soon announce that the City is walking away from the 75-year lease and will fight it out in the courts with the private operator. He really has no choice given how obvious the deal has proven to be one-sided in favor of the private operator. Remarkably, there was little debate when former Mayor Richard Daley brought the 75-year lease before the Democratic-controlled Chicago City Council for debate in 2008. The cash-strapped city was just anxious to get its hands on the $1 billion payment, which it immediately spent to satisfy short-term obligations. With the city receiving no share of the parking meter revenues, it simply cannot afford these annual, ongoing multi-million dollar obligations to the private operator.

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

More Than 40% Of Democratic Voters In Arkansas And Kentucky Say No To Obama

Barack Obama's unpopularity among some Democratic voters showed up again in yesterday's primaries in Arkansas and Kentucky. A little known Tennessee attorney, John Wolfe, won 41% of the vote in Arkansas and carried more than half of the state's counties in a head-to-head race with Obama. The Obama campaign had spent heavily in Arkansas in recent days to avoid an embarrassing showing in the Tarheel State. In Kentucky where Obama faced no opponent, 42% of the state's voters chose "Uncommitted" over Obama. Ouch!

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Council To Consider Domestic Partner Benefits Proposal

City-County Councilor Angela Mansfield (D) has introduced a proposal to extend health insurance, pension and family leave benefits to domestic partners, including same-sex couples. To qualify, an employee would be required to have shared a residence with a domestic partner with whom the employee is in an intimate and committed relationship of mutual caring for a minimum of one year and has signed a declaration of domestic partnership. The proposal would not just apply to same-sex domestic partners; it would also extend to unmarried opposite sex couples who are co-habitating. WTHR's Mary Milz has more:

"It's going to recognize there are many different types of families in the community and show we do value their service by providing benefits," Mansfield said . . .
Benefits would available would be "identical (to) those available to spouses," and include insurance, pension benefits and family/medical leave.
Will French, who's worked in the county clerk's office for four years and is gay, hopes the ordinance passes.
"Suddenly me and mine could call our families 'families' and the definition of families is expanding and this seems part of that expansion," he said.
Rick Sutton with Indiana Equality says the ordinance is about equality and economics.
"We think it means a lot for the city," Sutton said. "A lot of times, people don't want to go to work for government, because of the money and if you want to attract and retain the best you have to compete with the private sector and this sends a message we're ready to do that."
Mansfield agreed, saying the ordinance "isn't groundbreaking by any means."
She referred to a study that found in 2009, 83 percent of all Fortune 500 companies offered domestic partner benefits.
Mayor Greg Ballard is expected to sign the proposal if it passes the council. His new chief of staff, Ryan Vaughn, had agreed at one point to co-sponsor the domestic partner proposal with Mansfield before budgetary concerns sidetracked it. "He understands it could help attract talent to the city. Many of our larger employers do offer those benefits, so if the council passes the resolution extending benefits it's something he'd take a look at," said the mayor's spokesman Marc Lotter.

If HJR-6, the constitutional amendment currently before the Indiana General Assembly that would write Indiana's Defense of Marriage law into the state constitution, is passed by the legislature next year and approved by the state's voters in 2014, it would overturn any state law or ordinance like that proposed by Councilor Mansfield. In addition to limiting recognition of marriage to one man and one woman, HJR-6 contains an additional clause that prohibits extending benefits or rights to same-sex couples similar to those enjoyed by married couples. In the event that happens, the constitutional amendment would likely face a federal challenge under the Equal Protection Clause.

Lights Out For Club Industry

Residents of Indianapolis' downtown Cole-Noble District who packed a City-County Council meeting room yesterday where the Marion County Alcohol Board was holding one of its regular meetings responded with loud applause as the board unanimously voted to deny renewal of Club Industry's 3-way alcohol permit owned by David Hohman, which is located at 416 E. Wabash. Sgt. William Carter detailed 32 police runs to the club, a/k/a The Event Set, involving fights, public intoxication and shootings in the last year alone. One resident of Fire House Square complained that a leak in her roof had been caused by a bullet fired from one of the guns. Residents complained of having to clean up beer bottles and women's underwear found on their property after events at the club. To hear Hohman speak, he had the club totally under control, which he claimed was primarily used to host private parties for the well-heeled. Sgt. Carter read one police report where Hohman was described as running down an alley waving his hands pleading for help one night because he had lost control of his club.

