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Friday, October 28, 2016
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Wednesday, July 31, 2013 3:35 PM
LOGANSPORT - It is more than slightly ironic that the Indiana State Board of Education is hiring its own consultant to do what it could be doing collaboratively with its state school superintendent – improve education.

It would be nice if board members and a state school superintendent from different parties could be on the same page when it comes to the importance of education in this state, but state education reform has become so politicized that politics takes priority. The irony of the current Tony Bennett controversy involving a grade change for Christel House, the charter school funded by one of Bennett’s biggest campaign contributors, represents one of the worst kinds of academic fraud there is. Forget the NCAA hammering some college for giving a football player a D- in a math class he should have failed. What Bennett and his staff did for Christel House pales in comparison. He violated a public trust for the sake of a private school run by a campaign contributor.

Think about this for a minute: If the Indiana State Board of Education had really been holding Bennett accountable like it is holding Glenda Ritz accountable now, the Christel House controversy may never have happened in the first place. But the board didn’t.
  • MERRILLVILLE – If the voters reject Donald Trump and Mike Pence on Nov. 8 – and it appears that they will – is there a political future for either man? I can’t imagine that there will be for Trump, who has been an embarrassment for the Republican Party. Of course, that doesn’t necessarily mean that there will even be a place for Trump in the Republican Party of the future. Pence is another matter. There are political commentators across the country who have speculated that Pence would go after the GOP presidential nomination in 2020. After all, Pence has looked presidential during this campaign. It doesn’t too much matter that he hasn’t sounded presidential. If Pence wanted a future in presidential politics, he should have distanced himself from Trump. Pence would have done well to reject Trump’s notion that the election was being stolen from him. Pence should have rejected the notion that the media had the ability to steal an election, as Trump claimed. And, Pence should have rejected Trump’s claim that America no longer is prepared militarily.
  • SOUTH BEND – Two things seemed certain last summer as folks around South Bend looked ahead to the fall sports of football and politics: Notre Dame would beat underdog Duke easily in football and Jackie Walorski would beat some guy named Coleman easily for Congress. You could bet on it. Some did, on the football game. What though the odds, Duke won over defenseless Notre Dame. Now, how about that political certainty? That certainty of reelection of Congresswoman Walorski, much better funded, much better known and much better situated in a Republican-flavored district in which she carried nine of the 10 counties last time? Walorski isn’t defenseless, not with all the money she has for TV. She has begun hitting Democratic challenger Lynn Coleman with negative TV ads, no longer acting as though he isn’t there. Coleman, a former South Bend police officer and mayoral assistant, has gained name recognition and more support than might have been expected last summer. But Coleman can’t win. Not on his own. Just as Duke needed help from a bizarre Notre Dame defense, Coleman needs help from a bizarre Republican presidential nominee, Donald Trump. And Trump is helping. Enough?
  • INDIANAPOLIS – It was disappointing, but not surprising, to learn from the Indianapolis Business Journal (Oct. 10-16) that both John Gregg and Eric Holcomb endorse public-private partnerships (P3s). These candidates for governor are experienced in the ways of our Indiana government. Mr. Gregg has served at the highest level of the legislature while Mr. Holcomb is our lieutenant governor. P3s are agreements between governments (national, state, or local) with private companies to assume control, but not ownership, of public assets. Hoosiers know them in the form of the new bridge over the Ohio River, connecting the east end of Louisville with Clark County. I-69 moving north from Evansville and Bloomington toward Indianapolis is a P3. The Indiana Toll Road, extending from Ohio to the Illinois state line, is a successful P3. The Chicago Skyway, used by thousands of Hoosiers traveling to the home of the Cubs, is a P3.

  • NASHVILLE, Ind. - Hoosier voters face not only a compelling vote for president that will have a national impact, but their decision on who becomes the next U.S. senator could determine which party controls that chamber. The choice between Democrat Evan Bayh and Republican U.S. Rep. Todd Young merits considerable thought. Bayh is the former two-term governor and senator who, along with Mitch Daniels, has done more than just about anyone else to shape the modern political contours of our state. He opened his political career in Indiana with the sting of defeat, managing his father’s last Senate campaign for this very seat. It was a two-term congressman, Dan Quayle, who ended Birch Bayh’s political career in the Reagan revolution year of 1980. Evan Bayh emerged four years later as secretary of state, then commenced a 16-year Democratic dominance in the governor’s office by defeating Lt. Gov. John Mutz in 1988.

