Wednesday, August 30, 2006

Last night, I slept so well...

Last night, I slept so well. It was one of the first truly cool nights we've had and I put the down comforter back on the bed. All suggled into the soft thickness with coolness all around my face. Mmmm. "Sleepin' weather," what my father would call it. Fall is truly in the air.

Monday, August 28, 2006

It's Official: I Am Old (Go Principal Mayerik!)

These kids today! I never thought it would come to this but it's official. I am an old fuddy-duddy. A killer of fun. An unsupportive spectator in the fashion arena of teen cool. Why? Because I obviously don't get it. I don't get the baggy pants. (Aren't those so out of style?) I don't get the long t-shirts. (Dude, in LA, that's a dress and girls wear it with no bra.) I don't get the crop tops and belly button rings (OK, I do understand those but not on a 13-year-old) nor can I conceive what would posses a parent to let their high-schooler out of the house for school in a cleavage barring top. But then, I don't have kids.

Enter my new hero who apparently doesn't get it either. Meet Principal Theresa Mayerik of Morton High School in Hammond, Indiana who suspended 128 students for dress code violations, 10% of the school's student body -- on the first day of school! Go Principal Mayerik! I'm an old fuddy duddy who says "Right on!" The school board and a large number of parents said "Right on," too. Kids were suspended for one day and the suspension will be dropped from their record in 12 weeks if there are no further violations.

Maybe parents today have to pick their battles. Maybe it's gnashing of teeth over cell phone minutes versus clothes. I'd probably let my kid wear a Daisy Duke skirt and stilettos to school if it would get her off the phone. On the other hand, nothing could make me OK those ridiculous baggy pants.

Sunday, August 27, 2006

Blogs Signing Off

So long to Buffalo Wings and Vodka: There are a variety of ways to get through law school. With this blog, we got great writing, humor, and a perspective on how many illegal chemicals are really involved. Good thing he's passed the bar. So long, Wings and Vodka. We'll miss you.

Sunday Roundup

Sundays have become round up days around here which is just as well. The cattle have to be brought in sometime.

Revamp Indiana Week in Review? Over at Advance Indiana, there's a spirited discussion brewing around whether or not Jim Shella and this team at Indiana Week in Review need to updated. I like the show, but have to agree the same faces are getting tired. Even though I love Mike McDaniels, he could be replaced for someone who projects a little less of the "party boss" image. Ann Delaney stars as the Dem we all love to hate and there is a revolving cast of guest starts each week. (But please, no Matt Tully.)

Drink more! Hoosierplew notes that Indiana lags behind in one more area. According to the latest Forbes report, Indianapolis is the 30th drunken city in the US. You won't run into to me at Drinking Liberally -- it's not really my thing. (The liberal thing not the drinking thing.)

Still Fighting the Good Fight -- D-7: RiShawn Biddle is doing some of my favorite writing right now on the Black political issues in the city with a backdrop of the Dickerson/Carson election. It's no secret that I want Carson out. I voted for Dickerson in the primary and will vote for him again in the fall, but I'm afraid it's not going to do any good. Her loyal base is so culturally entrenched, I don't think anything will shake her loose. No matter how good Dickerson is, he's not Julia who has been taking the black representation to Congress for a long time. No matter that she's kooky, ill, ineffective, often absent, often incoherent, and a part of today's problem -- the black political machine in Indiana.

Saturday, August 19, 2006

Sign me: Irked in Indy

I do very little serious reporting over at Feed Me/Drink Me, but Ruth Holladay's blame of one hearing officer for our lack of a Whole Foods store set me off. Blaming one hearing officer for the entire Whole Foods saga -- and our lack of commitment from their corporate headquarters -- isn't fair. It's the worst kind of singling out -- that of a political opponent -- by twisting the situation to fit a clever angle. I also take great offense to her "poor Indy" attitude that we, as a city, just can't catch a break because we're all just a bunch of incompetents.

