Category Archives: Mitch Daniels

Deficit Neutral FMAP Stimulus Moving Through Congress Despite Lugar and Other Obstructionist Rs

We’ve discussed the FMAP stimulus legislation here at ALO before (http://aloyalopposition.in/2010/06/18/fmap.) Well, it is coming to a head and despite the fact that cuts have been made to make the Murray-Harkin-Reid-Schumer amendment to the FMAP/edujobs bill completely deficit neutral, Senator Dick Lugar and the rest of Governor Mitch Daniels anti-teacher brigade continue to oppose it solely to bring failure to the Obama administration.

"Seriously Dick. Gimme some rock." "No way Bam-Bam."

Learn about this bill yourself and then call Senators Bayh and Lugar to encourage them to vote for the Murray-Harkin-Reid-Schumer amendment to the FMAP/edujobs legislation.

Hear State Senator Vi Simpson (D-Elletsville) discuss the stimulus needed in the FMAP bill here on The Dave Crooks Show. And here are just a few of the key points to know about this legislation that will help keep Hoosier schools from closing, keep teachers in the classrooms and keep class sizes from ballooning:

•  The economic collapse created a disaster for states and schools across the country, and it’s going to take a long time for them to recover, even after we turn the corner.
•  States and schools are facing an unprecedented fiscal crisis. While the economy is starting to improve, states face a cumulative budget gap of $200 billion in fiscal year 2010 and $180 billion in fiscal year 2011.
•  A recent report by the National Governors Association and the National Association of State Budget Officers found that 35 States cut funding for K12 education and 37 States did so for higher education in Fiscal Year 2010, with 31 States planning to impose additional K12 and higher education cuts in Fiscal Year 2011.
•  Education jobs and services have already been slashed to the bone. Schools have raised class sizes, instituted unpaid furlough days, laid off teachers, and cut back on programs our kids need to be successful.
•  According to a study by the University of Washington, even though ARRA prevented an education catastrophe, 87,019 K12 jobs were eliminated this past school year.
•  Overall, since August 2008, State and local governments have eliminated 242,000 jobs.
•  Up to 400,000 workers could lose jobs in the next year as states, counties and cities grapple with lower revenue and less federal funding, says Mark Zandi, chief economist for Moody’s Economy.com.
•  Schools are facing as many as 300,000 layoffs of teachers, counselors, school nurses, and other critical staff.
•  A recent Center on Education Policy report, School Districts’ Perspectives on the Economic Stimulus Package, found that “While nearly two-thirds of all school districts have used the federal stimulus money from the American Recovery and
Reinvestment Act (ARRA) to save or create teaching jobs in the 2009-10 school year, as many as three quarters of the nation’s school districts expect to cut teaching jobs in 2010-11 due to budget decreases…”
•  Losing these education jobs wouldn’t just affect the individuals getting pink slips. It would have a catastrophic ripple effect across communities, dragging our economy downward again.
•  For every 100,000 education jobs eliminated, 30,000 other jobs, including those in the private sector will also vanish.
•  The $10 billion education jobs fund in the Murray-Harkin-Reid-Schumer amendment is fully offset (without the House-passed education offsets) and will not increase the deficit.
•  According to the Economic Policy Institute (EPI), spending $10 billion to save education jobs will only have a net impact on the deficit of only $4.75 billion, after accounting for an increase in GDP. Thus, since the entire $10 billion is offset, the education jobs fund will actually reduce the deficit by $5.25 billion.
•  According to the Education Commission of the States, a $10 billion education jobs fund would save at least 136,758 education jobs.
•  President Obama on June 12th said that an education jobs fund is “among the most cost-effective ways of promoting economic growth, as measured by the Congressional Budget office and numerous independent experts.”
•  Even those advocating for long-term deficit reduction recognize the need for an education jobs fund. “Right now, I think that there’s still a case to be made for some aid to the states if it is a pretty direct form of injecting stimulus.” Robert Bixby, the executive director of the Concord Coalition.
•  According to a recent Gallup poll, the American public, by a 60-38 percent margin favor “additional government spending to create jobs and stimulate the economy.”
•  Morton Kondracke, Roll Call Executive Editor, on June 17th strongly urged Congress to approve an education jobs fund, “At long last, Congress is getting serious about containing deficit spending, but it would be ridiculous to show it by allowing more than 100,000 teachers around the country to lose their jobs… So it’s time for Congress to do what it’s hired to do: set priorities. Keeping teachers working should be close to Job One.”
•  Just as we start to see signs that our economy is turning around, there could be nothing more short-sighted than ripping a gaping hole in our schools and communities.
•  These are jobs at the core of our communities – teaching our kids, keeping class sizes manageable, providing summer school, preparing students to enter the workforce, and providing the foundation of our economic future.
•  We can’t afford not to do the right thing, to keep teachers in our classrooms, our schools on track, and our education system improving.
•  We can’t improve the economy and reduce unemployment by increasing public sector unemployment.
•  Ensuring quality education for children pays off. Individuals without a high school diploma are three times as likely to be unemployed as those with a college degree.
•  The language in the Murray-Harkin-Reid-Schumer amendment prohibits states from using funds for rainy day funds or to reduce state debt obligations.
•  The funds may only be used to save or create jobs for teachers and other educators.

