Mr. Mayor, don't pay them no 'tention!
I know this may sound like an odd title coming from a man with a master's degree in government from the University of Illinois and a law degree from St. Louis University, but bear me out on this one, if you will. I decided to title this blog post after a phrase my grandmother used to use when dealing with silly people who would do nothing but waste her, and other's, valuable time. Hopefully Mayor Greg Ballard will take my grandmother's advice when dealing with some so-called "civil rights" leaders here in Indianapolis who want a say in who the next public safety director should be.
They have penned a letter to the mayor asking to be included in any community discussion and decision on who will replace Dr. Frank Straub when he steps down later this summer. They sent the letter to all the news media here in Indy.
I won't reprint the entire thing because I have no intention of wasting NUVO's valuable server space. But look at the groups who signed the letter: The Indiana Chapter of the National Action Network, the Concerned Clergy, the Indiana Black Legislative Caucus, the Coalition of Black Trade Unionists and the Indiana Chapter of the NAACP. In other words, the dark wings of the Indiana and Marion County Democratic Parties. And please note, this list includes some of the same people who called Mayor Ballard last year a racist and paid some ridiculous amount of money to bring Al Sharpton and his hair here, which all both did was contribute to global warming and climate change.
These groups haven't done one thing to improve the economic environment in Indianapolis. They haven't created one job. They fought school choice and vouchers, which would have helped get black children out of failing schools. They defended Indianapolis Public Schools when the state was getting ready to take over some of the worst performing schools in the city. They marched for Trayvon Martin, but are nowhere to be found when a local young black male is a murder victim. And I don't recall any of them speaking up when Darnell "Dynasty" Young was bullied and expelled for defending himself. In fact, as I really think about some of the people included in these organizations, my grandfather would likely call them some of the most "lazy, shiftless and useless colored people" who ever shucked and jived on the face of the planet. Actually he had another word for them, but I don't think my editors here at NUVO would let me print it.
So Mr. Mayor, pay them no mind. You are already working with a real group of black leaders in this town that produce jobs, want to improve education, and actually show up when a black youth has been murdered. Keep doing what you're doing. Dealing with these groups will just make you think of that United Negro College Fund slogan, "a mind is a terrible thing to waste."
In 100 days, the lovely Mrs. Shabazz and I will celebrate our third wedding anniversary. Like most married couples, we look forward to it. And unlike most married men, I've started the early planning stages to mark the occasion. I bring this up not to brag, well there is a little bit of that, but if I were to drop the ball on this stuff, it would do more to harm my marriage than any gay or lesbian couple tying the knot would.
The debate over same-sex marriage has been reignited by President Barack Obama's comments that he personally supports gay marriage, but thinks the issue should decided at the state level. Republican challenger Mitt Romney has said he opposed gay marriage, but doesn't engage in some of the vitriol that some of the more hard-nosed conservatives have. My big question has been this: Why is same-sex marriage such a big deal? It's at least one point on which Chris Bowen, the 2011 Libertarian Candidate for Indianapolis Mayor, had right: "If you don't like gay marriage, don't get gay married."
I have batted this issue around in my head for years and I can't think of one practical reason as to why gay marriage shouldn't be legal. It doesn't take money out of my pocket, nor infringe on my property rights, so why should I care? In the nearly three years that my wife and I have been together either as dating or a married couple, any problems we've had were not related to gay marriage. When I look at my own parents, who've been married for nearly 45 years, any near misses they had were not related to gay marriage.
Two people joined together in a committed relationship raising children in a stable environment. This is bad why? Now the opponents of gay marriage say it hurts "traditional family values" and will break down society. I ask once again, how? Child molesters, murders, and felons can all marry with no restrictions. Remember Desmond Turner, who was convicted in the Hamilton Avenue murders a few years ago? He can get married, but my friends Bruce and Gene can't. And they've never even gotten traffic tickets.
All I have ever asked from people is a logical, rational reason as to why gays should not be allowed to marry.
If the argument is they can't procreate: Neither can the elderly or infertile, but we let them marry.
If the argument is gay marriage will lead to things like polygamy and bestiality, I point out two things: Polygamy is actually in the Bible, remember King Solomon. Second, marriage involves the consent of two parties so if your dog can sign a marriage certificate I say take him on Letterman instead of Niagara Falls for the honeymoon.
If the argument is that churches would be forced to perform gay marriages: I ask you to show me a church that was forced perform a wedding that did not involve a prelude to a civil war in the 17th century.
If this is about saving marriage, stopping gay couples from getting married isn't the answer.
How about we lower taxes and reduce regulations and government spending so we can create jobs? Most families break up over financial matters. When couples can make a good living, they tend to stay together.
Second, how about fighting crime. Crime can break up a family. Just ask the families of this weekend's past murder victims. How about we continue to provide more choice and vouchers so families have more options when it comes to their children's education? How about stepping up child support enforcement, so men who have fathered children will be responsible and there will be less dependence on government. If the proponents of strong marriages and families really want to do some good, they'll focus on those issues, not some mirage called gay marriage.
