Saturday, November 08, 2003

Lesson For Libertarian Candidates

In the previous post, I have shown some numbers for Brad Klopfenstein's campaign. Remembering that Brad took 262 votes, or 5.38%, take a look at the totals for Precinct 11-1:


Votes / Vote%
6B P. MUUMBA ABDUALLAH (DEM) 83 / 39.34%

70 votes is 26% of Brad's 262 total votes. What's the deal? Is this the most Libertarian precinct in Marion County? Heh.


Votes / Vote%

Only one stinkin' straight party vote for the LP. So what gives?

Precinct 11-1 is Brad's home precinct. Brad got out and went door-to-door here more than anywhere else. He is well-known by his neighbors as President of his Homeowners Association. He approached his neighbor-voters with a simple message: "I am your neighbor". This message works and needs to be employed in the future by ALL LP candidates, even lineholders. This is the low-hanging fruit!

Consider the math: Brad took 70 votes in his precinct. Let's assume instead that he was a lineholder at home. If he was, it's fair to assume that he would have taken 5% of the 201 votes cast in this race in this precinct rather than the 38.46% he got. He would have gotten 10.5 votes. We'll be generous and round up to 11. That means that he has 59 less votes overall, leaving him 203 votes. His percentage of the vote plunges from 5.38% to 4.16%. In a smaller district, the home precinct matters much more due to being a greater percentage of the whole race.

A Boatload of Impropriety

Ever since arriving in Indy, I had heard from fellow Libertarians that the inner city Marion County Democrats used a lot of dirty tricks at the polling place. I took it all with a grain of salt because I have held the belief that both the GOP and the Dems use dirty tricks. Historically, for every Democratic Boss Tweed, there was a Republican Boss Cox. I never reacted too sharply on behalf of accusers, because they lacked mirrors. Recall the Dems who could point to Florida in 2000 while ignoring their own tactic of using cigarettes to lure the homeless to the polls in Minnesota, where voters can be registered at the polls on election day.

Anyhow, I strongly doubted that much of this nonsense would transpire in an election featuring a mayor's race that was a foregone conclusion a full year before the election. Boy, was I wrong.

The polls opened at 6:00am, and I arrived at my home polling place to vote at 6:02. At 6:14, I arrived at another polling place, Trinity Episcopal Church, to serve as a poll watcher. Immediately, I found a girl distributing literature for the Democrats beyond the 'no electioneering beyond this point' sign. I advised her that she had to be on the right side of the line, to which she responded, "it's dark outside". As the sign did not read, 'no electioneering beyond this point unless it's dark outside,' I had her move, advising her that I would be outside with her if she needed to feel safe. I went inside to advise the judge, who turned out to be a Democrat. He also pointed to the darkness, and I reiterated my point. He made a snide remark about Libertarians being election day amateurs and Democrats being 'professionals'. I discovered that the Democratic precinct committeewoman was the mother of the Judge. She was also the wife of an inspector, and the mother of another paid election official. Another of her sons sat inside wearing a baseball cap promoting Democratic at-large candidate "King Ro" Conley. There was a pile of Democratic literature sitting on a chair 15 feet from the poll.

Before 6:30am, I had seen electioneering and nepotism.

I went out and stood outside with the girl to distribute literature. She mentioned being 16 years old. I asked her if it was her keen interest in politics or a day off school that had her out here. She conceded that it was a little of both. I figured she was pretty honest, so I drilled her with a battery of questions. I found out that she is not a member of the Young Democrats club, but a member of Speedway High School's Key Club, where she and about 30 others volunteered to participate in the elections. Somehow, all of them were distributing literature for the Democrats.

By 6:35, I had seen the use of child labor.

I stayed there until 8:00, leaving because turn-out was very flat, and went to Crispus Attucks Middle School. I was looking forward to going there, as it was once a high school, and home to basketball legend Oscar Robertson. He attended Crispus Attucks when Indianapolis still had segregated schools. At Crispus Attucks I saw amazing nonsense.

A very nice elderly man stood outside to distribute Democratic literature. The first hand-off of literature I observed was done while his arm was around another elderly man and as they were walking beyond the 'no electioneering beyond this point' sign. I mentioned to him that doing this was electioneering. He grinned and laughed, "I know!" I reminded him that it was illegal. He laughed again, "well, I know. I'm sorry". We had this exchange better than 10 times throughout the day.

The Republicans didn't bother to send a poll watcher to either of these polling places, but a Ward Captain did come by and observed the same thing. He made the same complaint with the same result- none. He said he was going to make a call to the Board of Elections.

