About Kip Tew

Kip is a Partner with the law firm of Krieg Devault. He has been involved in Indiana politics since he was at IU in 1980’s. He has worked on campaigns for Congress, Mayor, Prosecutor, Secretary of State, Senate, Governor, President and city council (when he was foolish enough to put his own name on the ballot, where he promptly lost). He has been the chair of the Indiana Democratic party, the Marion County Democratic Party and was most recently the State Chair of the Barack Obama campaign for President. He wrote a book about that campaign in Indiana titled Journey To Blue, How Barack Obama Won Indiana in 2008.

Filibusters and Lugar

Today I read Matt Tully’s column about his displeasure about what is happening on both sides of Market street and the political machinations that he believes should upset the voters.
I want to take this opportunity to disagree with his characterization of Democrats not doing “their jobs”. It is way too simplistic of Matt to make the broad statement that they are not “doing their jobs by not appearing on the floor. There is a lot more to the work than sitting in the chair and helping to allow for a quorum. What Democrats are attempting to do is force the Republicans to work with them. The Republicans have the votes to do whatever they want. Imagine for a minute if Democrats were denying Republicans a quorum because the Republicans were going to reverse the right to vote and only people who were landowners were going to be given the right? Would you be outraged if Democrats denied them a quorum?
I doubt it. So it really comes down to how you feel about the underlying issue. And for Democrats, the so called “right to work” issue  is a core value and one a portion of the base of the party feels very strongly about. And Democrats who occupy seats in the General Assembly were elected, and if their voters want them to deny a quorum to stop this onerous legislation then it seems to me they are doing the job they were elected to do…stop really bad legislation. Our Indiana Constitution has a quorum requirement for a reason.
However, on the National level, the US Constitution does not provide for a filibuster. It is a rule of the Senate that has been used by both parties and the number of votes it takes to stop debate has changed over the years.  But  it is not in the Constitution.  Republicans, who are in the minority, have used it on almost every issue the last four years to thwart or force the Obama Administration to compromise or stop what the President wants to do. Yet Matt Tully gives Dick Lugar a break on this tactic. He wrote two praiseworthy columns about how we cannot afford to lose Lugar’s voice and his reasonableness. Really? Lugar has voted right down the line with his party on vote after vote after vote to maintain filibusters. Why is it okay for Lugar to engage in purely partisan activities that thwart the will of the majority but not okay for Democrats locally on one issue? I don’t  get it. 

 

Jim Irsay and Politics

Yesterday Jim Irsay did what some believed he would never do and that was to part ways with the guy that was the principle architect of his team winning a Super Bowl and giving him a decade of championship caliber teams. As a season ticket holder I was very grateful for the job Bill Polian did. it seemed every season but the last the Colts had a chance at the Super Bowl.

But Irsay let Polian go. To me the most remarkable aspect of that decision is one of the things Irsay said in his press conference. He said he listened to the fans on twitter and on the blogs.  He said the fans were the shareholders of the team. I was floored by that statement because it gave me a completely different view of Jim Irsay. Here is a guy who I thought seemed to be living the life of an entitled aristocrat. But I clearly did not see that he realized he wasn’t.  The statement seemed candid to me and not like it came from some PR flack or political consultant but something he takes to heart. It is something that I didn’t think he believed. But I am very glad that he does.

Now don’t get me wrong, I do not believe an owner should sway with the winds of the fan base. We fans don’t know football like the guys who are paid to know football, we are fans, which is short for fanatics…we might not be objective.  But the fact he that stated that the fans are the shareholders means he understands that despite the fact he makes the decisions he still desires to answer to the fans…it is almost as if he sees us as the voters.  Which is pretty refreshing.  We did pay for the stadium, we do pay for the tickets, we buy the wildly overpriced concessions. It was genuinely nice to hear him acknowledge that this game and this franchise exists because of the fans.  I think that is lacking in sports, especially in professional sports.   

And that brings me to politics.  Irsay also knew that it was time for renewal.  Polian had been at the helm for 14 seasons and Irsay sensed that Polian had run the course and worn out his welcome.  I think more of it had to do with the succession plan than anything else.  That is to say that Irsay was not on board with Chris Polian taking over for his dad and Bill would not  ( nor would most fathers, I suspect) fire his own son. 

Sometimes I wish in politics, politicians and operatives would know when it is their time to move on as well.  Sen Richard Lugar comes to mind.  He has been a distinguished member of the Senate for all of my adult life.  He should have announced his retirement and allowed a battle to ensue for his replacement.  But he feels a divine right to serve.  Voters may very well disagree.

