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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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.

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.

DANIELS RACE TO DESTROY COLLECTIVE BARGAINING

Mitch Daniels comes from the corporate world which feeds on privatization and decreasing workers’ rights.  Just hours after Mitch Daniels took over as governor of Indiana in 2005, he rescinded the rights of highway police, hospital attendants, mechanics, and other state workers to collectively bargain for wage and hour increases, working conditions, and other benefits.

Under the theory that he needed to restructure the government and could not run the government efficiently with collective bargaining agreements in place – poor man – Daniels began his vendetta against state workers who were covered by collective bargaining agreement. However, in 2006, Daniels was forced to take a brief hiatus from his daunting task of destroying collective bargaining when Hoosiers turned the Indiana House over to Democratic control.

Daniels became a “missing in action” governor with the disappearance of his rubber-stamp general assembly.  But, last November, with the shift back to a completely Republican-controlled General Assembly, Daniels got back on his steed of destruction and once again began his ride to stamp out collective bargaining – this time turning his efforts toward the collective bargaining rights of teachers’ unions.

To accomplish his goal, Daniels’ first move was to rid himself of Dr. Sue Ellen Reed, an experienced educator who was elected and who served four terms, two of those under Democratic governors.  Reed’s bipartisanship when it came to Hoosier children just didn’t sit well with Daniels, who needed a superintendent of education who would kowtow to Daniels’ plans to rid the state of collective bargaining in public education.

Daniels found his ally and soul mate in Tony Bennett, who had less than a year’s experience as a superintendent.  Daniels backed Bennett in the 2008 campaign, effectively forcing Dr. Reed out of the race.  Bennett was elected in 2008, and, with his new soul mate in tow, Daniels again turned his gaze toward the teachers’ unions and their collective bargaining rights, but, alas, he could not yet make his move since the Democrats maintained their Indiana House majority in the 2008 elections.   Without a majority in the House as well as the Senate, Daniels and Bennett couldn’t get their horsey out of the gate.

The 2010 elections gave Daniels and Bennett their dream come true – the Indiana General Assembly flipped – and heavily – to the Republicans.  Now, Daniels had everything he needed to get rid of the collective bargaining in the public educational system.  He had successfully forced out a bipartisan superintendent of education and replaced her with a clone of himself, and the Indiana General Assembly was now full of senators and representatives licking their lips and champing at the bit at the prospect of smacking down the teachers’ union through whatever means necessary.

While Daniels and Bennett have been on a crusade to convince the public, in general, and teachers, in particular, that the changes to be made really are to help the suffering public education system,  a more than cursory glance reveals how the proposals actually undermine collective bargaining.

The real focus of Daniels and Bennett, though, is the push to establish new charter schools, which will have a major role in diminishing the role of collective bargaining.  Charter schools can be created in one of two ways:  either by converting an existing public school which has been forced to be abandoned by financial pressures, or by creating a new school.

A charter converted from an existing school (requires approval of 60% of teachers and 51% of parents to convert) must recognize existing collective bargaining agreements.  However, new charter schools do not have to recognize any collective bargaining agreements.  Doesn’t take a rocket scientist to see which one will take priority.  And, with the push to force existing public school corporations to “sell” an unused building for $1.00, creating a new charter school has a leg up on the a converted school.  Talk about favoritism.

Legislation now winding its way through the General Assembly – aside from creating a charter school board controlled by the state, with members appointed by the governor and state superintendent – provides for the following:

  1. allows newly established charter schools to use under-utilized buildings in school corporations at the school corporations’ expense;
  2. requires charter school credits to be accepted at other public or private schools;
  3. allows up to 50 percent of teachers to be unlicensed; and,
  4. allows the charter to go into debt without having to pay it back themselves, forcing their debt to be paid by the common school fund.

