Friday, April 29, 2016

New Poll Shows Trump Up In Indiana By Nine Points

Every poll taken in Indiana shows Donald Trump leading his Republican primary opponents in next week's primary election. The latest poll released by ARG gives Trump a 9-point advantage over his nearest competitor, Ted Cruz. Trump leads Cruz by a 41-32% margin. Kasich is far behind with just 21% of the vote. Trump is leading in almost every category, including likely Republican voters, young and older voters, male and even female voters.

A second poll released by a Republican pollster, Clout Research, shows the race much closer. Trump is ahead by only two percentage points in that poll over Cruz, 37-35%. Kasich trails with only 16% of the vote.

If I'm not around to see the vote results, my prediction is that Trump wins Indiana with just shy of 50% of the vote, but he will carry every single congressional district and sweep the delegate race--assuming the party-chosen delegates honor their rules-bound commitment to support the winner on the first ballot. Most of those delegates favored John Kasich at the time they were chosen. Only two of the delegates named by state party officials publicly declared their support for Trump, although some have indicated they would feel obligated to support the voters' wishes.

Cruz has made Indiana his last stand. He threw a hail mary pass earlier in the week by naming Carly Fiorina as his running mate in hopes of attracting female voters in next week's primary election. He snagged Gov. Pence's endorsement today, although his favorability numbers aren't so hot right now and that endorsement is likely to further infuriate already alienated Republican and independent voters. Cruz has also taken up residence in the state this past week, criss-crossing the state with multiple appearances. His crowds have been small compared to Trump's rallies.

Trump has had fewer appearances in Indiana, but his rallies have drawn far larger and more enthusiastic crowds. He returns this weekend for rallies in Fort Wayne on Sunday at Memorial Coliseum, and he will close out his campaigning in Indiana at the Century Center in South Bend Monday evening. Click here for information on those events.

Early voting, which started off very slow, has surged and appears to be well above average for presidential primary elections in Indiana in many counties now. Those new voters will favor Trump, not Cruz. The Democratic primary will draw far fewer voters. Clinton should handily defeat Bernie Sanders by a 58-42% margin, helped by those who might have otherwise voted in the Democratic primary choosing to take a Republican ballot instead.

UPDATE: There's a real outlier poll added to the mix late today. IPFW/Downs Center in Fort Wayne released a poll showing Cruz with a double-digit lead of 45 to 29% over Trump. Adding that lopsided poll into the mix makes the RealClearPolitics average show a very tight race, with Trump up about 2%, 37.5-35.2%.

Pence Determined To Lose Re-Election Campaign, Will Endorse Ted Cruz

Gov. Mike Pence will upset many Republican primary voters today by endorsing Ted Cruz's presidential campaign. It will have no impact on the race, which Donald Trump is poised to win, and Pence gains absolutely nothing from the endorsement. The people who support Cruz already make up the backbone of his narrow, electoral support. What it can only do is further alienate him from already disaffected Republicans and aid in the election of John Gregg. Support for Cruz's candidacy has been collapsing for weeks now. He cannot win in open primary elections, only in closed-door, party caucus elections. He has no viable path to winning the nomination. This is another totally bone-headed move by Pence.

Thursday, April 28, 2016

John Kass On Hastert: "Thief Of Innocence" And "Face Of Evil"

Dennis Hastert leaves court
Dennis Hastert at sentencing hearing in Chicago (Armando Sanchez/Tribune Photo)
Unfortunately for the American public, what should have been the most newsworthy story in the nation yesterday got lost amidst all of the hoopla surrounding the circus known as the 2016 presidential nominating process. That was the sentencing of one of the highest-ranking federal government officials in our nation's history that arose from crimes he committed to cover up his existence as "serial child molester" in the words of the federal judge who handed down the sentence of former Speaker of the House Dennis Hastert.

The Chicago Tribune's political columnist John Kass, who is probably privately worrying that his newspaper may be acquired by the evil face of Gannett, sat in that courtroom yesterday watching the "face of evil" as he faced his fate for structuring cash payments intended as hush money to one of his victims to avoid federal authorities and an unsuspecting public from learning about his dirty little secret. Kass focuses in a column today on what he describes as "equally bloodless and calculating" to Hastert's sins as a serial child molester--the "letters of mercy" sent to the judge by Hastert's allies. In particular, he focused on the letter Hastert had sought but failed to get.
Hastert called his political protege Tom Cross, the Oswego Republican and former state House minority leader, to ask that Cross write a letter of mercy to Judge Durkin.
It was one of the most galling things I've ever heard of in politics.
Because one of Hastert's victims was Cross' brother.
Scott Cross testified courageously in court and he became emotional.
"I looked up to Coach Hastert," Scott Cross said. "He was a key figure in my life. And Coach Hastert sexually abused me."
Scott Cross testified about how he revered Hastert, how Hastert offered to massage him so Cross could lose weight, how Hastert pulled his shorts down, began massaging his genitals until shame and shock forced Cross to jump up and get away.
It was difficult to watch him, a brave father who wants his children to understand their obligations as citizens. And it was difficult to look at Tom Cross and the family sitting there in the courtroom, watching. 
Judge Durkin, a former federal prosecutor himself, made it clear in his own questioning that Hastert asked Tom Cross for a letter. 
"It is my understanding that Mr. Hastert called Tom Cross," Judge Durkin said. "Is that correct?" 
It was correct, prosecutors said. 
Hastert said he didn't remember abusing Scott Cross. I don't believe him. But at that moment you knew he wasn't getting probation. 
Durkin pressed him and Hastert said that he'd "respect" Scott Cross' recollection.
He'd respect it? Like he respected his brother Tom? 
Like he respected the other high school wrestlers he would molest? Or the other boys he'd watch as they showered, as he sat in the lounge chair he put near the shower stalls in the locker room? 
The abuse is monstrous, yes, but even monsters have blood. What Hastert did in asking Tom Cross for the letter is bloodless. Only a supreme narcissist could ask such a thing of a brother; only a congenital user and manipulator could ever conceive of asking. 
Only the damned could ask for something like that. But Hastert asked it of Tom Cross.
If you've been following this story, you know that Judge Durkin sentenced Hastert to 15 months in federal prison. Hastert is ill now, but aren't politicians always ill and pitiful at sentencing? 
There is no fixing a child abuser, and though we're told of five victims, I wonder how many more are out there . . . 
As Durkin spoke, you could see Hastert's chin stretch and become longer, as if the jawbones themselves were unhinged, the weight of the meat pulling it all toward the floor.
The former speaker's hands were folded tightly in front of him, and that public face stretched and fell away, revealing what was underneath:
The predator, a thief of innocence, a breaker of trust and a devourer of children's lives, a user of friends, a Combine boss.
As poignant as Kass' words are, they are too little too late for him and his brethren in the mainstream media who have ignored for decades the sinister pedophile ring that has existed at the highest levels of society and government in this country. Back in the 1980s, there was hope that the dark veil of this satanic underworld would be lifted as some brave reporters began exposing what was known as the Franklin Scandal originating out of Nebraska's Boys Town, which revealed a network of elites trafficking in children for the sexual pleasure of those at the pinnacle of power. Unfortunately, those pushing to bring the powerful elites to justice were soon marginalized and caricatured as tin-foil hat conspiracists, the same fate met by every brave American who attempts to expose the evil forces who've robbed us of our Republic.

The "thief of innocence" described by Kass is the only member of the evil political caste system we have in this country that ensures that only the most flawed and controllable of men and women can rise to positions of power in this country who will face any music for his crimes--fifteen months in prison, a mere slap on the hand for a man who rose to the third highest office in the nation and amassed a multi-million dollar fortune after his humble beginnings as a high school wrestling coach. As Hastert rode away with his two sons in a Cadillac Escalade from the federal courthouse, I can imagine his first words, "Well, that wasn't so bad." We'll have to take a solace in the fact that he's the highest ranking government official in our government history required to serve time in a prison for his crimes since the punishment clearly doesn't match the crime.

Gannett Backs Young For Senate

This endorsement comes with little surprise. The Gannett-owned Indianapolis Star has endorsed Todd Young in the Republican Senate primary race over Marlin Stutzman. Young is a Dan Quayle relative by marriage, and he's been employed by the military/industrial complex in the intelligence apparatus most of his adult life so it stands to reason he would be preferred by the Langely-run newspaper chain.

According to The Star, there isn't really any difference between the two candidates on issues. The difference is in how they "approach the job." Young puts his efforts towards "ideas that have contributed to constructive debates," while Stutzman prefers an "all-or nothing, gridlock-inducing role of the ideological purist." Thus, The Star reasons Young is more likely to contribute as as senator to "a healthy debate."

It's hard to get excited about this race. Young took the race for granted in the beginning by skipping past the simple process of gathering enough signatures to make the ballot and had to rely on big favors from the establishment types to rescue his campaign through creative legal interpretations. Both play fast and loose with campaign finance laws. Both candidates' campaigns are predominantly funded by out-of-state interests, which calls in to question just how committed either of them will be to real Hoosiers in the Senate. And they've both found themselves more comfortable living inside the Beltway as opposed to Indiana after short tenures in the House.

