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Monday, February 08, 2016
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Purdue President Mitch Daniels in his Hovde Hall office, saying the presidential race frontrunners aren't addressing the critical issues facing the U.S.  (HPI Photo by Brian A. Howey)
Purdue President Mitch Daniels in his Hovde Hall office, saying the presidential race frontrunners aren't addressing the critical issues facing the U.S. (HPI Photo by Brian A. Howey)
Sunday, February 07, 2016 10:08 AM
WEST LAFAYETTE – Donald Trump, Ted Cruz and Bernie Sanders may be early precursors of an upheaval over the American horizon. The United States has experienced seismic events that profoundly changed the nation about every 80 years, ranging from the American Revolution, to the Civil War, to the Great Depression and World War II, which ended 71 years ago. These candidates could be acolytes for a coming cataclysm.
Just hours before the Iowa caucuses, I spent more than an hour with Purdue President Mitch Daniels at his Hovde Hall office. Daniels could have been on the Republican ballot that night if not for a fateful family decision in May, 2011, not to pursue presidential politics. He’s been on record as believing he could have won the 2012 Republican nomination, but doesn’t believe he could have defeated President Obama (I beg to differ). And he believes he would have had little chance in today’s middle-finger mood in Republican politics.
Today, Daniels maintains his political “celibacy,” though he responded to several broader questions about what Americans are experiencing in this fascinating 2016 cycle. Several of his answers came in the context of his role at Purdue. Insurgent candidates like Trump and Cruz on the Republican side and Sanders captured roughly 50% of the vote in Iowa Monday night. But more specifically, this angst among voters is fielded by a difficult transition from a manufacturing economy, to services, and now knowledge-based industries, which has been significantly different than the change from an agrarian economy a century ago to one of heavy, production line industries that transformed Indiana.
The change gripping the United States today is worrisome to Daniels. “Watching as openmindedly as I can, reading as much as I can, I am not sure the transition from the early knowledge-based or modern knowledge-based economy automation . . . can easily replace a lot of jobs we’ve had. It’s not yet clear to me that it will create sufficient categories of new high-paying jobs. Whether there will be enough of them to support a growing population and a middle class like we’ve known, that’s what is bothering me.”
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    FORT WAYNE – Iowa eliminates, it does not nominate. The same can be said for New Hampshire. Neither is typical of much of anything about America, especially the diversity. But they do function as a form of baseball’s spring training. The players can be examined in close detail, with the starters separating from the others. With Republicans Huckabee and Paul already dropping out, the clearing of the deck has begun. Iowa offered many insights of what is likely to come on the Republican side. On the Democrat side, we Republicans can only cheer on Bernie to a point, hoping for chaos and forcing Clinton even further out of the mainstream while we try to sort things out. The big loser in Iowa was clearly Donald Trump. He was seriously wounded but far from eliminated. He was the man who believed in polls, who sold himself as the “winner.” Trump was at 37% and the clear leader in all polls, but received 24% and squeaked into second place. The first post-Iowa poll shows Trump at 38%. If he again declines in New Hampshire, especially below 25%, his campaign will be in serious trouble.
    MERRILLVILLE – East Chicago Councilman Robert Battle has city and county Democrats wondering how they can get out of the mess they are in. Battle is sitting in jail as he awaits trial on drug and homicide charges. And, all the while, he is pulling in a cool $42,356 a year for his services as a city councilman. But if you are one of his constituents, it probably is pretty tough to reach Battle with a complaint or suggestion. That’s just how the penal system works. There is outrage in some quarters because Battle is allowed to serve as a councilman and because he is drawing a salary while in jail. Because the law says one is innocent until proven guilty, local Democrats aren’t sure what to do about Battle.The one thing they agree on is that as long as Battle is an incarcerated councilman, he is an embarrassment to East Chicago and Lake County as a whole. Lake County Sheriff John Buncich, who doubles as county Democratic chairman, wants something done with Battle, at least on a temporary basis.
    LaPORTE – Under the theory that even a blind squirrel finds an acorn now and then or that a  broken clock is right twice a day, the Koch Brothers-funded Americans for Prosperity got it right for once; there’s no need to raise taxes in Indiana to fund roads.  Yes, we need to “prioritize existing funds better” as AFP urges, but we better also stop the loss of needed tax revenues by  putting a moratorium on further tax cuts scheduled in corporate, bank and individual income taxes. We also better look at a fairer distribution of highway and road dollars, as currently there’s a massive disparity between regions. The LaPorte County Commissioners released data in 2015 showing that the affluent suburbs around Indianapolis that make up the Greenfield INDOT district received $1.7 billion more in funds for state highways, interstates and roads over the past 10 years than the INDOT district in Northwest Indiana received. That’s how we end up with gold-plated highways like the Keystone Parkway in Hamilton County while roads and bridges are crumbling across Northwest Indiana.
    INDIANAPOLIS – The circus is entertaining once more at the Statehouse. Yes, ladies and gentlemen, children of all ages, the Indiana General Assembly is in session. Once again, you can see the stars of the show attempt to make daring public policy, swallow the fire of tax increases, and walk the tightrope of discrimination. Off to the side are the brave few battling the beasts of ignorance, indifference, and stupidity. Let’s resist the temptation to shine a light where so much darkness dwells. Instead, we retreat to the Garden of Data where, despite some weeds, the air is clean and invigorating. Imagine if our legislature stopped for a moment to sniff this delicate statistic from the American Community Survey (ACS) of 2014: About a third of all Hoosiers work outside their county of residence.
    SOUTH BEND – Despite the Indiana legislature granting a reprieve for accountability consequences for plummeting ISTEP scores, it’s clear for whom “F” grades are deserved in this test mess. Not the kids, faced with tests too long and then shortened, and with glitches galore and questionable grading. Not the teachers, challenged with changing test requirements and belittled by politicians shifting blame to them. The ones who flunked this test are Gov. Mike Pence, more concerned with politics at the national level than with education here in Indiana, and those legislators who also played politics to turn ISTEP into ISTUMBLE. It all started back in the 2014 legislative session. Legislators, following the call of Gov. Pence, regarded then as a potentially viable contender for the 2016 Republican presidential nomination, voted to reject state planning to join the national effort to set high education standards through a bipartisan effort called Common Core State Standards.
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  • Stutzman, Rubio win 6th CD GOP straw polls

