Jim Shella’s Political Blog

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


Tony Bennett fined

July 10th, 2014 at 11:56 am by under Jim Shella's Political Blog

Former state School Superintendent Tony Bennett will pay a $5,000 fine for violating the state ethics code.

Bennett, a Republican, has agreed to a settlement that was approved by the State Ethics Commission Thursday.

He admitted to using state government computers for political activity during an unsuccessful run for re-election in 2012.

An investigation by the state Inspector General found, however, that Bennett did not change the state’s A-to-F grading system to benefit a political contributor, something he was accused of doing.

Those allegations led Bennett to resign as Florida Commissioner of Education last year.

Attorney Larry Mackey represented Bennett at the hearing.  Bennett did not attend.

“Especially as a superintendent of schools it’s all about modeling good behavior,” said Mackey afterward explaining that Bennett accepts blame, “and if there’s anybody who oughta stand up and say, whatever the rules are I need to follow them, it’s somebody like the superintendent.”

Mackey says he believes the matter is now closed.

Indiana won’t recognize gay marriages

July 9th, 2014 at 11:58 am by under Jim Shella's Political Blog

The State of Indiana will not recognize the gay marriages conducted here during three days in June.

The governor’s chief counsel, Mark Ahearn, sent a memo to agency heads this week advising them that the Indiana ban on gay marriages is in full force pending an appeal.

The memo tells agencies to “execute their functions” as though the June 25th federal court order striking down the ban had not been issued.

The memo does make an exception for the marriage of Amy Sandler and Niki Quasny, in accordance with a ruling by the federal appeals court.

Governor Pence previews trade mission

July 9th, 2014 at 11:53 am by under Jim Shella's Political Blog

The governor leaves on his third foreign trade mission on Saturday.

Mike Pence previewed the trip in a FedEx hanger at the airport on Wednesday.  He is headed to England and the Farnborough Air Show in an effort to build on the growing aerospace industry in Indiana.

He plans to meet with more than a dozen companies and will be one of five governors in attendance.

“It not only draws these companies but also in many cases it draws the chairmen and the CEO’s of those companies into one place,” he said, “and we’re going to be able to have a number of very high level meetings and begin to build some relationships.’

Pence says that executives at GE Aviation encouraged him to attend the air show.  GE recently announced plans to build a new engine factory in Lafayette.

Dan Parker passes on the mayor’s race

July 8th, 2014 at 12:14 pm by under Jim Shella's Political Blog

Dan Parker will not run for Mayor of Indianapolis next year.  The former state Democratic Chairman has been considering a bid for months.

In a statement announcing his decision Parker cited the recent violent crime as a reason to remain in private life.  He says the next mayor needs a background in public safety and he has none.

That leaves Frank Short as the only Democrat in the field.  State Representative Ed DeLaney is expected to join him.

State Senator heads to Afghanistan

July 8th, 2014 at 11:35 am by under Jim Shella's Political Blog

An Indiana State Senator is going on active duty in the Navy but plans to keep his seat in the General Assembly.

Republican Jim Banks of Columbia City announced Tuesday that he will be sent to Afghanistan in September and will miss the 2015 session of the legislature.

He wants his wife Amanda to take over his role in the state Senate while he’s away.

A 1971 state law that has never been used before makes that possible.

“Amanda and I and our three daughters are learning first hand about the sacrifice that so many thousands of families have made before us,” said Banks in a news conference on the Senate floor, “and gaining a new appreciation for those who have served.”

GOP Precinct committeemen in the district would have to approve Amanda Banks as the replacement in a vote that will take place in November.

Even if someone else is chosen, Jim Banks will return to his seat when his active duty ends next April.

“We didn’t think it was right that a member of the legislature or anyone else would have to give up their job,” said Senate President Pro Tem David Long.  “They don’t have to do that in civilian life.”

Senator Banks will be first member of the legislature to make use of the law that applies only to elected officials.

Governor Pence accused of inflating the state surplus

July 8th, 2014 at 11:29 am by under Jim Shella's Political Blog

State Auditor Suzanne Crouch will reveal the size of the state budget surplus on Friday when she discloses the final numbers for the fiscal year that ended June 30th.

Her Democratic opponent made an effort to beat her to the punch Tuesday.  Michael Claytor says he expects the surplus to be calculated at about $2 billion but he also said that accurate accounting would show it to be closer to $1 billion.

The difference, he said, is in unpaid bills and he blames Governor Mike Pence.

“If I didn’t pay my bills I’d have a surplus, too,” he said, “and hard working families in Indiana have to pay their bills so they don’t get the luxury of having a large surplus to tell.”

Claytor went on the say, “I think Chef Pence has been cooking the books.”

Claytor also said that he believes a surplus of a billion dollars is big enough.

Murder of policeman prompts new calls for assault weapons ban

July 7th, 2014 at 4:38 pm by under Jim Shella's Political Blog

There are new calls for a ban on assault weapons as a result of the murder of Officer Perry Renn, but it’s still a tough sell in Indiana.

The President has called for a ban on assault weapons but even Democratic Senator Joe Donnelly is unwilling to support a ban.  In a statement sent to 24 Hour News 8, Donnelly said he prefers tougher background checks and a crackdown on gun trafficking.

Congressman André Carson sees it differently.  “I support second amendment rights to bear arms.  I’m a former police officer,” he said.  “But I believe assault weapons should only be in the hands of military personnel and police officers.”

The man accused of shooting Perry Renn used an assault weapon and it sparked calls for change made outside the hospital shortly after the officer’s death.

“We’ll just say that (suspect) Major Davis had and assault weapon,” said Police Chief Rick Hite. “That, in and of itself, says that’s a major problem.”

“Gun violence is a public health problem,” said Dr. Thomas Hayward, “and a social problem that we need to address.”

Monday public safety officials didn’t back off.  “This is not the first time he’s had an assault weapon,” said Chief Hite of Davis. “The question is why?”

“This is not a second amendment debate,” said Public Safety Director Troy Riggs. “This is an issue about enforcing and using those laws that are on the books and strengthening those.”

Among those who want tougher laws, including an assault weapons ban, is state Representative Ed DeLaney, who intends to run for mayor.

“This just drives it home.  It’s just a danger to the police.” he said.  “The police say they’re under threat.  Are we going to protect them or not?”

There is a consensus that something needs to be done.

“The level and the generation and the growing disrespect and contempt for authority that we’re seeing,” said Rep. Carson, “must be put to an end.”

The hope held by public safety officials is that a policeman’s murder will help others focus on what that something is.

Chief Hite also wants tougher sentencing for gun crimes and more community support for troubled kids.  He is calling on the public to get involved and he’s also asking reporters to put pressure on elected officials.