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Monday, February 27, 2017
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Thursday, October 15, 2015 9:20 AM
INDIANAPOLIS – Gov. Mike Pence kicked off the infrastructure debate with a $1 billion proposal to repair state highways, interstates and bridges. Local government officials want the governor and General Assembly to take it several steps further, and provide what the Indiana Association of Cities & Towns calls a “sustainable” funding source. IACT President Matthew Greller told Howey Politics Indiana on Wednesday that the Pence plan is a good start. “The big thing is it’s good the administration is addressing infrastructure in a very serious way with a very serious proposal and a lot of money. But it includes no money for city and town streets and county roads. I’m disappointed because the vast majority of road miles in Indiana are maintained by local governments.”
  • HPI Analysis: An 'enemy' retort to Our President
    NASHVILLE, Ind. – Last Friday night on the Twitter Machine, our president, Donald J. Trump, branded me and other journalists as the “enemy of the American people.” People who know and love me watched as I grappled with the designation over the weekend, trying to come up with an apt response that did not match Trump’s hysterics. Our president goads his citizens, seeking anger which he can exploit to his base. I wrote on Sunday that, “Over the past four decades, I have been a committed journalist, motivated as a career, but also as a steward of our community, state and nation, serving readers with fact, analysis and commentary. My career goal has been to leave a better Indiana and America than when I found it.”
  • Mayor Pete's final pitch; Trump at CPAC; Banks on Trump/Russia
    By BRIAN A. HOWEY, in Indianapolis

    1. Mayor Pete makes his final pitch for DNC chair

    South Bend Mayor Pete Buttigieg is making his final pitch for his DNC Chair bid that comes to a head on Saturday in Atlanta. Appearing on MSNBC this morning, Mayor Pete noted that there are less votes at stake than for a typical high school class president contest. “We’re finding that the two major candidates can’t get a majority of votes,” he said of Tom Perez and U.S. Rep. Keith Ellison. “I’m living what the other candidates say we need to deliver. Why wouldn’t you want someone from the Millennial generation running and winning in a bright red state?”

  • HPI Analysis: Buttigieg finds DNC traction ahead of chair vote
    INDIANAPOLIS – With both the Indiana and the U.S. Democratic parties in a state of crisis, South Bend Mayor Pete Buttigieg will attempt to become the fourth Hoosier to take the helm of the national organization. Buttigieg and a field of seven other candidates are vying for 224 votes in Atlanta on Saturday. The winner will replace interim Chair Donna Brazile, who stepped in last summer when U.S. Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz was forced to resign in the wake of Wikileaks hacks of the party’s computer servers, perhaps with the assistance of the Kremlin. At that point, Hillary Clinton was thought to be a clear frontrunner over Republican Donald Trump. Buttigieg got a boost on Wednesday when former DNC Chair and Vermont Gov. Howard Dean endorsed him on MSNBC’s Morning Joe. “The most important thing is he’s the outside-the-beltway candidate,” Dean said.
  • Appointed school chief still a priority for Gov. Holcomb

    INDIANAPOLIS – During the winter of 2005, new Gov. Mitch Daniels listened to Senate President Pro Tempore Robert Garton on why he didn’t want to pursue legislation that would turn the elect superintendent of public instruction into a gubernatorally appointed office. “He didn’t want to do the superintendent,” an inside source related of Garton. He said that Republican Supt. Suellen Reed didn’t support the legislation. Listening to the discussion was a young governor staffer named Eric Holcomb. Daniels tried to convince Garton that he would appoint Reed and let her serve out her term. But Garton insisted that the issue could be dealt with over the next two years. In 2006, Garton was upset in the Republican primary by Greg Walker.  And, as our source observed, “Here we are 12 years later and there’s still an elected superintendent.” It was a lesson not lost on now Gov. Holcomb, who is moving in his first legislative session to make the change. It is part of his legislative agenda.
  • Redistricting reform punted to 2018

    INDIANAPOLIS - While advocates for redistricting reform were disappointed when HB1014 died in committee this session, they remain hopeful 2018 is the year for the issue. At a press conference Wednesday, Indiana Common Cause leader Julia Vaughn stated that the group “is not deterred” by the HB1014 vote being dodged by House Elections Committee Chair Milo Smith. HB1014 was co-sponsored by Speaker Brian Bosma and was expected by Common Cause to pass the House, according to Vaughn. The bill would have created an independent committee which would draw district lines for the legislature’s approval. However, Vaughn speculated that “there were other priorities for the Speaker this session,” and that it wasn’t the right year for reform. “In a conversation with Speaker Bosma, he told me that he was 100% focused on road-funding this session,” continued Vaughn.
  • Big mo for Mayor Pete; Gov's Supt. TLC; Trump's Short on agenda
    By BRIAN A. HOWEY, in Indianapolis

