Jim Shella


September 26th, 2014 at 2:45 pm by under Jim Shella's Political Blog

Dan Parker is the Democrat and Brandon Smith is in for Jon Schwantes today.  The Indiana Week in Review panel will tackle the following issues:

  • Democrat Bob Ashley’s call for Rep. Eric Turner to drop his name from the ballot
  • The Pence Administration decision to release more domestic violence funding
  • The Pre-K pilot launch
  • Advocates express support for HIP 2.0
  • Congressman Larry Bucshon targeted on the Daily Show
  • Carmel woman starts cuddling business

Zoeller wants a crackdown on public corruption

September 26th, 2014 at 2:17 pm by under Jim Shella's Political Blog

Indiana has a public corruption problem and Attorney General Greg Zoeller is taking steps to address it.

When a government official is caught stealing there is usually a big splash with an arrest, criminal charges, and the like.  What you don’t often hear about is the civil court proceedings that follow in the effort to recover the stolen money.

The numbers are sometimes large, hundreds of thousands of dollars stolen in the biggest cases.  And when you look at what’s recovered it is often a fraction of that amount and frequently zero.

Zoeller has pursued 250 cases in the last five years.  “These 250,” he said, “it’s not that they couldn’t find the receipts, it’s that we found that the money went to somebody’s pocket.”

Along with a new Public Integrity Coalition Zoeller wants a crackdown.  He’s calling for whistleblower protection, new requirements for bonds or insurance policies that would cover losses, and new ways to fill vacancies that could lead to private citizens serving on an interim basis.

The people who represent local officials are supportive.

“I know that our members feel betrayed when one of their counterparts in another county steal money,” said David Bottorf of the Indiana Association of Counties, “and I can’t imagine how the taxpayers in that county feel.”

“If the attention is on things that are going badly,” said Matt Greller of the Indiana Association of Cities and Towns, “we can’t focus on the good stuff that we’re supposed to be doing.”

Because when you add up the numbers from those 250 cases you get $8 million that was misappropriated and that’s not all.

“There’s money out there that has been gone missing,” said State Examiner Paul Joyce, “that we didn’t get.”

Advocates push for approval of HIP 2.0

September 25th, 2014 at 10:59 am by under Jim Shella's Political Blog

The governor’s plan to expand medicaid coverage through the Healthy Indiana Plan is still in limbo.

That’s why a group of health care advocates gathered at the Statehouse Thursday.  They urged the federal government to approve the idea that was submitted in July.  HIP 2.0 could provide health insurance to 350,000 Hoosiers who currently have none.

Plans called for the expansion to begin in early 2015 but that is increasingly unlikely.

“I think it will get done,” said Rep. Charlie Brown (D-Gary.)  “It’s just a matter of when and how rapidly we can get it rolled out.so that people can begin to have health care coverage.”

“And there’s nothing magic about January 1,” said Doug Leonard of the Indiana Hospital Association.  “It can happen February 1 or March 1, so we’ll be ready whenever it is approved.”

Negotiations between the Pence Administration and the federal government are ongoing.  There is no timetable for a decision.

The Daily Show tests Rep. Bucshon’s sense of humor

September 24th, 2014 at 3:06 pm by under Jim Shella's Political Blog

An Indiana Congressman was the butt of the joke on a recent episode of the Daily Show on Comedy Central.

Rep. Larry Bucshon (R-8th District) is a Republican who thinks comedian John Stewart is funny, according to a spokesman Nick McGee.  But McGee wasn’t laughing when he said the Congressman was not available to talk about Stewart’s jokes and that he’s focused on other things.

Rep. Bucshon is a serious man who delivered a stern message to Democrats and the President in a GOP Address on Labor Day weekend.

“Put aside politics and do what Americans do every day,” he said, “and that’s get to work.”

He’s a medical doctor who has worked to improve Obamacare.  “We can’t go back to the status quo,” he said in April.

But on the Daily Show John Stewart used a committee exchange between Bucshon and White House Science Advisor John Holdren to make fun of the Congressman for challenging new air quality regulations to address global warming.

McGee accused Stewart of “Cherry picking quotes out of context to further the comedy narrative.”

“Of all the climatoligists who depend on the climate changing to keep themselves publishing articles,” said Bucshon in a video clip used on the show, “yes, I could read that but I don’t believe it.”

Stewart mimicked him by saying, “I do not believe the scientists because it is their profession not their hobby.”  The audience laughed.

And just to prove how serious the Congressman is, his spokesman said “It is unfortunate that they didn’t show Dr. Bucshon’s request that the EPA come to Southwest Indiana to discuss these new regulations with Hoosiers.”

The biggest reason that none of this is funny to Congressman Bucshon is the fact he represents a lot of people who work in the coal industry and new regulations could put them out of business.

He wants voters to know that the Daily Show is not a news program.