Also of note here are some key points for thoise who doubt stimulus has helped the economy. Note the following charts from The Center on Budget and Policy Priorities:


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Pence, Daniels & Bennett Against Keeping Educators Working

Today we were a part of a statewide conference call alerting folks to the coming decimation of the backbone of our public school system. In a statewide conference call featuring Nate Shellenberger, President of the Indiana State Teacher’s Association and teachers from across the state, some losing their jobs due to budget cuts and others on the bubble.

ISTA represents more than 50,000 teachers across the state and has been under siege by Governor Mitch Daniels (http://aloyalopposition.in/2009/12/29/daniels-cannot-wait-to-fire-some-teachers) and Superintendent Tony Bennett for some time.

First, Daniels (http://aloyalopposition.in/2010/02/25/my-malicious-mitch) took advantage of the property tax upheaval to permanently remove education from the property tax roles thus always making it linked to the more rollercoastery ebb and flow of sales and income taxes. Fully knowing that with the very next downturn he would have to fire teachers. He has long wanted to see government out of the education business. It is why he has begun advocating for less education. Did you ever think you’d have a Governor telling folks that they shouldn’t aim for better educations?

Daniels (http://aloyalopposition.in/2009/12/16/disingenuous-daniels-gutting-education) has pressed since he was a part of Steve Goldsmith’s privatize everything cabal and then George Bush’s Your Child Left Behind crusade, to get government out of the education business so only wealthy folks can reach higher education’s rewards.

Then his hand-picked hatchet man, Superintendent of Public Instruction Tony Bennett, pressed to make it easier for less-qualified people who do not have training as educators, replace professionally trained teachers. Bennett, as the guy who is supposed to ensure Indiana schools improve, wants to make it so professionals can be replaced with less skilled, under-certified non-educators.

All this is now coming under fire now as Iowa Senator Tom Harkin has announced the Keep Our Educator’s Working Act.  Back in April Harkin announced the effort:

Job losses at public schools and colleges in the U.S. may top 100,000 in the next school year, Harkin said today at a U.S. Senate Appropriations subcommittee hearing. The legislation needs to be passed now because school districts are making budget decisions this month, he said.

“The jobs crisis in education is real,” Harkin said at the hearing. “And it’s not just a problem in one state or one area; it’s a problem nationally.”

The fund would supplement the $100 billion dedicated to education in the $862 billion stimulus package, called the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act. A total of $69 billion had been awarded to states through Dec. 31, preserving more than 300,000 teaching and school administration jobs, according to the U.S. Department of Education Web site. The stimulus money expires Sept. 30, Harkin said.

Education Secretary Arne Duncan said he planned to work with Harkin on details of the legislation.

“We absolutely need a jobs bill,” Duncan testified before the subcommittee. “It’s the right thing for our country; it’s the right thing for our economy; it’s the right thing for our children.”

The money in the Harkin legislation would be used to retain teachers, librarians and other school staff, hire new employees and provide training at schools districts and public colleges and universities. The funds couldn’t be used to retire debt or for a reserve.

The legislation would be classified as an emergency spending measure and be exempt from pay-as-you-go rules that would require cuts elsewhere, Harkin said. It is appropriate to increase the federal deficit for education purposes, he said.

“How can you argue that it’s OK for a kid to borrow to go to college but it’s not OK to borrow so that there’s a college for the kid to go to?” Harkin said. “If there’s one legitimate area where we can borrow from the future, it’s education, because what sort of jobs will we have for my grandkids and great grandkids in the future if we don’t have a well-educated group of young people today?”

Can’t hear Daniels blowing his top? Anyway, support for this effort has been ramping up and the ISTA call was to draw support for the bill. Shellenberger and some very worried and long dedicated educators were on the call reminding people of what is to be lost if nothing is done. As many as 5,000 teachers will be fired next year in Indiana if nothing is done. Classroom sizes will balloon. Whole school districts will be forced to cut programs and probably close schools.

We asked Shellenberger, who pointed out that if the bill passes the funding will likely drop to the state and be up to this governor to distribute, how he could be sure that such a non-advocate of public education could be trusted to make sure the funds get used to rehire teachers.

