Dateline: Thu 21 Jan 2010

Keith Clock, the Dem chair in Hamilton County -- that used to be an oxymoron -- sent a release yesterday saying that next week physician Dr. Nasser Hanna will announe he plans to take on Rep. Danny Burton. Republicans are already lined up to do so as well.

From Clock: "Nasser Hanna is an Associate Professor of Medicine at the Indiana University Simon Cancer Center.  He is an internationally recognized oncologist specializing in the treatment of lung cancer.  Dr. Hanna is also a cancer researcher at the Indiana University medical school.  He has led multiple clinical trials that have resulted in successful new treatments for patients with cancer....Dr. Hanna is the son of immigrant parents and was born and raised in Missouri.  He currently lives in Fishers with his wife of 12 years, Amy, sons Nick and Reece and daughter Erin."

Then, Brian Williams and Melina Kennedy, Dem candidates for mayor of Indianapolis, are revviing up their machines on Facebook and beyond.

Willliams filed in August, but he's coming on stronger every day. If you want to know more about Williams, go to his website --- -- and read some of the columns he's written for Indianapolis Business Journal (under VIEW FEATURES ARTICLES).

Kennedy. of course, is well-seasoned politically. She has the backing of former Mayor Bart Peterson. You can read more about her at

Should make for interesting races -- and a potential salve for Dems smarting from Massachusetts bruising.

Also coming up: a discussion of Indianapolis Monthly's January issue, which included many great articles, including a pretty negative piece about Mayor Greg Ballard.





Tell The Truth [Member] said:

Dr. Hanna is brilliant and nice. He doesn't have a bat's chance in hell (it's THE most Republican CD in the country), but I will contribute to him. Burton needs to go--yesterday.

Brian is a great guy, but he's got that currently-dread disease called DurhamItis. He accepted large contributions from Tim Durham. I believe several legislative candidates did, too, but...when you're running for an executive job, the choice was real simple--return any Durham money. Immediately. To my knowledge, Brian hasn't.

Melina is becoming the go-to choice among Democratic workerbees. She's smart, but kinda caustic. Unless something intervenes, she'll likely win the nomination.

Ballard has been a huge disappointment for this Democrat. I liked him after he won, because he owed nobody. He got the nomination and won the election with virtually no help from the GOP establishment.

But he's proceeded to screw up a two-car parade. He's put goofs in key departments (think Parks) and he has no idea how to involve neighborhoods or established community groups.

In this town, given current vote trends, the only way you beat the Democrats is if we're fussing among themselves. Which we're perfectly capable of doing. Or if your last name is Lugar. And some of the shine is off that apple, too.

2010-01-21 11:47:57

Whitebeard [unverified] said:

Best wishes to Dr. Hanna.

Burton is a bad joke and so are the other Republican candidates, like Luke Messer.

If I was Kennedy, I wouldn't be connecting myself with Bart, the consumate Republowcrat.

As much as the Democrats nationally are not delivering on their promises (health care, getting out of wars, etc.), the Republicans are situated to take control once again.

What a terrible prospect. I may have to move to Canada. Oh, I forgot....the right-wing element has taken over in Canada, eh, and even without psychotic Glen Beck leading the charge.

2010-01-21 12:40:20

Tell The Truth [Member] said:

Whitebeard, calm down. It'll get better. And I assure you, Peterson was a better mayor ASLEEP than the incumbent is awake. Ask around.

Hot toddie, anyone?

2010-01-21 16:31:15

hendy [Member] said:


I'll have to stand with Whitebeard on Peterson. We've had worse, but you start to dive deep into septic systems to describe it.

I, too, welcome a challenge to Burton for so many reasons. I wish I was in his district to challenge him with my vote, but for better or worse, I'm not.

2010-01-21 18:54:39

Whitebeard [unverified] said:

Dear TTT,

I agree with you 99.9 percent of the time. Bless your liberal heart. my friend.

But you have to be honest about it; Peterson was a Republican masquerading as a Democrat.

What is a Demcorat? Go back to Bobby Kennedy, Gene McCarthy, George McGovern., et al.

We've gone so far right in this country that we forget the idealism of the left - a la Democrats in 1968.

My idealism is that all people should have a decent standard of living and that none should be left out in the cold.

Idealism? Nah, it's called Christianity.

2010-01-21 22:48:27

whosear [Member] said:

Idealism is for the immature and suckers. I'm all for pragmatism.

Frankly, I don't particularly trust the baby boomers to solve the looming problems. Any leader today has to deal with the selfishness that is the best descripter of our generation. I do believe that today's leader is doing something right if he is being roundly critized by his base and the other side.