It probably makes little difference which one of them wins the nomination with one big exception. Establishment Republican types have made waves that they might work to do in Stutzman like they did Richard Mourdock if he defeats their preferred candidate. To that extent, Democrat Baron Hill probably hopes Stutzman wins the primary.

Wednesday, April 27, 2016

Bobby Knight Endorsing Trump At Indianapolis Rally Today

Former IU basketball coach Bobby Knight speaking at Donald Trump's packed rally at the state fair coliseum in Indianapolis this evening. Trump told his supporters today that Knight contacted him last year before he made his decision to run for president, urging him to run and telling him that he would endorse him if he ran. Trump called in the favor. Knight declared that Trump was the "most prepared man in history" to be president.

Mt. Vernon Middle School Principal Charged For Failing To Report Child Abuse

Scott Shipley
The Hancock County prosecutor has decided that a Mount Vernon middle school principal should be criminally charged for failing to report suspected child abuse when he first learned of allegations that a former teacher's aide had been engaged in sexual misconduct with students. Scott Shipley faces one misdemeanor count of failing to report.

A school counselor first heard a rumor Kisha Nuckols was having sex with students on March 12 and informed Shipley. Because spring break was just beginning, Shipley saw no urgency in pursuing the matter. Instead, he waited until March 29 to advise the high school's assistant principal, Derek Shelton, of the allegations. Shelton immediately contacted Fortville Police, who later arrested Nuckols for child seduction.

According to the probable cause affidavit, Shipley told police he initially didn't find the information credible because it was based on third and fourth-hand information. Shipley told police that once he learned the information was credible, he had Shelton contact Fortville Police to investigate. The school counselor, Bronwyn Kotarski, who told Shipley about the allegations, is not being charged.

Marion County Republicans Send Out Hit Piece Against Sandlin On Behalf Of Shreve

Per their standard operating procedure, the Marion County Republican Party reserves its harshest and nastiest attacks for life-long Republicans who refuse to be led around like blind mice by their corrupt leadership. The party sent out the first negative direct mail piece to Republican voters in the District 36 state senate race against life-long Republican and City-County Council member Jack Sandlin, who is running in the primary against the party's anointed candidate, Jefferson Shreve, a liberal Democrat and major Democratic Party donor who moved up to Indianapolis from Bloomington a few years ago and bought a seat on the council from the Marion County Republican Party.

The negative mail piece accuses Sandlin of being a "career politician" with "a history of nepotism and conflicts of interest." "I'm outraged at how far the Downtown Republican establishment will go to protect their power and preserve their ability to continue spending taxpayer money," Sandlin said in a press release in response to the attack. "The recent mailer against my campaign was a blatant attempt to create false impressions among the voting public - and it was especially mean-spirited in attacking my wife."

A retired Indianapolis police officer with decades of service as a public safety worker, Sandlin took strong exception to being called a "career politician." "Nothing could be further from the truth," Sandlin states. "I've been a career law enforcement officer, having spent more than 20 years with the Indianapolis Police Department and another 14 years as a part-time officer in the Southport Police Department. In addition, I've spent the past 21 years running my own business, which provides fraud examination, private investigation and security consulting. "When you contrast my decades spent in law enforcement and security with my part-time positions as Perry Township Trustee and Indianapolis City-County Councillor, it becomes very clear that calling me a 'career politician' is just a flat-out lie," Sandlin adds.

Sandlin was equally as offended at accusations he engaged in a conflict of interest. The ad accused him of using his influence as elected official to help his wife win a contract. "That's just offensive to me," he says. "In my law-enforcement career, as well as my elected positions, I've always been a true public servant. I work hard for the people I represent in their best interests, oftentimes in opposition of the political insiders and their personal self interests."

Sandlin pulled no punches in his denouncing leaders of the Marion County Republican Party. "I always vote my conscience. I always speak my mind. From my experience, Republican Party Chairman Jennifer Ping and Vice-Chairman Mike McQuillen don't like to be challenged, even when the best interests of the community are at stake. They prefer to handpick their candidates, as they did with my opponent in this race. Negative attacks are the only way they can hope to control our elections and our government," Sandlin adds.

Advance Indiana readers will recall how the party last year sent out numerous mailers prior to the municipal primary election attacking incumbent City-County Councilor Christine Scales in an effort to defeat her and elect a challenger it anointed to run against her, Tim Craft, who worked for a real estate brokerage firm with a crony relationship with former Mayor Greg Ballard's administration. Nobody has engaged in more acts of public corruption and dishonesty than the leadership of the local party, which has been nothing more than a racketeering operation selling public contracts awarded by city-county government. The county's current party chairman, Jennifer Ping, is actually controlled by the same law firm that invested heavily in putting one of its own attorneys, Democrat Joe Hogsett, in the mayor's office last year.

Cruz Throws Hail Mary Pass: Naming Carly Fiorina As His Running Mate

Apparently Ted Cruz' big announcement in Indianapolis this afternoon is about naming Carly Fiorina as his vice presidential running mate should lightning strike and he becomes the Republican nominee for president this year. Fiorina endorsed Cruz after her own presidential campaign fizzled before the race barely got underway this year. She has accompanied him frequently on the campaign trail over the past couple of months.

Judgment Day For Dennis Hastert: Admits He Sexually Abused Boys

Hastert arriving for his sentencing heaering (Tribune Photo)
Courtroom viewers at the sentencing hearing of former House Speaker Dennis Hastert were shocked to learn that one of his alleged victims was the brother of a prominent Republican politician. Scott Cross, brother of former Illinois House Republican Leader Tom Cross and unsuccessful candidate for State Treasurer, identified himself to Judge Thomas Durkin as Individual D, a 17-year old wrestler at Yorkville High School who says Hastert once sexually groped him while massaging him. "As a 17-year old boy, I was devastated," Cross testified. "I tried to figure out why Coach Hastert had singled me out." "I felt intense pain, shame and guilt." Following Cross' stunning appearance, Judge Durkin sentenced Hastert to 15 months in prison and fined him $250,000.

Judge Durkin said the sentence of probation to no more than six months recommended by federal prosecutors was inappropriate and insufficient for a man he repeatedly described as a "serial child molester." Judge Durkin noted that nothing was more stunning than uttering the words "serial child molester" and "Speaker of the House" in the same sentence. Judge Durkin was highly critical of Hastert for lying to FBI agents and falsely accusing one of his victims of extortion. "What rational person takes out $1.7 million in cash from a bank?" he rhetorically asked regarding a $3.5 million cash payment Hastert agreed to pay to silence one of his victims. Durkin reminded Hastert of his role in enacting the very law that ensnared him in these criminal proceedings. Durkin noted with disgust that Hastert had actually contacted Cross' brother, Tom, and sought support for his sentencing hearing knowing that his brother was one of his victims. Interestingly, Judge Durkin's brother, Jim Durkin, succeeded Tom Cross as Illinois House Republican Leader when Cross gave up that job to run for State Treasurer.

Hastert sat in a wheelchair and stared at Judge Durkin as he harshly criticized his conduct. "The obvious reason for your lies isn't lost on me," Durkin said. "If you didn't lie, you would have never been Speaker of the House. Durkin said he believed Cross and he believed, Jolene Burdge, whose late brother, Stephen Reinboldt, had told her about years of sexual abuse he had suffered at Hastert's hands while he worked as team manager for Hastert's high school wrestling team. Reinboldt died of AIDS in 1995. Burdge also testified at the hearing. "You took his life, Mr. Hastert," Burdge said. "Not because he died of AIDS but because you took his innocence and used it against him." "Don't be a coward, Mr. Hastert. Tell the truth." Only with prodding by the judge did Hastert admit he had sexually abused boys, including Cross and Reinboldt.

Despite his age (74) and health, Durkin thought his crime required real prison time, noting that Hastert wasn't "infirm" or "unaware of what's going on." Judge Durkin said Hastert would complete his sentence at a prison facility in Rochester where many other child abusers are imprisoned and where he would have access to adequate health care for his ongoing health issues. He will be required to undergo ongoing, supervised counseling following the completion of his sentence. Hastert will become the highest-ranking federal government official to be sent to prison in the history of this country. Former Vice President Spiro Agnew received only probation for tax evasion and bribery charges to which he pleaded guilty from the time he served as Maryland governor prior to becoming vice president.

Scott Cross (1980 High School Photo)
Scott Cross (left) in 1999  at a Hastert campaign event (Tribune Photo)
UPDATE: U.S Attorney Zach Fardon released the following statement following Hastert's sentencing:
“With this case, the Office sought to hold Mr. Hastert accountable for the crimes he committed that could still be prosecuted: illegally structuring cash withdrawals and lying to the government about his motive for engaging in that activity. All of us have been inspired by the strength and bravery of the victims and witnesses who came forward in the most challenging of circumstances. As in all cases, the Office is dedicated to doing everything we can to help victims and their families seek justice. It is our hope that the sentence imposed today will promote respect for the law.”
I just realized that Scott Cross was a student at Eastern Illinois University the same time I attended college there. He was one year ahead of me.

Tuesday, April 26, 2016

New Gubernatorial Poll Looks A Lot Like 2012 Race

A new poll released by WTHR and Howey Politics shows the race for Indiana governor almost exactly where it ended four years ago. Gov. Mike Pence narrowly leads his Democratic opponent, John Gregg, by a 49-45% margin. In 2012, Pence defeated Gregg by a 49.6-46.4% margin. Pence is viewed favorably by 44% of the voters compared to 41% who view him unfavorably. Pence's name recognition, 94%, is double Gregg's name recognition score.