    RUSHVILLE - Some 54 6th CD precinct officials participated in a straw poll Saturday morning with Sen. Marco Rubio winning the presidential poll, and U.S. Rep. Marlin Stutzman winning the U.S. Senate poll. Rubio received 22 votes (41.5%), Donald Trump 13 (24.5%), and Sen. Ted Cruz 11 (20.7%). Ben Carson, Chris Christie and Carly Fiorina each received 2 votes (3.8%), Jeb Bush 1 vote (1.9%), while Ohio Gov. John Kasich received no votes. In the U.S. Senate race, Stutzman had 22 votes (40.7%), U.S. Rep. Todd Young 17 (31.5%) and Eric 15 votes with 27.8%).

  • Horse Race: Education issues could drive 14 House, 4 Senate challenges

    INDIANAPOLIS - Fourteen Indiana House and four Senate incumbents are facing primary challengers, including State Rep. Donna Schaibley who is opposed by Tea Party activist Greg Fettig. In other moves just prior to today’s noon primary filing deadline, in the 9th CD, Republican Jim Pfaff dropped out of that race and endorsed Attorney General Greg Zoeller, opting to run for the open HD65. Asked if there is a movement afoot in all of the House challenges, Mike Gentry of Mark It Red, and a former head of the House Republican Campaign Committee who is now a key consultant to that group, told HPI that he was just beginning to go over the challengers. “I think this may be more education issue related,” Gentry said.