    1. Mayor Buttigieg has got the big mo: Here are today's talking points for your power lunch. He’s been described as the “dark horse” since South Bend Mayor Pete Buttigieg entered the Democratic National Committee chair race in January. But with “frontrunners” Tom Perez and Rep. Keith Ellison virtually certain not to get a first ballot victory on Saturday in Atlanta, the momentum appears to be with Buttigieg. On MSNBC’s Morning Joe, Buttigieg got a seismic boost from former DNC and Vermont Gov. Howard Dean, who endorsed the mayor. Yeah! “The most important thing is he’s the outside-the-beltway candidate,” Dean said. “Our leadership is old and creaky. He’s really capable and smart. He’s what we need.” Dean reminded Democrats, “I was an outsider. When I was elected we didn’t have the House, Senate or the presidency. When I left we had the House and presidency.”

  • Through the Trump tumult, Indiana Republicans laying low

    INDIANAPOLIS – The Republican Indiana congressional delegation in the new age of Trump is, for the most part, lying low during the first month of this turbulent and tumultuous presidency. Last Thursday’s 77-minute rambling press conference by President Trump, with Vice President Mike Pence seated quietly in the front row, allowed Americans to witness a barrage of lies and half truths, a shaky defense of his firing of Michael Flynn as national security adviser for lying to Pence, and a frontal assault against the news media. Trump seemed to blame the media for “fake news” on the Flynn lies, when he could have told Pence the truth 15 days prior. By Friday, Trump had declared the news media an “enemy of the American people.”

  • HPI Analysis: The ups and downs of Gov. Pence's legacy
    INDIANAPOLIS – In politics, first and last impressions are impactful. Through that prism we view the four-year term of Gov. Mike Pence, who arrived on the Hoosier political scene 29 years ago as an aggressive and ambitious partisan. He left in a similar mode, achieving a lifelong dream to serve in the White House. But his departure essentially occurred in July. While he accepted a paycheck from Indiana taxpayers through December, his national ambitions left a festering stew in his wake back home. Unlike undefeated Govs. Doc Bowen, Robert Orr, Frank O’Bannon and Mitch Daniels, his political career began with two congressional losses. He transformed himself from an economic conservative to a social warrior, augmented by his statewide radio and TV shows of the 1990s, positioning himself for a 12-year congressional career that commenced in 2000 in a district tailored for a Republican.
  • POTUS fact check; rattled Repubs; Coats wince; road bill advance
    By BRIAN A. HOWEY, in Indianapolis

    1. Politifact and the President: Thursday’s extraordinary and bizarre 77-minute press conference by President Trump, with Vice President Mike Pence and most of the West Wing in attendance, unloaded an amazing amount of information. Politifact, the Pulitizer-Prize-winning truth-seeking website, sorted through what the president said and what was true/false and where he flip-flopped. False: His Electoral College victory was the biggest since Reagan; 9th Circuit not most overturned courtMostly false:  Media has "a lower approval rate than Congress”; Hillary Clinton gave Russia 20 percent of the United States’ uranium. Picking a positive poll: Trump touted results from a recent Rasmussen poll, saying "it has our approval rating at 55 percent and going up." The 55 percent approval rating figure is accurate, according to the Rasmussen poll, as reported by Real Clear Politics. However, 10 other polls have Trump’s approval rating falling between 39 percent and 48 percent.

