Jim Irsay

Dateline: Sun 30 Mar 2014

"How can you tell if an addict is lying?"

"Her lips are moving."

From 'Gia,' the movie, about a supermodel and drug addict.

In 2002, when Jim Irsay's problems with drugs first became public knowledge, I argued that, since he had entered into a rehab program, he had every right to keep running the Colts, once he was well and active in a 12-step program.

This time I am less inclined to believe that -- or rather, I am less inclined to believe that he won't relapse again and that the Colts franchise would not be well-served by having him at the helm or in any leadership capacity.

After reading these past couple weeks about Irsay's struggles with substance abuse, dating back publcly to 2002, we now all know he apparently has fallen off the wagon many times. Also, taking into account the experiences of a friend who is an addict, it seems that recovery will be very, very difficult for him --- and moreso if he is in the limelight.

We all know all the mantras: a day at a time, surrender, let go and let god. We also know, if we have read any of the literature on addiction and alcoholism, that it is an insidious disease in which relapse is sadly common if not downright expected.

Perhaps the best thing for Irsay would be to be released of the persona that makes him a football master of the universe and allowed to be simply a private human being.

But then, because he's an addict, that may not be possible...the nature of addiction is gradiositiy of personality. Hence journalists and fans have spoken recently with fondness for Irsay's pesona. He is not a buttoned-down type of guy, but a guy who lets his shirttails hang out -- when in fact, he needs to be buttoned-down and disciplined. In his case and in the case of other addicts, his personality, at least the gradiose aspects of it, are the very basis of his downfall. Some fans love him because of his ridiculous tweets and his generosity, some of which is hidden but much of which is public. My argument is that Jim Irsay needs to be a little less-than his egotistical self -- in other words, he is in dire need of humility.

Several letters to the editor of the Star have argued that Irsay should be left alone, that it's nobody's business that he was carrying $29k when he was found driving erratically in Carmel. The argument is that he is a suffering human being, an addict, and that he deserves privacy and respect as he struggles to conquer or at least control his demons.

Unfortunately, Irsay has been his own worst enemy n the publicity department -- he likes the sound of his own voice. And the fact that he is a public figure means, in theory, that he is fair game, especially since his addiction is potentially harmful to others as well as himself. 

Irsay is clearly not a happy man. He and his ex-wife were separated 10 years before their divorce last fall. He may not have true friends in his inner circle so much as enablers.

Yes, I agree we should give the man privacy to work through the program once again. The real question then, is this: once he is sober, or straight, will he choose a path of privacy and quiet in order to remain well, or will he return to his drama-seeking, empty, sad behavior?

Only Irsay can answer that. Wishing him well, and that he finds the right answer for survival.



Guns in schools

Dateline: Mon 24 Mar 2014

Eric Weddle and Maureen Groppe of the Indy Star delivered a good behind-the-scenes article on the controversial bill that would allow guns on school parking lots in locked cars in Indiana. The piece was published on Page 1 last Friday.


The bottom line is that Gov. Pence will certainly sign the measure, based on his support of the National Rifle Association and the amount he's received from that group in donations. Follow the money: he will listen to the gun lobby rather than the concerns of educators:

"Young people, schools, guns and all that is a mix for something inappropriate," says IPS head Dr. Lewis Ferebee, quoted in the Star. "Anytime you have firearms on campus you are at risk for compromising safety and that is something we definitely want to avoid."

Another educator, Todd Bess, says a better course would be to let each school district draw up its own rules, but that won't happen, he acknowledges.

This is all about how many bullets can spin on the head of a pin; the bill was born when a gun-toting dad was arrested last year in Greenfield for leaving his weapon in his vehicle. So as I understand it, the fact that one gun-owner's rights were somehow compromised in his view leads us to open the floodgates of weapons on school property. 

That is just nuts.

Thanks for the Star for going deeper into the background of this crazy bill.


That big Page 1 story

Dateline: Fri 21 Mar 2014


A friend emailed yesterday with the piercing observation:

"If it wasnt bad enough that the front page of the Star featured what was essentially a weather report, it had 4 (FOUR!) names on the byline."