The video above (NSFW) of a Super Bowl party featuring Rick Ross and YoGotti gives you a flavor of the hip-hop club atmosphere that the club has been transformed into that has caused so much consternation for the downtown residents who reside in the neighborhood. It was one of several videos Sgt. Carter played during the hearing. The looks on the alcohol board members said it all. They turned away and asked Sgt. Carter to cut them short after they told him they had seen all they wanted to see. Hohman told the board that he had no idea the videos had been taken, although some like the one above were easily accessed on YouTube. Sgt. Carter testified that the club had been cited for illegally permitting nude entertainment, but the club's owner and his attorney apparently didn't know about the citation. The Red Garter is the only adult establishment permitted within the mile square business district. When it first opened a few years ago, it had a reputation for hosting circuit parties for a mostly gay clientele who consumed more drugs than alcohol. Hohman defended the club's reputation by saying it had hosted one of Julia Carter's last political fundraisers. You knew Hohman's license renewal was in trouble when the only person his attorney could produce to speak for his character was his hired liquor license agent who appears before the board every meeting as his sole occupation

WRTV's Jack Rinehart has a story on the hearing here. You can view the alcohol board's May 21, 2012 hearing broadcast live on WCTY here.

Ballot-Forging Defendants Ordered To Provide Handwriting Samples

St. Joseph Superior Court Judge John Marnocha has ordered the four defendants charged with forging signatures on the 2008 Democratic presidential nominating petitions of Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton to provide handwriting samples. From the South Bend Tribune:
The motion, filed by special prosecutor Stanley Levco, requires that Morgan and co-defendants Pam Brunette, Bev Shelton, and Dustin Blythe provide the samples "in a form and manner as directed by the state ... upon (its) reasonable demand."
It also requires that each of the four defendants provide one to three separate, one-page handwriting samples not prepared for litigation purposes. Examples include a diary page, a personal journal or notebook page, correspondence, and/or a "to-do" or shopping list.
According to the motion, the samples, which "may provide information critical to the (state's) preparation and presentation of the case at trial," have been requested by forensic document examiners at the Indiana State Police Laboratory in Indianapolis.
Citing earlier cases, the motion notes that compelling a defendant to provide a handwriting sample does not qualify as self-incrimination, as spelled out in the 5th Amendment.
None of the four defense attorneys in the case objected to the motion.
The South Bend Tribune also reports that the Democratic special prosecutor from Vanderburgh County, Stanley Levco, has appointed a deputy special prosecutor from LaPorte County, Christopher Fronk. Fronk works for LaPorte Co. Prosecutor Bob "Z" Szilagyi, who is also a Democrat. Democrats had insisted that a Democrat be included on the Charlie White special prosecution team when he was charged with vote fraud and the Republican county prosecutor in Hamilton County had turned the case over to a special prosecution team. Democrat Dan Sigler was appointed to that special prosecution team, who hired his son, a Whitley Co. deputy prosecutor, as a member of his special prosecution team.

Monday, May 21, 2012

Gregg To Name Vi Simpson As His Running Mate

Vi Simpson
John Gregg wasted no time in leaking to reporters his plan to name State Sen. Vi Simpson (D-Ellettsville) as his running mate after Mike Pence selected State Rep. Sue Ellspermann. Simpson's liberal views contrast sharply with the conservative views of Gregg. She's pro-choice and supports the right of same-sex couples to marry. Simpson, who briefly ran for governor in 2004, currently serves as the Senate Minority Leader. Simpson has been a member of the Senate since 1984. She is married to Bill McCarty, a former state senator from Anderson and former member of the Indiana Utility Regulatory Commission.

Questions have been asked about her residency in the past because she represented a Bloomington area district, while her husband represented a district much further north in the Anderson area. Former Sen. Larry Borst used to joke when he was in the Senate that he represented both McCarty and Simpson because of a residence they had in Greenwood within his state senate district to accommodate the distance between their two districts. John Gregg has already attempted to make an issue of Mike Pence's residency because he and his family have primarily resided in their Washington home instead of their Columbus home since he has been serving in Congress.