Eric Turner rejects request to take his name off the ballot

September 22nd, 2014 at 3:43 pm by under Jim Shella's Political Blog

State Representative Eric Turner (R-Cicero) continues to spark controversy even after he announced that he is leaving the General Assembly.  His opponent called on Turner to drop his name from the November ballot Monday.

Democrat Bob Ashley is running against Eric Turner in a district in north central Indiana but said that he feels like he is running against a ghost.  The fact is, Ashley is running in Republican leaning district and could still lose.

Ashley called reporters to the Statehouse today in an effort to take advantage of the latest Turner news.

“He’s announced that he’s not going to serve in his office if people elect him,” he said.  “That’s an insult to the voters.”

Turner is a 24 year veteran of the House of Representatives who is slated to lose a top leadership post after surviving an ethics committee investigation.

“I talked to Eric Turner this morning,” said Ashley, “and I asked him in the interest of voters in the 32nd district for him to resign now.  He declined.”

Turner was accused of influencing fellow lawmakers to kill a bill that would have harmed the family nursing home business, actions that caused the House Speaker to promise new ethics reforms.

His resignation came out of the blue on Friday.

“I’m surprised,” said Republican Mike McDaniel on Indiana Week in Review, “but I think this recent activity and all the publicity that surrounded probably is the reason, and he’s probably said I’m done with it and I’m out the door.”

“Do you really want to be second line of every story written about ethics reform throughout the entire session?” asked Journalist Jon Schwantes.

But it’s Turner’s decision to stay on the ballot that has Democrats crying foul.

“Who do you get?  Some draft choice to be named later?” asked Democrat Ann DeLaney.  “You don’t even know who you’re voting for if you vote Republican in that district.”

Ashley will continue to campaign against Turner.

“He said he wouldn’t say anything bad about me,” said Ashley.  “I did not make the same promise to him.”

If Turner did take his name off the ballot, it’s too late for Republicans to place another name on it.  That deadline was July 15th.

But, if Turner wins in November, Republican party leaders will get the opportunity to appoint his successor in the General Assembly.

State GOP Chairman Tim Berry was unavailable for comment and so was Turner.

Wisconsin candidate copied John Gregg’s jobs plan

September 19th, 2014 at 4:58 pm by under Jim Shella's Political Blog

Democrat John Gregg lost the 2012 race for governor to Mike Pence but he is suddenly playing a role in the 2014 race for governor of Wisconsin.  A political scandal there has roots in Indiana.

In the 2012 campaign John Gregg put out a jobs plan.  Part of that jobs plan was copied and given to a Democratic candidate in Wisconsin and the people there are just now learning where it came from.

Mary Burke is running for governor in Wisconsin using job creation as her top issue.  Her Democratic campaign is built around a jobs plan.
She is trying to unseat Republican incumbent Scott Walker and when she unveiled her jobs plan she belittled his.

“I brought Governor Walker’s plan from 2010,” said Burke.  “This is 4 pages and I’ve seen 8th grade term papers that frankly have more work put into them.”

But now it’s been revealed that Burke copied her jobs plan from, among others, Indiana Democrat John Gregg.

The website BuzzFeed first reported on the problems with the Burke plan.  It published examples including one where a sentence in the Gregg plan says “That means bringing greater speed and certainty to permitting decisions without gutting environmental and public safety protections.”

A sentence in the Burke plan is almost identical, except the word “gutting” was changed to “sacrificing.”  Friday Burke fired campaign consultant Eric Schnurer, who wrote both the Burke plan and the Gregg plan.  Gregg is unfazed.

“I think it was worth copying,” said Gregg.  “I do.  It was a good program.”

He went on to say, “A lot of people don’t read ‘em other than insiders and there’s good ideas in all of them so that doesn’t bother me.”

But clearly Mary Burke believes that it would bother voters in Wisconsin.

John Gregg says he never met Eric Schnurer but says he has no reason to believe that his jobs plan was copied from someone else’s.

But according to BuzzFeed some of the language in the Gregg plan is similar to a plan used by Alex Sink, a Demcratic candidate for governor in Florida in 2010.


September 19th, 2014 at 1:24 pm by under Jim Shella's Political Blog

SPECIAL TIME ALERT!  Indiana Week in Review will be on at 7:30 pm on WFYI TV20 instead of 8:30 tonight only.

All of the regulars will be on the panel to discuss these topics:

  • Domestic violence funding squabble
  • Possible Toll Road bankruptcy
  • BMV refunds
  • Gay marriage opponents faces openly gay opponent
  • Mass transit grant
  • Dr. Kent Brantly testifies in Congress


Gay candidate takes on gay marriage opponent

September 17th, 2014 at 5:47 pm by under Jim Shella's Political Blog

One state Senator stood out in the battle over gay marriage in the General Assembly this year.  Republican Mike Delph of Carmel fought against gay marriage both in public and in private.

He now has a Democratic opponent, JD Ford, who is openly gay.

