DANIELS MOVES PURDUE OFFICE OF PUBLIC RECORDS CLOSER TO HIS HEART – AND FINGERTIPS

Purdue “President” Mitch Daniels has decided to move the office of public records just a stone’s throw from his office.   He has also hired new legal counsel to oversee those pesky requests from journalists, private citizens, and lawyers.

Of course, there is a legal component to public records requests but strange isn’t it that Purdue managed for years without this step – Daniels comes in and changes it.

Could this be as a result of his “foot in the mouth” incidences in the past that were uncovered with public records requests?  Remember the Howard Zinn flap and tell-tale email information uncovered involving Tony Bennett?

public records

 

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“RIP VAN” POSNER – SIX YEARS LATER THE JUDGE WAKES UP

Judge Posner has stunned the legal community with a rare judicial mea culpa: an admittance that he was asleep at the wheel six years ago when he wrote that he really thought voter fraud was an okay reason to have voter ID in Indiana even though little to no evidence was provided about actual fraud.  He was also provided with the argument that the voter ID could be the basis of voter suppression, which he also forthwith dismissed.

Indiana’s Republicans have long been working on various “disparate impact” voter registration and voter ID laws, which appear to be plausible but, in reality, are aimed at suppressing voting access by minorities and those who typically vote Democratic.  While they are shrewd enough not to flat out target a specific group – imagine the stink that would raise – they have fabricated laws that in their application have a disparate impact on certain groups.

In conjunction with Republican legislative efforts, then-Governor Daniels – under the guise of “efficiency” – made sure to slash the number of Bureau of Motor Vehicle locations where voter IDs could be procured.  Or the locations were moved from democratic strongholds to make access more difficult. Thus, the Republicans used a two-prong drive to suppress as many Democratically leaning voters as possible:  Impose an ID requirement, and then close or relocate those very offices where the IDs could be obtained.

Allen County has three BMV locations.  Two are in Fort Wayne – Pine Valley and Waynedale – with a third in New Haven.   The Waynedale location replaced the branch once located at Southgate Plaza, which served an area in the predominantly democratic 5th and 6th districts with a heavy minority concentration of African-American and Hispanic populations.

The following maps show the areas of minority concentration.  The numbers in the boxes are not related to the issue of minority population.

2010 African-American population concentrations

2010 African-American population concentrations

The darker the shade of blue the higher the African-American population.  The situation is similar for the Hispanic population.

2010 Hispanic population concentration

2010 Hispanic population concentration

Again, the darker the shade of green, the higher the concentration of the Hispanic population.

Finally, here is a map that shows the 5th and 6th districts showing the boundaries.  The relocated Southgate branch now resides in the 4th district – a Republican held city council seat.  Both the 5th and 6th districts are represented by Democrats.

City Council - 5th and 6th districts.

City Council – 5th and 6th districts.

So, while it is a stunning admittance from Judge Posner that he finally woke from his six-year sleep, it is not a case of “better late than never.”  His “ah-ha” moment is too little too late.

REPUBLICANS DEAL ANOTHER BLOW TO PUBLIC SCHOOLS

The Indiana Republicans just can’t get enough of trouncing on our public school system and the parents who stand by it.  Once again, just to reinforce their love of anything non-public, Republicans gussied up the now-legal package of enticements to draw students away from Indiana’s public schools.

A beneficial tax deduction – one not available on an equal basis to the parents of public school students – was included in last year’s legislation.  Come April 17th, parents of home-schooled students and private school students will be the beneficiaries of a tax deduction of $1,000.  But, if your children attend our public schools, don’t look under the Christmas tree – or for a tax-line deduction – for an extra gift to help with all the hundreds of dollars in expenses attendant to public school enrollment.

The presents are all going to the private schools and the charter schools while throwing in a bone to home-schoolers.  The Republican war on our public school system is inexcusable, and, make no mistake, it is a war.  Daniels and Bennett have made no bones – or apologies for that matter – about their desire to weaken our public schools.  While they continue to pooh-pooh that assertion, folks, actions speak louder than words.

CHARLIE WHITE GIVEN OPPORTUNITY TO SPEND QUALITY HOME TIME

Dismissing the argument that Charlie White should be allowed to slither out from under his felony convictions, a Hamilton County judge ordered White to serve one year on home detention providing White with an excellent opportunity to re-assess how he so bungled his voter registration that he now finds himself in this position.  The judge also sentenced White to perform 30 hours of community service work and assessed a $1,000 fine.