2010-01-22 00:23:25

Tell The Truth [Member] said:

It's difficult for me to be completely objective about bart because he's a friend. But, here's what he did do, followed by what he didn't do:

He tackled all the large money problems the city had, and did it well. Combined sewer overflow, aging and court-mandated bad jail. Charter schools.

We'd had 30 years of Republican mayors worshiping at the altar of "no new taxes," although they weren't afraid of bonded debt for certain projects. The CSO problem alone was a $2.3 billion fix. When first raised in the mid 70s, the issue would've cost a third of that to fix. Ask Beulah Coughenor. SHe was the Republican council committee chair who consistently raised the problem, but was pushed down, first by Hudnut, then aggressively by Goldy.

And we'd had a conservative Republican federal judge telling us our jail was inadequate for 15 years.

Kicking the can down the road is hardly a solution. Problems delayed are problems amplified. This was the firstg Democratic mayor in three decades--he confronted huge internal bureaucratic built-inertia.

Now, for the shortcomings:

He listened to the wrong people for too long. He refused to kick Monroe Gray publicly. He kept his distance from council leadership--also a first under Dem rule in a long time--while that train wreck ruined his credibility.

In the end, voters spoke. And I had some high hopes for Ballard, because he owed nobody anything.

But he's a train wreck. Ask any Marine. Light birds retire as light birds for a reason.

2010-01-22 05:02:38

hendy [Member] said:

Not to gang up on you, TTT, but let me take apart your arguments, although friendship is always a good thing:

Sewer overflow issues needed far more capital than he put into them, my front yard excepted (and it's still not done). The jails were a travesty under the gun of a court order. Charter schools blow off Brown v KC BoA. They're a bad idea and rob districts of needed money.

The judge, BTW, was dead on. I've seen the jail conditions; they were horrible and are only barely human now. We do better for dogs and cats (excepting euthanizing them).

The CIB and stadium financing was wrong wrong wrong, as was the gift to the Simons of their HQ lot. He bargained in bad faith with public safety officers. He spent a fortune on an unneeded airport terminal. He allowed the city's utilities to be taken over by outside interests (and the city became ugly with wires everywhere). He lost important fights to the legislature. He didn't push the city into recycling. He allowed Covanta and IPL to pollute the south side of Indy. And his predecessors were worse. Barton did little as well. Monroe Gray was a separate issue. In the meantime, unbridled growth ate the outer townships. The freeways are in constant rebuild. The list is almost endless.

2010-01-22 07:58:03

Tell The Truth [Member] said:

Wow, Hendy, I didn't realize.

He did bargain in bad faith with police officers, and vice versa. Much bad blood. We needed to expect better form each side. They started it, but he should've been the bigger man. He threw in the towel when he ceded the IPD to the sheriff. Wrongly or not.

CIB financing was a quagmire from which there was no escape. A series of bad choices among bad choices.

I've volutneered in the jail system for awhile; it's much, much better with the patchwork system Bart and the sheriff put together. It was costly. And remember--this is Sarah Evans Barker saying the conditions were ratty--she's not exactly a flaming liberal. And what folks fail to realize is, 90% of county jail inmates have not yet been convicted of anything, so, theoretically, they're just like you and me until they are convicted.

You're just dead wrong on CSO. He fought for all the money needed, and couldn't get it out of his first-term council. The initial studies proved the point in 1972. Republican mayors ignored it because it was costly and they could still flush with ease. But he started the biggest part--Pogue's Run--and finished it. Pricetag: $225 million. The second and third phases must still be funded. I know many folks, just north of all that Williams Creek $$, who are still on septic systems. It's shameful.

Can't debate the recycling thing. But it is costly, and the city didn't seem to want to do it. Sometimes, leaders have to force issues.

Unbridled growth? What planet are you living on? Indianapolis has the lowest commercial real estate vacancy rate of any major American metropolis. That's just a fact. Folks think we overbuild, but in reality, for the most part, it's still a conservative development market.

Customers' needs and desires change with time. The 15,000 SF grocery is gone. Sometimes, the old shopping center can't be redone.

Now, he does deserve a great deal of flap for the checkbook zoning he allowed to flourish. But to his credit--he and I had this argument several times--he never once intervened in a zoning case. He took a "hands off" approach. So hands-off that the folks he appointed to zoning boards didn't know or understand the statutory requirement for variances: demonstrated hardship without the variance.

I used to be against two populist ideas: charters and term limits. Not against either one any more. Public schools get enough money to do their job. They need to adapt to 100,000 SF groceries, and stop living in the corner-market mode. Superintendents in this state have perpetuated the bricks-and-mortar nonsense to our detriment. Their central offices are glutted with adminstrators, most not needed.

