these are the final lolcolts of both the year 2007 as well as the 2007-2008 regular season. next week: playoff lolcolts... which will probably be indistinguishable from regular lolcolts.¶
We hear rumblings that Melyssa Donaghy is considering running for the 7th District congressional seat as a Libertarian. Melyssa recently won the Sam Adams Alliance's "Sammie" award for her tireless efforts protest the ever-increasing property tax burden in Indiana. She also worked many long hours as part of the grassroots effort that successfully replaced the evil Bart Peterson with Greg Ballard. Perhaps it's time we sent a fighter to Congress, instead of a ?'er
This Hollywood writers strike is really starting to put a hurt on my TV viewing. It got so bad Monday night that I turned on Channel 16, the local government access station, and watched a bit of reality TV.
The station was airing the final City-County Council meeting of the year, which also was the final meeting to be run by a Democratic majority for at least four years.
Sitting at home watching a plodding council meeting is not the most exciting way to spend an evening. But the meeting this week was instructive, as it explained perfectly why Democrats lost their majority in November's election.
The explanation came from the silly political games Democrats continued to play even in the final lame-duck meeting of the year. With a new Republican mayor and council on deck, Democrats, acting apparently out of spite, pushed an unenforceable resolution that took aim at the income tax increase Democrats themselves approved this summer.
The ploy clearly wasn't about listening. It was intended to embarrass Mayor-elect Greg Ballard and members of the incoming Republican council majority. What bugs Democrats is that the same Republicans who bashed the income tax increase will now benefit from the additional tax revenue it brings in.
Fair point. And nobody would argue against the idea of trying to reduce taxes.
But the resolution was vindictive politics -- meaningless and silly. In their final day in power, council Democrats wanted to embarrass those on the other side of the aisle by forcing them to embrace the tax increase.
It didn't work.
Mayor-elect Greg Ballard said Tuesday that he would not push to rescind a 65-percent increase in the county income tax that took effect in October.
However, he said cuts in city government or the $90 million public safety spending plan the income tax funded could allow parts of the tax to be reconsidered down the road.
The tax provoked heavy criticism this year, but Ballard noted he never said he would repeal it.
"After looking at the Mayor's proposed income tax hike it is clear his plan would dig Indianapolis into a deeper hole," said Ballard. "There is no way the average citizen can afford this $90 million income tax increase on top of huge property tax bills."
The affidavit continues, in Boomershine's words, "Following the leak of this information, REDACTED, who was eight months pregnant at the time and a former member of the 2-1 Fatal Gang, feared for her safety and had to relocate where she resided."
The string of arsons -- a terrifying time in Indy for the neighborhoods affected, firefighters and police -- were being investigated, according to the affidavit, by IMPD fire investigators Brian Durham and Sherron Franklin. Franklin is also a member of the City-County Council.
An almost six-month investigation followed, in which police, possibly with the aid of federal officials, began peeling back the identity of IndyUndercover through various e-mail addresses and Internet providers: Yahoo, Google, EOS and finally Bright House.
The trail ultimately led to Abdul Shabazz, according to the affidavit, which also lists Shabazz' Downtown address and phone number. Boomershine identifies Shabazz in the warrant as the IndyUndercover blog's moderator.
Judge David Altice of Marion Superior Court Criminal Division signed the search warrant. Prior to that, throughout August, Grand Jury subpoenas were issued to Google, Yahoo, etc., in the painstaking search to trace the blog back and discover who was running/writing on it.
According to the affidavit, police were prepared to obtain evidence from 1: The residence of Shabazz and 2. His vehicle. They were specifically looking for "any and all computer hard drives, data storage devices" etc. as well as "any indication of criminal activity."
The warrant was signed at 2:21 p.m. Nov. 16.
By 4 p.m. or so, officers were outside Shabazz' Downtown apartment. But before they could serve the warrant, they received a phone call from someone high up in the city, and they were told to "stand down."
Shabazz himself later received a phone call from someone presumably high up in the city, warning him, "Dude, you don't know how close you came."
Based on how few people knew about this investigation, the warning call had to have come from the top, possibly in the office of Prosecutor Carl Brizzi.
Congresswoman Julia Carson died this morning at the age of 69.
Carson's death comes just weeks after she announced she was dying of lung cancer and would not seek re-election to a seventh term in 2008.