Friday, August 18, 2006

Bits and Pieces -- Mark Karr and the Penis-Pumping Judge

Sorry for the round-up but it's all I've got for you -- too many little bits and pieces running around to track anything down. I'm in the middle to three huge editing projects and it's hard for me to write on my own when I'm writing for other people. Ahhh, problems, problems. Did I mention what feels like a two-day hangover? Another Shiner Bock, some sleep, and my week will finally be over -- just in time to travel next week.

He Didn't Do It: As much as I'd love to believe Karr is the guy who killed JonBenet Ramsey, I'm not buying it. The Ramseys had never even heard of him until a few months ago. It's not even clear he was in Boulder at the time of the killing, and it is becoming clear that he may have a thing for high-profile child murders. Time and the DNA evidence will tell, but sadly, I don't think this case is solved yet. From the AP wire story:

"They either have a miss or a match on the DNA," former Denver prosecutor Craig Silverman said. "If it's a miss, the prosecution has serious problems. If it's a match, then it's game, set and match for this case. Couple the DNA with the kooky confession and it's enough for most people to convict."

"The bottom line is that they now have a confession and until and unless they can corroborate that confession with either physical evidence or strong circumstantial evidence, that's all they have," said Scott Robinson, a Denver attorney who has followed the case from the beginning.

Um, Yeah, Because It's All Hollywood's Fault: Al Sharpton slams filmmakers and record companies for making movies and music that make "gangsterism" cool. It's all their fault black youth aren't becoming leaders and contributing to society. Uh-huh. You just keep thinking that, Rev. Al. Eventually all that sand will clog up your sinuses. It happens when you keep your head buried down there that long.

Oklahoma Judge Pumps His Last -- and Goes to Prision: And last but not least, in a little Oklahoma news, the penis-pumping judge from Bristow, Oklahoma -- the one sentenced to four indecent exposure counts for using a penis pump under his robe during trials on an almost daily basis -- will go to prison for four years. I can't imagine what life for a judge -- and a sexual offending judge -- will be like in the Oklahoma state clink. I'll never think of Bristow the same again. From the Daily Oklahoman.

Thursday, August 17, 2006

Hostage: The Jill Carroll Story

Reporter Jill Carroll was kidnapped by Sunni Muslim insurgents in Iraq on June 7, 2006. She was held captive for 82 days. Carroll -- one of the only kidnapping victims to survive -- is now writing about her experiences for the Christian Science Monitor. In a 10-installment article (along with detailed backgrounds and introduction) Carroll describes first hand the life of the insurgency, it's families, women, children, captors, and her terror, fear, and sometimes hatred of the people who took her. It's a surprisingly candid view of the inside of a terrorist cell -- and she holds no punches, gives no sympathy to their plight. Installment 4 of Hostage: The Jill Carroll Story is up today.

Wednesday, August 16, 2006

Arrest in JonBenet Ramsey Case

The Rocky Mountain News is reporting that an arrest has been made in the JonBenet Ramsey case in Thailand. Boulder officials are traveling to Thailand now to present evidence to Thai authorities on an unnamed person arrested in on an unrelated sex charge. Who says cold cases never heat up again? No word yet on suspect's identification or relationship to the Ramsey's. For years, many authorities and not a few experts have believed that Jon and Patsy Ramsey -- the parents -- had something to do with her death. Patsy Ramsey died in June.

Update: Text of the statement released by John Ramsey:

"I want to have only very limited comment on today's arrest because I feel it is extremely important to not only let the justice system operate to its conclusion in an orderly manner, but also to avoid feeding the type of media speculation that my wife and I were subjected to for so many years.

"I do want to say, however, that the investigation of the individual arrested today in connection with JonBenet's death was discussed with Patsy and me by the Boulder district attorney's office prior to Patsy's death in June. So Patsy was aware that authorities were close to making an arrest in the case and had she lived to see this day, would no doubt have been as pleased as I am with today's development almost 10 years after our daughter's murder. Words cannot adequately express my gratitude for the efforts of Boulder District Attorney Mary Lacy and the members of her investigative team."

