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Signs of the Times

by Abdul Hakim-Shabazz

Some people just have way too much time on their hands.

The City of Indianapolis is looking at revamping its zoning laws to allow for digital billboards.  However, opponents say this is the first sign (pardon the pun) of the apocalypse.

They present a laundry list of reasons why digital billboards are bad, but allow me to present you some facts.

  • The digital billboards can’t go up in a residential or protected area (schools, churches, parks).  Historic districts are off limits too.
  • If a company puts up one, they can only do it if they replace one of similar size. (approximately 600 square feet) and they have to take down an equal number of other signs based on square footage, so if I put up 600 square foot billboard I have to take down two 300 square foot billboards. So at the end of the day, it’s a net reduction of billboards.
  • There are technical rules on brightness, very similar to INDOT and USDOT rules, and motion is not allowed in the billboard.
  • There can’t be more than six ads per billboard or 8-10 seconds for each image.
  • The billboards can also be used for Amber alerts and to warn residents of severe weather.
  • And no more than 25 billboards can be converted a year.

So with these safeguards, and I’m sure more can be added, I still don’t see what the big deal is.  Now if we were talking about turning Indy into Las Vegas or signs changing so quickly that it would cause epileptic seizures, that would be a different story.

But since  we’re not, I have more important things to worry about, maybe they should too.


Republicans Getting Played on Immigration Issue

by Abdul Hakim-Shabazz

In this week’s debate over immigration the President played the GOP opposition like a Stradivarius violin, which is surprising following the recent mid-term election results.

In a nutshell, the President’s plan gives legal status (not citizenship nor permanent residence) to about 5 million undocumented immigrants.  They have to have kids who are American citizens and have been here for at least five years.

Republicans are up in arms over this.  They are gnashing teeth, threatening lawsuits, promising to withhold funding and missing what just really happened.  The President just scored a major victory with the children of those impacted by the law.

You see those kids are already citizens, it’s their parents who are undocumented.  And guess what, since they’re citizens they will be able to vote in a few years.   According to the research about seven percent of our K-12 student population has an undocumented parent.   And not only will those kids will be voting in a few years but the demographics show they are growing fastest in a lot of places that went really red a few Tuesdays ago.

Do you see what’s happening here?  Even if the GOP manages to stop the President’s plan, which I doubt they legally can, Obama still looks like the hero to these kids and Democrats will get the benefit of their vote.

If Republicans are smart they will offer up their own alternative  plan real fast real quick.   Otherwise, they’ll get played again, again and again.

And like we say in my old neighborhood, instead of focusing on the player, pay attention to the game.



Another Reason Not to Join the NAACP

by Abdul Hakim-Shabazz

I am not a big fan of the Indianapolis chapter of the NAACP.    In the past I found them to be outdated and particularly ineffective.

For example their “education” platform is really just a page out the out of any teachers union playbook.   And when it came to responding to Charlotte Lucas’ rant about minorities , whereas a lot of civil rights groups responded immediately, it took the local branch 20 days to put out a statement (there is a bad joke about “CP” time in there if you look hard enough).

So if those antics weren’t enough, we can add hypocrisy to the list.

You see the Indy NAACP had its elections for officers this past weekend over at the Julia Carson Center.  There was a contested race for President between two individuals, Chrystal Ratcliffe who is wrong on almost every issue and Denise Abdul-Rahman whose only redeeming quality is that she has “Abdul” in her name.

However, before the 400 or so people who I am told could vote, they had to show ID.  Yup, they had to show ID.  The same organization that talks about how voter ID disenfranchises minorities, the poor and the elderly made its members show ID before they could vote in this past weekend’s election.

I am told a number of members told the group to pound sand and that they’re weren’t going to show any ID since they were dues paying members in good standing.  I can’t make this stuff up.

Ratcliffe ended up winning by the way.  But until the NAACP gets a new mission statement and makes itself relevant, it doesn’t look like she won much.


Hogsett = Ballard

by Abdul Hakim-Shabazz

I am no longer disappointed that my good friend Greg Ballard isn’t running for a third term, because Democrat Joe Hogsett is doing it for him.

As I listened to the speech that Hogsett gave Wednesday at the Kennedy-King Memorial at 17th and Broadway, everything he spelled out that he wanted to do Ballard has already done, so truth be told, all he would do is continue the soon to be former Mayor’s policies.

Here are some examples to back me up…


  • Hogsett wants to put more police on the street and return to “community policing”.
  • Ballard’s plan will put 280 new officer on the street by 2018 and thanks to efficiencies in public safety more officers have been moved from behind a desk to back on patrol.


  • Hogsett wants to invest in neighborhoods as well as the downtown area.
  • Ballard has not only invested hundreds of millions in streets and sidewalks with Rebuild Indy, but also mitigated millions in wastewater and sewer fees with the EPA.  Also projects like 16 Tech, transforming the Avondale-Meadows area, the redevelopment of MLK Drive, revamping the Keystone towers and investing $40 million in parks have all gone a long way to bring life back into a lot of areas outside of downtown.