Shellenberger wisely did not take ALO’s red-meat bait but rather and appropriately pointed out that the ISTA will make sure that they put clear pressure on the Governor to properly and immediately distribute those funds to the most effected school districts.

When we again wondered to ISTA how he can be certain that Tony Bennett. who apparently left his heart somewhere, and the Governor can be trusted to rehire laid-off teachers and not replace then with under-certified hacks with no educational training, Shellenberger again did not jump at the chance to criticize, but rather cited that he is certain the teacher contracts in effect in each district will be adhered to and that “retired Lilly chemists won’t be hired over trained laid-off chemistry teachers.”

We are proud of Shellenberger for not jumping at our hot-headed rhetoric but rather cooly sticking to his guns. He has a long fight to impress Hoosier members of congress to pass this bill this summer and avoid huge lay-offs in September.

We know Congressman Mike Pence won’t vote for it, even though several of the most impacted districts including Anderson, Muncie and Richmond are in his district. Why? Because he is a doctrinaire flag-waving patriot who doesn’t vote for spending unless its attached to a bullets, missiles and tanks, his home district be damned.

And because he loves carrying Daniels’ and Bennett’s water.

Enough of our partisanship. Go here if you want to breakdown the nuts and bolts of how many teaching jobs can be saved by this bill: http://edmoney.newamerica.net/node/30915. If you don’t want to read it we can tell you it is 210,000 teaching jobs nationwide.

All the Questions Raised By Souder’s Exit

Aren't They Darling?

We at ALO will ignore the pontification as to who will ascend to be the new Republican candidate but we are scratching our heads about the wisdom on that side of the aisle.

First of all it sounds like a lot of people knew about this Congressman Mark Souder-Tracy Meadows Jackson affair and yet he was allowed to win a primary.

MSNBC.com gives us a better idea of how it unfolded:

Indiana congressman Mark Souder’s resignation, announced Tuesday, came after anonymous tipsters called his aides and his opponents in a Republican primary to say he was having an extramarital affair with a part-time staffer, according to sources familiar with the calls.

The conservative Christian congressman’s chief of staff, Renee Howell, confronted him last week over the rumored affair with Tracy Meadows Jackson, according to a source in the office. On Tuesday morning, two weeks after winning the primary, Souder publicly admitted the affair — without naming the staffer — and said he would resign effective Friday.

The affair began after Jackson was hired in 2004, according to the source in the office. Jackson, who is married, was to be a guest host with Souder for a daily radio spot he recorded for WFCV, a Christian radio station in Fort Wayne, Ind. Jackson also at one point played host for a local cable-access show that served as a platform for Souder to discuss conservative issues, and she helped produce numerous videos of Souder’s speeches and positions, including one in which they discussed his strong support for teen abstinence.

Jackson did not respond Tuesday to repeated e-mails and calls. The sources spoke on the condition of anonymity in order to freely discuss the sensitive matter.

After aides to Souder learned last week of the congressman’s affair, they contacted Minority Leader John Boehner’s office. A Souder aide met on Sunday with members of Boehner’s leadership staff, and Boehner spoke by phone to Souder on Monday night, just hours before the Souder announced that he would resign.

House members are prohibited from having sexual relationships with their aides.

House Republican leaders, who hammered Democrats over the sexual harassment scandal that toppled Rep. Eric Massa in March, said little Tuesday about the Souder resignation. The minority leader “has been perfectly clear that he will hold our members to the highest ethical standards,” a spokesman for Boehner said.

Less than a week before the May 4 primary, the sources said, anonymous callers told Souder’s Republican rivals he was regularly meeting a girlfriend for romantic trysts in state parks near Fort Wayne. One caller alleged that Souder and a staffer went together late at night to the remote and heavily forested Robinson Lake boat launch in Whitley County.

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Video

Amid sex scandal, congressman resigns
May 18: Family values conservative Rep. Mark Souder is resigning after admitting to an affair with a female staff member.

msnbc tv

But the opponents questioned the reliability of the information and did not make a public issue of the claims.

As of Tuesday, Souder and his wife, Diane Zimmer Souder, remained together, according to one source. Souder and his wife have three grown children — two sons and a daughter — and two grandchildren.

In the primary, Souder survived a serious challenge from car dealer Bob Thomas, who spent considerable sums of his own money on the race. Nate Bullock, a Thomas spokesman, said Thomas considers this a sad episode, but ultimately a personal matter for Souder to handle without politics.

“It’s inappropriate to comment at this time,” Bullock said. “We are not going to make political hay by jumping on some family’s troubles or demise.”

