Indiana Pundit


Tuesday, February 28, 2006

How to know you're in the prime time of campaign season

  1. You can't see on-coming traffic through the yard signs at the street corner.
  2. Candidates become longwinded and shortsighted.
  3. Steve and Kevin put on another production of War of the Roses
  4. The recycling center gives out a new bin to recycle campaign literature.
  5. Graham touts his pothole fixing record.
  6. You have a pre-recorded answer for pre-recorded phone calls.
  7. The newspaper gives a kiss of death to a GOP campaign by endorsing them.
  8. Your favorite campaign commercials are interupted by those pesky reality shows.

Monday, February 27, 2006

This Week's Rebuttal to Sylvia Smith

I know it sounds like a vendetta. But its not. Its just a counter-opinion because there isn't one employed by the newspapers except Kevin Leininger (and they won't let him respond). Here is the link to the story Republicans tired of defending Bush.

Here are some exerpts from her piece.

"The American public consistently has given the GOP high marks for “keeping the country safe,” yet here was a decision that clearly freaked out people of all political persuasions and called into question the judgment of an administration that made it. It was a goodie basket of immense proportions."

I'll give her that one. The White House didn't respond in a way to resolve those fears.

"The politically interesting thing, from my perch, is this GOP reaction. The willingness – even eagerness – of members of Congress to criticize the head of their party suggests several things, all of which come down to using the port issue as a way to distance themselves from a president whose approval rating is in the low 40s."

She starts to show which side of the fence she perches from. She feels that it is a political weakness to criticize those of your own party. Republicans feel it is part of their strength and duty to criticize an issue when they feel it needs it no matter the party. Democrats tend to vote the party line. Just look at the votes on Capital Hill. You will see a Republican vote against a his/ her party's bill more than do the Democrats.

"Part of the Republican reaction is a natural frustration at being linked to bone-headed decisions, actions that invite derision or policies that infuriate the conservative base: Vice President Cheney’s hunting caper."

This is more evidence that she lacks objectivity in her reporting. Choice of words speaks volumes. Not to mention 57% of Americans feel that VP Cheney's hunting accident was a non-issue unworthy of the coverage received by the media.

The show has been fascinating to watch. But perhaps when the political hoopla calms, members of Congress might want to turn their attention away from the angst over “selling” U.S. ports to a foreign country and focus instead on a far riskier situation: the security gaps terrorists can penetrate. Much remains to be done on controlling what goes into shipping containers in overseas ports, getting more complete information about what’s in the containers, limiting who has access to the maritime facilities and establishing security standards for ports.

Again, I'll give her that one.

In the end she had some good points on the port deal and Homeland Security issues in general. However, I think that she is overzealous to criticize Republicans but is unwilling to give the same criticism to Democrats. It is things like this that have contributed the downward slide of the Fort Wayne newspapers readership and print media in general.

Softball Prediction for 2006

Its not a matter of whether Stacey Lopshire will beat Pat Love in the fall. The question is a matter of by how much will she beat her.

Only a handful of Democrats are not willing to face the inevitable that they will lose the only county-wide seat they control. But there are serious questions about her competency as county assessor. Here are the issues that plague her.

  1. Failed to pass a Level II certification on multiple attempts
  2. She was assessor during the county-wide reassessment debacle
  3. Inappropriate use of city/county premises for announcing her campaign
  4. Questioning her opponent's qualifications due to her relationship with the previous assessor when she retained her opponent's employment from that administration

Pat Love didn't win her last election. Mike Ternet lost it. Now that Pat herself has high negatives look for her to lose at least 5% of her base. Lopshire wins with at least 65% of the vote.

Candidates Excluded from Debate

The Journal Gazette reports that the debate among democratic candidates vying to face Mark Souder in the fall only invited two of the four candidates. Story here. Tom Hayhurst and Kevin Boyd will face off against each. The other two candidates, Thomas Schrader and Edward Smith were not invited.

When asked about why the other two candidates were not invited, Steven Haines, 3rd District chairman for the Democratic party stated “As far as I’m concerned we’ve got two viable candidates, and I would like to limit it to them.”