Fort Wayne-South Bend Diocese Files Suit Against Obama Administration

The Catholic Diocese for Fort-Wayne-South Bend has filed a lawsuit in federal district court against a proposed mandate by the Obama administration's Department of Health & Human Services that would require it to provide its employees, except under narrow circumstances, access to abortion-inducing drugs, sterilization and contraceptive products and services at no cost to their employees as a violation of the church's religious freedom. A statement released by the church reads, in part:
This lawsuit is about an unprecedented attack by the federal government on one of America's most cherished freedoms: the freedom to practice one's religion without government interference. It is not about whether people have access to certain services; it is about whether the government may force religious institutions and individuals to provide and facilitate services which violate their religious beliefs.

Pence Picks Ellspermann As Running Mate

Sue Ellspermann
Mike Pence officially announced his choice to serve as his running mate this morning. Pence has tapped State Rep. Sue Ellspermann, a first-term House member from Ferdinand in southwestern Indiana who defeated long-time incumbent and House Democratic Majority Leader Russ Stilwell. Ellsperman is the founding Director of the Center for Applied Research at the University of Southern Indiana. She has a Ph.D in industrial engineering and previously owned and operated a business consulting firm. Ellspermann is married to Jim Mehling and has what she describes as a "blended family," including four adult daughters.

Ellspermann, 52, is viewed as being very conservative. She's pro-life on abortion and voted in favor of a constitutional ban on same-sex marriages. She also supported right to work legislation enacted this year and a legislative crackdown on illegal immigration that is being challenged in a federal court. Ellspermann went against the local favorite in the U.S. Senate race this year when she endorsed Richard Lugar over Evansville's Richard Mourdock. Mourdock overwhelmingly carried Ellspermann's district. She was viewed as being very vulnerable in her re-election race in a newly-drawn district that has traditionally elected Democrats.
Ellspermann must be formally elected by delegates at next month's state GOP convention before she officially becomes the Republican lieutenant governor candidate. Former House Speaker John Gregg has not yet announced his choice of a running mate. Speculation has centered on former Fort Wayne mayor Tom Henry.

The Evansville Courier-Press has more here on Pence's announcement in Evansville this morning where Pence kicked off the first of several announcements planned around the state today.

UPDATE: WISH-TV's Jim Shella questioned Ellspermann at the Pence campaign's Indianapolis announcement about why she voted in the 2008 Democratic primary. Ellspermann seemed irritated by the question and recalled that Indiana played a deciding factor in the 2008 presidential race on the Democratic side. She did not say for whom she cast a vote.

Romney's Steel Dynamics Ad

Smarting from past campaign ads by political opponents taking Mitt Romney to task for his past role as an investment banker and decisions his company made that led to the loss of jobs, including Marion's former Ampad plant, his campaign has launched a new video talking about the more than 6,000 jobs a steel plant created at Fort Wayne's Steel Dynamics with early financial backing from Romney's Bain Capital.

Sunday, May 20, 2012

AP Calls Out Gregg's Bogus Residency Attack Against Pence

The Associated Press' Tom LoBianco is having no part of John Gregg's attempt to portray Mike Pence as having a residency problem because he and his family have lived primarily in D.C. since he's been a member of Congress. Unlike Richard Lugar, Pence has continued to maintain a home in Columbus where he and his wife vote. Gregg tried to deflect the blame on to Republicans for raising the residency issue when asked to defend his comments challenging the legitimacy of Pence's Indiana residency. In a story titled, "Dems stretch residency complaints to Pence," LoBianco writes:

The fourth target of the residency question is now Republican gubernatorial candidate Mike Pence.
But just as trying to stretch a double into a triple is usually asking for an out, stretching the rare triple into an inside-the-park home run is almost unheard of. One day after the primary earlier this month, Democratic gubernatorial candidate John Gregg did just that, criticizing Pence for raising his family in Virginia since his election to Congress in 2001.
When asked about the importance of maintaining a residence in Indiana during a recent meeting with newspaper editors in Indianapolis, Pence paused before answering the question . . .
"Well, I'm a lifelong Hoosier. I was born and raised in the state and everyone in my family is a Hoosier, except our son: he's a Boilermaker," Pence said with a pinch of snark, referencing his son's attendance at Purdue University. Then he laid down a clean, reasonable response: He owns two homes, one in Indiana and one in Virginia. He says he chose to raise his family in Virginia so they could stick together.