Daniels has slashed the educational budget of the public schools forcing them to close schools, lay off teachers, cut services, and outsource service contracts.  But his draconian budget cuts just weren’t enough.  With the aid of the rubber-stamping General Assembly, Daniels and his yes-man par excellence, Bennett, have created additional avenues to completely weaken the public education sector and push toward the destruction of collective bargaining rights.

Mitch Daniels

DANIELS DUDS OUT AT CPAC

Mitch Daniels has kept everyone in suspense about his potential presidential run – well those who care anyways.  He has followed the old adage I remember from high school, “she ran so fast he caught her.”  Daniels has played games like a coy teenager in his run up to whatever decision it is he will make.

Daniels cleverly hesitates when asked about his plans, and he always ensures that his answer includes a conditional phrase or two.  His appearance at the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) was an opportunity for Daniels to show his stuff and to test the percentage waters.

With his speech late in the evening, he certainly did not engender the enthusiasm that earlier participants received.  He gave a solid, no-nonsense speech, and, as I watched a video, I couldn’t help but think that he just doesn’t instill excitement with his demeanor or his voice projection.  A run for the presidency requires not only competency but also enthusiasm and excitement.   While he has generated support from a group of Yalies, these youngsters won’t get him elected.

Daniels just doesn’t have the necessary ingredients to win the nomination.   His poor showing in the straw poll – 4% – also indicates that many are just not ready to get behind him.  However, it should be noted that Ron Paul has won the poll before and has gone nowhere.  His 2008 run ended in March of that year, well before the actual nominating process ended.

The straw poll really is not an indicator, but it does show that those who voted are looking for name recognition and strict adherence to conservative principles – something that Daniels muffed when he suggested that the conservative social agenda take a back seat to the economic issues.

Prediction?  No run for Daniels.  And, if he does, he will not be in for long.

 

BEND IT LIKE BENNETT

The Superintendent of our Indiana schools – and I use the word “Superintendent” lightly – Tony Bennett has been anointed to attempt to placate the fears of Hoosier teachers, parents, and supporters of public education as he and his boss move toward dismantling the state’s public school system.  The Daniels and Bennett three-legged “stool” of educational reform is nothing more than a thinly veiled – and not too thinly veiled at that – effort to weaken Indiana’s public school system.

The hostile “quasi-privatization” takeover plan asks the Republican-controlled House and Senate to rubber stamp various elements that are aimed at restructuring Hoosier public education.  Daniels prefers to work at privatizing everything that can be turned over to big business, and, in Bennett he has found a comrade in arms.   Of course, sometimes the plans go awry – the IBM welfare privatization scheme, for example.  That one must have caused the Guv a great deal of anguish in the evenings as he tried to figure out what went wrong.

Public education is a function of the government – as it should be.   But, Daniels and Bennett see Indiana’s public school system as ripe for takeover by private entities – through two separate channels – voucher programs and charter schools.  Both will divert students and funding away from our public schools.  A necessary third prong to Daniels and Bennett is to weaken the collective bargaining power of the teachers’ unions.

FIRST LEG — VOUCHERS

Vouchers are nothing more than payment from taxpayer funds to allow parents to avoid the public school system and select a private school in which to enroll their children.  The concept sounds really great until a list of private schools is perused.  In Indiana, 82.5% of private educational institutions are affiliated with a religious denomination (136 of 166).

Indiana’s Constitution, in two separate sections of Article I, our Bill of Rights, prohibits the mixing of state and religion.

Section 4. No preference shall be given, by law, to any creed, religious society, or mode of worship; and no person shall be compelled to attend, erect, or support, any place of worship, or to maintain any ministry, against his consent.
(History: As Amended November 6, 1984).

Section 6. No money shall be drawn from the treasury, for the benefit of any religious or theological institution.

The push for vouchers violates both of these sections, yet Daniels and Bennett seem determined to ignore Indiana’s constitution in their push to divert public funds from public schools.

