Sunday, October 14, 2007

League of Women Voters Candidate Forum

The headline in the HT should have read “Nothing new from the League of Women Voters Candidate Forum” which was held last Thursday evening at Ivy Tech. Democrat’s once again showed their intolerance for anything or anyone that doesn’t lean to the left. The charge was lead by Andy Ruff, their designated hitter who once again managed to show us his contempt for all non-Democrats with his typical condescending self-righteous remarks. It never ceases to amaze me how often I hear Democrats use words like tolerance and diversity when obviously these feeling don’t transcend to anyone with beliefs that don’t mirror their own. When they speak, they speak of a society where everyone is accepted, where culture and diversity makes for a nearly utopian community and we were reminded repeatedly the only way to maintain it is to keep electing Democrats. Yet these words are not meant as an example but rather a mere diversion from reality, a reality where in Bloomington a dog is given more consideration than a person that affiliates with the Republican Party.

There were constant reminders that all things good have come from Democrats and if anything we should perpetuate the juggernaut because without them the city would turn into an overdeveloped wasteland similar to Greenwood. Democrats are really in their element in this type of forum, a microphone, video cameras and a room full of left wing groupies. They can easily spin stories of prosperity, happiness and security since “they” took office. What you didn’t hear at this forum is a plan for our future, a road map of where they see us going and how we are going to get there. What was heard is that our Democrat leaders feel that it is not only acceptable to take on global affairs but rather expected when you sit on the Bloomington City Council. It is obvious that taking positions on global issues gives each of them a feeling of extreme self-importance. Issues like the war in Iraq, global warming and peak oil all take precedent over mundane topics like well maintained streets and sidewalks and finding ways to hold the line on providing the necessary services of our local government. If there was a single highlight in the evening it was council candidate Clifford Meadows’ response to the question “whether or not the City Council should spend time discussing global affairs”, his response was an unequivocal and simple “no”. You have to appreciate someone that has the ability to sum it up so completely. The current administration claims to be concerned about issues like reducing the environmental footprint of our government and has responded by the establishment of various committees and commissions. Their bulging budget supports programs with snazzy names like Commission for Sustainable Living and Living Wage Ordinance but when their term is over what has really been accomplished, has anything really improved over the last four years, I think not?

As has been the case in the past the forum format leaves a lot to be desired as it does little more than to offer a glimpse into each candidate’s ability to read his or her prepared statements. The panel was once again made up of all Democrats, as is the majority of the League of Women Voters and the questions were carefully selected to allow a platform for their candidates to expound on their talking points. In this format the candidates are never allowed an opportunity or the time to truly debate issues as it might allow an opportunity to expose the weakness of those in office. The League can once again pat themselves on the back and indulge in self-gratification for supporting the democratic process on the local home front.

What we were able to extract from the evening was that our current Mayor, Mark Kruzan has been an ineffective leader over the last three and a half years. He has managed to lose support of many of those that help him get elected four years ago. He supports reducing the ecological impact of our local government as long as he doesn’t have to give up his “gas guzzling SUV”. He doesn’t want to be held accountable for his shortcomings but wants to revel in the uniqueness of Bloomington and what he has done to maintain it. In these last four years he has over-promised and under-delivered, no real news there after all it is politics. He wants to be reelected not for what he’s done or going to do but rather what he will prevent from occurring should his opponent get elected. His campaign up to this point has been one of fear of change. Similarly the City Council has been lopsided for so long, so consumed by their agendas that little if any progress has been made in our city over the last four years. The Democrats are extremely comfortable in power and feel like their control is a mandate rather than a privilege. They would also like you to believe that someone other than them controls tax rates and they really have very little impact on how the money is spent. They too believe that they are protecting the uniqueness of Bloomington by remaining in office.

Regardless of the lack of suspense from all of the candidate forums and with all things considered this could make for a very interesting election come November. Sabbagh’s campaign has picked up some curiously unusual support for a Republican, the local Fire Fighters Union and a group of Democrat’s calling themselves Democrats for Sabbagh, a group of individuals that even has an elected Democrat on it, what does that tell you. It appears Sabbagh has transcended the divide in the local political arena and has a great deal of appeal and respect on both sides of the fence. In the last thirty days Sabbagh has also positioned himself as a strong force to be reckoned with and as a serious threat to stronghold that Democrats have held on the local government over the last twenty plus years.

Friday, May 04, 2007

Hold Onto Your Wallet!

The Democrats are coming the Democrats are coming! That should be the outcry across the state as the Democrat controlled legislature passed a bill late last week that allows local governments to raise the County Option Income Tax or COIT. Since our county government was overrun with Democrats in the 2004 election they have been attempting to convince our citizens that Monroe County is in need of a juvenile treatment facility. The cost to build such a facility has been speculated to run well into the millions and even more millions to operate. Similar facilities in other counties are rarely operating at full capacity and offer their services and facilities to other counties in an attempt to make ends meet. Facilities like these are consistantly a drain on available resources.