Ford appeared at a party sponsored news conference Wednesday to talk about women’s issues but he’s getting noticed because he’s the guy running against Sen. Delph.  Gay marriage is an issue in the race.

“I don’t bring it up, you know, they actually bring it up to me.” says Ford.  “And what I’m hearing at the doors, Jim, is that folks are so tired of this divisive social issue.”

Delph’s battle against gay marriage and the way the issue was handled by GOP leaders cost him a leadership post this year.  At one point in February he said, “I don’t accept the lifestyle of homosexuality.  I think it’s wrong.”

He lost his seat assignment and was forced to sit with the Democrats.  He tweeted that “many conservatives are tired of liberal to moderate GOP leadership.”

We found Senator Delph playing guitar on his deck in Carmel where he said he was treated unfairly.

“And I think it’s much easier to get positive news coverage when you’re part of the progressive lesbian gay bisexual community,” he said, “than it is if you’re a Christian conservative.”

And that’s an issue in the race, too..

“It’s not really about my personal interests,” said Ford, “unlike my opponent who is in the Senate and who is pushing his personal agenda.”

Yet Delph insists he represents the views of the district.  He says he hears that when he goes door to door.

“People are just not vocal on some of these things because they know how subject to attack they would be,” he said, “by sharing their personal beliefs in the public realm.”

Thursday night Delph will be named legislator of the year by the Indiana Family Institute.

He represents a state Senate district that covers portions of Marion and Hamilton Counties.  It’s considered to be a Republican district but in the last election Democrats Joe Donnelly and Glenda Ritz carried it.

That means this may be a race to watch in November..

Federal grant boosts mass transit hosts

September 16th, 2014 at 4:34 pm by under Jim Shella's Political Blog

A plan to connect 3 counties using IndyGo buses is getting support from the mayors of Carmel, Westfield, Indianapolis, and Greenwood.

The proposed plan would connect those communities with a 28-mile bus line.  It would be a bus rapid transit line.  That’s like light rail only on wheels.

The project won a federal planning grant because it would be the first bus rapid transit route in the country to use electric buses.

The bus rapid transit concept is part of the sales pitch that convinced state lawmakers to give the go ahead for a mass transit referendum.  The new federal grant will pay for engineering and environmental work along the route.

“(They are) critical steps to get the federal funds to help us build this,” said transit planner Ehren Bingaman, “so, this is a major movement forward.  Very competitive grant award.”

Tuesday area mayors appeared together at the Artsgarden to show support for the plan that remains futuristic.  Planners can’t identify a timeline even for construction to begin.

“Funding is the clincher there,” said Anna Gremling of the Indianapolis Metropolitan Planning Organization.  “We don’t know.  Funding for construction is not identified at this time.”

That funding could come from a tax hike generated by a referendum but there is also hope that more federal grants might eliminate the need for a tax hike.

“We’ll have to see how all that plays out,” said Indianapolis Mayor Greg Ballard.  “You always want to do everything without using tax money iif you can.”

But federal grants always require some local funding and even the $2 million planning grant called for a million dollar match by local governments.  Indianapolis paid more than two-thirds of it.

Meantime, the earliest that a referendum could take place is 2016.  In a best case scenario construction on the new line could begin that year.  It would take another 2 to 3 years to build the line.

In all likelihood it will be 2020 and beyond before buses start running.

Bayh won’t run (updated)

September 12th, 2014 at 5:32 pm by under Jim Shella's Political Blog

Evan Bayh will not be a candidate for governor in 2016.

Bayh says he gave serious consideration to a run for the office he once held because of encouragement from fellow Democrats.  However, the prospect of being in office with Republican super majorities in both houses of the General Assembly was never an attractive option.

“I loved the job and that was one of the things I considered,” said Bayh.

With wife Susan at his side, Evan Bayh explained his decision in a downtown conference room.  He felt he couldn’t deal with the Republican super majorities and be effective as governor.

“In our state, not unique but unusual among the states, a governor’s veto can be overridden by a simple majority vote, ” said Bayh, “meaning that it really doesn’t really give you the tool where the legislature has a big divide to really make people come to the table and have give and take and make the kind of compromises that I would usually see in the best interest of the state.”

Bayh won two terms as governor but left office 18 years ago.  He went on to serve two terms in the Senate and is now planning to concentrate on national politics.

In 2008 Bayh campaigned for Hillary Clinton when she ran for President and he has already talked with both Hillary and Bill Clinton about doing it again in 2016.

“And both Susan and I would be delighted to get involved on her behalf in any way,” he said, “and I told them that as recently as a couple nights ago.”

When asked if he would be willing to be part of a Cllinton Administration, Bayh said, “Well that would be entirely up to her.”

So where do Democrats turn now?  Three men are most often mentioned as potential candidates for governor.  They are the 2012 nominee John Gregg, Hammond Mayor Tom McDermott, and former Congressman Baron Hill.