Job Creation

  • Hogsett said he will work to create jobs that can support working and middle class families.
  • Under the Ballard administration, the city has attracted commitments for more than 31,000 new jobs and $3.5 billion in capital investment.  The average new job commitment pays $21 an hour and in 2014 the US Bureau of Economic Analysis ranked Indy 7th in the nation for economic growth.  And this was all with the worst economy since the Great Depression in the middle of everything.


  • Hogsett says he wants to increase education opportunities for citizens and also address the chronic dropout rate with respect to black youth.
  • Ballard not only tripled the number of students taking advantage of school choice, but he closed underperforming charter schools, maintained local control of IPS turnaround academies,  he was the architect of of a pre-K program that will serve hundreds of at risk kids when fully funded.  And led the charge with “Your Life Matters” to address, long-term, the serious issues facing urban youth, particularly the dropout rate.

I could probably go on (mass transit, sustainability, code enforcement), but the more I went down the list of things that Hogsett wants to do, the more I discovered Ballard has already done it.  So while I may not have gotten a third term of Greg Ballard, there’s nothing I’ve seen or heard Joe Hogsett say to make me think his first term  wouldn’t be more of the same.

Now where can I find a “Hogsett for Mayor” sign?



Take These Jobs and Shove Them

by Abdul Hakim-Shabazz

I have officially decided to quit all my jobs and move to Geist.  Say what?!  That’s right no more radio talk show host, attorney, political commentator, teacher, none of that!  I am tossing all that out the window and moving into the biggest and most expensive home in Geist that’s available.

And when the seller and realtor look at me like I’m insane I am going to sue them and say my economic right to live where I want is being infringed upon.

Now I know what you’re thinking, “Abdul, how many martinis did you have before writing this?”  I can honestly tell you, not enough.  Because there is not enough gin, scotch, bourbon and rum to calm me down after looking at two measures being taken up tonight by the Indianapolis City-County Council Rules Committee.

One measure would prohibit housing discrimination based on source of income (not race, age, gender or sexual orientation).  The other would create a “homeless bill of rights” which would entitle the homeless to live in large camps of filth and squalor and limit the city’s ability to move those people to a better place.

Why are these items on the agenda?  Easy, because someone thinks they are doing good when in fact they are doing nothing but harm.

What good is it to move someone who gets section 8 housing into a downtown condo?  We all know what’s going to happen.   And if you really want to help the homeless, how is allowing them to live in deplorable conditions doing them any good?   Not to mention the potential public health problems.

But hey, if this is the new attitude that is showing up on the Council, which by the way this is being brought to you by the same people who posted the “hands up” don’t shoot signs at the Council seats, then why bother working.

We can all live in squalor together or at least sue the landlord who doesn’t want Section 8 housing on their property.

Time to go get a drink!

Ballard Taking a Pass on a Third Term

by Abdul Hakim-Shabazz

Indianapolis Mayor Greg Ballard tells me  that he is not running for a third term.

In his office Wednesday  afternoon Ballard said after eight years it was time to move on.  He says he was not phased by Tuesday’s Democratic victories in Marion County.  He cited polling that had his approval ratings in the 70s.

You can hear the Mayor’s entire interview here.

Leon-Tailored Audio: Greg Ballard Not Running for a Third term

Ballard says he is proud of the work he has done particularly with getting the city through the recession and work done to improve the city’s infrastructure.

A formal announcement will take place today at 12 at City Market.

So Much for Ritz and the Revolution

by Abdul Hakim-Shabazz

You may not be aware of this, but Glenda Ritz  announced her re-election bid this week and Tuesday night she lost.

At an education forum on the west side of Indianapolis, Ritz told the “pro-public education” crowd that she was going to run again for the job.   And then Tuesday happened.

Although the Superintendent of Public Instruction wasn’t on the ballot, the tidal wave of GOP victories throughout Indiana basically took any hope Ritz and her supporters had a of stemming the waves of education reform and threw in the trash heap where it belonged.

Democratic Auditor candidate Mike Claytor,tied his wagon to the Glenda train, saying that as part of his watchdog duties he would protect her from the evil GOP.  He went down to a 36-point defeat.

A number of Statehouse candidates who ran on a “pro-public education” platform found themselves back where they started from at the beginning of the campaign, not in public office.

Perhaps most telling was in the Terre Haute area where Republican John Ford beat  Democrat Tim Skinner, who was the epitome of the anti-reform movement.

Even in the IPS school board  race “Hoosiers for Public Education” (otherwise known as the Indiana State Teachers Association) spent thousands of dollars trying to defeat reform-minded candidates Mary Ann Sullivan, Lanier Echols and Kelly Bentley  only to find themselves defeated.

Ritz cut the following ad trying to rally the troops, but it didn’t work.

Ritz and her allies accused Republicans of trying to destroy public education, but it didn’t work.

So if Ritz is going to go forward with re-election bid, she might want to try something that works, because it sure didn’t this time.