Although the Indiana Constitution would appear to prohibit such a voucher system, the United States Supreme Court, in Zelman v. Simmons-Harris, 536 U.S. 639 (2002), upheld an Ohio plan to allow the use of school vouchers.  The decision did not impose a mandatory requirement of using vouchers, and, in fact, some state supreme courts, including Florida and Arizona, have since determined that the use of vouchers in their state public school systems was unconstitutional.

SECOND LEG — CHARTER SCHOOLS

For 60 years, the state of Indiana has been on a bender to reduce the number of school systems by mandating school consolidation under the theory that consolidations cut expenses and provide greater resources. Establishment of charter schools is in direct contradiction to that 60-year policy, yet Bennett and Daniels are determined to throw that policy out the window in their rush to tear down the Indiana public school system.

Charter Schools

Charter schools are schools which are given the right to exist but are given their existence in a different way than the traditional schools.  They are “chartered” or created by an entity distinct from yet under the control of the state. In Indiana charter schools can be proposed by a sponsor, by a governing body of a four-year state educational institution, or by an executive of a consolidated city.

The purposes of chartered schools are no different than the public schools.  The following is the list of purposes set forth in I.C. 20-24-2-1:

IC 20-24-2-1

Purposes of charter schools

Sec. 1. A charter school may be established under this article to provide innovative and autonomous programs that do the following:

(1) Serve the different learning styles and needs of public school students.

(2) Offer public school students appropriate and innovative choices.

(3) Provide varied opportunities for professional educators.

(4) Allow public schools freedom and flexibility in exchange for exceptional levels of accountability

(5) Provide parents, students, community members, and local entities with an expanded opportunity for involvement in the public school system.

No differences exist, and the public school system was created for the very same purposes listed for charter schools.

So, why the rush to charter schools?

Charter schools also have an advantage in the review process.  They need to be reviewed once within a five-year period of time.  Thus, theoretically, a charter school could go for eight or nine years without a review.  For example, if the school were reviewed in the first or second year that would satisfy the review requirement for that five-year period.  Then, perhaps the school would not be reviewed until the ninth year of the next five-year period.  The charter school has been given a pass and does not have to be reviewed nearly as often as the public schools.

So, why the rush to charter schools?

Charter schools also do not have the stringent requirements for teacher licensing that are required of the existing public school systems.  Charter school teachers do not need licenses when they are hired – the requirement is that the teacher needs to be “in the process” of obtaining a license and has three years to complete the process. The teacher could spend three years without a license and then move on without ever having obtained a license while at the charter school.

So, why the rush to charter schools?

Charter schools come in two varieties:  those that are created and those that are converted.  Those created are new schools and do not start with collective bargaining agreements.  The teachers are allowed to organize if they want to and have the ability to do so.  Those existing schools which are converted must recognize the existing collective bargaining agreements.  Given this difference, Daniels and Bennett will more than likely go for more new schools than converted schools.

So, why the rush to charter schools?

Charter school conversion requires 60% of teachers to agree and 51% of parents.  It doesn’t take much math to figure out that Bennett and Daniels will go for new schools.  Conversions will be few and far between.  Why use conversions that need approval when new schools can be created without the bother of teachers and parents?

So, why the rush to charter schools?

Charter schools take public funding from already existing schools.  The pie is just so big, and, by increasing the number of schools, the pie gets smaller.  Our existing public schools get less of everything with the creation of more schools.  This decrease in public funding assures that our existing schools will only continue to receive less and less, spiraling down ward with less and less to serve their existing students.

THIRD LEG – DESTROYING COLLECTIVE BARGAINING

This one is a no-brainer.  Charter schools can be established without collective bargaining agreements.  Vouchers can go to private religiously-affiliated schools without the worry of unions.

Bennett and Daniels primary goal is to weaken the public educational system by the use of vouchers, by increasing the creation of charter schools, and by dismantling the ability of teachers across this state to enter into collective bargaining agreements.