Haines' comment will in all likelyhood kill the campaigns of Schrader and Smith. It also spells bigger problems for the Democrat party in the third district. Haines cannot afford to exclude candidates when his party has issues recruiting people to run as it is.

Saturday, February 25, 2006

Weekend Thread - Ask a Candidate

If you could ask a candidate a question about their potential administration, what would it be?

Review of McGauley 2003

I had a comment that questioned the competitiveness of John McGauley's 2003 run at city clerk. Competitive may have been the wrong word for it. He lost 40-60% to Sandy Kennedy. But it was a successful campaign all the same.

Its an understatement that Linda Buskirk’s campaign was a disaster. When you compare the campaigns from 2003 and 1999 she lost 9% of the vote (I did remove totals from precincts not found in the 1999 race).

When a headlining campaign collapses, collateral damage trickles down to the rest of the party’s candidates (comparison of citywide-races only). Only John McGauley and Dr. John Crawford were able to fight off that handicap. Their race turnout was almost identical to the spread of 1999.

How they accomplished these feats were from two different paths. Dr. Crawford spent large amounts of money on mailers and large signs (there is speculation that he was spreading his name ID for future use in a larger campaign).

John McGauley did it by pounding the pavement and used his mastery of communication skills (if you've ever heard the man speak you will know that he is destined for bigger elected office). He worked hard and was able to maintain the party base where other candidates failed.

Had there been a stronger mayoral campaign his numbers likely would have gotten a boost and put him into the competitive range.

Friday, February 24, 2006

Marla Irving Fears a Competitive Race

Its no secret that Marla Irving was the most vocal person against the straw poll. Given that and the earliness of her billboard campaign and one has to ask the question "what's the deal?"

The deal is that Bill Brown is a credible candidate and Marla fears that her incumbancy is in jeopardy. She knows that a Democrat can't beat her. But a Republican candidate with a business background who is less confrontational makes her vulnerable.

If Bill wants to seriously challenge Marla he needs to get his campaign in gear. Thus far it has seemed tentative,unorganized, unprofessional, and under the direction of an ad agency. Brown needs to look at races such as the McGauley-Kennedy '03, Didier-Henry '03, or the Moses-Kelty '02 races to see how to run a competitive race. If he can't find somebody with the understanding of campaign strategy then his hopes are slim.

Some wise political guy once told me a good administrator doesn't neccessarily make a good candidate.

HB 1362 - Unigov

Here is the detail of the bill that would make consolidating city and county government. Sorry its so wordy. Elected politicians do that in hopes that you'll get bored and not read it all.

DIGEST OF HB 1362 (Updated February 22, 2006 6:33 pm - DI 87)

Establishes a uniform procedure for the reorganization of political subdivisions in a county. Provides that the reorganization process may be initiated by the legislative bodies of the reorganizing political subdivisions or by a petition signed by 5% of the voters in the reorganizing political subdivisions. Requires the reorganizing political subdivisions to appoint individuals to a reorganization committee to develop a plan for reorganization. Provides that political subdivisions and reorganization committees acting under the reorganization statute are subject to the open door law and the public records law. Specifies the elements that must be included in the plan. Provides that the plan of reorganization must be adopted by all reorganizing political subdivisions before the proposed reorganization may be submitted to the voters for approval. Provides that a reorganization may occur only if the voters of the reorganizing political subdivisions approve the reorganization in the public question. Provides that in the case of a proposed reorganization that involves a county having a population of more than 170,000 (other than Marion County) and one or more municipalities: (1) the vote on the public question shall be tabulated on a county-wide basis; (2) the reorganization is approved if a majority of the voters of the county voting on the public question approve the reorganization; and (3) it is not required for approval of the reorganization that a majority of the voters of each of the reorganizing political subdivisions approve the reorganization. Requires the department of local government finance to adjust the maximum property tax levies, maximum property tax rates, and budgets of political subdivisions that reorganize. Provides that: (1) indebtedness that was incurred by a political subdivision before the reorganization may not be imposed on taxpayers that were not responsible for payment of the indebtedness before the reorganization and must be paid by the taxpayers that were responsible for payment of the indebtedness before the reorganization; and (2) pension obligations existing as of the effective date of the reorganization may not be imposed on taxpayers that were not responsible for payment of the pension obligations before the reorganization and must be paid by the taxpayers that were responsible for payment of the pension obligations before the reorganization. Provides that when the reorganization is effective, all the participating political subdivisions except the remaining reorganized political subdivision cease to exist. Makes related changes. Establishes a procedure for political subdivisions to enter into cooperative agreements and provide for the transfer of functions of an employee or department of the political subdivision (including an elected office) to another employee or department of any political subdivision that has entered into the cooperative agreement. Provides that the cooperative agreements must be initiated and approved in the same manner that is set forth in the bill for the reorganization of political subdivisions.