Throwing all caution to wind we have a stampede of Democrats hell bent on having a “facility of their own” as they say. At the forefront of this stampede is none other than Judge Welch, you know Peggy’s husband? Interestingly enough no one has been able to develop a realistic budget for this project up to this point. Everything is highly speculative even to the point that the paid experts don’t really seem to know how much it will cost. Due to the variety of the qualifications required to properly staff a facility like this and the need for highly specialized treatment for its occupants the treatment “our” children receive might just end up being far inferior to that of a properly trained and staffed facility in another county or state. Building a facility also goes against the advice of many experts that have indicated there is no way one community can afford to staff a facility with enough professionals to handle the wide variety of specialized treatment required to truly help these children. In order for some of these children to be adaquately treated they will still need to be sent to outsourced facilities. Just because the facility is not in our county or for that matter in our state doesn’t negatively impact the quality of treatment the children receive. As a matter of fact, in many cases the children need the separation from their parents and "friends" to get them away from a destructive environment that many times compounds and prolongs their rehabilitation.

What we need are elected officials that can manage to prioritize the County’s actual needs and then set a long-term course of corrective action in place and then put a funding mechanism in place that avoids raising taxes. What we currently have is a knee jerk reaction to a problem that hasn’t been fully explored. We have people that are looking for ways to spend our tax dollars when real problems like the jail are starring them in the face. Before it’s all over we will be saddled with paying for both a new juvenile facility and a new jail. Everyone should think twice before voting another Democrat into office.

Sunday, April 08, 2007

Prosecutor's Office Under Gaal's Leadership Lets Convicted Sex Offender Off the Hook!

Wednesday April 4th a local jury acquitted Terry Nelson of charges of child molestation and sexual misconduct with a minor. Nelson a registered sex offender with two prior convictions for child molestation walked free after deputy prosecutor Jeff Kehr failed to convince the jury of Nelson’s guilt in another similar crime. The jury returned their verdict after barely more than an hour of deliberations.

By letting Nelson go free Gaal has managed to keep one of his campaign promises of reducing the jail population, unfortunately I don’t think this is what the citizens of Monroe County had in mind. Gaal had promised to be tough on serious crimes and find ways to reduce recidivism with counseling and rehabilitating on crimes that he deemed less serious. Hopefully Mr. Gaal doesn’t consider heinous actions like child molestation and sexual misconduct with a minor to be categorized as non-serious offenses worthy of counseling and rehabilitation? If Gaal does consider these crimes to be serious offenses then it would leave but one conclusion, that his staff lacks the prosecution and trial experience to get a conviction. The latter is certainly more likely as Gaal did exactly what Sandy Newman did when she took over as Auditor, fired everyone that had any experience and replaced them with inexperienced cronies.

If this is what the citizen’s of Monroe County have to look forward to for the next four years then so much for having a safe and civil community. Furthermore if this is the “transparency” Gaal and other Democrat’s have been preaching that our government needs I would have to say that we have just been given a glimpse behind the curtain and it scares the hell out of me. What’s more if Mr. Gaal wants to persecute Carl Salzmann by parading his head around on a stick for running the Prosecutor’s office the way he saw fit then I would have to say to Mr. Gaal, at least Mr. Salzmann was able to put criminals like Nelson where they belong, in jail. If a good meal and a clean room at a nice hotel was what our former Prosecutor needed for him and his staff while seeking additional training to keep deviates like Terry Nelson off of the streets of our county then as a taxpayer I would be more than happy to pick up the tab for the next steak dinner!

Saturday, March 17, 2007

Time for a watch Dog Committee

In light of recent complaints and editorials about misuse of taxpayers money by elected officials I think it would be fitting that a Watch Dog Committee be formed to scrutinize all of the current city and county elected officials travel and expense claims, not just our former Prosecutor. Carl Salzmann’s use of county money for training, lodging and meals I think would unfortunately prove to be more common than unusual. It’s common knowledge that department heads scan the available training opportunities for the most desirable venues and many times passing up identical training within driving distance. Not too long ago I recall one of our appointed officials taking advantage of an economic development training program in California even though the identical program was offered in Louisville. Between airfare, hotel accommodations and meal expenses is that really a “good” use of public money.