It's A Clean Sweep For Trump

The grand plan by the establishment Republican Party to block Donald Trump hit another major bump in the road as he swept the five northeastern states on the ballot today by overwhelming majorities. Trump easily won primary elections in Connecticut, Delaware, Maryland, Pennsylvania and Rhode Island.

He captured more than 60% of the vote in Connecticut, Delaware and Rhode Island. In the large, diverse state of Pennsylvania he captured nearly 60% of the vote and won in every part of the state- urban, suburban and rural. Trump is winning about 54% of the vote in Maryland, including the suburban D.C. area where Washington insiders predominate. Cruz is running dead last in all of the states but Pennsylvania, and he barely cracked 20% of the vote there.

It's also another big night for Hillary Clinton. She has convincingly won Delaware, Maryland and Pennsylvania and narrowly won in Connecticut, while Sanders won Rhode Island. There is no mathematical possibility of Sanders winning the nomination at this point. Trump, on the other hand, did everything he needed to keep his hopes alive of winning the magical 1,237 delegates he needs to win the Republican nomination on a first ballot.

With his clean sweep tonight, he's getting very close to having 1,000 delegates, or close to 400 more than Cruz. Despite his overwhelming win in Pennsylvania, archaic party rules guaranteed him only 17 delegates. He'll have to wrestle with the other candidates in the field to win over the 54 unpledged delegates. Trump is the only candidate coming into next week's Indiana primary with any momentum. Cruz has pretty much made Indiana his last stand. If he is unable to beat Trump here next week, it's unlikely he will win any of the significant state races yet to be decided.

Monday, April 25, 2016

Bobby Knight To Join Donald Trump Rally In Indy Wednesday Evening

Donald Trump will be joined by Indiana basketball coach great Bobby Knight at a second rally he has planned for Wednesday at 6:00 p.m. at the Indiana Farmer's Coliseum at the Indiana State Fairgrounds. Register to get your tickets here.

Poll Shows Young With Healthy Lead Over Stutzman

A WTHR/Howey Politics poll shows Todd Young with a healthy, 12-point lead over his Republican Senate primary opponent, Marlin Stutzman. The poll of Republican voters gives Young a 43-31% edge over Stutzman with more than a quarter of the voters still undecided with a little more than a week to go before election day.

I wouldn't count Stutzman out yet. I expect the final vote count will see the winning candidate prevailing by a single-digit vote margin. Stutzman polled much better on election day six years ago than he did in polls prior to the 2010 Senate primary election where he finished second behind Dan Coats. A poll taken a week before that election showed Stutzman trailing in third with only 18% of the vote, with Coats in the lead with 36% of the vote. Stutzman wound up second on election day with 29% of the vote compared to Coats' winning margin of 39%.

The Trump factor is a big unknown. Will those who traditionally don't participate in Republican primary elections who come out to vote for Trump cast a vote for Stutzman or Young? Neither Stutzman nor Young has endorsed a presidential candidate, although Young did attend an anti-Trump gathering of wealthy GOP donors in Palm Beach, Florida last month. What will the rate of voter participation look like this year? Will the decision of Cruz and Kasich to collude in an effort to deny Trump the nomination affect voter turnout?

Early voting numbers to date aren't particularly impressive. The Indiana Secretary of State's office reports that more than 110,000 people have already cast early votes in this year's primary election. More than 64,000 of those, or about 58%, are Republican voters. That's only about 10% of the total number of Republican voters who participated in Indiana's presidential primary election four years ago. Compare that to the 2008 Democratic primary election in Indiana against Clinton and Obama when nearly 1.3 million voters participated in the primary election. Also, those early votes this year were cast before Hoosiers learned that Kasich made a last-minute decision not to compete in the primary election.

Obviously, those who voted early and cast a vote for Kasich are extremely angry that their votes were wasted on a candidate who doesn't even want their votes. I've said it before, and I think it bears repeating. The Indiana Republican Party has been making every effort possible to suppress voter turnout in this year's Republican presidential primary, which is the exact opposite tact taken by Democrats in 2008. The lack of enthusiasm shown by the poor, early voting numbers seems to indicate their plan is working.

Gannett Makes Bid To Acquire Tribune Publishing

In yet another blow to print media, Gannett is making a bid to acquire the Tribune Publishing Company, which owns the Chicago Tribune, Los Angeles Times, Orlando Sentinel, South Florida Sun-Sentinel, Baltimore Sun and San Diego Union-Tribune. Gannett is offering $12.25 per share, a 63% premium over the company's closing stock price Friday. This continues the troubling centralization of American media under the control of a handful of corporate media giants with close ties to the military/industrial complex.

Cruz And Kasich Collude To Deny Trump, Kasich Dropping Out Of Indiana Primary

The media has been all abuzz about how Indiana's presidential primary election is relevant this year, a rare occasion. In reality, the election has been rigged by political insiders to make the choices made by Indiana primary voters next week irrelevant to the outcome of the election. Even though Indiana Republican leaders had already rigged the delegate election prior to any votes being cast, the campaigns of Ted Cruz and John Kasich have united in an effort to block even a symbolic victory for Donald Trump in Indiana in the beauty contest.

In spite of the Republican Party establishment's trashing of Trump with the full support of the established media in the state, a trio of polls all showed Trump on top and likely heading to a win next Tuesday. As Advance Indiana has already made clear, even winning the popular vote in Indiana is meaningless for Trump because the vast majority of the delegates chosen in backroom deals by state party leaders oppose his nomination. The only candidate with a clear advantage among those chosen in that corrupt process is John Kasich, but his campaign is now suspending his efforts here and urging his supporters to vote for Cruz. Theoretically, those delegates are bound to the candidate who wins the statewide vote or the individual congressional races, but there have already been rumblings that won't happen if doing so would give Trump a first ballot win.

As part of this Faustian bargain, the Cruz campaign has agreed to drop efforts in New Mexico and Oregon, giving Kasich a shot at defeating Trump in those two upcoming races in a head-to-head match-up. The end game is to ensure by any means possible that Trump is unable to secure enough votes to win on a first ballot at the Republican National Convention in Cleveland in July. Polls show Trump with a commanding lead in Pennsylvania, but its delegate selection process ensures that he will lose the delegate race regardless of the preference of the state's Republican primary voters. Trump is also the clear favorite in other big state remaining, including California and New Jersey, but similar efforts are being made to undermine victories in those and other upcoming states where Trump is likely to win.

What should now be clear for all to see is that the Republican Party has endorsed the election of Hillary Clinton for president. The Republican Party's money man, billionaire Charles Koch, signaled that over the weekend in an interview where he stated that he would prefer Hillary Clinton over any of the Republican presidential candidates. The Republican Party isn't interested in choosing any candidate who offers a clear choice this year. Both parties' nominating processes have been entirely rigged, making our popular presidential election process as meaningless as it is in the countries our nation is fond of criticizing for lacking truly freely elections. Your votes are meaningless. The Republic is dead. And while the nation awakens today with a collective yawn, President Barack Obama is sending more American troops into Syria because he's not satisfied the bloodbath already caused in that country by our nation and its allies has resulted in enough death and destruction.

Sunday, April 24, 2016

Davey Blackburn Explains Forgiving Amanda's Killers

Pastor Davey Blackburn of Indianapolis' Resonate Church spoke at New Spring Church in Anderson, South Carolina today about the killing of his wife, Amanda, last year by three young Indianapolis men during a home invasion. He said the first time he felt anger after Amanda's senseless killing was when he saw photos of the three young men after they were arrested. He said forgiveness is not an emotion. He was never going to feel like forgiving them."It's a decision," he said. "I have to decide to forgive." "Bitterness is going to be a cancer to no one else but me." "On the other side of eternity, Jesus is going to restore and make all bad things completely untrue." "He's going to take care of vengeance."

Davey: Imagine if these three guys met Jesus, okay. Imagine the kick in the nuts it would be for the enemy.

Pastor Perry Noble: I love it. Yes. (laughter)

Davey: I'm just saying.

Pastor Noble: You can tell he's from New Spring. (laughter)

Davey: I don't know if I'm supposed to say that or not.

Pastor Noble: No, much worse things have been said from this stage . . . by guest speakers. (laughter)

Saturday, April 23, 2016

Yikes! Only 100 Show Up To See Ted Cruz In Plainfield

Ted Cruz returned to Indiana to make stops in Plainfield and Lebanon today. His first stop at the Oasis Diner in Plainfield was sparsely attended with about 100 on hand to greet him. Early reports don't suggest the turnout at his stop at the Boone Co. Fairgrounds is drawing a large crowd either.

Latest Indianapolis Parking Meter Report Proves Privatization Is A Public Rip-Off

Watching a recent meeting of the Public Works Committee of the Indianapolis City-County Council where members received a 2015 report on the revenues generated from the privatized parking meter assets, one would have gotten the impression the report was all good news. As the council members read over the report and discussed it with DPW Director Lori Miser, they were careful not to discuss the numbers out loud so the viewing public could understand what they were actually reading. The council members seemed thrilled with the report, but after obtaining a copy of it, Advance Indiana doesn't think the numbers look so great.