There is no logical, rational reason to ban gay marriage. At the end of the day, opponents just need to come out and say that they oppose gay marriage because it creeps them out, plain and simple. Two men walking down an aisle, kissing each other and going on their honeymoon and doing what couples do on their honeymoon makes social conservatives and some other folks just feel icky. Now two women, I actually find attractive, but that's in my DVD collection in storage, don't tell my wife. So instead of citing a bunch of totally bogus reasons as to why gay marriage should be banned, ask yourself this question. If two men celebrating their wedding night makes you feel icky and creepy, then why are you thinking about it?
Gay marriage will not be the downfall of Western Civilization. Government spending, unchecked entitlements and a prolific regulatory scheme are doing more to hurt my marriage and family than my next door neighbors. Maybe we really are trying to ban the wrong thing.
Full disclosure: Ryan and I have
known each other for years and he was in my wedding a few years ago. With
that said, Ballard made a very smart pick and here's why:
This city is about to have some major challenges to deal with this year and Ballard needs someone who brings a variety of expertise to the table. First of all, not only was Vaughn on the City-Council Council, but he is also a former council president which means he understands the body and has relationships with many of the members. Some of them are pleasant and cordial, say with current Council President Maggie Lewis, and some not so pleasant, say with current Council Vice-President and Mayoral wannabe Brian Mahern.
Vaughn helped Ballard shepherd several of his major proposals including the water deal with Citizens Energy as well as the parking meter deal. Vaughn also brings an expertise to the table with respect to the budget (helping draft the last two, in which also found money for the library) as well as public safety (he is a former prosecutor), both of which will be crucial this year as the city deals with an impending budget shortfall and challenges with the police department.
There are a couple criticisms that have been levied at Vaughn. One of which was that during his tenure as president, the Council didn't publicly challenge the mayor enough and the body was accused of being a rubber stamp. What the uninformed observers don't understand is that the reason the Council seemed to rubber stamp the mayor's agenda was because they worked out their differences on legislation behind closed doors so by the time it got to the floor, there wasn't much to debate.
In addition, there is also the criticism that due to Vaughn's tenure at Barnes & Thornburg he will be an advocate for the lobbyists and business interests instead of the city. Knowing Vaughn, his loyalty will be to the city and his mayor, not necessarily to his former employer.
In addition, I did not hear these
same complaints when staff of the previous administration went to work at
places like Eli
Lilly and Baker
The real challenge for the new chief of staff is helping guide the administration through its second term, especially with divided government. Big initiatives like the water deal aren't going to happen, but there are opportunities for major reforms in the criminal justice system. We spend a lot of money in this county to basically put and keep less than 1 percent of the population behind bars. Reform is badly needed and Vaughn's expertise in budgets and public safety will come in handy.
In addition, the mayor strongly needs a player in his administration with the necessary political acumen needed to deal with divided government. Prior Chiefs of Staff Paul Oakeson and Chris Cotterill worked very well in the universe they had to play with, but in a new era of divided government, public safety and budgetary challenges, the mayor needed the right man for the job and he got him.
Indiana's primary election is today. While the Lugar-Mourdock race is hogging the spotlight, a lot of other power is in play, as well.
Whether you want to help determine the shape of the party closest to your heart or vote against undesirables on the opposing ticket, what follows is a quick summary of what you can expect when you hit the polls.
Please note: You must choose a Republican or Democratic ballot — you can't play both sides at once. Come the general election this November, you can swing any which way you want.
The Libertarians eschew the primary action, but they'll be vying for positions on November's ballot.
And now, and overview of the options available in next Tuesday's primary:
Democrats: Barack Obama leads the ticket. This historic battle between Obama and Hillary Clinton in the 2008 primary drove to the polls Indiana voters wanting a hand in history, said political commentator and NUVO contributor Abdul-Hakim Shabazz in a recent interview. The lack of that type of action at the top of the national ticket this year will likely keep a lot of Democratic voters on the sidelines, he said.
Republicans: Mitt Romney is the presumed nominee. Of all his challengers, Congressman Ron Paul of Texas is the only one that remains in the race, though former candidates Newt Gingrich and Rick Santorum will remain on the ballot.
Democrats: U.S. Congressman Joe Donnelly, a Blue Dog coalition member and Notre Dame Law School grad from the town of Granger in St. Joseph Co., is running unopposed.
Republicans: U.S. Sen. Richard (Dick) Lugar, former mayor of Indianapolis and the longest-serving member currently in the Senate, is in heated battle with Indiana State Treasurer Richard Mourdock. Brian Howey, publisher of the non-partisan newsletter Howey Politics Indiana (and former NUVO news editor) casts the race as "the iconoclast versus the internationalist."
U.S. Representative, 5th District
At its southern tip, the 5th District covers small sections of northern Marion County.
Democrats: State Rep. Scott Reske of Pendleton, a retired U.S. Marine and the party favorite, is facing off against Tony Long, who spent his career at General Motors in Delphi and then the UAW before retiring in 2006.