  • INDIANAPOLIS – U.S. Senate candidate Evan Bayh stood on a debate stage Tuesday night, facing accusations from his opponent that he’s a Washington insider who has lost his status as a Hoosier. It was familiar territory for him. In 1988, when running for governor, the Democrat Bayh defended himself against a Republican lawsuit that claimed the year-and-half he spent working in the nation’s capital disqualified him from seeking Indiana’s top office. Bayh weathered the storm, handily winning the race to end the GOP’s 20-year hold on the governor’s office. Now he’s hoping to retire the residency question again. A poll released just before Tuesday’s only debate among the Senate candidates shows voters may not care that Bayh has been living in Washington for the last six years. The Hoosier Survey found 71 percent of voters did not see Bayh’s residency as an issue. Only 21 percent said it would affect their decision of who should represent the state in the Senate. “It’s hard to say he’s not a Hoosier. He’s got the pedigree,” said political science professor Joe Losco, of Ball State University, which commissioned the poll with WISH-TV.
  • BLOOMINGTON – We should change the nature of presidential debates to put control of the process on the voters’ side, and not let the candidates get away with fluff. We’re in the middle of the presidential debates, and not surprisingly, they’re drawing viewers in great numbers. The contest is close, and the chance to watch the two candidates spar with one another face to face makes for entertaining television. This is hardly a bad thing. Overall, presidential debates are a plus for the public dialogue. They get tremendous coverage throughout the media universe, both while they’re taking place and in the days that follow. They let the voters see the candidates under pressure and gauge their performance. As scripted as they can sometimes seem, they still let us watch the candidates think on their feet. They’re serious events, and are certainly more substantive than campaign speeches and television commercials. It’s true that they don’t usually change the trajectory of a race, although we won’t know until election night whether this year’s debates played a role in the outcome. They can reinforce enthusiasm, but it’s rare that they create it from scratch. Yet I think our focus on debates, at least in the form they currently take, is misplaced. It’s not so much that they reward one-upmanship, a quick wit, and clever zingers, although they do. Rather, I think they don’t actually help us make a good choice.
  • KOKOMO – Indiana deserves a better United States senator than Evan Bayh. Although I may be accused of using trite political rhetoric, I assure you, my motives and words are sincere. I have five reasons why Evan Bayh should not be elected to the Senate. First, and perhaps most important, Evan Bayh was a totally ineffective senator for 12 years.  The “boy governor” turned “boy senator” was so focused on riding a Senate seat to the White House that he assiduously avoided saying anything or taking any legislative stands that might raise any political angst in either conservative Indiana or in the liberal bastions of the liberal left coasts. Don’t believe me? Stuart Rothenberg from the Washington Post wrote critically of Evan Bayh and quoted James Hohmann from the Power Post: “One of the many reasons that so many of his Democratic colleagues did not like Evan Bayh during his tenure in the Senate was his excessive caution."
  • INDIANAPOLIS – The campaigns for governor and 125 seats in the General Assembly are winding down. We’ll be relieved soon from the slurs and insults of competing camps. Commercials will return to products supposed to make us regular again. The big question of these elections is, “Will anything be done by state government to make Indiana more attractive as a place to live and a place to run a business?” Every candidate told us s/he has a plan. That’s wonderful. But plans don’t do well in our legislature because most Hoosiers believe we don’t have any real problems and they elect people who agree with them. Our state government tells us how fine life is here and most of our news media print and broadcast all the good news they can find in self-serving press releases. However, Indiana is trending down relative to other states. We currently rank as the 16th most populous state, with 6.6 million residents. We gained 136,000 since the Census of 2010 (22nd among the 50 states), which translates to a 2.1 percent increase (32nd) compared to the national growth rate of 4.1 percent.
