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Sunday, December 8, 2019
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Speakers Todd Huston (left) and Brian Bosma.
Speakers Todd Huston (left) and Brian Bosma.
Friday, December 6, 2019 10:09 AM
By BRIAN A. HOWEY

INDIANAPOLIS – To use a well-worn-political phrase, is timing is everything. That may have prompted the latest change of the Republican guard at the Indiana Statehouse this past week where we saw State Rep. Todd Huston of Fishers take the House speaker’s gavel by acclamation from one of the strongest speakers in Hoosier history when Brian Bosma of Indianapolis decided to stand down.

Bosma spent two non-consecutive terms with the gavel in what is considered by many as the most powerful Statehouse office due to the Indiana’s constitutionally weak governorship, where a veto can be overridden by a simple majority vote. It follows a similar transition in the Indiana Senate a year ago, when Rod Bray of Martinsville took the helm from Senate President Pro Tem David Long of Fort Wayne, while on the fiscal side State Sen. Ryan Mishler of Bremen and Travis Holdman of Markel took the reins from Senate Appropriations Chairman Luke Kenley and Budget Chairman Brandt Hershman.

Informed and reliable sources tell me that House Ways & Means Chairman Tim Brown will seek reelection in 2020 after surviving critical injuries in a 2018 motorcycle accident at the Mackinaw Bridge in Michigan. Huston served as co-chair of that influential, budget-writing committee during the 2019 biennial session.

“I’m incredibly grateful for the support from our caucus and the tremendous opportunity to serve in this new leadership role. Indiana’s economic strength is largely rooted in strong, conservative leadership, and I’m honored to work alongside Speaker Bosma during his final legislative session and help continue our state’s momentum,” Speaker Huston said after his Organization Day ascension. Bosma added, “Todd is an invaluable member of our team and a respected leader, and I’m excited for him to take the reins and continue building on Indiana’s success story.” Whether it’s serving as a tough budget hawk or finding common ground among differing viewpoints, he’s been a reliable, go-to legislator for our caucus time and time again. I firmly believe he will take hold of this opportunity with both hands, and bring the vision and energy needed to help keep Indiana on the right track.”

Bosma's first stint came with Gov. Mitch Daniels first two years in office during which he was instrumental in pushing through the $3.8 billion Major Moves Indiana Toll Road lease as well as Daylight Savings Time. The GOP lost its majority for four years during the next election. Republicans and Bosma returned to power in 2010, forging an unprecedented super majority era that commenced with the 2014 election. That 2012 class produced a future lieutenant governor in Sue Ellsperman. Bosma also launched an era of paramount transparency, with all General Assembly sessions and most committee sessions live-streamed via the World Wide Web.
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  • By MORTON J. MARCUS

    How’s business? “Wonderful,” is the answer you’ll probably get from those who only know the stock market continues to rise. 

    How is business in Indiana or in your sector of the economy? That answer is often hard to find. 

  • By PETE SEAT

    INDIANAPOLIS - South Bend Mayor Pete Buttigieg is having a moment. Amid comparisons to former President Barack Obama and an impressive on-the-ground grassroots organization, he has firmly supplanted the septuagenarian crowd to cement his status in the top tier of the Democratic race for president. Of course, he’s had several of these “moments” in the past several months.Each saw his stock rapidly rise and then fall back down to Earth. But no matter how many “moments” come his way between now and the Iowa caucuses, he still faces the same obstacle on his path to the nomination that he has faced all along. And, no, it’s not his work for global consulting firm McKinsey and Company, or his tenure as mayor of South Bend, or the fact that he is in a same-sex marriage — although all of those have given Democratic primary voters pause to some degree in polls and focus groups. His actual fatal flaw is the same fatal flaw that felled Hillary Clinton’s campaign in 2008 and again in 2016: An inability to even feign empathy.