Republicans: The ballot will reflect an eight-way race among GOP hopefuls. Former U.S. Congressman David McIntosh, who left politics because of a self-imposed term limit and now feels called to return after working as a D.C. lobbyist, is in the midst of a residency challenge that will not be solved before the primary. Others on the ballot include: Jason Anderson, who works in a software systems company; former U.S. Attorney Susan Brooks; John (Jack) Lugar, who runs a real estate brokerage (only related to Sen. Lugar via a great-great grandfather); former Marion County Coroner John McGoff; Matthew Mount, whose campaign website appears to have never made it past the concept stage; William (Bill) Salin, a U.S. Air Force veteran who plans to move to the district from Franklin Township if elected; and Marion Mayor Wayne Seybold, a former skating Olympian.
U.S. Representative, 7th District
The 7th District covers most of Marion County.
Democrats: Incumbent U.S. Congressman André Carson has the backing of his party as he looks to win another term. Renegade challengers include: unconventional candidate Bob (Citizen) Kern, who works to raise awareness of issues facing ex-convicts. ("I'm good enough to vote, to pay taxes and run for national office, but can't run for local office," he said in a recent interview.); Pierre Quincy Pullins, a perennial candidate who does not appear to be actively campaigning, and Woodrow Wilcox, "a very pro-life" who works in the insurance industry.
Republicans: Seven GOP candidates are vying for a chance to take Carson's seat in the general election. Steven Davis, a U.S. Army vet who has served the balance of his career in local law enforcement; Anthony (Tony) Duncan, also an Army vet, now working as a union carpenter; Wayne Harmon, a retired U.S. Marine who now works as a probation and parole officer; Carlos May, who now serves Mayor Greg Ballard as Director of the Office of Latino Affairs and is the victim of some nasty, racist online attempts to undermine his campaign; JD Miniear, who is actively engaged in evangelical missions; and Catherine (Cat) Ping and Lawrence (Larry) Shouse, neither of whom appear to be actively campaigning.
Democrats: Former Indiana House Speaker John Gregg is running unopposed. He has proposed axing the gas tax.
Republicans: Mike Pence is running unopposed. Gained national attention for spearheading an initiative to defund Planned Parenthood.
State Senate Seats
Democrats: Candidates for Senate Districts 28, 30, 33, 34,35 and 36 are running unopposed in the Democratic primary.
John Barnes, a social studies teacher in Warren Township and former state rep, and retired art teacher Patricia (Patti) Mink, who does not have a website, are vying for a shot at taking the Senate seat in the 32nd District.
Republicans: Senators Scott Schneider (30th District), Patricia Miller (32nd District) and Brent Waltz (36th District) are unopposed in the primary for re-election.
Three Republicans signed up to try and take the 28th District Senate seat being vacated by retiring GOP Sen. Beverly Gard: Michael (Mike) Crider, a security manager at Hancock Regional Hospital, Chris Lytle, firefighter and former MMA fighter, and John Merlau, a farmer, attorney and businessman.
Businessman Daniel Kinnamon is challenging incumbent Sen. R. Michael Young for the 35th District.
State House Seats
Democrats: Of the 12 lawmakers Marion County voters will elect to the State House of Representatives, only the 92nd and 100th districts have any competition in the Democratic primary.
Republicans: As on the Democratic ticket, only two of the 12 House districts are in play: 91 and 92.
Electrician Michael S. Scott is challenging Rep. Robert Behning in the 91rst District.
Straub was an easy
foil for them. He was an "outsider" who brought in a bunch of ideas
regarding change that not a lot of people wanted. By the way, one of
those changes that Straub wanted to make was the IMPD general order that
allowed an officer to get two DUI's before being
fired. Imagine that. He also wanted to professionalize the department,
enhance minority recruitment, and make more efficient use of resources in a
time of limited budgets. I know. It's like Satan himself showed up and
kicked your dog.
But nevertheless, Straub is leaving and will likely be gone as of Aug. 1. So what does this mean? Well, if I were Straub's critics, here's what I'd start thinking about once I put down the champagne glass.
Those are just a handful of things to think about. Was Straub abrasive at times? Yes. Did he tend to micromanage IMPD? Probably. But need I remind you that getting mad at Straub was like getting mad at the exterminator you called to solve your rat problem? You've had that problem for nearly 40 years and you expect it to be gone in two? Remember, Straub was never arrested and prosecuted by the federal government for corruption. Nor was he ever arrested for sexual assault. I don't recall him ever wrecking an IMPD vehicle, taking it to a friend's body shop to repair the damage and not tell anyone. I think I might have missed the day he was charged with arson or fired off his gun during a domestic dispute. And I'm pretty sure he didn't allegedly drive drunk, hit four motorcyclists, killing one and injuring two others, then bungle crucial evidence at several steps during the effort to build a case for justice.
And don't forget, there is also a chance you get someone even more difficult to deal with than Straub. But, hey, none of that matters. He's leaving and we won't have Frank Straub to kick around anymore.