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Carrier, It’s More Complicated Than You Think

by Abdul Hakim-Shabazz

Whenever I am asked whether the deal reached between the incoming Trump administration and United Technologies (UT) to keep 1,000 Carrier manufacturing jobs in Indianapolis was a good or bad idea, my answer is “it’s complicated”.   

There are multiple elements to this news.   If I may steal a line from my good friend, Dr. Matt Will at the University of Indianapolis, there’s the personal element, the public relations element and the economic element.  

First the personal, if you are one of the 1,069 individuals whose job was saved for now, you are pretty darn happy and a lot of us are happy for you.  However, if you’re one of the other 1,100 jobs that have been lost or in the process of being sent south of the border, we feel your pain.

Second is the public relations element, for Donald Trump and Mike Pence this is major victory they can claim and they haven’t even gotten out of the gate yet.  For Carrier, they generate a lot of good will for keeping some jobs in America and that will translate into sales.  On the other hand, what happens in the next instance where jobs are going to be lost?  Will the new administration be able to step in?  For example, the workers at Rexnord, not too far from Carrier are wondering who is going to intervene on their behalf?

Thirdly, and I would argue most important, is the economic element,  Yes, anytime you can keep 1,000 jobs in an area you are going to have a positive impact on the nearby economy.  Also the $7 million the state is providing in performance based incentives over 10 years will be cheaper than the estimated $10,140,000 it could end up paying in unemployment insurance over a 26-week period if all those workers to file and stay on for the full time.  And there’s Carrier’s business model and the response from Wall Street.  When UT announced earlier this year it was shipping jobs to Mexico its stock traded at about $86 per share.  Most recently that number was more than $108.  We’ll see how long that lasts going forward.

And there are lot of questions that go into this mixed bag.  What kind of precedent is being set?  Will this give companies an excuse to strongarm state and local governments into concessions by threatening to leave.  Does this give American workers in the manufacturing sector new hope that their jobs that might be on the line will be saved?  Or will this stifle automation and efficiency that is necessary to keep an industry competitive?   And do we really want our governments “suggesting” to private industry that if they do something the government doesn’t approve “life might get difficult for them”.

There are a lot of questions surrounding the Carrier agreement.  And not only are they complicated, but we may not know the answers for quite a while.

HIP, HIP, HOORAY!!!

by Abdul Hakim-Shabazz

Back in June,  the IBJ reported how the Pence administration was bumping heads with the Centers for Medicaid & Medicare Services (CMS) over HIP 2.0, the state’s alternative to traditional Medicaid expansion under the Affordable Care Act.

The two sides could not agree on how the program should be evaluated.

My how things have changed.

President-elect Donald Trump is naming Seema Verma as the new head of CMS.  

Verma is the architect of the Healthy Indiana Plan (HIP), the nation’s first consumer directed Medicaid program under Governor Mitch Daniels of Indiana and then Governor Mike Pence’s HIP 2.0 waiver proposal.

Since its inception, the program has enrolled more than 400,000 low-income Hoosiers.

Also, according to a recent study, nearly 7 out of 10 first-year members participated in the HIP Plus program, meaning they chose to make contributions into their POWER Accounts (health savings-like accounts). More than 62 percent of members whose incomes were at or below the federal poverty level participated in HIP Plus. Forty percent of HIP Plus members say they check the balance of their POWER Account each month.   The program also offers a Gateway to Work program, which connects Hoosiers to workforce training programs and potential employers.

There were serious questions about whether HIP 2.0 would survive in a Hillary Clinton administration.   Now with new management in charge, it looks like the program will not only survive, but become a model for the rest of the country as the new Congress looks to replace the Affordable Care Act.

Indiana GOP Should Abort Bad Idea

by Abdul Hakim-Shabazz

I have always felt that here in Indiana, Republicans worst enemies aren’t Democrats or progressives, but themselves.

This became abundantly clear when I read State Representative Curt Nisly of Goshen wants to introduce a bill that would put a rape victim in jail for having an abortion if she became pregnant due to the sexual assault.