The Indiana Democratic “Chairman” Dan Parker also comes to mind.  He was my choice to replace me as the state chair.  He did a great job in the 2006 cycle. He recruited well and helped to turn  3 congressional seats and the Indiana House back to Democrats.     But in 2008, he recrutied and tried to ram Jim Schellinger down the throats of Democrats and that ended with Schellinger losing a primary.  2010 and 2011 were bad years all around and he should have taken his lumps and moved on.  I did after 2004. But  a couple of Saturdays ago in a ridiculous display of anti democratic behavior he took away the right to vote of his own state committee to pick his replacement.  Another sordid example of someone who did not know it was time to go.

Office Space

So we misplaced $300 Million. Come on you whiny bunch of pansy liberals, its just a rounding error. I smoke dollar bills at night just for fun…get a life.
It’s not like that money could be put to good use…like repairing the bridge over the Ohio river, to heck with all those folks in Southern Indiana who want to get to and from work.

Its not like $300 million would make more than a down-payment on full day kindergarten.

Seriously, it sounds to me like there was some dude in state government who was reliving the movie Office Space.  If you are unfamiliar with the movie, the IT dudes rig the system so that it shaves off a few pennies on each transaction such that they get rich and no one notices. 

This problem in state government has been goin on  since 2007!  The Governor, in a momentary lapse of judgment, was actually candid about that.  4 years and no one noticed until now?  Are you kidding me?  Hey they aren’t bad people, they just can’t keep track of money. 

Gotta give props to the Governor however.  He somewhat successfully spun out yesterday that this is another example of his sound fiscal stewardship.  Hey it’s a Christmas present…unless of course you are one of the folks who has had to endure cuts over the last 4 years because he kept telling you the state didn’t have the money.

Something for Nothing

The Republican Party used to be the party that screamed from the rooftops about all of the welfare cheats and the people who were living on the government dole getting something for nothing.

To hear the way they told it, their gosh darned hard earned money was going to a bunch of lazy no good poeple who just needed a good kick in the pants so they would get off their duffs and go get a job.

So I am dumbfounded by two very big debates right now where Republicans are defending the opposite.

First, the “individual mandate” monstrosity in Obamacare. Republicans and tea party folks like to wail on about how it is an assault on the Constitution and a big step toward socialism.  But the core of the idea is this:  There are a bunch of people who gamble every day that they won’t get sick so they don’t buy health insurance…then some do get sick, go to the emergency room, rack up huge bills that they cannot pay and the costs get passed on to the rest of us.  We pay one way or the other.  Not them.  So this plan says everyone has to pay their fair share.  What the heck is wrong with that concept?  Mitt Romney was for it. Newt Gingrich was for it…seriously they were.  Mitt passed it into law in his state and he go the idea from Newt.  Now they act like it is a scourge.

The second issue is the “right to work” issue.  Fundamentally this issue comes down to competing rights.  My right to join a union  versus someone else’s right to not be compelled to join anything.  And it is a fair point to not want to coerce people into  associations they don’t want to be a part of.  However, those people, if there is a union in their place of work will be getting something for nothing if they refuse to join.  The union will be negotiating the wages, benefits and working conditions.  So a whole bunch of folks will be paying for those services while some will get them for free.  Again, something for nothing.

Now Republicans might claim with some justification that they believe the right to not associate is more important to them than allowing for some freeloaders.  But I hope they would admit they are allowing for a bunch of freeloaders in that scenario.  And in doing so it lessens the incentive to join a union thereby weakening the union thereby giving the corporation another advantage at a time of record profits and the greatest income disparity since the 50′s. 

 

HERE WE GO AGAIN !

The two leaders of the Indiana General Assembly just announced that they will be proceeding forward with what is unfortuantely named  “ right to work”  legislation. So we will once again be consumed with arguments and fights about this incredibly divisive topic.

As this debate unfolds over the next few months ask your self these questions. Were unions responsible for the economic meltdown that occured at the end of 2008 and into 2009? Did unions engage in behavior that froze the capital markets? Was it unions that devised credit default swaps? Did the unions bring about the monthly half a million shedding of jobs in the last quarter of 08 and early part of 09? Of course not…

Ask your self this as well: Mitch Daniels and the Republicans in the legislature like to say we are the jewel of the midwest, that we have the best climate for business, that we have been doing well compared to our competitor states. If that is true ( which i would argue it is not) then why do we need to further destroy the power of unions?

Here is the answer and the cold hard fact. They have put off rewarding one of their biggest interests groups and one of the biggest donors to their campaigns and now in his last year in office Mitch has to finally pay the bill.