"That just shows when you're out in Virginia, you're out of touch with Indiana. That's my point," Gregg said. "It's a question of not where one legally resides, it's a question of whether or not they are in touch with what is going on in Indiana."

Of course, that's a highly subjective assessment. When asked if the same criticism applied to other members of Congress — like Democratic Reps. Andre Carson, Pete Visclosky and Joe Donnelly, who like Pence is running for statewide office — Gregg shied away from the critique, arguing it was Republicans who banged that drum . . .
I would add that Pence has been far more visible within the state during his tenure in Congress than Lugar, even though he chose to move his family out to Washington to live. As Rex Early is fond of saying, "that dog won't hunt."

Public Teacher's Ignorance On Display: Tells Students Obama Can't Be Criticized Because He's President

Tanya Dixon-Neely is obviously not only ignorant of the First Amendment but obviously thinks it's her job as a high school social studies teacher to bully students into liking Obama as well whether they like the man or not. Dixon-Neely, a public teacher at North Carolina's Rowan-Salisbury school district, as part of her social studies instruction, decided to discuss with her students a Washington Post report that Mitt Romney supposedly bullied a boy while he was in high school. An observant student brought up the fact that Obama had bullied a girl in high school. Obama said so in his own words in his auto biography, "Dreams From My Father," by the way. Dixon-Neely went ballistic and told the student he could not disrespect President Obama. She even told him it was a criminal offense to do so. When the student said he was merely asking a question, the teacher insisted he was disrespecting the president. The student couldn't understand why it was okay to criticize Romney but not Obama. "Because he's the President," Dixon-Neely shouted. The student said the two men were equal, but not according to the teaching of Dixon-Neely. The student said people trashed Bush all the time when he was President. She claimed people were arrested for saying derogatory things about Bush, which is a patent lie. The student said, "Everybody talked shit about Bush." Dixon-Neely responded, "Because he was shitty." Unfortunately for her, the student recorded the entire exchange on his cell phone and posted it on YouTube. I don't recall ever having as a teacher someone as ignorant as this woman. There is absolutely no hope for students learning anything in our public schools when people as ignorant as Dixon-Nelly are given a license to teach. The student apparently decided to record the discussion to prove to his parents that his teacher was pushing a liberal agenda down their throats in the classroom. Hat tip to Breitbart.

UPDATE: The local newspaper, Salisbury Post, has a story on the incident here. A man by the name of Timothy Rogers, who claims to be the father of the boy heard debating Dixon-Neely in the recording, posted a Facebook comment in which he says that he has removed his son from the school after he complains that his son's "conservative political views" have been attacked daily by the teacher and other students since the beginning of the conversation. Here's what he wrote:
I'm the father of this student. My son and two other students in this class have been attacked daily from this teacher, and the rest of the class, for their conservative political views since the beginning of this semester. I told him to stay out of the political conversations, but she said that if he didn't participate he would receive a bad grade. This teacher is politically ignorant! I teach my sons to respect other peoples political opinion, but she has no right shoving her opinions down his throat! Since this day I have had to remove him from North Rowan High School and am going to enroll him at RCCC to finish his education. I am outraged that she can conduct herself in such an unprofessional manner and receive no disciplinary action. THIS IS NOT OVER! I will attempt to contact Rush Limbaugh this week.
UPDATE II: It looks like the school district has acted in suspending the teacher. See the story here.

Saturday, May 19, 2012

South Bend Activists Want Mayor Impeached

South Bend's 30-year old mayor, Pete Buttigieg, has become somewhat of a boy wonder in Indiana politics. The former Rhodes Scholar was tapped by Indiana Democrats as their State Treasurer candidate in 2010 before becoming one of the youngest mayors in the country this year after beating his Republican opponent last year with 74% of the vote. He was praised in a number of corners for his quick and decisive action in getting a human rights ordinance backed by the LGBT community that had stalled before the city council for years enacted into law during his first months in office. He also won high marks for seeking a better deal for the city on a downtown office tower that's been in foreclosure when he convinced the council to scrap a plan that would have called for an investment of $5.7 million into the city's tallest building as part of a redevelopment plan proposed by a Chicago developer.