A spokeswoman for Republican Gov. Mitch Daniels said a special election will be held to fill the vacancy, The Associated Press reported.

Within 30 days, the precinct leaders of the counties in his district must gather to choose nominees for the special election, and GOP precinct officials would choose a candidate for the November ballot. One name being bandied about is state Sen. Marlin Stutzman, who ran unsuccessfully for U.S. Senate earlier this month.

Souder joins a succession of congressmen embroiled in sex scandals in recent years, including Massa, and Sens. John Ensign, R-Nev., and David Vitter, R-La.

Ensign and Vitter are still serving in the Senate.

But IndianasNewsCenter.com reports that several people in the district knew about the affair as early as February. Steve Shine, Allen County Republican chair admits he knew six months ago. Surprising since Shine was a supporter of Souder’s primary opponent Bob Thomas and Thomas’ campaign never dropped this bomb.

It’s weird. But, hey, we’re still drinking champagne over here at ALO HQ. Good riddance. Apparently as our friend The Broom has noted, he ultimately did believe in self-imposed term-limits.

Paging Dr. Hayhurst

Paging Dr. Hayhurst! Dr. Tom Hayhurst to the 3rd District Congressional Seat Plea-uuhze!

Just when the political year cannot get much weirder, it does. Chris Cillizza of The Washington Post reports:

Guess what else climbed out of a spider hole Mark!

Mark Souder to resign after affair

By Chris Cillizza and Aaron Blake

Indiana Rep. Mark Souder (R) will resign his congressional seat after an affair with a staffer came to light, he said in a statement this morning.

“It is with great regret I announce that I am resigning from the U.S. House of Representatives as well as resigning as the Republican nominee for Congress in this fall’s election,” said Souder.

“I sinned against God, my wife and my family by having a mutual relationship with a part time member of my staff,” added Souder. “I am so shamed to have hurt those I love.”

(Souder’s full resignation statement is after the jump.)

The news was first reported by Fox News Channel.

The revelations regarding Souder come two weeks after he survived a serious primary challenge from car dealer Bob Thomas who spent considerable sums of his own money on the race. Souder won the primary with less than 50 percent of the vote.

How Souder will be replaced on the ballot remains to be seen. State law allows Gov. Mitch Daniels (R) wide leeway in whether or not to call a special election and in the immediate aftermath of the resignation Republicans said it was unlikely there would be any vote before November.

Within 30 days of the Souder vacancy — and he has said he will resign officially on Friday — the precinct chairmen and women of the counties in his district must gather to select a replacement. One named being bandied about is state Sen. Marlin Stutzman who ran unsuccessfully for Senate earlier this month.

Souder joins a succession of Members of Congress embroiled in sex scandals in recent years, including Rep. Eric Massa (D-N.Y.), Sen. John Ensign (R-Nev.) and Sen. David Vitter (R-La.). Massa resigned, while Ensign and Vitter are still serving in the Senate.

Souder was elected in the GOP wave election of 1994. He represents the Fort Wayne area in northeast Indiana.

Democrats this month nominated Tom Hayhurst. Hayhurst, a repeat candidate, held Souder to 54 percent of the vote in their 2006 matchup.