I chose not to make too great a fuss since the nice old man knew about 90% of the people coming to the polls- almost all elderly black folks just like him. It was an amusing scenario. The voters would approach and I would get to them first, handing them a palm card extolling the virtues of a vote for Brad. I would say, "please consider voting for Brad Klopfenstein for City-County Council. He's endorsed. Thank you." The nice man would put his arm around the voter and confidentially ask, "now, you're going to get the job done, aren't you?" He would hand them a Democratic palm card that instructed the voter how to vote straight ticket. Occasionally, he would follow them right up to the ballot box itself. Not wanting to violate electioneering laws myself, I would scramble to remove the partisan pins I had on my shirt so that I could enter the sanctum to pull the old man out. He would laugh and apologize for "forgetting".

I went to other polling places throughout the day, and at 6:00, I was again at Crispus Attucks. The poll closed, and I removed my pins so that I could enter and observe the closing procedure. There I observed a pile of 'voided' ballots. I noticed that every one of them had a straight ticket vote for the Republicans. Some of those had the straight Republican vote as the only mark on the ballot. Others had both the Republican and Democratic straight ticket, making it a genuine void. A couple of the voids had the Democratic straight ticket and a vote for Brad, making it a genuine void, but telling me that handing them his palm card had an effect. I'm sure one of the nice old men 'helped the voter correct his mistake'.

How much of this was illegal? Probably a good portion of it. How much of it was legal but stinky? Another good portion, no doubt.

I'll say this again, though. The Democrats were well organized in the inner city. The people who worked the polls were not Abduallah supporters. I checked by asking. Many didn't even know who he was. They were purely Democratic Party people. You could have had Newt Gingrich or a hamster running for City County Council as a Democrat, and I have no doubt that the party faithful would have been there to do their jobs. Their jobs included staffing the polling places for better than $100/person, calling those who hadn't voted yet, providing rides- including cabs- to get voters to the polls.

I concluded that the LP will get nowhere in these inner city precincts without an organization to match the Democrats. Hell- the Republicans are nowhere without it. Doubt it? Here are the results of the whole 15th District:

CITY-COUNTY COUNCIL DISTRICT 15; Precincts Reporting 42 / 42 (100.00%)

Votes / Vote%
6B P. MUUMBA ABDUALLAH (DEM) 4,080 / 83.73%

A very Democratic District! But hey, we used to get excited when our candidates got 2% in such districts, so 5.38% is pretty fine. Where did Brad's votes come from? Not Crispus Attucks. Here are the results for Precinct 7-1, at Crispus Attucks:

BALLOTS CAST - TOTAL 138 / 100.00%

Votes / Vote%
DEMOCRATIC PARTY (DEM) 129 / 100.00%

Votes / Vote%
6B P. MUUMBA ABDUALLAH (DEM) 136 / 98.55%

Zero straight party for the Libertarians. Zero straight party for the Republicans. 129 for the Dems. How did those two votes for Brad and the Republican get by?

Precinct 7-6 results, at Crispus Attucks:

BALLOTS CAST - TOTAL 7 / 100.00%

Votes / Vote%

Votes / Vote%

Tiny precinct. I can take a zero here.

Results for Precinct 12-3, also at Crispus Attucks

BALLOTS CAST - TOTAL 166 / 100.00%

Votes / Vote%

Votes / Vote%
6B P. MUUMBA ABDUALLAH (DEM) 137 / 85.62%

This result actually makes me feel great. 11 votes for Brad isn't a lot. It isn't even enough for second place. But in a district like this, I cannot help but believe that handing out his palm cards had an effect. It further makes me question the zeros in Precinct 7-1 especially.

Wednesday, November 05, 2003

So Much To Say

Too much, in fact, and I'm pretty burned out, so I'll summarize. I'll flesh this out later.

There were some major bummers: Libertarian incumbent (how wonderful that sounds!) Phil Miller was defeated in his Greenfield city council race; Rev. Greg Dixon finished third in his Indy city-county council race; Brad did not get double-digits in his race; No victories in Noblesville; No upset for Dean Barkley in Carmel.

Major breakthroughs: Miller got 47% in losing- no landslide against, as is always predicted after a Libertarian win, along with the city in flames; Dixon's 14+% was highest ever for a Libertarian in a 3-way partisan city-county council race; Klop got 34.3% in his home district, narrowly trailing the Democrat, who had 38.8% there. By the way, the Dem had about 84% overall, so that mark in the home precinct is awesome; the Noblesville losses were with 43% by Rob Place and 40% by Mark Schreiber; Dean took 27% from a man who had $150,000 more to spend.