Buttigieg's early going as mayor has not come without its share of problems. He has been criticized for choosing too many young and inexperienced people to surround him in the mayor's office, and his relationship with some members of the council within his own party have become frayed. His handling of a scandal within the South Bend Police Department, in particular, has brought him the most heat and has some community activists calling for his resignation.

The police department controversy centers around a discovery that the department had been recording phone conversations allegedly in violation of federal wiretap laws, which led to an FBI investigation. Buttigieg demoted the police department's African-American chief, Darryl Boykins, at a time that racial tensions in the city have heated up. Buttigieg also fired the department's communications director, Karen DePaepe. Buttigieg initially offered little information to the public about his personnel changes at the department, citing the ongoing investigation.  He then told reporters that he demoted Boykins and fired DePaepe in order to protect them from criminal charges, a claim that infuriated attorneys for Boykins and DePaepe. Buttigieg told the South Bend Tribune that U.S. Attorney David Capps and the FBI told him that he would have to make personnel changes or federal charges would be filed. "Charges were not filed because we acted to satisfy federal authorities," he said, "so that they would use prosecutorial discretion."

Attorneys for Boykins and DePaepe, who insist federal wiretap laws were never violated by the recording of phone calls, think the mayor is being untruthful when he claims he was pushed into the personnel changes by federal authorities.

"The U.S. attorney's office informed me on more than one occasion that they have no involvement in the personnel decisions made for and by the city of South Bend," Boykins' attorney, Thomas Dixon, said.
DePaepe's attorney, Scott Duerring, said she was considering resigning after Boykins' demotion, because she believed he was being treated unfairly. Duerring said Assistant U.S. Attorney Donald Schmid encouraged her not to quit.
"The assistant U.S. attorney in charge of the investigation ... personally called Karen at her house and said, 'Please don't resign. There's no need for you to resign,' " Duerring said.
"There was never an indication that they were involved in personnel decisions at the South Bend city level," he said. "It absolutely makes no sense whatsoever."
Furthermore, Duerring said, the phone recordings at the police department don't qualify as violations of the Federal Wiretap Act. "Police departments record incoming lines all the time," he said. "It's not a violation to do so."
'Pretty serious'
Buttigieg has said he became concerned about the recording of phone calls when individuals complained to him that they had become victims as a result of the recorded conversations. Boykins claims the FBI was investigating practices that had been implemented before he was named as the city's police chief in 2007. One of the allegations made is that some of the recorded phone conversations captured persons making racist comments about Boykins. Buttigieg has refused to release tapes of any of the recorded conversations and claims he has not listened to any of the calls. DePaepe claims she had listened to the recordings and prepared a report with notes on the content of some of them. DePaepe claims the mayor's staff threatened to have her arrested if she discussed the content of the tapes.

Community activists backing Boykins and DePaepe have called for Buttigieg's impeachment. When first told of their plan, Buttigieg dismissed it, saying such a legal procedure was not available under Indiana law. The Secretary of State's office confirmed to a reporter for ABC 57 News in South Bend that impeachment is a legal option under Indiana law. The community activists have accused Buttigieg of being part of a conspiracy to block release of information about the recorded conversations and intimidation. From ABC 57 News:

Mayor Buttigieg said Thursday night that he didn't think there was an impeachment procedure in place for mayors in Indiana. Well, there is one; it is not something that is easily accomplished, but it is possible to remove a sitting mayor from office.
According to the spokesperson for the Indiana Secretary of State Elections Division, Valerie Kroenger, there are several ways to impeach a mayor.
Showing up to work intoxicated, malfeasance, death or resignation are some of the ways a mayor can be removed; as are being convicted of a crime.
Conviction of a felony is grounds for immediate removal from office. Being convicted of a misdemeanor requires more steps to be taken before a mayor can be removed.
This is all supported by Indiana Code 5-8-1-1 section 1(a):
Wednesday, Mario Sims, speaking on behalf of a community activist group, announced that plans were being put together to impeach Mayor Pete Buttigieg as a result of the way Buttigieg has handled the scandal surrounding the discovery of telephone recordings at the police department that are said to contain unethical, racist, and possibly criminal content . . .

According to DePaepe, she was threatened with arrest if she or anyone else talked about the investigation the FBI conducted into suspected felony violations of the Federal Wiretapping and Electronic Eavesdropping statute.