  • MERRILLVILLE – Last Friday night, Gov. Mike Pence’s excellent adventure brought him to Tony Packo’s, a legendary Toledo restautant. His campaign team had promised the traveling press (Pence no longer talks to Indiana media) a photo op with a hotdog bun autographed by his running mate, Donald Trump. And then . . .  breaking news! A 2005 video of Trump in lewd locker room banter with Billy Bush on a Access Hollywood outtake broke. Trump talked about making sexual advances on married women and grabbing them by their genitals. And there was this line: “When you’re a star they let you do it. You can do anything.” While just about everyone else saw this kind of story coming, Pence was shell-shocked in Toledo. Multiple sources described him as under siege. After he issued a terse statement saying he couldn’t “condone” or “defend” Trump’s remarks, the speculation was he would drop off the ticket. By Saturday he was back on the campaign trail. On Sunday, Trump threw him under the bus in his second debate with Hillary Clinton. Asked about Pence’s own debate comments on the potential use of U.S. military force in Syria, Trump icily responded, “He and I haven't spoken, and I disagree.”
  • FORT WAYNE – It was around 2 a.m. on a cold January night in Washington. Looking down at the White House from our room at the Hays-Adams Hotel, the lights were dim outside but it had a glow coming from the lights within. I was about to go live, worldwide, on BBC’s morning news show. The evening before, President William Jefferson Clinton had delivered his annual State of the Union address to Congress. “These are good times for America” he had told us. His message, however, had been overshadowed by the press conference the day before in which he famously said: “I have not had sexual relations with that woman, Miss Lewinsky.”  The producer explained that many of the newer democracies around the world, mentioning Russia in particular, watched the BBC shows to explain what was happening in U.S. politics because they found American news made too many assumptions about what they understood. Most listeners had no clue who other legislators were. So keep it simple. So as I prepared to go live worldwide, I thought I was ready because I had already done this many times on their major shows. Like always, there was some chitchat first with the news producer in London. The focus was on Clinton’s speech and briefly on whether the Monica mess would impact his ability to govern. But I was not ready for the first question. Que music. Host comes on. Introduces who I am and then asks something like this: “Why are Americans so moralistic that you get all upset when a president drops his pants in the White House? Why should he have to apologize?”
  • INDIANAPOLIS – Catholic Archbishop Joseph Tobin had just celebrated the annual Red Mass for lawyers and judges when he heard details of last week’s court ruling striking down Indiana’s ban on Syrian refugees. The mass had included a message from state Supreme Court Chief Justice Loretta Rush, a Catholic, quoting St. Thomas More, the patron of politicians and lawyers: “I die the king’s faithful servant, but God’s first,” More said moments before his head was chopped off for defying King Henry VIII. Tobin, named by Pope Francis on Sunday as one of the church’s new cardinals, found some comfort in More’s quandary. For 11 months, Tobin has engaged in some defiance of his own. Last November, Gov. Mike Pence directed state agencies to cut off funding to Catholic Charities and Exodus Refugees for their resettlement programs for Syrian refugees. Demand had been growing. Nearly a half million civilians have been killed in the nation’s civil war, according to some estimates, many of them at the hands of their own leader. But Pence personally asked Tobin, of Indianapolis, to stop any more Syrian families from coming to Indiana, for fear of Islamic extremists who might lurk among them
  • BLOOMINGTON – We have to be able to disagree in this country without tearing into and trying to destroy the opposition. The politics of demonization that characterizes this election will make it very hard for whoever wins office to govern well. This campaign year has been full of twists and turns. We don’t know what’s going to happen tomorrow, let alone on Nov. 8. So talking about what comes afterward seems premature. But it’s been on my mind a lot, because I’m worried. This is not about who wins the presidency. I’m concerned about the aftermath of this campaign season and how hard it’s going to be for our next set of elected officials, from the President on down, to govern. Let’s start with the belief expressed by a lot of people, including some candidates, that the system is “rigged.” This is a perilous way to treat the country’s political system; it sows distrust in future election results, de-legitimizes winners, and undermines the government’s credibility. If the charge takes hold, it will put political stability at risk.
  • MERRILLVILLE – When the 30-day rule kicked in around Northwest Indiana last week, it became increasingly clear who was tagging his wagon to whom. Most area communities have adopted an ordinance limiting the placement of political yard signs to the 30 days prior to an election.Those ordinances lately have come under fire and there is a move afoot to get rid of them. Lake County Commissioners Attorney John Dull recently said the ordinances are unconstitutional. Until the ordinances are wiped away, municipalities seem to be adhering to the 30-day provision. Accordingly, the yard signs sprouted last weekend and it is interesting to note whose signs are being paired. At the heart of the matter is John Gregg, the Democratic candidate for governor. It’s interesting whose signs appear with Gregg’s. There are Gregg and Shelli VanDenburgh signs together as well as Gregg and Tom O’Donnell signs side by side.