  • Former Gov. Edgar Whitcomb, World War II hero, dies at age 98


    INDIANAPOLIS - Former Indiana Gov. Edgar Whitcomb, a World War II hero, died on Thursday afternoon at age 98, surrounded by his family. Whitcomb was Indiana’s 43rd governor, serving from 1969 to 1973. He had also served as Indiana secretary of state.
    Gov. Mike Pence, in officially announcing Whitcomb’s death, said, “Gov. Ed Whitcomb was a great man whose life of courage, service and adventure inspired generations of Hoosiers and he will be deeply missed. Gov. Whitcomb was a treasure to our state and I mark his passing with a sense of personal loss as will thousands of Hoosiers whose lives were touched by this remarkable leader. Ed Whitcomb’s zest for life was evident in each of his 98 years.”

  • HPI Analysis: Civil rights demise consequences unclear

    INDIANAPOLIS – Gov. Mike Pence has delivered for Monica Boyer. Heading into a tough reelection bid, his social conservative base is more secure now that SB344, the LGBT civil rights expansion, is dead. But this episode underscored the narrative, even within his base, that he is a weak, indecisive “Chance the Gardner” governor. His fate with moderates and independent voters is undecided. There appears to be little fear of political retribution and this won’t happen unless there is the kind of political assault that took Sen. Steve Johnson out in 2002, Senate Finance Chairman Larry Borst in 2004 and Senate President Pro Tem Robert Garton in 2006. Those were all challenges waged against moderates from the right. There appears to be little fear of political retribution and this won’t happen unless there is the kind of political assault that took Sen. Steve Johnson out in 2002, Senate Finance Chairman Larry Borst in 2004 and Senate President Pro Tem Robert Garton in 2006. Those were all challenges waged against moderates from the right.


  • Smaltz meth bill one of four to advance at crossover
    INDIANAPOLIS — Members of the House of Representatives voted today in support of State Rep. Ben Smaltz’s (R-Auburn) bill to combat the growing number of meth labs in Indiana. Pseudoephedrine is a key ingredient used in the production of meth and often found in a small number of cold, flu and allergy medications. If enacted, HB1390 would allow Hoosiers who have a relationship on record with a pharmacy to continue to obtain pseudoephedrine of their choosing without a prescription. If a purchaser does not have a relationship on record, the bill would give pharmacists the option to sell them tamper-resistant products or a small package of 24-count 30mg regular pseudoephedrine. If the purchaser still refuses and demands regular pseudoephedrine, the bill would require them to obtain a prescription. “My proposal is designed to protect law-abiding Hoosiers. It would not enact a full prescription requirement on pseudoephedrine in Indiana or add pseudoephedrine to the list of controlled substances,” Smaltz said.
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  • GOP Fort Wayne Councilman Crawford calls for LGBT protections
    “Most Indiana citizens don’t know that in Indiana you can be fired simply because of sexual orientation or gender identity. Our city has protected our citizens from arbitrary discrimination since Fort Wayne City Council added sexual orientation to our Discrimination and Human Relations Ordinance in 2001. During that debate, many people asked me why I was in favor of that. I asked them that if an employee of many years one day informed their employer they were gay and were then told they were fired simply because they were gay, is that right? Not one person ever told me they thought that was morally right – but that is legal today in Indiana. The Indiana legislature should do it now, do it comprehensively and be done. Indiana’s civil rights law should simply be amended by adding sexual orientation and gender identity to the protected classes. Anything less will continue this divisive discussion into future legislative sessions again and again.” - Fort Wayne Councilman John Crawford, a Republican, in a Journal Gazette op-ed article following the demise of SB344.

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Sen. Bernie Sanders joins Larry David on Saturday Night Live.

Kip Tom's first 3rd CD TV ad
Kip Tom, a 3rd CD Republican candidate, is now airing his first TV ad.

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State of the State

What grade would you give Gov. Mike Pence's State of the State address on Jan. 12, 2016?


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