  • Coats latest Hoosier to get tangled in Trump web of deceit

    INDIANAPOLIS - Last week, it was Vice President Mike Pence who found himself wrapped up in President Trump’s web of deceit. Now it appears another Hoosier, former senator Dan Coats, finds himself out on the same precarious limb. Multiple media reports say that President Trump will bring on billionaire Stephen Feinberg to launch a review of U.S. intelligence services. Trump is essentially at war with the U.S. intelligence network, comparing the CIA at one point to Nazi Germany. It comes before Coats is confirmed to be Trump’s Director of National Intelligence. And it comes in an increasingly surreal enviroment, with the Wall Street Journal reporting Thursday that “U.S. intelligence officials have withheld sensitive intelligence from President Donald Trump because they are concerned it could be leaked or compromised.”  On Thursday morning, angered about news reports based on a multitude of White House and intelligence leaks, Trump launched into what appears to be a coming witch hunt in the U.S. intelligence sector, but also a Twitter tirade: “The spotlight has finally been put on the low-life leakers! They will be caught! Leaking, and even illegal classified leaking, has been a big problem in Washington for years. Failing @nytimes (and others) must apologize!”  Both the New York Times and Washington Post are reporting that Coats “is especially angry in what he sees as a move by [Stephen] Bannon and [Jared] Kushner to sideline him before he is even confirmed, according to current and former officials.”
  • Rep. Smith scuttles vote on redistricting
    INDIANAPOLIS  – In front of a packed House chamber, House Elections and Appointments Committee Chair Milo Smith( R-Columbus) denied a vote on redistricting reform Wednesday. Multiple members of the committee moved to vote on the measure but Chairman Smith said that “there is still work to be done and voices heard” and that he “doesn’t know at this time” if the bill will get another hearing. The clock is moving on redistricting reform with the 2020 censure approaching, as well as next week’s session halfway mark. This was the first and only hearing on the bill scheduled for this session and was attended by scores of Hoosier citizens showing support for it, including the League of Woman Voters, Common Cause and even garnered support from Quakers. This year, redistricting reform manifests as House Bill 1014 sponsored by Rep. Jerry Torr (R-Carmel) and includes co-sponsor Speaker Brian Bosma (R-Indianapolis).
  • House GOP budget dove tails with Holcomb views
    INDIANAPOLIS - Mostly in line with Gov. Eric Holcomb’s priority, House Ways and Means Chairman Tim Brown released the GOP’s proposed budget on Wednesday. The plan differs only slightly from Gov. Holcomb’s revealed budget in January, showing a unified Statehouse as the 2017 session moves closer to the half-way mark. HB1001 is described by Chairman Brown to “focus on fiscal integrity, strengthen commitment to education, improve Indiana’s workforce and support public safety.”  A noticeable exclusion however, is any talks of road funding. Creating a long-term infrastructure plan has dominated conversation at the Statehouse and it was a campaign promise by Holcomb. Currently, HB1002 would carry that out through increasing the gasoline tax by 10 cents a gallon and includes a host of other fees on drivers. Concerning the separate discussion on the budget and road funding, Chairman Brown said, “That’s something they may decide to do in the Senate,” and also noted that HB1001 is open to amendment this week.
  • HPI Analysis: Trump, Pence and moral clarity with Putin
    INDIANAPOLIS – I was a child of the Cold War. If there was a bogeyman that fueled nightmares, it was Soviet dictator Nikita Khruschev, who proclaimed, “We will bury you!” and hammered the United Nations podium with his shoe. When I was in the second grade at Edgewood Elementary School in Michigan City, we could sense our teachers and parents acting strangely. The teacher finally told us President Kennedy was going to make an important speech on an October night.  This was the Cuban Missile Crisis and my father would later tell me he feared nuclear annihilation. They actually thought the world as we knew it would be blasted away. The home where I grew up in later years in Peru was about five miles from the Grissom Air Force Base runway. Grissom was home to nukes. B-58 Hustlers and KC-135 Stratotankers were a constant sight in our subdivision, our big water tower a landmark for the pilots and navigators.
  • The Atomic: Chaotic Trump, prez succession, Gov's big day
    By BRIAN A. HOWEY, in Nashville, Ind.

    1. Unnerving White House headlines: In just one day, we’ve had the 9th Circuit Appellate Court uphold the freezing of President Trump’s travel ban; Trump tweeting in all caps, “SEE YOU IN COURT, THE SECURITY OF OUR NATION IS AT STAKE!” His press aide sparred with the press as Saturday Night Live segment seemed to become reality; counselor Kellyanne Conway hawked Ivanka Trump products on Fox & Friends, appearing to violate government ethic rules; Trump’s Supreme Court nominee Neil Gorsuch told U.S. senators he was “disheartened” by Trump’s anti-judicial rhetoric; and Trump lashed out at U.S. Sens. Richard Blumenthal and John McCain. And national security adviser Michael Flynn at first denied, then acknowledged he had talked with the Russian ambassador about rolling back U.S. sanctions, with Vice President Pence coming to his questionable defense. Whew.

  • 9th Circuit Court upholds lower court ruling blocking Trump's travel ban

    NASHVILLE, Ind. - The 9th Circuit Court of Appeals has upheld a federal judge's decision to block President Trump's travel ban, blocking immigrants from seven mostly Muslim nations. The decision, according to NBC News, appears to be unanimous.

    President Trump has not reacted to the ruling, but there is wide speculation that he will take his case to the U.S. Supreme Court.

  • Appointed superintendent bill expected to pass
    INDIANAPOLIS –  In all but a done deal, Indiana voters may have one less box to check on Election Day 2020. This week, the Senate Elections Committee voted out of committee SB179, a bill to make the state superintendent of public instruction an appointed position of the governor. Currently, Indiana is one of only 13 states where voters choose the head of education. Gov. Eric Holcomb wants to change that and called it a key part to bettering education in Indiana when he released his legislative plan in early January. Holcomb said it’s “not about the person, it’s about the position” and that making it an appointed position allows for a unified Statehouse. Holcomb expected it to be done soon and proclaimed that by 2021 it will be a appointed position.
  • HPI Analysis: Paying the gas tax or the axle tax
    INDIANAPOLIS – Legendary Chicago columnist Mike Royko used to write about paying the “victim tax.” In general parlance, it meant getting mugged, having your car stolen or your apartment burglarized. Hoosier motorists have been on a similar trajectory. They pay the “axle tax” or the “rim tax” or the “muffler tax.” It’s the collateral damage your car or truck takes from Indiana’s deteriorating roads. On Wednesday, HB1002 passed out of the House Ways & Means Committee on a party line 14-9 vote. If passed into law, it would create a 10-cent per gallon gas tax hike, along with a number of other changes.
  • The Atomic: Trump & PD chiefs, Joe's rebuke, nod to Buttigieg
    By BRIAN A. HOWEY, in Indianapolis