Charters do take some kids from public schools. But not from many of the good ones. Before you start: IPS--a lost cause. A very sad story.

2010-01-22 08:49:34

hendy [Member] said:

Don't lose the cause of IPS. I graduated from there in the 70s. It can't be allowed to fail. These kids are our future.

As regards commercial development, much has now gone outside the borders of the city, and for good cause-- it's cheaper and is still accessible. My contention was willy-nilly cheap housing called cornfield conversion. Public safety, sewers, zoning, handicap access, all of them challenged. That he didn't step in and demand lot size, developer contribution, park set-aside, sidewalks, all show his developer mentality-- that's what he did at the Precendent.

You can't manufacture education in a big fat building. Size doesn't count, quality does. Eugene White showed his mettle at Wash Twp and did it well. I put six kids/stepkids through there, and they all either graduated or are in the process of graduating from Indiana colleges. It takes real money, real infrastructure, and most importantly, real attitude and pride to make schools work. The IPS has been crapped on for decades, and the Twp schools were an excuse for white flight to the Twps and donut counties. Yes, it was largely driven by racial attitudes and fear. Now IPS and Center Twp have no tax base, decayed infrastructure, and a Rodney Dangerfield way of looking at life. This is what a major is supposed to do: protect all of his citizens, marginalized or NOT.

The infrastructure needs of the city, including the high cost of the C-C building, sewers, bridges, roads, sidewalks, public safety, basic jail needs, all of these things needed improvement, not a new $2B terminal at the airport. We needed sidewalks so those that use wheelchairs and walkers could simply get to the store. We needed a genuine public transit system, and got IndyStop. We needed revenues from the Circle City Mall and got bupkus--- after all, it's US that sank the $$ into infrastructure, acquisition, and other costs.

No, Peterson's legacy isn't that good. Sorry. It's better than Goldsmith's distrust of everyone and everything (the outsourcing vizier), and Hudnut's NYET policy. The C-C Council is little better, with a handful of visionaries surrounded by a glut of half-asses and fiefdoms.

2010-01-22 11:29:54

Whitebeard [unverified] said:

Dictionary definition of "idealism":

"The quality of elevation of mind and exaltation of character or ideals or conduct."

I'm an old man and I have seen that not much ever really changes (for the better) in a society dominated by pragmatic thinking.

The rich get richer and the poor get poorer and this evil way of conducting national socio-economics is seldom seriously challenged by anyone in a position of power.

2010-01-22 12:41:47

George Stuteville [unverified] said:

I think the statute of limitations has passed since I was last a newspaper reporter, but I kinda grew to like Dan Burton -- personally -- when I covered Congress. We had our run-ins. Once, he personally confronted me over a story I wrote as I was standing outside the Speaker's Lobby in the Capitol Building, but after ten years, we reached a detente. I can remember how he singled me out and welcomed me to a hearing he was chairing when he headed the House Government Reform and Oversight Committee.

2010-01-22 14:41:18

hendy [Member] said:

Since it appears I'm in a ranting mood, let me start on Burton. This is a guy that ran on a platform for 'neighborhood schools' during the time that the IPS had been accused of segregation. Because there was little integration in the city, and white flight to the suburbs was in full swing, a mass exodus ensued fueled by racial fears.

But let have others tell the tales;

Not to mention the harm he did in blaming autism on needed post-partum injections based on the most scant of anecdotal information. This disinformation caused lots of people to refuse needed vaccinations for their children. I have an autistic brother; one day we'll find a cure or help, but not based on the weird crap he advanced.

While the nation burned, he was in the middle of the House trying to lynch Bill Clinton (no hero himself).

This is a guy that refused to talk to the press, even 'friendly' press for years. He's a travesty. I hope he retires to Miami.

2010-01-22 19:06:51

Tell The Truth [Member] said:

So, George, the chairman of an important committee, who misused his power in unreal terms, is complimentary from the chair, and your guard is dropped?

Are you really that cheap of a date? I never thought so, reading your stuff. Maybe I was wrong...? Tell me it ain't so.

Lest Ben Cole roll over.

Hendy--your cornfield housing scenario makes some sense. But until the latest reassessment keerfuffle, commercial property bore the brunt of real estate taxes. Sad but true. And it was horribly mishandled for decades. Remember Larry Mohr, Phil Gutman, Tom Freutenicht, et al? They ran phony schemes to "reduce" commercial property taxes via insider bribes/contributions to the Center Assessor. The assessor escpaed jail somehow. Not so the others.

I don't know where you get your property tax info. Center has a tremendous tax base--of course, it's the state capitol, so a lot of property is monuments or exempt office buildings. But the remaining structures are remarkably valuable, if somewhat depressed in this economy (a problem not unique to Center). Check assessed valuations of townships or school districts.