Lets’ put all elected and appointed officials on notice that someone is going to be critiquing each one of their departments expenses, only then do I feel we will get a clear picture of the level of abuse. This is another tried and true strategy of the local Democrat party. Tar and feather the opposition in the media by ambush not allowing them ample opportunity to defend themselves. Did anyone call Mr. Salzmann and give him the opportunity to defend himself before the County Council or was it just an opportune time for the heavily weighted Democrat Council and the new Democrat Prosecutor to throw stones without fear of retribution. Mr. Salzmann, have you always traveled to these far away exotic locations to take training and indulge in the finest cuisine at the taxpayers expense? Oh, and by the way when did you stop beating your wife? Wait a minute he wasn’t there to respond, how convenient! Isn’t it curious that expenses from December were being brought up for a topic of discussion in March? Isn’t it also curious that one of the Counties most notorious abusers of public funds during his tenure was our former Prosecutor Bob Miller and now he’s been plugged back into the funding stream as Deputy Prosecutor by none other than our current Prosecutor Chris Gaal. Who’s better at highlighting the abuse than the biggest abusers themselves?

Using a well-worn phrase from the Democrat’s playbook, let’s bring “transparency” to all of these areas of government. I would love to see a monthly report highlighting each trip an appointed or elected official took at the taxpayers expense along with a detailed description of where they stayed, what they ate and drank. Along these same lines let's have a nepotism report showing who is employed in the various government departments and if they are related in any way to their employers. We can start that investigation in the Auditor’s office. I think this would all make for some interesting reading each month. At least Mr. Salzmann managed to run his department for twelve years within its budget, that’s more than can be said for most of the current officials.

Sunday, March 04, 2007

Local GOP Retains Franklin Andrew as Chairman

Local Republican precinct committeepersons turned out a huge contingent to select their new leaders for 2007 and beyond. The Party faithful had two good choices; current Chairman Franklin Andrew and longtime Republican ally Gene Moncel. Both nominees had their reasons for wanting to lead the GOP and both packed the house with their respective supporters. With just one ballot Franklin Andrew came out on top 65 to 47. Andrew has done a commendable job over the past couple of years but his tenure has not been without its problems, the largest of which is being able to post only a couple of wins in the win column in the past election. Probably the singular most important aspect of re-electing Andrew to the post is the continuity of leadership and experience he will carry into the '07 election and beyond.

A few individuals had recently spoken unfavorably of the election challenge that Andrew spearheaded. They were undoubtedly influenced by the opposition doublespeak and the local media coverage. Had a Republican in the Clerk’s office been caught with a key to secure voter records with both access and a handful of ballots on their person its safe to assume the Democrats would have more than likely called for a public beheading of the offender. The final report indicates there is several areas of concern that need addressed to prevent ineligible voters from influencing our elections. Little things like felons being allowed to vote and individuals that haven’t lived or voted locally for a decade mysteriously reappearing to cast an absentee ballot. Talk about disenfranchised voters, let’s at least follow the law! Maybe these ineligible votes are not enough to alter the outcome of most elections but there has been more than one local election that was decided by a mere handful of votes. Maybe the recount was oversold and maybe a few followers of good candidates like Pat Haley and Jim Billingsley were hanging their hats on the outcome; who knows. The bottom line is Franklin Andrew fulfilled his obligation as County Chairman because if he didn’t seek to correct these concerns, who would? He uncovered some issues and definitely put the Democrats on notice that someone is paying much closer attention today than in the past. At the very least the GOP now has more data than ever to discourage future improprieties from tainting our elections.

It’s apparent that at least for the time being that the local GOP is fighting an uphill battle. So many factors influence our local elections, so many beyond the local Party’s control. Bloomington and more recently Monroe County has been bucking the trend in Indiana with its more liberal voting record. A highly organized and almost militant local opposition party that has a blatant disregard for any ideas or opinions other than their own. The fear of involvement of many highly qualified individuals, which leaves the local government, to be ran by what could be described as almost a fanatical minority. Too many voters are influenced by local media coverage and are too easily swayed by the headlines. Maybe, as Franklin Andrew mentioned Saturday, “It’s time for the local GOP to start being for something” instead of always being on the defensive. Maybe, as Gene Moncel pointed out that it’s time for the local GOP to get more involved in social issues that face our community. Who knows, it might just be a combination of all the above. I don’t think any one person has all of right answers and for that matter shouldn’t be expected to. If the level of interest in Saturday’s central committee election was any indication it’s obvious the local GOP is alive and well. I think it’s obvious they’re hungry for a victory and who knows with a collective and unified effort they might just surprise some folks!

Sunday, December 31, 2006

County Council Languishing Under Poor Leadership and "Extenuating Circumstances"

The County Council had scheduled a precautionary meeting this past week to assure they had all of their “T’s” crossed and their “I’s” dotted on the 2007 budget, specifically pay raises for the county employees. The only members of the council that fulfilled their obligation and showed up at the meeting were the three Republican’s, returning member Marty Hawk and outgoing members Sue West and Trent Jones. Each of the Democrat members offered some excuse as to why they failed to fulfill their obligation and attend this important meeting which now leaves some doubt as to whether or not the previous vote on the pay raise complied with the State statutory requirements.