  • INDIANAPOLIS – While the pundits, the intelligentsia and the establishment as we’ve known it for years are grappling with the rise of Donald Trump, trying to make sense of it all, a significant swath of the people know. They see a world changing, where the Caucasian race steadily slips into minority status. Where people of different sexual persuasions unite and seek mainstream treatment. Where mixed race marriages are increasing. Where a troubled world full of jihadists and suicide bombers, hackers and cyber thieves invade their public spaces and their personal bank accounts, creating a world they perceive as increasingly unstable and inherently risky. So when Gov. Mike Pence decides to ban Syrian refugees from resettling in his state, the pundits like myself and the intelligentsia object, but there are few cries from the public. The issue, Democratic sources tell me, polls well for the ban. It prompted 7th Circuit Appellate Judge Richard Posner to write in his decision maintaining a lower court injunction on the Pence order, “The governor of Indiana believes, though without evidence, that some of these persons were sent to Syria by ISIS to engage in terrorism and now wish to infiltrate the United States in order to commit terrorist acts here. No evidence of this belief has been presented, however; it is nightmare speculation.”
  • FORT WAYNE – The second WTHR/Howey Politics Indiana Poll provides additional good news to every television station as well as other Indiana media, because if you think you’ve seen a lot of candidate ads for senate and governor, wait until you see what is coming. Congressman Todd Young has come from far behind to, at worst, within 1% of the early assumed winner, former governor and senator Evan Bayh. The race that may decide who controls the United States Senate is essentially tied. Former Indiana House Speaker John Gregg holds a two-point edge over Lt. Gov. Holcomb, but that means that they also are basically tied in the race that will determine which direction our state will head. Even the presidential race has tightened a bit, and there are some signs that while Donald Trump and his running mate, Gov. Mike Pence, are still likely to defeat Hillary Clinton here, the race could tighten even further. 
  • SOUTH BEND –  Lynn Coleman’s seemingly long-shot candidacy for Congress is “emerging,” described that way by the most important national evaluator of his 2nd District race against Republican Congresswoman Jackie Walorski. The evaluation comes from the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee. The DCCC has played a key role in determining the fate of Democratic challengers in the district, going back to when it didn’t give a cent to Sen. Joe Donnelly when he first challenged then-Congressman Chris Chocola – Chocola won big – but then poured resources into the district as Donnelly trounced Chocola on a second try. The attention of the DCCC, while not yet guaranteeing big resources, was a factor in the Cook Political Report’s change of its rating of the district from “Solid Republican” to “Likely Republican,” meaning that the nationally regarded report now regards the race as competitive, not a sure thing for Walorski. “We can win this election,” Coleman says, confident now that he will have funding to keep running TV spots until election day and that Democrats will have a far superior get-out-the-vote effort.
  • KOKOMO – Just listening to the drivel falling out of John Gregg’s mouth can give you first class case of the Hoosier heebie-jeebies. As I listen to the political flatulence that passes for the Gregg for Governor advertising campaign, a wave of emotions washes over me. The wave of emotions is somewhat akin to the feeling I would get if I was told that I had an incurable flesh-eating bacteria. You know it will eventually end, but how much misery will you have to go through to reach the end. It never ceases to amaze me that Democrats still think they can get away with the politics of the big lie. I suppose if I knew that the army of fact checkers were either on my payroll or working pro bono through the mainstream media, I might try and get away by telling a few whoppers myself. Now I know that there might be a few people reading this who might say, “But Craig, whatever are you talking about?  John Gregg would never tell a fib in the pursuit of his election to governor. Surely, you must be mistaken.” Well, I’m old enough and experienced enough to not just rely on my own political party’s communications mill. I’m here to tell you that I lived through John Gregg’s enlightened leadership of the Indiana House while he served as both majority leader and speaker.