  • By TREVOR FOUGHTY

    INDIANAPOLIS - With the House readying an impeachment vote for President Trump and Watergate analogies everywhere, it seems worthwhile to revisit a piece I wrote in August 2018. In it, I used historical data to show that in the modern era, national waves which favor the Democratic Party don't typically wash ashore in Indiana. But that came with an important caveat: "...[R]ecent Democratic waves that upended Washington – with the exception of the Watergate-fueled wave in 1974 – haven’t translated to Indianapolis." This raises the question: If the Trump impeachment proceedings play out like the Nixon proceedings, what does history tell us to expect in 2020? Well, the past can be a good guide for understanding where the present might be taking us, but only in a probabilistic sense. We can't use it to predict what's going to happen in 2020, but we can take a closer look at 1974 to understand exactly how the impeachment proceedings and resignation of Nixon impacted Indiana elections. That might tell us how likely we are to be heading towards a similar scenario, or at least what it would take to come close to recreating it here. We'll start with the big picture, and then drill down into individual races. Unlike 2020, 1974 was a midterm election year. We know that midterms tend to be bad for the party that controls the White House (especially in second terms, as 1974 was). Usually, the president's party loses seats in Congress, and it's not a coincidence that five of the seven national waves we've seen in the past 50 years have been in midterm election years (1974, 1982, 1994, 2006, 2010).For various reasons, presidential election years are less susceptible to waves, and tend to happen only when there is an overwhelming sense that America is headed in the wrong direction (1980 and 2008). 

  • By MORTON J. MARCUS

    The Indiana Forest Alliance (IFA) is calling for citizen response to a draft plan for tree harvesting by the Indiana Division of Forestry (DoF). 

    Without the IFA prompt, how would anyone know that such a plan was being considered by the DoF? I didn’t see such a DoF announcement on TV, in my e-mail, in the newspaper, or hear it on radio. Did it make it to your Facebook account or show up as a tweet? 

  • Pensive Thoughts

    You can decide whether that headline is a Dad joke or not – but it’s been dancing around my head as I thought about Brian Howey over the past few days. 

    Brian and his then-fiancée, Susan, came through Ellicott City, Maryland a few months ago – just outside Baltimore. We met for breakfast at the Double T Diner, a Baltimore institution with giant portions and advertising on the placemats, just like you’d find up in the Region. 

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  • HPI Analysis: Impeachment begins for a polarized nation
    By BRIAN A. HOWEY

    INDIANAPOLIS  – A polarized nation watched its executive and legislative branches lurch into a fourth impeachment sequence on Wednesday.

    Democratic Judiciary Chairman Adam Schiff portrayed a scheme by President Trump’s White House to have a desperate ally – Ukraine, under invasion from Russian proxy forces – supply political dirt on a potential political rival.

    Republicans from Trump himself to his allies on Capitol Hill called the probe a “witch hunt” designed to overturn the 2016 presidential election. “Today, America will see one party try and overturn the constitutional election of a president of the United States of America, a goal since @realDonaldTrump  was elected,” tweeted U.S. Rep. Jim Banks, an ardent defender of Trump.

    “The questions presented by this impeachment inquiry are whether President Trump sought to exploit that ally’s vulnerability and invite Ukraine’s interference in our elections?” Schiff said. “Whether President Trump sought to condition official acts, such as a White House meeting or U.S. military assistance, on Ukraine’s willingness to assist with two political investigations that would help his reelection campaign? And if President Trump did either, whether such an abuse of his power is compatible with the office of the presidency? The matter is as simple, and as terrible as that. Our answer to these questions will affect not only the future of this presidency, but the future of the presidency itself, and what kind of conduct or misconduct the American people may come to expect from their commander-in-chief.” 

    Republicans sought to portray the proceedings as a partisan farce. Rep. Devin Nunes of California, the top Republican on the Intelligence panel, cited a “three-year-long operation” to “overturn the results of the 2016 election” by congressional Democrats. “This is a carefully orchestrated media smear campaign,” Nunes said, and described the Ukraine controversy as a “low-rent” sequel to the investigation of the Trump campaign’s contacts with Russians. Republicans argue that the proceedings are an attempt to abrogate the 2016 election that thrust Trump into a shocking upset that gained him the White House.