How is it that Bennett and Daniels justify the creation of additional schools when the last 60 years has been spent decreasing the number of schools – all in the effort to save money and increase resources?

Their goal is simple – Bennett and Daniels are using a completely controlled Republican General Assembly to weaken the public education system in Indiana.

CONFLICT OF INTEREST

Bennett’s wife, Tina, recently resigned from a position that put her squarely in a conflict of interest.  While her husband was pushing to increase charter schools, Tina Bennett was employed by a company that worked with charter schools.  Tony Bennett had the audacity to suggest this was not a conflict of interest.

CONCLUSION

Bennett and Daniels have a vendetta against our Hoosier public education system.  By using several avenues, they hope to eventually dismantle the public school system in Indiana.

BAD DAY AT BLACK ROCK – BUT THERE’S GOT TO BE A MORNING AFTER

Need I say anything about yesterday’s election results?  Probably not, but I will anyways!  The morning after elections is always full of disappointments for the losing party and candidates, but it is also a time to regroup and understand that there is hope.  So here is my assessment – purely personal of course – on the Indiana races:

Senate – Sheriff Ellsworth vs. Carpetbagger Coats:

Coats was hand-picked to drop back into Indiana after Evan Bayh decided to self-limit his senate terms.  Coats and his wife were all set to retire in North Carolina – review the clip where he stated “if you don’t tell the good people of Indiana” referring to his plans to get out of Dodge permanently (although he hadn’t lived in Indiana for over a decade) and make his retirement home in North Carolina.  He even noted how excited he was at the prospect of registering and voting in North Carolina.

Of course, the issue of residency reared its ugly head, so he followed what is becoming an all-too-common path to running for office – he rented a space in the appropriate jurisdiction –  in this case, Indiana – to establish residency.  I would imagine it is a studio or something not too expensive since he likely will not be here much, if at all.

Odds are Coats has not sold his home in North Carolina – heck – I would bet the farm he hasn’t sold his home.  He will be an absentee Indiana senator, commuting to North Carolina during his term where his real home is located.  Any bets on how often he will actually step foot back in Indiana – the state he abandoned years ago?

This race is one of the most puzzling, but it shows that Hoosier values is an empty phrase to all those who voted for Coats.  I mean how is it he runs on Hoosier values when he hasn’t been a Hoosier for 12 years?  Shouldn’t he have been espousing North Carolinian values or lobbyist values or Washington, D.C. values?  Any values but Hoosier values.

At any rate, look for Coats, now 67, to run one term and then get back to his original retirement plans away from the “good people of Indiana”, which makes it almost certain he won’t spend much time in Indiana during his senate term.  Why would he?  He will mosey back to North Carolina, live in his $2 million dollar home, more than likely return to lobbying, and never give the “good people of Indiana” a second thought.

Both parties have probably already started thinking ahead to 2016.

House of Representatives – Hayhurst vs. Stutzman:

No surprise that this is the most disappointing of the races for me.  After beginning on Tom’s campaign in September 2009, the loss is extremely discouraging.  I watched Dr. Hayhurst traverse this district, walking door-to-door, speaking at events, participating in parades, and running a heart-felt campaign to be this district’s representative in Congress.  Hayhurst did not jump from one race to another – he focused on the congressional seat for Indiana’s Third District and would have made a great representative for the Third District.

Stutzman was selected in June, did very little campaigning, and probably looked at the race as an “entitlement” and pretty much a given.

I have to wonder whether Stutzman’s desire for the congressional representative’s seat was sincere or simply opportunistic. Since the age of 26, Stutzman has run for or held one office after another:  Indiana House of Representatives, Indiana Senate,  U.S. Senate, and now U.S. House of Representatives.  One gets the sense that “any old office will do.”

All the while, Stutzman continues to allege he is a “fourth-generation” farmer – but  more likely he is  a “FINO” – a “farmer in name only.”  I mean, how do you run for four offices in eight years, participate in legislative sessions, and farm full-time? And, now as a full-time legislator, how will he keep claiming he is a farmer?