Total parking meter revenues in 2015 came in at $9.96 million, or roughly the same as what they generated in 2014. The City's share of the total revenues was pegged at $3.7 million; however, there is the matter of waived revenue. Under the terms of the 50-year parking meter lease with ParkIndy, the City is required to reimburse the private operator when meters are taken out of use for purposes other than civic-sponsored events. That provision of the lease agreement allowed the private operator to capture $266,831.00 of the revenues otherwise payable to the City, which means the City actually netted less than $3.5 million from the parking meters compared to the nearly $6.5 million the private operator pocketed. The City netted more than $3.3 million in 2014.

When the City originally privatized the parking meter assets, the private operator paid an initial $20 million concession fee to the City for the 50-year lease. As you may recall, about a third of that amount got kicked back to Ersal Ozdemir's Keystone Construction to build a new mixed use parking garage in Broad Ripple in exchange for all of the campaign contributions he showered on former Mayor Greg Ballard. The parking meter fund is supposed to be used for sidewalks and infrastructure improvements in the area where parking meters are located. So where was the more than $6 million paid out of the fund spent this past year?

You'll be happy to know that the largest expenditure from the fund went to Bollore's Blue Indy, that illegal and corrupt exclusive, electric car sharing business our former mayor awarded to the French-owned company as another kickback scheme for his corrupt cronies. Blue Indy received $2.757 million from the fund of the $6 million the City committed to awarding the company. The balance came from the Rebuild Indy fund. The fund also kicked back nearly a half million dollars to cover maintenance expenses on Georgia Street, the city street-turned private venue that is operated by Downtown Indy under a lease agreement that apparently allows the nonprofit to pocket all of the revenues while the parking meter fund is tapped to cover its maintenance expenses.

The City's parking meter fund also spent about $719,000 in sidewalk improvements for Milhaus Properties' private development project at the site of the old Bank One operations center. The fund also was tapped for $425,000 on improvements for three segments of the Cultural Trail along Washington Street, Alabama Street and Virginia Avenue. Over $521,000 was spent on street, curb and sidewalk improvements along Pennsylvania and Alabama Streets. Over $100,000 was spent on a study to determine appropriate timing for left turns/pedestrian crossings within the mile square. Over $110,000 was paid to attorney Robert Glennon in an unsuccessful attempt to obtain approval from the IURC in an IPL rate tariff case for LED street light conversion. Walker Research got paid $75,000 to conduct a parking study for Downtown Indy. About $30,000 was funded for streetscape improvements around the Artisty, Cummins and Flaherty & Collins 360 Market project. So I guess council members were so happy with the revenue report because their campaign contributors were being taken care of, even if the taxpaying public is not.

Libertarians Choose Rex Bell Over Jim Wallace For Governor

West Point grad and successful businessman Jim Wallace of Fishers tried unsuccessfully to run for governor as a Republican in 2012 against Mike Pence. He was tossed from the ballot after the Indiana Election Commission ruled he fell short of the 500 required signatures he needed in each of the state's nine congressional districts. Wallace's hopes of becoming a candidate for governor again this year have similarly been short-circuited as the party opts for a much lower profile candidate for the state's top office.

Spurned by the Republican Party four years ago, Wallace had set his hopes on running for governor this time as a Libertarian. With impressive credentials and the ability to self-finance his campaign, he seemed like a sure bet to be the Libertarian's choice for governor. But a self-employed construction worker from Richmond, Rex Bell, also decided to jump in the race and challenge Wallace. Supporters of Bell dragged up old domestic arrest charges filed against Wallace's ex-wife, questions about his residency (he's lived in St. Petersburg, Florida at least part of the last several years) and his commitment to the race. Delegates to this weekend's Libertarian Party Convention decided Bell was the preferable candidate for governor. 

Ted Cruz Family Full Of Mysteries

Researchers trying to piece together the recent genealogy of the Rafael "Ted" Cruz family have uncovered numerous twists and turns which raise questions about just who the hell this family really is. Ted's father, Rafael Cruz, first entered the United States from Cuba in 1957 on a student visa. He was born in Matazas, Cuba in 1937. His mother, Eleanor Darragh, was born in Wilmington, Delaware in 1934. Ted is supposedly the product of a second marriage for both parents, but the details and circumstances of those marriages are quite murky.

Eleanor Darragh married a Fort Worth native, Alan Wilson, in 1956, the same year both graduated from Rice University in Houston. In 1958, Eleanor and Alan Wilson are said to have moved to London. Alan divorces Eleanor in London in 1962 according to British records. In 1966, while still living in London, Eleanor gives birth to her first child, Michael Wilson, who died during his first year after she put the child up for adoption and moved back to the United States where she lived with her sister, Caroline, in New Orleans. Ted Cruz mentions the child's birth as occurring in 1965, but it actually took place in 1966. Here's how Cruz described that period of his mother's life in his book, "A Time for Truth":
“In 1956, my mom married her first husband, a mathematician named Alan Wilson,” Cruz wrote. The couple moved to London in 1960 after a few years working in the U.S., and Cruz revealed something of a bombshell: his mother had given birth to a son, Michael Wilson, in 1965, who had died a crib death later in the year.
Cruz wrote about his mother’s devastation: “Losing Michael to crib death broke my mother’s heart, and had a profound effect on her, so much so that I never even knew that I had had a brother until I was a teenager and my mother told me the story.”
Cruz added, “And the heartbreak also ended her marriage.”
When the McClatchy News Service contacted Alan Wilson, who still lives in London, he professed surprised at learning many things about the Cruz family. Incredibly, he professed ignorance to the fact that his ex-wife was the mother of Ted Cruz. He was even more surprised to learn that Eleanor had listed him on Michael's birth certificate as the father. Wilson insisted he was not the father of the child. "We were divorced and she was living on her own," said Wilson. "He said that Eleanor asked him if she could use his last name on the birth certificate. When Michael Wilson later died, he said, "I hadn’t even met the baby.'" Wilson knew Eleanor had become pregnant. He said he was startled when a nurse at a hospital where he was being treated told him his pregnant wife was at the same hospital.

Rafael Cruz reportedly married his first wife, Julia Ann Garza, in 1959, although records of that marriage have not been found. They had two daughters and supposedly lived together from 1959 to 1964. Rafael apparently abandoned his first family in 1964 and moved to Canada. Julia Ann Garza went on to become a professor at California State University. One of their daughters, Miriam, died of a drug overdose in Pennsylvania in 2011. The other daughter, Roxana, is a medical doctor in Greenville, Texas. What's interesting is that Julia didn't file for divorce from Rafael until November 15, 1996, decades after Rafael abandoned them and began a second family with Eleanor Darragh. So Texas records show he was married to his first wife for 37 years, including the period he was supposedly married to Ted's mother.

Rafael Cruz earned his green card in 1961 after he graduated from the University of Texas with a mathematics degree as an asylee. Rafael first lived with Julia and his daughters in Dallas before moving to New Orleans where he worked for a company tied to the oil industry. He abandoned his first wife and daughters in 1964 and moved to Calgary, Canada where he officially resided for the next eight years, during which time he acquired a Canadian citizenship. Interestingly, Rafael registered with the Selective Service System in New Orleans in 1967, listing his employer as Geophysics and Computer Services, Inc. where he worked as manager of computer applications. Cruz legally would have been required to register for the draft when he became a permanent resident in 1961. Eleanor is supposedly working at the same company when she meets and marries Rafael and the two move to Calgary, Canada together, even though he was still legally married to Julia. Researchers have been unable to find proof of their marriage in official records.

Rafael Cruz acquired his Canadian citizenship in 1968 or 1973; there are conflicting accounts. He must not have wanted to worry about being drafted into the Vietnam War after registering in 1967. Ted is born in Calgary in 1970, making him a Canadian citizen at birth. Under federal law, Eleanor would have been legally required to complete a consular report of birth abroad to the State Department to make Ted a U.S. citizen, a document Cruz has never produced to establish his mother took this affirmative step to make him a citizen at birth. Both Eleanor and Rafael Cruz were listed on a 1974 Canadian voter roll as citizens eligible to vote in Canadian elections, although Cruz denies his mother ever became a Canadian citizen. Ted writes in his book that his father abandoned him and his mother and moved back to the United States in 1973, the same year he supposedly became a Canadian citizen.
“Imagine a young married couple, living together in the 1970s, neither one of them has a personal relationship with Jesus. They have a little boy and they are both drinking far too much. They are living a fast life,” said Ted Cruz. 
“When I was 3, my father decided to leave my mother and me. We were living in Calgary at the time, he got on a plane and he flew back to Texas, and he decided he didn’t want to be married anymore and he didn’t want to be a father to his 3-year-old son.”
About a year after Rafael abandoned them, Eleanor and Ted move to Houston in 1974. Rafael and Eleanor still owned a home together throughout the 1980s, however, because court records show that Wells Fargo bank foreclosed on the home they jointly-owned and ordered it sold at a sheriff's auction in 1989. Ted graduated from high school in 1988 and registered with the Selective Service System that same year while he was completing a Pell grant application for college, which is limited to students with financial need. Eleanor would not become officially divorced from Rafael until February 13, 1997 according to Texas court records. Eleanor changed her name back to Darragh at that time. Ted did not officially renounce his Canadian citizenship until May 14, 2014. It's not clear whether Ted entered the U.S. with his mother in 1974 on a U.S. passport or Canadian passport, although Cruz denies he ever possessed a Canadian passport.

