Jim Shella’s Political Blog

New Hogsett job fuels speculation

July 28th, 2014 at 3:58 pm by under Jim Shella's Political Blog

Joe Hogsett leaves his post as U.S. Attorney on Thursday and today we found out where he will turn up next.  Hogsett will become a partner in the Indianapolis law firm of Bose, McKinney, and Evans.

It’s a move that fuels speculation that he will run for mayor but Hogsett can’t talk about anything political until he leaves the U.S. Attorney’s office and leaders at the law firm declined to comment.

With a crime-fighting resumé and a high public profile, Joe Hogsett is the most talked about non-candidate in Indianapolis.  When he announced his resignation as U.S. Attorney, his friend and former Senator Evan Bayh said he should run for mayor.

There is speculation that the Democrat will launch a campaign soon.  “I would say that probably none of us who are paying attention,” said Marion County Democratic Chairman Joel Miller, “would be surprised terribly if he did.”

Republican Greg Ballard is expected to seek a third term next year and Democrats see opportunity.  Crime is expected to be the top issue in the 2015 race and Hogsett’s credentials will pose problems first for the two Democrats who are already campaigning.

“I’m in the race,” said state Representative Ed DeLaney.  “I’m in to stay.  Yeah, the only thing that’s changed is that somebody who said he wasn’t going to run may be running, according to rumor.”

“I’m working every day to be our nominee,” said Washington Township Trustee Frank Short, “and to be the next mayor of the city.”

Short also points to the fact that Hogsett made public comments months ago that ruled out a run for mayor.

“You know I made plans accordingly,” he said, “and if Joe changes his mind I’m sure we’ll have more conversation.  I consider Joe Hogsett a friend.”

The next move is up to Hogsett and it will be next week before he indicates what it might be.

Governor Pence calls for Obamacare repeal, HIP expansion

July 25th, 2014 at 2:32 pm by under Jim Shella's Political Blog

People who receive health insurance under Obamacare here in Indiana could lose federal subsidies as the result of a recent federal court ruling.  The governor used that development Friday to renew his call for a repeal of the Affordable Care Act.

Mike Pence has never been a fan of the President’s version of health care reform.  It’s why he refused to establish a state-based health insurance exchange and that’s the reason why the subsidies are now in jeopardy.

As he prepared to lead the governor’s annual motorcycle ride, Mike Pence agreed to talk about competing federal court rulings.  A ruling from Virginia outlaws subsidies to people who purchased health insurance through a state-based exchange.  The other, from the Washington, D.C. federal court, permits those subsidies.

For the governor it adds up to confusion that, he believes, should be cleared up on Capitol Hill.

“I think it just argues for Congress to take a half step back,” he said, “and hopefully at some near time in the future to reconsider health care reform on the federal level.”

In the meantime, the White House is choosing to believe the ruling that preserves Obamacare and Senator Harry Reid is assuring affected taxpayers that nothing will change yet.

One thing Mike Pence won’t do is rethink his decision to forgo a state exchange in order to preserve the subsidies.

“I stand by our decision not to establish a state based exchange in Indiana,” said Pence. “The fact that a number of states that set up state exchanges at considerable costs have begun to unwind those state exchanges, I think, is a confirmation of that.”

It will be up to the Supreme Court to sort it all out.

On a related matter, the governor says that he will meet with Health and Human Services Secretary Sylvia Burwell next week to discuss his proposed expansion of the Healthy Indiana Plan, known as HIP.

There may be some irony because HIP 2.0 is a medicaid expansion by another name made possible by Obamacare.

In that case Pence says the fact that the current version of HIP is now at capacity speaks to the need for more health care options in Indiana.