Anyone who has been involved in farming knows that you don’t climb down off a combine for a photo shoot,  go back to campaigning, and then call yourself a full-time farmer.  Farming is hard work and requires long hours – even with the advent of technology those agricultural products don’t magically appear on your table or the store shelves.

My guess for Stutzman’s future?  He will attempt to stay in the House of Representatives until the opportunity for the 2016 senate race raises its head.  He will then switch gears again and go for the open senate seat which I predict Coats will vacate to return to North Carolina.  Opportunism at its height!

Local Races:

Morris vs. Wyss

What a disappointment – citizens complain and complain about career politicians yet continue to send the same politicians back year after year in a self-fulfilling cycle.  While Wyss may be a likable guy – he is a career politician with 25 years under his belt. Maybe the voters see part-time politicians differently than full-time politicians.  I have to wonder if all those voters who whine about career politicians have taken a look in the mirror and understand they are the very reason these politicians have careers in politics.

In the Indiana Senate race for District 15, the voters had an opportunity to send new blood to the state senate.  Jack Morris was well-informed on the issues confronting our state while Wyss tends to author or sponsor laws that are pretty much negligible and may be difficult to enforce.  Many of his efforts have been referred to as “nanny-state” legislation.

On the bright side, this race did force Wyss to campaign and remind voters who he was and what he looked like – something he hasn’t had to do much of with little competition in the past.

Ross vs. Dodge

This one was a real shocker – Codie was an excellent candidate following the path of Ed Roush’s campaign style and was well-informed on issues, especially those involving education.  As a previous teacher, his background would have been valuable in the area of education and its trials and tribulations.  With Daniels now poised to privatize our public schools, we need representatives who understand just what is at stake in this arena.

Dodge was also forced to campaign to keep his seat.  A small business owner who is now retired, Dodge has had very little impact in the Indiana House and prefers to maintain a low profile.

Indiana General Assembly:

Daniels’ Dangerous Tri-Fecta:

With the Indiana House of Representatives a 58 to 42 majority for Republicans, Daniels will now have the trifecta of power.  Republicans have whined about Obama’s trifecta for the past two years, so now let’s see if they acknowledge the danger in the trifecta they now will possess.  Bet you won’t hear a peep out of them.

With Daniels’ Republican minions now in control of both House and Senate, you can kiss goodbye any hope for Indiana’s environment, education, and social services.  With Daniels now in charge of two kowtowing legislative bodies, his privatization plans – even though terribly flawed in some cases – will kick into high gear.  Remember Daniels’ earlier reactions when he didn’t get his way on what he wanted;  he sometimes acted like a spoiled child and often was not involved in the legislative process.

In the area of environment, he has already diminished IDEM’s enforcement powers to the point of extinction along with attempting to do away with environmental regulations that protect our Hoosier air, waters, and lands.  Daniels sees Indiana as one big factory farming lot and will continue his efforts to increase the number of Confined Animal Feeding Operations (CAFOs) regardless  of the detrimental impact on air, soil, and water.  But that is of no import to the pro-big business minded Daniels.

Daniels contributed hundreds of thousands of dollars to candidates through his “Aiming Higher” PAC, so look for a number of representatives to be in Daniels’ pockets when it comes to key votes. Look for a new and energized Daniels to steamroller through his destructive privatization plans for our state during his remaining two years.

Sarah Palin may have considered herself a lame-duck in her first term, but you can bet Daniels will go with the label “game-duck” as in ” I am game to destroy Indiana’s environment, education, and social programs.”

Redistricting:

The issue of partisan redistricting now leaps to the front and center.  The redistricting will occur in 2011 based on the 2010 census.  Todd Rokita, the soon-to-be ex-Secretary of State, has put forth a plan called “Rethinking Redistricting” under the guise of helping us poor, uniformed Hoosiers better understand the redistricting process.

