Jim Shella’s Political Blog


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.


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

Supreme Court hears right to work arguments

September 4th, 2014 at 3:01 pm by under Jim Shella's Political Blog

The battle over Indiana’s right to work law made its way to the state Supreme Court Thursday where a Justice suggested that it is anti-union.

The emotions behind the right to work battle produced giant demonstrations two years ago.  It’s a law that says no worker can be forced to join a union.

But when the state Solicitor General asked the Supreme Court to overturn a ruling that found the new law unconstitutional, the argument was pretty basic.

“There is a need to protect rights of individuals in the workplace who don’t wish to join a union,” said Thomas Fisher.  “That’s what this is about.”

And a union attorney was just as matter of fact.

“The law does not allow members only representation,” said Dale Pierson, who represents the International Union of Operating Engineers.  “That’s the bottom line.”

It was Justice Steven David who sparked reactions when he said, “Let’s cut to the chase.  This is certainly anti-union legislation, ok, or certainly not pro-union legislation.”

“I was impressed that finally someone in the public arena such as Justice David today said that this was an anti-union policy,” said David Fagan of the International Union of Operating Engineers.

But while union members declared a small victory. a right to work advocate pointed out that Justice David’s commentary may not matter in the end.

“The Supreme Court issue is not the wisdom of policy that the legislature’s decided,”said Milton Chappell of the National Right to Work Foundation.  “It’s the constitutionality of that choice.”

A Supreme Court decision is weeks away.

Labor Secretary praises job training at Pike High School

September 3rd, 2014 at 3:14 pm by under Jim Shella's Political Blog

The Secretary of Labor paid a visit to Pike High School Wednesday to point out that Pike is a national leader in the effort to close the skills gap.

Secretary Thomas Perez came to Pike because it recently received a $7 million Youth Career Connect Grant from the Obama Administration.  Just 24 of them were given out.

The Labor Secretary arrived along with U.S. Senator Joe Donnelly and Congressman André Carson.  They got a first hand look at classrooms where students learn job skills as well as academics.

They also visited with the team that won a statewide competition by building a robot.

“Pike High School is the pipeline for tomorrow’s workforce,” declared Perez, a glowing review it was based in part on interactions with students.

“I like English and science,” said one.  And when Perez asked anotheer, “What do you like best about being here?”

“I like the diversity,” was the answer.  “There’s a lot of different people.”

But there are also statistics that support the Obama Administration decision to make an investment here and Senator Donnelly pointed to leadership from Pike administrators.

“That’s why a graduation rate.. 93 percent with a poverty rate of 65 percent,” he said.

“You’ve got high poverty, you’ve got high performance, you’ve got high aim,” said Perez.  “People who say that you can’t make it happen in America haven’t been to Pike High School.”

The visit concluded with a roundtable discussion that included employers who support Pike programs.  That’s a requirement for schools receiving the Youth Career Connect Grants.

Marian University growth spurt continues

September 2nd, 2014 at 2:30 pm by under Jim Shella's Political Blog

Marian University is one of the fastest growing colleges in the country, ranked 16th in a recent report, and there was an announcement made Tuesday that will spur even more growth.

Under an arrangement with the city of Indianapolis Marian University has managed the Velodrome since 2011.  Now there will be new development in the area in a move that adds to a long list of improvements in and around Marian, which now has about 3,000 students, up from just under 1100 in 2001.

St. Vincent Health will build a sports performance facility, a potential $15 million investment, near the Velodrome.  The Indiana Sports Corporation is also a partner.

“We believe this will help us attract more athletes and organizations,” said Alison Melangton of the Sports Corporation, “to move to Indianapolis to live, compete, and work.”

“Knowing Dan as I do,” said Mayor Greg Ballard, in reference to Marian President Dan Elsener, “I knew that revitalizing this park would not be the last big idea for the community around Marian University.”

That’s a community that recently welcomed a new medical school and the new football stadium that became home to a national championship team in 2012.

The goal is to keep growing and the school’s board of trustees will meet this weekend to develop a new strategic plan with that in mind.  But Marian intends to remain a small college.

“So, we won’t grow for growth sakes,” said Elsener.  “If we can make a great contribution to our students and the local economy and society, we’ll grow.  Right now we see a lot of opportunities to do that.”

The St. Vincent facility is scheduled to open in 2017.  A clinic and office space may follow and research facilities are also a possibility.

Those facilities will host camps, clinics, and seminars that will help attract students to Marian University.  Currently plans call for enrollment to grow by a 200 students a year over the next two years.