The story contained two outlooks (allergies and crops), the impact (yard), the possibilities (drought) the forecast and the penetrating query: what to do about bugs?

This is truly silly season, when four reporters are wasting time and effort on weather predictions. And the story is Page 1?

Fie fie fie.



A tangled web: from Turkey to the Pacific Islands

Dateline: Wed 19 Mar 2014

Cory Schouten of the Indianapolis Business Journal did excellent reporting last week on Ersal Ozdemir, the big roller from Carmel who charms money out of legislators in order to subsidize his big-ticket projects.

The Carmel developer has been in the news lately for his pitch to build an $87 million soccer stadium in Downtown Indy, but he's got a long and fruitful history of thinking big and drawing down big bucks.

"He's the master of public subsidy -- getting public dollars into projects," Schouten quotes a former employe of Ozdemir's at the Keystone Group, the Carmel company run by Ozdemir.

What I found most intriguing in Schouten's reporting deals with "Ozdemir's designation as a minority business enterprise that appears to stretch statutory definitions."

This is where the rubber meets the road.....or at least, where an angle appears that appeals to myself and Amos Brown, writing in The Recorder this past week.

Ozdemir, who was born in Turkey, wanted designation by the city of Indy as a Minority-owned Business (MBE), but that status was denied in 2010. The rules say that minority designation is for blacks, Native Americans, Hispanics, native Alaskans and Asian Pacific Islanders. 

Ozdemir then successfully appealed, arguing that he is Asian because Turkey spans both Europe and Asia. Nobody has yet explained how Turkey can be designated part of the Pacific Islands, but whatever.

The larger point is that the minority status is an embarrassment to the administration of Indy Mayor Greg Ballard, says Amos Brown in The Recorder. ("Ballard administration transforms white-owned business into an Asian, minority-owned one."

Brown, who likes numbers and statistics, tried to obtain "detailed data" from the city about how much Indy has spent with minority business; he was told that such data did not exist, he says. 

"Now we know why. Because giving millions in contracts to a business that anywhere else in the country would be considered a majority-owned business has unacceptably made the Ballard administration's minority-owned business data worthless.

"And it's turned into a lie the Ballard administration's claims of how well they're helping Indianapolis' minority businesses.

"Worse," says Brown, "classifying Keystone Construction as an Asian-owned bsiness is a slap in the face to the many legitimate businesses owned by true Asian residents in Indianapolis."

The overall effect, says Brown, is to reduce MBE programs in Indy to the level where they are both corrupt and worthless.

Meantime, the very successful Keystone Group under Ersal Ozdemir continues to build wealth. In the past the developer was "an early cheerleader" for Ballarad, but, with the prospect of a Dem mayor in the future, he is now making sure to reach out to Dems as well.





'Statehouse bullying'

Dateline: Wed 19 Mar 2014

After writing yesterday about relatively scant media coverage of the bill allowing guns in locked cars in school parking lots, lo and behold -- Lesley Weidenbenner of TheStatehouseFile.com has an insightful opinion analysis on the issue in this morning's Star.

Alas, there is no link to the article on the Star's website, so I can't share it with you.

Weidenbener, a veteran reporter of the Legislature, shares the same information a friend had told me -- that Republicans' bullied Shannon Watts of Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense when she testified against the bill. 

Watts, reports Weidenbener, came to the Statehouse "with statistics and data," but Republicans who backed the legislation "were in no mood to talk compromise" with Watts.

GOP lawmakers "picked apart" Watts' statistics and "were combative in their questions." One legislator went so far as to imply that, since Watts has a background in marketing, she "knew how to manipulate data." Oh, puhleeze.

All this confirms what I'd heard anecdotally -- Republican lawmakers piled on Watts. Says Weidenbener: "People who exercise ... civic duty in the respectful way that Watts did shold never be treated poorly. Doing so is indeed bullying, and it has no place in the Statehouse."


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