Nisly’s proposal would criminalize all abortions and allow prosecutors to file criminal charges against the doctor and the woman having the procedure.   While the purpose of this might be to eventually get to a Donald Trump Supreme Court and Roe v. Wade overturned, but at the end of the day we are talking about charging a woman with murder because she was a victim of rape who became pregnant and had the pregnancy terminated.

Are you *&^#$@^*@ kidding me?!

It’s bad enough RFRA, which nearly destroyed the Republican Party, Mike Pence’s political career and nearly gave John Gregg the Governor’s residence is being re-litigated because some folks want to be able to discriminate against the LGBT community, but they can’t use RFRA to do it.

Now there’s a proposal being floated that would make the victim of rape or incest as much a criminal as her attacker.  I take that back, she would be even more of a criminal because a person convicted of rape, depending on the circumstances, can get either 6-20 years in prison or 20-50 years if it’s aggravated.  A person convicted of murder gets 45 years, life or the death penalty.

Luckily, the Republican leadership in the Statehouse realizes there are a lot more pressing matters, such as road funding, opioid abuse, student assessment and maintaining the state’s fiscal health as we are long overdue for a recession.

No good is ever going to come from putting a rape victim behind bars.   And if Republicans don’t want to eventually share the same fate as their Democratic counterparts, they should abort this nonsense and stay focused on more pressing issues.

 

2016’s Biggest Winners and Losers

by Abdul Hakim-Shabazz

So now that we’ve had a week to digest the election results, it’s time to pick the winners and losers of 2016.   This list is not all inclusive and you are free to add anyone you think we should have.

Winners

Mike Pence, Vice-President Elect

  • Rumors of Mike Pence’s political demise were grossly exaggerated.  A year ago a lot of people across this state were writing his political obituary; today they’re calling him Mr. Vice-President Elect.

Todd Young, U.S. Senator-Elect

  • He didn’t let the Bayh name or brand scare him off.  He took the fight right to Evan and won.

Eric Holcomb, Governor Elect

  • Just like Pence, a year ago people were writing off his U.S. Senate candidacy.  Now they’re writing letters of congratulations to the next Governor.

Curtis Hill, Attorney General Elect

  • He not only led the ticket (even surpassing Trump) in votes, but by our last check he was the highest vote getter in Indiana history. (And by the way, he’s African-American)

Jennifer McCormick, Superintendent of Public Instruction

  • Need we say more?

Brian Bosma, House Speaker

  • He kept his super majority.

David Long, Senate President Pro Tempore

  • He expanded his super majority.

John Ruckelshaus & Cindy Kirchhofer

  • Proof that Republicans can win in Marion County with the right message and right candidates.

Jeff Cardwell (State GOP Chair)

  • He got a lot of grief early on Chairman, but winning big and having one of your best friends be the next Vice-President solves a multitude of problems.

Trevor Foughty/Mike O’Brien

  • These guys ran campaigns that at the start seemed uphill against Evan Bayh and John Gregg and they finished on cruise control on Election night.

Tony Samuel/Rex Early/Susie Jawoworski

  • You gotta give it up for Team Trump.

Christina Hale, Democratic Lt. Governor Candidate

  • Her statewide run gave her the exposure needed to help start the rebuilding process and earn a role in establishing new leadership.

Scott Pelath, House Democratic Leader

  • He actually grew his caucus, albeit by one seat.   But then again, when everyone else was on the Titanic, being on the Andrea Doria doesn’t look to bad.

Education Reform

  • See Jennifer McCormick

Luke Kenley, Republican State Senator & Donna Schaibley, State Rep.

  • They were two biggest statehouse vote getters.   Kenley got 48,648 votes and  Schaibley got more than 29,000 votes, more than any House member.

Joe Donnelly, U.S. Senator

  • He becomes the leader of his party as the highest elected official, but even better he doesn’t have to face a mid-term election under a Clinton presidency.