White’s defense to his fraudulent voter registration was that his personal life was too “complicated” at the time of his registration.  Imagine if we allowed voters to base incorrect voter registration on a complicated personal life.  Talk about opening wide the flood gates!  Of course, perhaps Daniels and his Republican cronies will put forth a change in the law that reads something like this:

“It is a defense to an incorrect voter registration address that a potential voter was experiencing such personal complications in his or her life that a correct address could not be determined for the purposes of voter registration.”

After all, Daniels and the Republican-controlled General Assembly, soon after the beginning of  White’s troubles, attempted to retroactively modify the manner in which a vacated office was to be filled in order to avoid losing hold on the office of Secretary of State.  That failed amid the outcry of pure political motivation by the Republicans.

So now, White has ample time to re-learn Voter Registration 101 – that is if he is allowed to vote again.

DANIELS MANIPULATES WOMEN’S HEALTH CARE TO PUSH PRESIDENTIAL BID

One has to hand it to the Guv – he has figured out a way to sign the bill defunding Planned Parenthood while knowing that enforcement of the bill may very well be enjoined.  His actions are pure and straightforward manipulation with women as the pawns in his game of presidential chess.

I am sure there are those who will say what an  absurd conclusion, but Daniels knows  he is already in hot water with the social conservatives.  His statement last year that a “truce” on social issues may have to be called infuriated those who pride themselves on stepping into the private lives of individuals – especially in the area of abortion rights.  His latest fiasco with defunding Planned Parenthood showcases just what lengths he will go to in order to traverse the maze of earning and keeping support for a presidential bid.

Indiana’s Medicaid program – of which Planned Parenthood is a funding recipient – operates under United States Code Title 42. Public Health and Welfare, and a set of federal regulations called the Code of Federal Regulations (C.F.R.).

Here is the applicable “Free Choice of Providers” section pursuant to the C.F.R.:

§ 431.51 Free choice of providers.

(a) Statutory basis. This section is based on sections 1902(a)(23), 1902(e)(2), and 1915(a) and (b) and 1932(a)(3) of the Act.

(1) Section 1902(a)(23) of the Act provides that recipients may obtain services from any qualified Medicaid provider that undertakes to provide the services to them.

(2) Section 1915(a) of the Act provides that a State shall not be found out of compliance with section 1902(a)(23) solely because it imposes certain specified allowable restrictions on freedom of choice.

(3) Section 1915(b) of the Act authorizes waiver of the section 1902(a)(23) freedom of choice of providers requirement in certain specified circumstances, but not with respect to providers of family planning services.

(4) Section 1902(a)(23) of the Act provides that a recipient enrolled in a primary care case management system or Medicaid managed care organization (MCO) may not be denied freedom of choice of qualified providers of family planning services.

(5) Section 1902(e)(2) of the Act provides that an enrollee who, while completing a minimum enrollment period, is deemed eligible only for services furnished by or through the MCO or PCCM, may, as an exception to the deemed limitation, seek family planning services from any qualified provider.

(6) Section 1932(a) of the Act permits a State to restrict the freedom of choice required by section 1902(a)(23), under specified circumstances, for all services except family planning services.

Here is where Daniels has outdone himself on the backs of women’s healthcare services.  Daniels will sign the bill – all the while knowing that he and his Republican minions cannot legitimately restrict freedom of choice – that is pretty plainly set out in the above C.F.R. sections.  If the Republicans do this, and it isn’t countered by a lawsuit, Indiana is in jeopardy of losing its Medicaid funding.

But, Daniels knows that Planned Parenthood will file to enjoin enforcement of his signing of the bill – even before the ink is dry.  Given the explicit sections above, the court should grant the injunction prohibiting the state from denying funds to Planned Parenthood.  I say should since it all depends on how willing the court will be to uphold the federal regulations – states’ rights raising a corollary issue.

This gives Daniels much needed cover with social conservatives, which he desperately needs to rehabilitate his standing in their eyes given his apparent previous willingness to back off social issues.  They will be thrilled that he “stood strong and signed the bill”.  Daniels, on the other hand, will be patting himself on the back knowing he could sign the bill and toss the ball into Planned Parenthood’s court – literally.