Souder resignation statement

IT IS WITH GREAT REGRET I ANNOUNCE THAT I AM RESIGNING FROM THE US HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES, AS WELL AS RESIGNING AS THE REPUBLICAN NOMINEE FOR CONGRESS IN THIS FALL’S ELECTION.I BELIEVE IT IS THE BEST DECISION FOR MY FAMILY, THE PEOPLE OF NORTHEAST INDIANA, AND OUR COUNTRY. I WILL SUBMIT MY RESIGNATION TO SPEAKER PELOSI EFFECTIVE THIS FRIDAY. I CAN NEVER FULLY THANK ALL THOSE WHO HAVE WORKED SO HARD, GIVEN SO MUCH AND SUPPORTED ME THROUGH EIGHT CONTESTED PRIMARIES AND EIGHT GENERAL ELECTIONS.ONLY WHEN YOU HAVE BEEN THE RECIPIENT CAN YOU REALLY FEEL THE HUMBLING POWER OF SUCH GENEROSITY. IT HAS BEEN A PRIVILEGE TO BE A PART OF THE BATTLE FOR FREEDOM AND THE VALUES WE SHARE.IT HAS BEEN A GREAT HONOR TO FIGHT FOR THE NEEDS, THE JOBS, AND THE FUTURE OF THIS REGION WHERE MY FAMILY HAS LIVED FOR OVER 160 YEARS. IT HAS BEEN ALL CONSUMING FOR ME TO DO THIS JOB WELL, ESPECIALLY IN A DISTRICT WITH COSTLY, COMPETITIVE ELECTIONS EVERY TWO YEARS I DO NOT HAVE ANY SORT OF “NORMAL” LIFE – FOR FAMILY, FOR FRIENDS, FOR CHURCH, FOR COMMUNITY.TO SERVE HAS BEEN A BLESSING AND A RESPONSIBILITY GIVEN FROM GOD.I WISH I COULD HAVE BEEN A BETTER EXAMPLE. I SINNED AGAINST GOD, MY WIFE AND MY FAMILY BY HAVING A MUTUAL RELATIONSHIP WITH A PART-TIME MEMBER OF MY STAFF.IN THE POISONOUS ENVIRONMENT OF WASHINGTON DC, ANY PERSONAL FAILING IS SEIZED UPON, OFTEN TWISTED, FOR POLITICAL GAIN. I AM RESIGNING RATHER THAN TO PUT MY FAMILY THROUGH THAT PAINFUL, DRAWN-OUT PROCESS.DIANE AND MY FAMILY WERE MORE THAN WILLING TO STAND HERE WITH ME. WE ARE A COMMITTED FAMILY. BUT THE ERROR IS MINE AND I SHOULD BEAR THE RESPONSIBILITY, NOT ONLY AM I THANKFUL FOR A LOVING FAMILY BUT FOR A LOVING GOD. MY COMFORT IS THAT GOD IS A GRACIOUS AND FORGIVING GOD TO THOSE WHO SINCERELY SEEK HIS FORGIVENESS AS I DO. BUT I AM SO ASHAMED TO HAVE HURT THOSE I LOVE.I AM SO SORRY TO HAVE LET SO MANY FRIENDS DOWN, PEOPLE WHO HAVE FOUGHT SO HARD FOR ME. THE IDEAS WE ADVOCATE ARE STILL JUST AND RIGHT.AMERICA WILL SURVIVE AND THRIVE WHEN ANCHORED IN THOSE VALUES.HUMAN BEINGS, LIKE ME, WILL FAIL, BUT OUR CAUSE IS GREATER THAN INDIVIDUALS.IT IS BASED UPON ETERNAL TRUTHS.BY STEPPING ASIDE, MY MISTAKE CANNOT BE USED AS A POLITICAL FOOTBALL IN A PARTISAN ATTEMPT TO UNDERMINE THE CAUSE FOR WHICH I HAVE LABORED ALL MY ADULT LIFE.I LOVE THIS AREA.THIS IS MY HOME.IT HAS BEEN SUCH AN HONOR TO SERVE YOU.FOR SIXTEEN YEARS, MY FAMILY AND I HAVE GIVEN OUR ALL FOR THIS AREA. THE TOLL HAS BEEN HIGH.AS I LEAVE PUBLIC OFFICE, MY PLANS ARE FOCUSED UPON REPAIRING MY MARRIAGE, EARNING BACK THE TRUST OF MY FAMILY AND MY COMMUNITY, AND RENEWING MY WALK WITH MY LORD. I HUMBLY ASK YOU, FOR THE SAKE OF MY FAMILY THAT YOU RESPECT OUR PRIVACY IN THIS DIFFICULT TIME.

UPDATED: Massa Red Faced

You gotta like Channel 8’s Jim Shella. He comes to your press conference and even leads his report with the stuff you wanted to talk about, but then makes the whole piece about what folks are really talking about. In the case of Mitch Daniels’ lackey and Republican nominee for Marion County Prosecutor Mark Massa it was his big plan to curb blah, blah, blah that was buried under a deep pile of Brizzi crap.

"I'm not Carl Brizzi and can we quit talking about him?" Sure Mr. Brizzi...er Massa.

That’s not really the story here. If you go to watch the piece here you will see Massa’s face turn three shades of angry red as he simply cannot believe that the juiciest political story perhaps in the state just didn’t go away when he made perhaps the most obvious announcement in the history of Marion County politics, that he wanted scandalized, crooked, FBI-investigated and still sitting Republican Marion County Prosecutor Carl Brizzi to step down.

You can hear his ears ringing with, “Seriously, I gotta keep talking about this?!?!”

Yes, Mr. Massa you do. And not because your Democratic opponent Terry Curry keeps talking about it, but because you never had a problem with Carl Brizzi before. Just like you never had a problem with the guy who hand picked Brizzi to run eight years ago, Scott Newman, who now serves as your campaign treasurer. Just like you didn’t have a problem with your buddy the Governor accepting $150,000 in campaign contributions from Brizzi’s co-hort in crime Tim (D-Bag) Durham. And now you don’t have a problem working from Brizzi”s and Newman’s donor lists for your fundraising now.