I think that our local officials are rushing this. They claim that it would save taxpayers money but haven't been able to prove it. They also say that it would make things more efficient.

What they're not saying is that this is an attempt at a power grab. Like all the other annexations this is a numbers game. It is an attempt at being the state's other class A city. Indianapolis has changed the rules every time FW had come close to challenging their supremecy.

My concerns about this are:
  1. Crime. Indy is experienced a crime wave after it merged its sheriff's departments.
  2. Quality of Services. The city hasn't proved that they can handle the existing annexations let alone the rest of the county.
  3. Small Towns. If small towns can't grow they will die.
  4. Farmers. They already live on the edge. Increase their property taxes through this measure and you'll see many go out of business.
  5. Community Atmosphere. Regional communitys could be destroyed by such a measure.

Elected officials be warned. When something goes to referendum people rarely make an effort to vote for it. They come out in hordes to vote against it. The county has a turnout that is 5-10% better than voter turnout in Fort Wayne. Put this to referendum and it may go as high as 20-30%.

Officials need to remember David Long's surprise in Grabill. Thats nothing. The rural community has a history of getting organized when they feel threatened. When they're organized they can be dangerous.

Thursday, February 23, 2006

Buskirk vs Bloom Should be Interesting

Roy Buskirk stands a chance against Linda Bloom. Tracy Warner said in last Sunday's paper that "he will have difficulty running a campaign as professional and comprehensive as Bloom's."

While Roy is challenged by the task at beating Bloom, he does have a few strengths to his campaign that Tracy failed to mention.

Roy isn't starting a new campaign. This is just a continuation of his campaign from last year. He has been in front of voters more recently than Bloom.

He was also the most popular out of all the at-large candidates beating the next highest by more than 5000 votes.

In an off-year election, turnout outside of Fort Wayne doesn't drop off as much as it does within Fort Wayne. Roy runs better than most other candidates including Linda in the county.

Do I think Roy will win? Stranger things have happened (Pat Love).

Wednesday, February 22, 2006

Could the President be Using the Art of the Cats-Paw

Congressmen Mark Souder and Mike Pence released statements today saying that it is best if we shouldn't hurry into the UAE ports deal proposed by the President. There are questions that need to be answered.

So is this a bad move by the President or an extremely smart move. Its bad if we take what the White House tells us at face value. However, this may not be the case.

In the Book 48 Laws of Power by Robert Greene and Joost Elffers number 26 states "Keep your hands clean." This refers to the act of using a cats-paw in which someone uses others to do their dirty work.

This deal may have been something that was presented to the President from an ally. He knew it wasn't in the best interest but at the same time didn't want to offend an ally. In order to save face with the UAE he allowed the members of Congress, Senate and a couple of Governors to voice opposition he felt. In the eyes of the UAE they see Congress as rejecting the idea rather than the President.

Now this is all conjecture. I don't know which scenario is true.

Local Official Put in Jail

Marvin Hoot, EACS board member went to jail today for the MDA Lockup in Paradise fundraiser hosted by the New Haven police. Hoot was one of several members of the community to be arrested. They were to stay in jail until they raised their bail amount in pledges.

It never hurts a candidate to be involved in the community away from their elected duties.

No charges were filed against Mr Hoot in connection to his arrest.


U.S. Rep. Mark Souder, a member of the House Homeland Security Committee, released the following statement today regarding the proposed management of operations at certain U.S. ports by Dubai Ports World, a firm owned by the United Arab Emirates:

"I support legislation being proposed by the Chairman of the House Homeland Security Committee that would suspend the port deal for 45 days and allow for congressional approval or rejection of it. While I have strong doubts about the deal, and will likely end up opposing it, let's ensure that we have all the facts before a final decision is made.