I understand it quite well, thank you – redistricting is political – always has been and always will be.  The party in power in the Indiana House of Representatives attempts to draw and re-draw lines to better enhance its chances of retaining control of the federal congressional legislature.

If the Republicans decide they would rather oust Joe Donnelly in the 2nd congressional district and not worry about keeping Marlin Stutzman in the 3rd congressional district, then a map will be designed to shift either all or part of the red county of Kosciusko into the 2nd district thus creating  a larger Republican voter base.

Since Donnelly barely hung on in this race, a shift could cause major problems for his re-election in 2012.  But what may be bad for Donnelly could be good for Third District Democrats.  Removing Kosciusko County means that the Third District will need to pull in voters – most likely from the south in what is now Pence’s 6th district – as it was in the days of the old 4th district, which was somewhat more Democrat-friendly than the current 3rd district.

Indiana State Elected Officials:

Secretary of State:  Vop Osili vs. Charlie “I don’t know where I live or vote” White

Who’d have thunk Hoosier Republicans would vote in a guy who is under investigation for voter fraud, and who, if convicted, probably will be removed from office?  Obviously, either Republicans have again abandoned those “Hoosier” values which so often drip from their lips, or they just don’t get it.

Sure, he is innocent until proven guilty, but he has already acknowledged his “error” by resigning from the Fishers’ town council he represented.  He was involved in drawing the council’s boundary lines, so his “oops, I didn’t know” act has little credibility.  His resignation is one of those “I got caught” moments requiring action.

Vop was a great candidate.  I got to know him back in the late winter when I asked him to speak at our Third District Breakfast Club.  A graduate of Carnegie-Mellon and Columbia University, he is a small business owner.  He is thoughtful, well-informed, articulate, and energetic.  My prediction?  Watch for Vop to continue to be a rising star in the Indiana Democratic Party, and, perhaps at the national level.

Treasurer:

Pete Buttigieg vs. Richard “I like wasting taxpayer money” Mourdock

Another rising star in our party, Pete Buttigieg, is the son of educators and grew up in South Bend.  He was valedictorian of his high school class and went on to earn a degree from Harvard before studying economics at Oxford University as a Rhodes Scholar.

Before leaving his job to campaign full-time, Pete’s career as a businessman took him across the country and around the world. Providing analysis and insight to key decision-makers, he has worked in a variety of areas including economic development, retail strategy, energy and logistics.

Sam Locke vs. Tim “I like campaigning on the taxpayer’s dime” Berry

Sam was born and raised in Connersville, Indiana, and graduated from Connersville Senior High School.  He went on to attend Indiana University – Bloomington on a ROTC scholarship and graduated with a BS in Secondary Education and BA in Political Science before being commissioned an officer in the Air Force.   He earned his Master of Public Administration degree from the University of Wyoming while serving in the Air Force at Francis E. Warren Air Force Base.

Sam is another young and rising star in our party.  We are truly fortunate to have had three great candidates for our state offices, and who I hope will continue to grace the Democratic party with their achievements and efforts.

Some Final Thoughts

While yesterday was a tremendous defeat for Democrats here at home and nationally, I have been around long enough to know that this is not the demise of the Democratic party.  This is a cycle in our country’s political process.  We watched the huge democratic victories in 2006 and in 2008, and now the victories – at least some of them – have swung back to the Republican column.

The Republicans will be no more successful at pleasing the American voter than the Democrats.  And, the Tea Partiers will find they are such a small number that they will really have no impact on policies or the direction of our country.  I can’t wait to hear the bellow of Rand Paul in the Senate that “we have come to take back our country” only to realize that his voice is a mere mouse squeak in the scheme of things.

Voters are becoming ever more a crowd that wants something done immediately despite the fact that most issues require time – and sometimes a lot of it.  They refuse to understand that our system was created with a check and balance factor that makes the wheels turn slowly.