For those of you who may be unfamiliar with the complexities of this fight, it comes down to this.  What the proponents of this legislation want to do is to decrease the power of the unions bargaining strength at the bargaining table.  They want to be able to put into state statute a prohibition on the right for a company and a labor union to freely contract.  You read that correctly, this legislation, if passed will interfere in the right of the two parties to freely enter into a contract.  It will say the state knows better than the two, what is in the best interest of the two.  Most of the time, these folks would howl and scream about the state telling them what they can and cannot do.  Not this time.  Why?  Because they want the state to protect them from the “all powerful union bosses” …. and if you believe unions have too much power in Indiana now, then you are oblivious to factual based arguments.  Because real wages in Indiana are down.  When unions have less power, corporations are not altruistic…they don’t generally give for the sake of giving, nor should they.  Corporations exist to make profits for their shareholders.  That is why we need unions to protect workers from what would otherwise be an unfair fight.  This is about fairness and a level playing field. 

 

“Daylight”savings time

I know today is election eve, but since the good people at WRTV have given me this platform to say what I want, I want to talk about an issue that is as old and overtalked about as any in Indiana history…and yet folks  still love to talk about it. “Daylight” savings time…what a joke.

People who know me well probably do not describe be as a stuffy old traditionalist conservative person. But I am with the old timers on this one.

Forcing us to change our clocks was an issue that was near and dear to Mitch Daniels and most of what I would call the elite, the chattering class, the opinion leaders in Indiana. And it was touted as a job panacea, it would make the rest of the country change their opinions of our relative “bumpkinness”, it was time for us to get with the program.

Well it did none of those things. All it really did was make us run around the house twice a year and change our clocks. See, the sun is going to rise when it rises and it will set when it sets.  We are not changing the rotation of the earth…There is no “daylight” savings. Just the very name makes me crazy. Kind of like the proverbial “new and improved” when all that is “new” is fewer ounces in the carton and all that is “improved” is the slick packaging.

I understand that human beings from all over the world engage in this silly practice, but that does not make it any less silly. Please explain to me why, in the winter, we want more sunlight in the morning as opposed to evening? I get why we want more sunlight in the evening in the summer…but why don’t we all collectively just keep it that way year round. Lets start a movement that moves our clocks to where it is consistent all year round and nobody has to change clocks anywhere. 

And I hope we would level with our fellow Hoosiers.  “Daylight” saving time did not increase jobs in Indiana.  It did not change our image.  It just made us one more of the herd, kind of like class basketball…the greatest travesty…well that is another blog post.

Direct Mail onslaught

If you are an active voter, meaning you have participated in the last few elections, your mailbox is probably running over with mail from candidates, party committees and maybe even a PAC or two.

Some of it is informative, some is way over the top, some of it is pretty funny and some of it is just completely misleading. For example, take the council race in District 4 here in Indianapolis.  It pits Christine Scales the incumbent versus Kostas Poulakidas ( who, full disclosure, I work with and is my neighbor) Judging by blogger noise this is one of the hottest contests in Marion County.

Rather than be harshly negative, a lighthearted mailing was sent out poking fun at Scales for spending a lot of time in Florida rather than working in her district. . They were fake postcards from Florida. Many thought they were pretty funny.  Not what I would call a terrible negative attack… I guess that is in the eye of the beholder.

Well today Scales sent out two mailings on Kostas, one was completely over the top., and the other had outright lies in it.  The first one called him a DC insider (our firm doesn’t even have a DC office, he has friends and family who live out there, oh and he went to grad school and had a federal clerkship.  So that makes him a Washington insider? !  I am surprised Scales didn’t say he is responsible for the debt ceiling vote.)

The second mailer has outright lies and plays an ugly race card.  The background on the mailer is the following:  After moving to the fourth district, Kostas and his wife had to rent rather than sell their first home because of the downturned housing market.  He put an online ad up that said the following ” Perfect for professionals, professional students, couples, pets welcome.” 

On that basis, a national group that trolls the internet attempted to sue him claiming he was attempting to discriminate against single people.  They offered not to file their suit if he paid them $1500.  He decided to fight it because it had  no merit.  Now I know a lot of students and professionals many of them are single,some with kids,  so I am at a loss to figure out how the heck there is anything remotely wrong with that.  But  the Scales  mailer shows an African American woman and a child and  says that “no single women need apply.”  That is just a lie.  A baldfaced, low down dirty lie.  Kostas rented the place to a single person and an African American.  In fact, the Metropolitan Indianapolis Board of Realtors called the claim bogus and endorsed Kostas over Scales.   