I witnessed with genuine awe, and genuine horror, the efficiency of the inner-city Democrats. They do a lot of things very professionally, and a lot of things rather improperly. That will have to be an item all by itself.

Monday, November 03, 2003

'Twas The Night Before The Election...

Nah, forget it. I'm not that cute. But tomorrow is election day, which means I will be up at 5:00 so that I can dress for the day, vote at my home polling place, and then go to a District 15 polling place in support of Brad Klopfenstein, where I will be until the polls close. After that, party at the Press Club.

Let's recap: Brad's running in a district that has recently voted almost 80% Democrat. Brad is not the Democrat. Nor is he the Republican. Hopeless for a Libertarian? No way! We're not delusional or crazy enough to think that it's a win or nothing deal, so we have plenty of secondary objectives.

1. Win Lockerbie, Brad's home neighborhood and a handful of precincts in the area surrounding Lockerbie, thereby building a base.
2. Come in second, ahead of Republican Phil Schoffstall. That would be an excellent achievement!
3. District-wide double digits would be a great success.
4. Demonstrate to the Marion County LP the value of running an active campaign. Rev. Greg Dixon and Brad are really the only two running active campaigns in Marion Co., and it should be apparent in the results. Dixon walked his whole district. There are some streets that were walked and others that were not, mainly due to limited resources. Just as we have no doubt that Dixon will fare well, and may even win, we have no doubt that Brad's numbers will be higher where the hands were shook and the literature distributed. Time to take the LPMC to the next level.
5. Add party members.
6. Show the voters that the LP's candidates are not kooks or anarchists, but good people with good ideas.

We've already accomplished #6. We'll know tomorrow night whether or not we've accomplished #2-4. #5 will show up over the next two months. Brad earned the F.O.P. endorsement over the other two. The big thrill lies in knowing that something good yet unexpected will come out of Brad's candidacy. Someone he met may be inspired to become a candidate or a supporter. One of his issues may be co-opted by someone who wins office or even by one of the other parties. Something great always comes out of an active and good candidacy.

All of that will make the first drink at the Press Club delicious.

Sunday, November 02, 2003

Evidence of a One-Newspaper City

First, let's be fair and give credit where credit is due. Today's Star has an excellent pull-out Voters' Guide section that identifies all of the candidates on the ballot, and carries their brief answers to four 'key' questions. This is good stuff, and sadly absent in many other top newspapers.

That highlight is tarnished by a horrible City & State section that features the following:

- Just two days before the election of the Indianapolis Mayor, 29 City-County Council positions, and a host of other offices in communities in the greater Indy area, the only "Election 2003" article on the front page of that prominent section covers one of three underdog Republicans candidates for Governor... a 2004 race. Couldn't that have waited just one more week? Or five? Shouldn't the space have been for any of the races in the election two days away, rather than the one 367 days away? The Star got the '2004' graffic right on the website, by the way.

- As if that wasn't enough, on page B3, there is a second article on the same man, in the same race 367 days away, by the same writer, Mary Beth Schneider. Wow.

- In the interest of fairness, I guess, there is an article on the two Republicans who are extreme underdogs in the race that is 367 days away and not two days away, on B7.

One can only surmise that stories on the minor Republican contestants in the far-off governors race somehow hits the target with the Star's demographic(s) of choice for the race that is 367 days away to be so highlighted in the City & State section over the race that is two days away. One can further conclude that if there was another real daily paper in town, the crucial City-County Council races would get proper coverage. Good as the capsule coverage is, it still could have been so much more.

Speaking of proper coverage, I find the coverage of the Marion County LP's press conference, and the substance contained therein, appalling.

Here is the LP press release:

Patrice Abduallah lists donation from city fund

Libertarians call for Abduallah to exit city-county council race, seek investigation of mayor’s GIPC actions

As a usual practice, the Libertarian Party will occasionally pull Republican and Democrat campaign finance reports.

While reviewing the campaign finance report of Patrice Abduallah (Democrat seeking the City-County Council District 15 seat) that was filed with the Marion County Election board Oct. 17, we noted a donation of $3,450 made to Mr. Abduallah on Sept. 13 by the Greater Indianapolis Progress Committee (GIPC).

This donation is inappropriate for the following reasons:

GIPC is a 501c3 corporation. All corporations are limited by Indiana law to giving no more than $2,000 combined in a calendar year to all candidates who are seeking local offices. Mr. Abduallah received almost 1½ times that amount.