    1. Trump addressed police chiefs this morning: President Trump addressed police chiefs this morning in Washington and made an emphatic case for security while assailing the federal courts (and the news media, of course) who have held up his immigration travel ban. “Courts seem to be so political, and it would be so great for our justice system if they would ... do what's right,” Trump said. “They’re taking away our weapons. If you're a good student in high school or a bad student, you can understand the travel ban. I was a good student. I comprehend things I think better than almost anybody. It couldn't have been written any more precisely. It was written beautifully.”

  • Trump's travel ban echoes Pence and Conway in Indiana

    INDIANAPOLIS - Two weeks into the era of “alternative facts,” the battle over banning refugees from Muslim majority countries has echoes from the troubled Indiana governorship of Vice President Mike Pence. It even includes a Kentucky "massacre" that never happened. President Donald Trump issued a travel ban executive order aimed at Muslims from seven nations, including Syria and Iraq. On Friday night, U.S. District Senior Judge James Robart of Seattle issued a nationwide restraining order blocking the ban. President Trump reacted by tweeting, ”The opinion of this so-called judge, which essentially takes law-enforcement away from our country, is ridiculous and will be overturned! When a country is no longer able to say who can, and who cannot, come in & out, especially for reasons of safety & security - big trouble!"

  • HPI Analysis: Trump ushers in a coming political realignment
    WEST LAFAYETTE – On a cloudy May 3, 2016, as tens of thousands of Hoosiers went to the polls, a realignment occurred right before our eyes. When the dust settled on primary election night, Donald Trump and Bernie Sanders both won with 53 percent of the vote. It occurred despite the fact that Democratic leaders and super delegates unanimously backed Hillary Clinton and Gov. Mike Pence, and all but two members of the Republican National Convention delegation backed either Sen. Ted Cruz or Ohio Gov. John Kasich. On Monday night at Purdue University, bestselling author J.D. Vance, whose book, “Hillbilly Elegy: A Memoir of a Family and Culture in Crisis,” was interviewed by President Mitch Daniels before a packed Loeb Theater assembly. Daniels noted the Vance’s book “opened up a world to the elites they didn’t know existed,” and called the author’s family migration from the hollers of Jackson, Ky., to Middletown, Ohio, “a giant revelation.” The upper crust of American culture and the news media had reacted to the Trump nomination, as New York Times columnist Frank Bruni observed, with an air of “smugness and sanctimony.” Trump’s stunning upset victory on Nov. 8 was an epic thunderclap, a microbust so compelling that it has scattered the American political lawn furniture well up into the treeline.
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  • Bush43 advocates free press; says power can be 'addictive'
    "We need an independent media to hold people like me to account. Power can be very addictive and it can be corrosive, and it’s important for the media to call to account people who abuse their power. It’s kind of hard to tell others to have an independent free press when we’re not willing to have one ourselves.” - Former President George W. Bush on NBC’s Today Show, who was asked about President Trump calling the press “enemies of American.” Bush said he spent a lot of time during his two terms trying to convince Russian President Vladimir Putin to embrace an independent press. As for the Trump campaign’s ties to the Kremlin, Bush said, “I think we all need answers.”
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  • Another Russia story and Trump goes a Tweetin'
    NBC’s Chuck Todd notes that every time a Kremlin/Trump campaign story is published or broadcast, President Trump fires off a Twitter volley at either the press or U.S. intelligence services. It happened over the weekend. The White House is hyper sensitive to the Russia story. This is a chapter that is venting smoke and you know how that old saying goes. The White House acts like there is a fire that it’s trying to hide. A vital component to this is a Congressional investigation of President Trump’s tax returns, which could tell us a lot about his ties to Russia. Congress has the authority to do so, and this is now a matter of national security. To the Indiana delegation, do your job. - Brian A. Howey, publisher

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HPI Video Feed
WTHR-TV: Syrian refugees come to Indiana
WTHR-TV's Mary Milz talks to a Syrian refugee family who just arrived in Indiana.

President Trump's Feb. 16 Press Conference
President Trump's Feb. 16, 2017 White House press conference via Fox News.

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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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