It's also unclear of the circumstances under which Rafael Cruz legally re-entered the U.S. Rafael did not become a U.S. citizen until 2005. If he was permanently residing for a period of eight years in Canada during which he acquired a Canadian citizenship, his permanent resident status in the U.S. should have been revoked, if not before, at the time he acquired Canadian citizenship. Suffice it to say, there are a lot of mysteries surrounding the Cruz family.

The Cruz family timeline data can be viewed here.

Pols Line Up To Write Letters Praising Hastert

Former House Speaker Dennis Hastert may have been a serial sexual abuser of teen boys he supervised as a high school teacher and wrestling coach, but there's no shortage of politicians singing his praises in letters to the federal district court judge seeking no jail time for the once powerful politician after he pleaded guilty to lying to federal investigators and structuring $1.7 million in hush money payments to one of his victims to avoid federal currency law reporting requirements.

Former House Majority Leader Tom DeLay described Hastert as a "man of strong faith" and "great integrity," one of 41 letters the sentencing judge received. Hastert's attorneys withdrew another 20 or so letters written to the judge after the judge made clear their letters would be made public since the authors did not want their letters to become public. "We all have our flaws, but Dennis Hastert has very few," Delay wrote to Judge Thomas Durkin. "He is a good man who loves the Lord. He gets his integrity and values from him. He doesn't deserve what he is going through."

Former CIA Director Peter Goss, former Illinois Attorney General Tyrone Fahner, several former congressmen and retired federal law enforcement officials were among those writing letters of support. Former U.S. Rep. Tom Ewing (R-IL) says he and Hastert were as "close as brothers" and he knew Hastert to be a man of "faith, integrity and honesty." Former State Sen. Doris Karpiel called him the "best kind of public official." "Further punishment will serve no real purpose," she said since he had already "lost his good name."

Hastert's wife and children also wrote letters of support. Jean Hastert says she has never known a "more honorable and devoted man" who "spent his life in service to others." "If one of his students or wrestlers ever needed anything of him, he would be there for them, and he was never happier than when he could watch someone he helped succeed," Jean Hastert wrote. Hasert's wife, incidentally, was a high school girls PE teacher at the same high school where her husband was a serial sexual abuser of teen-age boys. His family expressed concerns about his deteriorating health if he is imprisoned. "He now has [a] myriad [of] medical issues and he should be with his family and not in the medical division of a correctional institution," son Joshua Hastert wrote.

Friday, April 22, 2016

Poll Shows Trump And Clinton Leading Indiana's Presidential Primary Election

The first published poll of Indiana voters show Republican Donald Trump and Democrat Hillary Clinton with small leads as we approach the state's May 3 primary election. Trump leads Ted Cruz by six percentage points while Clinton leads Bernie Sanders by just three percentage points. The poll was conducted by Public Opinion Strategies for Howey Politics and WTHR.

Republican Presidential Primary

Donald Trump 37%
Ted Cruz 31%
John Kasich 22%

Democratic Presidential Primary

Hillary Clinton 48%
Bernie Sanders 45%

UPDATE: Fox News released a poll of Indiana voters today as well. It also shows Trump and Clinton leading but by larger margins. Trump has an 8-point lead over Cruz, while Clinton has a 4-point lead over Sanders.

Donald Trump 41%
Ted Cruz 33%
John Kasich 16%

Hillary Clinton 46%
Bernie Sander 42%.

Lobbying Firms Now Hiring Former FBI Agents

Jim Davis, shown here helping FBI agents fingerprint Saddam Hussein after the former dictator's capture in Iraq, has served as the director of the Colorado Dept. of Public Safety since 2011.
Former FBI agent Jim Davis shown with Saddam Hussein in 2003 following his capture
A former FBI agent is going over to the dark side to work. The Indiana Legislative Insight reports that Jim Davis, a former special assistant in charge of the Indianapolis division of the FBI, has been hired as a senior policy adviser by Bose Public Affairs Group where he will advise the firm's clients on risk management, crisis communications and reputation management. Very comforting, eh?

Davis has a very interesting background. He was temporarily assigned by the FBI to work in Iraq during that colossal quagmire. He was among a team of American interrogators who first questioned former Iraqi President Saddam Hussein following his capture in 2003. The 26-year FBI veteran performed undercover work for the FBI in Chicago during the 3-year Operation Silver Shovel investigation that netted two dozen convictions, including six Chicago aldermen.

Davis served as a special investigator for the independent counsel that investigated former Clinton Interior Secretary Bruce Babbitt in the late 1990s. That investigation centered around whether Babbitt and Interior Department officials rejected an Indian casino proposed in Wisconsin after competing casinos lobbied the administration for the rejection of the casino project and contributed hundreds of thousands of dollars to the Democrats. Babbitt was cleared of any wrongdoing in that investigation.

Davis came to the Indianapolis FBI office in 2003 where his responsibilities included program management of all FBI criminal investigations in Indiana. His service in Indianapolis was interrupted on several occasions for temporary duty assignments he served in Iraq and Afghanistan.

More recently, Davis worked as the head of the Colorado Department of Public Safety for Gov. John Hickenlooper's administration after several years as special agent in charge of the Denver FBI office. He left that job to start his own private security firm. Denver's sheriff's department paid his firm $80,000 over a five-month period as a consultant helping the office implement reforms.

Thursday, April 21, 2016

Another Citizens Energy Double-Digit Rate Increase Approved

Double-digit increases have become the norm for Citizens Energy customers. I love how our local news media reports on these rate increases with a happy face, presumably because the utility pays a bunch of money to them for feel-good advertising. Average water rates will jump $5 a month, or 20%, to $30. The utility claims the money is needed for $100 million in infrastructure improvements. But remember, you're getting all sorts of cost savings after Citizens Energy bought the water utility from the City for an inflated price to fund Ballard's sidewalks for votes scam. And of course the City bought the utility for an inflated prices from NiSource. But, hey, it's a public benefit utility so cheer up.

That's not the half of it. There's still that gigantic rate increase for sewage fees hanging over our heads. Another 31% hike in sewer bills is looming that will hike the average monthly bills from $35 to $47 next year. Mayor Joe Hogsett plans to hold a press conference with Citizens Energy officials to announce plans for completing that big dig project that has enriched the usual cast of pay-to-play contractors who make six-figure campaign contributions to politicians like Hogsett. They'll put lipstick on that pig and the media will spew it all back to us verbatim without any critical analysis. This is what happens when you have a state utility regulator run by nothing but political hacks who don't give a damn about the public they're supposed to represent and who allow these thieves to rob us blind.

Wednesday, April 20, 2016

Former City Prosecutor Fired For Doctoring Public Records

A former Indianapolis city prosecutor who admitted doctoring public records he had provided to another attorney representing a dog kennel owner the city had charged with numerous city code violations regarding animal welfare has been fired from his job according to WRTV, which first broke this story last night. Mark Pizur, who had earlier been demoted to deputy prosecutor, was terminated by his boss, corporation counsel Andy Mallon. See the original post here.

Does Marlin Stutzman Have An Aaron Schock Problem?

A young, high-flying congressman from Illinois, Aaron Schock, was forced to resign his seat in Congress after news reports raised questions about his congressional travel reimbursements and campaign expenditures for what may have been personal uses. I'm very disappointed to read an AP report that is raising similar, albeit not as serious, concerns about U.S. Rep. Marlin Stutzman (R), who is in a tight race against U.S. Rep. Todd Young for the Senate Republican nomination. The story seems to have been timed close to the May primary in an effort to leave little time for Stutzman to respond to the allegations. Early voting in the race began last week.

The more obvious question involves the use of campaign funds to pay for what appears to be a family trip to California last August. Stutzman's campaign reports according to the AP report listed more than $2,000 in expenditures for airline tickets for four, van rental and a Hilton Hotel bill. Stutzman's wife posted pictures of the family trip on her Facebook account, including pictures taken at the Reagan presidential library, which have since been deleted. The report notes Stutzman has spent over $300,000 since going to Washington from his campaign account for travel-related expenses. His campaign manager denied there was anything not in compliance with FEC rules and regulations. The optics don't look good and that really doesn't answer the question of why the campaign paid for what appears to be a family vacation.

The AP also delves into a murkier area of how much Stutzman has been reimbursed by his congressional office for travel within his district. The AP cites an 8-month period in 2015 when Stutzman was reimbursed $13,000 for mileage driven on a personal vehicle, which the reporter equates to 40 round trips from Stutzman's home in Howe, Indiana to the southernmost border touching Louisville, Kentucky. Stutzman's campaign declined to answer questions about the mileage reimbursements according to the reporter, which doesn't help make the issue go away as former U.S. Rep. Aaron Schock learned the hard way when he dismissed initial reports about his personal spending habits. He not only had to resign his seat but has also faced a months-long federal grand jury investigation that has drawn many of those closest to him into the legal proceedings. Stutzman's folks don't appear to be handling this story any better at this point, which may mean that it continues to be an issue right up to election day, a story he can ill afford to have hanging over him in a close contest. 