Monday, August 14, 2006

A-B-C: Anyone But Carson

Eric Dickerson is finally making a little noise over in the IN-07 race against Democrat incumbant Julia Carson. Dickerson can often been seen on neighborhood streets in his self-funded RV. In fact, the Marian County GOP has made it clear they won't be supporting him financially saying his race isn't a "key race". With $300,000 in the bank, Carson is surprisingly well funded. Dickerson has only raised about $33,000 as of the last financial disclosure.

But it may be time for Carson to start working for this seat. Considering the lack of local/state GOP support for the last three challengers, the fact that anyone is willing to take her on is a testament to how much this district wants change.

Meanwhile, Dickerson gained some attention this week by questioning a new restaurant that will be serving alcohol inside the Carson Government Center on Fall Creek Parkway. While making it clear he suspected Carson had no involvement, he questioned decisions made by Center Township Trustee Carl Drummer who awarded the space with no outside input.

Several bloggers have had write-ups on this particular flap lately, but none better than RiShawn Biddle's today. Biddle nails the problems exactly from failed local and township leadership to what should be great disappointment in Julia Carson.

Sunday, August 13, 2006

Around the Blog World Today

Ahhh, a lazy Sunday morning catching up with my weekly reading. Even with a pot of freshly ground French roast (direct from France courtesy of a friend), it's much easier than starting any real work I have to do. It's also a great way to share some of the terrific writing and political coverage happening in Indiana today. The state blog scene just gets better and better.

** New Orleans. A Year Later: Over at Cerulean Blue, LawGeekGirl has a beautiful post on her first trip to New Orleans since last year's hurricane. She gives her impression of the recovery with the outside eyes of a former resident. Her post is also a good look at the realities of travel to NOLA right now.

**Not Your Father's Indiana: And thank God for that. Old news but a great column from Abdul-Hakim Shabazz at the Howey Political Report on the progress Gov. Daniels has made in the past 18 months. He's preaching to the choir on this one, but I love it when people with a bigger platform than mine say it.

** RiShawn Biddle on Crime: Good for RiShawn Biddle (editorial writer for the IndyStar) for his recent posts on the crime situation. He's one of the only newspros keeping the issues related to crime front and center and he's doing a good job of it. This week's Expresso featured several posts including one on the realities of downtown life (scroll up from comments for the post).

**Playing Politics with Crime: On the crime-related political posturing front, both Biddle at the Star and Cam Carter at the Howey Political Report have good overviews on recent behind-the-scene politics at the county and city level. We all have to remember the crime situation is just as political as cultural, which is irksome for those of us who see the results of the city-county council's ignorance on the evening news. One can never underestimate the power of party politics and, in this case, politics driven by the Kennedy/Brizzi race.

**I Choose Indy! If you haven't had a chance to visit (and post) at I Choose Indy, now is a great time to do it. As recently noted in the IBJ, I Choose Indy! is asking for local business and industry leaders to post on why they chose to move to or remain in Indianapolis.

**It's the Parents, Stupid: I'm the first to call other writers on gross overgeneralizations, but I like much of what Abdul-Hakim Shabazz is doing over at Indiana Barrister. He, too, is doing some great writing on Indy's recent crime problems and the underlying issues. In this case, parental accountability.

Saturday, August 12, 2006

Black Clerics Call for $25 Million

The IndyStar has an interesting piece this morning on two different approaches to the crime problem from within the black community. Approach 1) Ask for the mayor to help lead a public-private funding drive to do something about crime. Approach 2) Work within the black community to solve its own problems. At the heart of it, both approaches seem sound, but what's disturbing is the "all-or-nothing" tone by leaders of both.

In a meeting on Friday, black clerical leaders asked Mayor Bart Peterson for $25 million in social programs to help address some of the issues attributable to violent crime. The tone of the quotes in the newspaper article makes these leaders sound very entitled. They all seem to be focused on what black Hoosiers in Indianapolis should have versus what the city is spending on other projects. However, as the star reported: "Not every black leader thinks the city should get involved." Other black religious leaders have different ideas.

