Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Indy on a Downward Spiral?

"Once, Indianapolis was a place where visionary and determined leadership across the community and across parties transformed an overgrown small town and backwater state capital known as 'India-No-Place' into arguably the best performing large Midwest city and one of the few holding its own or even leading the rest of America. Today, as this contract [selling off the parking meters for 50 years] helps illustrate, Indianapolis is more and more just another city. That’s disappointing. I certainly hope for the best, but it will be interesting to watch Indy’s performance going forward in this new civic era for the city."

This from The Urbanophile, a blog by Aaron M. Renn, an urban analyst.

Sigh! This Indianapolis Observer reluctantly concurs.

Sheila Suess Kennedy has penned an opinion piece for The Indianapolis Star (printed 6 December) saying much the same thing: "[T]he fact that Indianapolis gave an insider a sweetheart deal is less distressing than the fact that this transaction was yet another piece of a longer-term trend." You can read "Let's not lose our soul" here, at least until it disappears.

Monday, November 29, 2010

It's A Wonderful Life

Nothing says the holidays like the 1946 film It's a Wonderful Life. Sure, you can see it on the small screen anytime, but why not drive downtown and view this classic movie on the big screen the evening of December 2?

A silent auction begins at 5 p.m. in the United Artists Theatre on Circle Centre's fourth floor, 49 West Maryland Street, Indianapolis.Items include gift certificates to downtown restaurants, hotels, attractions, museums and more. The movie starts at 6:30 p.m.

Tickets are $5 and include movie ticket and all festivities. All proceeds will benefit Downtown Beautification.

The evening is sponsored by Indianapolis Downtown, Inc., and Regal Entertainment Group - United Artists Circle Centre 9 Theatre.

Sunday, November 28, 2010

First Parking Meters, Now Towing Contracts

It's gonna be difficult to park in Indy in the coming decades. Not only has the Ballard administration sold off the parking meters in a sweetheart deal with known miscreants, he's working on selling off the towing concession. The inevitable? It's gonna cost you more to park and more (much more) to redeem your vehicle if the privateers tow it off.

Read some of the info on Paul K. Ogden's blog here.

And, this Indianapolis Observer notes, all this is taking place in a city with lousy public transportation.

Maybe Mayor Ballard is trying to "drive" everyone with a car out to the suburbs for good!

Saturday, November 27, 2010

Major Props to Sen. Lugar

"Senator Richard G. Lugar, an Indiana Republican who played that role long before it had a brand name, is standing against his party on a number of significant issues at a politically dangerous time to do so."

Thus sayeth The New York Times in a feature headlined "Charting His Own Course Against Prevailing Winds".

"Now, in the heat of the post-primary lame-duck Congressional session, he is defying his party on an earmark ban, a bill that would create a path to citizenship for some illegal immigrants, a military spending authorization bill and an arms control treaty with Russia.

"He even declined to sign a brief supporting state lawsuits against President Obama’s health care law because he saw it as political posturing."

Lugar is a former mayor of Indianapolis.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Rogue Traffic Court Judge Suspended

"William E. Young will be suspended for thirty (30) days from office without pay, and the costs of this proceeding will be assessed against him."

Read the whole decision of the Indiana State Supreme Court here.

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Indianapolis Honors Its Literary Native Son

"Vonnegut’s writing was filled with references to his Midwestern roots and to the tight-knit families he met growing up here."

That's from today's story in The New York Times about the new library in Indy honoring Kurt Vonnegut.

Note: it's in the Times, not The Indianapolis Star. Hmmmmm.

Words of the Week: Qui Tam

"Indiana has a civil forfeiture law which says that in a civil forfeiture action, the prosecutor can deduct law enforcement costs including attorney's fees, and the remainder is to be paid to the Common School Fund. In the last 2 years, the 92 counties in Indiana only paid $95,000 into the fund pursuant to the civil forfeiture fund. They kept all the rest of the money."

So, Paul K. Ogden has filed a qui tam lawsuit against 89 of the state's 90 prosecutors. ("A qui tam lawsuit basically is a taxpayer lawsuit to recover state money that was wrongly misappropriated or not paid that should have been paid to the state and was not.")

Marion County is, of course, the biggest scofflaw. Read more on his blog.

Friday, November 19, 2010

Get Over Yourself?

Matthew Tully's column this morning in The Indianapolis Star on the backlash against TSA's groping at airports shows that he doesn't get out much. (It's here, at least until it disappears behind the paper's paywall.)