There's enough money there for proper education.

But not if your imposed infrastructure is so weighed-down with inefficiency. IPS will crumble not because it's doing a bad job, which it is. It will crumble, loyal alums like you notwithstanding, because its budget is now roped in on all sides thanks to the state's assumption of many school funding options. And the expense side of IPL's budget is hopelessly mired in the 1960s. You could explode the Ed Center and school would continue just fine--albeit millions cheaper.

It's top-heavy and has too many properties that are hopelessly inefficient. And a superintendent who wouldn't know how to fix a fiscal problem if it stripped naked and sat on his desk. He's a great dreamer, vision expert, motivator...but when the rubber meets the road, his entire life fiscal experience is personal budgets and the ridiculous Indiana School Administrator budget mindset. Who has the board wrapped around his little finger to the degree that a board member asks for budget detail last fall, and gets denied until the press pipes up and defends her request. White actually denied her. Because she might not udnerstand the process well enough to decipher the paperwork. Talk about balls.

Game, set, match. Say kaddish. It's over except for the funeral. I'm not happy about that, but the sooner we realize it and make proper plans, the more kids can be helped.

It cannot be saved. Unless the board elections this year turn over the complete mindset of that elected body. Yeah, right.

2010-01-23 09:07:47

hendy [Member] said:

Then consider:

Collapse the heavyweight twp schools and the IPS into a single entity, the MSD of Marion County. We now have eleven superintendents, we need one, and all of the rest of bureaucracy can also get flushed. Do the samething to the twp public safety.

Make property taxes across the county into a single rate, based on block appraisal. No special little iddy-biddy taxing districts, like Crows Nest and Wms Creek. Everybody pays the same portion.

Tax ALL BUT THE ACTUAL GOVERNMENT PROPERTY. That's right, the churches, the NCAA, USATF, everything that's not 100% owned by the state, local, or federal governments. Period. They all need what the taxes provide, and lots of them get tons of benefits without contributing anything but personal income taxes to the treasury. 'Indirect' income is horse plop.

Consolidate, drop the old weird twp-inside/outside boundaries BS. Reformat the council districts by actual area, regardless of twps and give BG, Law, and SW representation based strictly on proportionate population to the county's overall population by city population. It's a different and mature way of looking at representation.

Eugene White is a guy fighting for the poor, because that's what's largely left in his district. Decaying infrastructure, bad attitudes, and street violence. A former IPS teacher in the family knew what kind of high school baby-sitter he was. White puts teeth into teaching and learning. I've seen it work. Yes, he can get pretty damn pompous, but in the face of all those that loathe the district, an attitude is necessary. Fealty didn't work.

2010-01-23 11:00:14

Whitebeard [unverified] said:

"You could explode the Ed Center and school would continue just fine--albeit millions cheaper."
I couldn't agree with you more, TTT.

It's a bureaucratic nightmare mess that has become top-heavy to the tipping point.

IPS taxpayers are paying multiple 100K-plus salaries for middle management people in the administrative offices - many of them friends of the superintendent - who do very little other than shuffle papers and berate teachers.

In fact, I read just today on another website/blog that an IPS Ed Center administrator (the article said this person has an Ed.D. degree) was out recently counting the number of geese on the lawn at Broad Ripple. High School. And, no, I am not joking.

2010-01-23 16:38:47

whosear [Member] said:

Zendajas wanted to sell the Ed Center, and was unsuccessful. It exists because IPS is like a third world nation: rich in some areas and improverished in others.

Hendy, the township system acknowledged that properties that promoted the common good were exempt from property taxes. My question is, "Are they in proportion to the ratio of, "taxable/exempt taxable" in the present as in the past?

TTT the charter thing: it will go through the growing pains. In all of my time from 1988 to 2004, never was there a teacher held hostage at IPS like there have been at charter schools. A colleague says that the crazy kids go to charter school and this is a correct observation to 2008.

That being said, there are successful charter schools. Kansas City has one of the best. I worked for a Turkish-based (out of Istanbul) charter school management company in Indianpolis. I recieved no support, no books, no help unless I plopped my butt in his office, and listened to a director extoll the hours put in by his teachers, while not mentioning that it was necessary because of his management style and inexperience.

I have one foot in another country and one in the US....but am beginning to think that I am no longer part of the US.

2010-01-25 16:12:25

hendy [Member] said:

The common good.... the Colts do me no good, as well as the Pacers, NCAA, USATF, Simons, IMA, the Archdiocese, and so on. IUPUI does. The Eiteljorg does not. And so on. Yet each of these uses resources-- and they ought to be paying their fair share.

2010-02-02 20:46:56

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