This allegedly happened at the time of her termination, and was supposedly said by Mike Schmule, Mayor Buttigieg’s Chief of Staff, in the presence of Rich Hill, a special attorney Buttigieg commissioned to handle issues related to the federal investigation while Interim City Attorney Aladean DeRose was on vacation.

According to his profiles on the Faegre Baker Daniels website, “Rich Hill has served as bond counsel for numerous cities, counties and towns in a variety of economic development, redevelopment and traditional financing projects.”

He was also South Bend’s City Attorney from 1980-1986.

According to a profile for Aladean DeRose on what appears to be her personal website, “With strong litigation and appellate experience, Ms. DeRose concentrates on many aspects of general practice including banking, family law and employment discrimination law.”

She opened a private practice in South Bend in 1982.
Impeachment has been rarely, if ever used in Indiana. The House of Representatives brings the charges and the Senate sits in judgment under Indiana's Constitution. It's highly doubtful Buttigieg's critics could ever convince the legislature to bring impeachment charges against him in the absence of more evidence against him, particularly when it largely involves statements and actions taken by others who work for him.

Friday, May 18, 2012

Residency Issues Will Sink 2nd District Democratic Candidate

Republican Jackie Walorski's election as Indiana's new 2nd District congresswoman replacing U.S. Rep. Joe Donnelly is in the bag, which means two Republican women will be representing Indiana in Congress after this year's November election. So much for the GOP's supposed war on women. The Democrats have nominated a candidate with worse residency problems than those faced by former U.S. Rep. David McIntosh in his narrow loss in Indiana's 5th District primary race to Susan Brooks.

Second District Democratic congressional candidate Brendan Mullen's residency issues have been no secret for the past year. Politico mentioned his problem way back in July, 2011, noting that he had only recently claimed a residence in South Bend after working for years in Washington as a military consultant. Mullen's wife, curiously, has also worked as a top lawyer for Republican House Speaker John Boehner until recently earning $12,000 a month. The Indiana Legislative Insight's Ed Feigenbaum highlights the seriousness of Mullen's problem, except it's a third party candidate who is making the strongest waves about his residency problem. Feigenbaum notes that Green Party candidate Andrew Straw is now turning up the heat on Mullen.
"Until running for Congress, Democrat Brendan Mullen has not lived or worked in Indiana since he was 18. He owns several houses in DC, where he has earned no income from his DC business in 2010 and 2011."  Attorney Straw adds that "Mullen's wife has worked for Speaker John Boehner in Washington up to December 31, 2011. She earned hundreds of thousands in DC, where they lived until Mullen ran for Congress .... Half of his campaign, his wife was working for the leader of the opposition. That's why compromise is his main promise. He'll sell Democrats down river." Straw also reveals that Mullen's voter registration is from a single-family residence in South Bend across from the Morris Park Country Club owned by Katie Humphreys and her husband. Humphreys is a former Family and Social Services Administration secretary and commissioner of the Department of Administration who was also the 1994 Democratic nominee for state treasurer.
If his residency problem wasn't bad enough, Mullen and his wife were also tripped up last year when it was revealed that they were claiming separate homestead exemptions on their two Washington, D.C. homes.

16-Year Fact-Checking Error Responsible For Obama Lit Agency Claiming His Birth In Kenya

The Omedia has universally condemned every politician, pundit, blogger or citizen who has asked questions about "who is Barack Obama", including his place of birth and his natural born citizenship status for the past four years. Breitbart continues the vetting process of "Hope and Change" that never took place during the 2008 presidential campaign. It uncovered a booklet first published by Obama's literary agent in 1991 that claimed the Hawaiian-born "natural born citizen" was actually born in Kenya. That fact-checking error persisted for the following 16 years when the literary agent's website was finally revised in April, 2007, two months after The One announced that he was running for president that he really was born in Hawaii and not Kenya. The literary agent, Miriam Goderich, put out a statement through one of her firm's other clients, Political Wire's Taegan Goddard, after the Drudge Report led most of the day yesterday with the heading "Born In Kenya":
"You're undoubtedly aware of the brouhaha stirred up by Breitbart about the erroneous statement in a client list Acton & Dystel published in 1991 (for circulation within the publishing industry only) that Barack Obama was born in Kenya. This was nothing more than a fact checking error by me -- an agency assistant at the time. There was never any information given to us by Obama in any of his correspondence or other communications suggesting in any way that he was born in Kenya and not Hawaii. I hope you can communicate to your readers that this was a simple mistake and nothing more."
Breitbart went to great length to emphasize that it was not a part of the so-called "birther" conspiracy movement, a derisive term collectively used to describe any one who questions either where Obama was born or whether he can legally be considered a natural born citizen even if born in Hawaii because his father was a British citizen at the time of his birth and because a U.S. Supreme Court opinion from the late 19th century once took the view that only children born to U.S. citizen parents are considered natural born citizens. Breitbart's view is that Obama was in fact born in Hawaii but that Obama once claimed a birth in Kenya because it made for a more interesting bio when he was promoting his book; only when he decided that he had a realistic chance of becoming president did he decide to nail down his true origins to put to rest any doubts for that technical eligibility requirement of the U.S. Constitution.