Americans have become conditioned to instantaneous gratification – partly as a result of technology and the fast pace of our lifestyles.  When I was offline with no internet for five days this past week, I had to talk myself down from the ledge.  Just kidding, of course.  But think about how we all demand everything immediately.  What is fast today will be slow tomorrow and on and on.

As we ramp up our expectations for speed, speed, and more speed, we are not willing to accept the notion that our Founding Fathers created a political system meant to crawl toward resolution of a myriad of issues – and those issues were not the same increasingly complicated issues we face today.

While yesterday was, indeed, a bad day for Democrats, I think of the song from the Poseidon Adventure “There’s Got to be a Morning After.”  Democrats will reinvigorate themselves as in the past, and the cycle will begin anew. With the outstanding slate of candidates we fielded this election, I have tremendous hope for upcoming elections.

And, indeed, today is that morning after, and I am already looking forward to upcoming campaigns!

 

 

 

 

DANIELS HIRING FREEZE THAWS QUICKLY FOR HIS REPUBLICAN SENATE

I read everyday about the Indiana budget and how education, salaries, social programs, etc. must be trimmed in order to ward off the state’s financial problems.  So what does the Little Napoleon do?

Here is the release in the Journal-Gazette:

Senate President Pro Tem David Long, R-Fort Wayne, sent out a statement Friday touting what his chamber is doing to rein in spending after Gov. Mitch Daniels announced spending cuts.

Among the efforts was continuing its “current hiring freeze.”

But less than 10 minutes later another release from Long appeared – this one welcoming a new policy analyst.

So much for that hiring freeze.

Senate officials later defended the hire as essential to the operation of the chamber.

So, while David Long was busy touting the “current” efforts of the state senate to “hold the line”, his party boss had already jumped the line to favor the Republican-controlled senate with a new employee as a GOP policy analyst.  To top it off, though, here is how the entire incident is explained:

Scott Minier, communications director for the Senate GOP, said there was no conflict. The freeze, he said, applied to “non-essential, noncritical and new positions.”  A policy analyst, he said, is essential.

And what does the new, totally essential employee get as compensation while others are seeing freezes and cuts? Why, a mere $90,000.

Photo credit - indydemocrat.blogspot

DANIELS THE WHINER – RATHER THAN INSPIRE, DANIELS TRASHES BABY BOOMERS

Daniels can’t think of too much positive to say since he has been pretty much non-existent this year during Indiana’s legislative session.   So at Butler University’s recent graduation at which he gave a speech, he decided to trash the “Boomer” generation with a mea culpa of  “don’t be like us.”

Photo Credit:  Indy.com (Alan Petersime)

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Oh, come on.  It really is time now – 40 years later – to get over blaming Boomers.  I have heard ad nauseum for decades now how the Boomers have ruined the world.  It really gets old – especially when it isn’t true.  Since my generation of the 1960s, two more generations have entered the world’s stage – and have done quite a bit to mess things up.  These youngsters are also called the “me” generations.

Those born in the 1970s have been dubbed Generation X (born to the Baby Boomers) and those born in the 1980s and 1990s have been dubbed Generation Y (Echo Boomers).  Both of these groups are today’s young people, those who also have been accused of being selfish and taking for granted that the self comes first.

But since Daniels is having a tough time in his home state legislative endeavors, he has decided to deflect attention from the real shape of Indiana’s finances and jump on the old saw that the Boomers really messed things up.  And, wow, he actually believes he has the power to seek forgiveness by saying “we’re sorry – don’t be like us.”

If he thought he would get rave reviews, he was wrong.  Many disliked his negative tone and felt his speech belonged in a different venue.  Some felt it was simply a “put-off.”  I guess Daniels decided not to follow the old adage that “if you don’t have anything good to say, don’t say anything.”

But ya got give the guy credit – at least he stayed true to his character:  nothing to say, so cry and whine and find a scapegoat for his lack of inspiring advice.