You only have a problem with them now because your boss Governor Daniels really doesn’t want a fair prosecutor in control of Marion County because that is the office that can bring charges against state offices and officials. Because that is the office that could bring charges in the IBM/FSSA fiasco and other dubious works of this Governor. You guys only care now because if you lose the office of Marion County Prosecutor, there is no stopping the investigation and prosecution of the state Republican corruption, of which we are now finding out so much.

You cann0t run for the office that is supposed to fight crime when you cannot absolve your ranks of criminals. So I’m sorry my sanguine little friend. Man up. It’s gonna be a long campaign and there are plenty of new Brizzi escapades to report. Have you seen this one:

FBI reviewing Brizzi drug dealer case

Fox59 News has learned that federal agents have a copy of the case narcotics detectives compiled against steroids dealer Joseph Moba

FBI reviewing Brizzi drug dealer case

Indianapolis – The FBI is digging deeper into a drug dealer’s plea bargain negotiated by Marion County Prosecutor Carl Brizzi.

Fox59 News has learned that federal agents have a copy of the case narcotics detectives compiled against steroids dealer Joseph Mobareki. Mobareki received a reduced criminal charge and most of his money back from investigators after Brizzi approved a plea bargain with Mobareki’s attorney Paul Page, who also owns a building in Elkhart with Brizzi.

UPDATE

Cory Schouten at the Indianapolis Business Journal continues to dog this case:

The FBI is collecting records on an Elkhart real estate deal and an Indianapolis drug case, both involving Marion County Prosecutor Carl Brizzi and defense attorney Paul Page.

Page in 2008 arranged for Brizzi to own 50 percent of an office building leased by the Department of Child Services without Brizzi putting up cash or credit. A year later, Brizzi offered a lenient plea deal and returned $10,000 in seized cash to accused drug dealer Joseph Mobareki, a Page client.

The FBI has picked up files on the Mobareki case and Elkhart real estate deal and has begun asking questions of those with knowledge of the deals, multiple sources said. An FBI spokesman would neither confirm nor deny the agency is investigating.

The moves follow an IBJ investigation that has raised questions about Brizzi’s business dealings while in office and whether those deals influenced his actions as prosecutor. Law enforcement officials see his intervention in the Mobareki case as troubling considering his no-cost real estate deal with Page in Elkhart.

A review of dozens of pages of records connected to the Elkhart deal has revealed new details:

– The property has two mortgages: A $1.2 million first mortgage with Huntington Bank and a second mortgage for an unspecified amount with a company called BAB Equity LLC, which lists a post office box real estate broker John Bales has used for his companies and political contributions.

Bales and his firm, Venture Cos., orchestrated the $2.5 million, 10-year deal that put the state’s Department of Child Services into the building a few months after L & BAB LLC acquired the one-story building at 1659 Mishawaka St. in February 2008.

A spokesman for the Indiana Department of Administration said the second mortgage does not appear to violate Bales’ state leasing contract, which bans him from any direct or indirect ownership interest in properties the state leases.

Bales said in an e-mail that he does not control BAB Equity but refused to say who does. He did not respond to follow-up questions including why the company uses his post office box.

– The Elkhart building had a market value of about $700,000 before the state lease and $1.2 million after the lease, according to an April 2008 appraisal prepared for Huntington Bank. The appraisal says the building would be difficult to market to traditional office users because it is surrounded by industrial properties and has no street frontage.

The 1986 building had been vacant for several months and badly in need of repairs when L & BAB put the property under contract. The appraisal noted the 15,200-square-foot building had interior mold, three broken AC units and deferred maintenance on windows, exterior bricks and parking-lot pavement.

L & BAB had planned to spend $422,500 to renovate the building and prepare most of it, about 13,000 square feet, for the arrival of DCS. The company eventually paid $825,000 for the property, and got a $15,000 allowance from the seller to remedy an animal infestation.

– Venture arranged to list the building for sale with an asking price of $1.8 million in late 2008, immediately after the DCS executed its lease deal. The property did not sell.

Financial documents included in the offering show the building owner, building seller, DCS and an insurance company split more than $577,000 of expenses to renovate and outfit the building. The owner’s portion was about $315,000, while DCS paid about $200,000 for upgrades including new restrooms.

The records show Page invested $321,835 in the building and financed $993,750. That includes a commission of $88,400, and a development fee of $45,600, both going to Venture.

– Records suggest Brizzi was added as a co-owner of the building late in the process. Financial documents provided to potential buyers in 2008 list Bruce Zeller of Carmel-based Zeller Construction Co. as co-investing with Page. Zeller did not return a phone message.