  • MERRILLVILLE – There were many who thought Northwest Indiana would fall apart in 1976 when Adam Benjamin defeated longtime U.S. Rep. Ray Madden, who was an institution in Congress. Actually, things got better for the Region because of Benjamin’s legislative brilliance and ability to get along with elected officials on both sides of the aisle. When Benjamin died of a heart attack on Labor Day weekend in 1982, there were many who thought the Region wouldn’t be able to recover from a second blow. After enduring two years of  U.S. Rep. Katie Hall, Northwest Indiana got it right in 1984 when it elected U.S. Rep. Peter Visclosky to Congress. Visclosky, who was on Benjamin’s staff, discovered his body in his Washington, D.C., apartment. It pretty much has been all good since. Within two years, Visclosky found his way onto the House Appropriations Committee where he continues today.
  • FORT WAYNE – In 2004 I had the unique distinction of participating in what was certainly among the most disastrous debates ever for a federal level candidate. The Democrats had nominated Maria Parra. She was a Michael Moore-style liberal but certainly an otherwise qualified candidate. Parra had an MBA from IU-Bloomington and had a successful business career in the health care field. Our debate was to be held in the studio at WPTA-TV in Fort Wayne taped “as live” with no audience. This was different than all other debates that I’d ever agreed to participate in, but her campaign insisted on the conditions. The Democrats wanted Andy Downs of IPFW as sole host as opposed to the normal panel we had at debates. When I arrived at the station, it became clear that her campaign had invited all the local media to observe. Whatever my weaknesses are, one of them was not an unwillingness to talk to media, so I didn’t care, but the constant changing of conditions without consultation was getting irritating. However, she didn’t make it through her opening statement. She took off her microphone, got up and went to her staging room.  Andy and I sat there stunned.  I remember Andy saying, “What should we do?” as did the producer through our earphones. I immediately said, “Keep your voices down, the media can hear us.” So I softly said I was willing to do whatever was necessary because the entire nation was likely to see this tonight if we didn’t fix this immediately. Our area would be the laughing stock of the country.
  • INDIANAPOLIS – Evan Bayh has a problem. The $10 Million Man thought he could do an end around Hoosier voters, evade a primary election, grab a U.S. Senate nomination in July for a seat he refused to defend in 2010, then traipse back to Washington where he could sleep in his own bed every night. Instead, he is in a pure dog fight with Republican Todd Young, who has already knocked off two congressmen (former Rep. Mike Sodrel in the 2010 Republican primary, then Rep. Baron Hill that November). This Senate race, which is already nearing the $25 million mark in money, is playing out in perhaps the most unlikely place in the state: East Chicago. As Donald Trump might put it, Steeltown has become “Importantville.” The reason is that last May, the EPA informed about 1,100 residents in the West Calumet Housing Complex that they and their 700 children were living on land severely contaminated by lead and arsenic left behind by a now defunct USS Lead factory. It should have been no secret. The Associated Press reported that in 1985, the Indiana Department of Environmental Management found elevated lead levels in the soil and the Indiana Department of Health found high levels of lead in the blood of children. A 2008 EPA memo described the tract as "an imminent and substantial endangerment to the public health, welfare and the environment."
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  • Holcomb has 'absolute confidence' in fair, accurate Indiana election
    “I have absolute confidence, even when forgery attempts do occur. We know this type of activity occurs, always has and probably always will. But I have absolute confidence at the local level and at the state level that we’ll conduct free and fair elections here in the state of Indiana.” - Lt. Gov. Eric Holcomb, asked by Howey Politics Indiana if he is confident the Indiana election will be “fair and accurate.” It comes after two Indiana State Police investigations are exploring voter fraud and after Gov. Mike Pence and Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump have said the Nov. 8 election will be “rigged,” citing widespread voter fraud. Meanwhile, Marion County Prosecutor Terry Curry said in a statement “We expect the process to continue to accommodate voters without incident.” Curry asked the ISP to “release no further information” regarding the probe.
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HPI Video Feed
Senate Leadership Fund targets Bayh memory
The GOP Senate Leadership Fund is targeting INSen Democrat Evan Bayh with this "Can't remember" ad.

Obama chides Republicans for Trump support
President Obama chides Republicans for backing Donald Trump for President in this NBC video.

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Trump taxes

Should Donald Trump release recent tax returns, like every major party nominee has done over the past 40 years?


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