Jim Shella’s Political Blog

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.


IWIR

September 12th, 2014 at 11:09 am by under Jim Shella's Political Blog

Jennifer Hallowell is the Republican this week as the Indiana Week in Review panel tackles these topics:

  • Evan Bayh won’t run
  • Mike Pence talks foreign policy sparking new speculation
  • Dan Coats backs Obama ISIS plan
  • New state technology center
  • Paul George’s offensive tweets
  • Roy Hibbert’s viral tweet

Bayh won’t run

September 12th, 2014 at 10:14 am by under Jim Shella's Political Blog

Evan Bayh will not run for governor of Indiana in 2016.

The former Democratic governor and former U.S. Senator said he considered a run after he received encouragement from a number of supporters.  He said in August that a run was unlikely and promised a decision in early September.

Bayh is in Indianapolis and will be conducting media interviews Friday to explain that decision.  We’ll have a full report on 24 Hour News 8 at 5 and 6.

Three Democrats are currently considered possible candidates.  They are 2012 nominee John Gregg, Hammond Mayor Tom McDermott, and former Congressman Baron Hill.


Sen. Coats supports Obama ISIS strategy

September 11th, 2014 at 3:59 pm by under Jim Shella's Political Blog

Indiana Senator Dan Coats is supporting the President’s plan to defeat the Islamic State.

Prior to Obama’s speech Wednesday night, Sen. Coats said it would be a defining moment for Barack Obama.

Coats is a member of the Senate Intelligence Committee and he still has questions regarding the strategy but told 24 Hour News 8 that he liked what he heard.

“What I liked is the President stood up and took leadership to a real threat,” said Coats.  “He defined that threat for the American people and he stated the goal, and I needed to hear that.  We needed to hear that.  That is, not just manage, not just contain, we need to defeat this group that is out to kill us and out to change the civilized world.”

Coats did say that he thinks the President oversold what opposition forces in Iraq and Syria can do.


Pence says new techology means more efficient government

September 9th, 2014 at 4:44 pm by under Jim Shella's Political Blog

State Government has acquired expensive new software that will help the Pence Administration manage the money you pay in taxes.  The governor says it’s an advantage no other state has.

It’s a new way to help analyze statistics on things like drug arrests, disease reports, car crashes, or even infant mortality trends.  It will help direct state officials on where to deploy state resources and will lead to the elimination of ineffective state programs.

In the basement of the Statehouse hidden from public view there is a shiny, new technology center.  The Pence Administration calls it the Management and Performance Hub.

It’s home to new computer equipment that Budget Director Chris Atkins demonstrated for the media.  He pulled up statewide accident statistics in a matter of seconds.

“In the past it would have taken days or weeks to sift through the data and gather the information,” he said, “that we can gather just sitting here looking at this map.”

It will help policy makers and the public figure out how well state money is being spent.  The idea is locate trends and respond appropriately.

“Welcome to the future of state government,” said Governor Mike Pence (R-Indiana.)

In a space that once housed 8 state workers, 16 will now sift through public information that will eventually be posted on the state website.

“We’re committed to having the most efficient and effective and transparent state government in America,” said Pence, “and this is going to give us the tools to do that.”

Much of the money for this technology center came from a Lilly Endowment grant.  Some will come from cost savings that will result from better use of taxpayer dollars.

The software alone will cost half a million dollars a year but the governor says that in six years the technology will pay for itself.

It’s up and running but much of the information is stilling being downloaded.


Pence is in Iowa but it has nothing to do with 2016

September 8th, 2014 at 3:18 pm by under Jim Shella's Political Blog

Mike Pence is a potential candidate for President in 2016 and speculation increased this week because the Indiana governor is in Iowa.

Iowa is the first caucus state and anyone who is running for President aims to begin building support there early in the election cycle.

Yet Mike Pence traveled to Iowa to attend the annual conference of the Midwest U.S.-Japan Association.
The state Department of Commerce has posted photos of his interaction with Japanese business leaders who are interested in creating and maintaining jobs in Indiana.

Political consultant Pete Seat says, “The motive is clear.  It’s all about economic development.”

We’re in the midst of silly season in politics,” he said, “where everyone is trying to be the first to figure out who is going to run for President.”

A year ago Mike Pence left for Japan on his first foreign trade mission as governor saying, “Japan is our most important bi-lateral partner.”  He timed that trip so he could attend the Midwest U.S.-Japan Association conference which was held in Japan in 2013.

But this year’s Iowa trip Does include some political activity.  Pence hosted a fundraiser for Iowa Governor Terry Branstad.

“Governors campaign in support of other governors,” said Seat.  “Scott Walker, Bobby Jindal, Chris Christie have all come here to support Mike Pence and he’s just returning the favor to his friends.”

If this year’s conference was in Minnesota, said Seat, no one would be talking about Mike Pence’s travel schedule.


Downpayment grants mean home ownership for 250

September 5th, 2014 at 5:08 pm by under Jim Shella's Political Blog

250 people in Indianapolis are about to get a once in a lifetime opportunity to own a home through a program called NeighborhoodLIFT.  It was created by Wells Fargo and gives down payment grants to potential homeowners who need the help.

Those grants are worth $15,000 each.

Maria Wright is one of the people who will benefit from NeighborhoodLIFT.  She’s about to leave an apartment and purchase a home.

“I have to be real honest,” said Wright.  “I had a very minimal down payment saved.  It had taken four years.”

Wright and the others must make less than 120% of the poverty level but also must be pre-approved for a first mortgage.

“There are thousands of Marias,” said Moira Carlstedt of the Indianapolis Neighborhood Housing Partnership.

The $15,000 will come from a $4.5 million donation by Wells Fargo that was announced at an east side event attended by Mayor Greg Ballard.

It’s all about addressing the housing crisis that faces a lot of big cities.

“Hopefully, you know, this will spark something with other major lenders, right,” said Kim Smith-Moore of Wells Fargo, “other banks to do something similar.”

And for Maria Wright, who lives with a daughter and two grandchildren, it will mean a lifestyle change.

“They need a room and they need, again, that forever home,” she said, “someplace they can come back to and keep their memories.”

Anyone interested in one of the $15,000 downpayment grants should attend a workshop at the Indiana Convention Center on September 26th and 27th.


IWIR

September 5th, 2014 at 10:48 am by under Jim Shella's Political Blog

All of the regulars are on hand today as the Indiana Week in Review panel tackles these topics:

  • The gay marriage ruling by a federal appeals court
  • The right to work arguments in the state Supreme Court
  • Jim Irsay’s punishment
  • The Labor Secretary visits Indy
  • Larry Bucshon delivers the GOP Address
  • The 50th anniversary of the Beatles concert at the State Fairgrounds