July 25th, 2014 at 11:24 am by under Jim Shella's Political Blog

Brandon Smith of Indiana Public Broadcasting is in for Jon Schwantes this week and Lesley Weidenbener is in for John Ketzenberger as the Indiana Week in Review panel looks back on the last week in July and these topics:

  • The ruling striking down the Right to Work law
  • The naming of 5 pilot counties for Pre-K vouchers and the reaction from Mayor Ballard
  • Jobs announcements and the unemployment rate
  • The Tony Dungy/Michael Sam controversy
  • A beehive at the Governor’s Residence
  • Brickyard 400 picks

Governor Pence leads motorcycle ride

July 25th, 2014 at 11:15 am by under Jim Shella's Political Blog

Governor Pence is leading some 500 motorcycle riders on a trip from Indianapolis to Madison.

It’s the 10th annual governor’s motorcycle ride that is meant to increase awareness of motorcycle safety issues.  It also serves as a fundraiser for the National Guard Family Relief Fund.

Unlike his predecessor, Mitch Daniels, Mike Pence is not an avid motorcycle rider.  He took lessons before his first ride last year, and again this year borrowed a motorcycle for the day.

“We’re very pleased that this tradition has continued,” said Jay Jackson of ABATE, the motorcycle safety organization, “and we’re gonna make a biker out of this governor yet.”

The governor did participate in a couple of other motorcycle rides during the last year but commented on his novice status before taking off.

“Mrs. Pence said to me this morning when we had a brief word of prayer, she said, don’t make this your last governor’s motorcycle ride, dear,” he told the group.

The ride has scheduled stops in Columbus and Seymour.

Right to Work battle headed to state Supreme Court

July 24th, 2014 at 3:55 pm by under Jim Shella's Political Blog

Indiana unions have won another battle in the effort to overturn Indiana’s controversial Right to Work law.  It has been struck down by a special judge in Lake County who found it unconstitutional.

Attorney General Greg Zoeller is asking the judge to put the ruling on hold.  The state Supreme Court is already planning to hear arguments on a similar ruling in September.

Unions rallied when they lost the fight over Right to Work in the General Assembly in 2012.  They were defiant then.  “Nobody game me nothing,” said union member Rosa Maria Gonzales at the time,  “I had to fight for everything I have and that’s why I’m here.”

They headed straight to court and now it’s paying off.  “It’s obviously a victory for workers,” said AFL-CIO President Brett Voorhies of the new ruling. “It proves that, not only once but twice now, a judge has ruled that it’s unconstitutional.”

But Rep. Jerry Torr, the Carmel Republican who authored the Right to Work law, says the union lawsuit helps make his argument against mandatory union membership.

“The fact that they have to sue,” said Torr, “to try to force people to belong to their organization because there are people who don’t want to, yeah, that shows you exactly why we needed a right to work law in the first place.”"

He looks forward to arguments in the Supreme Court.

Meantime, the unions say they are thriving despite the new law.

“I think if you probably do a study now,” said Voorhies, “you can tell that since right to work’s in wages have gone down so actually it’s bringing more people out to want to organize a union, to want to have that job security, to want to make a fair wage.”

The unions also challenged the right-to-work law in federal court but lost there.

It’s worth pointing out that Indiana first became a right to work state in 1957 and state lawmakers reversed that in 1965.

This is a battle that will likely last for a long, long time.

Activist chains herself to a doghouse at the Statehouse

July 23rd, 2014 at 4:04 pm by under Jim Shella's Political Blog

Tamira Thayne is on a nationwide crusade to make life better for dogs that are abused and abandoned.  It’s a story that has a link to Michael Vick, the NFL quarterback who went to prison for staging dog fights.

Thayne heads an organization that now owns Vick’s former home.

Wednesday she was pleading her case to passersby at the Statehouse.  She chained herself to a dog house for seven hours to increase awareness about how some dogs are treated.

“Chained dogs are 3 times as likely to be aggressive,” she said, “because they’ve never been socialized with humans.”

At the website for her organization, Dogs Deserve Better, you can learn how chained dogs are affected and how the organization rehabilitates them.  It’s done in the house where Michael Vick kept fighting dogs and staged dog fights before he was arrested and sent to prison.

At the Statehouse, she gets people to listen to her message even if some, including Margaret May, question the chain around her neck.

“Yeah, well, maybe that makes her point,” said May, “may be a little extreme.”