If he were a road warrior, or even a semi-frequent flyer, he'd know that the new "feel up" screenings are not only intrusive and personally offensive but ineffective. There's not one recent terrorist attack that would have been stopped by this (all originated overseas, where the TSA does not operate).

This is just a new layer of "security theater" provided courtesy of our amateur (or, as Tully notes, $25,000/year) TSA employees. Even pilots and flight attendants are just saying "no" -- and no one has more "exposure" to airplane terrorist attacks than those two categories.

It's the TSA that should get over itself!

For a discussion of the controversy by someone who actually is a security expert, start with this commentary on Bruce Schneier's blog, "Schneier on Security".

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Indy's International Festival is Underway

Indy's annual International Festival is underway in the West Pavilion of the Indiana State Fairgrounds, 1202 East 38th Street, Indianapolis.

The festival's open to the public from 2 to 9 p.m. tomorrow (19 November), 10 a.m. to 9 p.m. Saturday (20 November) and noon to 6 p.m. Sunday (21 November).

Come see the world without leaving home (and bring your appetite: there'll be authentic, traditional cuisine from around the globe).

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

The City Has Sold Its Birthright. Twice.

So the City has no problem issuing $98 million in bonds to support the No-So project while at the same time City officials say it is too risky to borrow $6 million to buy and install parking meters? Who are they kidding? See Ogden on Politics for more.

Let's see: we gave away the parking meter income, and now we're borrowing to finance private development. We let Bisard get away with murder, and rail about the recent decision of the Police Merit Commission. What's next, Ballard? How low can you go?

Monday, November 15, 2010

Senator to Lobbyist and Back Again

"Dan Coats, then a former senator and ambassador to Germany, served as co-chairman of a team of lobbyists in 2007 who worked behind the scenes to successfully block Senate legislation that would have terminated a tax loophole worth hundreds of millions of dollars in additional cash flow to Cooper Industries."

The New York Times explores Sen. Coats' moves among the Washington power elite:
"Senator to Lobbyist and Back Again".

"There is no rule that would keep Mr. Coats from voting on issues that he handled as a lobbyist, and he does not intend to recuse himself when former clients are affected by his votes."

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Ah, Cady! Where are you when we need you?

"Once upon a time the news media could be counted on to ferret out corruption of our politicians. Nowadays, they're in bed with them. "

On the one hand, this report from Advance Indiana. On the other, Dick Cady's book, Deadline Indianapolis.

This Indianapolis Observer wonders when Indy will regain its luster. Right now, it's sinking into the muck under the weight of insider deals. (Yes, Ryan Vaughn, I do mean you.)

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Autumn Art Fair at Garfield Park

The Third Annual Preview Show and Autumn Art Fair at the Garfield Park Arts Center, 2432 Conservatory Drive, Indianapolis, features hand-created items ranging in cost from 50 cents to $500 from 60 regional artists.

Groups and individual artists from Indianapolis, Brown County and Central Indiana are now displaying their unique wares at the Preview Show in the GPAC lobby. These items and more go on sale at the Autumn Art Fair to be held from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. 20 and 21 November. There's free parking, admission is free and there'll be artist demonstrations, too.

Available items for sale include ceramics, china, collages, drawings, fiber arts, glass, gourds, jewelry, leather, monotypes, mosaics, paintings, photos, poetry and sculpture.

Participating Artists are:

Faten Ali-Munger, Len Bibeau, Linda Booker, Brown County Artisans (Pete Bullard, Linda Comstock-Teel, Jerry England, Shelley Frederick, Lynne Lynch Hughes, Sharon Jungclaus-Gould, Tom Lowe, Mary Pendergrass, Ruth Wert, Gene Cooper, Garfield Shakespeare Company (Joe Cook, Brad Jones, and more), Sean Gray, Sylvia Gray, Mary Lee Griffin, Rick Greiner, Mary Ann Habeeb, Debbie Heidelberger, Christine Heisler, Herrons & Egrets (Mac McCrary, Jeanne Scheuring, Diane Werblo), Marti Icenogle, Indiana Gourd Society (Bob and Emily Dillard, Joe Lee, Karen Niemeyer, Emily Wallace, and more), John Jarvis, Frances Annich Johnson, Steven Keller, Anne Kominowski, The Manualaires (directed by Spencer Lloyd), Megan Martin, Valerie May, Lynne Medsker, Penny Nangle, Pam O’Rourke, Cheri Platter, Kenton Ridenour, Karla and Michael Ries, Mike Rogers, Connie Simmonds, Martha St. Clair, Mike Taylor, James Tharp, Susan Threehawks, Charles Ver, Leo Ware, Daniel Westfall, and Richard Williams.