"On such an important security matter, it's simply not enough for the administration to ask us to trust them. Beyond mere assurances, they need to provide Congress with
convincing evidence that such a deal would not pose a security risk to the nation."

This is a nice conservative approach to this matter. A decision either way should not be done in haste.

Barry Welsh’s 50 State Strategy

Barry Welsh is a democratic contender against Congressman Mike Pence. When I reviewed his website I came across something he called the 50 state strategy. Here is how he describes it:

“We take the 50 state strategy seriously. To that end we have created this website that tracks every US House race for 2006.

No race uncontested. No wingnut politician with a free-pass.

The 50 state strategy means 435 contested House races with good candidates. It means 33 (or 34) contested Senate races with good candidates. It means every Governor race, every state race, every local race CONTESTED with good candidates.

No shying away from any issue. No point conceded. No labelling of our people or our message by the right wing without full, and complete defense, and quickly turning it into offense. There are no Red states, only Blue states and "currently Red" states.”

This is a good tool. Unfortunately for Welsh, it isn’t a tool that should be used by his campaign. It is something more suitable for party organizations or special interest groups. Every bit of effort his campaign uses towards this project is an effort that isn’t being directed at his own campaign. That is serious considering he is facing a popular incumbent in Pence.

Which Smells Worse: the Sewer, or the Management of the Sewer?

A prime rule in politics is people vote with their wallet. Even though none are up for re-election this year, New Haven Mayor Terry McDonald and the New Haven city council may find out the hard way in the next municipal elections.

New Haven has to upgrade its sewer systems because of a federal mandate. The costs of this project will raise sewer rates by 60%. Last week they increased property taxes by 20%. Add that to what heating costs are likely to do and thats a lot of money out of New Haven resident's pockets.

The federal mandate has been known for more than a decade. Voters would have had less of an issue had rates been increased slightly for a longer period of time. Had they planned a little better it would have taken the shock value out of this whole deal.

When things like this happen away from an election cycle as it did in this case, voters often forget and it doesn't affect the elected official notcably. Voters in New Haven will get a monthly reminder of this incident. Look for heads to roll.


Tuesday, February 21, 2006

Report Card for Local Cyber-Campaign Activities

Websites, blogs, and podcasts are quickly becoming more prevalent in political campaigns. It use to be that if you put your picture and name on a website with a phone number and how to donate you were doing pretty good.

Voters demand more these days. They are proactive in seeking out what a candidate is about and want to interact with the campaign through the internet. There are 4 parts to a political campaign site. They are presentation, platform, communication, and interactivity.

Presentation: a political website/ blog shouldn't look like it was done by a person starting to learn HTML. It needs to be organized and load quickly. First impressions are everything.

Platform: This rule is simple. If a viewer can't find your platform in the first 5 seconds you have failed. Make it quick and easy to find and read. The platform should be found in a bulleted format somewhere on a website.

Communication: How you say things is just as important as what you say. People also want the latest information from a campaign. They want to read, see and hear everything that's happening. Static content doesn't do it.

Interactivity: This is a new portion. Voters want the ability to communicate directly with the candidate and their campaign. Blogs, forums, and podcasts are the latest tools being used.

I've looked at the web presence of local candidates and this is what I found.

3rd Congressional District
Mark Souder (GOP) Reviewed 2/21/06. Site is minimalistic. No interactivity. Grade D

Bill Larson (GOP) Blog Reviewed 2/23/06 .It covers his issue really well (Social Security). Site is static with no campaign info, communications, and site name not easily identifiable with campaign. Blog is good though. Needs to link blog with site. Grade D

Tom Hayhurst (DEM) Reviewed 2/21/06. Presentation and Communication is strong. Platform not bulleted. Grade B

Kevin Boyd (DEM) Reviewed 2/21/06. Presentation is amateurish. Ideas communicated well but site hasn't been updated since November. Grade C

6th Congressional District
Mike Pence (GOP) Official Blog Reviewed 2/21/06. Presentation, Communication, and platform are strong. Links page missing content. Blog consists basically of press releases. Could be done by staffer. Grade B+