Earlier Friday afternoon, Muhammad Siddeeq, a black Muslim leader with the Nur-Allah Islamic Center, said the black community should address the problem itself.

"We just had the big Black Expo in this city. If we can call (thousands) of African-Americans from around the country to come to Indianapolis, why can't we devote the same effort to the reality of our crisis?" he asked.

Both sides may be missing what really needs to happen which is implement both plans. Why can't the black community address the problem lead by high profile organizations, fundraisers, and individuals? Why can't there be a strong initiative lead by churches and black community organizations doing something other than asking the city for a $25 million handout? (I realize that's an incredibly overgeneralized way to put it, but frankly, that's exactly what it looks like.) Where is the financial and social leadership on this issue from community members supporting their own programs and pushing for education and cultural changes?

Wednesday, August 09, 2006

Council to Discuss Unsafe Crowds

Police officer and city council woman Sherron Franklin has asked for a public hearing to address the issue of the large crowds of unsupervised roving teens and young people in downtown Indianapolis. She's been very fair in her criticism and examination of the problem so far. Unfortunately, Indiana Black Expo, sponsor of Summer Celebration, one of events Franklin cites as a problem, is already on the defensive. Franklin cited the two biggest events causing problems -- Black Expo and Circle City Classic.

IBE president Joyce Rodgers was quick to say the crowds weren't the fault of her or her organization. Well, no, they're not. But the fact remains that someone was shot during this year's Black Expo in one of those very same roving crowds.

This week and weekend, the city is hosting one of its largest convention events, GenCon, a gaming convention. For the rest of the week, 100,000 people are expected to play, shop, game, and tour the city. I'm fairly sure we won't see giant roving crowds of people downtown this week even though a large portion of attendees is young (although you will see quite a few Chewbaccas and guys in storm trooper outfits.) I'm also fairly confident no one attending or associated with GenCon will be shot. IBE and Rogers need to -- for once -- be proactive and take a positive stance on the violent crime issue instead of hiding behind their classic defensive stance. Change will begin to occur from within the community when black groups step up to the plate and hold their own community accountable.


Franklin said community leaders, police and representatives of IBE will meet Aug. 30 in the City-County Building's public assembly room to discuss solutions. The meeting will be open to the public and will start at 6 p.m.

"Part of the solution that I will be suggesting will be to make the parents more accountable for their underage children, enforcing the city's curfew law, increasing traffic restrictions, and increasing enforcement of other city violations," Franklin said.

91 for the Year: We've Got a Problem

To those of us who live on the northside of downtown, the violent crime wave is old news. The bodies have been piling up all summer. Indianapolis has been well ahead of last year's murder count since April with seemingly no notice. The media, the mayor and the IPD seem to be the last to know. Only in the last week has the prosecutor even jumped on the bandwagon. Up until now, he's been releasing criminals early while not pushing for more jail space. (Becuase, you know, from Brizzi's perspective, locking them up is the only solution, but that's a whole other rant.).

Those of us who live downtown, the near northside, old northside, and points east live within a few blocks of questionable neighborhoods on all sides. This summer -- for the entire summer -- roving bands of teenagers and young men in their late 20s have taken over streets on bicycles, spilled over sidewalks into crowded traffic or just made it difficult to get through intersections like 30th and College. Cars that barely run straddle lanes or stop in mid-street so their occupants can chat with people outside. There's never any traffic enforcement and up until a week or two ago (when someone was shot at a Starbucks at 30th and Fall Creek Parkway) little to no police presence. In the past few months, there's certainly not been police presence relative to the crime spike over last year's statistics. Contrary to what the media would tell you, this crime wave isn't new. It's been going on all year, seemingly ignored. It's finally just escalated enough to get attention.