(Photo courtesy of the Indiana Gourd Society)

Friday, November 12, 2010

Privatization Does Not Signal Utopia

It is human nature that today's generation of political leaders will gladly mortgage the future with a multi-generation contract in return for upfront cash...and reelection...today.

See Ogden on Politics for more on "how privatization was derailed by political contributions, the revolving door and long term contracts".

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Another Outrage

"If you thought the stench of political corruption in the Daniels and Ballard administrations couldn't get worse, it just did."

And, why? Read it at Advance Indiana.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Drummers Converge on Indiana

An estimated 6,200 drummers and percussionists from around the world are in Indianapolis for the Percussive Arts Society International Convention, which runs through Friday. Indianapolis is playing host to the event for a third time, reports Inside INdiana Business.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

An Electric Violin?

Experience the Indianapolis Chamber Orchestra cabaret-style with electric violinist, Drew Tretick, featuring great movie scores. The evening begins at 8 p.m. 20 November in the Athenaeum Auditorium, 401 East Michigan Street, Indianapolis. Tickets are available online.

An Indiana native, Tretick is well known for his expressive performances as a weekly featured attraction at the Downtown Disney Resort in California.

Following the performance, join in the ICOnic After Party at the Rathskeller, also in the Athenaeum.

Monday, November 8, 2010

Butler's Nutcracker

The Butler University Ballet’s annual performances of The Nutcracker will be staged 2-5 December Clowes Memorial Hall on the Butler campus.

Attending the holiday ballet is a family tradition. Both children and adults will be dazzled and delighted by glorious scenery and costumes, spectacular dancing and magical moments. Envision twirling with the snowflakes and waltzing with the flowers while waiting for the dance of the Sugar Plum Fairy and the Nutcracker Prince. Enjoy Tchaikovsky's magnificent score performed by the Butler Ballet Orchestra and the Indianapolis Children's Choir under the direction of Richard Auldon Clark.

Tickets ($17-$28.50) are sold at the Clowes Hall box office and through Ticketmaster.

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Why the Public Supports the Merit Commission

"[T]he public is concerned about what they perceive is a growing crime problem in this city, notwithstanding statistics the administration is constantly spewing in an attempt to convince them otherwise." (from Advance Indiana)

Uh, huh! Watch your back, Mayor Ballard!

Saturday, November 6, 2010

Note to the IBJ Fact Checkers:

Add this info to your database:

Eugene Collins Pulliam (3 May 1889 - 23 June 1975)

Eugene Smith Pulliam (7 September 1914 - 20 January 1999)

Myrta Jane Pulliam (born 20 June 1947) is the granddaughter of Eugene C. Pulliam and the daughter of Eugene S. Pulliam.

Which isn't the genealogy you published for her in today's Indianapolis Business Journal supplement.

Mayor Jets Off to Austin

According to Inside INdiana Business, the Greater Indianapolis Chamber of Commerce is sending a 70-member delegation to Austin, Texas this weekend as part of a leadership exchange program. Mayor Greg Ballard will open the event with a speech about the Central Indiana Council of Mayors.

Monday, November 1, 2010

Dick Cady Nails Indy

The only thing missing from Deadline: Indianapolis is an index.

The first thing any of us want to do when we pick up such a detailed exposé of our hometown is check for our name and then look for the names of all the people we think should be in there. But, Deadline: Indianapolis has no index, so you've just got to read it.

And what a page-turner it is, full of money, sex and power games -- yes, these are the "stories behind the stories at the Pulliam press".

No, your Indianapolis Observer didn't make the cut (whew!), but Cady (a former reporter and editor at The Indianapolis Star) includes lots of familiar names: Richard G. Lugar, Steve Goldsmith, Keith Bulen, Winston Churchill (no, not THAT one), Morty Dock, ESP and ECP, Virginia Dill McCarty, Barry Goldwater, Ed Delaney, Bill Moreau, and many, many more. The connections outlined and the stories told are chilling (the FBI entanglement in Indy corruption is an eye-opener).

There's a Pulitzer and other journalism awards involved in this tale, but the unfortunate take-away is that political corruption is the default state for big cities such as ours. Exposing it requires a watch-dog press -- something Indy hasn't had since the Pulliams tossed their newspapers into the Gannett maw and walked away with their millions.

Note to Evan Bayh: You might want to check out what Cady says about your time as governor.