Nationally, Voters Send Mixed Signals

by Abdul Hakim-Shabazz

Although I spend most of my time focusing on state and local politics, I do enjoy the national scene as well, particularly when I see voters appear to contradict themselves.  At the same time they put Republicans in power, they vote for policies usually promoted by Democrats.

Thanks to my WIBC producer Matt Bair, we found a few examples from Tuesday…


  • Voters elect Republicans  Asa Hutchinson to the Governor’s seat, Tom Cotton to the U.S. and elected four Republicans in all four contested House seats.  They also voted to raise the minimum wage from $6.25 to 7.50, 25 cents above the national average.


  • Voters elected Republican Dan Sullivan to the United States Senate, defeating incumbent Mark Begich by three points.  However, they also elected to raise minimum wage from $7.75 to $8.75 next year and to $9.75 in 2016 and they said yes to a measure that makes it legal for adults aged 21 and over to possess up to one ounce of pot and up to six plants.


  • Voters choose Republican Cory Gardner over Democrat Mark Udall, but reject, by 2-1, an amendment to the state constitution which would have defined a fetus as a person.  A similar result occurred in North Dakota.


  • In my home state, Republican billionaire Bruce Rauner defeats incumbent Pat Quinn for Governor, but voters approve an advisory referendum calling for the minimum wage to be increased from $8.25 to $10.00 dollars next year.


  • They elect a Republican Governor while at the same time  sign off on a measure that will allow workers to earn up to 40 hours of paid sick time in a given year, accruing one hour for every 30 hours on the clock. The ballot question’s supporters have said it will give the state the country’s strictest requirement for providing paid sick time to workers.


  • Voters elected Republican Pete Ricketts to Governor by nearly 20 points.  Republican Ben Sasse  won in a landslide over his Dem opponent in the US Senate, but they also   agreed to gradually increase minimum wage to nine dollars an hour by 2016.


What are they thinking?

A New Sheriff in Town?

by Abdul Hakim-Shabazz

When Marion County Democratic Chairman Joel Miller tried to kick me out of a get ot the vote rally his party was having Saturday, I politely told him to go engage in self-copulation and he walked away.

Miller has never been one to have an endearing personality to begin with, but this time he seemed more annoying than usual.  And after doing some checking I can see why.  Democrats in Marion County are actually worried that they might lose the Sheriff’s race between incumbent John Layton and Republican challenger Emmitt Carney.

Layton, despite having huge advantages in both money and name ID, according to his own internal polls is statistically tied with Carney.   You can tell because he started running a negative ad against Carney.  And usually you don’t do that at this stage in the game unless there’s something wrong.

Carney has actually been running a relatively decent engagement campaign by showing up in places a lot of Republicans don’t usually go i.e. urban neighborhoods, and he has been well received.  Carney has also had billboards up in predominantly black neighborhoods.  (He’s African-American by the way)

Also throw in what is expected to be near record low turnout and anything can happen.  And that’s what Democrats are worried about.  I am already hearing that the finger pointing  is beginning.  (You can get more details in my political gossip column, The Cheat Sheet)

Now I still think the environment favors Layton simply because of the political demographics of Marion County, but if there’s a race to watch for an upset to happen, the Sheriff’s race could be it.



Charles Barkley and Being Black

by Abdul Hakim-Shabazz

It is very rare that I  follow sports, much less write about sports figures.  But every once in a while, something pops up that I can’t help but scribble down a few thoughts.   And leave it to former NBA star Charles Barkley to make that possible.

During an interview with a radio station in Philadelphia,  Barkley made a comment regarding Seattle Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson.   Wilson apparently has been getting grief from some of his fellow black players because he wasn’t considered “black” enough; either because they think he’s too close to management or he doesn’t speak English like it was his second language.

I am not making this up.

CNN quotes Barkley as saying  ”There are a lot of black people who are unintelligent, who don’t have success.  It’s best to knock a successful black person down ’cause they’re intelligent, they speak well, they do well in school, and they’re successful. It’s crabs in a barrel. … We’re the only ethnic group that says, ‘hey, if you go to jail, it gives you street cred.’ “

He then went on to say, “For some reason we’re brainwashed to think if you’re not a thug or an idiot, you’re not black enough. If you go to school, make good grades, speak intelligent and don’t break the law, you’re not a good black person. It’s a dirty dark secret. I hate to bring white people into our crap, but as a black person, we all go through it when you’re successful.”

Barkley’s comments have caused a firestorm in black media,  mainly because he is correct and the truth hurts.

I can speak about this from personal experience.  For some reason, there is a segment of the black population that thinks a good job, good diction and good credit are clear signs that you have been corrupted by the white man. And don’t even entertain the idea of being married to the person with whom you decide to procreate before you do the procreating.

There is an old Chris Rock joke that says if you’re black and get your M.A. or M.S. degree you’re a pariah, but get out of jail and they’ll throw you a party.

This is sad, but unfortunately it’s true.   I had no idea that being well-spoken and well-educated meant you were “acting white”.  I always thought it meant you were acting like an intelligent human being.

Hat tip to Sir Charles.