Needing a unanimous vote for the amendment to pass Michael Woods opted to stay away because he did not support the proposed pay raise for the county employees. It was reported Warren Henegar was out of the country. Outgoing member Mark Stoops was reported to be in Ohio. Sophia Travis or should I say Greg Travis communicated the excuse via email that took the prize for the least creative. Indication was that she couldn’t attend due to “extenuating circumstances”. What kind of extenuating circumstances could have prevented her from notifying the other members of the Council of her impending absence? Once again she has proven that she does not possess the necessary qualities that are required of an effective leader. Instead of admitting that her responsibility as President of the County Council wasn’t high enough on her priority list to make the meeting this past week she came up with this lame one-size fits all excuse. She didn’t concern herself with her elected duties and responsibilities and she obviously failed to see the importance of securing the much-deserved pay raises for county employees. If this meeting was truly unnecessary why didn’t she notify all of the Council members and staff that the meeting had been canceled rather than wasting both their time and that of the County staff in attendance.

Travis’ actions are proof positive that she fails to take all of the responsibilities of the position seriously by continuing to play her childish partisan games. When called to task she fails to be able to respond to virtually any question without referring to her prepared statements. To avoid further embarrassment she has resorted to communicating almost exclusively through email where it’s obvious her husband acts as the puppet master. In this latest breach of responsibility she has failed to carryout the duties that she swore to the citizens of Monroe County to uphold and then makes matters worse by making a mockery of the process by offering such a lame excuse for her absence. To make matters worse and for what gain the reasoning escapes me she has been posting and circulating some less than flattering comments on colleagues and various other elected officials of both Parties. Her only possible objective is that she wants to further polarize County government by proving that she holds little regard for any resemblance of bipartisan cooperation. With only Marty Hawk left on the Council to keep the Democrats in check I’m certain the County’s legal department will have their hands full in’07 and unfortunately all at the taxpayer’s expense.

Saturday, November 25, 2006

R-BB School Board Member's Actions are Embarrassing

I couldn’t help but notice that the townies on the Richland Bean Blossom School Board were up to their old tricks as they provided plenty of negative fodder for articles in Herald Times and The Journal. This post election rebuking by Janice Stockton is in retaliation for election of two qualified individuals to the local school board thus denying Mrs. Stockton and Mr. Thrasher the critical mass required to return the school system to the dark ages. Stockton’s remarks at last weeks school board meeting were proof positive she has no intention of cooperating with other board members to find common ground as she has fully alienated the rest of the board and the superintendent. Stockton and Thrasher are throw backs to an era that many in the R-BB school system have run, not walked, away from. They want to return the school system to a time when school board members roamed the dilapidated hallways and micromanaged the day-to-day operation of the corporation. Where teachers and staff made alliances with board members to protect their jobs and where nepotism ran rampant.

Larry Thrasher the former pool janitor was elected in ’02 and Janice Stockton a former elementary teacher with the school system was elected in ’04. They both ran on a low key agenda to get elected however once elected it was quickly evident they were not as interested in educational improvement as they were in having a controlling interest in the day-to-day operations of the school system. It was widely known that Thrasher was no fan of Brad Tucker the former Principal at the High School and this was most certainly a contributing factor to his early departure. Thrasher and Stockton reverted back to habits of previous boards when board members routinely overstepped their roles and responsibilities by meeting with staff, parents and groups outside of their official authority of the collective school board. Evidently their activities have managed to fan the flames with the contract bus drivers, an already volatile situation. Repeatedly the superintendent has reminded them that individually board members have absolutely no authority but this hasn’t curtailed their activities. Board members are also entrusted with information that needs to be held in strict confidence especially when it comes to matters of personnel, reportedly this trust has been breached by these two on a routine basis.

In the comment portion of the meeting Stockton made several unsubstantiated accusations and offered up a lot of innuendo that indicated a very negative overall mood and general working conditions within the school corporation. By highlighting certain policies and guidelines she was somehow attempting to validate her authority all the while refusing to support a board member code of ethics that Superintendent Edington had suggested just a few weeks earlier. As she spewed her venom the superintendent and other board members were obviously caught off guard by her accusations, all except Larry Thrasher that is, earlier he had deferred his comments to Mrs. Stockton by saying she had enough to say for both of them. What Stockton’s tirade was really about is she now finds herself all alone with the ouster of Larry Thrasher. She doesn’t have anyone on the Board she can manipulate and consort with. The old townies worked very hard to take control of the school system with this election and fortunately they failed. Stockton was obviously so upset with the outcome of the election that she couldn’t restrain herself from venting and letting her true colors show through. The old townies would have liked nothing more than to chase off another superintendent and throw the school system in complete chaos. Thank goodness the voters reversed the trend toward reverting to a bygone era by returning Randy Wright and electing Dana Kerr to the R-BB Board. However, they will all have to tread lightly as it is obvious there is still one snake in the grass.