Trey Hollingsworth

  • To the Tennessean go the spoils.

Indy Mass Transit Expansion Proponents

  • Not only did they win, but they won in 19 of the 25 Council Districts, including Joe Simpson and Christine Scales who opposed the referendum.

And the Losers Are…

Evan Bayh

  • He took a 20-point lead and turned it into into a 13-point loss.   Yes, there was a lot of outside money spent, but Bayh didn’t help with how he addressed the lobbying and residency issues.

John Gregg

  • It is true, the sequels are usually never better than the originals

Glenda Ritz

  • Her loss in 2016 was just like her win in 2012, she never expected it.

Indiana Democratic Party

  • They went retro when the voters wanted to go forward and now their Twitter account has gone silent.

ISTA

  • They spent millions of their members’ take home pay over the last four cycles and not only do they have nothing to show for it, but they’ve lost ground and created a lot of enemies who used to support them.

Labor Unions

  • They spent a lot of money on candidates their members did not vote for.

The Far Right

  • The same people who brought you RFRA now find themselves with a Governor who has no appetite for any of that stuff.  They spent money and effort to beat Senator David Long in a primary and now he has an even bigger majority.   They also backed Jennifer McCormick’s opponent at the state convention.

Tim Lanane

  • If his caucus gets any smaller you’ll need an electron microscope to see them.

Jeff Harris, Gregg campaign spokesman  

  • In 2008 it was Jill Long Thompson, now it’s John Gregg.  Good luck in 2020.

Editor’s Note

 We did not include State Auditor Suzanne Crouch in the winners spot because she was our “break even” nominee.  If Holcomb won she moved up the ladder, if he lost she was still Auditor and would have been doing battle with John Gregg as Governor.

Seven Arrests at Indy Anti-Trump Rally

by Abdul Hakim-Shabazz

WIBC reports that what started as a mostly peaceful anti-Donald Trump protest at the State House in downtown Indianapolis ended with the police dispersing the crowd Saturday evening. Seven people were arrested and two Indianapolis police officers were hurt.

Chief Troy Riggs said in a news conference that most of the people peacefully exercised their 1st Amendment rights. But, two groups broke off from the main crowd when the protest moved to Monument Circle. One of those groups threatened violence toward the police and eventually started throwing objects at officers.

Two cops were hurt. Riggs said those injuries were minor.

“They have a right to protest and we supported that right to protest, even though numerous ordinances and numerous laws were broken tonight with that protesting, blocking traffic, making it difficult for individuals to maneuver in the streets,” said Riggs.

He said arrests did not happen until threats were made against police officers and some people made good on those threats.

“We do have a reports that some of the protesters showed up with backpacks full of rocks.”

He said if you have any video of that or info on that, to call police.

Major Richard Riddle, with IMPD said that the area where violence against the police officers happened was near Washington and Illinois streets.

Some Post-Election Results

by Abdul Hakim-Shabazz

There were a lot of story lines out of Election night,Trump’s victory, the GOP Sweep, but we think the most under-reported story line was the fact that highest vote getter in the state of Indiana in 2016 was not Donald Trump, but Attorney General Elect Curtis Hill.  Take a look at these results…

  • Curtis Hill – 1,642,555
  • Donald Trump – 1,556,122
  • Todd Young – 1,422,962
  • Jennifer McCormick – 1,420,075
  • Eric Holcomb – 1,396,409
  • Glenda Ritz –  1,238,685
  • John Gregg – 1,234,500
  • Evan Bayh – 1,157,645
  • Hillary Clinton – 1,036,426
  • Lorenzo Arrendondo – 993,183

I think it says quite a bit that Hill, an African-American, was the highest voteg etter, but according our research, he got more votes than anyone else in Indiana history.

I think it also says quite a bit that  Clinton only got 43,000 more votes than Judge Arrendondo and Ritz actually outperformed Bayh and Gregg.

What do you think?