I've looked at campaign finance reports for many years, and I've often seen spending that appears to be questionable. I used to comment frequently on some of the more questionable expenditures, which normally has been met with a collective yawn by our mainstream media folks. I believe our elected representatives need to be held accountable for what they report to the government, but I also dislike the media's selective indignation over the manner in which representatives spend their campaign funds. A guy like Stutzman who touts himself as a conservative, anti-government type is often singled out for greater scrutiny than someone who is more of an establishment type favored by many in the media. It's not fair, but that's the way it is. State Rep. Justin Moed (D) gets to remain in office after he sends nude photos of himself to a porn actress and buys gifts for her using his campaign account without any uproar from the media, while State Rep. Jud McMillin (R) is forced to resign when someone stole his cell phone and distributed a sex video found on it to his personal contacts. Lots of politicians claim false residences when running for office, but it's only been a serious legal problem for one person. Life isn't fair.

UPDATE: The Indianapolis Star is now reporting that Stutzman has reimbursed his campaign committee $2,000 for the airline expense he paid for his family members on that trip to California. His campaign spokesperson says he did perform campaign-related activities while on the trip but decided in an abundance of caution to reimburse the campaign those costs. “Out of an abundance of caution, knowing that some of the trip was for personal time, the entire portion was reimbursed,” Josh Kelley said. The Star notes that Stutzman's opponent's hands aren't entirely clean when it comes to campaign finance law compliance. Todd Young's campaign was fined $8,670 by the FEC in 2012 for failing to timely report more than $75,000 he received in campaign contributions.

I had forgotten about this story I posted on a year ago. It involved a controversial trip Aaron Schock took to Saudi Arabia that was paid for by the Saudi government, but Schock failed to properly disclose the Saudi government had paid for the trip. Stutzman was on that same 10-day, 2011 trip with Rep. Schock; however, Stutzman properly reported that the Saudi government had financed the trip. I noted at that time the irony that the purpose of the trip was to discuss counter-terrorism given that a Saudi prince who participated in that visit had been tied to the financing of the 9/11 hijackers. 

Indianapolis City Prosecutor Caught Doctoring Public Records

The City of Indianapolis' prosecuting attorney has admitted in a pending court case that he doctored a record of e-mail communications he exchanged with WRTV's Kara Kenney in a "moment of frustration and total lapse of judgment." Since demoted to a deputy prosecutor, Mark Pizur's actions came in a lawsuit the City brought against a former dog kennel owner, Upton's Famous Pet Training Center.

One of the issues in the lawsuit was whether Animal Care & Control officials knew some of Upton's dogs were pregnant when they seized them from the kennel last year. "At no time did Mr. Upton or his legal team notify ACC, the city or the court that any of his female dogs were pregnant and/or about to give birth prior to these events in late December 2015," Pizur wrote in an email to Call 6 Investigates' Kara Kenney. When he testified in a deposition in March, Pizur claimed he was misquoted by Kenney. A subsequent records request made by Upton's attorney revealed that Pizur had removed the statements he made to Kenney from copies of those same records he furnished to Upton's attorney in discovery.

Upton's attorney, Marshall Pinkus, is now asking the Court to dismiss the action against Upton, claiming Pizur's conduct violated his client's right to due process.
"What is known is that Mr. Pizur would rather accuse a reporter of falsely quoting him than admit his mistake; would rather accuse the media as a whole of having 'an agenda' than admit it is he who was maliciously scheming; would rather strip the Defendant of his First Amendment and Article I right to freedom of speech than admit it is he who was misleading the public; would rather accuse an attorney who has been practicing for forty years of misleading the court when it is he who was knowingly making false statements to this tribunal. Mr. Pizur's projection is unmatched."
Pizur removed himself from the case on Monday and has been demoted to deputy prosecutor. "It would be unfair and unwarranted to prejudice the City's litigation of this case and enforcement of its animal care and treatment ordinances against Defendant merely for the lapse of judgment of the undersigned counsel in this case," Pizur wrote in a responsive pleading. Pinkus sent copies of his court filing to the Marion Co. Prosecutor and the Supreme Court Disciplinary Commission according to WRTV.

University Of Indianapolis Creates Make-Work Job For Ballard

One of the most corrupt mayors in Indianapolis history has landed a job on the faculty of the University of Indianapolis as a visiting fellow of the Institute for Civic Leadership & Mayoral Archives. Perhaps he can teach students how you win election to office by lying to voters by promising to cut taxes and government spending, and then spend the next eight years raising taxes, selling off city assets and contracts in exchange for campaign contributions and running to the state legislature to get laws changed to strip the City-County Council of any mayoral oversight when the council gets in your way.

Tuesday, April 19, 2016

Trump's Huge Win In New York

Donald Trump was expected to win his home state of New York, but nobody expected him to win the state by such a large margin. He's capturing about 60% of the statewide vote, winning in every county and New York City boroughs with the exception of Manhattan, where John Kasich won by a few hundred votes. Trump should win all but 2 or 3 of New York's 95 delegates snagged by Kasich. Cruz ends the night without winning any delegates.

Trump is the only candidate who mathematically could win the nomination on the first ballot, but there is little margin for error in the remaining contests for him to reach that magical number. Trump has to make clean sweeps in Pennsylvania, Indiana, New Jersey, Maryland, West Virginia and California to have a fighting chance to win the nomination on the first ballot.

Hillary Clinton staved off a strong challenge from Bernie Sanders. She carried the Empire State which she now calls home with about 58% of the vote. Sanders, a Brooklyn native, performed well in upstate New York, but Clinton mopped the floor with him in the greater New York City area. Clinton will walk away with a big majority of the state's 291 delegates. There is no path to victory for Sanders at this point.

Consultants Billed IndyGo $1.3 Million For Red Line Work

The initial Red Line bus rapid transit line may still be in the talking stages, but IndyGo has paid out close to $1.3 million already in consultant fees related to the project. IndyGo delivered to Advance Indiana in response to a public records request three professional services agreements it has entered into to date. Those included contracts with CDM Smith, Energy Systems Network and Caldwell Van Riper, which will total well in excess of $3.3 million when fully-satisfied.

The contract with CDM Smith has been by far the most costly to date. IndyGo has paid the global engineering firm based in Boston, Massachusetts nearly $1.1 million of its potential $3 million contract. The local contact on the project is Michelle Gottschalk, a long-time INDOT engineer who faced no bar from post-employment work with a firm that does millions of dollars in business with her former employer. According to her Linkedin page, Gottschalk is responsible for "developing and maintaining relationships with the state and municipal clients in the INDOT and municipal public works markets." Gottschalk went to work after new reports raised concerns about the firm hiring away INDOT's deputy commissioner, Sam Sarvis, who claimed he had done no work with CDM Smith during his time at INDOT.

Contract documents provided by IndyGo indicate several minority firms were assisting CDM Smith on the contract. The largest minority subcontract is with VS Engineering for $300,000 to aid in traffic signal designs, roadway design and survey work. The Indianapolis-based firm is owned by Sanjay Patel, who has contributed close to $100,000 in campaign contributions to various candidates and party committees over the years for his pro rata share of minority contracts. A $214,000 minority subcontract for communication design was awarded to Clifton, Weiss & Associates of Gwynedd Valley, Pennsylvania. There was also a $30,000 subcontract awarded to Hammond-based K&S Engineers for geotechnical services.

An estimated $300,000 professional services contract was awarded to a local PR firm, Caldwell Van Riper, which has already been paid $146,000 for its services. CVR agreed to subcontract $60,000 of the project work to a black-owned business with ties to the local Democratic Party, Engaging Solutions.

A third and final contract was entered into with Energy Systems Network, a nonprofit organization run by former Mitch Daniels crony, Paul Mitchell. ESN has been paid $22,500 to date. Interestingly, Mitchell listed as ESN's references Herve Muller of the Bollore Group and Michael Brylawski of Vision Fleet. These were two corrupt, illegal contracts entered into by the Ballard administration with ESN's hands all over it. In any other state in America, there would have been criminal indictments handed down long ago for such flaunting of public bidding laws as occurred with the Bollore's Blue Indy exclusive electric car sharing deal and Vision Fleet's electric car fleet lease with the City of Indianapolis. But this is Indianapolis where a select group of insiders are granted immunity from prosecution when they collude with corrupt politicians to defraud taxpayers.

Supreme Court Allows Lawmakers To Shield E-Mails From Public Disclosure On Non-Justiciable Grounds

The Indiana Supreme Court ruled against a public interest group that had sought to obtain e-mail correspondence of State Rep. Eric Koch under the Indiana Access to Public Records Act today in a 4-1 decision authored by Justice Steven David. The majority opinion held that, although the General Assembly is subject to the open records law, it would not delve into deciding whether the legislature's claim of the e-mails being protected from disclosure under the statute's work product exemption.

Justice David explained in his decision that justiciability is not a question of jurisdiction. "Declining to hear a case on grounds of non-justiciability arises due to 'prudential concerns over the appropriateness of a case for adjudication,'" Justice David explained. The trial court had dismissed the plaintiffs' case due to lack of jurisdiction, which the majority opinion found was in error since the court had subject matter jurisdiction to hear the case. Deciding what was work product the court deemed to be a matter within the sound discretion of the legislature to determine. "We are not inclined to make determinations that may interfere with the General Assembly’s exercise of discretion under APRA," Justice David wrote.