Barry Welsh (DEM) Reviewed 2/21/06. Blog Embedded in site. Well rounded site with strong presentation, communication, platform, and interactivity. Has content that is more suited for an activist or Official party site. I will give a special focus on that late Tuesday. Grade A

Indiana Senate District 19
David Ford (GOP) Blog Reviewed 2/21/06.Strong communication, platform, interactivity, and presentation. Only drawback is the infrequency of his blogging. Grade A

Indiana House District 52
Marlin Stutzman (GOP) Reviewed 2/28/06. The presentation was strong and platform was easily found. Communication could be better as his Events link has not been updated since 2004. People could sign up for a newsletter giving a little bit of interactivity with the campaign. Grade B

Allen County Sheriff
Mike Foster (GOP) Reviewed 2/21/06. Presentation could be stronger. Clean communications, and platform. No interactivity. Grade C+

Mike Keesler (GOP) Reviewed 2/21/06. Strong Presentation, platform, and communications. This was the only blog I looked at that had multilingual capabilities. Mike gets bonus points for that. No interactivity. Grade B+

Tina Taviano (DEM) Reviewed 2/22/06. Site is well organized, platform is readily available, and it is easy to read. I liked the common questions section. Only negative I can see is the register to vote and absentee ballot sections don't have content yet. Grade A

Ken Fries (GOP) Reviewed 4/12/06. Presentation, communication, strong. Platform is detailed nicely but links to specific topics are easily overlooked by the intro to the initiatives. This is easily fixed by a placing a summary with initiative items bulleted at top of intro to initiative page. No Interactivity. Grade B

County Auditor
Lisa Blosser (GOP) Reviewed 2/22/06. UPDATE: WEBSITE IS NOW OFF-LINE.
Website is static. Needs Platform presented, communications about what is happening with her campaign, Presentation is moderately to simple. No interactivity. Grade C

County Commissioner
Marla Irving (GOP) Reviewed 3/27/06. Presentation, communication, strong. Platform bulleted. No Interactivity. Grade A

Bill Brown (GOP) Reviewed 2/21/06. Presentation, communications are weak. Platform not found. No interactivity. Biggest mistake though is the domain name. Voters need to be able to associate the URL to the candidate. This didn't happen Grade D-

This website has been down since the last week of March. There is no purpose to have a website for a campaign if it isn't up during the month prior to the primary. RE-EVALUATED 4/12/06 Grade F

County Council District 4
Fred Warner (GOP) Reviewed 3/26/06. Communication was strong. Platform bulleted. There were presentation issues. Parts of its design are squished together or crowded. This is probably due to the transition from being published on a Mac and viewed on a PC. Not that there is an issue with Macs but a designer should check to see how their design works with the browser for used by most of their viewers whether it be Mac or PC. Grade C+

Presentation issues have been corrected. RE-EVALUATED 4/12/06 Grade B+

County Recorder
John McGauley (GOP) Reviewed 2/21/06. Presentation, communication, strong. Platform not bulleted. No Interactivity. Grade B

EACS Board
Marvin Hoot (nonpartisan) Reviewed 3/21/06. Has no independent website but is using ablog as websiteIts a novel approach for a low level campaign to have a web presence. Presentation and communication are clear. Platform isn't bulleted but can be found by reading his articles. Interactivity is strong as he posts often and responds to comments. Grade B

If I missed anybody I apologize. Please comment with your url and I will address your site.

Thanks to Fort Wayne Observed

I just wanted to make a quick thank you to Mitch Harper at FW Observed for the unveiling of this new site.

Marla's Billboards

Don't get me wrong. I like Marla. I just think her campaign is making a mistake with her billboards.

Billboards are the most expensive type of media for a campaign and they give the least amount of return. That is when their done right. When they are done wrong it gets worse.

Having your arms crossed like she has gives the impression of not being an open person. Add that to the fact that the billboard is 15-20 feet above you makes you feel like she's looking down on you. That is not the impression you want to give to voters.

The other problem with the billboards is timing. It is too early to put these things out. You can actually lose votes by being in the face of the voter too much.