But a state lawmaker we encountered questioned Thayne’s cause.

“I mean, obviously you want to make sure they’re not in any danger, that they have an opportunity to get shade and water and everything else,” said Rep. Bob Behning (R-Indianapolis,) “but I don’t think you want dogs running around everywhere.”

That won’t stop Thayne who says, “I can rescue only so many dogs but if I can change laws I can help millions of dogs.”

This is the 12th state she has visited and she’ll get to four more on this trip seeking laws that say a dog can only be chained for a short period of time.

For the record, Indiana law prohibits the use of a dog chain less three times the length of the dog and it must permit the dog to move freely and avoid chocking. There is no time limit.

Indianapolis has an ordinance that prohibits the chaining of a dog from 11-pm to 6-am.

Lowe’s brings 1,000 jobs to Indy

July 22nd, 2014 at 11:49 am by under Jim Shella's Political Blog

Governor Mike Pence and Mayor Greg Ballard joined executives from Lowe’s Home Improvements to announce plans to bring about a thousand jobs here by 2016.

Lowe’s will establish a new call center at INTECH park on the city’s northwest side that will open in February of next year.  Lowe’s, which is based in North Carolina, is taking over a vacant building and will spend $20 million to make it fit the company’s needs.

It chose Indianapolis in a search that began more than two years ago.

“We started years ago looking at 900 different sites,” said Lowe’s Vice President Don Easterling, “and we’ve only opened two corporate footprints from those 900 sites.  One in Albuquerque and now one here in Indianapolis.”

The state is offering tax credits of up to $5.5 million to make the deal possible.

Terry Curry defends his record on ethical issues

July 21st, 2014 at 5:08 pm by under Jim Shella's Political Blog

Marion County Prosecutor Terry Curry is up for re-election in November and he’s now under fire for what a law school professor calls ethical problems in his office.

But there are two sides to the story.

Terry Curry is a high profile public official seen in public on a regular basis.  Deputy prosecutors who work in out of the way courtrooms have been accused of improper conduct on 22 occasions in the last 2 and a half years.

“That seems pretty darned frequent, said Curry’s GOP opponent, Duane Merchant, who is using the charges as a campaign issue.

“He’s responsible,” said Merchant of Curry. “It’s his name over the door all the letterhead is on him.  What it comes down to is he’s responsible for everything.”

But Merchant is relying on research done by Professor Joel Schumm of the IU McKinney School of Law.

“I think that’s troubling,” said Schrumm, “in terms of what’s happening in that office and it also has a potential that those cases could be reversed.”

Yet the two cases that were reversed include one where the State Supreme Court reinstated the conviction and the other is yet to be considered by the Supreme Court.

Curry is proud to defend his record during the time period in question.

“We would’ve filed over 100,000 cases, appeals were taken in at least 550 and ultimately,” he said, “there’s not going to be a single case in which a judgement or conviction was reversed because of improper conduct by our office.”

And Duane Merchant says he will concentrate on other issues as the campaign goes forward.


July 18th, 2014 at 10:10 am by under Jim Shella's Political Blog

Dan Parker is the Democrat and Lesley Weidenbener is in for John Ketzenberger today as the Indiana Week in Review panel tackles these topics:

  • Joe Hogsett’s political future
  • The call for non-profit contributions to pay for police in Indy
  • The Indy Chamber’s call for a commuter tax
  • State budget cuts revealed in the same week as new surplus numbers
  • The battle over cold beer
  • The youngest deputy


July 11th, 2014 at 2:02 pm by under Jim Shella's Political Blog

All of the regulars are on the Indiana Week in Review panel today.  It may be awhile before that happens again as vacations commence.  Here are the topics:

  • The state won’t recognize gay marriages
  • Tony Bennett agrees to pay $5,000 fine
  • Murders of police officers spark new sentencing demands
  • Sen. Jim Banks going on active duty in the Navy
  • Democrat Michael Claytor accuses the governor of accounting tricks
  • Governor Pence previews a trade mission to the UK