My Top 10 Post-Election Tasks

by Abdul Hakim-Shabazz

Now that our long, national nightmare (the 2016 Election) is over, I can get back to work on a few things that I’ve put on hold.  Here are the top 10.

  1. Get back to work on my novel, “Sub-Leasing Uncle Tom’s Cabin”
  2. Rebooting the stand-up comedy routine and hitting the area club circuit.
  3. Break out the colored pencils and sketch pads.
  4. Finally get past the sabertooth that keeps killing my character Takkar in Far Cry Primal on my PS 4.
  5. Get a few thousand comic books bagged, boarded and boxed and into storage.
  6. Get the annoying, yappie dog to the groomers so he doesn’t look like a mop with legs.
  7. Get back to a regular workout routine and lose the 20 or so pounds that have been creeping up since January.
  8. Purge all the crap out of my office so I can see what the top of my desks look like.
  9. Hit the IRT, Symphony, the Museum of Art and try to see Voyage of Time at the IMAX at the State Museum.
  10. Take a few days and do the “giant triangle”  road trip with the Lovely Mrs. Shabazz and go visit friends and family in Illinois and Missouri.

You may look at this list and say “so what”, but what’s important is that none of this has anything to do with politics.  There’s been enough of that for a while and I don’t think it would hurt to take a step or two back and focus on some other things for a while.

We’re not taking our eyes off the ball, because there are a lot of important issues to focus on.  We’re just recapturing some perspective to focus on those personal things that are just as important, if not more so; especially number 10.

I suggest you do the same.

 

When Playing the Race Card, Don’t Deal From the Bottom of the Deck

by Abdul Hakim-Shabazz

As politically incorrect as I can be when it comes to talking about race, there’s nothing more offensive than when someone tries to play the race card and deals from the bottom of the deck.  Allow me to elaborate.

A “controversy” this weekend ensued following an editorial in the Indianapolis Recorder (full disclose, I am a contributing columnist) when editor Shannon Williams lamented about not being able to sit down with Lt. Governor and gubernatorial candidate Eric Holcomb.  I did some checking and it was more about scheduling conflicts than an actual snub, but that’s not the point I’m trying to make.

Following the snub, the grievance class, led and inspired by the Indiana Democratic Party, started kicking things into high gear.   The “Concerned” Clergy, Indy City-County Council member Stephen Clay (who led a failed attempt earlier this year to overthrow Maggie Lewis as President) the local NAACP (which opposes school choice and thinks African-American kids should be stuck in failing schools) all went after Holcomb as if he were Bull Connor in 1960 Alabama.

There’s some bull going on here because what Clay, the Concerned Clergy, NAACP and Democrats are doing is playing the race card in an effort to get African-Americans worked up in Indianapolis to come out and vote for John Gregg for Governor.

Gregg’s polling with African-Americans in Marion County isn’t all that great so somebody has to do something to get the natives all worked up so they will go to the polls and vote.  (Yes, I went there.)   I’ve seen this movie before.  The same Jackson-Sharpton crowd tried this with former Mayor Greg Ballard in 2011 and it failed miserably.

Instead of promoting Gregg’s agenda and showing how it would benefit African-Americans, these guys have decided that following Michelle Obama’s advice of taking the high road just isn’t good enough.   If you want to argue policy, that’s fine and fair. If you want to highlight competing visions for Indiana’s future, great.   But if you’re going to play the race card over what basically amounted to scheduling conflicts to start a riot, give me a break. This doesn’t help the dialogue and it discourages some folks from reaching out to Black voters if they are going to do is end up getting called racists.

And for the record, it’s nonsense like this why some folks don’t think Black lives matter.

Who’s Disenfranchising Whom?

by Abdul Hakim-Shabazz

There are some things that I honestly think I will never understand, the Dr. Phil Show, people who like brussel sprouts and how investigating possible voter registration fraud is the equivalent of racially based disenfranchisement.