Quoting the GIPC’s own website, "Funding for (GIPC) Action Grants comes from application fees paid to the city by businesses requesting tax abatement." Most importantly, we believe that some of those public funds may have been used to help fund Mr. Abduallah’s campaign.

Additionally, Mr. Abduallah’s campaign finance report indicates that there is $755 in cash missing from his campaign fund between April and October. It also lists the repayment of a loan for $500 when no loan has ever been listed in his report.

The Libertarian Party will be requesting that the following actions occur:

That the entire $3,450 be immediately returned to the City of Indianapolis.

That Mr. Abduallah withdraws from his city-county council race.

That Marion County Prosecutor Carl Brizzi begins an investigation into the $3,450 donation from GIPC to Mr. Abduallah.

Additionally, the Libertarian Party of Marion County will be filing a complaint with the Marion County Election Board regarding the improper donation from GIPC to Mr. Abduallah.

GIPC is a nonprofit organization that implements the Neighborhood Action Grant program. Application fees for tax abatement and other private donations fund these grants. GIPC is run out of Mayor Bart Peterson’s office on the 25th floor of the City-County Building. It falls under the responsibility of the Deputy Mayor for Public Policy.

The Libertarian Party of Marion County finds this all very disturbing. We also have the following questions regarding GIPC:

Why is an organization housed within Mayor Bart Peterson’s office making political donations?

Why is GIPC using public funds for projects that are not included in the city budget? This puts spending outside of the control of the City-County Council, which by law is supposed to control the pursestrings.

Why is it that when organizations default on the conditions of their abatement, the clawback penalty is awarded as a grant by the mayor to community organizations instead of being returned to the county budget? Amounts from organizations like United Airlines and Bindley-Western make a substantial impact on the county budget.

How could Marion County Treasurer Greg Jordan and Marion County Auditor Marty Womacks not be aware of this sketchy revenue stream?

Are there other questionable uses of grant money by GIPC?

Are there other agencies that bestow public funds upon candidates?

To the objective reader: Does this release contain a personal attack on any individual? Does it contain a smear? Is it a slam? Or, does it ask questions? Should these questions be asked, given the information provided? Do the questions merit investigation by public officials in a position of oversight, by watchdog groups, and by the press? When filling out the forms, the applicant is warned that they are to be filled out correctly, for to do otherwise is to commit perjury.

The LP could have inferred the possibility of incompetence on the part of the person filling out the form, but did not. Lying could have been inferred, but was not. Questions were asked, with restraint, and in the interest of the public.

Here is the Star's original story:

Candidate fixes error as Libertarians complain

October 29, 2003

The Marion County Libertarian Party on Tuesday criticized Democratic City-County Council candidate Patrice Abduallah for an error on a recent campaign-finance filing.

The statement, filed Oct. 17, included a $3,450 contribution from the Greater Indianapolis Progress Committee, an arm of city government that is not allowed to make political contributions.

Abduallah said the listing was a typo -- it should have read "Greater Islamic Progress Committee" -- and filed an amendment Tuesday correcting the error.

Abduallah is running in the heavily Democratic 15th District, which includes portions of Downtown, the Near Northside and the Westside.

Just a typo. No problem, folks. Nothing to see here. Move along. Picture the cop in South Park, as I do.

Remembering that this was a non-story, here is what the Star wrote several days later, in their Sunday edition:

No pulling punches

Politicians, and the people who work for them, become different people in the days leading up to Election Day. This year has been no different.

The week started off with Brad Klopfenstein, executive director of the Indiana Libertarian Party and a City-County Council candidate in Downtown's District 15, holding a news conference to slam Democratic opponent Patrice Abduallah.

Libertarians held forth at the Indianapolis Press Club to attack Abduallah for a $3,400 contribution that appeared on his campaign finance statement as coming from the "Greater Indianapolis Progress Committee" -- a quasi-governmental agency legally barred from giving contributions.

Of course, by the time cameras were rolling, Abduallah had said the item was a typo -- it should have read "Greater Islamic Progress Committee" -- and had filed an amendment. A reporter called Klopfenstein the night before to see whether he would still hold the news conference.

He would, he said, admitting that the move might be "a little sensationalistic."

So, who is guilty here of a slam? The unnamed Star reporter or the LP? Who is guilty of an attack? The unnamed Star reporter or the LP? No pulling punches: that would be John Fritze, who is the unnamed reporter. He, along with the anonymous editor, appear to be different 'reporters' when writing collectively under the cloak of the 'Public Interest' column.