Justice Robert Rucker sharply disagreed with the majority's opinion. He found from the trial court record that neither party had addressed the merits of the applicability of the work product exemption under APRA. Justice Rucker did not believe the case was, therefore, ripe for consideration. He would have remanded it to the trial court to establish a clearer record on the work product claim. The e-mails in question involved communications Rep. Koch had with lobbyists representing energy concerns regarding pending legislation.

You can read the Supreme Court's full opinion in Citizens Action Coalition of Indiana v. Koch by clicking here.

Former South Bend TV Reporter And Husband Found Dead In Home

Denise Bohn
Denise and Eric Stewart
A former TV news reporter for WSBT-TV in South Bend has been found dead in her St. Joseph, Michigan home along with her husband. The deceased are Denise and Eric Stewart. Police responded to a 911 call placed by one of the couple's children earlier this morning where they found both victims dead when they arrived. Police are not looking for any suspects, and there was no signs of a break-in, leading to speculation their deaths may have been the result of a murder-suicide (now confirmed)

Denise Stewart used the on-air name Denise Bohn. She co-hosted the "Denise and Jonnny in the Morning Show" on 98.3 The Coast in St. Joseph, Michigan. Eric Stewart worked at the Cook Nuclear Plant owned by American Electric Power as a maintenance supervisor. The couple leave behind three children who were in the home at the time of their deaths according to the South Bend Tribune.

Emanuel Ups Chicago's Insane Spending On Tourism Dollars

The City of Chicago and the state of Illinois may be financially broke and facing bankruptcy, but that's not stopping Mayor Rahm Emanuel from offering up a more than $1 billion borrowing scheme for the City's financially-strapped convention authority to make possible a lake-front vanity project requested by a billionaire Hollywood filmmaker. His plan actually requires demolishing about half of the McCormick Place convention space along the lakefront to make way for a museum named in honor of George Lucas because that's what the billionaire is demanding if the City wants him to donate a few hundred million dollars for the museum bearing his name.

The Metropolitan Pier and Exposition Authority has already maxed out its current credit card through its costly plans to develop a new arena and hotel adjacent to the McCormick Place convention center. In exchange for over $1.1 billion in borrowing authority, McPier would demolish McCormick Place East, which includes the Arie Crown theater, donate freed up lakefront land for Lucas' $665 million museum and then spend a half billion dollars building new convention space over Martin Luther King Drive to replace the demolished convention space along the lakefront that Lucas demanded as part of his agreement to donate $743 million for construction of the museum. Emanuel says Lucas' donation will cover bond payments the first 15 years. Permanently extending five previously increased taxes on things like hotels and state subsidy payments to the convention authority will cover the remaining costs.

The 45-year old McCormick Place East building is described by city officials as an "old building" that has become an "architectural issue" sitting on the lakefront. City officials say they would have to spend $100 million on a new roof if the building remains and a total of $225 million in repairs over the next 15 years. Of course, those estimated costs far exceed the original construction costs of the building. “This is a win, win, win," Mayor Emanuel told the Sun-Times. "You get about 12 acres of open land you never had before. You have the largest convention floor space continuous in the world, which will allow Chicago to compete and win against Orlando and Las Vegas. And you’d have a cultural enrichment that continues to attract people to the city from around the globe," he said.

Hold on to your wallets, Indianapolis. The Capital Improvement Board will soon unveil its own plans for expanding the convention center to remain a viable player in competing for convention business.

Trump To Hold Rally At State Fairgrounds

Donald Trump will conduct a rally at the Indiana State Fairgrounds' Blue Ribbon Pavilion on Wednesday at 3:00 p.m. according to local news reports. Advance Indiana does not receive any communications from the incompetent Trump campaign as it does from other presidential campaigns so we're just passing along what we read elsewhere. Anyone can get free tickets to the event, including people who want to go and protest and harass Trump and his supporters simply by clicking here. Incidentally, it looks like Mike Pence continues being Mr. Stupid. He plans to endorse a candidate before the Indiana primary, as if he doesn't already have enough problems with his own re-election campaign. Why not piss off more people within his own party?

Monday, April 18, 2016

More Bus Rapid Transit Lies

Reviewing the presentation by IndyGo at last week's meeting of the Municipal Corporations Committee, I see that the public was once again treated to lie after lie after lie. Naturally, the Indianapolis news media is doing nothing to report the truth to the public because it's in bed with the consultants, contractors, lobbyists and other special interest groups that plan to profit off this billion dollar plus investment. And yes, it is a billion dollar plus investment regardless of what these professional liars are telling the public.

Councilor Christine Scales, the only council member present who asked any tough questions of the IndyGo officials, confronted them with their past studies that showed other preferred corridors of development for faster, more efficient routes of public transportation. The IndyGo folks first denied other routes were planned until Scales held up the past reports she had received from them. They shifted in their seats and danced around the issue as much as they could before finally admitting those were just early iterations without as much study behind them. Those studies, incidentally, were prepared at a cost of millions of dollars to taxpayers. The highest priority line at that time would have followed I-69 from Noblesville to downtown. That line isn't even on the 5-year plan now. Why? Because IndyGo says it's pointless to do it without Hamilton County's cooperation, and officials there have no plans to enact a tax increase until years down the road after Indianapolis taxpayers have paid the freight for implementing several lines that could eventually connect with the suburban areas.

IndyGo officials couldn't deny their federal grant application for the first phase of the Red Line projected a fare box return of just 17% despite a requirement in the state law that a tax increase approved for the purpose of building BRT had to include a fare box return of at least 25%. IndyGo claims its current fixed routes generate about 20% return at the fare box, but it's para-transit and other transportation services with less ridership drives the return rate down. They said they expect much higher return rates once BRT is implemented, but they wanted to be very conservative in their estimates. When asked if fares would be raised to make up the difference when ridership of the BRT lines fail to generate a 25% return, IndyGo officials said no; rather, other adjustments in the operating system would be made. What that means is that other non-BRT, fixed routes will be eliminated to meet the 25% requirement, which means less bus coverage city-wide for the vanity of having brand spanking new BRT lines.

IndyGo officials told another big fat lie when they claimed their $7 million per mile estimate for Red Line costs was in line with other comparable cities. They falsely claimed Cleveland, which built its BRT line for more than double the cost nearly a decade ago, was a false comparison because of the complimentary infrastructure improvements that were required for it. That's one of my points. They are not counting in their estimates tens of millions of dollars in expenses that will show up in DPW's budget. A 16-year old federal study found that the average cost of BRTs constructed up to that time had come in at $13.5 million per mile. Yet IndyGo thinks it can get the job done for half the cost nearly two decades later. The IndyGo officials also claimed that BRT was relatively new at the time Cleveland implemented its line. BRTs have been around since the 1970s. Pittsburgh built the first known BRT in the U.S. in 1977. Apparently, it never occurred to any members of this council committee to ask IndyGo officials why IndyGo told them just last August the Red Line would cost $60 million, only to return a few months later with a budget estimate of $96 million.

Have you wondered why business owners along College Avenue haven't been more vocal in their opposition to the Red Line like we've seen happening in other cities around the country where BRT lines were proposed? We got our answer to that question at last week's committee meeting. They've been bribed. That's right. Grants have been promised to every business owner along College Avenue which is adversely affected during the construction phase of the Red Line. When have you ever seen this done? Were grants awarded to businesses that struggled during the I-31 construction in Hamilton County? Were grants awarded to businesses adversely affected by the drawn out construction of the Cultural Trail. Absolutely not. Low or no-interest loans are the most adversely affected business owners ever receive under such circumstances. Not here in Indianapolis.

None of this should come as a surprise. Do you know what phony non-profit has been awarded a contract by IndyGo to help develop the BRT's plan to use electric buses? That would be the same phony non-profit behind Vision Fleet, Blue Indy and other public thefts that took place under the Ballard administration. Paul Mitchell's Energy Systems Network, which is located on the same floor of the Chase Tower with all of those inter-connected racketeering non-profit organizations that collude with the Greater Indianapolis Chamber of Commerce to screw Indianapolis taxpayers any which they can. The Chamber's lobbyist, Mark Fisher, has been allowed to serve as a member of IndyGo's board by our City-County Council. Do you know of any other city in America where the chamber of commerce supports every tax increase imaginable because it has a handful of members who have figured out how to pay off our crooked politicians to steer all of the spoils of any new spending to a handful of their chosen members? Remember all of the huffing and puffing our City-County Council did over the Vision Fleet, Blue Indy and other illegal corrupt deals entered into by the Ballard administration the Chamber was behind? Yeah, it was all phony bluster. They don't give a damn how much these crooks rob the public blind.