Whether Peterson and Brizzie offer real solutions that will work or whether they turn it into a polical blame game, at least people are talking. My questions? Where is the IPD in all this? Why haven't they taken the leadership on this issue? And last night, I was disgusted as I turned to the evening news to see the lead story -- penguins from the Indianapolis Zoo were injurerd in an truck accident in Texas. Who the fuck cares?! (I forgot the news editing rule: Cute animals trump murder every time. People will actually donate money for penguin recovery but not spend a dime on neighborhood cleanup.) Murders have occurred blocks from my home and from the homes of my friends. A man on his bicycle, men and women in their cars, a young man in an alley. And I'm not hearing any real talking about the elephant in the room -- the root cause of the violence.

** NPR has been featuring a "Portrait on Poverty" series on Africa. What about a "Portrait on Poverty" series on the United States. Why can't we focus on fixing poverty and education here at home which will help keep all of us safer. Hope will trump violence. June's killings occurred because the shooters believed there was money in the house, that the people who lived there had something they didn't, something they wanted. Their solution? Take it.

** Indiana has to acknowledge that it has an issue with race. We have to acknowledge that a large population of young, black men drop out of school, fail to get or keep minimum wage jobs, and resort to violence. They have no hope of education or a future, not to mention their ability to support their children.

** What's gentrification got to do with it? Potentially much. Fall Creek Place's three (and soon to be four) phases have pushed out tremendous numbers of people who were used to a certain security and community in a large, low-income neighborhood. I think gentrification has been great for the city, but you can't just ignore the larger issues. As a large part of the Near Northside and Fall Creek Place have become havens for young couples, first time home buyers, empty nesters, renovators, and new condo dwellers, these communities see what's been "taken" from them symbolized by new residents with more money, nicer cars, and new homes. There's no boundary for the violence and it's spilled over into these new neighborhoods ringed with old community nightclubs and housing.

** Can we blame the heat? It's possible. There is some truth to the idea that the extreme heat may be causing a bit of a summer meltdown. However, it's more likely attibutable to more people spending more time out of doors in the evening when it cools off. Poor people don't have air conditioning.

** Paging Melina Kennedy. I'd say if she doesn't make a strong appearance in the next couple of weeks, Melina Kennedy's race may be over well before election day. Carl Brizzi is a smart political animal and will make every solution an advantage for him in November. If Kennedy want's to play up his failings, she'd better get some news time on it. They won't be there for long.

** No one's talking about the real problem. No one. The Star today has a decent piece on the disproportionate number of young, black men involved with the crime wave. They also have comments and advice from several sources such as Steve Campbell and Frank Anderson. But encouraging the African Amerian community to police itself and fix the problem doesn't mean it's going to happen. Everyone is standing around saying "this is what needs to happen" but very few are actually willing to step up to the plate.

** More taxes? More police? More hours? More jail? The city solution is to throw more police at the problem. It's certainly a start, but it wasn't without a warning that it would cost us. (The Star even ran a story over the weekend on the large cost overruns in overtime IPD has accumulated so far this year. ) More policing is part of the answer. Better policing is the other.

** Want to know more? For a refreshing take on race in America and what it will take to move forward, read John McWhorter's Winning the Race: Beyond the Crisis in Black America (Gotham, 2005). He's a smart, black college professor who is one of the first to say he doesn't get some elements of today's racial movements and give all Americans -- black and white -- a road map for moving forward.

Monday, August 07, 2006

Boy Du Jour

Brizzi's war on crime must be working. When a guy didn't call, I've often commented that he'd better be dead ... or in jail. And this week so far, the only man to call me is the inmate from the Marion County Jail who won't stop collect calling my mobile phone! (Sean? John? Son?)

This evening, I got home and there's actually a message on my land line (my office line) from a case worker/clerk for someone who is *not me* or related to me in any way. The plot thickens. When my mother used to say "don't worry, boys will call you", I'm not sure this is what she meant.

Update: He's now been trying to call me collect three times a day for three days. I've tried every way I know to say "wrong number". I want him to stop -- even though, well, no other men are calling me right now. Oh, what am I saying? Dude, stop calling me!