Page, an attorney with locally based Baker Pittman & Page and principal in condo developer Page Development, told IBJ in March that Brizzi—whom he called an “equal partner” in the deal—did not contribute cash and isn’t named on the loan the pair used to buy the building.

He said Brizzi earned his stake in the Elkhart building by bringing him an attractive investment opportunity. He said Brizzi and Bales, a Brizzi partner on previous deals, approached him about the Elkhart building.

Brizzi has said in disclosure documents that his equity interest in the property is worth $50,000 to $100,000.

The records offered no suggestion of how the building owners arrived at the name L & BAB.

Putting the Elkhart deal together was a challenge since banks weren’t lending and few property investors showed interest in fixing up an office building in financially depressed Elkhart, said Jeff Lozer, the general counsel for DCS.

Lozer said he didn’t know Brizzi was involved with the deal until he read about his investment in IBJ.

“We were really pressing Venture to get the deal done, to bring it home,” Lozer said. “We had the building picked out but needed someone to finance the build out. The issue for us was finding a suitable place to put our folks. We don’t care who the landlord is.”

Brizzi has declined repeated interview requests but said in a statement Thursday that he could not comment on the FBI’s inquiries because he is “unaware of this alleged action.”

Brizzi, a Repubican whose second term ends in December, is not seeking re-election.

Ellsworth Must Follow Through

It was brave to vote for it before Congressman Brad Ellsworth. It’s even braver now. And, we think, smarter.

We realize it is a heftier request now that you are a candidate for Senate and there are teabaggers (though fewer than before) showing up giving Congressman Mike Pence douchey sound-bite opportunities (who, by the way, just loves pork when it serves him) that let him drown the fact that he is passing out sizable bonuses to his staff while his constituents continue to drown in joblessness.

And those angry anti-taxation for any reason teabaggers are also offering Governor Mitch Daniels cover under which to hide his administration’s either inability or incompetence to forecast economic activity. Seriously though, wasn’t he the head of the federal Office of Management and Budget? Didn’t he say the Iraq War was gonna cost like $200 billion MAX? Didn’t he brag about how his restructuring of the state’s budget system into an Indiana Office of Management and Budget was going to cure all the uncertainty in our economic forecasting? You remember that too, right?

And of course they all love to call it a costly government take-over when nothing could be further from the truth. But seriously, wasn’t Iraq THE costly government take-over?

But put all that aside. All that teabag crap said Congressman Ellsworth, now is the time to support what is right. Now is the time to finish what was started.

If you are worried about what Hoosiers want then think about this piece from the wise Nate Silver at fivethirtyeight.com:

Two Pictures Tell the Story on Health Care Debate

by Nate Silver @ 12:01 AM

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Gallup did something pretty cool in connection with their latest health care survey, which was to provide the verbatim responses (.xls) of the rationales given by people who would tell their Congressman to vote for or against the current health care bills, respectively.

I ran the responses through Wordle, a word-cloud generating tool, omitting certain words that were parts of speech or were otherwise non-germane.

Here are the words that were used most frequently by the 45 percent of the country who would tell their Congressman to vote for the health care bill:

And here are the words used most commonly by the 48 percent of the country who would tell their Congressman to vote against it:

In some sense, this is a very old-fashioned debate about the proper role of government. The message that the pro-reform voters have taken away comes through loudly and clearly: ‘PEOPLE … NEED … INSURANCE’, whereas concerns among the anti’s boil down to ‘GOVERNMENT’ and ‘COST’.

As I’ve argued before, some of the anti-health care sentiment may be based on a misunderstanding about what exactly the bill would do: its hardly a government takeover, leaving the private insurance industry largely intact although certainly enacting a number of important new regulations and restrictions. Nevertheless, it’s clear that anti-reform advocates have coyly tapped into a lot of fears about the role of government — fears which were probably buoyed by the extremely unpopular bailout and somewhat unpopular stimulus package.

On the pro-reform side, meanwhile, it’s been the moral arguments that seem to have broken through — words like ‘PEOPLE’, ‘NEED’, ‘EVERYONE’ and ‘EVERYBODY’ — along with a few hints of populist sentiment (‘COMPANIES’, ‘AFFORD’). Very few people have been persuaded by the discussions about bending the cost curve, on the other hand. Although the word ‘AFFORD’ is used more often by proponents of the legislation, terms like ‘COST’ and ‘MONEY’ are used far more often by those opposed to it.

You’ve done polling. You know that most Americans and even specifically Hoosiers want the individual items in this bill, but hate what they have been told this bill is.

It is up to you to make the right vote and then use your skills and the information at hand to make the case to Hoosiers that you supported the health-care bill FOR THEM! Not whatever Reagan-era welfare mother caricature they have in their noggins.