As you may have heard Indiana State Police is investigating the possibility that thousands of recent voter registrations may have been forged or fraudulently altered.  The group at the center of the investigation is the Indiana Voter Project (IVP), an arm of Patriot Majority USA, a super PAC that reportedly has ties to Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid.

Earlier this summer word started to creep out that thousands of voter registration forms had been altered across Indiana.  Word got to the Secretary of State from County Clerks and Connie Lawson referred the matter to State Police.  A raid was launched and the matter is under review.    IVP accused State Police of Gestapo like tactics and said the state, under the direction of Mike Pence, was trying to disenfranchise African-American voters.

If I may be so bold as to use a term that is not uncommon in the African-American community, “Negro Please!!!”

First of all, nowhere on the State of Indiana Voter Registration form does it ask for your race.  It asks for gender, but not race.  So how could the state disenfranchise black voters if the form doesn’t ask if you’re black?   I asked IVP that question and have yet to get an answer.   Last week the group to the Associated Press it reached that conclusion based on the fact they had registered predominantly black voters.  But once again, how would law enforcement know that unless they’re told?  I guess you could try and do this by the names, but it might be difficult to tell if Jonathan Wallace or Jacqueline Price were black or white people as opposed to Leroy Washington or Raineesha Williams.

Secondly, if anyone has been disenfranchised it’s the person whose voter registration was changed and they now have to cast a provisional ballot and go jump through hoops in order to exercise their constitutional rights because of either malfeasance or misfeasance.   And to make matters more interesting, while Voter ID can help prevent most fraud, ID is not needed if someone is going to vote absentee and a fraudulent registration can lead to a fraudulent ballot being cast.  And while this could all be a giant exercise in incompetence, my spidey-sense tells me there’s something more here.

No matter how you slice, if the folks at the IVP want to blame someone for being disenfranchised instead of pointing the finger at Mike Pence, Connie Lawson or State Police Chief Doug Carter and Indiana State Police, I suggest they get a mirror and find out who the true culprits are.

One of the Best Arguments for School Choice

by Abdul Hakim-Shabazz

As someone who frequently covers school choice-related issues in Indiana, I find it interesting and ironic when opponents of reform and vouchers make better arguments for healthy competition than I do.

A friend of mine (we’ll call him Ben) is a teacher in a traditional public school. He is a good guy and has the best interests of his students at heart, like any good teacher.    Unfortunately, like a lot of anti-charter crowd, whenever a new school pops ups,  he goes crazy.

Ben will tweet that approving a new  charter school is a bad idea because there are too many of them and not enough oversight. But the argument that got my attention was when he said he would gladly match up the programs at his school against any charter school. And that ladies and gentlemen, was the best point anyone could make for choice and competition.

Allow me to elaborate.

I told Ben that I have no doubt that there are programs at his school parents would like, just like there are programs at charters, private, virtual and even home-school settings that parents would enjoy. They should just have the choice to make that decision. And all charters and choice do is give parents more options to find the best education for their kids. And who wouldn’t want that?

Ben then went on to complain about charters “taking” money from traditional schools. I remind him that would be like McDonald’s complaining about Burger King taking their customers.  No one owns anything. And instead of whining about choice, schools like Ben’s should spend more time looking at why people are seeking other options and rectify that problem.

I told Ben if the programs at his school are that good, I have no doubt it can compete with all the other alternatives out there. Now this doesn’t mean we can’t have a conversation about more oversight and measuring of student performance. I regularly remind my friends in the school-choice community that we should be just as happy when a charter fails as when they succeed. The point of choice and accountability is that failing schools go out of business as soon as possible and children be moved into a school that works.

And if schools like Ben’s have programs that can compete and perform better than charters or private schools then I say “here, here!” If I were a traditional public school administrator I would welcome the challenge. Actually the competitive streak in me would actively try to recruit students from the charter schools. Because if I’ve got amazing programs that will educate kids and make parents happy, then I am all over that.

And that’s what choice is all about, giving parents options so they can choose the best schools and their kids can get the best education.

Thanks, Ben. I could not have said this better myself.