One has to admit his strategy is excellent.  Although he won’t ultimately be the nominee – he sure would be following in his old boss’s artful use of manipulation of another issue – WMDs in Iraq – or lack thereof.  But what he has really done is manipulate women’s healthcare services to prop up support for his presidential hopes.

DANIELS DALLIES OVER DEFUNDING PLANNED PARENTHOOD

Over the past seven years, Mitch Daniels has attempted to paint his Indiana reign as one of an orderly haven of wondrous progress in our Midwest sea of woes.  But Daniels has failed on numerous occasions.  Who can forget his magical disappearing act when the Indiana House of Representatives flipped to a majority and he found himself unable to pass many of his legislative initiatives.

And, who can forget his privatization mess with IBM – a situation that is still in litigation.   And, to top it off,  just as the new legislative session was underway this year and his presidential star appeared to be in quasi-rising mode, the uppity Democrats walked out of the legislature.  Like a laser beam, the national spotlight shifted to Indiana with questions about Daniels’ struggle to govern given a missing delegation – not the type of publicity the Guv wanted as he continued to mull over a presidential run.

And, now, Daniels finds himself hoisted “on the horns of  a dilemma” – the Indiana legislature has given him a gift-wrapped opportunity to take a stand on abortion by defunding Planned Parenthood.   But, if he signs the legislation, he puts the state at risk to lose an additional $4,000,000 in federal grants for family planning services – a loss that will hurt an already somewhat precarious financial situation.

On the other hand, if he vetoes it, Daniels could antagonize ardent social conservatives already wary of his public statements about the importance of focusing on economic issues by calling a “truce” on social issues.  Although he is not expected to make a decision for a few days, Daniels will, more than likely sign the bill, taking away millions in funding that is marked to help low income women obtain health care services.

As Daniels mulls over his dilemma, the horns he finds himself riding are nothing compared to those of the women who will be deprived of much needed health care that has been available for decades through Planned Parenthood.  But, when it comes to a potential presidential bid, why let the health of thousands of low income Hoosier women get in the way?

Indiana Governor, Mitch Daniels, is faced with a dilemma.

STUTZMAN VOTES AGAINST PROTECTING YOUNG WOMEN AROUND THE WORLD

Marlin Stutzman couldn’t bring himself to vote for an international effort to end violence against women around the world by working to protect girls in developing countries through the prevention of child marriage. What kind of mindset drove 157 Republicans – including Stutzman – to vote against this bill?

I would be fascinated to hear Stutzman’s arguments as to why he rejected this bill.  Perhaps he thinks we shouldn’t be meddling in the affairs of other countries in this manner.  Of course, I imagine he supports meddling when it comes to decimating countries to sniff out and kill terrorists.  How is it that the status of women always seems to take a back seat?

So, Congressman Stutzman, exactly what was your reason for voting against this bill?  Just for informational purposes, here are a few of the findings of Congress:

Congress makes the following findings:

    • (1) Child marriage, also known as `forced marriage’ or `early marriage’, is a harmful traditional practice that deprives girls of their dignity and human rights.
    • (2) Child marriage as a traditional practice, as well as through coercion or force, is a violation of article 16 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, which states, `Marriage shall be entered into only with the free and full consent of intending spouses’.
    • (3) According to the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF), an estimated 60,000,000 girls in developing countries now ages 20 through 24 were married under the age of 18, and if present trends continue more than 100,000,000 more girls in developing countries will be married as children over the next decade, according to the Population Council.
    • (4) Between 1/2 and 3/4 of all girls are married before the age of 18 in Niger, Chad, Mali, Bangladesh, Guinea, the Central African Republic, Mozambique, Burkina Faso, and Nepal, according to Demographic Health Survey data.
    • (5) Factors perpetuating child marriage include poverty, a lack of educational or employment opportunities for girls, parental concerns to ensure sexual relations within marriage, the dowry system, and the perceived lack of value of girls.
    • (6) Child marriage has negative effects on the health of girls, including significantly increased risk of maternal death and morbidity, infant mortality and morbidity, obstetric fistula, and sexually transmitted diseases, including HIV/AIDS.
    • (7) According to the United States Agency for International Development (USAID), increasing the age at first birth for a woman will increase her chances of survival. Currently, pregnancy and childbirth complications are the leading cause of death for women 15 to 19 years old in developing countries.
    • (8) Most countries with high rates of child marriage have a legally established minimum age of marriage, yet child marriage persists due to strong traditional norms and the failure to enforce existing laws.
    • (9) Secretary of State Hillary Clinton has stated that child marriage is `a clear and unacceptable violation of human rights’, and that `the Department of State categorically denounces all cases of child marriage as child abuse’.
    • (10) According to an International Center for Research on Women analysis of Demographic and Health Survey data, areas or regions in developing countries in which 40 percent or more of girls under the age of 18 are married are considered high-prevalence areas for child marriage.
    • (11) Investments in girls’ schooling, creating safe community spaces for girls, and programs for skills building for out-of-school girls are all effective and demonstrated strategies for preventing child marriage and creating a pathway to empower girls by addressing conditions of poverty, low status, and norms that contribute to child marriage.