This is the week for hard decisions. We know you will make the right one for the tens of thousands of Hoosiers who will finally get health insurance under this bill. I met several of them last summer. People who have worked hard for years. Several have been the small business entrepreneurs that both sides of the aisle like to say are the incubators that will create tomorrows jobs, yet for one obtuse reason or another have been denied the simple safety net of health insurance in what we have been told over and over by the Republicans is the home of the greatest health-care system in the world.

If those tens-of-thousands aren’t good enough, then think of the tens-of-thousands that are covered but soon won’t be after the coming collapse in coverage that both sides of the aisle and the insurance industry itself see as an absolute certainty if nothing changes.

Best yet, look right here in Indiana at Wellpoint for the example of how health insurance companies are raising rates and forcing employers to a) not hire and likely b) fire workers.

It is an important vote.

We know you will do the right thing.

And when you do, we will help you make the case.

Daniels Pushes Redistricting to His Own Benefit

This piece on Governor Mitch Daniels in The Hill gives him too much credit.

Indiana Gov. Mitch Daniels (R) recently offered his own solution for ending the partisan rancor in Washington — redistricting.

The process traditionally has been used to gain an advantage over the opposing party. But Daniels, who was in Washington preaching political civility, says it could be used to push members into the center of the political spectrum.

“If we got rid of gerrymandering and districts were really drawn not to protect incumbents but on a demographic, and geographic and common sense basis, I think we all know, we’d have a lot more competitive districts and you’d have more places where people compete for the center and not the edge,” the potential 2012 presidential contender said at a Christian Science Monitor breakfast on Tuesday. “I’ve already told my own party, which got shafted in the last redistricting Congressionally and in the state House, I will not sign a politically drawn redistricting plan.”

In Indiana, redistricting is overseen by the state Legislature, with the governor holding veto power over their proposal.

Daniels said he is pushing state lawmakers to pass legislation to create redistricting guidelines that would make the process more transparent. “As it happens, it would give us a fairer shake than today,” he said.

Indiana Democrats, meanwhile, are worried that Daniels’ prolific fundraising abilities will help his party reclaim the state’s lower chamber in November. He has a PAC that donates to state politicians. If the GOP takes the state House, it would give the party complete control over redistricting, which will begin after the Census is complete in December.

Still, Daniels brushed aside the suggestion he was concerned about his party’s political future. His desire to reclaim the state House, he said “is not about redistricting.”

“We’ve got several more things I’d like to do on my watch and I’ve about run out the string of things we can get done with our opponents in control of the House,” he said.

He continues to thump for redistricting as the poor put-upon Republican while pressing for hegemony of the state for his final two years in office because the man cannot accept being questioned in any way shape or form. Note his testiness at WTHR after being caught lying about the number of jobs he claims to have brought to the state:

An Eyewitness News investigation shows thousands of Indiana jobs claimed by the state simply don’t exist.

Gov. Mitch Daniels is now talking about that investigation and, based on the governor’s comments, he is not impressed.

“You seem to have a blindingly clear view of what is perfectly obvious,” he said.

The governor addressed Indiana job numbers just hours after 13 Investigates showed up to 40% of jobs already promoted by the governor have not turned to reality. For three weeks, the governor declined WTHR’s requests to discuss the issue. That changed Tuesday afternoon at the statehouse, when investigative reporter Bob Segall asked the governor to respond to 13 Investigates’ findings during a question-and-answer session for the media.

“You seem to have discovered the obvious, namely that none of these jobs were ever scheduled to happen in the first year. Secondly, that some of them in a recession don’t happen,” Gov. Daniels replied.

The 6-month Eyewitness News investigation did not focus on any new jobs announced during the past year. Instead, WTHR’s statewide job analysis included only jobs announced by the state in 2006, 2007 and 2008. 13 Investigates examined what the Indiana Economic Development Corporation calls “Indiana Economic Successes” to determine if the projects were on track and if the companies listed as successes actually hired new workers.

That’s when WTHR discovered empty fields and deserted factories across the state where state leaders claim there are supposed to be new jobs. 13 Investigates found job commitments that fell through years ago are still being counted in the state’s job numbers. Those broken job commitments show up in state performance reports as if they were real jobs when, in fact, they are not.

“A commitment is not a reality. A commitment is a statement of hope and aspiration,” explained Morton Marcus, a business professor and former director of the Indiana Business Research Center at Indiana University. “We need to be founded in reality and that’s the issue. “How many jobs are actually being created? Where are the jobs? Where is the reality as opposed to the hopes?”

Read the rest of the piece and see the video here. Note Mitch Roob’s lack of forthrightness as well.