The Omedia universally ignored the latest revelation by Breitbart promoted to top billing status by the Drudge Report and instead focused on a New York Times report that a SuperPAC funded by Ameritrade's Joe Ricketts, owner of the Chicago Cubs, planned to spend millions emphasizing Obama's ties to his former controversial minister, Rev. Jeremiah Wright, who we recently learn had been offered a $150,000 bribe by one of Obama's closest Chicago friends, Dr. Eric Whitaker, to remain silent during the 2008 presidential campaign when his controversial political views became the center of attention. The Omedia managed to put Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney on the defensive for the message of a SuperPAC over which he has no control.

And so this is how it goes with every unanswered question about Obama's origins. Move along, folks. There's nothing to see here. Answers about who Obama truly is will be made available to you on a need to know basis. His life really is just too complicated to understand. It's a work in progress--a composite character, if you will, subject to updates as new information becomes available. Why should any one be curious about how his literary agent could have gotten a critical part of her client's bio so wrong? How did the fact-checking error make it past the client's review? How did the fact-checking error of Obama's literary agent play a role in fostering the "Born In Kenya" conspiracy theory? Or how it was possible for this critical fact-checking error to persist for a 16-year period until months after the client officially became a presidential candidate before it was discovered? Getting his place of birth wrong wasn't the literary agent's only factual error. Obama was not the first African-American law student to head up the Harvard Law Review contrary to popular myth. Yet the same media folks fret over questions about George W. Bush's National Guard status, the true birth mother of Trigg Palin and Mitt Romney's teen-aged bully days.

UPDATE: Powerline has this spot on reaction to the literary agent's supposed fact-checking error from someone who has worked in the field:

A limp statement was squirted out yesterday after the Breitbart item appeared that a woman who worked at the time as a low level assistant at Acton and Dystel, then Obama’s agent (and is now the Goederich who is Dystel’s partner) was now taking full responsibility for making an “error.”
As someone who has run a number of top bestseller publishers, I think this is an amazing MIRACLE.
It is the ONLY case I have ever heard of in which an editorial assistant INVENTED a biographical detail. I have heard of typos, wrong dates, misspellings of names. But to pick a really weird country of origin like Kenya for an author?
After all where do the bios come from? We don’t make them up. And neither did Dystel & Goederich. They come from the authors, like Obama. No one has ever invented a detail like that, and the authors usually review them and scream like hell if we get them wrong.
Can Dystel and Goedrich show us the correction appeal letter they got from Obama about the Kenya birth in over 10 years of using this bio? Or any other incident from any other publisher or agent that is similar to this “error?”
I really don’t care where Obama was born. The continued degeneration of the press in passing on hilarious nonsense as fact is a lot more serious problem. Give Dystel & Goederich the Rose Mary Woods Memorial Award for the Most Absurd Lie to Protect a President of the Year.
Thomas Lipscomb 
Senior Fellow
Annenberg Center for the Digital Future (USC)

Thursday, May 17, 2012

Robin Shackleford's Residency Issue

Rather than titillate you as a certain other blogger has done in his useless paid subscription gossip rag, here are the facts on Robin Shackleford's residency issue. Yes, she owns a condominium in Pike Township where she has resided for several years. Yes, she ran against Mike Delph for Senate District 29 in 2010 using her Pike Township voting residence at 4964 Potomac Square Way. According to property tax information for taxes paid in 2011, Shackleford was still claiming a homestead exemption on her Pike Township condominium.