The age of the young “brides” makes no difference – they will be forced into sexual relations with much older men.  They will conceive, and they will bear children – often all before the age of 15.

Cost?  The Congressional Budget Office (CBO) estimates that implementing the bill would cost $67 million over five years, assuming appropriation of the necessary amounts.  We can spend billions and billions on two wars that have had minimal impact, and we can’t bring ourselves to work on an issue that impacts the health and well-being of millions of young women around the world.

Stutzman needs to do some research before he votes on bills instead of taking the knee-jerk Republican stance.

DOWNS CENTER RELEASES FLAWED POLL

Elections have become a battle of the “polls.”  A recent poll released by the Mike Downs Center for Indiana Politics would lead a reader to surmise that the election for the Third District Congressional race is all but over with Stutzman leading by a whopping 25%.

However, that supposition would be entirely inaccurate – just as the Downs Center poll is inaccurate.  The following is the methodology that was used:

Statement of Methodology for U.S. House 3rd District of Indiana: SurveyUSA interviewed 565 registered voters from Indiana’s 3rd Congressional District 10/21/10 through 10/25/10, using Registration Based Sample (RBS) from Aristotle in Washington DC. Of the registered voters, 400 were determined by SurveyUSA to have already voted, or to be likely to vote in the 11/02/10 midterm election. Where necessary, responses were weighted according to the voter registration database. In theory, with the stated sample size, one can say with 95% certainty that the results would not vary by more than the stated margin of sampling error, in one direction or the other, had the entire universe of respondents been interviewed with complete accuracy. There are other possible sources of error in all surveys that may be more serious than theoretical calculations of sampling error. These include refusals to be interviewed, question wording and question order, weighting by demographic control data and the manner in which respondents are filtered (such as, determining who is a likely voter). It is difficult to quantify the errors that may result from these factors. Fieldwork for this survey was done by SurveyUSA of Clifton, NJ.

Note the bold and underlined portion of the statement.  In actuality, the responses were incorrectly weighted with Allen County receiving an inaccurate percentage.  The following are the Third District registered voter totals from the Indiana Government website:

Allen  –      230,789
DeKalb  –     28,999
Elkhart –      58,944
Kosciusko – 52, 328
LaGrange –   15,319
Steuben –      23,125
Whitley –      20,518

Total Third District voters –        456,677

I don’t claim to be a statistician; however, if Allen County has over 50% of the Third District voters, then a sampling should include at least 50% from Allen County.  This was not the case with the recent poll.  My understanding it that Elkhart County was attributed a 25% share of the total even though it is just shy of 13% of total Third District voter registration while Allen County’s percentage was nowhere near the actual 50% + of the Third District sample.

This inaccurate percentage could have been the result of looking at the entire county of Elkhart, not just the portion located within the Third District.  The bump to 25% is twice what should have been attributed to Elkhart County and skews the poll results.

In defending its poll, the Downs Center through Andy Downs stated that he believes his data is more accurate because he surveyed those likely to vote, not just those who are registered to vote.  So, just what is the likely voter vs. the registered voter distinction upon which the Downs Center considers its poll to be more accurate?

A registered voter is just that – someone who is registered but may or may not vote.  A registered voter could skip any number of elections and vote sporadically depending on issues or candidates that are important to that voter.  On the other hand, a likely voter is one who has “more than likely” voted in the last two or three elections and may very well continue that trend. A series of questions asked by the polling firm is used to establish whether or not the contacted, registered voter will vote in the current election and what that voter’s preference is at that point in time.