So Christine Scales and her friends went ballistic over a joke but are perfectly comfortable sending out mailings that are over the top and have baldfaced lies in them.  I guess it proves the old adage that you can’t believe everything you read…

early vote rally

Today the Governor and the Mayor muscled together their collective organizations and attempted to have an early vote rally. What mojo…I think there were about 100 people in attendance. It was quite a  display of organizational strength…and it was about as genuine as the LiTEBOX press conference of last week.

Yes the Republicans…who have stopped at nothing in their attempt to suppress early voting, from changing the state statute and overturning a Supreme court ruling to making up phony excuses to stop satellite voting they redefine hypocrisy by having this rally today.

Rex Early, the former Republican state chair has a old phrase that I would like to steal for this occasion and it goes something like this… There is hypocrisy and then there is HIGHpocrisy. This is HIGHpocrisy. These knuckleheads take the cake. The Los Angeles Times did a story this week about the concerted effort by Republicans all over the country to suppress the vote. The story noted that Republicans have been most successful in states where they have a Republican Governorship and both houses of the legislature.

Welcome to one party rule here in Indiana. In 2008, Democrats were sued by Republicans in Indiana because we Democrats  were trying to allow people to cast their votes early from more convenient places. Let me repeat….the Republicans sued to try and stop it. The case went all the way up to the Indiana Supreme Court and Republicans  lost. So what did they do? As soon as they got complete control they just overturned the court decision by changing state law.

So, despite the fact that satellite voting was an unqualified success for VOTERS in 2007, 2008, 2009, the Republicans took it away. And then today they have a rally to celebrate early voting. Hey left hand, pay no attention to what the right hand is doing.  We attempted to shame them into doing the “right” thing but we had a bad strategy…we assumed they had a conscience and were capable of being ashamed. Oh,  they made up some phony excuse like we could not afford it, even though it was in a budget that they approved, and even though they turned around and approved a contract for 5 times the amount for redrawing council lines when they don’t need to do so this year. 

So if you saw the rally today or you hear about it, keep in mind that these guys not only don’t know how to use the “google” themselves ( see LiTEBOX) but they must think you don’t either.

Right to work for less

 Indiana legislators appear to be taking  another step closer to the cliff. They are now seriously considering  joining the ranks of many of the confederate states and declare Indiana a Right To Work (RTW) state.

Now if you are a bit hazy on what exactly RTW means I don’t blame you. It certainly sounds like a positive thing. I should have a “right to work”. Well, proponents will have you believe it is a matter of great importance of individual liberty. But let me explain it in the way i can best understand. These laws say that an employer and a union are prohibited from entering into an agreement that requires all similarly situated employees be dues paying members of the union. So in other words, if Eli Lilly wants to have an agreement with its union that all of the people they hire on the assembly line be dues paying members of a union, they cannot.

So in essence you have two very conservative principles butting heads with one another. First, should a person be compelled to join a union if they don’t want to? Second, should the government be able to interfere in a contract freely entered into by two sides? This kind of competition between two guiding conservative principles makes some conservative heads explode. I think this is because most of the time they want a  world that exists in black and white. There is good and there is evil.There is very little gray.  There is very little compromise.   But what happens when two conservative principles come in direct conflict? Which one trumps the other?

In this case, the individual wins out.  Why?  Well first, I  think it has little to do with the actual individual freedom issue because they are very happy to deny an individual woman the right to make decisions about abortion.  What is at the root is  the corporate interests.  Most corporations would rather be forced by the state to take away their right to enter into this contract.  Because it gives unions more leverage.  It makes it much harder for the company to divide and conquer.  And the leverage at the bargaining table is very meaningful.   In states that have an RTW law, wages and benefits are lower.  This is a fact.  According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics in RTW states, wages per week are $200 less per worker.  That is not chump change.

But is not just the workers who get the shaft.  According to the census bureau, RTW states have lower living standards, a higher poverty rate, fewer citizens have health insurance, and there is lower educational attainment.  

Lots of folks have argued for lots of years about whether unions are a net postive or a net negative.  My view is that unions built the great middle class in the United States.  We now have the worst economy in most of our lifetimes brought on by unbridled greed on Wall Street.  Not having a check on this unbridled greed in the corporate boardrooms across the country will drive us to 3rd world status.  I wish the CEO’s would wake up to that fact.   You can’t sell your goods to workers who can’t afford to buy them.  So as the legislature takes up this issue in January, I hope they take a step away from the cliff and just throw the bill over and not our state.