After redistricting and Bill Crawford's decision not to seek re-election, City-County Councilor Vernon Brown stated his intention to run for Crawford's seat. Brown will be barred from seeking another term on the council because of a new law that prohibits local government employees from serving as a council member for the same unit of government that employs them. Ice Miller lobbyist Lacy Johnson entered the picture and ordered Brown to stand down in favor of his handpicked candidate Robin Shackleford, even though she didn't reside in House District 98. Late last year, Shackleford, or someone on her behalf, conveniently rented an apartment in House District 98 on the opposite side of town and changed her voter registration. She also asked the Marion Co. Auditor's office to remove her homestead exemption from her Pike Township condominium.

In order to be eligible to run in House District 98, Shackleford has to reside within the district at least one year prior to the election. There are some indications that Shackleford may have still been residing in Pike Township within the one-year time window prior to this November's election. More information would need to be ascertained to determine if she actually had a residence in House District 98 within the one-year residency period. The bottom line is that Shackleford had no connection to House District 98; she simply moved into it (or claimed to be residing in it) for the purpose of running for a House seat so Lacy Johnson has someone in his back pocket just like he has in Bill Crawford. Don't expect the Marion Co. Republican Party to take any action to challenge Shackleford's residency. Brown may now be regretting that he hadn't stayed in the race and contested Shackleford's residency.

Gregg Favors Shifting Taxes From Businesses To Individuals

This must be a first for a Democrat. John Gregg's plan to essentially eliminate corporate income taxes for businesses located in Indiana would be paid for by new taxes on consumers for their online purchases. His plan would cut taxes for businesses by about $350 million and pay for it by imposing sales taxes on Indiana consumers who make online purchases, which Gregg claimed would raised at least $200 million. Gregg is calling his plan a "Hoosier Handshake." Gregg's tax cut for businesses would come in the form of an income tax credit of at least $500 per full-time employee. The credit could be as high as $2,000 per full-time employee if the company's average pay is three times the state's average. It would only benefit those companies who locate their headquarters in Indiana. A Ball State University study, however, pegged the potential untaxed online sales at about $77 million annually according to the Star.

UPDATE: Gregg's plan could provide a windfall to a company like Eli Lilly. Do the math and it's not hard to come up with a scenario where the company's tax credits would surpass its tax liability to the state by millions of dollars.

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Tully's New Take On Residency Concerns

When it came to Charlie White's residency problems, it was all black and white with Matt Tully. He thought White was a "poor lost soul" and an "ill-equipped, felony charged embarrassment of a secretary of state" who deserved to be removed from office when he tried to defend his decision to register to vote at his ex-wife's home for a several month period while he was in between homes and tried pointing out that other prominent Indiana politicians like Evan Bayh and Richard Lugar were the ones who had truly flaunted the state's residency laws. Now that the residency issue helped sink the career of his favorite Indiana politician, Richard Lugar, and a political come back for David McIntosh, Tully has a new found view of the residency issue.
Am I the only one getting tired of all the residency issues facing Indiana politicians? . . .
This isn't a new issue, and in the past it often hasn't exacted a price. Evan Bayh moved to the state in the 1980s to launch his political career, and Dan Coats moved here in 2010 to relaunch his. Both did so with spectacular success.
But some voters seem to have finally had enough and, last week, they rejected the candidacies of at least two politicians who struggled to explain their residential ties to the state.
As with every issue, though, this one is leading to political opportunism . . .
Those laws are conveniently liberal in their description of what it takes to run for office. They have allowed candidates with few current ties to the state to claim their spots on the ballot and, in some cases, win election. But winning doesn't make it right.
Personally, I'm most concerned about the trend of former Indiana politicians moving back to the state solely to run for office, as opposed to those who spend a lot of time out East while serving in Congress . . .
With that in mind, and after so many issues in recent years, perhaps we should adopt a new rule: If you want to be elected by Hoosiers, there should be no doubt that you are one.
It's funny how Tully couldn't accept that there was anything "conveniently liberal" in the residency laws when applied to Charlie White. I don't know how any one with a conscience could think it was fair that White was criminally prosecuted, forced from office and stripped of his law license because of the great crime he supposedly committed in light of the circumstances of Lugar's and McIntosh's residency that came to light this year.