But how large a gap exists between the actual percentages between registered voters and likely voters?  In a recent article, the author noted that from 1950 to 2006 – where relevant Gallup poll data was available for 13 midterm elections – the average gap between the preferences of registered and likely voters was only 5 points. Only once, in 2002, did the gap reach double digits.

The newly released poll by the Hayhurst campaign more accurately reflects the actual differences noted by the author of the above article.   The Hayhurst poll shows a 4% lead by Dr. Hayhurst with a plus or minus deviation which indicates a possible dead heat in the race for the Third District congressional seat.

The Downs poll is flawed for two reasons:  1) the polling data was not accurately distributed within the district; and, 2) the research does not support the proposition that likely voters vs. registered voters provides a more accurate picture of just who will win this election.   If history serves, the difference is a 5-point margin – but that margin in this race leads not to the conclusion that the race is over but that it will be a tight race on election night.

Flawed polls do a great disservice to the voting public.  And, is so often stated, the only poll that matters is the one on election day.

THEY WANT WHAT! JUST FOR MY HOMESTEAD EXEMPTION!

As we morph into a society increasingly obsessed with tracking its members and assembling as much personal private data as possible in mega-databases, I would never have dreamed that my Homestead Exemption would become a vehicle to gather personal data.

In an effort to thwart non-existent homestead fraud – and  I say nonexistent because the letter comes with a qualifier that states, “as the receipt of this deduction becomes more beneficial, there is more incentive than ever for homestead fraud.”  Not even a hint at existing fraud, just the fleeting possibility in the future.

To combat this nonexistent threat, the General Assembly passed a law that requires homeowners to re-verify their homestead exemptions.  The unexpected request was included in the just-received tax bills and requires completion of a form that mandates inclusion of social security information and driver’s license information.

Now, I do understand social security numbers may very well be a part of verifying hometead exemptions.  But, come on, driver’s license information?  What possible link can a driver’s license have to verification of my homestead exemption?

It is bad enough that we can’t smile, can’t have “bangs” on our foreheads, can’t wear glasses – all to make it easier for the biometrics police to identify us. It is bad enough that by 2016, we will have to produce a stack of paper work just to get a driver’s license.  It is bad enough that to fly, airports will – more and more – implement invasive x-ray strip-search technology.

And now, to add injury to insult, the government has figured out how to use the Homestead Exemption – for heaven’s sake – to gather more personal information.

The Department of Local Government Finance “will use this information to create tools that will help county officials eliminate homestead fraud.”   Tools that do not even exist – to eliminate homestead fraud that does not exist.

I will ask again, what on earth does having a driver’s license have to do with taking a Homestead Exemption?

Author’s Note:  The Sunday JG had an article about this topic.  The argument is that people may have a driver’s license in another state and/or county and try to take advantage of duplicate homestead exemptions.  No stats were provided as to actual fraud – only vague statements that it can be an issue, and, once in a while a violation is found.   Sounds like overkill to catch a small number of violators.  Sorry, still sounds to me like just one more way to track citizens.

DAN COATS – “BORN-AGAIN HOOSIER” CRAWLS OUT OF NORTH CAROLINA WOODWORK

The following clip says it all:

Dan “I’m no Hoosier Anymore” Coats has decided that he will now be a Hoosier again for the sake of his own self-interest party.  This will be an interesting primary on the Republican side of the ticket.  If Republicans are going to stick to their oft-spouted values about the nastiness of lobbyists and Washington insiders, then Coats should not win the nomination in May.

However, Republicans may want an additional senate seat so badly that they are more than willing to swallow their “values” and throw their support behind Coats despite his abandonment of Hoosiers for over a decade and his lobbying efforts and ultimate status as a Washington insider.

The other candidates who have already filed and put time and effort into their campaigns should be outraged at Coats’  blatant opportunism and lack of consideration for fellow Republicans.  Had the Supreme Court not made its ridiculous and lop-sided decision boosting corporate power to influence elections, Coats would have not even thought about running in the state he left so many years ago.   Pretty coincidental that Coats jumped up and shouted “No, no, I really am a Hoosier” so quickly after the Supreme Court’s decision.

Coats was underway in his plans to make North Carolina his “new” home.  If Republicans keep to their lofty musings, then Coats will be sent packing to crawl right back into the North Carolina woodwork.

Lobbyist Coats reflects the very things the public now says it despises

Lobbyist Dan Coats - born-again Hoosier and corporate lobbyist