Two days later, she said she would not seek re-election, saying her time away from Congress would be "a time to weep and a time to laugh," and she added, "a time to heal."
But Carson never healed and never returned to Congress.
"Who knows the future, who knows god's will," she said in the statement announcing her decision not to run again. "I want very much to return to Washington and continue representing the good people of Indianapolis with my vote. I can only request your prayers that I might gain the strength to continue my service."
Carson was first elected to Congress in 1996.
Previously, she served in the Indiana House of Representatives for two terms before being elected to the Indiana Senate, where she served until 1990. Carson then filled the post of Center Township trustee until she was elected in 1996.
A steadfast Democrat, Carson opposed President Bush's request for authority to wage war in 2002. In 1999, she won enactment of a measure that awarded the Congressional Gold Medal to civil rights figure Rosa Parks.
In 1991 and 1974, she was named by The Star as Woman of the Year.¶
With Tanner, it had seemed like a matter of not if, but when. As we reported late last month, his travel habits had angered attorneys in the voting section, leading to an investigation by the Justice Department's Office of Professional Responsibility.
And that was after his comments about the tendency of minorities to "die first" led Sen. Barack Obama (D-IL), Rep. Jerrold Nadler (D-NY), and others to call for his resignation. When he went before the House Judiciary Committee in October, he was lambasted for his tendency of "basing your conclusions on stereotypes" (like, say, claiming that African-Americans have IDs more than whites because they're always going to cash-checking businesses).
But most of all, Tanner's reign is notable for his collusion with the political appointees who oversaw the section, an ongoing effort to reverse the Civil Rights Division's traditional role in protecting minority voters, particularly African-Americans, into one of aiding thinly disguised vote suppression measures (most infamously Georgia's voter ID law). It was an effort that some career DoJ attorneys later described as "institutional sabotage."¶
"You're talking about average people, men and women, and they were manipulated. And it was fear of losing their jobs or fear of their family members losing their jobs," Bernard Carter said. "These people didn't just wake up and say, 'I'm going to vote absentee in East Chicago.'"
Provisional ballots were not counted in the 2007 municipal election because of the Voter Identification Statute
In the 2007 municipal election, some votes of otherwise-eligible individuals were not counted because they did not comply with the Voter Identification Statute. The Election Board can verify that at least thirty-four persons arrived at the polls and presented themselves for voting without appropriate photo identification (others may have done so without making a record through the provisional balloting process). As required by statute, each of the thirty-four filled out and signed provisional ballot paperwork, then cast a provisional ballot that was not counted, but rather was sealed and sent to the Election Board for further review. Of the thirty-four provisional ballots cast, only two voters followed up by bringing their compliant identification to the County Clerk's Office so that their provisional ballots would be counted. The other thirty-two did not bring compliant identification to the Clerk's Office within the time period designated by statute, and their votes therefore were not counted. See Ind. Code § 3-11.7-5-2.5.
All thirty-four individuals appeared at the polling place for the precinct in which they were registered. All signatures appearing on their provisional ballot envelopes matched the poll book signatures.4 Two of those whose votes were not counted had voted in fifteen previous elections at their precincts. Six others had voted in fourteen elections at their precincts. Four others had voted in thirteen prior elections at their precincts. One had voted in twelve elections at her precinct, and another had voted in ten elections at her precinct. Only six had no history of voting in a Marion County election, and the remaining persons had voted a handful of times at the precinct where they were registered and appeared on November 6, 2007.
In a phone conversation this morning, Abdul acknowledged he would occasionally "pass something along" to the blog, and vice versa, he says. "We had a mutual exchange of information."
But, he insisted, he was not IndyUndercover. "Here's the thing. That blog is not a person. Joe Friday is like Uncle Sam."
Abdul acknowledged, again, that he has a lot of cop friends and said what he's said before on his Indiana Barrister blog: that he advised a bunch of disgruntled officers over drinks a year and a half ago how they could start their own blog. "I thought the cops in this town were being treated crappy. My attitude was, 'Hey, if I can help, I will.'"
When I read Randolph's exchange with Holladay, I was a bit taken back by it. As I stated earlier, Randolph told me he was in Mexico on vacation with his family at the time the e-mail in question had been sent and did not have access to his e-mail account. Now, he says he says he was at the firehouse when Shabazz contacted him about sending the e-mail and the word "indyundercover" was intentionally included in the e-mail's subject heading. Call me cynical, but someone isn't getting his story straight on this one.