On the tax increase itself, committee members finally figured out that the quarter percent increase isn't a take-it or leave-it proposition. Council members have authority to lower the proposed tax rate that will appear on this November's ballot. IndyGo knows its cost estimates are way off from outset so it naturally wants the maximum tax rate of a quarter percent, which will generate about $56 million a year, more than doubling the taxes that Indianapolis residents currently pay to support IndyGo. IndyGo says it will not move forward with the construction of BRTs if the referendum is voted down, but they've already been assured by the PTB that if it goes on the ballot, the electronic voting equipment that will count the referendum ballots implemented by agreement of the corrupt leaders of the two major political parties, ensures the referendum question will receive the requisite number of votes. How would the public ever know if an algorithm is placed in the voting software to rig the outcome of the referendum? And the public will hear throughout the months leading up to the election nothing but propaganda in favor of the referendum funded with your taxpayer dollars, and the management of the Indianapolis Star, IBJ, Fox 59, WTHR, WRTV and WISH-TV have all agreed to propagandize voters non-stop in exchange for the paid advertisement the proponents have already committed to spend at each of their business organizations promoting its passage.

Most Indianapolis Charter Schools Scored Lower Than IPS Schools On ISTEP

Chalkbeat has been comparing the performance of Indianapolis charter schools to IPS schools based on the widely-criticized ISTEP exam the state has decided to scrap. Only 29.1% of IPS students passed the ISTEP exam in 2015, well below the statewide pass rate of 52.5%. Charter schools have been a panacea for reforming public schools. Yet 15 of Indianapolis' 26 charter schools actually performed worse than IPS schools in 2015. Several of those schools have subsequently been closed.

Charter schools operated by the Chicago-based Concept Schools, which is tied to the controversial Gulen movement, were among charter school performing the worst in Indianapolis. All three Indianapolis Math & Science Academy schools in Indianapolis scored lower than IPS schools. The Carpe Diem school, which is run by IPS board member LaNier Echols, had a passage rate of just 27.7%. Other charters scoring lower than IPS schools were:

  • Vision Academy
  • Andrew J. Brown Academy
  • Imagine Life Science Academy West
  • Andrew Academy (now closed)
  • Fall Creek Academy (now closed)
  • University Heights Preparatory Academy (now closed)
  • Damar Charter Academy
  • Indianapolis Academy of Excellence
  • Indianapolis Lighthouse Charter School
  • Enlace Academy
  • Padua Academy (now closed)
  • KIPP Indianapolis College Preparatory Academy
The eleven charter school scoring higher than IPS schools included, although it's worth noting that all of these schools scored lower than the statewide average with the exception of three of the schools:
  • Tindley Accelerated Schools (all four campuses)
  • Paramount School of Excellence
  • Hoosier Academy of Indianapolis
  • Irvington Community School
  • Christel House Academy South
  • Avondale Meadows Academy
  • Phalen Leadership Academy
  • Southeast Neighborhood School of Excellence

Kasich Campaign Claiming Support Of Majority Of Indiana Republican Delegates

An Indiana consultant for the John Kasich for president campaign is boasting that Kasich has secured the support of a majority of the 54 delegates chosen by an extremely, corrupt, backroom method of choosing delegates to the party's national nominating convention before voters even go to the polls. This should come as no surprise since the persons selected in this backroom process were pretty much controlled by the most corrupt elements of the Indiana Republican Party, which are only concerned about how much money they make from their participation in the political process, not based on any ideological leanings.

"We feel very good about the number of delegates who will support Gov. Kasich on a second ballot," Pete Seat, a consultant to Kasich's Indiana campaign, told the Indianapolis Star. "Electability is an extremely important part of the nomination for the Indiana delegation. The whole point of this is to win the White House. Gov. Kasich has the best shot of doing that." Yeah, right. Kasich has received five million fewer votes than Trump to date and has managed to win just one state--his home state of Ohio.

Trump's campaign is not disputing Seat's claim. "It shows how flawed the process might be if what they’re saying is true, and that the process can be easily manipulated, which is what it looks like they and others are trying to do," said Tony Samuel, vice chairman for Trump's Indiana campaign. "The reason it could be flawed and manipulated in Indiana is because the delegate selection has occurred before the primary voters have spoken. So if they are already being influenced, or came into the process with their choice in mind, knowing what they would do on a second ballot, then they're not listening to or representing the voters."

Sen. Ted Cruz's Indiana organizer, Curt Smith of the Indiana Family Institute, seems to be under a delusion that there'a a lot of support out there for his creepy candidate. Smith is primarily interested in making sure Trump doesn't get the nomination. "My sense is Indiana is critical to answering that question," Smith said. "I think that Trump does not stand a very good chance. I think Sen. Cruz stands a good chance to win against the presumed Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton."

By the way, it's rather perplexing that the Trump campaign only communicates with people in the media in Indiana who are doing everything they can to make sure he loses badly in next month's primary. I won't be surprised to see how badly bungled his campaign appearances are in this state beginning with his planned appearance in Indianapolis on Wednesday afternoon.

Trump Describes How He Could Bribe Delegates

GOP presidential front-runner Donald Trump described in vivid detail how he could bribe delegates if he wanted to go that route in assailing just how corrupt the Republican Party's nominating process has become:
Look, nobody has better toys than I do, Trump told reporters at a hotel on Staten Island, where he pressed his case the system was rigged against him. "I can put them in the best planes and bring them to the best resorts anywhere in the world."
But Mr. Trump said it was unseemly.
"You're basically buying these people," he added. "You're basically saying, 'Delegate, listen, we're going to send you to Mar-a-Lago on a Boeing 757, you're going to use the spa, you're going to this, you're going to that, we want your vote.' That's a corrupt system."
It's already happening in Indiana where several of the delegates chosen by state Republican Party leaders this month before Indiana Republican primary voters have even voted are accepting favors from the billionaires who pretty much own the Republican Party leadership in this country and are funding the anti-Trump Super PACs.

Sunday, April 17, 2016

Cruz's Father Urges Churches To Violate Tax Exemption Law And Engage In Political Activities

Rafael Cruz, the father of Ted Cruz, spoke in Evansville Saturday morning at Boeke Road Baptist Church "on behalf" of the Republican presidential candidate.
Rafael Cruz at Evansville church with Cruz campaign staffer (Courier & Press Photo)
Rafael Cruz, the father of GOP presidential candidate Ted Cruz, made a campaign appearance on his behalf at a church in Evansville on Saturday where he encouraged churches to violate federal tax laws prohibiting religious organizations from engaging in political activities. "It's time we become biblically correct instead of politically correct," Cruz told supporters gathered at the Boeke Road Baptist Church. "I will tell you this: no church in America has ever lost its tax exemption for speaking on politics. It's an empty threat," the Evansville Courier & Press reported, quoting Cruz. "Let's stop electing the village idiot," he said.

The elder Cruz's speech touched on the "dangers" of hot button social issues, including abortion, same-sex marriage, political correctness and the "secularization of America" by removing religion from our schools. "How can you call Bible study a political issue?" Cruz said. "The consequence of that silence: teen pregnancy skyrocketed and so did violent crime." "… (The church has) been sleeping for way too long. And I'll tell you what, the sleeping giant is waking up," he said. The Courier & Press said Cruz was accompanied to the event by Christian Collins, who refused to answer questions about hosting a political event at a church. Collins' Linkedin page identifies him as a Cruz campaign staffer and professor at Lone Star College.

Boeke Road Baptist Church Pastor Stephen Russ told the Courier & Press he was not worried about the church's tax-exempt status. "(Cruz's) speech had to do with the involvement of Christians in our politics at any level and it was taken from a historical context," he said. "I would just say that we appreciate (Cruz's) stand for religious freedom and his unique perspective, having been under an oppressive regime," he said. (It) was both enlightening and inspiring."

Advance Indiana has previously told you about the strange background of Cruz. He claims he fled Cuba in 1957 to come to the United States out of fear of political persecution by the Batista regime, although various reporters attempting to corroborate Cruz' account have come up short and he refuses to answer questions about his past. The elder Cruz quickly made his way to the University of Texas in Austin where he earned a mathematics degree and wed his first first wife. He took a job working as a computer programmer for the oil industry in Dallas and New Orleans during the 1960s where he met and married his second wife after divorcing his first wife. The two moved to Calgary, Canada where they both worked for the oil industry and where their son, Ted, was born. They did not return to the United States until 1975.

Cruz's father and mother became estranged after returning to the U.S., although they weren't officially divorced until 1997. At some point, Cruz left the Catholic Church after going through a religious conversion. He claims to be a minister, although it doesn't appear he has been ordained one or has served as pastor for any church. He is a self-described Dominionist who opposes the separation of church and state and believes America is a Christian nation that must be governed according to Biblical principles.

Saturday, April 16, 2016

Tennessee Trey's Dad Funding Super PAC

Image result for trey hollingsworth images
The Indiana Jobs Now Super PAC that has been spending money in Indiana's 9th District to support political newcomer Trey Hollingsworth and oppose one of his primary opponents, Attorney General Greg Zoeller, is being financed entirely by Hollingsworth's father, Joe Hollingsworth, Jr., a Clinton, Tennessee native. According to a new filing the PAC made with the FEC, the elder Hollingsworth has contributed $370,000 to Indiana Jobs Now. Trey Hollingsworth has publicly claimed he did not know who was behind Indiana Jobs Now. Congressional candidates, by law, are not allowed to coordinate their campaigns with political action committee that make expenditures on their behalf. They all do it, and they are lying to say otherwise. Trey Hollingsworth, a multi-millionaire businessman like his father, has been self-financing his campaign to date. He rented an apartment in Jeffersonville last fall about the time he decided to run for Congress in the 9th District. His 9th District primary race will be the first time he has cast a ballot in an Indiana election.