    This fourth impeachment proceedings are expected to yield an indictment of President Trump in the House, and an acquittal in the Senate. The Indiana congressional delegation enters this process along partisan lines, with Democrat Rep. Andre Carson and the retiring Pete Visclosky supporting the impeachment inquiry, while Republican are opposed.
  • The Indiana Citizen takes aim at lagging Hoosier civic health
    By BRIAN A. HOWEY

    INDIANAPOLIS – Next Monday morning, Hoosiers will be getting a biennial report card on civic engagement, presented by Lee Hamilton, Randall Shepard and Greg Zoeller. The state’s social “fabric” will be measured by the “Civic Health Index” and it won’t be pretty. Past reports have come and gone since 2011 without a mechanism to enhance voter participation, voluntary civic and religious assembly. That will change with the establishment of “The Indiana Citizen” website. Created by Bill and Ann Moreau with the support of board members Bob Grand, Jeanne Kelsay, Michael Goldenberg, Russell Cox and Trevor Foughty, this non-partisan, non-profit platform described as “The Crossroads of Civic Engagement” will seek to increase 2020 voter participation by 20%, or 500,000 votes,  next year. “That would move Indiana from the bottom 10 to the top 10,” Moreau told HPI Tuesday as he previewed his Indiana Citizen message. It was recorded on March 15, a day after his former boss and mentor, U.S. Sen. Birch Bayh, died.
  • Horse Race: Mayors Henry, Bennett get four more
    By BRIAN A. HOWEY

    INDIANAPOLIS  – It would be trite to say the 2019 municipal elections were status quo, not with 17 defeated incumbents. But there are solid trendlines: Democrats dominated in the big cities, coasting to wins in Indianapolis by Joe Hogsett and Fort Wayne by Tom Henry and picking up council seats in Evansville without a credible mayoral nominee. Republicans did extremely well in the auto belt, picking up Kokomo, Logansport and Muncie. It helped them forge a historic 70-seat night, which underscores how the Republicans are dominating in the prairies (they hold 80% of county commissioner seats), while Democrats are holding onto the big cities and college towns.

  • Horse Race: Visclosky retirement opens door for McDermott, Mrvan
    By BRIAN A. HOWEY

    INDIANAPOLIS — The dust had barely settled on Tuesday’s mayoral race when U.S. Rep. Pete Visclosky dropped a bombshell: The dean of the Indiana congressional delegation won’t seek reelection. It immediately opened the door for Hammond Mayor Thomas McDermott Jr. to seek the office he was planning to announce for on Dec. 6. North Township Trustee Frank J. Mrvan also jumped in. “On Nov. 6, 35 years ago today I was elected to serve as Indiana’s 1st District U.S. representative,” Visclosky wrote. “Today, I announce that I will not seek reelection. For the past 35 years our office has vigorously advocated on behalf of thousands of constituents for assistance on any number of local, state and federal isues. While we could never guarantee positive results, we could guarantee our hard work and best efforts.”
  • Michigan City Mayor Meer's defeat amidst legal mess
    By BRIAN A. HOWEY

    INDIANAPOLIS  — The mayor is up for reelection within month. His son is arrested on a drug possession charge, making local headline news. In a rational world, a prudent police chief or sheriff would have immediately sought to have the case handed off to the Indiana State Police. If there were to be charges, a prudent prosecutor probably would have opted for a special prosecutor, to ensure there were no signs of impropriety. But none of that happened in Michigan City and LaPorte County this past week. Instead, Democratic Mayor Ron Meer found himself in a showdown with his own police chief, who resigned, along with senior staff following the arrest of his stepson on Oct. 10 by the LaPorte County Drug Task Force.
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  • Howey returns
     "I want to thank the many subscribers who reached out to me and my family over the past few weeks. I also want to thank you for hanging in with us as we met these challenges. I promise to return strong and with new product lines that will be unveiled in the coming weeks." - HPI Publisher Brian A. Howey following his release from the Rehabilitation Hospital of Indiana Wednesday morning following his treatment at St. Vincent's Medical Center for a head injury on Monday Nov. 18. The next weekly HPI will be published on Thursday, Dec. 12.
     
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  • Into the impeachment vortex ...
    Here we go. Where America ends up in early 2020 after the fourth presidential impeachment that got underway this week is anyone's guess. 

    When I wrote the Sept. 19 HPI cover story - "The Double Dog Impeachment Dare"  - the Ukraine quid pro quo scenario was just beginning, becoming a full congressional/media vortex suck. Regular Hoosiers I know aren't paying much attention and are polarized by President Trump.

    We'll restate past thoughts on these alleged high crimes and misdemeanors: 1. Impeachments are messy and unpredictable. 2. Impeachment is an American tragedy. 3. Impeachment will result in unintended consequences. 4. Hoosiers are prepared to render a verdict on President Trump at the ballot box next November. 5. If we get into a mode where we're impeaching an American president every 20 years, the fragile American experiment will be doomed. 
    - Brian A. Howey, publisher
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