I like Marla. I think she's going to win her primary. But her billboard has mistakes that she should have learned about in candidate school.

Who gets to Say "Reach for the Sky"

To say that the Sheriff's race is contested is an understatement. For me to say who is the best man for the job, I can't. What I can tell you is who has the best shot at representing their party in the primary.

There are four Republicans. Mike Foster, Ken Fries, Mike Keesler, and Guy Griffith. Only two of them have the network of people and name recognition at this point.

Mike Foster has been active in many aspects of the GOP for several years and Ken Fries has gathered the support of key money people. While it is possible for either Keesler or Griffith to pull it off, they have to make up a lot of ground on the other two in a short amount of time. Ken Fries will most likely win the GOP nomination.

On the Democratic side of the ticket we have Mike Joyner, Tina Taviano, and perpetual wildcard David Roach. Taviano has worked hard to gain favor with many in her party. I don't know how much of that support jumped ship when Joyner declared his candidacy.

Joyner got some buzz within the DEM because of his visibility as the public informations officer for Fort Wayne. Mitch Harper at FW Observed raised a good point about whether it is ethical for him to remain in that position as a candidate.

I don't know who is going to win the DEM from the lineup. Taviano picks up support from alternative lifestyle Democrats. Joyner picks up votes for those who think his visibility gives him a better shot at beating a Republican in a county-wide race.

Now I can't write an article about the sheriff's race without mentioning David Roach. Why? Because if I don't the man will haunt me for the rest of my life. David is also on the DEM ticket. But he is an anti-establishment candidate. His viability as a candidate is zero. Sorry David but its true.

Monday, February 20, 2006

Just the Facts Maam

Sylvia A. Smith did a report in Sunday's Journal Gazzette. At first glance it would appear that she would write about Mark Souder's involvement in the hearings concerning the drug war on methamphetamines.

She takes the word of a drug czar, John Walters over Congressman Souder and the White House. In the next paragragh she admits that she is probably not qualified to say who is right. This is where she should have stopped.

Instead of ending there she went on another bash session of Souder, said statistics show meth isn't a huge problem in Allen county (she provides no evidence of this or sources to confirm it).

When she was done with Souder she started to complain about the rigors of being a political journalist covering the Washington beat. I would have more respect for the woman if she ever showed she did any journalism.

She had the opportunity to give readers an insight into the fight on drugs. Instead she chose to criticize Souder while offering nothing to back up her opinion.

Journalism requires a lot of research into facts. The only fact I can come away from the article is that Sylvia Smith doesn't have the grasp on the facts.

Pond Will Sink Worman

Sorry, couldn't resist the pun. But it is what will probably happen in the 85th House District. Incumbants keep the job unless they prove they shouldn't otherwise. While I won't go as far to say that Pond is a great leader, she hasn't stirred up anything that makes her vulnerable.

Denny Worman isn't the statesman that his father was. He didn't take circumstances of this year's race into consideration when he filed his candidacy.

First Pond is considering retirement shortly. A little patience would have increased his odds of winning.

Second, there is the school board situation involving his sister, Terri Jo Lightfoot. There is growing concern about strong-arm tactics engaged by the EACS President in the hiring of a superintendant. The districts of both Ms. Pond and Ms. Lightfoot overlap considerable. It could be a potential campaign liability for Denny.

Reality Check 80th House District Race

What is the reality of the 80th House District race?

Kevin Howell is the Republican candidate for the position. This is his 3rd time trying to get the seat. What's different is that he doesn't go up against an incumbant. Does this help him enough? No.

The district is too heavily Democrat with very little Republican base and not enough swing voters to win over. Whoever wins the Democratic primary will win the general election barring unforeseen circumstances.

Phil GiaQuinta is one of two Democrats vying for his party's nomination. His greatest asset in the race is that he is the son of the retiring incumbant of the seat and inherits the name recognition his father generates.

Geoff Paddock is the only candidate for this position who has held an elected position. He is currently on the FWCS school board.

The democratic primary for this race will be interesting to watch. Both candidates have high name recognition and are likable by voters. QiaQuinta will probably win based on his father's legacy even though Paddock would be the better choice based on his experience.



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