Lawmakers warned advocates for children Thursday that the state will have to find a way to control child welfare costs if those expenses are shifted from property taxpayers to the state.
"We can't take over the cost of this and then allow the judges to tell us how much money we're going to spend," state Sen. Luke Kenley, R-Noblesville, said during debate on the issue Thursday in the Senate Appropriations Committee.
Gov. Mitch Daniels and a bipartisan legislative commission have advocated moving child welfare -- about $490 million annually -- to the state to provide property tax relief.
The costs of providing assistance to abused, neglected or delinquent children have been rising an average of about 6.8 percent statewide annually for the past 12 years, well ahead of inflation. The costs vary widely by county.
Capping those costs is virtually impossible because of federal mandates to help children, advocates told lawmakers at Thursday's hearing, one of several being held this month to kick-start property tax reforms before the General Assembly goes into session Jan. 8.
Cathleen Graham, executive director of the Indiana Association of Residential Child Care Agencies, reminded legislators that child welfare is an entitlement program, meaning the law demands that services be provided.
Local spending in Indiana has increased from $2.1 billion in 1984 to $7.9 billion last year. These massive increases are neither fair, nor sustainable to the property taxpayers of Indiana.
That's why I support Gov. Mitch Daniels' proposal to cut property taxes for every Hoosier homeowner, capping them forever at a maximum of 1 percent of a home's value.
Make no mistake: This plan is a big change. It will provide real and permanent property tax relief that homeowners need and deserve.
First, it's appropriate that the state assume the costs of child welfare and the remaining school funding. We can pay for this with a one-cent increase in the state sales tax, gaming revenue already earmarked for property tax relief, and a portion of the state's surplus, which Daniels achieved by controlling state spending the last three years.
[T]he spike can be mostly explained by:
1. Caps on the Property Tax Replacement Credit and Homestead Credit — These were State actions that were done to allow the State to balance its own budget; in effect, the State balanced its budget on the backs of local government.
2. Elimination of the inventory tax — An action by the State that shifted the tax burden from inventory tax payers to property tax payers.
3. Trending — Part of the State's implementation of a State court's 1998 decision that the State's method of taxation was unconstitutional.
The fact is that the General Assembly and the Governor (primarily through the Department of Local Government Finance) are heavily involved in micromanaging the taxing authority of local government and, consequently, bear most of the blame in the recent property tax increases.
Daniels wants to write the caps into the state constitution, a move that would hinder state and local governments' ability to make needed adjustments in the future.
Legislators should be cautious about imposing unequal caps, and doubly skeptical of a constitutional amendment. Yet, as Daniels understands, any reform package that doesn't impose at least semi-permanent caps on property taxes falls short of providing a lasting solution.
During his speech last night, Mayor elect Greg Ballard stated he did not run a negative campaign. That is 100% true. However, an effective week-by-week negative campaign was indeed organized, financed, and run. The dirty work of the negative campaign against Bart Peterson was done by rogue groups of activists, bloggers, you tube documenters, and street soldiers who took the personal hits and ridicule to do it for him. This was a critical strategy to prevent our pristine mayor's hands from being soiled with the dirty business of negative campaigning.
I have to sheepishly and belatedly admit that I am, indeed, Accidental Mayor. I've told folks in the media that I'm doing it, but I guess I just never posted anything about it when I added the link to my blogroll.
I made the decision shortly after the election that I needed to get the local stuff off TDW, since my focus there has always been on the Guv's Office and statewide politics. I heard Shella describe Ballard as the "accidental mayor" on election night, so I ran with it.
As Mayor, I will:
1. Lobby the state legislature to pass a constitutional amendment eliminating property taxes in Indiana. I believe that with the current makeup of the legislature, 35-40% of legislators approve of such a measure.
2. Failing a state constitutional amendment, I will find an acceptable mix of taxes within Marion County to greatly reduce the influence of property taxes in Indianapolis. This will help bring the middle class back to Indianapolis, increasing the overall tax base and reducing the tax burden on the poor.
Indianapolis Mayor-Elect Greg Ballard listened to the early part of the debate from the House balcony, noting that his mere presence sends a message.
"I think we are seeing the fact that I got elected talking about this quite a bit, has already weighed in on this debate quite a bit so I hope that they hear that," Ballard said.
Ballard won't testify, but says he will plan to make his feelings known in individual meetings with lawmakers.